Summary: The only way to fulfill the purpose of the church and of being a Christian is to be committed to opening people’s minds to receive Christ Jesus and eternal life.
Open Minds – Luke 24: 44 - 53
Intro: When I was in high school, I could not understand why it was necessary for me to take subjects like history, algebra, geometry or chemistry. --- Perhaps the reason I felt that way was because those were the hardest classes for me. --- Regardless, no one could ever explain to me why it was so important to suffer through these classes. The only explanation I ever received was, “It will open your mind to other things. It will broaden your horizons.” Actually, the only thing those classes did for me was to lower my grade point average.
I. If I were one of the disciples of Jesus in today’s gospel lesson, I would probably react to Jesus’ words in verse 44 in the same way. “Then he said to them, These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you --- that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled.”
A. Why would knowing those Old Testament passages be necessary? Why did they need to know that information? I would think it would be more important for them to remember the teachings of Jesus.
B. When I was in my 1st year in seminary, my Old Testament professor was Dr. Arnold B. Rhodes. He had written several books on the Old Testament and was renowned as a Biblical scholar. I asked him one day over lunch, “Why is it so important for me to study the Old Testament? I’m not Jewish. I’m a Christian.
C. His answer, “So you will have a better understanding of who Christ Jesus was and why he taught as he did and to understand the historical and biblical context of his ministry.” – In short, to open your mind. Verse 45 – Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures.
II. In Great Britain they play a game called cricket. It is played with a bat somewhat similar to the oar or paddle with which you row in a canoe. Do you know how to play the game? Before you play a game of cricket, what would you need to know?
A. Most people would say you need to know the rules of cricket. However, in my opinion there is something even more important than the rules. I would want to know what I have to do to win. What is the object of the game and what do I have to do to win?
B. When people find out I am a member of the International Lions Club they usually say something like, “I have some old reading glasses at home. Can I give them to you?” --- Why? --- Because most people know the Lions Club is involved with programs and issues regarding sight. But, do you know why? --- At one of the very early meetings of the Lions Club, Helen Keller was invited to give a program. At the end of her presentation, she challenged the group to get involved in saving sight. The purpose of the International Lions Club was born.
C. So What is the purpose of the church? Why was it established? What is the purpose against which we should measure everything we do?
III. Verse 47-48 “and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his (the Messiah’s) name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.”
A. The mission Jesus left with his followers was to proclaim repentance and forgiveness in his name. To tell the world there is a better way to live and it is free for the asking.
B. During the 16th Century Protestant Reformation and again in the 18th Century the church was vibrant and alive with purpose. It was directed and focused and great growth happened. 100s and 1000s of people came to understand the message the church still has to share.
C. Many today question the relevancy of the church. The church is a good place for a wedding or funeral; but, why in the world would anyone attend on a regular basis? What’s the point?
Conclu: The point is, we have a message to share. THE message is that Christ Jesus lived and died so we might know God and have life now and after death. We, the church, have a purpose: to share the message of Christ! If that is not happening, perhaps it’s because we need to have open minds.