Who is the most influential person you have ever encountered?
If we were not talking in a church setting, most people would answer with the name of a parent, teacher, or mentor of some sort. Maybe you have had the opportunity to meet someone famous or have had some chance encounter that changed the trajectory of your life. No doubt these individuals have had profound and lasting impact on your life – and, hopefully, for the better. But no one – no one – has a more lasting impact than Jesus.
Encountering Jesus always has a profound effect on the lives of people. In fact, there are only two responses of people who have encountered Him. People either follow Him or reject Him. And those two responses could not be farther apart.
To reject Jesus is to follow after the world.
- Unrepentent Cities, Matthew 11:20 – Then He began to denounce the cities where most of His mighty works had been done, because they did not repent.
- The Rich Young Ruler, Matthew 19:22 – When the young man heart this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.
- Chief Priests & Pharisees, Matthew 21:45-46 – When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they perceived that He was talking about them. And although they were seeking to arrest Him, they feared the crowds, because they held Him to be a prophet.
- Chief Priests, Elders, & the High Priest, Matthew 26:3-6 – Then the chief priests and the elders of the people gathered in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, and plotted together in order to arrest Jesus by stealth and kill Him. But they said, “Not during the feast, lest there be an uproar among the people.”
- Judas, Matthew 26:15 – and [Judas] said, “What will you (chief priests) give me if I deliver Him over to you?” And they paid him thirty pieces of silver. And from that moment he sought an opportunity to betray him.
- The people/crowd – likely including those who the chief priests were afraid of in earlier verses, Matthew 27:22-23 – Pilate said to them, “Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?” They all said, “Let Him be crucified!” And he said, “Why? What evil has He done?” But they shouted all the more, “Let Him be crucified!”
- Chief Priests & Elders, Matthew 28:12-13 – And when they had assembled with the elders and taken counsel, they gave a sufficient sum of money to the soldiers and said, “Tell people ‘His disciples came by night and stole Him away while we were asleep.’
To follow Jesus is to find Life.
- Andrew & Peter, Matthew 4:20 – Immediately they left their nets and followed Him.
- James & John, Matthew 4:22 – Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed Him.
- Matthew, Matthew 9:9 – As Jesus passed on from there, He saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth, and He said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed Him.
- Roman Centurion(s) at the Crucifixion, Matthew 27:54 – When the centurion and those who were with Him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!”
- Joseph of Arimathea, Matthew 27:57-58a – When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who also was a disciple of Jesus. He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus.
Just scanning through the book of Matthew, we can see the difference in response to Jesus. Those in both lists were people who saw Jesus with their own eyes. They could have touched Jesus with their hands. They – both groups – saw and experienced His power through miracles we can only imagine. Yet some did not follow.
Jesus’ words in Matthew 16:24-26 show us why:
Then Jesus told His disciples, “If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?
So, when we encounter Jesus will our response be to put all of our hope, trust, faith, and worship in Him, or will we try to put all of those things in the world? Ultimately, we are asked with our lives to answer the question Pilate asked above: “Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called the Christ?”
My hope for you is that you have looked at the surpassing worth of Jesus and followed Him. 1 Peter 5:6-7 says, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time He may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you.”
That’s good news and what we are singing about this Sunday! We are going to set our eyes on the King of kings and get to worship Him! We are going to seek His face and pour out our hearts before Him! We have the privilege to worship and follow Him; may He change and mold us as He sees fit!
These verses were on my heart as the worship set came together:
Here are our songs:
- King of Kings – The first experience we have today with Jesus is through hearing and reading the gospel message. So, that’s where we are starting this Sunday! I love that this song walks through the entirety of the gospel and treats Jesus with such reverence and awe. May we hear and sing the gospel fresh this Sunday!
- Scripture References / Inspiration for the Song: Proverbs 4:19, John 3:19-21, Ephesians 2:1, Philippians 2:5-11, Matthew 5:17, Isaiah 7:14, Luke 1:31, Isaiah 9:6-7, Luke 2:7, Psalm 3:3, Psalm 8:1, John 1:14, Psalm 136:3, Matthew 28:18, Revelation 19:16, Matthew 13:24-52, 2 Corinthians 5:18-21, Isaiah 53, John 3:16, Romans 5:6-10, Galatians 3:13, Colossians 2:14, Titus 2:14, Acts 4:33, 1 Corinthians 15:3-8, Matthew 27:52-53, Luke 15:7, Acts 2:1-4, Matthew 24:35, Ephesians 1:7, Galatians 5:1, Galatians 2:19-20, 2 Timothy 2:11
- How Great is Our God – For all of the bad that has come with the current pandemic period, one good thing is that it can make us appreciate the opportunity to gather and lift high the name of our great God. Again, this song leads us to sing from a place of awe. We can get so caught up in the repetition of every day life that we forget the magnitude of God’s greatness and worth.
- Build My Life – This Sunday, we have a response song before the preaching. This song makes me think of LG’s message last week – “God Has a Plan for You (Me/Us)”. We get the privilege to come before the holy, sovereign, mighty, great God of the universe. We get to proclaim, “Holy / there is no one like You / there is none beside You / open my eyes in wonder / and show me who You are / and fill me with Your heart / and lead me with your love to those around me”. We come before Him asking Him to build our lives to follow Him and take part in His mission. May this genuinely be our desire!
- (invitation) Come As You Are – One of my favorite sayings that I have seen a church use is “Come as you are – leave changed”. This is what Jesus offers us. He knows everything there is to know about us – sin, failures, everything. Yet He loves us. He loves us enough to die in our place. He loves us enough to raise Himself from the grave. And He loves us enough to give us new life in Him. So, let us respond in repentance and faith in Him alone, trusting in what He alone can do and receiving the grace, mercy, and love only He can give.
If gathering in person, please remember that masks are strongly recommended and that we need to remain vigilant in our social distancing measures. Continue to pray for those who are sick – not just our members but all those around the world.