Lower Still

May 13th, 2018

David Sorn



Too often we feel that things are beneath us, and yet Jesus is the one who goes lowest of all.



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TRANSCRIPT


RENOVATION U 

(Start by showing LOST & FOUND SLIDE) 

Morning.  Happy Mother’s Day to you.  

Welcome to Renovation Church.  I’m David. The Lead Pastor here. 

Before we get into our passage for the day, I wanted to take 3 minutes or so, and talk to you about something near and dear to our heart here at Renovation:  

Every summer, as our House Groups take a break, we offer classes for people to study the Bible and learn about God 

We’ve previously called these classes, “The School of Theology” 

But we’re changing the name, and it’ll henceforth be called Renovation U 

(Put up Renovation U slide) 

We wanted a name that wasn’t intimidating to anyone…because anyone can take these classes. 

And we know that not all the classes we offer are necessarily theology classes either 

We believe it’s incredibly important that as Christians that we don’t just have faith, but that we know ABOUT our faith. 

And so over the past few years, we’ve started adding more & more classes to help you learn about your Christian faith, the Bible, and eventually even study some of the deeper doctrines of the faith. 

And so, we are now offering FIVE different amazing summer classes to help YOU grow!

Please don’t take the summer off from growing spiritually.  

This is SO worth it!

Each of the classes are only 8 or 9 weeks long. 

The classes go in order…so you start at the beginning. 

Our first class is called FIRST STEPS 

It’s where you can start diving into what the Bible has to say on some of basics of Christianity: 

You’ll learn more about Jesus and why he died

You’ll learn more about prayer and listening to God

You’ll study questions like, “How can we trust that the Bible is even true?”

It’s great if you’re just starting out in your faith or just never studied it before 

We do ask that everyone starts in the First Steps class with the only exception being if you’ve taken any sort of theological class in the past… 

If you have, or if you’ve taken First Steps in the past, you can go to our second class: MINING GOD’S WORD

It will help you learn how to actually interpret the Bible and give you tools to study it.  

It’s a fantastic class. Our reviews of this chart are off the charts!  We’ve had well over 100 people take this class, and people absolutely LOVE it!!  

Our 3rd and 4th classes are Theology 101 and 201. 

It’s in our 101 and 201 classes that we dive deep into studying some of major doctrines of Christianity: 

The trinity, creation, end times, and we study major theological questions like:  Does God just KNOW the future or did God PLAN the future?  

These are seminary level classes that we are offering at our church for basically free.  Amazing stuff. 

About once every 3 years or so, I teach Theology 201 myself…so I would LOVE to have you in my class this summer. 

There are a number of you that have taken 101, but haven’t gone to 201 yet

Sign-up this year, and take Theology 201 with me! 

And we are SO excited to announce that for the first time in 3 years, we are adding a brand-new class!

If you’ve finished the four classes in our CORE FOUR track, you can start taking classes (we will be adding more) in our BIBLE OVERVIEW track.

We’re starting with a class called “Old Testament Survey – 1” 

We’ll be giving you an overview of the first half of the Old Testament. 

You’ll get to study the major events and their connections to the NT.  

It’s going to be great!

We’ll give you more details and tell you how to sign-up in announcements  

We’re anticipating having over 100 adults taking classes this summer!  

If you’ve got kids at home, get a sitter for 8 weeks

A LOT of our couples rotate with their spouse every other summer.  

Take a class, you’ll love it. 

 

 

PASSAGE INTRODUCTION  

We are continuing in our Lost & Found series on the Gospel of Luke this morning. 

And this is our 3rd and final week on John the Baptist.  

We studied his birth, his preaching, and today, we’re going to take a look at his humility. 

And hear me:  We need this one.   We really do.  

We value a lot of things in our culture today:  Inclusion, diversity, equality, competition, achievement…

But listen, HUMILITY, is not one of our core values as Americans

We don’t teach kids how to be humble anymore. 

We teach them about how great they are…

But we have no idea how to be humble…

So I want you to look closely at the acts, at the words, and the character of John the Baptist before we move on to the life & ministry of Jesus next week.  

(Page 833) 

(renovation app) 

We left off at verse 14 of chapter 3 last week, so we’ll start at verse 15 this week

(Luke 3:15-22) – NIV 

15 The people were waiting expectantly and were all wondering in their hearts if John might possibly be the Messiah. 16 John answered them all, “I baptize you with water. But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 17 His winnowing fork is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” 18 And with many other words John exhorted the people and proclaimed the good news to them.

19 But when John rebuked Herod the tetrarch because of his marriage to Herodias, his brother’s wife, and all the other evil things he had done, 20 Herod added this to them all: He locked John up in prison.

21 When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened 22 and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”

And so Jesus is baptized. 

A couple of notes on this incredibly important historical event. 

This is His first public appearance as an adult

And it’s also significant because the entire Trinity is there. 

Jesus gets baptized, the Father speaks from heaven, and the Holy Spirit comes down like a dove. 

 

 

JOHN WAS A CANDIDATE FOR PRIDE 

We’re going to come back to Jesus’ baptism later, but let’s look again to John the Baptist. 

I want you to notice his humility today. 

Listen, if anyone had reasons to be prideful, it was John. 

Was your birth announced by an angel?  

Yeah, I didn’t think so. 

Was your life prophesied about by multiple people hundreds of years before you were born? 

Yeah, didn’t think so. 

Do you have thousands of people coming to the river to hear you speak? 

Look at verse 15…

It says, the people start wondering if John is the Christ. 

In the Gospel of John, they even straight up ask him:  Are you the Messiah? 

Can you imagine people liking you so much that they start saying, “Hey, um, just wondering, you seem SO AMAZING, are you, by chance, the SON OF GOD?!?” 

I’m sorry, but I’m going to get prideful over that. 

Many of you would humblebrag that right to Facebook 

(Humblebrag MEME) 

And yet, John stays incredibly humble 

The crowds are coming to him and are willing to be his disciples…and yet…he keeps wearing clothing from ForeverCamels and eating bugs like he’s on Survivor 

 

 

JOHN UNDERSTOOD THE GULF BETWEEN HIM & JESUS 

WHY?                             

Because John the Baptist is a man that understands that great gulf between Him and Jesus. 

Do you??

In Matthew, we’re told that John says this when Jesus gets in line to get baptized: 

(Matthew 3:13-14) – NIV 

13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. 14 But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”

We see even more of John’s humility in his statement about Jesus’ sandals. 

I remember being really confused by this verse when I first started reading the Bible, so let me break it down. 

Look at it again if it’s in front of you…verse 16 in our passage today

(Luke 3:16) – NIV 

16 John answered them all, “I baptize you with water. But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 

What does that sandals part mean? 

John says he’s not even worthy to untie the straps of Jesus’ sandals. 

See, the rabbis of Jesus’ day taught that a rabbi could ask his disciples do to just about anything…except…take off his sandals. 

Because in those days, you’re not walking on fancy sidewalks. 

But muddy paths mixed with garbage and who knows what. 

And you’re not walking in Nike Sneakers. 

And you’re not really taking a lot of showers. 

I mean think about this, some of you don’t even like feet when they’re clean. 

So a rabbi could ask you to do anything, but take off his sandals. 

That was considered too humiliating to demand.  

And John the Baptist is saying, he’s not even worthy to do THAT for Jesus 

He’s saying, “I’m not even worthy to be the lowest servant in Jesus’ house” 

And YET…in Matthew 11, Jesus himself later tells us that up until that time, that of those born of women, there has never been anyone greater than John the Baptist. 

He’s the greatest of men, and yet he understands that the distance between him and Jesus is so great, that he knows he’s unworthy to even take Jesus’ sandals off 

Too many of us miss this. Especially as Americans. 

We keep wanting to prop ourselves up.  

We want to talk about how great we are, and how we’ve accomplished this or that..

But John the Baptist gets it

The task of a Christ follower, is to go low, not put yourself up higher 

This is why he famously says this about Jesus in the Gospel of John: 

(John 3:30) – NIV  

He must become greater; I must become less.”

Is that your heart? Is that your goal in life?  

 

 

LOWER STILL 

Most of us don’t think like this

Because, like we always say, since birth, we’ve been told that we’re special, and we’re important, and we’re earned the right to live this way…

And when you think that you’re “more special than” or “better than”…you’ll never be able to love and serve like John the Baptist 

Because you’re always going to be ABOVE everyone else.  

Charles Spurgeon says it this way: 

“My brethren, we ought to feel that we are not worthy to do the lowest thing we can do for Christ, because, when we have gone to the lowest, Jesus always goes lower down than we have gone.” – Charles Spurgeon 

Friends, as a Christian, there is no act of service that should be beneath you. 

Because if you lower yourself, I assure you, Jesus has already gone lower still.  

Let me give you some examples.  

We wouldn’t say it this way, but we feel like it’s not “worth our time” to serve at church.  

Others can do that…come early, stay late, help our kids. 

We’re different. We’re busy.  Or we’ve got kids. 

That’s too low for us. 

But the Son of God goes lower…

He was rather busy, ruling the universe and all, but we’re told: 

(Matthew 20:28) – NIV 

just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

I assure you, if you feel like you’re going low, He went lower still. 

Many feel like it’s beneath them to play with kids…serve kids. 

Not Jesus. 

He could have said, get those kids away from me, I’m too important for this. 

He went lower still. 

Got right on their level. 

Many times we feel like it’s beneath us to help out that family member who keeps messing up

The black sheep. 

We wouldn’t say it this way, but we feel…like we’re above that. 

We went to school, we got a job, we go to church, we’re decent people.  

“I don’t need to be involved with that…to keep helping them out”

We don’t say it, but we treat it like it’s beneath us. 

Like we’ve risen above it. 

And yet, Jesus goes lower still. 

He stoops down and offers a hand to the prostitute buried in shame. 

The prostitute that, I guarantee you, was the black sheep of SOMEONE’S family, and Jesus lowers himself …and offers her grace and a way out

How many times have I driven by the homeless person holding the cardboard sign and thought, “That’s beneath me” 

Again, we don’t say it that way, but our actions say otherwise. 

With our actions we say, “I don’t have time for this (AKA my time…getting to CUB before dinner to put more food in my overflowing pantry…is more important than this person eating tonight) 

Because we think that we’re above!

And when you think that you’re above…you won’t serve

I’ve been there. Almost every time.  

I act like my time is more important…and I’m sick of it. 

And I act that way because, unlike John, I don’t understand who I am in comparison to Jesus…in comparison to perfection.  

I’m too busy falsely trying to compare myself to others than looking at myself in comparison to Jesus

About two weeks ago, I was getting my car fixed in Brooklyn Park. 

And it was going to take a while, so I when I spotted a Culver’s across the street, I determined that’s probably where the Lord wants me to have lunch. 

On my way over, I walked past a guy holding a cardboard sign. 

And I just walked on by him…not really making eye contact

I went inside, sat down, bit into my burger and thought, “What’s wrong with me?”

“I’m different how? No seriously, how?” 

“Because of the family I was born in?” 

“Because God has graciously had mercy on me when he probably could have rightfully just smited me by now for my sin?” (like any of us?)

And when I walked back to the mechanic, he was still there…holding his sign

And I thought, “Enough of this” 

So I stopped, in the center median near Brooklyn Blvd, and said, “Hey, what’s your story?” 

And he told me of how he had very unexpectedly lost his job of 25 years, and with tears in his eyes, he said, “I hate doing this.  I hate doing this, but I don’t’ know what else to do.” 

So I told him about another homeless shelter, gave him money to eat lunch at Culver’s, and then we prayed together. 

And finally, I stopped being above. (for the moment anyway)

I went lower.. 

Because I’M lower…lower than I think I am..

And because my Jesus goes lower still 

Even baptism…is an act of humility, is it not? 

I’ve been in the ministry for a while now, and one of the things I’ve noticed is that Christians are often pretty nervous about getting baptized

Even though the Bible literally commands us to do so. 

And I think we’re nervous…because baptism is a humbling act.

It’s humbling to stand up in front of other people

It’s humbling, as an adult, get in the pool

Humbling because we feel we’re too old, or we’ve been a Christian too long now…or…

It’s even humbling just to say, “I’m not good enough, but He was!” 

But friends, if you haven’t been baptized yet, let yourself get lowered into that water. 

Because Jesus went lower still. 

Listen, of all people, Jesus didn’t need to get baptized. 

He was perfect.  Never sinned.

He didn’t need to demonstrate that his sins were being washed away by his faith.  

But Jesus, was humble enough to get baptized…because He needed to do it as an example for you and me. 

He was crucified between two sinners, and he got baptized between two sinners…because He’s the one that can identify with us sinners.  

If you are a new believer, and you haven’t been baptized yet…sign-up today to be baptized.  

It’s something that all believers are called to do as a symbol showing that their faith in Jesus has washed away their sin. 

If you aren’t a new believer, and you’ve believed for a while now, humble yourself, be obedient, and sign-up to get baptized. 

Go lower still. 

Our baptism isn’t until July 15th, but since we’re talking about it today, you can sign-up today in the hallway or through or app 

Don’t put this off any longer

Friends, go lower. 

Be willing to do anything for Jesus. 

When you come home from work, and your kids want to play with you, but all you want to do is just look at your phone and escape somewhere

Go lower…live for someone else, not just yourself. 

When someone’s said something hurtful to you, and you can’t bring yourself to forgive them. 

Realize you’re not above them on the righteousness chart. 

Go lower…because we’re lower, and Jesus went lower. 

The lower the better. 

I find that often our intentions are more pure when no one’s looking and no credit will ever be given. 

Christian, there is nothing too low for you. 

No job too menial for you at work. 

There’s nothing that’s too dirty, too low. 

Think about this. 

John the Baptist says that he’s not even worthy to do the job of the lowest servant, and take off Jesus’ sandals. 

And yet, in John 13, Jesus Himself, the Son of God, the King of Kings & Lord of Lord, who puts on a towel…

Kneels by each of his disciples, unties and takes off their dirty sandals, and…washes the feet of the very men who will desert him just a few hours later. 

That’s our Savior!

We don’t just live like this because we know we’re not above others…

We live like this because our very own Savior put himself below others. 

Lower still.  

 

 

A FRONT ROW SEAT TO GOD’S MOVEMENT 

And there is a blessing in going lower.  

(Matthew 23:11-12) – NIV 

11 The greatest among you will be your servant. 12 For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.

Look at the life of John the Baptist 

He’s incredibly humble. 

And because of his humility, he gets a front-row seat to God’s movement. 

He’s watching Pharisees, and tax collectors, and soldiers, walking down the banks of the river, with tears rolling down their cheeks, turning their lives over to God.   

What a sight!

But if you see yourself as “better than,” as a “higher up,” then God isn’t going to do much THROUGH you, because you’ll just be waiting for Him to do things FOR you. 

But go lower…and I promise you…He’ll move through you.  

Humility is an artery for the life blood of the work of God

But hear me, pride is like the plaque building up on the walls of that artery…cutting off the movement of God in your life.  

And for many of you, your pride is the very reason you’re not seeing God do very much through your life. 

You keep waiting for him to use you, because, well, why wouldn’t He?

And that’s the exact reason He’s not going to use you. 

He’s going to move through someone else, where He’ll actually get the credit! 

Or for many of us, God is asking you to serve in a way that isn’t all that glorious…or even noticeable…

We think…That’s too low for us…we want to get noticed for what we do…

But if you go that route, I promise you your pride will block any significant movement of His in your life. 

The Scriptures are clear on this:  

(James 4:6) - NIV

 6 But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.”

Listen, the last thing you want is God against you…opposing you. 

To be prideful is to have God against you. 

Humility is often said to be the chief virtue of the Christian life. 

Think of yourself like servants of the King. 

In the olden days, servants of the King & Queen of England actually weren’t paid very much money at all. 

And they often had incredibly menial tasks to do around the palace. 

But the honor wasn’t in the pay or in the task…

The honor was in the fact that THEY got to serve the King. 

Think of your life that way. 

You’re not doing this for you, or for show, or your reputation, but for the King. 

The King who loves you. 

The King who went lower than you’ll ever go. 

The King who traded in Heaven’s throne to descend low to the earth, and lower still to be nailed on a cross with common criminals.  

The King that, even though you and I aren’t even worthy to be the lowest of the lowest servants in His house, still invites us to be his very own adopted son or daughter.” 

That king!

Friends, go lower still, that his name be lifted higher still. 

Let me pray.


Copyright: David Sorn

Renovation Church in Blaine, MN



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