duBois, Thomas (b. 1957). Jesus Confronting the Crowds (2012).
“What did you
go out into the wilderness to look at?” Luke 7:24
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
JESUS DOES NOT INTEND TO SEND YOU AWAY
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
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.
- If you are bringing your newborn, or an unbaptized child, tell Jesus
that you are coming to receive His miracle of Baptism, whereby God the
Father will “unite” your child to Jesus and to His sin-cleansing death
and death-defeating resurrection (Romans 6:3–5). If you are not
baptized, tell Jesus you are coming to receive a miracle: His Baptism!
- If you have already been baptized, as you come to the church door and
Jesus asks you why you are coming to church, tell Him that you have the
same problem as St. Paul and other baptized Christians: The good you
would like to do each day you do not do; and that which you should not,
that you do! Jesus will understand. His heart is filled with mercy.
Through the lips of the pastor, Jesus will give you His living
and life-giving Word. He will forgive you in His Words
of the sermon (Luke 24:47; Acts 13:38; 1 Corinthians 1:21). He will
forgive you in His gift and miracle of His Absolution (John 20:22–23).
Jesus will forgive, cleanse, strengthen, and give you hope in Holy
Communion (Matthew 26:26–28).
- Jesus will not “pump you up” as would a secular motivational speaker,
only later to let you down; rather, He will lift you up as on wings of
an eagle (Exodus 19:4; Isaiah 40:31) and He will give you a joy that
cannot be taken away (John 16:22).
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.
To continue reading, click here.