Jesus, Our Teacher

February 8, 2009 ()

Bible Text: Matthew 7:17-18


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Jesus our Teacher.
Matthew 7:17-18. Good trees produce good fruit. Only His Spirit can make us the good we want to see. We must let Jesus turn us into people who are like Him. Jesus is our savior that brings healing to our lives, but he is also our teacher, master, leader that teaches us and leads us into becoming people who bring healing to the world. He teaches us how to live our lives for the Glory of God, the good others and to our own joy. He does not just want to save us, but send us to heal.

We are Followers and Students.
Jesus gives us a parable about the blind leading the blind and a student becoming like his teacher. Jesus is saying be careful who you attach yourself to as a student because you will go where they go and become what they are. Jesus is inviting us to attach ourselves to him as his apprentices to learn how to live this kind of life in the kingdom. The problem is that we have been and are being discipled by a fallen world. This world has been and will continue to give us a vision for living and model for us a praxis that it seeks for us to carry out. Jesus is warning us to wake up regarding who is teaching us. Any teacher who would give different instruction than Him, is a blind guide that will only lead us away from God's good intention and design for us and into ruin.  His teachings are the only reliable teachings that make us into the good we want to see in the world.

How did the student/teacher; rabbi/pupil relationship work in the first century? The student would follow the teacher around. He would listen to his every word, imitate his every move. It was more of an apprentice. Jesus is saying we must let him be our teacher and instruct us in how to live all of life; we listen to his every word, and we imitate his every move. We want to be like him in every way. Understand, Jesus is not simply talking about how to pray, or fast, or read your bible. He is talking about all of life (how we handle relationships, marriage, sex, money, power). This is really what it means to trust him; to believe in him; to have absolute confidence in him. Do we have confidence in Him?

"Our commitment to Jesus can stand on no other foundation than a recognition that he is the one who knows the truth about our lives and our universe...Could we seriously imagine that Jesus could be Lord if he were not smart? If he were divine, would he be dumb? Or uninformed? Once you stop to think about it, how could he be what we take him to be in all other respects and not be the best-informed and most intelligent person of all, the smartest person that ever lived? He is not just nice, he is brilliant...‘Jesus is Lord' can mean little in practice for anyone who has to hesitate before saying ‘Jesus is smart.' He always has the best information on everything and certainly also on the things that matter most in human life." - Dallas Willard, Divine Conspiracy.
As those who have been restored to God in Jesus, and are sent together to heal, we must attach ourselves to Jesus as his apprentices in order to learn from him how to live our lives. This is why the spiritual disciplines of prayer, solitude, Scripture reading and Scripture memory are so crucial. These are some of the exercises we embrace to learn from him. We want to follow on the heels of Jesus so closely and intimately that we are learning from him how to live our lives. He is the loudest voice in our life; our primary professor for how we live. All other competing voices lose their place. As we listen to him and yield to him, He makes us the good that we want to see in the world.  It doesn't mean we are perfect, but we are learning from one who is.

Three Areas that we need to learn from Jesus. How we treat God, People, and Things.
Jesus teaches us to Worship the Father, Love People, and use Things. Worship God- value him supremely, love Him with all of our heart, mind, soul and strength. People - to love our neighbors, those not like us; to put their needs before our own; to consider them more important than ourselves; to sacrifice to meet their needs; to turn the other cheek when wronged and pray for our enemies and respond to evil with good. Things: to leverage them for the good of others; to be generous toward God and others more than we are generous toward ourselves; to hold them lightly and release them freely; to properly order them and be content with less. The world is teaching us to neglect God, love things and use people. But the way of Jesus is different. If we get covered in his dust, and take on his way, we will truly worship the Father as He did; we will love people like he did and lay our lives down for them; we will use things to bless others like he did sharing all he had. When we live in the way of Jesus, we live radically different and become a compelling people that bring his healing to this world. Illus: Julio Diaz. I don't know if he is a believer, but I know that he put flesh on the teachings of Jesus that night and it changed that kid. We must let Jesus teach us how to live; how to treat God, how to treat people, and treat things. 

How did we as a community leverage our resources to extend healing to people's lives? In 2008: worship gatherings grew and many people experienced life transformation in the Gospel. Many have found help and hope through the biblical counseling ministry of our church. Marriages and families were strengthened. People in critical situations in our city received aid from our church that lifted them out of their need and gave them hope. Emerging professionals, artists, educators, college students, stay at home moms and others found a place to belong, experience authentic community, and serve in tangible ways at Aids Hospices, Transitional centers, and to the homeless. We joined hands and resources with others to start and support new churches in our city and around our country. We were able to give support to World Orphans and provide for the education of 10 orphan boys in Nairobi, Kenya through the Fountain of Life Children's Home. It was an amazing year of ministry.

When our Elder team put together the 2009  budget, the driving question was not, what do we think we can afford to do, but what is God asking us to do and we let that determine our budget. There are countless people that need to hear the story of God's salvation and discover life in His Kingdom and among His family. More and more people need to be equipped to publicly live out the way of Jesus in our city for its renewal. Marriages and families need to be raised up. The hurting, confused and struggling need to be counseled and strengthened. The marginalized need to be attended to. Others in the critical conditions around the planet need to be resourced. There is such great need before us. I'm asking you to step into it as those sent to heal. Step into the need with persevering prayer, courageous faith, sacrificial service, self-less love and radical generosity. God is at work healing this broken world and He is inviting us to join Him in it to heal.  But, if we love our resources instead of leveraging our resources, we will fail to incarnate his presence in our world. Last month we were $23,000 short on our budget. It is not that the budget is impossible to meet; if we had full participation across our congregation we would have a surplus and be faced with the exciting opportunity of meeting more physical and spiritual needs. If we don't have greater participation in generosity among those who call Apostles Church their home, we will fail to be a gathering of radicals who are worshiping God, loving people and leveraging our resources to address the physical and spiritual brokenness of the world. We will simply be a gathered assembly of consumers wanting our needs met with good music, good friends, and messages that make us feel important.  This is not what Jesus died to make us.

Challenge: if you are in Jesus, see yourself as part of something bigger than you and embrace the call on your life to live as one sent into the world together, partnering with God to bring renewal to others. Be apprenticed by Jesus in how to treat God, people and things. Embrace a life of self-less love and radical generosity. Move from being an observer in God's work and become a participant in it. Move from a consumer to a contributor. Jesus wants to teach us how to be his people in this world and live out his mission to this world.

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Sermon Speaker:

JR Vassar

Former Lead Pastor, Apostles NYC