Primary Passage: Matthew 26:20-25, 47-55, 27:1-10
Secondary Passage: Acts 8:9-24
Theme Verse: Romans 6:23 NIV "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."
Several years ago, a church I attended ran a campaign to encourage regular church attenders to invite people to church. They hosted Invite a Friend Sunday which drew a few visitors to come at the invitation of members. That effort didn't seem to be enough, so church leaders decided to give prizes to those bringing friends to church. It was tacky, but more visitors came. This crazy church marketing scheme made me wonder how visitors felt when they discovered their friends and family members were getting a reward to bring them in.
On the flip side of the coin, many people unable to rid themselves of guilt from the past, try to "pay Jesus back" by going overboard on good deeds. The excuse is that we can never do enough for what Jesus did for us. They are also the type of Christians who insist on slipping a Gospel tract into the hands of everyone they meet, leave them on restaurant tables for the waitress, and just about every place imaginable. But when watching these people in action, they neglect their families, their own health, and much more trying to earn what Jesus so freely gave them. The buying and selling of Jesus is a regular practice, it seems.
What's the Deal?
Devoted Christ-followers show love for the Lord by obeying His command to go make disciples. The term "make" has the connotation of pressure, at least in my mind. I think that's why the evangelistic efforts of conservative and fundamentalist Christians repeatedly find the proverbial door slammed shut. It's due to the forceful nature of the few who make it difficult for the rest of us conservative and fundamentalist believers. Others try to earn grace with outrageous displays of service, although it looks good on the outside. Some attempt to press tracts into the hands of almost everyone they meet, hoping to lead someone in the Sinner's Prayer, but feel rejected when their sales pitch is flatly turned down. Do we come across as Jesus traders? If so, I am here to tell you, "Sorry. Jesus is not for sale."
I've always wondered why Jesus picked Judas to be one of His disciples. The man was just plain evil, from all appearances. He pilfered money from the troupe's money bag. He was totally incapable of understanding the love Mary showed Jesus when she broke the alabaster jar of perfume to anoint Jesus for His burial at a dinner party. So when he gave Jesus over to the chief priests, he did it to get 30 pieces of silver, the price of a gored slave or to buy the Potter's Field, a place to bury foreigners. Not very much, if you ask me. But when Judas realized what was about to happen to Jesus, he was so troubled by what he had done, he tried to give the money back then hung himself. His sin led to his death.
Simon the Sorcerer seems like a circus sideshow sort of performer. He loved performing magic tricks and the people who watch him thought he was great. When he heard Philip teach about Jesus as the Messiah, he believed. He followed the apostles around absolutely mesmerized with the miracles they did. He decided he wanted to learn the apostles "tricks" when they were laying hands on the new believers so they would receive the Holy Spirit. Peter was absolutely appalled Simon would even consider trying to buy the power of the Holy Spirit, so he sharply corrected him. What seemed like an innocent request for magic lessons Peter discerned an evil force behind it. Essentially Peter was saying, "Sorry, Jesus isn't for sale!"
Practices such as having a specially designed day to invite friends to church is a valuable way to remind church members that the Bible teaching is for anyone and everyone. Sharing the Good News of Jesus is something all Christians are called to do whether we use tracts as visual reminders to the recipient of what we discussed with them or not. We should all be doing good deeds, including helping to take out the trash at home or read our children a bedtime story. There is nothing inherently wrong with any of these things. The problem comes from the wrong motive.
Simply put, we share a gift with people we received for free, yet it cost Jesus everything. Our sin is worthy of death, but Jesus paid the price for our sin through His death on the cross. It is out of gratitude and love for our Savior we are to share this elaborate gift with others. No one can earn salvation. No one can buy Jesus. When we consider that we are simply called to share, not to sell, we get out of the Holy Spirit's way to do His work in the hearts of those who hear our message. No guilt trips for not meeting "sales" quotas. No slaving over an outrageous to-do list of good works. No guerilla tract planting. Simply loving people because we love Jesus who loves us.
John 14:23). Receive Jesus because of His great love for you. Share Jesus out of your great love for Him. Remember, Jesus isn't for sale because His gift is free.Consider these words of Jesus, "“Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them." (
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