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WHY SHOULD I BELIEVE AND FOLLOW JESUS CHRIST?
WHAT HAS HE DONE FOR ME?

A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT
THE HIGH HILL UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
FOR THE
GOOD FRIDAY EVENING SERVICE

17 APRIL 1992

By Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor

SCRIPTURAL REFERENCES:

Isaiah 52:13-15
        53:1-6
Hebrews 4:1-10

As I was reading over the Scriptures which became the basis of tonight's sermon, the title seemed to flow forth:

Why Should I Believe and Follow Jesus Christ?

What Has He Done For Me?

When I mentioned this title to my wife and to my son-in-law, on separate occasions, both of them were silent for a few moments and then said nearly the same thing:

"You have posed some very thought-provoking questions, but that's the way most of the world thinks."

So tonight, I want to provoke you in the same manner.

I want each of us, individually, to truly consider our own relationship with our Lord and what he has done for us personally.

In your Bibles, please turn to Isaiah 52:13 and following, and let the words of this prophet, who wrote 700 years before Jesus walked this earth as a man, guide us in this introspection.

13. Behold, My servant will prosper,
He will be high and lifted up, and greatly exalted.

Jesus has prospered, but most of the world hasn't accepted their portion of His prosperity, even though He has offered it to everyone: even to those who crucified Him, and even to us, whose sins drove the nails into His hands and feet.

He has been high and lifted up into heaven.

He was high and lifted up upon the cross.

And we do a disservice to Him when we limit our exaltation of Him to that cross, for He has risen far above such human cruelty.

14. Just as many were astonished at you, My people,
So His appearance was marred more than any man,
And His form more than the sons of men.

15. Thus He will sprinkle many nations,
Kings will shut their mouths on account of Him;
For what had not been told them they will see,
And what they had not heard they will understand.

When we consider all that God created, and all the beauty of this earth, and how he died for our sins; and yet at the same time the cruelty we show to one another and to all of God's creation, it is an astonishing thing to behold.

If we would only stop for a moment and consider the suffering and shame that Jesus took upon Himself for us, in order that we would not have to suffer as He did; and how he sprinkled His own blood over us and all other people for our healing and cleansing from sin, we might be less likely to inflict such pain and suffering upon others whether they are human or other animals.

What He did was so magnificent that even world leaders have shut their mouths.

And if we would only open our spiritual eyes to see into His glory, we would behold far more than we've been told.

As we begin chapter 53 of Isaiah, the prophet asks us some questions:

1. Who has believed our message?
And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?

The glory and the power and the majesty of God are all around us; and if we care to look, portions of it have been revealed to everyone; but it's only by the believers that all of it can be seen.

Not that all believers do see it, but that we all have the ability.

Because far too many believers still have one foot in the world, while trying to keep the other in heaven; thus we don't see everything, and often stumble.

And to help us take both our feet out of the world, Isaiah foretold what Jesus Christ did for us upon the cross, in order that we would enter with Him into His heavenly abode.

2. For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot,
And like a root out of parched ground;
He has no stately form or majesty
That we should look upon Him,
Nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him.

3. He was despised and forsaken of men,
A man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;
And like one from whom men hide their face,
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.

We aren't talking about some ordinary man; we're talking about Jesus Christ.

We're talking about God.

And simply because the love of God has no limits, Jesus took all this upon Himself.

And because the evil nature in all too many of us can't understand this kind of unselfishness, we deny His grace.

So, we ridicule what we don't fully understand.

Jesus, though sorrowful, allows us to do this in the hope that we would come to our senses and return to Him with a whole heart, of our own free will.

It takes a whole lot of love and patience to do this.

He is as Isaiah says:

4. Surely our griefs He Himself bore,
And our sorrows He carried;
Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten of God, and afflicted.

5. But He was pierced through for our transgressions,
He was crushed for our iniquities;
The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him,
And by his scourging we are healed.

We continue to wonder what Jesus Christ has done for us.

And we continue to wonder why we should believe in Him and follow Him.

Perhaps we continue to wonder because we're afraid of the truth.

We're afraid to accept the truth, because it's quite convicting.

And we're afraid to tell others, because they might ridicule us.

6. All of us like sheep have gone astray,
Each of us has turned to his own way;
But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all
To fall on Him.

This, too, He does because He loves us, and desires us all to return to Him with a whole heart.

Perhaps we are the way we are, because God is so loving and patient.

We misinterpret God's compassion as weakness, and thus lose our fear or reverence of Him.

We forget that God is also a righteous God.

But don't hear these words only from me; hear them also from the writer to the Hebrews (4:1-10), and consider for ourselves the way of God.

1. Therefore, let us fear lest, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one of you should seem to have come short of it.

2. For indeed we have had good news preached to us, just as they also; but the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard.

3. For we who have believed enter that rest, just as He has said,
"As I swore in My wrath,
They shall not enter My rest,"
although His works were finished from the foundation of the world.

Yes, God is loving.

Yes, He is forgiving.

And yes, He is also righteous.

What he continues to do for all of us is take away all the sins for which we truly repent.

But if we continue to live in our sins and have no desire to leave them, then the Lord is forced to leave those people behind, for the sake of the redeemed; so that they no longer have to be tempted with sin and that they may truly have everlasting rest.

4. For He has thus said somewhere concerning the seventh day, "And God rested on the seventh day from all His works";

5. and again in this passage, "They shall not enter My rest."

6. Since therefore it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly had good news preached to them failed to enter because of disobedience,

7. He again fixes a certain day, "Today," saying through David after so long a time just as has been said before,
"Today if you hear His voice,
Do not harden your hearts."

8. For if Joshua had given them rest, He would not have spoken of another day after that.

9. There remains therefore a Sabbath rest for the people of God.

10. For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His.

What has Jesus done for us?

Two thousand years after He died on the cross, He has made today even this very night a time of our salvation; a time when we can leave all our former sins behind us, and be forgiven.

Today is a new start for all who will receive His love and forgiveness.

Today is the day when we can begin to rest in Him who gave us this day, and never again have to worry about where we will be tomorrow, or what troubles might befall us.

All we have to do is look to our loving Father and be thankful for what He fulfilled in His Son 2,000 years ago.

It is finished!

Jesus is no longer on the cross!

He has risen!

And if we abide in Him, we will one day rise with Him, to be with Him forever and ever.

This is why we should believe and follow Jesus Christ.

This is what He has done for us.

Amen.

Your Comments are welcome

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