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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » James Meehan » James Meehan - Learning to Love From the Most Influential Teacher in History

James Meehan - Learning to Love From the Most Influential Teacher in History

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    James Meehan - Learning to Love From the Most Influential Teacher in History

So how are we gonna learn to love like Jesus? The best place that we can look is to Jesus, who is the most influential teacher in history. But he wasn't just like a regular teacher, right? He wasn't like a life coach offering tips and tricks and how to hit your goals. He was the author of life itself. Jesus wasn't just a rabbi or a prophet. Jesus was the Messiah, the chosen one of Israel that the world was waiting for to put all the things that were wrong back together. It's kind of like "Avatar: The Last Airbender". At the beginning of every episode when they talk about, 100 years ago, the Avatar disappeared, and the Fire Nation attacked, and all the bad things happened, but we're waiting for the day that the Avatar comes back and puts it back together.

That was my Katara voice, which was terrible. But that's kind of like like what people thought of with Jesus, except instead of it being like a cartoon story, this is the true story. This is the story of the world, the story of God's plan to rescue humanity and to restore his creation. It's not just a great story that we can listen to and we can enjoy, but it is the story of the way that the world actually works. And what Jesus did when he showed up in history is he showed the world a better way, the true way, the real way, and we call it the gospel. It's the good news of what He introduced, and that's what He's inviting us to be a part of. And so in that journey of Him teaching all of these people these new things, there ended up being a religious lawyer who came up to Jesus with a question.

And the brilliance of Jesus is that when people come to him with a question, he recognizes that behind every question is a questioner. And when He answers the question, He's not just trying to make a point, He's trying to connect with the person. And so I love, in Luke's gospel, starting in chapter 10, verse 25, this is what we read. One day, an expert in religious law stood up to test Jesus by asking him this question, "Teacher, what should I do to inherit eternal life"? Now, a little bit of context here. Oftentimes when we hear eternal life, what we think of is life after death. But when the Jewish audience would hear eternal life, they're not just thinking about life after death. They're thinking about life with God in the present and in future, in here and now and in eternity. And so Jesus replies to the man and he says, "What does the law of Moses say? How do you read it"?

And the man answers, "You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind". This was the answer to that question. This was the answer to the question, what is most important in all of the law? But what's really interesting is that this guy had clearly been listening to Jesus. He knew what Jesus was about because he then goes on to say, "And love your neighbor as yourself". The reason why we can tell that he was listening to Jesus is before Jesus, when people would ask the question, what's most important, they would answer, love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.

And then a next to that, they would say, the way that you do that is by obeying God's commands. But what Jesus introduced was this idea that the way you show your love for God is by loving others. Because what Jesus was helping us understand is that you cannot be right with God and wrong with others because God considers humanity, His children, His people. And if you're gonna say, "God, I love you," and then you're gonna disrespect His children, then that's like really icky. Imagine, 20 years from now, you're hanging out with your best friend, but man, you can't stand their kids. They're just little punks. And so, you tell him all the time, "Hey, your kid's a punk," but you don't just tell 'em that their kid's a punk, you start picking on their kid, like their kids playing PlayStation 12 or whatever, and you just like push 'em down, "Dude, you're trash, noob. Back in my day, 'Fortnite' champ. you know how many Victory Royales I had? More than you".

If that was what your best friend was doing and they're like, "Hey, your kid's a punk, but I still love you. We can still be friends". He'd be like, "Nah! You just messing with my kid". That's what Jesus was helping us understand, is that to claim to love God but to not love others, that's not love. And this lawyer had heard Jesus say these words. And so when Jesus asked him the question, He says like, "Hey, how do you read it? What does the law of Moses say"? He says, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, all your strength, and love your neighbor as yourself". So Jesus responds and he says, "Right, do this and you will live".

Now, I think we have to pause here also because, in our world today, oftentimes, when we think about love, we think about it as this strong feeling or a type of physical or emotional attraction. But what Jesus is saying is to do this. Love isn't just a feeling. It's not just this thing that you think. It's not this detached idea or concept. It's not just the songs that come on the radio, or on Spotify, or whatever. What Jesus is showing us is that love isn't just how you feel or what you believe. Love is how you live and what you do. Love is more than just some empty words. It's more than just a feeling. It's more than just a thought. Love is something that we do. It's how we live.

Now, this is where things get interesting because what we're told in verse 29, Luke says that the man wanted to justify his actions. So he asked Jesus, "Who is my neighbor? If I'm supposed to love my neighbor as myself then who is my neighbor"? Because if you're in a situation where you get confronted with truth, the often first reaction we have is we want to justify our actions. That's what this guy is doing right here. It's kind of like... Have you ever seen an interview conversation where it's really clear that the interviewer is starting to feel insecure so they start to ask a question to make the other person look bad? That's kind of what's happening here. This guy is trying to get Jesus to say what he wants to hear, but Jesus is the son of God. He's the chosen one. He's like the real Avatar.

And so Jesus sees through the question, and He responds by telling a story, a story that has become known as "The parable of the Good Samaritan". It's one of Jesus' most famous parables. And what parables are, are these stories that Jesus would tell to help people see the world through a different lens, to help people see the world through the eyes of heaven. And so Jesus tells a story, and in this story, Jesus reveals three such important things about what it really looks like to love others. Three lessons that we can learn as we are trying to figure out what it looks like to fight for unity in our divided world. So this is where Jesus starts the story.

It's in verse 30 of Luke's gospel, chapter 10. He says a Jewish man was traveling from Jerusalem down to Jericho, where he was attacked by bandits. These bandits stripped him of his clothes. They beat him up. They left him half dead beside the road. Now, by chance, a priest came along. But when he saw the man lying there, he crossed to the other side of the road and passed him by. Then a temple assistant walked over and looked at him lying there, but he also passed by on the other side.

Now, important context here. Back then, they didn't have hospitals and ambulances. So when people were hurting, when people were sick, they would go to the temple. And so when Jesus is talking about a priest and a temple assistant, the way that we could think this is Jesus is saying hey, a pastor and a paramedic. They both walk by. they see this man half dead on the side of the road, and what do they do? They just keep walking. The people that should be there to help this person who is hurting. They just walk on by. Now, maybe for you, when you think about all of the messiness, all of the noise, all of the anger in the world today, you're like, "Yeah but I'm not a part of the problem. I'm not the one that's bashing people on Twitter. I'm not the one that's going behind my friend's back and gossiping about them. I'm not the one that's posting all these hateful things on my Instagram. I'm not a part of the problem".

But what Jesus is showing us is that love is not passive. Love doesn't pass by on the other side. Love steps into the mess where people are hurting and is a part of the solution. What Jesus is showing us is that if you're not loving with action, then guess what, you're not doing. You're not loving because love isn't passive and choosing not to do anything is choosing not to love. So how do we fight for unity in a divided world? We learn to love like Jesus. And the Jesus kind of love is a love that takes action. It's not a love that passes by. It's a love that steps in because love takes action.

So, Jesus continues this story and what he does here is he hits you with the plot twist. This is the part where Jesus throws a wrench into the story where we've got these expectations of where things are gonna go, and he says, "Nope, not today. We're going a different direction". In verse 33, here's what Jesus says. He says, "Then a despised Samaritan came along". Now, he wanted to make it very clear that people despised Samaritans. He's saying, the person that you would least expect shows up. And this person doesn't pass by on the other side. What the Samaritan does, the Samaritan comes along. And when he saw the man, what did he do? He felt compassion for him. He didn't just ignore the problem He did something about it. Basically, whoever you least expect, whoever you think of when you think that person is the problem, that's who Jesus is saying, they're the ones who showed up.

They're the ones who see the man in the pain. They're the ones who say, "Hey, I'm not gonna pass on by. I'm gonna meet you right where you are because I'm not gonna take a side and divide. I'm gonna stand where Jesus stands". He stands with the hurting, He stands with the broken, and he offers them healing. I love the way that our senior pastor talked about this recently. He talked about Jesus doesn't draw lines to keep people out. He crosses lines to bring people in, and that's exactly what's happening with the Samaritan because the Samaritans and the Jews were enemies. They were on different sides of the line. When we talk about us versus them, there's us and then there's them. And the Samaritan said, "No, I see somebody who's hurting. And they might be on the other side of the line, but I'm gonna cross that line, and I'm gonna sit in the mess with them because that's the right thing to do".

Jesus chose a Samaritan in this story because he wanted us to see that the kind of love that he offers is a love that crosses lines. It's a love that crosses lines to bring people in. It doesn't draw lines to keep people out. And in a world where it's so temping to draw a line between us and them, to draw a line to make it clear I'm with them and I'm against them, what Jesus is showing us that love takes action and love crosses lines, and that's how we fight for unity in a divided world. We love with action and we love by crossing lines. We love like Jesus does. And we're gonna see in this next part of the story is the reality that love doesn't just take action, love doesn't just cross lines, love goes the extra mile.

So a despised Samaritan comes along, and he sees this man and he feels compassion for him. Then he goes over to him. What we're told is that the Samaritan soothed his wounds with olive oil and wine, and he bandaged them. Then he put the man on his own donkey, and he took him to an inn where he took care of him. The next day, he hands the innkeeper, two silver coins. He tells him, "Take care of this man. If his bill runs higher than this, I will pay you the next time I'm here. If it costs more to take care of this man, don't worry, I will be back, and I will pay whatever extra I need to pay". This Samaritan didn't just take action. He didn't just cross lines. He went the extra mile because that's what love does.

Love doesn't just give people a pat on the head and make sure that they're okay. Love does what people don't even ask for. Love shatters expectations. Love goes the extra mile and keeps following up with people that are hurting. Not what's expected, not what's asked, but what Jesus modeled. Because what's so beautiful about this story is we're being shown the truth that love takes action, that love crosses lines, that love goes the extra mile, and it's this kind of action-oriented, line-crossing, extra-mile-walking love that Jesus has for every single one of us. Because at some point in our lives, every single one of us, we have been like that person who is dead on the side of the road because we were dead in our sins.

And Jesus said, "Hey, I'm not just gonna watch you suffer. I'm gonna step into history. I'm gonna cross the line between heaven and earth and I'm gonna go the extra mile carrying the cross to Calvary to die for you because that's what love does". It crosses lines, it takes action and it goes the extra mile. So Jesus tells this story, "The Parable of the Good Samaritan," and then he asks a question to this lawyer, a question that I think all of us need to answer. He says, "Now, which of these three would you say was a neighbor? The pastor, the paramedic, or the Samaritan? Which of these three was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by bandits"? Now, the man replies, "The one who showed him mercy". So Jesus says, "Yes. Now go and do the same".

So which one are you? Are you the pastor who walked on by? Are you the paramedic who walked on by, or will you choose to be the Samaritan who takes action, who crosses lines, and goes the extra mile, choosing to love others the same way that Jesus has loved you? Because in a world where it's so easy to settle for division, we are called by God to fight for unity, because Jesus never said blessed are the side takers. No, He said, "Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called children of God". And the thing that our divided world needs is a united church, a picture of heaven to our broken world because what Jesus offers is good and it's true. That's why we call it the gospel. So what will you choose? Will you choose to settle for division, to just walk on by, or will you choose to fight for unity? Let's pray:

Heavenly Father, we thank you so much that the wisdom of Jesus still speaks true to the world we're in today. And God, what I pray is that we would be a group of people, that we would be a movement that is committed to loving others just as you have loved us, that we would be committed to taking action, crossing lines, and going the extra mile for others because that's exactly what you did for us.

And now what I know is that there are probably some of you who are here, and you would recognize that you've been settling for division, that maybe you haven't been actively lumping hate on people, but you've just been passing by, and today's the day that changes. You wanna step in. You wanna take action. You wanna cross lines. You want to go the extra mile for others. If that's you, simply lift your hand, type it in the chat, let us know because we wanna pray for you to help you be all that God has made you to be, to be the kind of person that shows the world what it looks like to live as a follower of Jesus. And for all those of you who are raising your hand or you're typing in the chat, we're so thankful for you. Let me pray:

God, thank you for those students who are saying, "I want to fight for unity. I wanna love others just as you have loved me. I wanna step into the mess. I want to take action. I wanna cross lines because I want to be a part of the solution". God, I pray that you give them wisdom and courage to step into what you've called them to, to choose to fight for unity, to choose to be a peacemaker.

Still in an attitude of prayer, What i know is that there are some of you who maybe you're here today. And as you're hearing this story, there's something inside you that is coming alive, maybe for the very first time. What that is, is that's God's spirit working in you, waking you up to the truth of who he is and what he has done. You see, the reality is that, as human beings, all of us, we're created by God on purpose and for a purpose, but the problem is that we've sinned. we've done things to hurt ourselves, others in the heart of Go, and that sin has separated us from God. That sin has put us in a place where we are walking towards death, but Jesus came to offer us life. That's why the gospel is good news.

Who is Jesus? Jesus is the sinless Son of God who entered history, who died on a cross for your sins and for mine, but He did not stay dead. On the third day, He came back from the dead, conquering death, hell, and the grave so that anybody who puts their trust in Him would be saved, would be made new, would be a part of God's family, and that's exactly why you're here tonight, to say yes to Jesus, to put your trust in Him. Not just because it's good, but because it's true. That's why you're here today. If you wanna turn from your past and turn towards God saying, "Jesus, I give you my life". If that's you, let us know right now by lifting your hand, by clicking on that prompt in the chat. Let us know that you're saying, "Jesus, I give you my life". And what we know is that there are people who are making that decision right now. And at Switch, we are a family, and so we're gonna pray alongside you as you pray this prayer repeating after me:

Dear Jesus, forgive me. I'm turning for my sin. I'm turning towards you. I need your love. I need your grace. I need your mercy. I give you my life. In Jesus' name Amen, amen, and amen.

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