Morning. My name is David Sorn, and I’m the Lead Pastor here at Renovation Church.
Before we get into our Bible Passage for the morning, I want to take a few minutes and update you on a process our leaders have been working on for almost a year now…
…and that is the re-writing of our Core Values & Mission Statement.
And I don’t want you to be nervous about it.
We’ve haven’t changed the direction of the church or anything.
But our original core values and mission statement were written by me, in summer of 2009, when I went on a 3-day prayer retreat by myself…a few months before I started the church
Some of you know those old core values and our vision well, but almost half of you are new in the last year or so, and you might not know them at all.
Regardless of how well you know them, they have served us well.
And we are standing on the shoulders of those Core Values today.
They have shaped us into who we are, and how we function as a church.
However, there are some limitations to those Core Values
For one, as I mentioned, they aren’t as well-known as they used to be.
Secondly, they don’t as accurately, or fully represent what God is doing in our church today…now 12 or 13 years later.
And thirdly, we wanted to build these values together…not just me out in the woods with God.
And so, for the past year, our staff, in consultation with our board, and then with feedback from all our House Leaders & Ministry Leaders, have come up with a new set of Core Values & a Mission Statement.
These are values that we believe articulate our unique identity as a church
They guide our activity
And they cast vision for who we are and where we’re going
We now have SEVEN Core Values and a Mission Statement, and we’re going to roll them all out to you over the next 3 weeks.
Today, we’re going to talk about 2 of our Core Values
These are phrases that we will talk about often and will integrate into the life of our church and culture.
The first one is this:
WE PUT GOD FIRST
This one is deeply on my heart for our church.
It’s a concept that we must value in the coming years in America.
We, as apprentices of Jesus, must (we MUST) seek first the Kingdom of God.
For FAR too many American Christians, Jesus is not first, but 4th or 5th.
If there’s anything else on their daily schedule, or weekend schedule, it comes before God.
But we’ll only truly be followers of Him when we learn that God is not an add-on that we bring in to improve our lives, He must be first in all things.
In our schedules, in our finances, in our time, in our mind, in our hearts.
That’s what He’s worthy of.
WE PRAY THE IMPOSSIBLE
We wanted to create a value that really spoke to our growing heart for prayer, which is something we didn’t have in the early years of the church.
And we felt like this phrase both described what we feel that prayer can do, but ALSO why we put such an emphasis on prayer in the first place.
Because prayer is what changes the impossible, not just good strategy and hard work.
Okay, so there you have it, those are 2 of our first 7, keep coming back the next few weeks as we roll out more of them.
(Lost & Found Series Slide)
All right, let’s jump into our message now.
We are resuming our teaching series where we have been teaching verse-by-verse through the Book of Luke.
Believe it or not, we started this series exactly 4 years ago this weekend.
We’ve taken plenty of breaks along the way to teach on other topics and sections of the Bible, but we are now 83 weeks into this series!
And we are in the home stretch.
We are actually going to hit the passage in Luke about the resurrection on Easter Sunday.
How amazing is that?
And we’ll finish the book on May 1st.
If you are new since we were last in Luke back in December, let me give you some very quick context.
Luke is 1 of 4 books in the Bible on the life, teachings, death, & resurrection of Jesus.
We spent much of this past Spring & Fall teaching through the very last week of Jesus’ life before his death.
Jesus rides into Jerusalem on a donkey on Palm Sunday
He has the last supper with his disciples on Thursday of that same week, and then is arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane that Thursday night
From the time of his arrest to his crucifixion, Jesus actually endures 6 very quick trials (if you can call them that).
We covered the first 3 already, which were all Jewish trials.
And now we are moving to the final 3, which are in front of the Roman Authorities.
We’re going to hit trials 4 & 5 today.
And we are now on Friday morning, Good Friday.
The sun is up, but it is still really early in the morning.
Let’s join our passage there
Everybody grab a Bible
(Luke 23 if you use your own)
(SO Close, Yet so far message Title)
I’d love for everyone to follow along.
In fact, we’re going to start doing something a bit different here.
We’re not going to put our main passage on the screen anymore…simply because we do really want you to have it in front of you yourself, so you can keep looking at it, referencing it, and studying it.
If we do just a quick verse reference, we’ll throw it up there, but otherwise, we want you to read the main passage yourself.
So, everybody grab a Bible. Page 721.
(Luke 23:1-2) – NIV
Then the whole assembly rose and led him off to Pilate. 2 And they began to accuse him, saying, “We have found this man subverting our nation. He opposes payment of taxes to Caesar and claims to be Messiah, a king.”
Okay, so verse 1 says that the whole assembly rose and led him off to Pilate.
That’s the Jewish High Council, the Sanhedrin, that decided all major issues for the Jewish people.
Now Pilate, is Pontius Pilate, and he’s the Roman Governor over this particular region called Judea because the Romans controlled that part of the world at this time in history.
And the Jewish leaders are bringing Jesus to the Roman Governor because while the Jewish Leaders can decide just about anything for their own people, they can’t enforce the death penalty.
Only the Roman Governor can do that.
But these Jewish leaders realize that Pilate isn’t going to sentence Jesus to death just because they think Jesus blasphemed.
So, in verse 2, the Jewish leaders begin to accuse Jesus of all sorts of things
And they say:
He’s been subverting our nation.
In other words, they say Jesus has been stirring up riots…or undermining law & order.
Now that may get Pilate’s attention, right?!
And then the Jewish leaders say, “He opposes payment of taxes to Caesar!”
Which is a boldface lie.
In fact, we saw in Luke 20:25 when they asked Jesus about paying taxes to Caesar, He said:
(Luke 20:25b) – NIV
give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”
And then the Jewish leaders tell Pilate, “And he claims to be Messiah (Savior), a King”
Now that’s true, but they’re saying it that way because they think Pilate will be afraid of another who wants to rule the land as King.
(SO Close, Yet so far message Title)
And so how does Pilate react?
Let’s keep reading
(Luke 23:3-7) – NIV
3 So Pilate asked Jesus, “Are you the king of the Jews?”
“You have said so,” Jesus replied.
4 Then Pilate announced to the chief priests and the crowd, “I find no basis for a charge against this man.”
5 But they insisted, “He stirs up the people all over Judea by his teaching. He started in Galilee and has come all the way here.”
6 On hearing this, Pilate asked if the man was a Galilean. 7 When he learned that Jesus was under Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent him to Herod, who was also in Jerusalem at that time.
Pilate, seeing Jesus in his humbles clothes, and bloodied already from his mockings & beatings…Pilate is probably already doubting that Jesus is actually a serious threat to his leadership..
But he asks anyway, “Are you the King of the Jews”
See, historically, Pilate’s governorship was actually on pretty shaky ground at that time.
Jerusalem had already had a number of riots while Pilate was governor, and Caesar had basically told him, “If you mess up again, it’s over.”
And so let’s look into the mind of Pilate here.
He doesn’t think Jesus is guilty of anything deserving death.
Look at Verse 4: Pilate says, “I find no basis for a charge against this man”
And that’s only the 1st time he’ll declare Jesus not guilty.
He’ll do it twice more in next week’s passage.
And yet think about the scene: Pilate has all of the most powerful Jewish leaders in front of him (w/ an angry mob behind them), in the most powerful town of his jurisdiction, screaming at him to execute this man.
Pilate doesn’t think Jesus is guilty, but if he lets Jesus off, he could lose his job, or worse.
And so when they mention Jesus is from Galilee, Pilate sees a lifeline and he takes it.
He ships Jesus off to King Herod, thinking, “Herod can take care of this guy and he can bear the weight of the responsibility, not me”
But what’s happening here?
What’s happening is that Pilate is so focused on keeping his job that he doesn’t take the time to see who Jesus really is.
Jesus is so close to Pilate’s eyes, yet so far from His mind and heart.
Pilate has been told that the one whom many think is the Messiah, the Savior of the World is right in front of Him.
In fact, in an hour or two from this first conversation with Jesus, Pilate’s wife is going to send him an urgent message that said:
(Matthew 27:19b) – NIV
“Don’t have anything to do with that innocent man, for I have suffered a great deal today in a dream because of him.”
So Pilate knows he’s dealing with a significant person.
But he can’t keep his mind off of his job, his reputation, his own interests.
(SO Close, Yet so far message Title)
And in the 2,000 years since, many men and women have missed Jesus for the exact same reason.
They’ve heard about Jesus, they’re familiar with Jesus, maybe even intrigued by Jesus.
And like Pilate, they don’t think Jesus is really a bad guy or guilty of anything.
But their minds are so wrapped up in their own lives that they’ve never stopped to really analyze Jesus Christ’s claims as King.
As I’ve said many times, very few Americans are actually atheists.
Most instead have a mix-and-match of spiritual views, and actually tend to think rather favorably of Jesus himself.
Even though they’ve never actually read his teachings personally.
Many Americans are like Pilate.
They’re close to the truth…there’s a church a block away…maybe even a Bible on their shelf.
But their pursuit of their career goals, or finding the right person, or having the perfect family, always come first…
And because of that, they miss what’s right in front of them.
So close, yet so far.
And this can be true of even people who sit in churches.
Some of you come here with your family, but truly, Jesus isn’t the King of your life.
He’s not what comes First as we said earlier.
Like Pilate, your mind is firstly, and primarily consumed with your career and other worldly things….
….things that will feel incredibly unimportant once we are 10,000 years into eternity.
And so I ask you, What have you done with Jesus?
Is He your King?
I don’t want you to just defer the question like Pilate did when he passed Jesus off to Herod.
Is Jesus really, truly the King of your life?
So Jesus is then sent off to King Herod, who is the son of Herod the Great (who wasn’t actually great)
Herod the Great was the King who tried to kill Jesus when he was a baby by killing all the children 2 and under in Bethlehem
The new King Herod, also known as Herod Antipas oversaw a smaller region, mostly in Galilee.
Let’s see what happens when Jesus is sent over to Herod, who was also in Jerusalem at the time
(Luke 23:8-12) – NIV
8 When Herod saw Jesus, he was greatly pleased, because for a long time he had been wanting to see him. From what he had heard about him, he hoped to see him perform a sign of some sort. 9 He plied him with many questions, but Jesus gave him no answer. 10 The chief priests and the teachers of the law were standing there, vehemently accusing him. 11 Then Herod and his soldiers ridiculed and mocked him. Dressing him in an elegant robe, they sent him back to Pilate. 12 That day Herod and Pilate became friends—before this they had been enemies.
We’re told that Herod was greatly pleased to see Jesus.
He’s exuberant about this opportunity.
Because he was hoping to see a miracle!
And again, like Pilate, Herod is so close, yet so far.
The Son of God is standing right in front of Him.
Can you even imagine?
The one who was there at the beginning of time.
God Himself in the flesh.
The only one that has the power to give Herod eternal life instead of eternal damnation
And Herod wants to be entertained.
So close, yet so far.
And tragically, again, so many Americans are in the same scenario.
They come to church…
God is present here in this room.
The one who created heaven and earth, and holds your life in His hands.
God is here…
And yet, many Americans come to church to, like Herod, be entertained.
To see the newest creative ides their church can come up with
Many come on Sundays, not to seek the Son of God, but to seek out some feeling in worship
Still others of us are like Herod who peppered Jesus with questions, hoping to hear some great or intriguing teaching...
And Americans today, more than ever, hop from church to church…sometimes for years, trying to find the best teacher, hoping to “get fed” with the newest, greatest, best ideas on a Sunday morning.
But what they’re truly seeking is entertainment, a feeling, a new teaching, a feeling of superiority because of their knowledge…
And you can do that for years…and not truly see the Son of God right in front of you.
So close, yet so far.
The King of Kings is in front of you.
Stop seeking something else, and Seek Him!
Is Jesus your king?
Is all of your life really under Him?
Or are you just moderately intrigued with Him like Pilate and Herod.
Jesus isn’t interested in you coming to Him for just your own sake.
He’s not here to entertain you, or to give you the latest novel insight.
Think about his reaction to Herod.
Herod is the only man, ever, that Jesus refused to speak to.
Even when blind beggars called out on the road, Jesus came running over.
But to KING Herod, not a word is spoken.
Herod had already heard the truth about sin and repentance from John the Baptist.
Before John was killed, we’re told:
(Mark 6:20) – NIV
because Herod feared John and protected him, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man. When Herod heard John, he was greatly puzzled, yet he liked to listen to him.
That verse ought to make a few of your nervous.
Herod liked to listen to Biblical teachings…even fiery ones from John the Baptist
(SO Close, Yet so far message Title)
Herod was excited to see and talk to Jesus.
But at the end of the day, he refused to take off his crown, and let JESUS be King.
And he is in hell now because of it
So close, and yet so far.
CONCLUSION / GOSPEL
Millions of Americans are like Pilate and Herod.
Unlike millions of people in the middle east and Asia who’ve never even heard the name of Jesus, millions of Americans know about Jesus.
He’s right in from of them in so many ways.
But they don’t see who He truly is.
And often, even those of us as Christians, over time, FORGET, who He truly is.
But He is the King, The Messiah, the Son of God, Savior of the World.
And if Pilate and Herod would have just stopped…and truly sought him, they could have seen it.
And so can you.
He wants to know you.
He died for you.
See Jesus could have stopped his death easily
He could have brilliantly argued his way out of any trial, or even called down 10,000 angels to stop it.
But He allowed himself to be killed on a cross because He was dying for our sins…in our place.
And the Bible teaches that if you believe He died for your sins, taking the punishment for them, and you a bow a knee to Him as King.
You let Him be your Leader & Savior…than you will be forgiven, and you can have eternal life in heaven.
And you can have a relationship with Him right now.
But to do so, is to live the rest of your life with Him as King.
And that, by the way, is a great blessings, because He is a good, and kind, and wise King.
And if you’ve never surrendered your life to Him as King before, I urge you to do it now.
It may be your first time in church, or your 900th time in church.
Listen there will absolutely be people who sit in church every week who won’t be saved.
They are so close, yet so far.
Like Pilate and Herod, Jesus was right in front of these people, but like Pilate and Herod…
…they never saw Jesus as King.
They never surrendered their life up to Him.
Jesus will take you in and forgive you, but it takes humility.
Which is something that Pilate and Herod didn’t have.
If you’re going to surrender your life to His Kingship, that takes humility.
Like the tax collector Zacchaeus, who sucked up his pride and ran ahead of the crowd and climbed up a sycamore tree to see Jesus.
For Zacchaeus, one who was desperate for the King…Jesus forgives his many sins, and invites Him down.
But for Herod, one who just wants a sign…and for Pilate…one who just wants his career to keep going right…
They get nothing.
Because at the end of the day, THEY want to be first.
But Jesus wants you to bow down, and put Him first.
I urge you, see Jesus for who He is.
The Son of God.
Who came to die for your sins.
Christians, Worship Him as such.
And for everyone else…
I plead with you, you don’t want to get to the end of your life, and meet Jesus face to face at judgement and say, “I was so close, but so far”
It was right in front of me…who you were…but I kept focusing on myself.
Surrender it all to Jesus.
IN fact, here’s what I want you to think about it:
For those of you who have never invited Jesus in to truly be your Savior…
I want you, during our final song (which we’ll start in a second) to walk to the front of the stage (not on it)…jus as a symbolic way to say, “I see you now. You are the Savior. The King. I believe you died for me. I give you my life.”
If you need to come, to offer Him your life…you’ll just know.
It won’t be easy…it’ll take humility…just like Zachaeus climbing that tree…but following Him with your life isn’t easy either.
But it’s worth it.
So if you need to believe He died for you and accept Him as your Savior, come to the front at anytime during this song…
And then, at the end of the song, I’ll pray with you, and help you get started in this decision to follow Jesus.
Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN
You may use this material all you like! We only ask that you do not charge a fee and that you quote the source and not say it is your own.