Who was jesus?
The life of Jesus was remarkable. Most people recognize Jesus as a remarkable teacher, a remarkable role model, or by his remarkable miracles. But the most remarkable thing about Jesus was not that he healed the sick, cast out demons, or fed thousands of people with only five loaves of bread and two fish. The most remarkable thing about him is that he rose from the dead. No one else has ever resurrected from the grave, and Jesus did so by his own power. Amazingly, the people who knew him best—his family, friends, and followers—all claimed that Jesus rose from the grave and they gave the remainder of their lives to share that truth with others, even though it would cost them their lives.
The reason Jesus had the ability to rise from the grave was because he was God. The story of human history is that all of us have run from God and abandoned his rule over our lives. Rather than trust and obey God, we decided we would be our own god and commit cosmic treason against him. Treason against a king requires a significant penalty, but treason against the Maker, Creator and King of the universe is infinitely worse. In God’s justice, he could have forsaken us forever, but he chose to pursue us with a grand plan of redemption that would eventually cause him to enter human history and suffer the penalty for our treason himself.
The story of Jesus entering history to pay this penalty for us is good news for us. We call this good news the gospel. You might hear us refer to the gospel a lot around Cresset Church. When ever we talk about gospel-centered music or gospel-centered preaching or the story of the gospel we are referring to the story of Jesus. All of our music, all of our preaching and all of our worship is centered on the gospel, the wonderful news that Jesus paid the price for our sinful treason, a price we never could have paid ourselves. This is good news, and it is news worthy of celebrating.
When we as a church say that our mission is help people reach their potential in Christ, we believe that this can only be done through the power of the gospel. Ultimately there is nothing that we have done or nothing that we can do to reach this potential. It is only through the power of the gospel that we have hope of reaching this potential. Because of what Jesus has done we have hope. Because of what Jesus has done we have life. Because of what Jesus has done we are able to have a personal relationship with God.
When we believe in Jesus he invites us to follow him. In Matthew 4:19 Jesus gave such an invitation to a small group of men by saying, "follow me and I will make you fishers of men." But what does it mean to be a follower of Jesus? At Cresset Church we call the process of following Jesus "discipleship." Jesus' small group of followers were called his disciples. To be a disciple of Jesus means that we follow him and his example, it means that we allow ourselves to be changed by him, and it means that we will personally seek to make other followers of Jesus.
Despite what some people might think, following Jesus is not easy, and Jesus never made such a claim. In fact he said just the opposite. In Matthew 16:24 Jesus told his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me." While the cross today is often a symbol of hope and love, in Jesus' day the cross was just the opposite. The cross was the most gruesome and painful form of torture and death imaginable. And Jesus is telling us that if we want to follow him we have to be prepared to take up our own cross. We have to be prepared to pay the ultimate price. We have to be prepared to lay down our life in order to follow Jesus.
In the gospel Jesus gives us the free gift of grace. Grace is when you get something that you do not deserve. We did not deserve life. We deserved death. But Jesus gives us the free gift of grace. But this free gift is anything but cheap. It is incredibly costly. Grace might be free, but it is not cheap. There will be costs to following Jesus. What have we given up to follow Jesus? What would we be willing to give up to follow Jesus? These are questions we must ask ourselves as we count the cost of following Jesus. At Cresset Church we are all about following Jesus. We are all about making disciples. And we would love for you to come be a follower of Jesus with us.