Summary: A consideration of discipleship.
Title: God Wants Us To Be . . . A Church That Learns From Jesus
Series: The Church God Wants Us To Be, Sermon # 3
COPYRIGHT © Joe La Rue, 2008
Text: Matt 11:28-30
Date Preached: January 27, 2008
A. In the late 1800’s a book was published by Charles Sheldon called In His Steps. The story begins with a preacher, hard at work on a sermon. His text is 1 Pet 2:21: “...Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.” As he works on this sermon, there is a knock on his door. The preacher answers and finds a hobo, down on his luck and in need of a job. The preacher, wanting to get back to his sermon, tells the hobo he will pray for him and sends him on his way.
That Sunday at church, as the preacher rises and reads his text, “Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps,” the hobo walks into the building, down the center aisle, and stops right in front of the preacher. He turns and faces the people, and asks them a question: “What does it mean to follow in Jesus’ steps?” He proceeds to tell them how he came to their town, in need of help, and he knocked on every door, yet no one was willing to help him. He explains how he lost his job, and his family got sick and died because he didn’t have the money to buy medicine, and now he was wandering the countryside, sick himself and looking for work. And he tells the people that he believes Jesus would have helped him; Jesus would have offered him a meal and a place to stay; Jesus would have tried to help him find a job. And then, the man collapses and dies right at the front of the church building!
The people are stunned. The preacher is stunned. All week he has been working on a sermon talking about doing as Jesus did and being as Jesus was; and he and his people had failed to be like Jesus in even the most simple thing — showing compassion to this poor, sick, homeless man.
Well, this event changes that church. The preacher asks the people to make a commitment to live life the way they think Jesus would. Before they do anything — or don’t do anything — they pledge to ask the question, “What would Jesus do?” and do only what they think He would do.
B. This question, “What would Jesus do?” became wildly popular in the late 1990s as a result of the marketing of little bracelets embroidered with the letters, “WWJD?” — What Would Jesus Do? Many of those who wore them back in the heydey of their popularity just a few years ago had never heard of Charles Sheldon or his book In His Steps, and some of those who wore them made no claim whatsoever to being a Christian or to having any real desire to follow Jesus. Yet they wore these bracelets nonetheless because they had become the latest trend.
C. This concept of doing what Jesus would do is far more, though, than just the latest fashion symbol. We are in the midst of a series of sermons in which we are examining the traits that God wants to be present in every church. Last week we talked about how God wants us to be a church that worships, and we discussed what true worship entails. This week we shall see how the Bible tells us that God wants every church to be a church that learns from Jesus so that it can do what Jesus wants it to do and be what Jesus wants it to be. Speaking of those who would follow Him, Jesus said that “everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher.” (Luke 6:40, New International Version). And the context in which Jesus said this makes it plain that He considered this the goal for His followers: to become like Him. That is Jesus’ expectation of us: everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher.
D. Trans: I want us to look at three verses in the Bible in which Jesus talked about this. Look at Matt 11:28-30 with me:
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matt 11:28–30, New International Version).
As we begin to unpack these verses this morning, let’s consider first what is really a foundational question that we can’t ignore, and that is this: why should we want to do what Jesus would do, anyway? I mean, why would anyone want to do that?