What is 922 Ministries - The CORE & St. Peter Lutheran - Appleton, WI Sermons?
The episodes are the weekly sermons from 922 Ministries campus in Appleton, WI. St. Peter is in the north part of Appleton. The CORE is our downtown Appleton campus.
Week 3 - The CORE
Pastor Mike Novotny
Jesus Christ, called himself a lot of controversial names.
In fact, if you ever worship here live at the core and grabbed a cup of coffee out in the lobby, might have looked up and seen a wall where we have painted and printed this massive name of Jesus and All Around, Jesus are the names that he called himself, or that other people called him. This case, you're watching home. Let me show you a picture of the wall. I'm talking about, they're in big block, letters, the name of Jesus. And then around these titles, that when you give them just 10 seconds of thought, you realize they're incredibly controversial to call yourself by Like the title, I am You enough about the Bible to realize what that means. Now, back in the days of the Exodus, the days of Moses, god appeared to Moses the prophet in a burning bush and Moses didn't know what to make of any said. Well God, if I go to your people who should I tell them is sending me. And God responded with his name. Just two words. I am. And so John chapter 8, when Jesus was speaking to the religious leaders of Israel and he said before Abraham was born before Moses even existed I am. It was a confrontational thing to say. It's on the people picked up stones to stone Jesus, who does He think he is saying He's the I am. But there's other names to the names like Lord and King and master. Where Jesus wasn't just claiming to be a nice guy or a good example. He was claiming to be the master and we are the servant, he is the king who gives the commands, he is the Lord who gets the last word. He's not just a nice counselor, you pay by the hour, he claims to be the ultimate Authority. So much Authority. He came down from heaven itself. All these controversial names that divided people back in the days of Jesus but there's one want to put up on the screen that seems maybe a little less controversial. Where Jesus said, I am. The Good Shepherd.
If there's one thing that Jesus called himself, that you would think would make people put down their stones. It would be this. He's come on. What is more tender and more comforting and more sweets and more nice than thinking of Jesus? As the Good Shepherd. It's like little kids Christian Decor, right? Fluffy sheep. He's Jesus with his nice beard and a big smile. He's holding a little lamb in his arms. That's it. It's 42 percent. Likely if Christians open a preschool they're going to call it a little lambs daycare because it's just so sweet and so nice. Here's Jesus. He's so loving you, and he's carrying a little lamb over his shoulders, like I'm the rock, the master, the Lord, The Great. I Am, that's like, confrontational language from Jesus, but the Good Shepherd. Is the softer side of him? Is it not? And yes, and yes, if you would open your Bible to John chapter 10 and look at the original time where Jesus called himself that, What you will find in the verses that follow are not crowds of people saying is that nice of Jesus. It said, let me show you the reaction that people had when Jesus claimed to be the Good Shepherd. The Jews. Who heard these words were again divided. Many of them said, he is demon possessed and raving mad. Why listen to him? But other said, these are not the sayings of a man possessed by a demon. Can a demon Open, the Eyes of the blind.
Jesus claimed to be the Good Shepherd, just like all the other times people are divided. They had to pick a side. No one could say that Jesus was nice or Jesus was there Pastime or their hobby. They either followed him. Loved him, gave up everything and worshiped him or they said things. Like he is demon possessed and raving mad. Why would you bother with him?
Even the sermon series I've trying to bring get you trying to get you off the fence when it comes to Jesus. If to be a person may be who goes to church or is kind of spiritual and gives a shout out to Jesus when life is off the rails. It just it's really not a Biblical option. It's not honest based on what Jesus said about himself. You can love him or you can hate him but don't be indifferent about him. You can say he's demon-possessed or you can call him the deity that came down from heaven but toad don't show up two times a year to church because he's kind of nice. And you could use a little spiritual boost know. Jesus, divides people, one from the other, he forces you to pick a side, So I guess that in my question for you is, which side are you on with Jesus?
Makes me think of c.s. Lewis.
So, you know, the amazing spiritual story of the man who later wrote their Chronicles of Narnia. C.s. Lewis kind of grew up in church but then he rejected it. Is an incredibly brilliant kid became an atheist in his teenage years. He started to teach, I believe at Oxford and Cambridge one of the brightest minds in all of Europe. But then through his friendship with JRR Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings guy, he became Christian. And CS Lewis uses brilliant Oxford mine to actually read the unfiltered Jesus in the Bible and what he came to the conclusion was that you're really only have three options with Jesus and there's not a fourth. You can call Jesus a liar. He can call him a lunatic. Or you can call him Lord. And there's no fourth option.
A guy who claims to be The Great. I Am the Lord, the master, the rock, the bread that came from Heaven, the light of the world, the one that you need to survive, you can call him a liar if he wants. Or you can be convinced that he's convinced of it, but he's kind of crazy demon-possessed raving mad. You call him a lunatic. Or option three. As Christians claim you could believe him. Follow him, call him the Lord, who gets the last word, but CS Lewis would say Jesus, did not leave us. Open a fourth option. He was blunt, in fact, he said, let's give up this patronizing nonsense about calling him a good example, or a great moral teacher. He did not leave that door open to us.
So, that's my big question for today. What? What do you think of Jesus? Is he a liar? Who knew he was not God, but claim to be He's a lunatic who thought he was God. But was incredibly deceived, or is he the Lord that will get the last word over every part of every day of the rest of your life.
Today, I want you to think about that question as we go back to one of the more familiar things that Jesus said about himself. But we're going to look at it today with fresh eyes. Let's look at maybe one of the more controversial things that Jesus claimed, when he said that he is our Good Shepherd. Take notes in your program, you're watching at home. I love you to write this down and I think the proper way to understand, Jesus words would be by saying that Jesus is our Good Shepherd. No offense.
And thank God.
Today, Jesus in these classic words from John 10, is going to offend us. And hopefully send us out with gratitude and thanks in our hearts. You might be so offended. You leave. You might be so thankful, you'll stay. But today, I want to leave you with no room in between So let's jump back into our Bibles, John chapter 10. We start with verse 11, where Jesus himself the unfiltered Jesus, spoke these words, I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd lays down his life for the Sheep. The Hired Hand is not the shepherd and does not own the Sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons, the sheep and runs away, and the Wolf attacks, the flock, scatters it. The man runs away, because he's a Hired Hand and cares, nothing for the Sheep, but I am. The Good Shepherd.
Describe himself, Jesus chooses something that every one of his neighbors would have been familiar with, but most of us are not having you here of ever a sheep.
Two hands. All right. That was 122. More than I was expecting. For this church service. Yeah, let's think for a second. Jesus uses the word shepherd, shepherd, shepherd, three times and sheep, sheep. Sheep sheep more time. So let's Think. Critically about sheep for a second, actually brought a friend with me today. Let me introduce you to my friend, the Sheep. We practice at, didn't we? And we'll, all right. So, what do you know about sheep? Sheep are a huge animal in Modern Life and they were a huge animal in ancient life for a bunch of good things. That sheep could provide Right, sheep grow wool, we turn wool into Fabrics. We suffer mattresses or pillows. Maybe you had a good night's sleep last night. Thanks to our friendly, sheep sheep provide milk, which is turned into cheese. They can provide meets people in the ancient world. If they were rich and wealthy would have tons of sheep because they could clothe you. They could feed you, they can make you rich. But you've had two really big flaws. I'm gonna jot a note about these flaws. That number one Sheep by their very nature, were prone to wander.
Sheep very rarely pop up their heads, look around and make sure they were staying close to their Shepherd. Instead, what they would often do is notice a little patch of grass and notice the other one. And notice another one and and bit by bit, and bite by bite they would end up rather far from their Shepherd, they were prone to wander. Was she born rebellious? They didn't give the middle hoof to their Shepherd, take it off for some other Pastor. They just got interested in something that wasn't necessarily bad. It was good. It felt like them. They just pursued it so much that they ended up with a big distance for the shepherd who care for them. Well, made it even worse is that sheep have something within them that you might have heard of called the flocking Instinct sheep sometimes, get separated all by themselves, but that's very rare because their instinct is to stay with the rest of the flock. And so if they're buddies, Shaun the Sheep pursues a little bit of grass. Our instinct is to say with Sean. Even a Shawn separated from the shepherd. We feel like we're in the right spot when we're close to them. Even if they are very far from him.
Sheeps fatal flaw is that it's prone to wander from the only one that can keep it safe.
There's a second floor. When a sheep has wandered. It ends up in grave Danger.
Because of this guy, it's amazing. What you can find on Amazon these days is not Here's the wolf I make sure I get all these claws out here so you can see them. I did a bunch of Google research cheap on average run about 20 miles an hour. Top speed, they hit 25 Jamaican sheep. Didn't get to about 27 as not sure. I don't know if there's to make. Is she right? So they're fast, they could outsprint me if I was chasing it but not not a wolf. A wolf can easily run 25-30 up to 37 miles an hour? He's gonna like a JV wolf can catch a varsity sheep every time and once it catches it a sheep's fatal flaws, it has no natural defenses. Right? There's no Clause here like a bear to fight back. There's no Jaws like a shark to bite back. There's no scales on the back to protect it from the wolf. There's no strong tail like an alligator, a sheep in fact as its wool grows. It gets heavier and slower if it wanders from the Good Shepherd, if it gets isolated. What we say a sheep is dead meat.
The two fatal flaws that Jesus wants us to think about today. Is that sheep are prone to wander and sheep end up in very, very great Danger.
And no offense.
But Jesus called you and me, sheep, sheep, sheep. Chic. That you realize what an insult this is once covid. Hit at you. You see it online when someone would share a new story about the side of the pandemic or that you're not a, you're not people, you become Sheeple. Your followers. You believe anything that they tell you you're prone to wander after half-truths and lies what Jesus would say. No offense. That's all of us. We as human beings are prone to wander from God. A very often were not trying to be spiritually rebellious. We're not tearing up the Bible in our backyard and burning its pages. Instead, what's often happens, is we noticed something that makes us happy and we pursue it and then we pursue it and then we pursue more of it and more of it and more of it without popping up her head. So to look and wonder how close am I to Jesus right now. Is that something is inherently bad? It's just that pursuing so much of. It can go from a good thing into a forgetting about God thing, which is a very, very bad thing.
It's ever happened to you in your life. We're just unintentionally. You were going after some goal, some hope, some dream, and you ended up maybe to not so safe and strong spiritual place.
You know, maybe you're in school and you just want to make it to college. I'll be the first one in your family, to get a higher education, to get the scholarship. And so you take the tougher classes, you pick the AP, and there's the extra homework, and then, you know, you'll get the scholarship, if you pour yourself into volunteer work. So you sign up for this and that you're in this club student council Sports, and rarely rarely. Do students, pop their heads up and say, Is this good for my soul?
My colleges wrongs, scholarships aren't wrong. But we're so prone to think about the thing that we want that we can lose sight of the thing that we most need.
It happens. So frequently I actually see kids who go to Christian high schools in our community were convinced. I get enough Jesus during the week. I don't need to be a part of a church family on the weekend.
Prone to wander.
We just want to be good at sports.
And all your friends are moving in this direction. You know, you got to start young, you got to play Club, you got to go to the camp and there's nothing wrong with it. You want to get the spot, you know, you're not going to make the team unless you do this, this and this. And so, you make the commitment, another night and, and rare are even the Christian parents, who will pop their heads up and say, wait is this her face.
All these weekends away from our church home, is that actually good for our soul?
Prone to wander.
I mean we are just hanging out with friends.
Friends make jokes about this or that. Jokes. I might be slightly discriminatory might be sexist.
Prone to wander.
In America, we see how everyone else lives and We follow the example. We were used to 1,000 1,500, 2,000 square feet with families, who really give nothing with intentionality to the poor, the oppressed and the downtrodden. It feels normal. We need another car and upgrade a new device. Whenever pop her head to say, well what did Jesus say about money? We're people who are prone to wander, we get invited to a bachelor party. Papa our head to think it was Jesus think? Prone to drink, what our bodies drink.
Sheeple. She says, that is what we are. We are prone to wander.
Whether you don't know Jesus or you do, there's something in your heart that sees something good. And it pursues it and pursues it and pursues it. And very rare is the soul that sensitive enough to think, where's Jesus right now. Am I close to my good shepherd?
And even worse, if you wandered,
You're in grave Danger.
I would love to drop some Modern American Mantra on you that you're brave and you're strong and you can do it. But if you're a sheep You can't fight back against the wolf. You might be a better human being than your brother or your sister. You might be the fastest sheep in the whole flock, but you still can't outrun the wolf of regrets and sin and death and hell, you could try harder, you could run faster. But if you're separated from the only God who can protect you, you will not be protected.
Sheep sheep. Sheep prone to wander. And in great Danger.
And I, you understand why people said, Demon possessed. Come on, Jesus. Mm, I'm Not Dangerous. Decent, human being God's. Not going to be hell. What me? Come on. Why listen to this guy?
Instead of flattering people, Jesus called them sheep. Instead of saying they were strong, he called them weak. Instead of calling humans good. He called All of Us Wicked. Why would you listen to him?
That's the right question.
So I am back with my friends.
What do you think about that question? Why would you listen to Jesus? There are many philosophies, many podcasts. In fact, many religions that would flatter you a million times more than this book. Does they would call you good better than average worthy deserving, of course, you're gonna have a better life after this one ends your you, but Jesus does not say that. He calls himself the shepherd and you the Sheep. No, no offense.
So why did you come back?
Why would you keep reading this book and watching this show? Attending this church or following Jesus.
She thought that question 12 hours ago.
Yesterday I was down in Milwaukee Wisconsin, for my daughter's band concert, and in the lobby of the Christian High School where we were, was this memorial for a girl who died about 20 years ago. Sixteen-year-old had cancer passed away and ran in the wall. That is massive Mosaic taller than me. Of Jesus, as Shepherd.
The centerpiece, they're in the lobby of this High School is a giant Jesus, basically saying you're all sheep, He's the shepherd, why? Why would people Proclaim that message of Jesus in a demeaning or insulting to us?
For to make it more personal. Why above my daughter's head and above my daughter's bed is a framed picture of Jesus? Holding a tiny lamp.
When I tell her, she's a lion. A tiger and eagle. Why raise the daughter that I love who I want to be so strong to tell her that. She's just a little sheep.
What Jesus knows?
Let me read to you one more time these words from John chapter 10 He said, I am. The Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd, lays down his life for the Sheep. The Hired Hand is not the shepherd and does not own the Sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons, the sheep and runs away, and the Wolf attacks, the flock, and scatters it. Then runs away because he's a Hired Hand and cares. Nothing for the Sheep but I am the good Shepherd. See, Jesus here is not just saying you're the Sheep. I'm the shepherd. He chooses and then repeats three times. This epic word. Good.
In the Greek language of the New Testament, there's multiple words for good. This one has the flavor of something that is of the highest moral quality. It's the most admirable, the most beautiful. In other words, line up all the Shepherds for the most beautiful, inspiring one, at the front of the line and you would be looking at the face of Jesus. And explains why? I'm the Good Shepherd because I lay down my life. When the wolf comes, when danger approaches The Hired Hand, getting paid by the hour. He takes off, he doesn't love the flock. But I Stay. I fight. I get B. I bleed I'd lay down my life. I don't run away when you need me the most
This is often actually something very powerful about being in the city of Jerusalem. If you look at a Google map after church today, you would find out the city of Jerusalem is Major metropolitan area. Hundreds of thousands of people live, but just outside of the main part of the city to the east is absolute desolation and desert. Shocking. You get on the tour bus. This big city, ancient ruins and like two minutes later, you look around and there's nothing. The landscape plunges down to the Dead Sea, thousands of feet, little caves places to hide, Which is very fitting for what happened to Jesus the night before he died. See the center of the city Jesus. Jesus. Jesus his friend, Judas had betrayed him. The soldiers and the Pharisees, were gathering, their torches, and their swords to come get Jesus. And Jesus was praying in a garden, on the east side of the city, The Garden of Gethsemane. In other words, the wolf the threat was coming from the West. And Jesus was so close to running away to the east. Like his ancestor, David who had lived a thousand years before him he could have bolted. He knew the danger was coming, he could have run away hidden in the cave, gotten away from the Torches, the swords and the Wolf. But Jesus did not.
Read the gospels. Jesus gets up from his prayer. He walks to the West.
Came to arrest him because he was not a Shepherd who would run away from danger. He was one. He said he would lay down his life for the Sheep.
What makes Jesus so unspeakably good. Is the fact that he was not in the shepherding business for himself? Even though it would cost him even though he would have to lay down his life, bleed and die on a cross for the Forgiveness of your sins. He was willing to do it. I am the Good Shepherd, he claimed And here's why the Good Shepherd lays down his life. For the Sheep.
Kind of embarrassed. It took me 42 years to think about this. But just last week that phrase caught my attention lays down his life for the Sheep. Because me for a second. Why would anyone become a shepherd?
Why would someone choose that? Boring job of watching sheep? Shivering on a cold night to keep the flock together.
There's a simple answer. They would do it for themselves.
If she can produce wool and close my family, if they can produce milk and feed my family, if I can sell them for beef and get rich, it might be hard work, but I will Shepherd. This flock for myself to feed me to keep me alive to make me prosperous right. I'll lay down my comfort. I'll sacrifice. Because in the end, the ROI on being a shepherd with the Sheep is positive. But nothing about Jesus. When he's up in heaven and he sees all of us, wandering, like lost sheep on Earth. Why does he become the Good Shepherd?
Does he need clothes from us? No, he was clothed in splendor and Glory up in heaven, doesn't need food from us just to make him lunch, this thing with Saints and angels for all eternity. What does he need from us? It's worth nothing. So, why would Jesus become a shepherd?
Here's the answer.
For the Sheep.
What Shepherd? In all of human history will not just give his time or his energy or his wealth but his life For the Sheep.
And the answer is only one. Only Jesus. And the reason Jesus is the good, the most moral Shepherd is because he laid down his life for the Sheep when he needed nothing and we needed everything Jesus did something. When we could offer him nothing and we owed him everything Jesus did something. He lay down his life, in the greatest sacrifice and the greatest act of pure unconditional love that history has ever known. If someone asked me today, why would you stick with Jesus? He calls you a sinner. Dependence week a sheep. My simple answer would be. Who else has Loved Me Like Jesus? You got me a birthday present. Thank you. Jesus, lay down his life for me. You raised me when I was a kid, mom, that beautiful Jesus gave way more than a few years of his time. He gave his very body and his very blood. Some people in this world will flatter you some people will do nice things for you. Some people will love you but no one, no one, no one will be like Jesus for you. I am the Good Shepherd, he says the Good Shepherd lays down his life. The Sheep.
So, back to our question, what will you do with Jesus?
If you can't respect him as a moral teacher, or a religious founder, if you have to choose between calling him a liar, or a lunatic, or the Lord, what What will you do?
And some people on our self-affirmation world will say he's demon possessed and crazy, I suppose you could do that too. I prefer to follow the one Jesus, who gave up everything that I could be part of his flock. And hope you did, too. Prince. There's no one for the rest of your life. Who will love you like Jesus. No one who will sacrifice like Jesus. Hear the voice of pure goodness today and follow him as your Good Shepherd.