Summary: Part 5 of 8 in a series covering words in the Bible that are all too often overlooked or ignored.
INTRODUCTION: More than 2,300 times this word appears in scripture… it’s a common word, one that we don’t often pay much attention to, but one that can only be described as God’s favorite word. So what is God’s favorite word? As with our previous messages, the given answer will be as different as the individual answering the question… words in the running would have to include, faith, hope, love, grace, and salvation, it is none of the above and yet it is all the above… for encapsulated in this one word are all these… the word “come.”
BACKGROUND: Throughout this series we’re looked at different characters from the Bible who have served as timeless examples of the word’s we’ve considered, some of them well known, others not so much so… but this morning our only example, though addressed countless times in the Bible, is never named… any one care to take a guess as to who our example is? Here’s your answer! (Mirror) It’s us… and the message to us is God’s favorite word “come!” So to begin we go to the end… (Revelation 22:17) See from the beginning to the end God has said to us come! In the garden it was “come walk with me,” after the fall it was “come back to be so we can walk together again” come = relationship!
US… AND THE PROBLEM
• Often times when we think about “coming” to God we think that it = religion
• I don’t know about you but I think that religion is hard work… with all the rules and guidelines; sometimes too many to keep track of…
• A good Muslim has to pray five times a day. He or she will also fast for a whole month every year.
• An Orthodox Jew has to use separate sinks for preparing dairy and non-dairy foods.
• A Sikh is supposed to get up three hours before dawn every day to wash and pray.
• A Hindu will make an offering at the household shrine three times every day.
• And as for the Christian where do we start… most of the time for us it’s not a list of “do’s” it’s a list of “don’ts” - don’t drink, don’t smoke, don’t cuss, don’t dance, don’t watch TV.
• People have used faith in Jesus to justify adding so many “requirements” to what it means to be a Christian, the whole thing often seems like an exercise in futility… always trying, but never good enough… Faith in Jesus, having relationship with Jesus isn’t about what we do it’s about what He does for us! Coming to Jesus, and staying with Jesus ≠doing stuff… doing stuff = religion
• When Jesus was on the earth, religion was very rampant, as it is today.
• There was a group of corrupt religious leaders called the Pharisees who had taken the word of God, passed down from Moses and the prophets and they wrote a commentary on it interpreting what the scriptures said … this work was called the Talmud.
• Then they wrote another commentary on that commentary called the Mishnah, which was a list of hundreds rules to meet in order to insure that you were obeying the Talmud, in order to insure you were obeying the law of God… and what was Jesus’ response to them? (Matthew 23:15)
• For example the Pharisees took the commandment to remember the Sabbath and added religion to it and the end result was a ridiculous rule about spitting on the ground.. crazy but true!
• Jesus when he condemned the Pharisees, he wasn’t condemning their belief in God, he was condemning their legalism, their man-made religion… today we as Christians often try to turn our faith into a “man-made” religion… why? because we want “control”
• Truth be told religion frustrates us… and guess what… it should.
• Religion is man’s search for God, a search that’s been going on since the dawn of time – ever since man rebelled against God he’s been trying to fix the problem… and that in itself is the problem… God fixes the problem, not us.
• Faith on the other hand is God’s search for man!
• Jesus puts this into perspective for us (Matthew 11:28-30)
• He states the problem, (fallen humanity, and our futile attempts at reconciliation) then He gives us the solution (Himself, and a proper relationship with himself) … remember it all goes back to Jesus!
US… AND THE PROMISE
• For mortal people like you and me the presence of God is a hostile environment.
• In Jesus’ day only the High Priest; the holiest of all the people, could enter the most Holy Place in the temple
• And even then he could only do that only once a year, and only after the most elaborate rituals and sacrifices. – And even then they tied a rope around his waist, just in case God “cooked” him!