Series Intro: “Who is Jesus? Describe him to me”
How do you even begin to answer this question? There are so many ways to describe Jesus. For the next few weeks we’ll be looking at the “Many faces of Jesus.” Last youth group we looked at Jesus as Friend, and remembered that if we ever doubt if Jesus is trustworthy we only need to look at the cross. This week we’re exploring Jesus as Miracle Worker, and in the next few weeks we’ll see him as Servant, and Shepherd.
Do You Have Authority?
Moving is really stressful. When my family moved earlier this year we had to make a bunch of phone calls so we’d have electricity and gas and phones. When I called to have our electricity turned on, they wouldn’t let me do it because our account was under Tracy’s name but not mine, so I had no authority to make changes to our account.
Honestly, I argued with them more than they probably deserved, they kept telling me I’d have to wait for Tracy to get off work so she could call and have the power turned on.
It was frustrating to have no authority. But at the same time, I’m glad that only the person whose name is on the account is the one who can make changes. Think about it, what would happen if I called National Grid and asked them to turn off the power at your house tonight. Would you like that? Obviously not. But I can’t do that, because I don’t have the authority to make changes to your account.
We all want authority, don’t we? We want to be able to call the shots and have people listen to us. But it’s good and right life doesn’t work like that.
Which Power is More Impressive: A Miracle, or Forgiveness of Sin?
Would you rather have the power to perform miracles or to forgive sin? What miracles would you do? How would you use that power? How would you choose when to do a miracle and when not to?
As impressive as miracles are, the authority to forgive someone’s sin is even greater. A miracle is an instant, forgiveness lasts for an eternity. Imagine having that authority, to look at someone and to be able to decide if they should be forgive of their sin or not. “Nope, sorry, I don’t like you. You’re still guilty!”
Jesus had authority and power to perform miracles AND to forgive sin, and tonight I want to share one story from the Gospel of Matthew where Jesus’ authority is questioned.
“Jesus stepped into a boat, crossed over and came to his own town. Some men brought to him a paralytic, lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.” At this, some of the teachers of the law said to themselves, “This fellow is blaspheming!”
Knowing their thoughts, Jesus said, “Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts? Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins. . . .” Then he said to the paralytic, “Get up, take your mat and go home.” And the man got up and went home. When the crowd saw this, they were filled with awe; and they praised God, who had given such authority to men.”
The reason for the miracles: To prove his authority!
Which is easier… to say “your sins are forgiven” or to say “get up and walk.”
It’s easier to say something that people can’t “prove” is false than to say something that can be immediately seen as true or false.
Any crazy guy can say “I forgive your sins!” Not anyone can make someone who was born paralyzed and make him immediately able to get up and walk.
Jesus explains, “So that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins, get up, take your mat and go home.” And the man did!
Jesus wasn’t all about the show. He had huge crowds following him, begging for constant miracles. The reason Jesus came was for the forgiveness of sins, to reconcile sinful humanity to the Holy God.
When we pursue God because we want to see his power, we lose sight of something far more important. It’s obviously important that we worship a powerful God whose authority is real and endless… but it’s even more important that we pursue reconciliation with him so that his power is FOR us, not AGAINST us!
Why don’t I experience God’s power?
- You’re not living for God, you’re living in sin.
If you’re living with unconfessed and unrepented sin in your life, then you can’t expect to experience much of God’s power.
Can I make a confession: I lied to National Grid. I called them back half an hour later and told them I’m Tracy. Since she’s my wife I could answer all of her security questions as if they were about me. Thankfully, their files don’t say whether or not “Tracy” is a boy name or a girl name.
God alone has authority, and he won’t be manipulated or tricked into doing what you want him to do. Confess your sin, and repent. Repenting from your sin means “to turn away.” It means you’ve confessed it (“God, I admit I’m guilty of _______.”) and that you’ve prayerfully committed to stop sinning and start doing what God wants instead, (“God, give me strength to stop ______ and start doing _______ instead, to the glory of your name.”).
- You’re living too safely.
When we take no risks, there’s no need for God to show you how strong he is. You simply don’t need God or faith if you live in a way that you can comfortably live without Him.
If you want to see God’s power, take some risks.
Don’t be foolish and put yourself into situations where you’re “daring” God to rescue you.
Take a risk by standing up for someone who’s being bullied, by speaking up when Christ is being dragged through the mud, and when people who claim to be Christians are making decisions which are firmly and clearly not what God would want.
- You rely on your own strength, not his.
Jesus said that he came for the sick, not the healthy. If you think you’re just fine without God, then you can’t expect to know God’s strength. You don’t need it anyway.
I think this is one of the reasons we experience suffering and trials, to remind us of our need for Him. If I never discipline my kids, how are they supposed to know the difference between good behavior and bad behavior? If I never let my kids fail at anything, how are they going to learn how to ask for help?
Ask the Lord to show you your need for him, and start trusting in HIS strength instead of your own.
Trust in God’s Power, Not Your Own
Will you trust in yourself, or will you trust in Him?
If you claim to trust in him, but you never take any godly risks, then you can say you trust him all you want… but you don’t.
If you want to trust him, but you think living for sin is better, then you’re going to live a two-faced, double-hearted life… always wanting one thing and doing another. And that’s a pretty guilty way to live. Eventually, what will happen, is you’ll either repent of your sin or you’ll give up on God so you don’t feel guilty anymore.
I want you to know and experience the power of God.
His miracles aren’t just fireworks to draw a crowd. They are powerful reminders that he has complete authority over both heaven and earth.
The question is… will you confess your sin, your need… and will you trust Jesus Christ to change you and make you new?
If you want to know more about how to be made new and how to be forgiven of your sins, your small group leader or me would LOVE to talk with you.