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To The Finish And Back: The End's In Sight
December 25, 1994

ISAIAH 9:2-7; TITUS 2:11-14; JOHN 1:1-14

The end's in sight! I don't mean the end of the world is in sight. I'm not predicting this morning. What I mean is that the end to which God is leading has been revealed to us. The gospel lesson this morning, from the first chapter of John, goes back to the first words of the Bible--In the beginning, back to the creative movement of God where God spoke, and creation was accomplished. The power which called the universe into being, the purpose that lay behind it, the divine energy which brought order out of chaos and light out of darkness was the Word of God. John personifies the Word, and equates it with Jesus.

Jesus is the Word made flesh, the very essence of God "fleshed out" in a human being, a human being who has been to the Finish and back. Jesus is the first final human being. In Jesus we see the revelation of God, the Creator. In Jesus we see the end. The end's in sight through Jesus. What God's purpose in creation is, what is God's purpose for humankind is seen in Jesus. What the future will look like is seen in Jesus. What life is like and will be like in the kingdom of God is seen in Jesus. In Jesus, the Word became flesh. The end's in sight. The meaning of life, the purpose of your existence, the purpose of your birth, is seen in Jesus.

One of the Christmas cards we received this year, reads,

If our greatest need had been information,

God would have sent us an educator.

If our greatest need had been technology,

God would have sent us a scientist.

If our greatest need had been money,.

God would have sent us an economist.

If our greatest need had been pleasure,

God would have sent us an entertainer.

But our greatest need was forgiveness,

So God sent us a Savior.

And, I might add, our desperate need is for leadership, so God sent us a Messiah. Our desperate need is for an example, so God sent us a real live human being to demonstrate how we are to live.

The lesson this morning from Titus tells us that Jesus gave himself for us that he might redeem and purify for himself a people of his own. While we wait for the blessed hope and the manifestation of the glory of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ, we are called to live lives that are self-controlled, upright and godly.

You and I are called by God to be his people. We are called to model the Christian life on behalf of the world, that the world may see God's plan in and through us. We are called to live as Jesus lived while we wait for the end. What the end will look like, how we are to live our lives is seen in Jesus, the first final human being. Next Sunday I'm beginning a series of sermons on Jesus' radical teachings. How Jesus lived and what he calls his disciples to live, may surprise us? This morning, let's take a look at Jesus, and highlight one of his characteristics.

When Peter was explaining the gospel to a group of Gentiles, he said that Jesus went about doing good (Acts 10:38). A simple statement, but yet profound. He went about; notice, Jesus did not stay at home waiting for human need to come to him. He went about, he went about on a mission of doing good. Are you intentionally doing good? You can see by our bulletin that the ministers of this church are every member. How are you doing your ministry? Have you done any good lately? Good for someone else. Take a challenge. Every day, do something intentional, go out of your way, to do something good for someone.

Jesus went about doing good, for whom? Who were the primary recipients of the good Jesus did? To whom did Jesus minister? Jesus called them the least of these. His enemies called them sinners. The gospel writers called them the crowds. They were large in number. They were poor. Many of them could not pay the heavy taxes laid by Rome and the temple. When they couldn't pay the temple tax, they were denied access, and were ostracized. Many of them had lost their homes and businesses. They were voiceless and nameless. In Jesus' day there were Pharisees, Sadducees, Scribes, Essenes, groups with names, groups with voices, groups with power. And then there were the nameless, those large numbers without political voice, without political power. They were derisively called sinners.

Jesus stood up for the sinners. Jesus stood with the sinners. Jesus enjoyed being with them. He ate, drank, and partied with them. His enemies could think of nothing worse to say about Jesus than, "He eats and drinks with sinners!" He eats with the riff-raff, homeless, destitute, the sick, lame, lepers, mentally ill, and other outcasts. Certainly a major factor in Jesus' alienation and eventual execution was his doing good for the poor, the voiceless and nameless.

One of the saddest aspects of this Christmas in our beloved nation is the increase of hatred, bigotry, and intolerance. Another of the Christmas letters we received this year contained this line, "The country seems meaner, more selfish, and much less willing to work for the good of the whole community." People seem to need scapegoats to blame for their troubles. Now the current scapegoats (the modern sinners) are immigrants--especially illegal immigrants--and homosexuals. When they attempt to raise a voice, and exercise some political power, they stir up a backlash of hatred. I watched a TV preacher the other day. I could only stand it for about five minutes. His auditorium was full, every seat taken, every eye focused on him, heads nodding in agreement, as he unleashed his venomous diatribe against what he called the ungodly, especially lesbians. All in the name of Jesus. According to the Bible I read, Jesus went about doing good, especially for those against whom his society unleashed its venom. Jesus stood up for the persecuted, and he calls us to do the same. The world needs us to shine lights, not spread the darkness. The world needs the love of Jesus, not intolerant bigotry against the so-called ungodly sinners.

William Boyce, a Chicago businessman, was in London, looking for an address he couldn't find because of the dense fog. He stood hesitantly on a street corner, wondering which way he should go, when a boy approached him and asked, "May I help you?" (He was in London. The boy did not ask "Can I help you?") Boyce told him he was lost in the fog. The boy said, "I'll take you where you want to go." Boyce offered him a tip for helping him, but to his surprise, the boy replied, "No, sir. I am a scout and scouts do not accept tips for helping people." The man was so impressed by the boy that he asked him questions about scouting, and when he returned to America, he told others about the boy. On February 8, 1910, the Boy Scouts of America was organized. A large statue of a bronze buffalo was sent to London. On it is this inscription,

To the Unknown Scout Whose Faithfulness in the Performance of the "Daily Good Turn" Brought the Scout Movement to the United States of America.

The simple deed of kindness of the English boy had far-reaching consequences. Jesus went about doing good. Another Christmas card we received, reads,

Every time a hand reaches out to help another...
that is Christmas.

Every time someone puts anger aside and strives for understanding...
that is Christmas.

Every time people forget their differences and realize their love for each other...
that is Christmas.

Will you reach out a hand and do good? Will you especially do good to the nameless and voiceless, standing with them in the name of the Jesus in whom the end's in sight, in whom we see what life in the kingdom of God is all about.

© 1994 Douglas I. Norris