Radical

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By Dan Amos

I love that Martin is calling the series on Jesus from the book of Mark, “Radical.” Jesus was a radical and remains so today. Unfortunately, we’ve conformed our perception of Him into our cultural box, rather than be transformed by Him. There is no doubt Jesus was a man of compassion, but His mission here was anything but the passive, “gliding action” caricature we see so often.

If you’ve heard me speak and managed to stay awake, you’ve probably heard me rail against the cultural stereotype of Jesus as a long-haired European in a flowing robe. In Isaiah 53:2 we’re told “He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to Him, nothing in His appearance that we should desire Him.” He looked like the other Jews of the region and not as if he came from some trendy dive in Seattle. He traveled by foot, so His journey from Nazareth to the site of John’s baptism was probably 10 days. Your robes don’t stay white for very long if you do this kind of walking.

That’s just the appearance, though. At Joshua’s encounter with the preincarnate Jesus (YHWH Tzaboat… I AM the Lord of Hosts) before Jericho, the Lord introduced Himself as the commander of the hosts of the Lord. He is the commander-in-chief of heaven’s armies. He is prepared for battle and leads armies prepared for battle.

When He leaves heaven for earth in the Gospels, he is still the CINC of the angels, yet arrives in the form of a helpless baby born to a poor teenager. Can you imagine the preparation of the angels for this event? The commander leaves his forces and goes into the center of enemy territory surrounded by those who would eventually kill him. I now look differently at my favorite passage in Luke where the angels appear to the shepherds. The shepherds were afraid. You bet they were afraid! The armies of heaven were on hand to announce His arrival, and when they said be not afraid, that was a command. The glory of the Lord was on display.

In last week’s sermon, Jesus was baptized, proclaimed by God as his own, and immediately propelled into the wilderness to be weakened and tempted. Satan attacked, thinking he could defeat Jesus and get his creator to bow down to him. Jesus could have crushed him then, and the time will come, but it wasn’t then. If Jesus had, we would still have our sin problem that could only be fixed by the blood of Christ not just the defeat of Satan. Jesus knew his mission and stayed true to the Father. He endured the harassment of Satan, persevered under temptation, and did not give in.

This life is a battle and we need to know that it will be. Jesus battled and so will we. It may not be easy, but it is simple. We know who wrote the book and we know how it ends. Jesus the warrior will come and snatch His people from the enemy and those who are not His will suffer destruction.

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W.W.J.D.

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by Beau Leaman

When I was in grade school there was a big fad for bracelets that were imprinted with “W.W.J.D.” This, of course, stood for “What would Jesus do?” No matter what kind of kid they were, it was the style to wear bracelets like these, even several at a time in various colors. Some people really took these to heart, while others were just trying to keep up with the new trends. I even owned one myself, but never challenged myself to let the words actually challenge my life. Yet, like most fads, it was a trend, and it did not last long.

Society pushes us to find the next best thing and encourages us to reach out for more and more happiness, changing what’s popular at any given time. We’re programmed to be bored and want more. Why did the W.W.J.D. trend go out of style like the others? It was biblically based, rooted in doing the right thing in whatever situation one encountered. How could this get unpopular? It didn’t seem too difficult, since the person just needed to do what Jesus would have done. We have the scripture to guide us and we have the Holy Spirit literally living inside of us. What else could we ask for? Jesus said in John 14:15, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” We are already charged as believers to do what Jesus would do, so why not preach this statement to the world? This statement seemed easy at first and very trendy. The trendy folks were the first to take it off once it faded away, and then the folks who wanted to live by it kept it on so all knew whom they represented. Others may have been encouraged to search the scriptures to find out what Jesus would have actually done in certain situations they encountered. Some may have actually lived it out on a daily basis. But what happened to these bracelets? Here is the answer: “Holy knowing does not actually produce holy living.” You need a special ingredient called obedience. Knowing what Jesus would do is only half the battle; the most difficult part is throwing away our desires and running toward obedience.

We are called to be holy as Christ is holy. Elim’s topic this week has been radical living. This radical living requires us to ask ourselves, “What would Jesus do?” The key to holiness is obedience and the key to obedience is faith. We are saved through faith because of grace, and that grace is everything! I challenge you this week to acknowledge God in all your ways. May our hearts be obedient and may we live our lives faithfully in obedience and steadfast love.

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