A story that, had no other story ever been told of this man named Jesus, would still give us a perfect picture of the man He claimed to be and a demonstration of everything he wanted us to be.
I dare say that if there had been no miracles, if there had been no Christmas, if there had been no baptism or healing or boyhood, no temptations, no walking on water or feeding thousands, that everything we need to know about how to liken our lives after Christ’s lies right here in the Easter story. That if no other story had ever been given to us, we would still have every demonstration of what it means to live Just Like him.
What a beautiful invitation - To go on this journey with the greatest explorer ever known. To take a look at these foundational truths of what it means to exemplify our lives after his.
Truth 1: We get to Teach Just Like Jesus. In John 18:19-23, Jesus responds to the accusation of the High Priest with these words: "Everyone knows what I teach." He did not say, "everyone will believe everything they hear me say," or, "everyone who listens to my teaching will be saved or will come follow me." No. Jesus said, "Everyone knows what I teach." Jesus never wavered. He was constant. He was firm in the foundation of truth. His words were never changing. People knew what Jesus taught and what he stood for because his words and actions never contradicted each other.
Friends, if others do not know what we teach, if they do not know what we stand for because our actions and our words do not align with each other, if those actions and those words do not align with the Word of God, or if they waver with the passing of the wind, we need to get ourselves grounded in Truth. And, there is only One Truth.
Truth 2: We get to Pray Just Like Jesus. In Luke 22:39-44 we read about the prayer Jesus prayed in the garden hours before his greatest torment would fall upon him. And, just before he prayed, he instructed his most beloved disciples to also go and pray. But, he didn't just instruct them to go pray off hand, he instructed them to pray that they will not be led into temptation.
And, I wonder, if even a group of men could possibly get into that much trouble with Jesus so close by that he had to instruct them to pray not to be tempted. But, Jesus wasn't telling them to pray for what might be lurking around the next boulder on the Mount, he was directing them to pray for what was to come. Because, Jesus knew that what was coming for him was going to raise questions in the minds of his closest and most faithful disciples. He knew that doubt and uncertainty were waiting for them. They might feel like they'd been duped, or scammed or cheated, so Jesus told them to pray for what hadn't even happened yet.
And, we get to pray Just Like that! We don't have to wait for the storms of life to pour over our heads. We don't have to wait until we are in the thick of a financial crisis, or a sickness, or a loss to pray and ask Jesus to help us keep our eyes fixed on him. Because, we know those times are coming, we can pray now that our faith will not waver, that we will not be tempted to doubt when the weight of worry presses hard upon us. And, because Jesus instructed us to pray Just Like this, we can rest secure in the promise that he will deliver us from that temptation.
Truth 3: We get to Serve Just Like Jesus. Perhaps the greatest demonstration of servanthood was by the Son of God when he chose to wash his own disciples feet in the face of the shadow of death that loomed over him. In John 13:6-16 Jesus says, "I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you." Jesus set the example friends. Not Aunt Donna, not the organ player, not the Jones’ next door. Jesus set the example for us to live by.
Jesus, the Son of God, the Most High King, Lord of Lords, the Everlasting God never placed himself in a position above others. He had every right to. Yet, he didn't. Instead, he led by serving. He spent time with those no one else cared to spend time with. He ate dinner with criminals. He fed the hungry. He spoke to people he wasn’t supposed to speak to. He delivered a woman from a life of prostitution and forgave an adulterous woman. Jesus broke the rules for the broken - by serving.
And, we get to serve Just Like that! In the face of his greatest torment, if Jesus chose to serve, to give of himself, then how much more should we serve, even in the face of our own crisis, our own dilemma, our own pain and our own suffering? For if the Son of God could do it knowing the torture that was upon him and we know that we will never face such torture, because he faced it for us, then even unto death, we get to serve Just Like Jesus! Amen!
Truth 4: We get to Forgive Just Like Jesus. Jesus gave us two bold illustrations of forgiveness, both as he hung on the cross, anticipating the worst possible thing that could ever happen to him - to be separated from his Father.
Yet, in that misery in Luke 23:34, he asked his Father, "Please forgive them, they know not what they do." A general request for forgiveness for the dozens, the hundreds who had betrayed him, mocked him, sentenced him and chose not to believe in him. I dare say not one of us will ever face the betrayal, the hatred, the deception, the mockery, the underhandedness, the crookedness that Christ the King faced on that day, on that cross. Who are we to not forgive, when our Savior, himself, chose to forgive them?
And, again in verse 42 and 43, when the criminal asked to be remembered when he entered into his kingdom, Jesus told him, "you will be with me in paradise." That's forgiveness! Even unto death, Jesus forgave, and so shall we forgive, Just Like him!
Truth 5: We get to Love Just Like Jesus. John 3:16 "For God so loved the world." That word "so" changes everything. "So" means 'to such a great extent.' "For God loved the world to such a great extent that he sent his only begotten son. That whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life." (Italics mine.)
There’s a depth to this so love that is incomparable to any other kind of love. So love is a deep love. So love is a sacrificial love. So love is a profound love. A so kind of love will go to any place, through any storm. A so kind of love is so phenomenal that he gave us the one thing that meant the most to him.
Then, look at what Jesus commands us to do in John 13:34-35. “So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples." Reword with my own interpretation, "Love each other, JUST LIKE I have loved you."
That's that so kind of love. That love that has a depth, a no lip service kind of love. Incomparable. Deep. Sacrificial. Profound. We get to love others to such a great extent! Just Like Jesus loved us! We get to love others Just Like that. We get to love others to the extent that they will recognize that the something greater in us has nothing to do with us but everything to do with the Father.
Friends, I now extend this invitation to you. This weekend, in remembrance of what Christ has done for us, in addition to the sacrifice, the symbol, the cross, the blood shed, the stone rolled away, the holes in his hands, I pray that we embrace the opportunity to live Just Like Jesus demonstrated so completely in this greatest story ever told.
That if no other story had ever existed in the life of Christ - that if Easter weekend was all we had that we still would have a complete and full demonstration of just how to teach, just how to pray, just how to serve, just how to forgive and how to love, Just Like Jesus.