It’s Not the Miracles, Sermon 020815



It’s Not the Miracles

Mark 1.29-39


Grace mercy and peace from God our father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Jesus is Lord! I know what you are probably thinking, “wow Vicar, you’re three quarters of the way to a Master’s degree in Divinity, and you figured that out!” No, I didn’t just figure that out, my point is to contrast Jesus with us. The bible tells us that he was 100% God and 100% man. He looked like us, talked like us and slept like us. One thing that he didn’t do that we do is he didn’t sin. We are sinful creatures; we sin every day. We break God’s laws. We talk unkindly about that one woman at work; you know the one, the one that is a little different. When the train stops you on the way to work and makes you late, you say things that you wouldn’t say if Jesus was sitting in the car. Alternatively, you are very jealous of your neighbor’s new car. Jesus didn’t have any of these frailties, he was sinless. Other than not sinning, what else tells us that he is God? What are some attributes of God? One would be command over the forces of nature, after all God created everything. Next, would be being able to bring people back to life, thus showing power over life. In addition, healing, the ability to be able to change the course of disease. These are some of the qualities that show us the divinity of Christ. He showed us these characteristics when he did the miracles.

The first recorded miracle of Christ is turning water into wine. In the book of John it is documented for us, His mother comes to Him at a wedding and informs Him there is no more wine. It says in John, “Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. And he said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast.”The steward of the banquet didn’t know where the wine came from; he tried it and was amazed. He thought that the wine was the good wine, which is usually served at the beginning of the banquet. Then there is the feeding of the 5000. Jesus is preaching a remote place and there were 5000 men plus women and children that needed to be fed. The disciples could only come up with five loaves of bread and two fish. With those meager provisions, Jesus fed all the people there; and then there was some left over. There were twelve baskets, more than they started with left over. In these two miracles, Jesus defiantly shows that he has power over the material world.

Jesus brought the dead back to life. There is the account of Jairus’ daughter. Jarius was one of the rulers of the synagogue, his daughter was dying, and he came to Christ for help. Jesus headed to his house and after a brief interlude, he made to the house of Jairus. When Jesus got there they were told to forget it, the girl was dead. Jesus said, ““Why are you making a commotion and weeping? The child is not dead but asleep.” But they laughed at him”. He went into the girl’s room, took the girl by the hand and said,“Talitha koum!” (Which means “Little girl, I say to you, get up!”). Immediately the girl got up and began walking (she was twelve years old)”. Then there is Jesus raising His friend Lazarus from the dead. Word was sent to Christ that Lazarus was dying, Jesus took His time getting there. When Jesus finally arrived, Lazarus was dead; he had been dead four days. In the Jewish culture, you were good and dead after four days. After four days in the ground, his flesh would start to decompose and he would start to stink. Jesus has them roll away the stone that was covering Lazarus’ grave. Jesus prays that Lazarus will be raised so that the people can see the power of God. As John records for us, “Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.” Jesus shows his power over even death, the thing that scares people the most.

Then there is the healing of those with disease; Jesus healed lepers. Lepers were the “uncleanness” of the “unclean”. Because leprosy was such a contagious skin disease, nobody could touch them for fear of being contaminated. When people were afflicted with this disease, they would walk into town yelling “unclean”, so people would know they were coming. If they needed to purchase anything from the store, they throw their money to the clerk and the clerk would throw the items to them.  Jesus not only healed them, but he also touched them. In Mark 1.40-41 it says, “And a leper[a] came to him, imploring him, and kneeling said to him, “If you will, you can make me clean. [Jesus] moved with pity, he stretched out his hand and touched him and said to him, “I will; be clean.” And immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean”.

            Now, we come to the healing of the mother-in-law of Peter, our gospel reading. It says, “And immediately he left the synagogue and entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Now Simon’s mother-in-law lay ill with a fever, and immediately they told him about her. And he came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and the fever left her, and she began to serve them”. Sorry guys, this is not a Biblical mandate that our mother in laws are to serve us, she was just returning to her vocation. Just the touch of the Lord cures the fever of Peter’s mother-in-law. Then that evening more people came with sickness to be cured.

The gospel reading goes on to tell us how many sick people and those that were demon possessed showed up at Peter’s house. The text says, “That evening at sundown they brought to him all who were sick or oppressed by demons”. They would come in the evening because, often ailments increase in severity in the evening. Anyone that has had sick child knows how that happens. The other reason is because it was the Sabbath and the Jews were limited as to how far they could walk on the Sabbath during daylight. On the evening of the Sabbath the Jews would celebrate the Havadalah. The Havdalah was a celebration of God being the creator of the universe. Jesus curing all the sick people, was a type of creation; going from disorder to order. In verse 33 we read, “And the whole city was gathered together at the door”; but were they coming for the right reasons? Were these people coming for salvation or just to be cured of their earthly diseases?

Jesus gets up early in the morning and goes out to pray. It is like if you get up before everyone else in the house and you have a few minutes to sit and peace, think, and pray. When the others finally find him Jesus says, “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out.” A few months ago, there was an article written by a French Soldier in Afghanistan; the point of the article was how the American soldiers fight. In it, he was talking about what armies from other countries do when the leader is killed in action. He writes, “This, in fact, is the basic philosophy of both British and Continental soldiers. ‘In the absence of orders, take a defensive position.’ Indeed, virtually every army in the world. The American soldier and Marine, however, are imbued from early in their training with the ethos: In the Absence of Orders: Attack! Where other forces, for good or ill, will wait for precise orders and plans to respond to an attack or any other ‘incident’, the American force will simply go, counting on firepower and SOP(standard operating procedure) to carry the day”. Isn’t that what Jesus was telling His disciples? While He was in Capernaum, he was safe, but He wanted to go on to other towns that my not accept His message that much. Jesus just wanted to go on the attack, He wanted to drive the devil out and bring salvation to as many people as possible. His method for doing that was not through miracles, but it was through proclamation.

Jesus says He came here to proclaim. He loved people, that’s why he did healing miracles, but he had the long view, He wanted to save them forever. That is the purpose of the church that He set up, proclamation. He did miracles because he had compassion on people and that proved He was God; but it is what He said that saved them. He didn’t come to ignore sins or say that they are not that bad, no. He came to pay the price for them. In the book of Matthew a group of scribes and Pharisees asked him for a sign, Jesus said, “The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here”. Jonah had no miracles to offer, it was the preaching of God’s word. When Jesus was in the upper room after His resurrection and Thomas saw the nail hole in His hands and the cut in His side. Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”Jesus is talking about us, and proclamation. Thomas saw the miracle of the resurrected Christ; we hear it proclaimed. God’s word, this bible is power.

Why are you here? I have had a few conversations with Pastor Hendrickson, not once did he mention doing any miracles. I haven’t heard anyone talk about him doing miracles. I haven’t done any miracles.You are here because of Christ best weapon for His attack on eternal death, proclamation.His word is preached here, that’s why you come, because His word does have power.

Now as you all know we are in the call process for a new pastor here at St. Peter’s. One attributes that many people here have told me they would like to see in the new pastor is evangelism. I completely agree, that is a very important quality for the new pastor here; but you don’t have to wait for him. You can start evangelism right now. Evangelism is merely proclaiming the truths of Christ. I am not suggesting that you fill the trunk of your car with bibles and go around handing them out (it wouldn’t be wrong to do that). I am talking about things that are easier and less stressful. If you see someone at church that you don’t know, introduce yourself. If you see a visitorhaving trouble following the service (even if they’re a few rows away) help them. If your neighbor that doesn’t even go to church comes to you with a problem, offer to pray with him. If there is someone at work that says, he has too many sins to go to church, explain to him that the church is the hospital for broken souls. The church is the place that souls are repaired. What I am saying is do what Paul says in our epistle and what Jesus did in our gospel, proclaim the love and forgiveness of Christ. Let people know that we worship a God that cares about each individual their worldly needs and where they are going to spend eternity.

In the name of the one that came to proclaim salvation. Amen.