February 28, 2010

Pride is Poison - Feb 28, 2010

To LISTEN to this week's sermon online click here. To DOWNLOAD an MP3, first right click here then choose "save link as" or "save target as".

“Two roosters who lived on the same farm constantly quarreled over who was the lord of the yard. Finally, they agreed to settle the matter by combat. Bright feathers flew and dust swirled in clouds. At last one of the roosters begged for his life to be spared.

The victor flew to the top of the henhouse and let out a loud triumphant crow. “I am the king!” he proclaimed. But an eagle who was soaring overhead heard him. With a sudden swoop the eagle dived down, snatched the rooster in his claws, and carried him away.

Pride goes before a fall” (Aesop’s Fables, retold by Jerry Pinkney).

Human pride and sin go hand in hand. In a sense every sin is an example of pride. For at the heart what is sin other than placing what we want above what God wants? That’s pride.

Aesop tells us that pride precedes a fall. Today’s sermon reading shows us that pride is like poison to the human soul.

Luke 22:54-62 (NIV)

54Then seizing him, they led him away and took him into the house of the high priest. Peter followed at a distance. 55But when they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and had sat down together, Peter sat down with them. 56A servant girl saw him seated there in the firelight. She looked closely at him and said, “This man was with him.”
57But he denied it. “Woman, I don’t know him,” he said.
58A little later someone else saw him and said, “You also are one of them.”
“Man, I am not!” Peter replied.
59About an hour later another asserted, “Certainly this fellow was with him, for he is a Galilean.”
60Peter replied, “Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about!” Just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed. 61The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.” 62And he went outside and wept bitterly.

Pride is found in each one of us. And pride is poison to the Christian soul. Pride does not kill instantly. It’s like one of those poisons which must build up before it becomes deadly.

But pride has side-effects. One of the first side is stunted growth.

Jesus had tried to strengthen and prepare the disciples for His arrest and crucifixion. He had told them numerous times that He would soon die.

On this very night Jesus had told them that He would be betrayed by one of their own. They would all desert Him. Peter would disown Him three times before the rooster crowed.

But pride prevented the disciples from taking Jesus’ warning to heart. Jesus’ warning should have driven Peter to pray and prepare for the temptation that was coming. But Peter thought that he knew better. And when the storm descended on Peter there in the courtyard of the High Priest, Peter was totally unprepared to face it.

Jesus had told Peter what to expect in Luke 22, verse 31.

“31“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. 32But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers”” (Luke 22:31-32 NIV).

And we have received much the same warning. From 1 Peter 5, verse 8.

“8Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings” (1 Peter 5:8-9 NIV).

The Devil does not parade around in a red spandex suit with a pitch-fork and a handlebar mustache. He is real, not a caricature. If we don’t take this warning seriously and arm ourselves with the Word of God, we will not be ready when he comes to shake our faith.

Put on the armor of God’s Word daily. Come to His house. Follow the example your fellow Christians who you look up to. Heed God’s warning and be ready for Satan’s attack. Be ready with a practical understanding of God’s Word. With a good habit of continuous prayer. With a network of Christian friends that can support you when Satan attacks. Be ready by standing at the side of Christ in faith.

In Philippians 2, verse 3 Christians are told…

“3Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves” (Philippians 2:3 NIV).

In Ephesians 5, verse 21 we are told…

“21Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ” (Ephesians 5:21 NIV).

Another side-effect of pride is harshly judging others while making exceptions for ourselves.

Peter did this right in the face of Jesus. When Jesus warned the disciples that they would abandon Him, Peter said, No way Lord, maybe these guys, but not me. Pride leads us to an “I’m the exception” attitude.

There’s been some controversy lately about cities using cameras to issue traffic tickets. You’ve seen these cameras flash at intersections. Apparently these cameras are very effective and can bring in substantial revenue for a city. Some people have complained that this isn’t right to make money by busting people for traffic violations.

When I first heard people grumbling I thought, “You got a ticket didn’t you? Serves you right. If you ran the red light, you deserve it. It doesn’t matter whether it was a cop in a patrol car or a cop behind a desk – you deserved it.”

Then I got a $120 ticket in the mail. My first response was, “No way. I’m sure I must have stopped. I don’t make a habit of running red lights. There’s gotta be some mistake.”

The letter I received in the mail directed me to a website where I could go to view the pictures which supposedly proved my traffic violation. So, I went to the site thinking I’d be able to prove my innocent.

It wasn’t just photos, it was video. There was the family station wagon coming to the corner. But it wasn’t slowly down much. There it was turning right at the red light with barely a tap on the brakes. GUILTY.

How many other times have I been guilty of judging others but excusing myself – for the same sin? And how many times does my blinding pride hurt the people around me? I’m reminded of Psalm 130.

“If you, O LORD, kept a record of sins,
O Lord, who could stand?” (Psalm 130:3 NIV).

Thank God I’ve got a Savior who died to take away all my sins, including the ones I don’t even realize I do.

Peter’s pride didn’t just hurt his friends. His pride hurt the Master.

Peter found himself in the courtyard of the High Priest. He had come in secret, following the detachment of Roman soldiers and temple guards that had arrested Jesus. He didn’t want to be found out. It was better to be anonymous among the servants gathering there in the courtyard.

But he couldn’t remain unnoticed for long. He had nearly killed someone when Jesus was arrested. He had swung his sword and cut off a man’s ear. And some of the people who had seen him do this were there in the courtyard. Even a relative of the man whose ear had been sliced off.

At first they weren’t quite sure that this was the same man. But their confidence grew. This man was not one of the servants. Not a regular visitor to the palace, and yet he was familiar. And the sound of his voice, that was definitely a Galilean accent. This HAD to be one of the followers of Jesus.

At first, Peter tried a casual lie. Nope, I don’t even know that guy. But as his accusers grew bolder, so did Peter’s lies. In the other Gospel accounts we’re told that he SWORE to them that he didn’t know Jesus, and that he even called down CURSES on himself in an attempt to bolster his lies.

When pride controls us, the only tools we have at hand are our instinctive, sinful reflexes.

Ever been around someone caught in a lie? If they’re caught sharply enough they’ll sometimes spurt out a bigger, more ridiculous lie. Maybe you’ve been that person. Or found yourself in a similar situation. Ever put your foot in your mouth real deep?

You know, said something unkind about someone you didn’t think was listening? But then you realized they were. And you panicked, “Oh, I didn’t mean that like it sounded” you say, but yeah, you did. They know it. You know it. And there it is out there for everyone to see. A hurtful word and an accompanying lie. Thanks pride, thanks.

That exactly the situation that Peter found himself in. There he was swearing up and down that he didn’t know who in the world this Jesus was, and then Jesus turned. Perhaps being taken from place to another. Perhaps standing on a balcony above. Jesus turned, and looked Peter right in the eye.

The piercing crow of the rooster was in the air. And Peter felt the talons of guilt sink into his soul. All his anger and frustration drained away, and deep regret flooded in to take their place.

Seeing the Master’s face was like seeing a mirror. Peter saw his own reflection in the Master’s eyes. And there Peter was, all spattered with ugly pride and foolish sin. And Peter was so sorry.

That’s where our text ends. But thankfully, that’s not where the story ends. Later, after the cross and after the resurrection, Jesus looked on Peter once again. But this time, Jesus’ look and His words were not to convict Peter of his sin, but to reassure Peter that his sin was forgiven. The Master’s terrible suffering and death had removed all of Peter’s sins, including those three fervent denials.

When we look to Jesus’ cross we should see these two things. First we should see what our sins have done. Our sins made this necessary. But by God’s grace we see more. When we look to Jesus’ cross we see what our Savior did so that our sins of pride stand forever forgiven.

When we are confronted by someone about a particular sin, we may feel judged by them. But don’t let your pride blind you. If you’re guilty of what they’re pointing at, perhaps it is the eye of Jesus that is looking at you, convicting you through His messenger. Convicting you in order to open your eyes to your sin. Convicting you in order to save you.

When Jesus sent out His disciples to preach He told them,

“16“He who listens to you listens to me; he who rejects you rejects me; but he who rejects me rejects him who sent me”” (Luke 10:16 NIV).

May we NEVER reject our Savior’s rebuke. No matter who it comes through. No matter how hard our prideful hearts try to excuse us. May the Holy Spirit shine Jesus’ light on us, the light which reveals sin and forgives it (Psalm 119:105).

Proverbs 3:11-12 says…

“11 My son, do not despise the LORD’S discipline
and do not resent his rebuke,
12 because the LORD disciplines those he loves,
as a father the son he delights in” (Proverbs 3:11-12 NIV).

Pride is poison to the Christian faith, because pride is confidence misplaced. Our hope is in Christ alone. Not in our own experience. Not in our own character. Not in our own strength, but in His strength and character alone.

He, the eternal Son of God, humbled Himself in order to take our sins away. Let us humble ourselves before Him in every way. Looking to Him alone for strength, guidance, wisdom and on-going forgiveness.

The Bible says...

“5Young men, in the same way be submissive to those who are older. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because,
“God opposes the proud
but gives grace to the humble.”
6Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. 7Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:5-7 NIV).

You know who wrote that? Peter. The same Savior that lifted him back up after his fall, has lifted us up also on the wings of forgiveness.


The peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

February 21, 2010

Jesus is Our Great High Priest - Feb 21, 2010

To LISTEN to this week's sermon online click here. To DOWNLOAD an MP3, first right click here then choose "save link as" or "save target as".


May God’s love for you rest on your hearts. And may the mercy of Christ fill you with peace. Amen.

I’m holding in my hand my call letter. That’s the letter that you sent me when you asked me to become your pastor. It lists all the things that you have asked me to do.

Let me summarize some of it for you.

In extending this call to you we solemnly charge you…

…To preach the Word of God.
…To administer the holy sacraments.
…To watch over our souls using law and gospel.
…To instruct the young.
…To always serve as a good example.
…To gather people into the Kingdom of Christ.

I’m to be a preacher, a minister, a shepherd, a teacher, a reverend and an evangelist. One thing that I am not, is a priest.

A priest offers sacrifices before God, on behalf of other people, for their sins. I am NOT a priest.

I’m talking about priests because today’s sermon reading from Hebrews calls Jesus our High Priest. It describes what kind of High Priest Jesus is.

The book of Hebrews was written to people who were Jewish by birth, but Christian by faith. These people knew what the Temple in Jerusalem looked like. They were familiar with the Old Testament priesthood that God had set up. Daily sacrifices for sins were ordinary to them.

But we’re not Jewish. And even if we were, we’re not Old Testament Jewish. Temple sacrifices are not part of our worship. The only High Priest we’ve ever seen, if we’ve ever seen one, was in a movie.

So we need to review a few things in order to understand what God’s telling us in Hebrews.

The first thing we need to understand is sin. Sin is the reason a priest was necessary . Sin is disobeying God. Doing what He forbids. While people like to joke about sin, God doesn’t think sin is funny at all. Sin is completely foreign to who God is. In fact, God will not allow sin to remain in His presence.

Here’s how serious God is about sin. God created the Angels to serve Him. They are spirit beings of great power. But He also created them as free creatures. Some of them used their freedom to rebel against God.

Led by Satan, these angels failed to overthrow God and were removed from their high positions of glory and authority. Their sin divorced them from God, forever.

Forever. Did you catch that? Forever. There was no going back. No way of returning to God. Eternity apart from God and all His goodness was now their fate.

In Revelation 20, verse 10 John saw a vision of Satan’s destiny.

“10And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever” (Revelation 20:10 NIV).

This is how serious God takes sin. This is why sinful human beings NEED a priest to go between them and the Holy God.

When the first two human beings rebelled against God, God did something that He hadn’t done with the angels. He had mercy us. He told Adam and Eve, Trust me, I will rescue you. Where the angels had no Savior, God promised the human race a Savior. Someone who would go between God and us, and would bring a sacrifice for us.

We’ve talked about how the seriousness of sin, and how it makes a priest, or a “go-between” necessary. Now we need to talk about the Old Testament priesthood.

People can be easily confused by the Old Testament priesthood. God told the Israelites to set up a worship center and have priests who tended to all that went on there. God then also commanded all sorts of sacrifices to be presented there.

But these sacrifices couldn’t actually remove the sins of the people. Hebrews 10, verse 4 says…

“…those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins, 4because it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins” (Hebrews 10:4 NIV).

The sacrifice that WOULD actually do something was yet to come.

The sins of Old Testament believers were forgiven because of their faith in God’s promises. That’s what it’s always been about. When they brought the sacrifices God commanded, they were offering them in faith. With trust that if God said I should bring this offering to be purified, than I’ll do it. The sacrifice itself didn’t do anything, it was the trust in God that mattered.

If an Old Testament person didn’t really trust in God’s promises but brought animals to the temple to be sacrifices anyway, those sacrifices had no value in God’s eyes.

If an Old Testament BELIEVER was enslaved and taken far away from the Temple in Jerusalem so that they couldn’t offer the sacrifices that God commanded, but he still looked to God in faith, praying for forgiveness – that person was forgiven. It’s always been about faith in God’s promises.

Much of the Old Testament way of worship was meant not to actually take away sins, but to foreshadow the Messiah who would. Each animal offered on an altar for sins was a picture of how Jesus would offer Himself on the Cross.

The priesthood itself was a picture of the Messiah. Only descendants of Moses’ brother Aaron could serve as priests.

God’s Great High Priest couldn’t be just anybody. He had to be a descendant of King David, born in Bethlehem, born to a virgin in order to fulfill the ancient prophesies. Only God’s chosen could serve as the Great High Priest.

Priests had to prepare themselves in very specific ways before they offered sacrifices for sins of the people. On the Festival day called, “The Day of Atonement” this meant the High Priest had to take a special bath, put on pure white under clothing, pure white priestly robes that were reserved for this day only. Then he had to had to offer a certain sacrifice for his own sins, and only after all that had taken place could he then offer the sacrifice for the people’s sins.

All these things pictured how God’s Great High Priest would need to be clean. Holy. Sinless.

Above all, the Old Testament priests had to offer the proper sacrifice. The one God had commanded for the situation. And they had to offer that sacrifice in the way that God had prescribed it to be offered. To see how serious God was about the correct offering being brought, turn to Leviticus 10, verse 1.

“1Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu took their censers, put fire in them and added incense; and they offered unauthorized fire before the LORD, contrary to his command. 2So fire came out from the presence of the LORD and consumed them, and they died before the LORD” (Leviticus 10:1-2 NIV).

If you weren’t a descendant of Aaron, you didn’t approach God’s altar. If you weren’t prepared, you didn’t approach God’s altar. If you didn’t have the necessary commanded sacrifice properly prepared, you didn’t dare approach God’s altar.

That’s why there is no other way to God than through His Son Jesus. Only Jesus is God’s Great High Priest. He was chosen by God for this work. He was sinless and therefore able to approach God with our sacrifice. He came with the sacrifice of His own sinless life given freely and wrapped in His fervent love for sinners. And His sacrifice for sinners was accepted.

And now, we’re finally ready to peak at our sermon reading. Turn to Hebrews 4, verse 15.

“15For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. 16Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:15-16 NIV).

Guilt sometimes drives people to think of some sin as being too big to be forgiven. Have you ever felt that way? THIS SIN is too much for to be forgiven. Maybe it’s a GROUP of sins: these sins that I’ve done are too much. They’ve crossed the line. Or maybe it’s a certain CATEGORY of sins that weighs heavy on you own conscience.

But our High Priest knows what it is like to be tempted, and He is compassionate. There is no sin that we could tell Him about that would come as a surprise. He knows everything that we have done because on the Cross of Calvary, He suffered for each and every sin that you and I HAVE EVER or WILL EVER commit!

When Judas realized that Jesus was going to be executed because of his betrayal he was overcome with guilt and regret. Judas tried to undo what he had done. He went to the chief priests and tried to give them the money back saying,

“I have sinned by betraying innocent blood” (Matthew 27:4 NKJV ).

But Judas didn’t get any relief for his conscience from these priests. They didn’t comfort him by telling him they’d appeal to God and offer the right sacrifices on his behalf. They said,

“What is that to us? You see to it!” (Matthew 27:4 NKJV).

They his sin back in his face. It’s your problem, you take care of it. THIS IS NOT THE KIND OF HIGH PRIEST WE HAVE!

Our High Priest is merciful and loving. When we open our hearts to Him and speak of our darkest sins, He says, “Be at peace! Your problem was my problem. I made your sins mine and by my suffering in your place, your sins have been removed forever.”

That’s why the writer of Hebrews encourages us to KEEP COMING to the throne of Christ, because it is the throne of GRACE! The place where were receive mercy and forgiveness.

I AM NOT YOUR PRIEST. I have no sacrifice to offer God in your place. Jesus has already done that. YOU ARE NOT YOUR OWN PRIEST. Don’t try to approach the throne of the Holy God without Jesus. You can’t succeed.

Instead leave the Savior’s work to the Savior. Let the High Priest ordained by the Father from eternity do what He does. Let Him stand as the one who was tempted and found without sin. Let Him stand as the sinless sacrifice that sets you free.

Just go home, singing with joy in your heart that Jesus is your High Priest. And whenever your sins poke and prod at your faith, return to His throne of grace in prayer with complete openness. He is YOUR HIGH PRIEST, and His promise is clear.

Turn to 1 John 1, verse 8. There our High Priest has recorded His eternal promise:

“8If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:8-9 NIV).


The peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

February 18, 2010

Two Fallen Disciples - Feb 17, 2010

Yesterday was Ash Wednesday, and the beginning of Lent. Pastor Paul Naumann joined us for soup supper and shared a message. His message was the first in a sermon series titled: Lenten Shadow and Light. Here's the whole series...

-Two Fallen Disciples
-Two Masters of Israel
-Two Types of Sorrow
-Two Chance Acquaintances
-Two Malefactors
-Two Romans

Please join us next Wednesday:
6pm Soup Supper
7pm Worship

To LISTEN to "Two Fallen Disciples" online click here. To DOWNLOAD an MP3, first right click here then choose "save link as" or "save target as".

February 14, 2010

We Have Seen His Glory - Feb 14, 2010

To LISTEN to this week's sermon online click here. To DOWNLOAD an MP3, first right click here then choose "save link as" or "save target as".


The Transfiguration of Jesus: A harmony of Matthew, Mark and Luke (NIV)

“I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God.”
About eight days after Jesus said this, He took Peter, John and James with Him and went up onto a high mountain, where they were all alone, to pray.
As He was praying, the appearance of His face changed, His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light. Two men, Moses and Elijah, appeared in glorious splendor, talking with Jesus. They spoke about His departure, which He was about to bring to fulfillment at Jerusalem.
Peter and his companions were very sleepy, but when they became fully awake, they saw His glory and the two men standing with Him. As the men were leaving Jesus, Peter said to Him, “Master, it is good for us to be here, if you wish, I will put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” (He did not know what to say, they were so frightened.)
While he was speaking, a bright cloud appeared and enveloped them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. A voice came from the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased. Listen to Him!”
When the disciples heard this, they fell facedown to the ground, terrified. But Jesus came and touched them. “Get up,” He said. “Don’t be afraid.” When they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus.
As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus gave them orders not to tell anyone what they had seen until the Son of Man had risen from the dead. They kept the matter to themselves, discussing what “rising from the dead” meant.

The account of Jesus’ transfiguration is found in Matthew, Mark and Luke. But none of these men were actually present at the transfiguration. They had to be told what happened up there on the mountain. Only Peter, James and John saw it with their own eyes.

John wrote his Gospel a number of years after Matthew, Mark and Luke and he leaves the transfiguration account out altogether. I suppose John didn’t feel the need to rehearse it again. The description found in the other Gospels was sufficient.

Still, John hinted at the transfiguration in the first chapter of his Gospel. Turn to John 1:14. There we read…

“14The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14 NIV).

We have seen His glory.

That’s what the season of Epiphany is all about, seeing Jesus for who He really is. Seeing His glory as the Son of God. Seeing Him as the Savior who came to rescue sinners like you and me.

Of all the snapshots of Jesus that we’ve seen throughout this season of Epiphany, perhaps no picture of Jesus is so complete as this one we see on the mount of transfiguration. In fact, here we see a whole handful of snapshots, each from a different angle, each helping us to see His glory.

First we see His appearance change from the ordinary face of a Jewish carpenter, to the dazzling brilliance of a god. Of THE God actually. Throughout His life, Jesus had stowed His visible glory away. It’s hard to teach everyday farmers, soldiers and fishermen when they’re all terrified because your skin is shining like the sun. But here in the privacy of the mountain wilderness, Jesus let the curtain fall away and the magnitude of His identity shine out: this is God the Son.

That He is also the promised Messiah becomes clear as two figures join Him. Two men who had not made the hike that morning appear beside Jesus: Moses and Elijah. These men represent the whole Old Testament, Moses who wrote the first five books of the Bible at the direction of God’s Holy Spirit. Elijah was the greatest of the ancient prophets.

But while these men represent God’s Old Testament message, they were also ACTUALLY THERE. The same Moses who had been raised in Pharaoh’s court. The Same Elijah who had hidden from King Ahab in the wilderness.

And lest we get distracted by the presence of such great men, their conversation directs us back to Jesus and His importance. They are talking about “His departure, which He was about to bring to fulfillment at Jerusalem”.

Jesus’ departure from this world would not be through the customary door of death. Jesus would indeed suffer and die to win forgiveness of all sinners. But then He would rise from the grave three days later. His departure would happen forty days after that. From the Mount of Olives He rose up into the air, taking His visible presence away from earth.

Jesus’ “departure” would happen, but only AFTER He had succeeded in redeeming the world of sinners. He would depart only AFTER God the Father had trumpeted His success to the world by raising Him from the dead.

Everything about Jesus on the mountain is remarkable. His appearance, brilliant. His company, outstanding. Their conversation, confident concerning the salvation He was about to accomplish for sinners.

But everything about the disciples on the mountain, is fear.

We’ve almost forgotten about Peter, James and John. Jesus had taken these men with Him, to pray. And like the weak men they were, they had fallen asleep.

When they woke to see Jesus in glory, with Moses and Elijah standing beside Him, they were both filled with fear, and with confusion.

Peter begins to ramble away about setting up shelter so that they can stay a bit longer. They’re amazed, afraid and distracted. But then God the Father re-centers their attention back on Jesus.

As Peter rambles a bright cloud envelopes them and the voice of the Father Himself speaks from the mist. He says,

“This is my Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased. Listen to Him!” (Matthew 17:5 NIV).

Jesus’ glory surges again. This time His glory is the approval of God the Father. Of the rest of the human race God has declared,

“We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to his own way…” (Isaiah 53:6 NIV).

But of His Son, the Father says, “with Him I am well pleased. Listen to Him!” This is the highest endorsement that anyone could ever receive.

And it’s all to much for these simple, ordinary sinners to take in. They fall face down to the ground, terrified in the presence of the Almighty.

And once again, the focus falls back on Jesus. This time, by His own kind consideration. He reaches out to touch His disciples, and to tell them not to fear.

These men did not understand. Though they trusted in Him, they did not understand what lay in store for Jesus in days to come. How He would suffer. How He would be degraded and spit up so that they could be elevated and forgiven. Jesus knew they didn’t understand, and He was patient with them. He is still patient today when we fail to understand what He so clearly lays before us.

We too have seen His glory. We have seen His glory through the Word of God recorded by sinners like us. Sinners forgiven through the Cross of Christ. And now, as we leave the season of Epiphany and enter into the season of Lent, we will see His glory in greater detail.

We will see His glory as we travel toward jeering Jerusalem. Toward Pontius Pilate and Caiaphas. Toward the road to Golgotha and our Savior’s cross. So let’s keep the focus of the Transfiguration in our minds.

Lent IS about seeing our own sins and turning away from them. It IS about looking inside to see the unworthiness and the failures of heart and soul which stain us on a daily basis. But above all, Lent is about the Savior who came not only to show us our sin, but to remove the punishment for those sins.

Above all, Lent is all about seeing His glory, and not being afraid anymore.

I’d like to close our meditation today by reading from John one last time.

“16From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another. 17For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father’s side, has made him known” (John 1:16-18 NIV).


The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

February 7, 2010

Jesus the Powerful Healer - Feb 7, 2010

To LISTEN to this week's sermon online click here. To DOWNLOAD an MP3, first right click here then choose "save link as" or "save target as".


During this Epiphany season we’ve been meditating on the Gospel of Mark. Mark is the shortest of all the Gospels. For example, Matthew is 28 chapters long, Mark is just 16. Mark’s Gospel is short and punchy, presenting Jesus to us in a series of snapshots.

So far we’ve seen Jesus the teacher. Jesus the enemy of demons. Jesus the chooser, selecting His representatives and not the other way around. We’ve seen Jesus stilling the storm and His disciples doubts about God’s love. Last week we saw Jesus feed the 5,000 illustrating that God wants to give to us, not take from us.

Today Mark presents Jesus as the Powerful Healer.

Mark 7:31-37 (NIV)

31Then Jesus left the vicinity of Tyre and went through Sidon, down to the Sea of Galilee and into the region of the Decapolis. 32There some people brought to him a man who was deaf and could hardly talk, and they begged him to place his hand on the man.
33After he took him aside, away from the crowd, Jesus put his fingers into the man’s ears. Then he spit and touched the man’s tongue. 34He looked up to heaven and with a deep sigh said to him, “Ephphatha!” (which means, “Be opened!”). 35At this, the man’s ears were opened, his tongue was loosened and he began to speak plainly.
36Jesus commanded them not to tell anyone. But the more he did so, the more they kept talking about it. 37People were overwhelmed with amazement. “He has done everything well,” they said. “He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”

May the Spirit of God open now our ears to hear and our minds to comprehend. May our hearts be led to trust Him more firmly, and may our mouths sing praise to Him. Amen.

It’s quite obvious that Jesus healed people because He loved people.

“14When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick” (Matthew 14:14 NIV).

“32Jesus stopped and called them. “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked.
33“Lord,” they answered, “we want our sight.”
34Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him.” (Matthew 20:32-34 NIV).

“40A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees, “If you are willing, you can make me clean.”
41Filled with compassion, Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” 42Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cured” (Mark 1:40-41 NIV).

Jesus did these healings in a personal way. He was there. The sick were there. He healed them with a touch. But there were other times when Jesus healed with just a word. Did you notice from our reading today how Jesus did this strange thing, He put His fingers in the man’s ears and put His spit on the man’s tongue? But that wasn’t what healed the man. When Jesus said, “Be opened” THEN the man was healed. It was the word that did it there.

And sometimes Jesus healed at a great distance, without a word. In the section immediately before our sermon reading Jesus cast a demon out of a woman’s daughter. The daughter isn’t present. Jesus just tells the girl’s mother, “…you may go; the demon has left your daughter” (Mark 7:29 NIV).

So, if Jesus could heal at will, why didn’t He just heal all the sick people in Israel, or the world, (snap) just like that?

An here’s another odd thing. Jesus actually told people NOT TO SPREAD THE WORD about His healings! Didn’t He want people to know what He was capable of?

I would suggest to you today that Jesus didn’t heal people in a “wholesale” way for a very important reason. HIS MINISTRY WASN’T ALL ABOUT HEALING THE SICK. That was PART of His ministry, but it was not the main point. Jesus’ ministry was all about the MESSAGE that He was preaching. Above all He wanted people to know how heaven is reached – through the Savior that God sent.

Jesus’ miracles of healing were done out of love for the sick and needy, but the main purpose of these miracles was to validate THE MESSAGE that He preached. The message of sin and salvation.

Look at it this way. When Adam and Eve sinned the first time, the ANCIENT DISEASE CALLED SIN entered the world. With sin came symptoms like blindness, deafness, paralysis, aids, flu, muscle pain, back aches, allergies, etc.

Sometimes Western medicine gets black labeled as “only treating the symptoms”, not the inner physical breakdowns that cause the symptoms. But really, all human medicine is only treating the symptoms, the symptoms of sin. Eventually the disease of sin brings us all to the grave.

Every time Jesus healed someone’s illness or deformity, He was treating a symptom. But Jesus wasn’t only interested in treating symptoms. He came to kill the disease.

Now, if we were writing the story, maybe we’d have the Son of God invent a time machine so that He could go back and stop Adam and Eve from sinning. But God’s plan was different.

The problem with sinners is that the God of Justice has to punish them. If He didn’t He wouldn’t be just. He’d be like a corrupt judge that lets a case go without justice being served. The sentence for our sins couldn’t just be dismissed.

So, God the Son became Human so He could take the punishment for our sins on Himself. While Jesus was being crucified He was also experiencing the horrific punishment due for every sin. The ones you committed yesterday. The one’s you’ll commit tomorrow. All have been suffered for already, by God’s sinless Son.

During His ministry, Jesus treated the symptoms of sin so that people would believe that He was here to kill the disease.

Jesus once said,

“26What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:26 NIV).

We could also say, what good is it if I live a healthy life, free from hunger or disease, only to die and spend eternity in Hell, separated from God?

The snapshot of Jesus that I see here is “Jesus the Powerful Healer”. But if we only see Him as a physical healer, we’ll have missed the point. He released many from the symptoms of sin, but He provides release from sin itself FOR ALL PEOPLE through His sinless sacrifice on the cross.

As individual Christians we can set people free from the effects of sin by giving. We can give to food banks and feed the hungry. We can give to charities that support the poor. Many have supported relief efforts in Haiti by simply text messaging ten bucks with their phone.

We can also set people free from the symptoms of sin directly. We can help someone to find a job. We can give someone who is homeless a place to stay. Or we can simply lend a listening ear and an encouraging voice to someone who needs it. We can pray to God for people we want to help. We can do these things, just as Jesus did, out of compassion.

But we must not fail to also treat the greater disease of sin. We can’t only treat the symptoms. Jesus didn’t come to be our Aspirin. He came to be the cure for sin. He came to lead us to Heaven, where symptoms and sin have no place.

The apostle Paul once wrote,

“16I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. 17For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith” (Romans 1:16 NIV).

Through faith in Jesus, the antidote to sin courses through our veins. Your sins stand forgiven because of Christ. Let’s share that medicine with our family and friends.


The peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.