When you drill down into the teachings of Jesus, you hear hard truths about things we need to let go. Jesus’ challenges bear the capacity to re-author our lives and spiritual practice. During this season of Lent, we will do well to hear these words for they challenge us to think deeply on our own faith journeys.
February 18 | John 8:1-11 | Jesus says, “Repent and believe.”
In John 8, Jesus is forced to answer what the fate of a woman caught in adultery will be. At the expense of this woman’s life, the religious leaders of Jerusalem were trying to trick and trap Jesus in order to show his faithlessness towards the Mosaic Law. As this scene unfolds, an angry crowd gathers around holding rocks. They anticipated a stoning, since the punishment for adultery according to Leviticus was such. In this moment, Jesus does something truly amazing. He identifies with the plight of the woman and says, “Those who’ve committed no sin may cast the first stone.” Scripture then shows the crowd “letting go” of their stones and went away. Jesus pardons the woman and tells her to “go and sin no more.” You can paraphrase Jesus, “Let go of this burden from here on.”
February 25 | Mark 8:31-38 | Jesus says, “Deny yourself. Take up the cross.”
Jesus’ challenge to Peter is one we must hear too. If we want to become great or worthy or acceptable before God, then we must learn to deny ourselves and take up the cross. We must learn to sacrifice for the good others. This is a hard but necessary lesson.
March 4 | John 2:13-22 | Jesus says, “Stop profiting on faith.”
Jesus turns over the tables in the Temple because the house of prayer has been turned into a den of robbers. This single act may be the lynch pin that gets Jesus killed, but it also shows us the righteous indignation Jesus has for those who profit on the backs off the backs of those supporting the church. Our money and tithe and offerings must be used for God’s kingdom, not the small kingdoms we build in our own lives.
March 11 | John 3:14-21 | Jesus says, “For those who do evil hate the light.”
The story of Nicodemus is a microcosm of faith today. Too often we search after Jesus with the wrong set of questions. Like Nicodemus, we show up wanting to have our questions answered, but in the end, we are moved to silence by the deep truths we learn once we’re in front of Jesus. In Nicodemus’ case, he learns that those who do evil hate and avoid the light.
March 18 | John 12:20-26 | Jesus says, “Those who love their life must lose it.”
Sermon Synopsis - One of the hardest saying and deepest truths in life is, “Those who love their life must lose it.” In other words, we must turn over our desires, our thoughts, our hopes to God. We must lose the life we are building and have the faith to believe, in return, we receive something much greater.