Sheep Shepherd Young Man Portrait Human Animal

Check Boxes

Are you a list person? My experience has taught me that everyone can be categorized in one of three “list” categories. 1) People that live by “to do” lists. They make them and use them. 2) People that, with good intentions, make lists but never use them. 3) People that don’t make lists. I think Jesus likes lists. Not to help Him remember, but just for tidiness. Jesus had at least the following checkboxes on His list for His earthly ministry.

  • To proclaim His gospel. Gospel means “a good or joyful message – glad tidings.” Jesus declared that He was anointed by the Spirit of the Lord, anointed like that of a king, such as King David, to usher in the kingdom of God. And it was first, for the poor, remission of sins, comfort for the mourner. Luke 4:17–19
  • To fulfill the will of His Father. John 5:30
  • To fulfill all that was prophesied about Him. Luke 24:43–45
  • To pay the cost of our sin, provide our hope for resurrection, and become our righteousness and mediator. 1 Peter 3:18
  • To choose, train, and prepare the men He would use to lay the foundation of His Church. Mark 3:13–19, Ephesians 2:19–20
  • To preach and demonstrate His authority, validated by miracles from God, to the Jews, God’s chosen people. John 14:10–12
  • To expand His gospel beyond Israel and make His provision available to anyone that requests His salvation. Romans 9:25–26
  • To teach us about the kingdom of God and how we are to live as God’s children. John 18:36, Matthew 4:23
  • To send the Holy Spirit to be on the people of His Church. John 14:16–17

Parable of the Sower

 Then Jesus said to them, “If you can’t understand the meaning of this parable, how will you understand all the other parables? The farmer plants seed by taking God’s word to others.

Mark 4:13–14 NLT

Evangelism was always one of those checkboxes. In Christ’s parable of the sower, we see this found in Mark 4:13–14 NLT and Jesus’ Great Commission, located in Matthew 28:18–20. Jesus’ parable in Matthew 22:1–14 of the king’s banquet tells us, “And those servants went out into the roads and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good. So the wedding hall was filled with guests.

It’s evident in the parable of the king’s banquet that we are the servants. The King commands us to go and gather. He doesn’t tell us to go and test and choose. No! We are told to go out and bring in people. The Holy Spirit will call and bring into the kingdom those that hear and heed. Our job is to take God’s word to others. Jesus does the saving. Jesus said, “For the Son of Man [Jesus] came to seek and save the lost.Luke 19:10

Image by Mehmet Turgut Kirkgoz from Pixabay

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The “I” of Jesus

Today, we’re going to dive head-long into the depths of a philosophy that is the Millennial generation’s cancer. It is the philosophy of nihilism (/ˈnīəˌlizəm,ˈnēəˌlizəm/) – a short name for a long process of destruction.

According to “The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy,” Nihilism is the belief that all values are baseless and that nothing can be known or communicated. It is often associated with extreme pessimism and a radical skepticism that condemns existence…While few philosophers would claim to be nihilists, nihilism is most often associated with Friedrich Nietzsche who argued that its corrosive effects would eventually destroy all moral, religious, and metaphysical convictions and precipitate the greatest crisis in human history.

Western culture has accepted hopelessness in the world. Most people cannot articulate what philosophy they embrace, however you can be sure that woven into the Millennial’s belief system is nihilism, even if they are Christians.

Nihilism in Action

If you watch TV, go to movies, or read modern books, you know the common theme is an apocalypse. If you don’t believe me, look at the top books on Amazon or top movies on Netflix. As of this writing, a leading Netflix series is “The Designated Survivor,” which is about how the American government might continue if a bomb killed every elected official in Washington; that’s nihilism. The last hit single by Johnny Cash before he died was “Hurt,” a song originally by Nine Inch Nails. It opens with “I hurt myself today, to see if I still feel.”; that’s nihilism.

The Cure

The cure for nihilism is found in a firm statement by Jesus:

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” – John 10:10 (ESV)

The thief comes – the thief’s philosophy fits nicely into that of nihilism. But all of that foolishness is exploded by the “I” of Jesus. Notice the thief comes / I came. The “I” provides Jesus with a smooth segue to a series of “I” statements.

  • “I am the gate for the sheep” [John 10:7]
  • “I am the good shepherd”
  • “I know my sheep and my sheep know me”
  • “I lay down my life for the sheep”
  • “I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen [Not the Jews in heathen lands, but Gentiles]”
  • “I must bring them [other sheep] also.”
  • “I have authority to lay it down [My life] and authority to take it up again.”

True Peace is in the “I” of Jesus

I am so profoundly thankful to be one of Jesus’ sheep for the “I” of Jesus came into my life and now watches over me. That is true peace and the foundation for an abundant life.

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