Summary: A Lenten series on the life of Jesus and the qualities in his life that attracted people then and still attracts people today.
A 50-Day Spiritual Adventure:
“Celebrating Jesus: Discovering What Makes Him So Attractive
To So Many People”
TEXT: Various Texts
Sunday, February 10, 2002
Does anyone remember who the leader of the United States was in 1899? It was McKinley, an extremely well-loved president. Unfortunately, he was assassinated and few people remember him. Does anyone not remember John F. Kennedy, who was also a well-loved president who died in an assassination. Most people have forgotten William McKinley. I wonder if 100 years after Kennedy’s death, around 2063, whether people will remember him.
Think of another leader. He was not the president of a nation but just a pastor of a small church in the Middle East somewhere. He died long before McKinley and Kennedy, 2,000 years ago, and yet we haven’t forgotten his name. Why? What is there in Jesus that makes Him so unforgettable? What makes Him so extremely attractive to people, not only in His own day but throughout history and even today.
The church is growing in the United States, not necessarily the mainline church and definitely in the Presbyterian church, sadly. But in general, the church in America is growing very well. It is exploding on the international scene in various pockets in Argentina, different nations in African, China and Russia. There is a lot of good news today. The church is growing and people are being drawn to this Jesus, but why? What is there that makes him so magnetic to so many people?
We are going to examine this question throughout the next several weeks.
I won’t have you read all the scripture passages this morning. Even in his own day, Jesus drew people. Think through Luke 2: 8-14, the story of the shepherds and the angels. What is it about Jesus that drew this celestial attention? What would cause a group of shepherds, rough, largely irreligious men, to become transformed into a group of praising, worshiping men who would go and tell others about this Jesus?
In John 12, we read that Jesus enters Jerusalem and the places goes nuts! Even better than Eagles fans in a stadium. They go crazy over this guy, throwing down their clothes and palm branches, erupting in praise and adoration. What would cause such a thing, especially over a religious figure.
In Acts 2 we see that Peter preaches a simple sermon about this same Jesus, and 3,000 people knock on the door of the church. They can’t wait to get in. In chapter 4 you have the continual growth of the church and people are changed, so much so that they give up large possessions. What would cause people to give up the pursuit of wealth? What would cause people to give up the “ism” of me? What is there about this Jesus that causes such change in people?
The text I would like to read is from the last chapter of Acts, chapter 28: 23-30. Here’s what it has to say:
The sect of Christianity is growing so rapidly and has caused the Jewish leaders to become very concerned that the whole Jewish world would come to Christ. The church is growing and is changing things. People are talking against it because it is so popular. I find this very true in every church that grows. There is always someone who talks against it because things change. It is the nature of growth. People want to hear about Jesus. This scripture ends with Paul turning towards the Gentiles and ends with this statement: “For two whole years, Paul stayed in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to him. Boldly and without hindrance he preached the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Paul is teaching Greeks. These Greek people had every religion in the world that you could think of, every one that we have and more. In this age of pluralism, we say that people don’t need Jesus. What’s the difference as long as you believe in something. These people believed in everything. They had every physical pleasure possible that we have today and even more so. Yet, there is something about Jesus that caused these Greek people to discover that there was something missing in their lives, and they gave it all up for him. They gave their lives to him in masses, so much so that one hundred years from this recorded statement, religion became the law of the land.
What is there about this Jesus that touches even religious people’s lives so that they turn to him? What makes him so attractive? If you would like to discover that, I invite you to answer this fundamental question over the next seven weeks. Maybe you have not considered putting your faith in him. Come to church for the next seven weeks and consider doing so for the first time in your life. It may be that you have been a follower for a long time and there are times in your life when you don’t know why you follow him. You may ask questions such as, “If I was born in India, would I be a Buddhist or a Hindu?” Would I be convinced that this is God?” Or is there something fundamental about Jesus that convinces all of us about who he is. Do I follow him simply because it is part of my culture, or because he is very real and meets a very fundamental need in my life.