SERMON SUMMARY Life continually presents us with choices. God does not impose God’s self on us but gives us free will to choose. The demands on the followers of Christ are not always easy but the choices are usually clear. Do we forgive? Do we pray for our enemies and those who are against us? This is choosing the way of Christ and cross. Always lurking and crouching, however, are “the Crowd and the Cliff.” Always there is someone or something that has a disdain for the message of Christ. Always there is someone or something that tempts us to go astray. We can always find the crowd pulling us away from what God has for us to do through temptation, tests, mocking, etc.
In this text we see the crowd is with Jesus one minute and against him the next. Each day presents us with opportunities to follow the way of Christ and the Cross or to succumb to the temptation of the fickle, sometimey, wishy washy Crowd. Are you with Christ . . . or the crowd?? Choose ye this day who you shall serve.
Christ and the Cross (v18-21) Christ is at the beginning of his ministry and here in his “Inaugural Sermon”, Jesus lays out the liberating purposes for his ministry on earth. Somehow, we sometimes forget that Christ truly came to liberate us and set us free. There is pain along the journey, but the message of resurrection and the cross is that, ultimately, victory is ours.
- Reflect on some of the purposes (5) that Jesus said he had come to fulfill here?
- Do you ever feel like you are “the poor, the blind, the imprisoned, or the oppressed?” Remember Christ died on the cross to liberate us from all of these things. Allow yourself to experience his liberation power.
The Crowd is with You/Him (v 22) The crowd has heard Christ’s message of liberation and – for the moment – they are with him.
- What do we see in verse 22 that lets us know they received his words?
- How does the verse describe his words? We know they received his “gracious” words, how will the crowd respond to more difficult truths?
The Challenging Message of the Cross (v23-27) The message of the Cross is liberty, redemption, and salvation. But, it is more than gracious words. It is also righteousness, holiness, correction, and rebuke. In our weak and immature moments, we want the benefits and blessings, but not the burdens and responsibilities.
- What are some of the more challenging responsibilities of being a follower of Jesus Christ? How well do we do at meeting those challenges?
- Are we ever tempted or mocked “by the crowd” for striving to live a life of righteousness? Do we ever act like the crowd??
Because of the condition of their hearts, Christ has told them he is going to do like Elijah and Elisha and take the blessings of God elsewhere. God blessings were meant for them, but their hearts were hard. They refused to receive God’s gift.
- Look at 2 Timothy 3:16. It tells us that God’s word is good for edifying, but also for instruction, correction and rebuke. How well do others respond to correction? How well do you respond to correction?
Choosing the Crowd and the Cliff (v28-29) This group has chosen the crowd and the cliff. They liked the flowery words. But they did not respond to the truth about themselves. They were not humbleness or contrite. They did not seek forgiveness or to grow. Instead, they chose the path of death. They tried to throw Jesus off of a cliff – for telling them the truth.
- How often do we find ourselves refusing to receive the truth about ourselves?
- Do we ever see ourselves or others reacting to the truth about ourselves with anger? Why do we suppose this is?
- If we are willing, the Holy Spirit will guide us in these situations and help us to respond appropriately. What do we think are the consequences of failing to listen and instead choosing the way of the crowd and the cliff?
Choose Christ and The Cross (v30) Although their unrepentant hearts take them down the path of death, Christ leaves their foolishness behind and moves on. All things are in God’s hands. Our Christian journey is not always an easy one, but we have both earthly and eternal rewards. God is a liberator, a redeemer, and a forgiver. Work hard to follow the way of Christ and the cross and to avoid the temptations and the death traps of following the crowd and the cliff. Do not be swayed by the opinions of others. Choose Christ and the Cross.