Redeemer Presbyterian Church Sermons
The gospel should change not just our inner being but also the way we relate to the outside world. Paul engaged with society every day. He was distressed, indignant and compassionate about the Athenians' beliefs, but he kept his eyes on the cross to inform his words. He recognized their idols and raised up Jesus as the only true God.
The rich young ruler in this passage has followed all the rules, but receives an astonishing rebuttal from Jesus. Any encounter with the “real” Jesus shocks us. His religious assumptions failed him because he didn't understand treasure in heaven, and failed to recognize the true freedom and inheritance Jesus offers us.
Nebuchadnezzar's pride began in contentment and prosperity, but he had no peace of mind. It caused him to take credit for everything he'd achieved. God dehumanized him in a reflection of what pride had done to his heart. Only when he recognized his debt to God — and that he was the object of God's mercy — could he be humbled and healed of his pride.
There are two spiritual tests highlighted in these passages: good times and bad times. These circumstances show our sin in general or our idols in particular. We can choose whether to deal with them or deny them, but we will not stay the same.
In dealing with inner emptiness we often hope for “one true love.” Jacob and Leah have that hope after the failure of their lives. When their dreams are achieved, their hopes are dashed. Leah eventually achieves inner peace by placing her hope in God, who alone can deliver.
The subplot of Jonah's story is his relationship with the sailors on the ship to Tarshish. The sailors rebuke Jonah for not using his faith for the common good. When his behavior alters, it creates a change in them. Too often the church is like Jonah: asleep to the people standing right in front of them.