He Has Done All Things Well

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HE HAS DONE ALL THINGS WELL!

Our God has done all things well. He has left nothing out, and he works everything for the good of those that love him. This is a truth that bears repeating, especially these days when many ask, “Where is God?” We can boldly say we know him, and that he has done everything well for us!

Mark 7:31-37

Jesus Heals a Deaf and Mute Man

31 Then Jesus left the vicinity of Tyre and went through Sidon, down to the Sea of Galilee and into the region of the Decapolis.[a] 32 There some people brought to him a man who was deaf and could hardly talk, and they begged Jesus to place his hand on him.

33 After 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. 34 He looked up to heaven and with a deep sigh said to him, “Ephphatha!” (which means “Be opened!”). 35 At this, the man’s ears were opened, his tongue was loosened and he began to speak plainly.

36 Jesus commanded them not to tell anyone. But the more he did so, the more they kept talking about it. 37 People were overwhelmed with amazement. “He has done everything well,” they said. “He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”

All Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™

Full Service April 26, 2020

Mark 1:14-15

14 After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. 15 “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”

The Three Sentence Sermon

Mark 1:14-15 New International Version (NIV)

Jesus Announces the Good News

14 After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. 15 “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”

Let Go and Live

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21st Sunday after Pentecost
Mark 10:17-27

Intro:

Are you familiar with the epic poem Dante’s Inferno?  If you’re not, it’s the fictional tale of a man who’s led on a guided tour of hell.  While it’s certainly not inspired Scripture by any means, the 14th century author Dante does have some interesting things to say, and the fictional tale has a few grains of truth in it.

Upon his arrival in hell, he and his guide pass beneath an iron gate with this message emblazoned upon it, “Abandon all hope, ye who enter” – he passes into the first circle of hell and sees the people there.  Amongst them he recognizes the “shadow of him who made the great refusal.”  He’s talking about the rich young ruler in the text for today.  In Dante’s story, the rich young ruler never repented of walking away from Jesus.  So he is grouped amongst those who were bound so tightly to the things of this world, in the first circle of Hell.  They were so concerned for themselves that they out of cowardice, never committed any great extreme wickedness or any extreme evil, nor had they done any surpassing righteous acts, rather they were only focused on their own well being.  They were on no one’s side but their own chasing after the temporal, the earthly, the perishable riches – Dante likens these people to never really being alive.

Did this rich young man eventually find himself in hell as the fictional tale of Dante’s Inferno supposes?  I don’t know, but fiction or not he’s right about one thing.  When we become enamored with or focused on or bent on the physical things of this life, and value them over God who gave them, well, we are not really living.  Our souls end up being mired down with many pointless and frivolous concerns.  That is not living!  Jesus doesn’t want us to live like that.  He wants us to live in him.  This incident with the rich young ruler, shows us today that Jesus wants us to Let go and live: Let Go of the riches and even let go of what we think is possible.

 

Context:

This incident with the rich young ruler, happened almost immediately after Jesus blesses the Children.  Fitting, seeing as how Jesus said there that, “The kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”  Those who seek God and trust in him with the faith of a child are the ones who will inherit eternal life.

 

Part I: Let go of riches

And Spiritually speaking this rich young man, was a child, a very confused child. He thought that he was more spiritually mature than he actually was. So much so that he asks what he must “Do” to “Inherit” eternal life.  What kind of conundrum is that???  Is an inheritance not a gift given in thoughtfulness or out of love – with no strings attached?  How do you “Do” anything to earn it?

Either way, this young man has a spiritual problem.  One that makes itself blatantly obvious when he claims to have kept all the commandments. As he says, “20 “Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.” See, he thought he was not only physically rich, but spiritually rich as well.  Really, he was spiritually bankrupt.

Now, what might you or I say to someone who claims to have kept all the commandments from the time they were little?  We might immediately say, “I’m sorry friend but I don’t think you understand the nature of God’s law.”  As a Pastor, I might launch into an explanation of where sin really begins.  It’s not about the outward action, it’s about what is in the heart.

But Jesus, masterfully addresses this young man in a way that you or I never could – namely because he’s God.  Verse 21 says, “21 Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

Jesus looks at him as he does all sinners floundering in their sin!  He loved him, even though he knew this man came to him with some ulterior motives and shoddy understanding.  Jesus knew that he lacked more than “one thing.”  He really lacked everything.  This young man came to him asking for some outstanding good work to do, so Jesus gives it to him.  Jesus tells him how he might keep the second table of the Law, love thy neighbor as thy self, in some way.  This command, or preaching of the Law was so great that it must have made that young man realize that in his heart of hearts he hadn’t kept the least letter of the law.  It must have made him realize that he didn’t love his neighbor as his self, nor had he loved the Lord his God with all his heart, soul and strength.  He was more attached to his riches than to his God, who’s commandments he’d claimed to have kept perfectly.

All Jesus is saying to this man, in a loving way mind you, is Let Go!  Let Go of the riches and live in me…

APPLICATION:

Riches.  In this text that is a word that is full of meaning.  When you think about the point that Jesus just made to this rich young ruler, “Let Go!  Let Go of all of it and live!  We realize that this has very little to do with actual wealth.

It’s a text that forces us to ask the question – what am I rich in?  What am I heavily invested in?  What thing in my life, were it taken from me, would cause me to go weak in the knees, go short of breath, make me nauseous.  What is it in life that we would rather die over, than live without?  Is it actual money?  Is it a talent or an ability?  Is it a relationship? Is it a job? Perhaps as we ponder it, we realize that it’s more than just one thing.  Whatever the case, you know what it is, can you picture it in your mind? That’s the golden idol in our lives, now take it and “sell it” imagine that it’s gone, let go of it.

The idea of “letting go” of our “riches” can leave us feeling dismayed, as it did the rich young ruler.  Like what are we supposed to do?  Cover ourselves in sack-cloth and ashes and go find a hole to live in?  No, don’t forget what else Jesus says, don’t forget his main point to this young man!  Along with the young man in the text, he tells us today to follow him.  It was from him that we received our riches to begin with.  Will he not take care of us and our every need supply?   We can let go of our physical things, when we realize that it’s from God all blessings and riches flow.  Remember the prize that the rich young ruler didn’t see, Jesus Christ, treasure in heaven, the kingdom of God.  Let go and live for him for he is our highest good.

Part II: Let go of what we think possible

At any rate, with the young man having gone away sad, Jesus now focuses his attention on his disciples.  The text says that he looked around at them.  I can only imagine that he looked at them in the same way that he looked at this rich young man when he first came up to him – a look of compassion, pity and love.  And he says to them, ““How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!” 24 The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! 

The disciples are amazed.  The sense of the original Greek is more like, they were bowled over completely.  “Who can be saved?” They ask.  That exchange between Jesus and the young man must have made them reflect on their own sins.  How they too had the golden idols in their lives that they clung too.

So, Christ answers their question, “Who can be saved?”  Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.”

God can save and God alone.  And in saying so, Jesus points to his divinity – the thing that was missed by the rich young man – yet something that the disciples had witnessed on various occasions.  He is God, he can save.

APPLICATION:

With this statement, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”  Jesus clears away any last vestiges of the idea that it is somehow anything that man can do to merit God’s favor.  Man simply can’t save himself.  We are not the subject that does the saving, rather we are the object being saved.  This is the clear-cut message that Jesus gave the disciples.

Do you feel spiritually rich?  Do you feel spiritually poor?  Probably varies depending on the day, right?  There are times when we feel closer to God than others.  But when we focus on that, we are focusing on that which we think is possible.  Just like the disciples.  Is God dependent on how spiritually rich or poor we feel, or how close to him we deem ourselves to be?

Absolutely not!  Jesus looks at you with the same look that he gave to the disciples, the same look that he gave to the rich young ruler.  He looks at us with pity and compassion.  As people who are floundering in our sin – and even then, Just as he did with the rich young ruler – He loves us!

Let go of what you think is possible – and live in the knowledge that you have a God that loves you no matter what!  Not because of anything we’ve done.  Rather, because he came to this earth to live in poverty and die the death of a criminal so that we might be crowned with riches in heaven, and live eternally in the presence of God.

Conclusion –

So then live – live now in the knowledge that you have treasure in heaven, life eternal with Christ – that far surpasses any riches in this life.  Live in the knowledge that, the impossible has been done for you.  Your savior has loved, and still does love you.  You and I, for sure, will never ever see those Iron gates that say “Abandon all hope, ye who enter.” Let go of the earthly things, and live freely in the hope of heaven.  Amen.

 

 

Hear of Your Savior’s Compassion and Glory!

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16th Sunday after Pentecost
Mark 7:31-37

INTRODUCTION
He surely must have thought, “What is there to make life tolerable?  I can’t work because I can’t understand.  I can’t love because I can’t express it.  I am a prisoner in my own mind.  My family has abandon me to the beggars cup and to the mercy of others.  When I stand out in the night air – I would scream out in pain to the heavens for the circumstances of my life.  But I can’t cry out, at least I can’t cry out anything intelligible.  And even if I could cry out – I couldn’t hear it.  This silence is overwhelming.  Life is an altogether unhappy, affair.  Even the world around me seems quite dreadful.  From my one narrow window on the world, my eyes, all I see are the troubles of others.  Even I am a trouble to others.  The people that care for me, those that visit me and put up with me – they could be doing other things with their lives other than attending to me.  Oh that I could hear once again!  I could hear the voice of a friend.  A word of encouragement, a voice of compassion!”

CONTEXT:
Startled from his thoughts like these a group of those that attended to him, the closest thing he had in this world to friends, came and got him.  What did they do?  Did they scribble something in the dirt?  Did they wave their hands?  Did they have smiles on their faces?  Was the deaf-mute man cognizant of the fact that they were taking him to attempt another cure?  If so, did he even want it?  The “cures” back in those days were hardly cures at all.  They probably made things worse.  I’m sure the last thing this poor man wanted was to be laid back on a table or a cot and have some reeking foul herbal concoction poured into his mouth, and into his ears yet again.

PART 1: By his Compassion   

EXPOSITION
His eyes must have been darting all around.  Searching faces in the crowd of people.  Searching for an answer to all the commotion going on.  This was certainly different than any other time they brought him somewhere to attempt a cure.  Some in the group ran ahead, they ran off with a purpose as though they wanted to get somewhere before anyone else.  Shortly those from the group returned and they brought with them 13 men.

The one at the front had a kindly face.  He seemed taller than the rest.  Although the men he was with had clearly been on a long journey – this man’s face was clean with no blemish or defect.  He looked kindly.  Like someone that you’d want to be around friendly, pleasant yet seemingly modest and wise.  His eyes, though they were something else.  Clear, and calm – innocent, yet dignified – serene, yet they looked familiar with tears.

The crowd pushing and jostling all around, suddenly parted.  And this captivating figure, this kindly man grabbed the deaf-mute man by the arm and pulled him aside.  They walked a ways, out of eye shot of the crowd.  The eyes of the deaf-mute man no longer flitted back and forth.  They were locked, fixed, almost cemented in place – centered on the man in front of him.

Then he did some strange things.  He put his fingers into his ears.  He didn’t even have to say it the meaning was understood.  These I will open.  Then he stuck out his own tongue and spit on the ground.  The deaf-mute man in astonishment steps back with his mouth open. And calmly this man reaches out and touches his tongue.  Again, he didn’t need to say a word.  The meaning was understood. This I will unloose.

Then this man who pulled him from the crowd stepped back and turned those innocent and dignified eyes to the heavens and gave a visible sigh.  Was it a sigh of sadness?  Was it a sigh of relief?  A silent and quick prayer?  A smile formed on his lips and then he uttered the first word that this deaf and mute man had heard in years, “Ephphatha!” (that is, “Be opened!”). The sound of the wind, the sound of the crowd in the distance, the crunch of rocks under foot, and the rustle of clothing – the sound of his own voice, his own laughter, now that he can speak what to say but words of thanks – all those things rushed into his ears for the first time in ages.

He must have thought, “Who is this man who’s able to do such a thing? To make the deaf hear and the mute speak?  And who am I that this man should have compassion on me to do this?  I did nothing, and I have nothing to give to repay!”  What incredible mercy, and what incredible compassion!

APPLICATION:
Incredible compassion.  On me!  One who is always so ready to cry out to the heavens, to rage against the powers that be for the unfairness of life.  Compassion on me, who if I’m honest, has never been truly compassionate to anyone in my life!  I’ve never had a thought that wasn’t self-centered or self-serving. Compassion on me, who by rights deserved to be left in silence.

What is his name?  What does the crowd keep saying?  Jeshua? Is that it?  Truly?  Doesn’t that mean He Saves?  What a fitting name, indeed the most beautiful name I’ve heard in my life!  A Savior with compassion.  A Savior who heals completely and with no cost.

Now I can hear and speak as surely as everyone in that crowd.  There were no foul herbal concoctions.  There was no speech training.  There was no therapy or sound tests.  I’ve been wholly and completely cured.  It’s as though I were never deaf, as though my tongue was never mute.  It’s like my hearing and tongue have been created new!  Who is this compassionate man, this Jeshua, who’s voice commands the elements, who’s name means He saves?

PART II – His Glory
And as Jesus and the now healed man return to the crowd and see their friend healed – they are elated!  They cry out again and again “He has done all things well!  He has done all things well!  He makes the deaf to hear and the mute to speak!”  And yet he keeps telling the crowd to quiet down!  Why?  They have rallied around him and they would make him king if they could by some means.  The more he tries to quite them, the more he implores them, the louder they become.

What a strange man this is, that now healed man must have thought!  He denies the adoration of a crowed?  Anyone else who had just performed such a wonder would no doubt be basking in the glory of the moment!

No doubt the news of Jesus, and the things he was capable of doing were flying around in that crowd, fueling their exuberance.  How elsewhere he had raised the dead, how he had cured other sick people, how the last time he was in that city he drove DEMONS from a man!  EVERYTHING THIS MAN DOES TURNS TO GOOD!  Everything obeys him, deafness, muteness, demons, even death itself obeys him!

Oh, but perhaps that’s the point!  A lesser man would’ve given in, a lesser man would’ve accepted the glory of the moment.  But the wonder that this Jesus just worked – this man with the voice of the creator God – Should it not have taught them that he was more than a feeble sinful man?

Were there not some in that crowd, the disciples, perhaps even the man who was healed who pondered the words of the crowd, “He has done all things well, he even makes the deaf to hear and the mute to speak!”  Why does that sound familiar?  Oh! Isn’t that the prophet Isaiah?  How does that whole section go?

“Be strong, do not fear;
your God will come,
he will come with vengeance;
with divine retribution
he will come to save you.”

Then will the eyes of the blind be opened
and the ears of the deaf unstopped.
Then will the lame leap like a deer,
and the mute tongue shout for joy.

APPLICATION
He came to save them, yes but he came to save you as well!  He came to put an end to all blindness, deafness, lameness, muteness, and EVERY effect of sin.  Every chain by which sin holds this world down was broken by him with a vengeance.  He comes to save.  He saves – that’s his name.  Jeshua, Jesus!

He didn’t come to revel in a moment’s glory, but to bring Glory to the Father in Heaven.  And he did that in a strange show of Glory, glory in weakness.  Jesus wanted those people in that crowd, that deaf and mute man now healed to see him in the light of that strange glory.  When the voice of the Creator God himself was rendered virtually mute by the screaming agony of the cross.  This is why Paul says in 1 Corinthians 2 “For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.”  Later in that section Paul calls Jesus the Lord of glory! He says, they crucified the Lord of Glory!”  They crucified the healer of the deaf, mute, lame, and demon possessed – the man with the voice of the creator!

So in those times when we’ve felt like that deaf-mute man – in our darkest hours in the where we ourselves have wanted to scream out to the heavens at the unfairness of life, or because of our own guilt, or because of some effect of sin. When the Devil says, “look at your life sinner!  If God loved you would he have allowed that cancer?  Would he have allowed that illness, would he have allowed that tragedy?”  Just remember, that Jesus is the Lord of glory.  No matter the ailment, disease, or cancer, or the effects of old age or even death – none of them can separate you from the Love of Jesus, none of them can invade your soul, they cannot conquer your faith because they can’t infect the eternal life – that perfect and complete healing – that was won for you by the Lord of Glory himself.

This is the great thing about this miracle, the healing of the deaf-mute man – that his healer, his Jesus is our Jesus.  Just as he healed that man back then, today he is the same Lord that has healed you!  Truly he has done all things well!  We can hear his compassionate voice, and we can take solace in his Glory – For He has done all things well. Amen.

Recognize your extraordinary Jesus

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7th Sunday after Pentecost
Mark 6:1-6

INTRODUCTION:
On paper, America is a Christian nation.  Statistics show that almost 70% of people in this country identify as a Christian of some denomination.  You know what is puzzling?  When asked about who Jesus was, and his life and the time that he spent on this earth only 30% of those “Christians” said that Jesus was sinless.  For the majority of people Jesus is an example to follow, he sets the bar for how to follow the golden rule.  They don’t want Jesus for any more than that, they don’t think they need Jesus for any more than that!

Familiarity with Christianity has bred complacency with Christianity.  Jesus is not just another ordinary religious leader to add rules to the rule book for us to follow.  The Jesus that we see in the Gospel is far from ordinary. The message that he brings is beyond what man-kind thinks he needs, or even wants. He is far beyond human expectations, or man-made pre-conceived notions of who he is.  This is what the Holy Spirit shows us today from the words of St. Mark.  Recognize your extraordinary Jesus.  By his preaching and by his person!


CONTEXT:
If we go back to Mark chapter five we see that Mark records some extraordinary miracles.  The first is the famous incident where he casts out a legion of demons and drives them into a herd of pigs.  Then he heals a woman who’d been ill for years.  Finally, he raises a little girl from the dead.  Actually it’s depicted on the stained glass window right over here.  Anyway, news of these extraordinary miracles spread like wild fire through the communities and surrounding areas.


PART 1 – BY HIS PREACHING

EXPOSITION
Then Jesus does something seemingly mundane.  He goes back to his home town, Nazareth.  As Mark says, “Jesus left there and went to his hometown, accompanied by his disciples.”  This gives a very human picture of our Savior.  He had a home town!  The eternal God has a home town!  No doubt he walked into town and was greeted by familiar faces.  He saw familiar stores, familiar sights, sounds and smells.  The places that he used to play when he was growing up.  Memories must have been flooding back to him with every step he took through that town.  This place was near and dear to his heart – especially, the synagogue.  The place where he himself, as a boy sat and listened to his Father’s voice.

Mark writes, “When the Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed.” We actually, at least in part, know what Jesus’ message to the residence of his home town was.  We learn from Luke’s gospel that he preached on words from the prophet Isaiah.  “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”   He then said that “Today these words are fulfilled in your hearing.”

What a bold statement!  What an authoritative statement, and extraordinary statement.  Jesus references the miracles that he’d been performing.  But he also comes right out and says that he’s the fulfillment of that prophecy.  He’s saying that he’s the Messiah, Immanuel, the Christ – God’s anointed one, great David’s greater son.  He has come to set the prisoner free, that he’s come to cancel every debt of sin.

His preaching had the people shaking their heads in amazement and disbelief.  Can you hardly blame them for asking, “where did this guy get this stuff?”  Indeed, Jesus message was extraordinary, astounding and backed up by miracles.  It left the people with their mouths hanging open.

APPLICATION
Quite honestly, doesn’t Jesus extraordinary message still leave people with their mouths hanging open today? Just as Jesus told the people of his home town that he was the fulfillment of all the Old Testament prophecy, so today in his word he tells us the same thing, that only he is the “Way and the truth and the life!”

I think that we usually assume that it’s the unbelievers who have trouble with this.  It doesn’t seem like they wrestle with that statement so much as just brush it off and say that Christians are nuts.  No, on the other hand I think it’s Christians who wrestle with those Words of Jesus, that he is the fulfillment of all prophecy, and that he ALONE is the way, truth, and life.  If that extraordinary message doesn’t shock you, if it doesn’t make your jaw go slack then something might be wrong, or you’re already dead and in heaven.

That message is extraordinary because when we ponder what it means our minds naturally drift to – What about all those people who have lead pretty good lives, maybe even exemplary lives – how can God send them to hell just because they ignored the narrow way?  If Jesus is the truth, then what about all those people who’ve not heard about the TRUTH?  Will they really be damned because they’ve not heard it?  If Jesus is the life – what about my life?  There are so many times when I wonder what God’s purpose for me is or I wonder when it is that God will just give me a break!

When we wrestle with Jesus’ extraordinary message we have a sinful nature that dogs us.  By nature we are people just like those in Nazareth who are still stuck on our own way, our own truth and focused on our own lives.

But that’s why Jesus came to preach it isn’t it.  Just as he loved and cared for the people of his home town of Nazareth – wonder of wonders – Jesus has also made his home (Here and here /head and heart).  That’s why we have that custom in the Lutheran church at baptisms!  He comes to us in his Word and Sacraments again and again he preaches the truly extraordinary nature of that message. That just like the people in his home town – He knows you.  You are familiar to him and he came here to this earth for you.  And he wants us to hear that extraordinary message of forgiveness of sins.  And that means knowing Jesus for who he is being familiar with him – growing in your knowledge of who he is every day.

What makes his message extraordinary is the extraordinary nature of who Jesus is.


PART II – BY HIS PERSON

EXPOSITION
That is what the people of Nazareth just had a difficult time seeing. They heard these extraordinary Words of Jesus preached in the very synagogue that he grew up in and instead of honoring him.  Instead of having ears to hear him – they were blinded by their familiarity with him.  They said, “Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him.”

Do you hear the challenge present in those words?  “Prove to US Jesus that you are more than Mary’s son!  Prove to us that you’re more than a carpenter!”

They challenge Jesus because they think that they know everything there is to know about him already.  To them there was nothing extraordinary – nothing special – nothing divine.  He was the little kid who ran through the streets playing with the other children.  He was the boy who helped his father in the carpenter’s shop.  He, himself had perhaps made some of the tables or chairs in their homes. They couldn’t possibly understand how Jesus could be Messiah.  And Jesus knew that no miracle would prove that to them, it would only serve to confuse them more.

Jesus was not the bread king, the political leader they were looking for.  The extraordinarily humble nature of who Jesus was, was beyond their understanding.  That he really was the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecies – the messiah, the lamb with out blemish or defect.  So, they did the natural thing that people do when they can’t believe, or are blinded by familiarity – they ridicule it, challenge it, ignore it.  Mark records that Jesus was astonished at their lack of faith, at their lack of trust in God to fulfill his promises.

Yet what does he do?  He doesn’t go miracle happy changing water into wine again, turning stones into bread or whatever – in some attempt to say look at me look what I can do!!!.  No the last part of the last verse of this text for today says this, “Then Jesus went around teaching from village to village.”

APPLICATION
He wanted them all, just as he wants us to see our extraordinary need for him.

Let’s go back to that statistic I mentioned in the introduction – 70% of people who call themselves Christian struggle with the idea that Jesus was perfect.

Do you struggle with that?  He was perfect.  He never sinned, not once, not even a little white lie.  He never doubted God’s love. He never doubted God’s plan.  He never had a lustful thought. He kept the 10 commandments perfectly.

For us, we can’t go five minutes without breaking half the commandments.  The occasional white lie, the dirty joke, the lustful thought – it’s all in a day’s work!  It’s normal, it’s familiar, it’s even comfortable.

What’s crazy is that we often don’t think that it’s all that bad – hardly worth repenting over.  But the old adage is true – “The more you know about your savior, the more you know about your sin.”

When we learn about the extraordinary person of Jesus – we have to take the complacent little voice in our head that says that “I’m not that bad” and throw it at the foot of the cross and make it look at the price that was paid for our sinfulness.

Just as Jesus went from town to town to teach people their great need for him.  He does the same for us! Christians continually learn, and study Scripture to hear the voice of their extraordinary Jesus.  He teaches us those extraordinary truths about who he is.  And what he did on our behalf to overcome the world.  How he as a man, a man with flesh and blood and a home town, faced down every temptation – for earthly power, earthly glory, popularity, anger and hatred and lust – and he over came them.  Because “I” can’t, because “you” can’t.


CONCLUSION
Earlier we sang this – God’s own child, I gladly say it: I am baptized into Christ! He, because I could not pay it, gave my full redemption price. Do I need earth’s treasures many?  I have one worth more than any – That brought me salvation free, Lasting to eternity!  Brother’s and sisters what an extraordinary message, Recognize your extraordinary Jesus.  Amen.

7 Words from the Cross

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Good Friday 2018
Selected Texts

Luke 23:34 This is a word of forgiveness.

I want you to think of someone who has wronged you. What they did was not right, what they did was hurtful, what they did was inexcusable. They shouldn’t have done what they did, but they did and now you’re hurt. So what do you do? Make them pay? Make them grovel? Make them feel at least some of the pain they made you feel? Hold it over their head?

Do you see what Jesus is doing here? He’s being ruthlessly nailed to the cross. And to the people who are doing it, to the people who knew that they were being terribly cruel, who knew that they were committing a terrible injustice, who knew that what they were doing was wrong, what does Jesus ask? Jesus asks that God forgive them. That their sins would be washed away and that they would one day enjoy through faith eternal life in heaven. That’s God’s forgiveness! And that’s His forgiveness for you.

You see, no matter what horrible things someone has done to us, it’s not even a blip or a speck compared with what you and I have done to our God. We’re the reason he’s here, we’re the reason he’s suffering. And what has he done? Forgiven you. Forgiven me. Wants nothing less than heaven for you and me. How can we not forgive from the heart? How can we not let go of that which will eat us up and kill us from the inside if we don’t? How can we not want heaven for others as Jesus does for us? Because we’ve been forgiven, we can forgive others fully and freely.

Luke 23:43 This is a word of grace.

I’ve had my fair share of driving through blizzards, snow storms and icy roads. It’s not the most enjoyable, in fact, the older I get, the more responsibility I have, the more cautious I am when driving. Have you ever had a terrible trip somewhere but in the end said, “Well, all that matters is that I got there safely, I arrived, I reached the goal.”

Here’s a thief, his trip through life was awful. He did terrible things. He lost his way. In fact, he became the scum of the earth, the worst of the worst, no one wanted him, all people wanted was to rid the earth of him, so now he’s in excruciating pain and at the lowest point in his life and what does he do? He looks in hope and faith to Jesus and says, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” He trusts in Jesus as His King and Savior. And what does Jesus tell him? “Today you will be with me in paradise.”

We might want an easy, pain-free life. But God knows that it’s so often in pain and difficulty and challenge when we look to him. Life is only temporary. The things of this life will all pass away. So whether you have a pain-free or pain-filled life, in the end what really matters is where you end up in the end. So we pray, “Jesus remember me.” And because Jesus died on the cross to pay for every sin, he looks at you and says, “I tell you the truth, you will be with me in paradise.” Amen.

John 19:26-27 This is a word of personal care.

So try to put yourselves in Jesus’ position at this moment. Yes, it’s impossible, but just think. The terrible physical pain he is in, the emotional pain of the worst kind of rejection, the spiritual pain of suffering the sins of the world. And in the midst of all that, what does Jesus take time to do? Make sure that his mom’s physical needs are taken care of.

That tells us something about Jesus. He cares. He cares for all of you. No, he doesn’t promise you a healthy, wealthy, and wise life, but he does promise to care for you. He will do what we need him to do. If he was willing to die for you and me, do you think he’ll be willing to get us through tomorrow? Do you think he will take care of that thing you fret about? Or that thing that keeps you up at night? Jesus not only died for you, but He cares for you. Amen.

Mark 15:34 This is a word of horror.

From noon to three the sky went black. Can you imagine? It went dark. Why? What happened on the earth was really a picture of what was happening deep within Jesus. The price of our sins is hell and when Jesus screams out “My God, my God why have your forsaken me?” He’s suffering hell.

Hell is described often in the Bible as the outer darkness, separation from the blessings of God. It’s eternal suffering. Now we might look at this and think, “Ok, well, Jesus just had to get through 3 hours of hell.” There’s no such thing as 3 hours of hell. You see, hell is eternal. And we can’t think in terms of eternity. The reason Jesus yelled out a terrorized scream was because he was suffering hell, he was literally suffering the ETERNAL suffering of hell, the combined total accumulation of hells that every person deserves.

He was in hell for you and for me. His punishment brought us peace. Because he was there, you never will be, you will never experience it, thank God for this word of horror. Amen.

John 19:28 – This is a word of fulfillment

Jesus was thirsty. The prophet David in Psalm 22 foretold that the Messiah’s strength would be dried up like a piece of pottery, his tongue stuck to the roof of his mouth. And so, in order to fulfill Scripture Jesus said, “My tongue is sticking to the roof of my mouth” “I’m thirsty”

Why would we be told this? I mean, with everything that’s going on, with everything that Jesus is suffering, why say he’s thirsty? What’s the big deal? It fulfilled Scripture. Over 1,000 years before it happened God had it prophesied that Jesus would be thirsty. Think about that- the most terrible and most tragic and most injust thing to ever happen in the world was happening and yet…there was a plan, God had already designed every thing. Do you think your life is out of control? It’s not out of God’s control. If God was in control then, he is certainly in control today.

John 19:30 – This is a word of full payment.

This word in the Greek is one little word “tetelesthai.”  It’s a word that could literally be translated “Paid in Full.”  What was paid in full?  Your sins, my sins, the sins of the world, paid in full.

Satan loves to accuse.  He loves to point the finger and say, “Look at all the horrible things you’ve done.  Look at all the horrible words you’ve spoken.  Look at your horrible mind full of anger, greed, lust, selfishness…do you really think you’ll end up in heaven?”

We get to respond with “it is finished” “paid in full.”  It may be little in length, but its huge in impact.  Nothing less than the FULL payment for ALL of the sin of ALL of the world.  And if the sins of ALL the world have been paid for, then your sins have been paid for.  In full.  It’s true now; it’s true forever!

Luke 23:46 – This is a word of peace.

Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death. That moment you will have to face if Jesus doesn’t return sooner: death. Frightening, if we were unsure about what came next. But for us its just a sleep. We know what Jesus did to death. So that we might have peace at our last moment Jesus spoke these words at his last moment. He didn’t need to speak. He could have whispered. No. He spoke to be heard. We’re told Jesus called out in a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.”

Why a loud voice? Why shout? Because He wanted us to know what He’s done to death. At your last hour, when the devil tries to point his bony little finger, tries to convince you that Jesus didn’t do enough for you, tries to convince you that Jesus didn’t pay all your sins, tries to insert a little doubt, remember Jesus’ words- spoken with a loud voice.

He suffered hell, he completed the full payment for all sins, he knew that paradise awaited him. And so that you might assured at your dying breath that heaven is your home, he called out in a loud voice, “Father into your hands I commit my spirit.”

 

Celebrate Your King!

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Palm Sunday – Confirmation
Mark 11:1-10

Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest! Amen. In the name of Jesus who rode into Jerusalem to save us, dear friends in Christ, we all have certain days in our lives that stick out, that we remember, and perhaps remember our entire lives. Maybe it was being on the winning team of some sport, maybe it was when we got married, or maybe it was when our child was born, or when we graduated from school, or a special family reunion, or maybe you remember your own confirmation day – like this day is for Paige and Delenna. We all have certain days etched into our minds that we remember perhaps our whole lives. And usually these days revolve around something special, something that we’re celebrating.

In our text here for Palm Sunday we see a celebration. On Sunday of Holy Week Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a colt. This is Passover time at Jerusalem so hundreds of thousands of people came to the city of Jerusalem. And what does Jesus do? He has two of his disciples go and get a colt and not just any colt but one that had never been ridden before. They bring this colt to Jesus, put their cloaks on it and Jesus gets on and starts riding toward Jerusalem. And how do people respond? They lay their cloaks down before, take palm branches and place them on the road, it’s an incredible act of honor and submission. And their singing his praises, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!”

What are they saying? Their praising Jesus as their Lord and Messiah. They’re worshipping Him as the King. They’re celebrating the one who has come to save them. And what does Jesus do? He accepts it. He accepts their praise. It’s proper that they are worshipping Him as the Messiah. It’s proper for them to shout “Hosanna!” Which means save us.

But what kind of a Savior were they looking for? Now, of course, we don’t know what was going through their minds, we don’t know what they were thinking as they shouted “Hosanna!” But what do we know? We do know that many people were looking for an earthly king, an earthly Savior, we do know that when Jesus had fed over 5,000 people, they wanted to make him king by force, we do know that even the disciples thought they could sit at Jesus’ right and left in his kingdom. We do know that by the end of the week many are no longer shouting Hosanna, but crucify. So what kind of a Savior did they want?

What kind of a Savior do you want? Can we be just as earthly focused? Just as focused on having a wonderful easy, care-free life here on earth? Is it easy for us to celebrate and sing God’s praises when things go well, but have no reason to praise him with things aren’t going well for us?

Today, of course, is confirmation Sunday. All adult members of our congregation have made the same vow or promise to God- that we will remain faithful to God and to His Word, ready to forsake everything -even our very lives rather than turn our back on God. And we have these choices every day- give in to sin and temptation or honor God. And whenever we fail, whenever we give in to sin, we’re exchanging the heavenly and eternal for the temporary and the earthly- we’re looking for what we perceive as an easy earthly life at the expense of our eternal lives. How we’ve failed! How much we need Jesus to ride into Jerusalem.

And that’s exactly what Jesus did. They shouted Hosanna! And that’s what Jesus came to do. Jesus rode into Jerusalem, humbly, gently, graciously and lovingly, to do what? He knew where He was headed. The was headed to the cross, he was headed to suffer the world’s sum of hells, all in order to save you and me for eternal life!

So, yes, we celebrate. We may celebrate all kinds of things in life, but this is something we celebrate all the time. For at the end of our lives everything will become so much clearer. At the end of your life, when you’re about to leave this world, you’ll be able to see all of life for what it really is and what really matters. At the end of your life, what are you going to be celebrating? Will you really be celebrating a sports team win? Will you really celebrate a promotion at work? Will you really be celebrating any earthly life achievement? No. Instead you’ll see those things for what they really are- temporary earthly things.

But what will you celebrate? You’ll celebrate the fact that you have a King, a Savior who rode into Jerusalem humbly, gently, graciously in order to save you eternally.