04 January 2007

Jesus reached out

I was talking to someone once about how GOD cares about us. Their response was much like that of many people who don't know GOD. They said, “GOD has too much going on to worry about me.” They didn’t say it out of hatred, or even disrespect. This person truly thought that GOD was so far away that her life didn’t matter to Him. Now, you and I know that that ain’t true. It’s funny, but, looking at the world today it’s pretty obvious that our lives mean more to GOD than they do to other people.

Ever notice how it’s news when one neighbor reaches out to another? You never know what can happen when you reach out to one person. But that's exactly what Jesus did. He could have been on a huge crowd, surriunded by hundreds, or even thousands, of people. But there was always ONE person that He needed to touch. And every time, that person needede something different than any other person. And Jesus knew just how to reach out to each one of those people.

In our first example, JESUS REACHED OUT WITH FAVOR.
Mark 2:1-5
And again He entered Capernaum after some days, and it was heard that He was in the house. Immediately many gathered together, so that there was no longer room to receive them, not even near the door. And He preached the word to them. Then they came to Him, bringing a paralytic who was carried by four men. And when they could not come near Him because of the crowd, they uncovered the roof where He was. So when they had broken through, they let down the bed on which the paralytic was lying. When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven you.”

Jesus was in a house filled with people. And in the middle of all the excitement, one man was brought in to Him. But he didn't just walk in through the front door. Because of all the people, this man's friends could not get him in. So what did they do? They lifted him up to the roof, and carefully lowered him down into the house. How'd you like to have friends like that? And when Jesus saw how much these men loved their friend, He reached out to that one man and said “your sins are forgiven.” And boy, I'll bet a dollar to a doughnut that when He said that, I bet you could have heard a pin drop.

You see, the Pharisees—they had religion. And boy, they sure looked good when they were doing their religion. The problem was, their religion was all on the outside. They didn't have it inside of them. Let's look at that word "religion" for a second. Just what is "religion"? James 1:27 says that Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world. Religion—biblical religion—is reaching out to one person at a time, lending the hand, and giving them the help they need, when they need it. And Jesus shows us favor when we reach out--like He did--to those who need Him most.

Next, we see that JESUS REACHED OUT WITH FRIENDSHIP.

John 4:7-10
A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give Me a drink,” For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food. Then the woman of Samaria said to Him, "How is it that You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman? For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans." Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.”

Jesus was sitting there, at a well in Samaria, when this woman came along. She had been married 5 times, and was currently living with another man she wasn't married to. Do you think the fact that she came along right at that very moment when Jesus was there was some kind of coincidence? Nah.

Now, a Pharisee would have shunned her. Jesus reached out to her. Then she said, "You shouldn’t be talking to me." You know, about 40 years ago, she might have said something along the same lines. Certain women didn’t talk to certain men. Certain men didn't talk to certain women. There are some in here that couldn’t have been in here. But GOD reached out and touched one man—gave him a vision—a dream. And in much the same way, Jesus reached out to one woman, and gave her hope--and gave hope to so many. Jesus said to that one woman, "You’re looking for someone. I’m him." He didn’t always go running up to those people. Sometimes He knew where they’d be….and waited.

Also, JESUS REACHED OUT WITH FORGIVENESS.

John 8:3-11
Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery. And when they had set her in the midst, they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?” This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear.

So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them,
“He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.”


An adulteress was brought before Him. Brought to Jesus by a bunch of men who were probably snarling, and laughing, thinking, "Ha! We're gonna prove this guy is a fraud!! Hey, Jesus!! We caught this woman!! Whatcha gonna do now, Master, huuuhhh???" Again, do you think that He didn't expect this? Of course He knew this was coming. So He simply writes in the sand with His finger. You know, Jesus, He didn’t always say a lot. He didn't always have to. And as these guys kept yelling at Him, baiting Him into making some mistake, He looked at these guys, and kept writing in the sand. Finally, He looks up at these guys as if to say, “You gotta be kidding me.” So, He gets up, says 8 words, sits back down…and the men go home. Then He reaches out to that one woman. He asks her, “Who condemns you?” She says "Nobody." Then he says, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.” When some people want to stop Christians from criticizing some particular sin, they waill often ask, "What Would Jesus Do?" Well, He would do the same thing He does here. He would tell that person to "sin no more."

However, when He we call upon Him to be our Savior, and He forgives our sins, those sins are done away with forever. John 8:36 tells us that "...if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed." Now, in verse 11, when Jesus uses that word “neither”, it's the same word that Paul uses in Romans 8:1, when he writes that There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus... Jesus reached out with FAVOR, with FRIENDSHIP, with FORGIVENESS.


Next we see that JESUS REACHED OUT WITH FELLOWSHIP
Luke 19:1-10
Then Jesus entered and passed through Jericho. Now behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus who was a chief tax collector, and he was rich. And he sought to see who Jesus was, but could not because of the crowd, for he was of short stature. So he ran ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see Him, for He was going to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, He looked up and saw him, and said to him, “Zacchaeus, make haste and come down, for today I must stay at your house.” So he made haste and came down, and received Him joyfully. But when they saw it, they all complained, saying, “He has gone to be a guest with a man who is a sinner.” Then Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord, I give half of my goods to the poor; and if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold.” And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham; for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”

Traveling through Jericho, He was walking with a large crowd. In fact, it was so large, that this one certain man could not see over the top of the people. So, he climbed up in a sycamore tree for the Lord he wanted to see (sung to the tune of Zaccheus was a wee wee man.) And what happened? Jesus stopped right under that tree, and reached out to that one man. Now, this man was a thief, and an extortioner. Kinda like those "Cash in a Flash" check cashing places. You know, the ones that will cash your $200 check until your next payday. Then you only have to pay them back $2000. And yet Jesus reached out to him. Why? Because this man wanted to know truth. That day, salvation came to his house.

Finally, JESUS REACHED OUT WITH FOREVER.

Luke 23:39-43
Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, “If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us.” But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, “Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said to Jesus, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” And Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.”

Finally, as He hung on that cross, and as a dying thief hung on His right and cried to Him, He reached out an offered the man salvation, showing us that no mater what we do, no matter how bad we think we are or think we can be--we can be a liar, thief, killer--but if we, with our last breath, ask forgiveness, He will reach out and offer it, one person at a time.

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