Is there actually a risk in being too familiar with Jesus? What possibly could that risk be?
INTRODUCTION / THE PASSAGE
(Lost & Found series slide)
Do you remember the Crocodile Hunter? Steve Irwin?
That guy was amazing.
He did all sorts of daring stunts with all sorts of dangerous animals.
But here’s the thing: Once you start to become really familiar with something, you can start to let your guard down.
And that’s exactly what happened in his life.
At the young age of 44, he was out swimming with a dangerous stingray, it got boxed in, and rather than taking the proper precautions, he just stayed next to it.
And in a defensive maneuver, the stingray’s barb pierced Irwin’s heart, and he was killed.
And that’s what we want to talk about this morning: The dangers of familiarity.
We are rejoining our Lost & Found series on the Gospel of Luke today, and we are in Luke chapter 4.
Jesus has now been baptized, been tempted by the devil himself, and according to our upcoming passage, He has begun teaching around the regions of Galilee.
(Show Galilee Map)
And the people around the region are loving Him.
While He’s in the region, we’re told that He makes a stop at his hometown: Nazareth.
Jesus stops by the synagogue for their weekly worship on the Sabbath, which was a Saturday.
Let’s take a look at this story:
By the way, can you imagine being there that day?
This is the Jesus you grew up with…and now, somehow he’s famous and doing miracles?
I’m sure the Synagogue was packed that day with intrigued people!
(Luke 4:14-30) – NIV
14 Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside. 15 He was teaching in their synagogues, and everyone praised him.
16 He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, 17 and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:
18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
20 Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. 21 He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” 22 All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his lips. “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?” they asked.
23 Jesus said to them, “Surely you will quote this proverb to me: ‘Physician, heal yourself!’ And you will tell me, ‘Do here in your hometown what we have heard that you did in Capernaum.’”
24 “Truly I tell you,” he continued, “no prophet is accepted in his hometown. 25 I assure you that there were many widows in Israel in Elijah’s time, when the sky was shut for three and a half years and there was a severe famine throughout the land. 26 Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to a widow in Zarephath in the region of Sidon. 27 And there were many in Israel with leprosy in the time of Elisha the prophet, yet not one of them was cleansed—only Naaman the Syrian.”
28 All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this. 29 They got up, drove him out of the town, and took him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw him off the cliff. 30 But he walked right through the crowd and went on his way.
FAMILIARITY CAN BREED PRIDE
Look at verse 24 if you still have it open:
It says: “No prophet is accepted in his hometown.”
And why is that?
It’s because there are a few dangerous things about familiarity.
And I want to work out what those are today:
Let’s take a look at the first one.
Possible Dangers of Familiarity:
1. Familiarity can breed pride
Certainly this story goes from bad to worse, but it seems to start, fairly innocently, with prideful statements.
At first they’re just pridefully saying, “Isn’t this just Joseph’s son? You know, from down the street? 3rd house on the left?”
“Pretty sure he couldn’t be the Messiah”
We can tell by Jesus’ words that they must have been saying things like, “Hey, old buddy from the neighborhood, if you’re really the Messiah, then do a miracle here like you did in Capernaum. Prove it! Cuz, I know you, and…”
Their familiarity breeds pride.
They think they know all there is to know about Jesus.
“He’s the guy who used to deliver me my furniture after his dad made it.”
Um, that’s not the Messiah
“I remember his voice cracking like crazy when he was 13.”
Not God’s Son.
It was, in fact, MUCH harder for them to believe that Jesus is God’s Son than it was for the people in other towns.
In fact, in Mark’s account of this story, we read this:
(Mark 6:5-6) – NIV
5 He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. 6 He was amazed at their lack of faith.
I remember thinking about this principle myself about 10 years ago.
I had been a youth pastor for a few years, and my youth group had grown to about 200 kids or so.
And I was approached by a pastor from my hometown…and he asked me if I’d think about coming on staff at his church (great church).
And the Lord brought this passage of Scripture to my mind:
And so I eventually told him no…because I was sure that there, I’d open up the Word of God, bring the heat, and people would say, “Cute. That’s Mike & Vickie’s boy…we remember when he used to fall off his bike in front of our house.”
When things become too familiar, we tend to suck the spiritual power right out of them.
Let me show you where we often fall into this trap:
We read the Bible to our kids every night.
We own about 5 different children’s Bibles, and just rotate.
And the other day, I caught one of my kids saying what I believe is one of THE most dangerous things ever for a Christian to say…
And so I stopped them right in their tracks.
You want to know what they said?
“I know that one already”
As modern-day Americans, we are obsessed with the new, the novel, the innovative, the fresh.
Let me ask you something: How many of you, when you hear or read the stories of “The Good Samaritan” or “The Prodigal Son” just zone out and say to yourself, “I know that one already”
We do this all the time.
Our familiarity breeds pride, and we already think we know all there is to know about that part of God’s story and character.
I met with a guy the other day, around 70 years old, spends an hour a day just studying the Scriptures…breaking them down.
You don’t think he already knows the story of the Good Samaritan?
And yet, I bet he’d probably tell you that he’s only scratched the surface of that story
He wants to know it more…even though he’s more familiar with it than most of us.
But familiarity for most of the rest of us has the opposite effect.
It falsely tells us that we’re experts in religion.
That’s what the people of Nazareth thought.
Oh Jesus, we know all there is to know about Jesus.
Familiarity can blind you with pride
Is this happening in your life?
The Holy Spirit is coming in our rooms every night when you open the Bible…and we’re missing it…thinking, “Blah, blah, I’ve read this before”
The Holy Spirit is here right now, ready to do something dramatic in your life
And you started to zone out because you “already know the one about Nazareth”
Don’t let familiarity blind you with pride.
It’s so…so dangerous!
FAMILIARITY CAN BREED INDIFFERENCE
Unfortunately, the dangers continue:
Possible Dangers of Familiarity:
1. Familiarity can breed pride
2. Familiarity can breed indifference
The people of Nazareth not only grew up with Jesus…they probably even knew some of his story.
They might have known how Mary & Joseph went to Bethlehem, then had to go to Egypt to flee from Herod because Jesus was something special.
Maybe they had even heard stories about the angels that had visited Mary & Joseph …they know the stories, just not the real Christ.
And similarly, there are many people in America who know the stories about Jesus, but they don’t know Jesus.
And there are many people in CHURCHES who know the stories of Jesus, but it never moves past their head to their heart
I heard a story recently that happened in one of our House Groups this Spring
A newer believer was sharing in her small group that she loved the song we sing here called “Reckless Love,” but she didn’t know what “leaves the 99” meant
Her small group encouraged her to look up Luke chapter 15 and read it out loud…right then.
And when she read out loud how God is like the shepherd who will leave the 99 sheep just to find the one lost sheep, she started to cry tears of gratitude.
And her small group, who had heard the story, so many times (oh yeah, the 99, and the 1)…started to become teary eyed themselves…as they saw it again, through fresh eyes
Sometimes, I hear people say, “If I could just see Jesus in person, it would be so easy to believe”
But goodness, these people grew up with Jesus and didn’t believe.
Their familiarity with him bred indifference
Jesus finishes reading the prophecy from Isaiah, rolls up the scroll, and says, “Today, this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
I’m thinking, “YES!! YES!! DROP THE MIC, JESUS! YES!”
And they’re thinking, “Meh, you’ve been sitting in this very synagogue as an attender most of your life. We know you…you can’t be anything special”
For some of you, the very fact that you’ve already heard about Jesus 100 times, is ironically, dangerous to you.
Because you’re not hearing it with fresh ears anymore.
Is this you right now??
Have you become indifferent to Jesus?
When I tell you that Jesus is incredibly in love with you and never stops thinking about you?
Does that do something to your soul?
Or has familiarity just caused those words to bounce right off of you?
When I tell you that heaven is real, life is short, judgment will happen, and I hope you let Jesus save you from fire of hell.
Does that cause you to sit up straight?
Or has familiarity just bred a shoulder shrug of indifference in your life?
Familiarity and repetition aren’t SUPPOSED to do those things.
They’re supposed to help you let the words sink in even deeper.
But often, our hearts are hard, and wicked, and instead of rejoicing in the truths we already have…we just demand novel lesser truths instead
Never stop being amazed by Jesus!
FAMILIARITY CAN BREED CONTEMPT
And then there’s a final danger of familiarity…when it’s not handled properly.
And this one is by far the biggest danger
Possible Dangers of Familiarity:
1. Familiarity can breed pride
2. Familiarity can breed indifference
3. Familiarity can breed contempt
As soon as Jesus starts to really challenge the people of his hometown, they can’t handle it.
Starting in verse 24, he says, “No prophet is accepted in their hometown.”
And he gives examples of how both the prophets Elijah and Elisha ministered to Gentiles (The widow of Zarephath and Naaman the Syrian)…because there wasn’t enough faith in their hometowns.
And the people of Nazareth are NOT having that…
Not from their hometown boy.
And they try and throw him off a cliff.
Familiarity breeds contempt.
I saw this a lot when I was a youth pastor for high school students.
Parents would tell their kids that they need to change something in their life…and the parents could say it 25 times, and their teens would keep saying, “Whatever…I’m not listening to you.”
And then, the teenager’s cool, hip, 25-year volunteer small group leader at youth group, would say THE EXACT SAME thing…
And the teen would say, “Oh, that makes sense. I’ll do that.”
Parents, this why you need your teen in youth group J
But familiarity has a way of breeding contempt.
When someone we KNOW really challenges us to change our lives
We have a way of saying, “Who are you to say that to me??”
And your familiarity with Jesus (like the people of Nazareth) may cause you to bristle at his claims.
We get so used to Him and His teachings…that like the teenager does to their parent…we somehow start acting with contempt every time we’re truly challenged.
Charles Spurgeon used to say that for many people, Jesus sets his demands too high, and sets his view of human righteousness (how good you are) too low
I stand up here, and I read, from the BIBLE, that Jesus demands absolutely everything from you. Your whole life. All of it.
Your heart, your schedule, your finances, your thoughts, everything.
There’s no part of it you should be holding back from Him.
And we feel his demands are too high.
I read the Bible, and I tell you that you, are a miserable sinner, and there is absolutely nothing you can do to save yourself.
And we feel that he talks about us…as if we’re too low
What our sinful hearts want….is really something more in the middle.
Lower the demands and say some nicer things about us
And I will tell you…most churches (over time) actually land somewhere in that middle.
Pastors get too weary of members telling them that they were offended…and so everyone settles for the lukewarm middle.
We all settle for looking like the people of Nazareth.
And so church people all across America, come to church each Sunday, hoping to hear something in the middle.
Another entertaining story…
And better yet, an entertaining story, with a fresh angle that they’ve never heard before…that ends with just a laugh, and not a challenge
In our familiarity, we don’t want to hear that we are miserable sinners, who need to turn our whole lives over to Jesus.
But I won’t teach out of the middle. Even if the old, familiar claims of Jesus make you uncomfortable
Why? Because I want you to TRULY know the joy of following Jesus
Do you know Him? Have you surrendered to Him?
I didn’t say, “Do you go to church or not?”
I didn’t say, “Do you read the Bible or pray?”
I want to know: “Do you really KNOW Jesus…are you truly saved?”
And today, our passage isn’t talking to people who are hearing about Jesus for the first time..
It’s talking to people who have been hearing about Jesus their whole life!!
Do you really know Him?
Have you really given your life to Him or have you just been hanging around his hometown?
Some of you have been sitting in church for years, but you’ve never really personally responded to this message…not in your heart.
I’m going to say this to you as plainly as I possibly can, and I want you to hear this, like you’ve never heard it in your life. Can you do that?
Here is the core truth of the Christian faith:
You and I are miserable sinners.
We sin way more than we think…and it offends God.
We ignore Him. We try and do it our own way.
We break his commandments.
We are guilty in almost every way.
And what we deserve for that…is judgment.
What happened to our culture that we convinced ourselves that we don’t deserve judgment?
That we’re above judgment somehow?
Are we God or something?
What’s wrong with us??
No, judgement for our sins is coming because God is holy.
I’m reading an incredible biography right now about D.L. Moody (the Billy Graham of the 1800’s).
In 1871, Moody was the president of the YMCA in Chicago, Lead Pastor of a church, and just been given a new house in Chicago.
On, October 8th, 1871, he watched as the Great Chicago Fire burned through all three of those buildings and hundreds more
Here’s the thought that came to him as he was running home from church that night, to get his wife and kids out of their house…
“It seemed to me that I had a glimpse in that fire of what the Day of Judgment will be, when I saw the flames rolling down the streets, twenty and thirty feet high, consuming everything its march that did not flee. I saw the millionaire and the beggar fleeing alike. There was no difference. That night great men, learned men, wise men, all fled alike. There was no difference. And when God comes to judge the world, there will be no difference.” – D.L. Moody
And every single one of us, will have to pay for our sins…unless we let Jesus pay for them.
And that is why Jesus came to earth.
Not to give you a special boost in helping your prayer requests get answered.
Not so you could print his name on your coffee mug
He came because we deserve fire and judgment for our sins…
And he wanted to rescue you. Rescue YOU!
And so he willingly gave his life for you on the cross.
Have you given your life to Him?
And can you believe that the Bible says if you believe that Jesus died for you…that you can be forgiven?
And I don’t just mean believe something and then go on with your life as normal…for that’s not real belief.
But to surrender your life to the one who died for you.
(John 3:36) – NIV
36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.
Listen to me, it doesn’t matter how familiar you are with Jesus.
It doesn’t matter that your wife is really serious about Jesus…or your parents are…
These people in Nazareth grew up with Jesus…for decades.
They looked Jesus in the eye!
They ate dinner with Jesus!
BUT THEY DID NOT KNOW HIM
They did not, in their heart of hearts, believe.
They hadn’t given their lives to Him.
Have you truly?
Have you turned your life over to Him?
Or has your familiarity with Him caused you to mistake your knowledge of Him with your salvation by Him?
This is exactly why there’s that haunting passage in the Bible where the people see Jesus on judgment day after they die and say, “Jesus we knew you! We even served with you”
And Jesus says, “Then I will tell them plainly, I never knew you”
Have you, in your heart of hearts, ever truly surrendered your life to Jesus?
Have you ever truly turned your life over to Him?
I’m not talking to those of you who are just in a lower spot right now, and need to get serious about your faith again…
But to those of you that, you know it, you’ve never truly surrendered your life to Him.
If you were to die tonight, you wouldn’t be saved…because you never truly believed.
You would be headed to the fire…and not the gates of heaven.
It’s not enough to just know about God.
The book of James says, “Even the demons believe in one God.”
And trust me, they’re not going to heaven.
Have you surrendered your life to Christ?
If you’ve been hearing me, maybe even for years, give people an opportunity to surrender their lives to Him and be forgiven…and you always think about it, but have never done it.
Do it today! Do it today!
He will forgive you of everything!
I Promise you, He will come into your life, and you will NEVER…NEVER be the same!
Surrender to Him!
Here’s what we’re going to do.
I’m going to invite the band back up here now…and we’re going to do a final song.
And if you’re ready to become a believer, to accept his gift of forgiveness, to surrender your life to Christ for the first time…I want you at any time during this song, to walk up to the front (right here in front of the stage).
I don’t care if your 12 or 82.
If it’s time to give your life to Christ, come forward and stand in the front by me.
And don’t say, “But I might be embarrassed.”
Listen, you’re not going to die, be sentenced to hell, and say, “Oh good, at least I wasn’t embarrassed in church that one day”
If God is telling you in your heart that you need to surrender your life to Christ, come forward at any time during this song, and then I will pray for you to close out the service.
Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN
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