John 8:1-11 What Would Jesus Say to Lance Armstrong
This sermon was inspired by a blog post I created. If you want to see the interview with Oprah, you can find it at that post.
How would Jesus deal with Lance Armstrong
““No one, Lord,” she answered. “Neither do I condemn you,” said Jesus. “Go, and from now on do not sin anymore.”” (John 8:11, HCSB)
Jesus would restore him (Neither would I condemn you…), Jesus would give him hope (Go…), Jesus would inspire him (Do not sin anymore…)
Jesus gives us the pattern about how to deal with people who have sinned against us.
“Brothers, if someone is caught in any wrongdoing, you who are spiritual should restore such a person with a gentle spirit, watching out for yourselves so you also won’t be tempted.” (Galatians 6:1, HCSB)
Repentance is when you are going south on the highway and then recognize you need to be going north. Repentance isn’t just thinking about changing directions. It isn’t just watching other folks go by wondering if they’re going wrong too. Repentance is looking for the next exit, getting off, crossing over, and getting back on the other road on your way home. That’s repentance; it’s turning the other way.
If you are twenty miles out of the way and decide to change directions, you must take the exit ramp. This is the ramp of confession where you agree that you have been going the wrong way. Then you have to cross over the grace overpass where God gives you the opportunity and the privilege to turn around. Confession gets you to the place where you can make that U-turn. Grace crosses you over.
Now, there is another ramp that you have to take to get back on the highway headed in the right direction. This is the restoration on-ramp. The confession off-ramp leads to the grace overpass, which carries you over and puts you right in front of the restoration on-ramp so that you can begin heading in the right direction.
Once the turn has been made and repentance has been accomplished, you may still be twenty miles out of the way. You might be discouraged because you’ve gone twenty miles wrong or maybe twenty years wrong. In fact, many folks get stuck here, thinking that since they are already twenty miles out of the way they, might as well keep on heading in that same wrong direction.
The thing to remember is that when taking a trip, the ride coming back home always seems shorter than the ride going. There’s something about coming home that shortens the feeling of distance even when the actual distance to cover is the same.
Share hope in Jesus
There are two different kinds of hope: uncertain hope and certain hope. Uncertain hope is like this statement: “I hope it will rain today.” This is an uncertain hope because we can’t know if it going to happen. To have hope in Jesus is a certain hope. You can be certain about His past, present, and future work in your life.
Past hope (in the promise given by God which was fulfilled)
“And now I stand on trial for the hope of the promise made by God to our fathers,” (Acts 26:6, HCSB)
“in the hope of eternal life that God, who cannot lie, promised before time began.” (Titus 1:2, HCSB)
Present hope (in the Holy Spirit)
“This hope will not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” (Romans 5:5, HCSB)Future hope (in the return of Jesus Christ)
“while we wait for the blessed hope and appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.” (Titus 2:13, HCSB)
As a result this certain hope, (a hope that is firm), we can go from sharing this hope in Jesus to actually inspiring others.
“And our hope for you is firm, because we know that as you share in the sufferings, so you will share in the comfort.” (2 Corinthians 1:7, HCSB)
“but honor the Messiah as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you.” (1 Peter 3:15, HCSB)
Sharing our hope in Jesus Christ is like being the press secretary of the White House:
The press secretary of the White House has one job—to speak on behalf of the head of state, represented in the White House by the president. What he thinks is irrelevant. Whether he agrees with the president is irrelevant. His job is to speak on behalf of the president. Period. Then, he should be ready and willing to take questions. “Be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have” (1 Peter 3:15).
Inspiration only comes from those who have hope. If you don’t have hope, it is very hard to inspire people.
“We have this hope as an anchor for our lives, safe and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain.” (Hebrews 6:19, HCSB)
“But encourage each other daily, while it is still called today, so that none of you is hardened by sin’s deception.” (Hebrews 3:13, HCSB)
James 5:11 NLT “We give great honor to those who endure under suffering. Job is an example of a man who endured patiently. From his experience we see how the Lord’s plan finally ended in good, for he is full of tenderness and mercy.”
Lance Armstrong is a walking, excuse me, cycling inspiration. In his book, Go the Distance, Ed Rowell wrote: “If anyone had a reason to give up, it would have been Lance Armstrong. Lance was a world-class cyclist, one of the rare Americans competing in the elite road races of Europe.
In 1996, the twenty-four-year-old climbed to the number-one ranking in his sport but was then diagnosed with testicular cancer. The cancer had metastasized and spread to his lungs and brain. Few expected him to survive the disease”
He not only survived, he came back like gangbusters. In July of 2002, Armstrong won his fourth Tour de France, just six years after being diagnosed with an advanced stage of testicular cancer. He spoke about it:
“We have unrealized capacities that only emerge in crisis—capacities for enduring, for living, for hoping, for caring, for enjoying. Each time we overcome pain, I believe that we grow.” Armstrong says. “Cancer was the making of me: Through it I became a more compassionate, complete, and intelligent man, and therefore a more alive one.”
Sometimes, as in Armstrong’s case, what we think will be the ruin of us becomes what brings out the best in us. What could be our undoing, can become our finest hour. It is all a matter of determination … and endurance.
Jesus would say to Lance Armstrong: This happened to you once before, and it can happen again. You can still take what was a ruin for your life and bring out the best of yourself. You can take what looks like your undoing and let it become your finest hour again. Will you trust Me to make it happen?