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Jun 09, 2019

Commencement Address

Commencement Address

Passage: Matthew 7:12-14

Speaker: Patrick Lafferty

Series: The Highest Good

Every sermon is out to clinch a goal. Jesus nears the end of his by making sure all who are listening to him reckon with the significance of really hearing him. His words are life. We dare not take them as anything less.

Order of Worship

Pre-Service Text:  John 10:7-9
Call To Worship: Isaiah 55:1-3a
Old Testament Reading: Deuteronomy 30:15-20
Sermon Title: Commencement Address
Central Text: Matthew 7:12-14
Post-Service Text: Psalm 16:11

06.09.19 Sermon Notes

Readings & Scripture

Pre-Service Text: John 10:7-9
7 So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. 8 All who
came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. 9 I am the door. If
anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.”

Call To Worship: Isaiah 55:1-3a
LEADER: Come, everyone who thirsts,
come to the waters;
and he who has no money,
come, buy and eat!

ALL: Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without price.

LEADER: Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,
and your labor for that which does not satisfy?
Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good,
and delight yourselves in rich food.

ALL: Incline your ear, and come to me;
hear, that your soul may live!

Old Testament Reading: Deuteronomy 30:15-20
15 “See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil. 16 If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God that I command you today, by loving the Lord your God, by walking in his ways, and by keeping his commandments and his statutes and his rules, then you shall live and multiply, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to take possession of it. 17 But if your heart turns away, and you will not hear, but are drawn away to worship other gods and serve them, 18 I declare to you today, that you shall surely perish. You shall not live long in the land that you are going over the Jordan to enter and possess. 19 I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, 20 loving the Lord your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him, for he is your life and length of days, that you may dwell in the land that the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.”

Central Text: Matthew 7:12-14
So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets. 13 “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.

Benediction: Hebrews 13:20-21
20 Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, 21 equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

Post-Service Text: Psalm 16:11
You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;

Related Scriptures:

  • Deuteronomy 30:15-20
  • Joshua 24:15
  • Psalm 1
  • Psalm 16:11
  • Jeremiah 21:8
  • John 10:1-18
  • John 14:1-7

Discussion Questions & Applications:

  1. If you happened to graduate from high school or college, can you remember what you were thinking or felt on that day of “commencement?” Can you remember anything the commencement speaker might’ve said--what wisdom they offered for the way forward? (we know--we don’t remember either)
  2. Why do you think people find the claim of Jesus being the “narrow” way such a narrow--i.e. narrow-minded--view? Or let’s get real: why might you think it’s a narrow-minded view? For what reasons might they (or you) think so? How might you respectfully respond, or be responded to if you had to make a case for the claim?
  3. What have you heard in the Sermon on the Mount that would make you nod your head that following His way is, as he says in this passage, “difficult”? Be as honest and specific as you can.
  4. What else has Jesus said or done elsewhere that leads you to believe you are not on your own in His “difficult” way?
  5. Why might Jesus invite us to consider what we’d want done to us as a guide for how we do unto others? What good is our self-understanding when it comes to our treatment of another? Why is this not a command merely to make someone feel better?


  • I definitely see a parallel here in Buddhist practice[with Christianity]. However this parallel should not be taken to the extreme. There is a Tibetan expression that states, “Don’t try to put a yak’s head on a sheep’s body.The Dalai Lama, The Good Heart
  • As long as I recognize the road as the one I am commanded to walk, and try to walk it in fear of myself, it is truly impossible. But if I see Jesus Christ walking ahead of me, step by step, if I look only at Him and follow him, step by step, then I will be protected on this path. Dietrich Bonhoeffer
  • Harvard taught lessons in jealousy, greed, self-reproach. I felt utter vincibility, even near commencement, an apex of mortarboards and Latin, American elms, bells, and addresses. There was doubt, all around: not of God, but of achievement, which had made me whiny, and insufferable. . . .the morning’s self-death, the weird ritual that didn’t translate into status. It wasn’t an achievement, but an initiation—a beginning I’d been given rather than an end I deserved. What I had earned felt more monumental. But that wasn’t true. Katherine Lucky
  • I believe that every human being is sufficiently depraved that when we get to heaven, no one will be able to say, “I merited this.”   Dallas Willard
  • There is no experience you’ve had that you were not at the absolute center of. [Consequently, our] natural, hard-wired default setting … is to be deeply and literally self-centered, and to see and interpret everything through this lens of self. . . .The really important kind of freedom involves attention, and awareness, and discipline, and effort, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them, over and over, in myriad petty little unsexy ways, every day. That is real freedom. - David Foster Wallace
  • While it might be possible to square some religions with each other, particularly those with multiple gods, Christianity is like a puzzle piece drawn from the wrong set: however hard we try to bend the edges, it won’t fit.  - Rebecca MacLaughlin, Confronting Christianity
  • Do unto others before they do unto you. Archie Bunker (added by Brian, b/c I’m weird)
  • The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried. - G.K. Chesterton, What's Wrong with the World
  • I just want to be remembered as a person who loved God, who served others more than he served himself, who was trying to grow in maturity and stability. I want to have more victories than defeats, yet here I am, almost 60, and I fail on a regular basis. If I were to die today, I would be nervous about what people would say at my funeral. I would be happy if they said things like 'He was a nice guy' or 'He was occasionally decent' or 'Mike wasn't as bad as a lot of people.' Unfortunately, eulogies are delivered by people who know the deceased. I know what the consensus would be. 'Mike was a mess.'  - Mike Yaconelli, Messy Spirituality




  • God is not One, a book by Stephen Prothero
  • Confronting Christianity, a book by Rebecca McLaughlin--especially chapter 3 entitled, “How can you say there is only one true faith?”