The Federated Church of Marlborough
Marlborough, New Hampshire


  
 
    






Guest Sermon - April 28, 2019
 
Pastor Arnie Johnson
Sermon Title: "Why Me?"

Old Testament: Isaiah 53:1-5 (NRSV) - 1 Who has believed what we have heard? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? 2 For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. 3 He was despised and rejected by others; a man of suffering and acquainted with infirmity; and as one from whom others hide their faces he was despised, and we held him of no account. 4 Surely he has borne our infirmities and carried our diseases; yet we accounted him stricken, struck down by God, and afflicted. 5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the punishment that made us whole, and by his bruises we are healed. 

Gospel: Luke 18:28-34 (NRSV) - 28 Then Peter said, "Look, we have left our homes and followed you." 29 And he said to them, "Truly I tell you, there is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, 30 who will not get back very much more in this age, and in the age to come eternal life." 31 Then he took the twelve aside and said to them, "See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished. 32 For he will be handed over to the Gentiles; and he will be mocked and insulted and spat upon. 33 After they have flogged him, they will kill him, and on the third day he will rise again." 34 But they understood nothing about all these things; in fact, what he said was hidden from them, and they did not grasp what was said.

Let us pray: May the words of my mouth and the meditation of all our hearts be acceptable in Your sight, our Lord, our Strength, and our Redeemer. Amen

          Why me? I can remember myself asking that question many times before. How about you? Yes, it seems like it’s a common phrase when we reach certain situations! One that I remember very specifically that most of you have heard about before was Ash Wednesday 2009 when I was “called” into the ministry. Why me? What was so special about me that God chose me, unqualified as I was at that time, and maybe still am?

          Another “Why me?” was when I asked my wife, Mary, for that first date. I’m guessing that “Why me?” was her question about me. Why is this guy that I have never seen before asking me out for a date to the Homecoming Football Game and the Dance afterward? Why me?

Then there was me asking that same question when Mary responded in the affirmative. Why did she say yes to that date? Why me? Why not one of the BMOC, Big Men On Campus?

          And we find that the Bible is full of “Why me?” questions posed by individuals: Adam & Eve possibly wondering why God created them first and then tempted them in the Garden of Eden; David asking “Why Me?” when he saw Bathsheba, and then committed adultery; Samson asking “Why Me?” while being lured by the deceiving Delilah and that same deception leading to his death; and many more who were tempted and reacted in ways that did them harm.

And probably the best and most important biblical character to study in response to temptation is Jesus Christ. Three of the four gospels talk about Jesus' experiences with Satan in the desert. Jesus may have wondered “Why me?” Luke 4:5-8 describes it this way: "The devil led him [Jesus] up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And he said to him, 'I will give you all their authority and splendor, for it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. So if you worship me, it will all be yours.' Jesus may have wondered “Why Me?”, but answered, 'It is written: "Worship the Lord your God and serve him only."'’ Jesus was tempted, but countered Satan’s temptation!

How many of the aforementioned individuals might have asked themselves “Why me?” when they were tempted?

And then, why did Jesus choose the people He did to become His disciples? Did they ever ask themselves “Why me? Why did Jesus choose me to travel with Him?”

Now, let’s fast-forward to us here in this church today? I think it’s common to say to ourselves “Why me?” in a lot of situations, so I won’t even ask how many of us have said it! But I will ask how did we handle those situations? Did we take the time to think about it, or did we just make snap decisions? Did we ask the Lord for help, or did we attempt to do it on our own? What were the results in each of those situations? Again, you can answer silently to yourself.

So, what did Jesus say when he was arrested, tried, flogged, convicted, and sentenced to be crucified? Jesus didn’t have to say anything, because Jesus knew why it was happening. One of our scriptures today tells us, Then he took the twelve aside and said to them, "See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished. 32 For he will be handed over to the Gentiles; and he will be mocked and insulted and spat upon. 33 And, after they have flogged him, they will kill him, and on the third day he will rise again." Yes, Jesus knew, but he didn’t say or think, “Why me?” He knew why it was Him! His Father had chosen him when he was conceived those many years ago to be given birth on this earth by Mary, raised by Mary and Joseph, and then be tempted as a human. He also knew from his study of the Torah, the Old Testament. Our Old Testament scripture today from Isaiah tells us, 3 He was despised and rejected by others; a man of suffering and acquainted with infirmity; and as one from whom others hide their faces he was despised, and we held him of no account.” and 7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.” No, Jesus did not have to ask “Why me?” Isaiah was speaking of the Messiah who would be coming in the future. Jesus knew the scripture, He knew the Prophecy, and He knew that the promised Messiah was Him!

We all know that Jesus was chosen, and we know what happened to Him. It is fully written in the Bible. But how about us, are we chosen, and if we are chosen, why?

I think the answer lies as Isaiah wrote: 8 But as for you, O Israel, you are mine, my chosen ones; for you are Abraham's family, and he was my friend. 9 I have called you back from the ends of the earth and said that you must serve but me alone, for I have chosen you and will not throw you away. And within that same scripture, God promised, 10 Fear not, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed. I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will help you; I will uphold you with my victorious right hand. “ Isaiah 41:8-10 (TLB)

Isaiah also wrote that God promised us:, “But now the Lord who created you, O Israel, says: Don't be afraid, for I have ransomed you; I have called you by name; you are mine. 2 When you go through deep waters and great trouble, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown! When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up--the flames will not consume you. 3 For I am the Lord your God, your Savior, the Holy One of Israel.” Isaiah 43:1-3 (TLB)

And Luke wrote as to what we as followers of Jesus Christ could expect in our lives, 17 And everyone will hate you because you are mine and are called by my name.” Luke 21:17 (TLB)

          Yes, we don’t have to ask “Why me?”, because scripture tells us that all of us are God’s Chosen Ones. God sees worth in each and every one of us. We have been chosen to be His by Him! God knows we have sinned and will probably sin again, but God knows that if we will truly repent and ask for forgiveness, then we will be forgiven.

          Scripture tells us in Acts 2:38-39: 38 Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off--for all whom the Lord our God will call."

          If we want to follow Christ, we must "repent and be baptized." To repent means to turn from sin, changing the direction of our lives from selfishness and rebellion against God's laws. At the same time, as we turn from sin, we must turn to Christ, depending on Him for forgiveness, mercy, guidance, and purpose. We cannot save ourselves — only God can save us! (Life Application Bible Notes)

          And, if what I have just said still didn’t hit the mark with some of you, I would just remember what was written in Jeremiah 29:11 and is still very valid, 11 For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jer 29:11 (NIV) Yes, we are His, and we are part of His plans. Praise The Lord! Thank you, Jesus!

          So, we now know the answer to our question, “Why me?” Why have I been chosen? The answer is simply that God loves each of us and has chosen each of us to be His!

As we always thank God for anointing us as His chosen ones, let us also thank and honor Jesus as we remember and repent of our sins.

Let us pray – Heavenly Father, there have been so many times in our lives that we have not lived as we should have. We haven’t lived in harmony and love as You would want and expect. We ask for Your forgiveness of all our past transgressions and ask You to help us in the future to live as You would wish. Thank You for Your love and mercies. In Your Son’s name we pray, So May It Be, Amen.

Benediction

May the Lord bless you and keep you.
May the Lord make his face to shine upon you, 
and be gracious to you.
May the Lord lift up his countenance upon you, 
and give you peace, now and forever, Amen.

Now go forth in peace and love.