Monday Morning Devotion-August 26, 2019
For God so loved the world that He sent his only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16
A few years ago, Pastor John Ortberg spoke at Priest Nicky Gumbel's church. Now
there was some real firepower in the pulpit when those two got together. Gumbel's church is
The Church of England. He is the author and developer of The Alpha Course which was all the rage starting back in the 1990's and is still used to teach about God's church.
Ortberg, is the best-selling Author and Pastor of Menlo Park church in California. That's a mega church with many campuses. I saw where Ortberg talked about that church and said that it got started in 1873 with 12 members and 50 years later it had 13 members°not a great example of church growth. That's not the case today, however.
Anyway, Ortberg's sermon in the Church of England that day had some really important and poignant points I felt were worth sharing. His sermon was entitled: "Who is this Man?"
In 2014 Ortberg came out with a book, study guide and DVD called: "Who is This Man?" Funny how that works, isn't it? OK I'm not jealous even though I'm still working
on those to go along with my book "In the Beginning God Created Baseball."
Ortberg started out by making this point: When you woke up this morning and looked at the calendar it said: August 26, 2019. That's 2,019 years from what? It's 2019 years from the birth of the person named Jesus. You can't look at a calendar without being reminded of this man.
Ortberg said that he lives just south of a city called San Francisco. Why is there a city named San Francisco? Because many years ago there was a man named Francis whose life was changed by a man named Jesus.
He said he lives just north of a city named San Jose, it is named that because a man named Joseph's life was changed by a man named Jesus.
The capital of his home state of California is Sacramento. Why? Because a long time ago Jesus had a meal with friends that
came to be known as a "sacrament."
Then he told his British audience; "Today I opened up a newspaper over here and read about a city called Manchester. Why is there a city called Manchester? No one knows.
His impact is so great that his birthday is the most widely celebrated holiday in the world. And what holiday is number two? The one that celebrates the instrument on which he died°the cross is the single most recognizable symbol in the world. It marks more graves, adorns more jewelry, more art, than any expression in the history of the world."
If you forget the religious part and just think of Him as a man who was born, lived and died and look at his impact on the world, you have to ask who was this man?
"Jesus was not a political figure. He had no connection with the hierarchy like the
Sanhedrin, Caesar or Rome. He led no military action. He never wrote a book. Didn't travel.
His followers were mostly uneducated. Terribly small. They were referred to as unschooled ordinary men. Yet 2019 years later it is virtually impossible to think about world history without thinking about---who was this man?
He gave the world its most notable movement. Imagine the world with no church.
Before Jesus there was never even the idea of a community like this. Now 2000 years later here I am with you on the other side of the world because of Him. As a matter of historical reality, it began with a poverty stricken, obscure, crucified carpenter from a little village called Nazareth. Who was this man? "
Maybe Jesus was not recognized as King of Kings and Lord of Lords but Ortberg points out that "2,000 years after His birth every time a human being anywhere on the planet looks at a calendar, opens a newspaper, boots up a computer we are reminded that Jesus Christ has become the hinge of history. Nero died in the year of our Lord, 68. Napoleon died in the year of our Lord 1821. That Joseph Stalin died in the Year of our Lord 1953. Maybe Jesus was not Lord of Lords, or King of Kings but how strange that now every ruler who ever ruled, every nation that ever rose and fell must be dated in reference to the life of this man Jesus.
How strange that if you were an alien from another planet and someone asked you who would last longer the Roman Empire, or this carpenter named Jesus and his little motley crew of followers you would never put your money on Jesus and his ragtag band, but now 2,000 years later we give our children names like Peter, Paul and Mary and we give our dogs names like Caesar and Nero. Who was this man?"
Jesus changed the way society of the day thought about children when he said, "Let the little children come to me." And he said: "unless you are like one of these children you cannot enter the kingdom of God."
92% of the first 138 universities in the United States were begun by followers of Jesus. The gospel is now translated into 2,200 languages. There is no other book that has even attempted that many.
So, who is this man? "He is the man who went to the cross. And this movement with all expectations and against all odds should have died with him. Yet it rose with Him on that third day. And 2,000 years later here we are. So, who is Jesus?
"He is the Hinge of History, He is the hope of all the oppressed, He is the inspiration of all the despairing, He is the King of Kings, He is the Lord of Lords, He is the greatest teacher who ever lived, He is the greatest mind who ever thought, He sparked the greatest movement that ever spread, He offered the greatest gift that has ever been given, He alone mastered life, He alone conquered death, He alone overcame sin, He alone destroyed guilt, He alone grows more present with every passing year, He is the Son of God, He is the Savior of the World. That's who this man is."
His name is Jesus.
Prayer: Thank you Heavenly Father for your Son Jesus!
Note: Many thanks to John Ortberg for this powerful message which was shared at Holy Trinity Brompton in the United Kingdom in 2012.