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Jesus As Savior and Example

Jesus' sacrifice for sin makes it possible to receive His gifts. His example for Godly living leads us to daily following in His steps. What does this look like?

Corby Stephens
Corby Stephens
17 min read
Jesus As Savior and Example
Photo by Jake Hills / Unsplash

Table of Contents

The following text is the raw, unedited transcript from a sermon given on April 23rd, 2023 at Christ Our Hope Anglican Church in Olympia, WA. You can also listen to the audio. Better yet, subscribe to the podcast! :-)

I love the collects. And I've probably said that before and I will keep on saying it because they are awesome. But, in today's collect, a parallelism popped out. There's these two parallel ideas, it felt very Psalm like, it was really kind of cool. In the collect, there are two phrases; "sacrifice for sin, example of Godly living," and then the parallel is, "receiving his inestimable," I can't say this word, "inestimable, those gifts and then daily follow his blessed steps." So we have sacrifice for sin and receiving his gifts because that's what the sacrifice for sin is for, isn't it? It's a gift. And then the other set is "an example of Godly living" and then "daily follow his steps his blessed steps."

The first one, the first set are what Jesus did. He was the sacrifice for sin. And he gave us an example of Godly living. The second set is what we do, is our response to that, we receive his gifts. That's an, that's an active statement. That's, I don't, I know that I don't always do a good job of paying attention and just sort of receive his gifts of forgiveness. And grace and mercy and, and walk in those things though, I do try to do the other half, which is to daily follow in his blessed steps. He was our example, great little parallel. And I think we can see these things in the four passages, the four readings before us today.

Isaiah 43 - sacrifice for sin and His gifts for us

In Isaiah, great, great little passage, I feel bad saying that this is a great passage because it means that there's some of them are not so great. But when you have a long list of names, that's not so great, which I feel bad for the person who's gonna read The Old Testament here pretty soon because it's, it's a tongue twister.

But this, this prophecy, this promise to Israel, it's an interesting thing in the Bible for us Christians. And when we look, and this is a tangent, by the way, when we look at the Old Testament, there's lots of promises that God makes to Israel that unfortunately, some Christians take as global, universal, anyone can claim these promises. And that's not always necessarily so. However, there are principles that we can learn from these promises that we can apply today. So just something to keep in mind is as you read through the Bible.

In Isaiah 43 God does not say that he will take us around things like the waters and the rivers and fire and flame. Does he, hey, follow me. It's gonna be cake we're gonna go, I want cake. Now. It, it's gonna be easy. It's gonna go through and it's gonna be super, super simple. No, he says, he says when you walk but sorry, when you pass through the waters, not if you pass through the waters, when you pass through the waters, I will be with you and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you.

When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned and the flame shall not consume you for, I am the Lord, your God, the holy one of Israel, your savior. God doesn't say he'll take us around these things, but through them and not just through them, but he will be with us through them. That sounds awesome in principle. But it's really not easy to do in the moment. Is it if we're being honest with ourselves? Now, to me, when I read that some, I have heard some say that God takes us through these things to make us stronger.

And I think there's a, there's an element of truth to that, but that actually to me puts too much emphasis on me. I think what it does is it makes our faith in God stronger, doesn't make me stronger, it should make my faith in Him stronger. I think that's an important distinction. A pastor that I really admire used to say faith is produced through time and testing. That was his. He observed that watching Abraham's life, that faith is only really produced, that muscle is only exercised through time and testing, not through theory, not through potential.

And as we go through these things, who is God? And he says, I am, I am the Lord, your God, the holy one of Israel who is our savior. He is not us, not me, he is. And the, the point he gets to at the end of this particular reading is that we are to understand and make known that God is God. I mean, that's, that's as we go through fire, as we go through water. It's to make known to those who see us who are around us.

It's a witness. It's when the, the Israelites went through the red Sea and when they eventually got to the promised land, people were afraid of them because they heard of these things that their God had done, not that they had done, but that their God had done. Word got around and word gets around when God works through your life. If you cooperate, if you participate in that process. So in this one, I see the parallel of sacrifice for sin and His gifts for us.

Psalm 116 - example of Godly living and daily following in his blessed steps

In the Psalm. The psalm was really interesting to me when, when you, if you look at the whole thing, it starts with three words directed at us, directed from us toward God. It says, I love you. I think that's very, very, very awesome. I love the Lord because he has heard my voice and my pleas for mercy. This is a very personal, a very intimate psalm. It's not one where I mean we're psalm. 51 is a favorite of a number of us where it's have mercy on me according to your loving kindness because David recognizes his own sin.

But this one is more of a, it's not like a, oh, I'm so awful. God forgives me and praise God for that. It's just, hey, I love the Lord. He is good. He hears he sees he goes, he goes with me. It's just a nice sort of break sometimes from David's chronic complaining, which I'm sure God wants a break from our chronic complaining from time to time. But in the, in the specific verses that are part of today's reading, I, I, I'm gonna add one verse because it kind of starts in the middle of something verse 10 I believed, even when I spoke, I am greatly afflicted.

So when the author of the song believed in God, even when he said out loud, I am greatly afflicted. I said in my alarm, all mankind are liars. What shall I render to the Lord for all his benefits to me? I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord. I will pay my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people and he repeats that statement towards the end. That's after our particular reading. He says twice. I will pay my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people.

God doesn't ask more from us than he is willing to do or to give which happens to be himself. No small amount. God like God, why are you asking this of me? He's like, look, I'm not trying to hold this over your head, but I gave my son for you. So maybe there's some reciprocity here that can happen. That's a big word for me to use. I apologize. He doesn't ask more than He is willing to do or to give so to, to, to fulfill your vows and the presence of the people.

It's what you've said, God, this is what I'm gonna do and you actually do it. You actually live for Him. You actually not out of a sense of obligation. But again, out of the first couple words, I love the Lord. Sometimes it's out of obedience, but ideally it's out of a place of love. Oh man, I turned back to Isaiah. Why did I do that? The, David or whoever actually doesn't say David, it's like talking about Hebrews when you say Paul, I don't know who wrote Hebrews, but sometimes I slip when I say Paul because that's my opinion, but in this particular Psalm, he does get to the point of talking about service and I think to say that we are free.

Would you agree that we're free? I think it's, I think to say that just by itself is a half truth and I get really picky about words sometimes. I think to say that we are free is half a truth. The other half of that truth is really that we have a new master. We're free from sin, we're free from bondage, but we now serve the Lord. We don't serve ourselves, we don't serve the world. We don't serve anybody else but him. We owe a debt of love and service to him and for him, which I, I love ending the service with go and peace to love and serve the Lord.

That's just, that's us saying this is what we're gonna do when we leave this building because that's what we've heard about God's love. God's truth. This section to me is an example of Godly living and daily following in his blessed steps because that's what Jesus was. Right. A servant. We talked about that not too long ago in First Peter.

1st Peter 1 - Godly living daily following in his blessed steps

Oh man, this is such a great meaty passage. There I go again, extolling certain passages at the expense of others. If you haven't noticed I kind of dig the Bible.

It's kind of fun. In First Peter, remember Peter denied the Lord three times chopped off a guy's ear, walked on water and then sank true enough. But Peter is writing these things to, to other believers. And, Peter is not James, I'm having a fun time with thin pages. I love the Bible, but it's too thin sometimes. Ok. In this bit, I think we see a life of intentionality and sincerity. Verse 13, therefore, prepare your minds for action. And if you love the old, the old King James, it's gird the loins of your mind to which a teacher, a pastor.

I, once in person I heard say, learn the goings of your mind. Little little Dane bra there a little, little lists. But that's it, it means to hike up your skirt and get ready to run, get ready to go, prepare your minds for action and be sober minded. That's intentionality. That's on purpose. That's not following Jesus on accident, that's following him on purpose. And we, as you read through this, there's this, this, this reality, there's this sense of sincerity because this is, this is really real.

I might jump ahead to the end of what I was gonna say then. But things are getting pretty real in this world and I know for a long time people it's getting so bad. It's the worst that it's ever been. And on one hand, I'm like, I don't agree because when you read about the things Caligula did to Christians back in the, the, the day, things were pretty awful back then. We just happened to have lights in global 24 7 news. And so we know about all the garbage happening all over the world at the click of a button.

I don't know that it's getting worse, but it's certainly getting to be a lot. But here in our world and our culture, here in America and Washington State, I think it's getting very real in the sense that we have to, we're becoming New Testament Christians. And when I say New Testament Christians, I'm saying that the world that we're in the culture is becoming more like it was in the first century when the New Testament was written. And thankfully, that's when this was written. And we have some pretty good instructions on how to live in this world and how to reach out and, and be a, be a godly example to other people.

But he gets into this bit and there's this to me. It's probably the scariest verse in the Bible along the lines of following. He says, and he, he actually quotes the Old Testament. You shall be holy for, I am holy, holy cow batman. I'm supposed to be holy because God's holy need a little help. That's tough. That is rough. And something happens when it can be good. I think it starts out good. I think new, new believers, people who are new to the Lord and really get on fire and, and genuinely like, I know I'm a sinner and I need Jesus and it's not just an emotional response.

They, the more as they mature in their early years, they get excited about the idea of living for the Lord. And so they pour into the Bible and they see all the new thou shalt and thou shalt nots. And it's a good idea to do this and a bad idea to do that. So they start hopefully shaping their life to match those things. That what happens though, starting from this good place is they become what we like to call legalistic. Things become very black and white. It's either this or it's that either you can go to school dances or you can't, either you can go to movies or you can't and you know, don't smoke, don't you and don't date girls that do.

And it, it's just very, it's all about becomes rules but from a good place and also in their zeal to live with the Lord, they start pushing the rules that they've made for themselves onto other Christians. Like you're a Christian. Well, you shouldn't. Why are you wearing that T shirt? Why are you watching that TV? Show? Why are you at that movie? And it gets really sticky, gets really frustrating because the world is reduced to black and white. And there are some things that are very black and white, but not as much as we would like to think.

And so that youthful zeal has to be tempered, has to be grown. The difference between legalism and holiness is where your heart is the same action. The same circumstance can be done in a very legalistic rule based from a good place manner or it can be done from a place of, I just love you Lord and I will avoid this because it will hurt my relationship with you or I will do these things because it builds my relationship with you. Not because I, I had a thou shalt or a thou shalt not.

So if, if you or when you find yourself thinking about what you should or shouldn't do or watch or go or say or whatever, think or the people around you, it is a good exercise to stop and say, is this coming from a heart or is this coming from a rule? And I think Peter tries to get them passed rules to heart because he eventually does get to a place of talking about love.

There's an interesting parallel with sin. The same action and action can be sin or it can be perfectly holy. It just depends on the motive. Now, I don't know if you can talk about sex in church, but I'm going to. I don't know if you know this, but God invented sex. It was his idea and he kind of built our bodies to do that. And I think he also built it to be fun. Sex is fun. I said it, there it is. And I think if he didn't make it fun. Nobody would have kids because like that's, I'm, I'm not dumb. That was funnier in my head but never mind.

But sex in the right context is a gift from God. Sex in the wrong context is sin. Same action, different origins. Again, food for thought. As we look to live holy, we also need to keep in mind that the things that we thought before would save us don't actually save us. Peter talks about giving gifts of silver and gold, which is a more of a Jewish context of, you know, offerings at the temple. You know, if I'm a good, good person, I will fulfill these things and God will, will approve of me.

And we kind of think the same thing today is, well, we're supposed to be a good person. Isn't that enough to go to heaven? I'm a good person or I'm not as bad as so. And so, but that is kind of the standard today is if you are a good or a nice person, if you're a kind person, which takes on all kinds of weird shapes and forms and no, that is not enough. It's, it's, we need to save from ourselves. We need save from, from sin.

And as we again pursue this living, our common denominator is our salvation in Jesus with one another. This is what unites us. This is what brings us together and it should again drive a love and service toward one another. And in the end of all of that, it's revealed in his word, that's where it comes from. I’m trying to summarize something that happened this week. A gathering called GafCon happened this week. And one of the responses, the short version is we're committing ourselves to the authority of God's work doing what this says, not what culture says, our culture's interpretation of things.

And one of the responses from in the church of England was, well, they were kind of like whatever we're, we're gonna keep loving people. And I'm like, well, how do we know what real love is? Except from this? Yeah, like it sounds good. It sounds good to I, well, I want to be a loving person and I want to love those who need Jesus who don't know him and show compassion and show grace. But I don't, the, what love actually looks like is from here, not from the response of people's emotions.

So Peter's ends with a, a quote about the grass withers and the flowers falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever. And this word is the good news that was preached to you. This is an example of Godly living daily following in his blessed steps when you read that passage.

Luke 24 - see sacrifice for sin, and these gifts

And the last one, Luke, I know it's a long passage and I'm not gonna go through the whole thing although it's a wonderful story. I think what you see in these guys, you know, it's like, it's like maybe a week after all of the events of Easter and they're walking from Jerusalem to a mass and they're having this conversation and, and clearly they are disappointed they are let down.

They thought we thought this was gonna happen and it's not what happened. They went home. Very sad. That, that's what it says, which I think is really interesting. And one of they were sad bummer. That's a bummer seven mile walk. And you're both sad. It's because they had the right heart, but they had the wrong expectations, right? Like we thought this is what was gonna happen. But actually this happened. So, but were they right? No, actually what happened was this Messiah did come, he just didn't do what they thought they were gonna do.

He, what he, you know what I'm saying? He didn't do what they thought he was gonna do there. It is. And as Jesus explained it to them, they were like did our, did not our hearts burn but when they heard, not just that it was Jesus talking in them, but when they heard again, back to this, when this is the thing that fixed their misconception, their hearts were on fire. And it's, it's kind of fun. This is how I feel having come into the Anglican world.

I mean, I, I had some picture of church and what it means to follow Jesus and, and, certainly I hope a very solid understanding of this but becoming a part of this community and this global communion has made me see more of the picture. And it's really, it's very cool, you know, you might say, I thought following Jesus would look like this or it was gonna be like this and it turns out it's something different because we have coming in with the wrong expectations. And interestingly to me, their politics clouded their understanding of God's plan.

I think that's one way to look at where they were at. We thought the messiah was to come and overthrow Rome and, and bring in the kingdom. And so they took that perspective and put it on top of scripture. Does that sound at all familiar? Hm. Instead this should inform our politics, what this says should inform what we expect. Paul, I think it's in Philippians says that our citizenship is in heaven and that word is literally politics. We're strangers here, we're supposed to be strangers here.

And yes, there's just so much going on in the political world and it's sad and it's frustrating, but it's, it's winning. Those arguments is not the point. Sharing Jesus is the point. And I know I'm going a little long and I, I apologize but when Jesus meets these guys on the road who are clearly Jews who went to celebrate and have some understanding of the Bible. What does Jesus share with them? The Old Testament. He shares the gospel from what we call the Old Testament. Stephen later on in acts seven shares the gospel from the Old Testament with people who were about to kill him.

So the gospel is not just a New Testament thing. I don't know if you've ever thought about that way. It's a whole Bible thing from the very beginning. The gospel is there in the beginning, God spoke and created things and then Adam and Eve and then He God sacrifices for them so that they could be covered. And there's all kinds of, oh my gosh, it's these patterns in the Bible that got me excited about the Bible in the first place of how the gospels from Genesis 1:1 to Revelation 22:21.

It's the whole kit and caboodle. So as we look at Luke, we see sacrifice for sin and these gifts. So how are you doing at receiving, experiencing and enjoying his gifts? One way to that we react wrongly is we try to be so busy to work for him that and, and say, look God, you know, aren't I'm saying, don't I doing good stuff when sometimes we just need to stop and just enjoy the gift, we need to do both.

As you receive, does that lead to daily following in his blessed steps? And I feel impressed to say, don't be afraid to make a mistake. Sometimes I think we can, I, I want to honor God and I want to live for him, but I don't want to do it wrong in front of other people. Try, try something and then you will learn that that was probably not the best thing with people. Like share the gospel is so scary because what if they don't accept it? How many people did not believe Jesus in his face? Many, many. So you're in good company if people don't receive at that time, because they might receive later.

The way to experience both of these things is to be rooted in his word and amongst his people. That was one of the things the conference was about last week was this was this a focus on this, a focus on discipleship, a focus on raising people up to share the gospel with the world because, and I've said this before and it's, it's also starting to hit home. This is either real or it's not either Jesus is real or he's not either we're sinners who need saving or we're not.

If it's not true, like Paul said, if Jesus didn't rise from the dead, then we're the saddest of all people because this is kind of crazy eating crackers and drinking wine and it just to the world. I was like, what are you guys wearing? I'm wearing this. What am I doing? I used to wear shirts but I don't have to pick my clothes for church anymore. So that's kind of nice. But I digress. This is either real or it's not. So I'm, I'm hoping that as things become more real around us, with the world that Jesus is also becoming more real and that you enjoy his gifts and I enjoy his gifts and we all walk in his steps.



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