Summary: John 1 describes three ways in which Jesus was introduced to the world. Now it is our turn.
The Pastor/Spouse retreat Sue and I attended last week was an incredibly rich time. We got to hear a wonderful speaker and learned to know 50 other pastors and spouses a little better. I want to tell you what happened on Monday night as we heard stories about what God is doing in other congregations. Because our congregations are so scattered, we don’t often get to hear what goes on in other churches in our district, but the hour we spent listening to each other was powerful.
• For example, some members of the Mansfield Church got together and decided to invite four other churches to put on a meal and entertainment to raise money to help the Black River congregation rebuild after their fire.
• At another church, a teenager who was the only one attending from her family introduced her parents to Jesus. They started to attend and were baptized.
• At the new church near Toledo that is reaching out to a trailer court, three people who had often shared their pipe while using drugs, shared the same water in baptism just a couple of weeks ago.
People are being introduced to Jesus all across northern Ohio.
One story in particular caught my attention - the story of 3 brothers. A man named Dave put his faith in Christ about a year ago, and became active in a church east of here. His life changed so remarkably that when his daughter met the pastor, she asked, “What did you do to my dad? He’s a different man from what he used to be.”
Pastor: “We didn’t do anything. Jesus can change people, though.”
Daughter: “No, but you don’t understand. He’s not the same man. You guys have done something to him.”
Pastor: “No. You don’t understand. When a man meets Jesus, Jesus can change him. And he can change you, too, if you let him.”
But that isn’t all. One night last fall, that pastor went to a football game. Dave was sitting by his brother Warren, who would have nothing to do with the church. But when Dave saw the pastor he motioned him to come and sit with them. Warren was not enthused and he made it known.
However, a few weeks later Warren started coming to church and he too accepted Christ as his savior.
These two had a 3rd brother, Derwin. The truth is that these brothers did not get along well. Before Christ began to change these men they couldn’t stand to be in the same room together. They would feud and fight and their families were a mess. Then Derwin contracted cancer and things were not looking good for him.
Last Sunday, Warren, who until a few months ago was opposed to anything religious, and who had been on the outs with his brother, but who had now forgiven and been forgiven, came to the altar at the end of the service, weeping, and he said, “If there would be any way I could take this cancer in the place of my brother, I would.” That is how much Jesus had changed this man.
On Thursday, I called the pastor to get a few details for this story and I learned that Derwin had died the night before, the night of our Ash Wednesday service. Somebody had introduced Jesus to that family and that made all the difference.
I don’t think I need to remind you that the most important thing we are about here at Elm Street is introducing people to Jesus, whether they are friends, family, or neighbors. Our mission statement calls us “to help ourselves and others walk the path of righteousness, peace and harmony the way Jesus wants us to live.” And we want to be faithful in doing that.
We are on a journey through the books of the Bible and we have just begun the gospel of John. Last Sunday, Earl preached from the 14th chapter about keeping our hearts free from trouble through peace, power, and perseverance.
The Gospel of John was written to introduce Jesus to the world. Today, if you are old enough to read, I want to ask you to open your Bible. Many of you have a Bible of your own just like the one in the chair ahead of you. Bring it with you every Sunday so you can mark important words and ideas. In addition, I encourage you to read in the book of John as we journey toward Easter. John is one of the easiest books of the Bible to read. The vocabulary is simple; the stories are interesting. God led John to write it to introduce Jesus to us.
Right now let’s go to the end of the book: John 20:30,31. Here John records his purpose for writing this gospel. What does John want his readers to do? (Believe). John not only wanted to make sure that his readers knew about Jesus, what he said and what he did, he wanted them to know Jesus, to believe in him, so they could have life in the name of Jesus. That is why it is so important to introduce Jesus to our world today.