Joshua 1:1-11/John 8:12-36
The second in our sermon series, alongside our Lent studies, focuses on a relationship with God…
…and what does this mean to us with respect to ‘My will and God’s will’.
I want to pick up on both of our Bible passages, which I am aware are fairly long.
Because of this I won’t be going through them in detail, but I want to draw out one or two thoughts relevant to the depth of our relationship with God and how we live this out.
I encourage you to go further into the Bible passages and in relation to the Lent study, which has other Bible passages for you to consider…
Looking at the OT reading, and following the events detailed in the preceding five books of the Bible.
Israel can, at last, claim the land which the LORD has promised to their ancestors many generations before them.
Moses had led the people of Israel out of Egypt. He had taken them away from slavery and into freedom.
But they had to spend 40 years in the desert and in that time, they had many challenges.
They came to realize that they had to trust in the LORD, in God and in Moses, their leader.
If they did that, all would be well.
God had told Moses that the people - his people, the people of Israel - would settle in a rich land, a land flowing with milk and honey.
But, the Israelites were not always obedient, so God told them that only their descendants would enjoy this wonderful new Promised Land.
But Moses, their great leader and the person with the deepest faith in God, would not be a part of their journey.
Following the death of Moses there would be a new leader, a person of strength who could take over.
With God’s guidance, Moses had chosen Joshua to assist him and take the lead in the future.
Joshua had faith and trusted God.
He may have been a servant of the LORD, but he was a hard, tough character.
He had faith in himself and was willing to lead, but he also had faith and trust in the people around him.
Joshua knew that what he was doing was right and that he was going to have to fight many battles.
It’s clear that events move very quickly.
Joshua is formally commissioned by the LORD to lead Israel across the Jordan.
He is commanded to remain faithful to the laws given to Moses.
If he does so, his success and prosperity is assured through strength and courage.
We find reference to this is verses 6-9.
Three times the LORD says to Joshua, ‘be strong and courageous’.
• Strong and courageous as he takes the lead, for the people to receive their inheritance.
• Strong and courageous in obeying the law given to him by Moses.
• Strong and courageous in the knowledge that the LORD God would be with him.
Simply put, with Joshua stepping into this vital role of leading the Israelite people, a new day has dawned…
This takes us to our NT Bible reading and to Jesus…
The story of Joshua can be seen as symbolizing something of the life of Jesus.
First, Jesus' name in Hebrew was “Yeshua” which translates to English as Joshua.
Second, Joshua brought new life and new hope to the people of Israel.
Third, Joshua was chosen to do God’s will…
So, here, in John’s gospel, Jesus declares, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’
The point that Jesus is making is that, in a world of darkness and sin, he is the light by which people are saved from being lost.
Although the Pharisees challenge Jesus about this, Jesus spells out that God the Father and Son together affirm that this is the truth.
The Pharisees have no real idea what Jesus is about or what he has come to do, especially with regard to dealing with the sins of the people he encounters; and all people.
The problem is, they make their judgments from a human perspective, using human standards as a bar, which fall short of God’s expectations.
This reflects the challenges we experience today with regard to the morals and ethics that are lived by, particularly in relation to the Christian faith and the reality of sin.
As we endeavour to understand this, I find it helpful to define sin based on the words of Isaiah, as he writes ‘each of us has turned to our own way’ (Isa 58:6).
Very simply the ‘I’ from the middle of the word sin describes what Isaiah is saying.
‘I’ can do and say what I want, because I have the freedom to do so, which is usually at the expense of those around us.
This attitude expresses a selfishness about getting our own way and not properly thinking through the consequences and especially the effect on our relationship with God…
The point is, in whatever we do in our lives we should ask ourselves if it’s what we want or what God wants – in essence, is it our will or God’s will..?
Jesus makes it clear to the Pharisees that he knows what his mission is.
He was sent from the Father into the world to fulfil the prophetic scriptures and journey to the cross, to make atonement for sin; to die and enable the forgiveness of our sins.
At the end of this reading, Jesus highlights that human beings are sinful and are unable to break free from its bondage on their own, which is why he came.
In John 8, verses 46, we discover that only Jesus himself is free from sin.
As such, only he is able to make known the truth that will set people free.
And we are set free, not only through accepting what Jesus has done for us and receiving him into our lives, but also as we hold onto his teaching.
As we read in verses 31 and 32, Jesus said, ‘If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’
If we really are Disciples of Christ we should be living a distinctive life. The way we inhabit the world should be different.
This doesn’t mean that we are somehow better than other people. But it does mean that there should be something distinctive about the way we live.
If we don’t, we lose of the real point of what it means to be a Christian.
Therefore, let us be strong and courageous in our Christian lives, in our relationship with God, holding onto and living out the truth of His word…
…knowing that Jesus sets us free as we remain firm to his teaching…
…and knowing that God will be with us to strengthen and sustain us…
The Venerable Mike Lodge
5 March 2023