Encountering the Real Jesus: Unhindered

Keith Chandler, Journey Christian Church

If you’ve ever been turned off by religion, Jesus was too.

When it comes to religion, we all have these assumptions about God we grew up with. Assumptions that might be based on good intentions, but they’re not found in the Bible. The false assumption we have is Good Behavior = God’s Acceptance. This is a false assumption Jesus fought against.

What bothered the religious leaders the MOST is what Jesus would do on the Sabbath.

One of the commandments was to remember the Sabbath and keep it holy. You shouldn’t work on the Sabbath. So to try to obey this command, the religious leaders had hundreds of rules they made up (which were not in the Old Testament).

One of the rules said you couldn’t walk a mile. So every 7/8th of a mile, they would have huts you could walk in to rest for a while, and then you could get up and walk another 7/8th of a mile.

Jesus was always doing something on the Sabbath. He would heal people, and you could almost hear the religious leaders say, “Can’t you just wait one more day to heal them?”

One rule was, you couldn’t harvest on the Sabbath because that was considered work.

Jesus said, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” — Mark 2:27

They missed the entire point of the Sabbath. It’s not like God had all these rules and thought, “I have these great laws, I need to create some people to keep them.” That’s not how it worked.

God didn’t create the law and then create people. God created people and then he created the law. The law is for people, not people for the law.

Let me put it this way: parents don’t have children so that there will be someone to pick up the toys. Great parents set rules, but they bend them when it’s appropriate.

God is the perfect heavenly father. He didn’t create people for the law. He created the law for people. He created it to protect us because God is FOR you, not against you.

Religion has its place, but it should never be first place. When religion is first place, leaders become self-righteous and followers become hypocrites because no one can keep all the rules.
Jesus is the end of religion. He said, “I didn’t come to abolish the law and the prophets. I came to fulfill them.”

The end of religion means pride is replaced with surrender. The reason Jesus went after the religious leaders was their PRIDE. Religion gives us this checklist. “I can compare what I’ve done to what you haven’t done, and then I can take pride in my accomplishments.” Pride is NOT a currency in the kingdom of God, though. Jesus requires surrender.

The Bible says our righteousness is like filthy rags. You can never be good enough.

If we can just get rid of some of this religious stuff, I wonder what God might begin to do through us.

Mark 3:6 says, “Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus.”

These two groups hated each other. UNTIL NOW. Now they agree Jesus must go.

They must get rid of Jesus because they don’t like what he says.

I wonder if there’s not still a portion of that that’s still around today because the gospel of Jesus is offensive to the religious and the anti-religious.

The gospel doesn’t say the good are in and the bad are out. It doesn’t say that the open minded are in and the judgmental are out. The gospel says anyone who surrenders to Jesus is in.

Jesus says, “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” — Matthew 11:28-30 (MSG)

Until next month,
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