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  • sonnyholmes

Jesus knew his mission. He stated it clearly and pursued it with passion. The events and circumstances in first century Israel amplified his mission with great clarity. Oppression from the Romans and the whimsical nature of the Greek culture were threats that could have quickened or delayed fulfillment of his earthly purpose. Jewish zealots were always prepared to end his mission. The Gospel of John gave particular emphasis to that mission and the "hour" appointed for his purpose. Over and over John referenced Christ's measured response to the opposition he faced and his awareness of a coming hour when the mission would be accomplished. It is a thrilling subtext to the Gospel of John, the mission that defined his time on the earth, and the hour when it would be fulfilled. In one pivotal moment he announced, "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified" (John 12: 23). It was when he would finish the work God had given him to accomplish.


Jesus said, "My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work" (John 4:34). His disciples had encouraged him to take some nourishment to supply what is humanly needed to continue the pace and urgency of mission. Jesus had told them that he had food to eat that they could not grasp or understand. Then he explained that his source of sustenance was not human food, but rather the mission for which he had come to earth. This mission was the driving force of his life, the source of all he needed to complete the assignment God had ordained for his earthly ministry. His mission was to do God's will and finish God's redemptive plan.


For the moment, understand the essential truth of being guided by a personal mission. No, we're not Jesus Christ and cannot understand completely his assignment of dying on a cross for the sins of mankind. But, even in our modern culture we can know the influence of personal mission in our daily lives. Having a mission statement is one of the contemporary in things in culture. Churches have them, organizations are developing them, the educational system is teaching the value of them, and even government is grappling with the need to be more specific in the goals of their work.


As a pastor for the past forty years I've operated with a clear mission statement. It is based on a Scripture verse that is identified as my Mission Verse. It's been printed, framed, and displayed visibly in my sight for those forty years. One verse is definitive of my personal mission---


Although I am less than the least of all the Lord’s people, this grace was given me: to

preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ,9 and to make plain to everyone

the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who

created all things.

Ephesians 3: 8-9, NIV


This verse has brought consistent direction to my personal calling as a Christian pastor. It has kept me, for the most part, on target in my service to four congregations. There have been many occasions when unusual circumstances have blown me off course or shifted my attention. But, this verse, and the formative influence it has held on my personal mission has always corrected my direction and given me guidance.


The point is that we should all have a mission statement to guide our life journey. If we are to follow the example of Jesus Christ in life, to somehow walk in his steps, we should examine the ideal of having a personal mission statement, and develop one. Fulfilling the purpose of God is a great starting place. The Apostle Paul wrote, "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect" (Romans 12: 2).


Mission. Discerning the will of God and seeking it. Simple, Profound. Mission.


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  • sonnyholmes

The four Gospels are our biographical pathway for studying the example of Jesus. These inspired writers provided intimate glimpses into his life and earthly ministry. If we are to follow his steps today we must rely on the guidance Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John have provided. In the mystery of his ways God has guided each of them to write very similar but strikingly unique characterizations of Jesus: the expected Messiah; the servant; fully God and fully man; and the great I AM. Over the years, certain texts from Luke's Gospel have given me pause and reflection. Dr. Luke had "...followed all things closely for some time past..." and had written an "...orderly account..." of Christ's life (see Luke 1: 3, ESV). One of the themes woven into the text of Luke's Gospel is the portrayal of Christ's determined and intentional pursuit of Jerusalem. Jesus' death on the cross in Jerusalem was not happenstance or the luck of the draw or the movement of the stars. Jesus went there intentionally with great purpose and mission.


Follow the textual truth of this very resolute journey. Make note of Luke's consistent mention of Christ's determined destination. Many events and opportunities to teach and heal occurred along the way. Each of them was incidental to his purpose of going to Jerusalem---


When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem.

Luke 9: 51, ESV


As they were going along the road---

Luke 9: 57, ESV


After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them ahead of him, two by

two, into every town and place where he himself was about to go.

Luke 10: 1, ESV


Now as they went o their way Jesus entered a village.

Luke 10: 38, ESV


He went on his way through towns and villages, teaching and journeying toward

Jerusalem.

Luke 13: 22, ESV


On the way to Jerusalem he was passing along between Samaria and Galilee.

Luke 17: 11, ESV


He entered Jericho and was passing through.

Luke 19: 1, ESV


As they heard these things, he proceeded to tell a parable, because he was near to

Jerusalem...

Luke 19: 11, ESV


And when he had said these things, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem.

Luke 19: 28, ESV


And when he drew near, and saw the city he wept over it...

Luke 19: 41, ESV


And, of course, there is one segment that I did not list among the others. It was the focal passage that clarified Jesus' determination to so "set his face" to Jerusalem. Earlier he had said---


But Jesus replied, “Go tell that fox, ‘Look, I will keep driving out demons and healing

people today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will reach My goal.’ Nevertheless, I

must keep going today and tomorrow and the next day, for it is not admissible for a

prophet to perish outside of Jerusalem.

Luke 13: 32-33, ESV


In my heart and mind Luke's account is an incredible demonstration of our Lord's determination to fulfill God's redemptive purpose on the cross at Mount Calvary. If we are to follow his example and walk in his steps as written by Simon Peter it must translate that our faith should be as intentional and determined as we humans can pursue it. It not fashionable to live that kind of dedication today. Which further means that our intent will be uncomfortably challenged by our secular culture.


Jesus said, "Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven" (Matthew 7:21, ESV). Time for us to stop all of the empty talk and live this life boldly and intentionally. You know, "set our face" to live this life with intent and purpose.


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  • sonnyholmes

It's not the search for the holy grail. I mean, the biblical commands about following Christ aren't hidden somewhere in the cracks and crevices of the deep. Just the same, they aren't complicated word treasures requiring translation of ancient hieroglyphics or word pictures. Jesus spoke them himself to simple Galilean fishermen, brothers Simon Peter and Andrew. Matthew recorded them in the language of the day, koine Greek. Jesus said, "Follow me and I will make you fishers of men" (Matthew 4: 18, ESV). They left their nets and followed him. Much of the New Testament Gospels record the details of how they followed him. Christian history attests to the depths of their commitment and passion. Both were later crucified as a result of being his disciples. They both grasped the urgency of following Christ in their day. Many of us wonder if that kind of obedience is required of those who follow Christ today. What does it mean to follow Christ in these contemporary times?


Before his death Peter is remembered also as the author of two New Testament Epistles, 1 and 2 Peter. One of his thoughts strikes me as relevant when considering the ideal of following Christ. Of course, Scripture is thought to be eternal and lasting truth for life. Peter himself wrote about the enduring Word of God---


For “All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers,

and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever.” And this word is the

good news that was preached to you.

1 Peter 1: 24-25, ESV


Then he wrote these memorable words about following Christ.


For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an

example that you might follow in his steps.

1 Peter 2: 21, ESV


Simon Peter understood that the basic Christian calling was to follow the example of Jesus even if suffering was the ordeal of the day. And, of course, that has been the calling of many believers in history, to suffer or even experience death to fulfill this calling. It certainly meant that for Simon Peter, who is remembered as dying on a cross upside down because of his unworthiness to die as Christ had died.


Exponential times are a question mark for the human species right now. Before 2020 these were times marked by complexity, velocity, mobility, and anonymity. Modern technology has ushered us into the era of speed and movement, the perplexing world of algorithms and scientific engineering. Social media has given us new hiding places and the ability to communicate with anonymous systems. Then there is 2020, the universal pandemic---isolation, government intervention into our daily lives, protective measures, and widespread fear. Oh yes, and don;t forget Election 2020 and the divergence of political thought, religious restrictions, and change at a national scale. What does it mean to live the Christian life in such a challenging world, under the scrutiny of political adversaries with little reverence for Constitutional rights or freedoms? How can we live the essentials of our faith in such questionable times?


It's not so complicated. People of faith should live just as Simon Peter wrote to the people living in the demanding days after the death of Jesus. We're to "...follow in his steps" because he left us an example. That will be the stuff of Finish Period this week. Join me as we discuss the steps of Jesus in this space.


And, thank you Simon Peter for giving us this guidance in living the Christian life today.


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