Every Sunday I stand before the congregation and I give a sermon on what I believe God is telling me to preach. It takes a lot of prayer and discerning to get a sense of what God wants me to say. But one thing I’ve always been convinced of, God does not want people in the church to simply know about Christ…
I grew up knowing a lot about Jesus. I knew he was the Son of God. I knew he was born of a virgin. I knew he taught people and healed them. He managed to get 12 men to follow him who were so devoted that they dedicated the rest of their lives to continuing his ministry. I even knew Jesus died on the cross and was raised from the dead 3 days later. I knew a lot about Jesus.
The problem was, I didn’t know Jesus. I knew about him. Unfortunately, I wasn’t aware of this simple fact.
When I was a teenager I went to church camp. I was a great church camper. I was a good student. I knew all the answers. I paid attention. I listened. But one night I heard. I don’t remember the speaker’s name, the stories or jokes he told. But I remember hearing what he said about Jesus.
I always knew Jesus died. But I learned he died for me. For me! I knew he was raised from the dead. I could be raised from the dead too! That night I went from knowing about Jesus, to knowing Jesus.
Do you know about Jesus? Maybe you go to Church every Sunday. You might even volunteer with an organization or two. You may know a lot about Jesus. You may know more than the pastor preaching the message. But do you know Jesus?
Jesus wants you to know him. He knows you. He loves you. He came to prepare a way for you to know him. He died for you. He defeated death for you. He is preparing a place for you. Do you want to know about those things? Is it enough to know about all the things that Jesus has done? Or is it something more to know him, to live with him, to go to the place he has prepared for you?
Jesus said, “I am the Good Shepherd, I know my sheep and my sheep know me.” (John 10:14) This know is an intimate kind of know. He knows their name, what they like, what they fear, what they need. If Jesus is your shepherd, he will know you. He will know what makes you happy, what brings you peace, your favorite movie line (He knows my favorite movie line is: King Arthur to God: “Good idea Lord;” God to King Arthur, “Of course it’s a good idea!”). He will know your favorite song, your hopes and dreams. And he knows how to save you.
Jesus doesn’t just know about you. He knows you. Do you know him?
I'm into woodworking. I've been into woodworking for years. Christ was a carpenter and I want to be one too. I'm not great but I've built a few nice things. Recently, I bought on clearance a cordless router. So lately, I've been looking for things around the house and projects that need some nice routing. Maybe the wooden cap on a knee wall separating the entryway from my living room. It's so bland. A nice rounded edge would look good. How about those picnic tables at the park? They're so... what's the word I'm looking for?... square. Let's bevel the edges on those seats. That way they won't dig into the back of your legs while you're sitting on them. Why doesn't anyone else think of these things? It's a good thing I have my cordless router. I can starting fixing them. My trusty router and I can smooth over almost any edge.
Today my church did its annual cross walk on Good Friday. We start at a mall roughly two and a half miles from the church and alternate carrying the cross as we head home. It's always a humbling experience. But one thing has always bothered me a little. The cross is heavy and square. So when you're one of the people carrying it, it digs into your shoulder a little bit. As I went to bed last night I started to think about that cross and how the corners of the post dug into my neck and shoulders last year and I had a thought. I can bring my new router and smooth off those edges. I am a genius!
I told my wife about my moment of brilliance. Every year that cross digs into our flesh, but not this year. I was going to take the pain of the cross away for all those who carry it. My wife looked at me with her beautiful, loving eyes and said, "No you're not." It took me a few seconds and then I realized what she was saying.
The cross has to hurt. The cross hurt for Jesus. He carried it in pain. He was nailed to it. He died on it. The cross is a reminder of the sacrifice Jesus made for us. And here I am trying to find a way to make the cross less painful, maybe even more comfortable.
On this Good Friday, Jesus carried not just the cross, but the weight of the world. Jesus said to all who would listen, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me." (Luke 9:23) Carrying a cross is difficult. It can be painful. It should be painful. That's not to say that Jesus wants us to live a life full of pain. But to expect no discomfort in following Jesus, and even worse try to take it away, misses the point in following him.
It was mad of me to consider routing the edges off the cross. My router stayed in my wood shop as I headed out the door to the cross walk. Some things aren't meant to be rounded over.