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duBois, Thomas (b. 1957). Jesus Confronting the Crowds (2012).

 “What did you go out into the wilderness to look at?” Luke 7:24


The Defining Moment for You—Which Church Will You Attend?

John the Baptist preached boldly (Matthew 3:1–17). The crowd and the Pharisees responded with criticism. As shown on this page, Jesus confronted both the crowd and John’s Pharisaic critics. Jesus asked them: “What did you go out . . . to look at?” (Luke 7:24).

WHAT DO YOU EXPECT TO SEE OR RECEIVE WHEN YOU GO TO CHURCH EACH SUNDAY

Have you ever been critical of a church service or the preaching of a pastor? Are you—like the crowds and the Pharisees—often dissatisfied and critical of your church services, feeling that they are not exciting enough or that you “don’t get anything out of the service or the sermon”?

If this is the case for you, consider this: Jesus is always present with us. What if Jesus were to make Himself physically visible at your church door next Sunday? Then Jesus would ask you: “What have you come to church today to hear, or to receive? What is it that you are looking for by coming to this church? What would satisfy you?” How would you answer Jesus?

IT IS NO SECRET!

It is no secret that many, if not most, people who go to church go there for one primary reason: They hope to receive an emotion­al uplift, or a wonderful and positive “spiritual experience.”
For the most part, there is nothing wrong with going to church hoping to receive a positive spiritual experience, SCRIPTURALLY UNDERSTOOD! This is to say: If you go to your church each Sunday with the same attitude that people have as they go to a hospital or treatment center—to receive help for an incurable and deadly disease­—then you are going to the right place for the right spiritual experience. On the other hand, as you go to church, if you are either not aware—or deny—that you have a deadly and incurable disease within you and you are going to church only for an emo­tional experience, THEN YOU ARE GOING FOR THE WRONG REASON, just as a person with incurable cancer would go to the wrong place for treatment by going to the opera. Just imagine the effect if Jesus would visibly stand at the church door of every church around the world next Sunday and say to you and all churchgoers: “What have you come to church to hear, or to receive?”

EVEN THE SECULAR WORLD ASKS: “WHAT DID YOU COME OUT TO RECEIVE?

Several years ago the secular New York-based Wall Street Jour­nal carried a feature article titled: “Pumped for Nothing.” The staff writer, describing a motivational speaker who packed the 18,000-seat Indianapolis arena, said that people were paying upwards of $220.00 at the door to get a seat. This journalist likened the daylong event to a type of secular spiritual “liturgy.” He then stood at the door and asked those entering what they “expected to reap from the daylong seminar.” “Not one person,” stated the Journal writer, “could give me a concrete answer”of what they expected to receive from the motivational speaker. Rather, he wrote, “Most people stated they had attended similar shindigs in the past and have ‘come away feeling pumped!’”

JESUS DOES NOT INTEND TO SEND YOU AWAY “PUMPED!”

Every time you come to Jesus in prayer, every time you come to Jesus in the Sunday worship service, He knows your condition. Jesus detailed your condition very clearly in Matthew 7:11 and 15:19, and elsewhere. Jesus is repeating and expanding the description of your spiritual condition as told in the Old Testament: Your “heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick” (Jeremiah 17:9). You have a very serious, deadly, and incurable spiritual condition that “getting pumped up” emotionally is not going to cure.

Like the psalmist, you have inherited the disease of Sin (Psalm 51:5). And you have no control over this living power of Sin now at work within you (Psalm 51:3). There is no human help or cure for your spiritual affliction. But, praise God, Jesus does offer you His divine Medicine to control the horrific power of Sin so that it cannot destroy your faith and your eternal hope.

IF JESUS STOOD AT YOUR CHURCH DOOR NEXT SUNDAY

If Jesus stood at the door of your church next Sunday and asked you—as He did the crowds and the Pharisees—“What have you come out to see, or receive?” then tell Jesus what He wants to hear:
The next time you go to church, go to the place where you know that, through the lips of the pastor, Jesus will welcome you and will remind you of your affliction—just as a trusted physician welcomes a cancer patient each week and gives him the status of his affliction and the treatment. Go to a church where Jesus, your divine Physician, will give you His treatment for your spiritual cancer, a treatment which will assure you that the spiritual cancer can never, ever destroy your faith.

Dear Lord Jesus, direct me each week to Your church, Your spiritual hospital, where I can receive regular reminders not only of my desperate condition, but also where I can receive treatment for my deadly spiritual malady. When I come to church, I am coming out to see You (John 12:21) and to receive You (Colossians 2:6), Your living Word, and Your sin-forgiving and faith-strengthening Body and Blood. Dear Lord Jesus, thank You for being at a place each week for me to see and to receive You. Amen.
 
For further study, turn to the Bible Study on page 37, questions 43–­47.

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