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Challenged to Change

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Lesson 88 of 225
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Communion: Only One Way

Luke 23:32

Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill

Alexander changed the face of the world by his military victories and Julius Caesar changed the face of the world by his military victories. Plato the philosopher, changed the way men think for centuries, as did Confucius, and yet here we are not with Alexander’s horse or a statue of it, not with Julius Caesar’s sword or a replica of it, not with Plato’s republic or a copy of it, not with Confucius’ philosophy, but here we stand in front of a communion table. Because we don’t talk any longer about “before Alexander” or “after Alexander” and we don’t talk about “before Julius Caesar” or “after Julius Caesar” and we don’t talk about “before Plato” or “after Plato” or “before Confucius” or “after Confucius”.

We talk about Before Christ and After Christ because Alexander’s horse did not make the impact on the world that Jesus did nor did Julius Caesar’s sword nor Plato’s writings nor Confucius’ philosophy. None of them made the change and the impact on our world that this Jesus made. Because there is a power that is unleashed by his Spirit that is mightier than the horse or the sword or the power of man’s intellect, and that is the Spirit that is here waiting for you and for me this morning.

It’s the Spirit that God has released to change the unchangeable. If you’re like me, you have things in your own life or your friends’ lives or your relatives’ lives that you know need changing and if you’re like me also, you have tried the ways of Alexander and Julius Caesar and you have tried the ways of Plato and Confucius and I don’t know if you’re still trying them in some areas. Most of us are, most of us are still trying to exert pressure on other people or other things to change them and we do it by our own power and our own critical ways and our own reactions and responses to them, and we’re having as much success as a dead Alexander would or a dead Julius Caesar or a dead Plato or a dead Confucius. The fact is there is only one way to change you, there is only one way to change me, there is only one way to change the people and the relatives and the colleagues that you and I have, and that is the way this man Jesus changed the world.

Loved ones will you look at the record that Gentry read, it is Luke 23:32, it is the exact opposite to the power of an Alexander or a Julius Caesar. Luke 23:32, “Two others also, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him. And when they came to the place which is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on the right and one on the left. And Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.’” And it’s that Spirit that enables God to release his power from heaven.

“Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do”, and I don’t know if you’re in that kind of situation with somebody at work, but that’s the only attitude from your heart that will release the power of God into them. “And they cast lots to divide his garments,” even after He said that. “And the people stood by, watching; but the rulers scoffed at him saying, ‘He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!’ And he wouldn’t save himself and you and I look at it and even though we have all seen probably the movie about Gandhi we still think this is ridiculous, this will not work, this will not change people or things in my life. This was all right for God’s Son but it will not work in my life. It will work in your life and it’s the only thing

that will work in your life and it’s the only thing that will work in my life and it’s the only thing that will work in our family’s lives.

There’s nothing else will enable the Creator of the universe to release his changing power into your situation except that spirit and that attitude that refuses to save itself. “The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him vinegar, and saying, ’If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!’ There was also an inscription over him, ‘This is the King of the Jews’.” So the whole world says that. The whole world says to you and me, “Save yourself if you have any power at all, if you’re any kind of a man, if you’re any kind of a woman, if you’re any kind of a king, save yourself”, and all we stupid people, sinful people do is get ourselves into worse and worse tangles and come to the end of impossible futilities.

There is only one way to change people and there is only one way for you and me to be changed and that is to enter into the Spirit of this man here and to take his attitude and to have his attitude, and nothing else works. Everything else just makes us more and more uppity, every husband here who has held out against his wife, and every son who has held out against his father, you know it. There is nowhere to go that way; in that sense it simply destroys us because we’re pitiful creatures.

Only this Spirit opens the way. I still remember, we, sons always know better than our fathers, you know how bright we get as the years pass and how much more stupid our fathers become in our opinions and I remember, we used to have exciting times at our home. We were a wild Irish family who were very different in our make up from each other and we had battles royal most of the time. And I remember saying to my father, “But you must tell them Dad”, (my brother was on the opposite side with my mother; my dad and I were on this side) and I said, “You must tell them, you must put them right, you must explain it to them”, and he said, “No, you must forgive, and forbear it” and you know it, that’s what you had to do.

You have to forgive and forbear and if you don’t do that, whether it’s in home or in a business situation or in a job situation or school situation or with your roommate or whatever, there is nowhere to go. You can nail each other to the wall but that’s all you have got. You’ve got a few moths nailed to the wall or a few butterflies. The power in the universe, it’s ridiculous, it’s paradoxical, it’s stupid, it’s illogical but the power in the universe is released by the Creator himself personally. Every time a little human being like you or me enters into the Spirit of Jesus and takes our place with him right here.

Verse 39, “One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him saying, ’Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!’ But the other rebuked him, saying, ‘Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.’ And he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ And he said to him, ‘Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.’”

And so, this stupid man died and then you go to Philippians 2:9. “Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus, every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” And God split history into two for that man. That stupid man who would not resist and who insisted on forgiving and refusing to save himself, and refusing to be uppity, and refusing to tell them all where to get off. That stupid man died and God exalted that stupid man and split history into two and changed the world.

So, loved ones that’s why I, when I invite you to the table of our Lord this morning, I would ask you to come, the only way you can come, in that spirit. If there exists in you the other spirit of resentment or of judgment or of still trying to pressure and pressure then repent of that this morning and abandon it. Because we’re not fit anyway to sit at this table with him, we’re not fit ever to do it. But the only way we stand a little chance, is if we have this here, same spirit. At least we won’t be out of place with him. So, I invite you, after the invitation is given, to come up to the altar and to abandon before you come to it, all spirit of judgmentalism and all spirit of getting your way and insisting on your rights. Because at the end of your life all you’re left there with, is a corpse that the worms eat. The other way, you’re left alive forever and you share this man’s position and that’s why God has written this to us in Philippians 2:5.

Philippians 2:5 “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross.”

So, have that mind which Jesus has already given you. All you have to do is let it work and let it live and let it operate and abandon that alien mind that Satan has tried to persuade you is yours; that alien mind full of judgmentalism and resentment and pressure and force. And have that mind which is yours in Christ Jesus. God has made you new in Jesus. Each of us has been placed in Jesus and made new. Let us pray.

We do not presume to come to this thy table, most merciful Lord, trusting in our own righteousness but in thy manifold and great mercies. We are not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under thy table, but thou art the same Lord whose property is always to have mercy. Grant us therefore gracious Lord, so by faith to receive thy Son, our Savior Jesus Christ, that the bread which we break may be unto us the communion of his body and the cup of blessing which we bless, may be the communion of his blood and that we may evermore dwell in him and he in us.

The Lord Jesus on the night in which he was betrayed, took bread and broke it and said, “This is my body which is given for you, this do in remembrance of me”, in like manner he took the cup after supper saying, “This is the cup of the new covenant in my blood, this do as often as you drink it”, for as often as you eat the bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death, till he come.

Just as we’re in an attitude of prayer loved ones then, will you make your own peace with God and before you come up to the table and just come when you’re ready. Before you come, abandon all but the Spirit of the lamb who dwells here at this altar so that you may be renewed again in that spirit and so that the power of God may begin to flow in your own life and in the life around you.


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