Damariscotta Baptist Church
Friday, July 20, 2018
Growing personal relationships with God and community

07/27/14 Sermon - Grace Abounds

GRACE ABOUNDS

Mark 1:29-39

 

We are back reading the first chapter of the book of Mark,

and if we look at the how this section begins,
 
“As soon as they left the synagogue”
 
we are reminded of Mark’s use of the Greek word

(kai euthus) which is generally translated “immediately”.

 

No sooner had Jesus removed the demonic spirit from the

man in the synagogue, then we have Jesus going immediately to Simon & Andrew’s home,

 

to perform another miracle.

 

Mark begins his story of Jesus with Jesus performing miracles, immediately, left and right!

 

While reading over this section of Mark this week, a question occurred to me that I would like for you to keep in the back of your mind, as we look over the miracles Gail read today from the book of Mark.

 

Is Jesus simply “curing” the physically sick and the mentally disturbed? Or is there more to it than that?

 

If the answer is “yes” than why would a ministry of compassion cause the local authorities to get so bent out of shape?

 
 

What I mean, is, when you read the account of what is happening, Jesus starts his ministry with a “bang” right out of the gate, miraculously healing people. As soon as the word gets out, everyone and his brother wants to be healed. It looks like Jesus is a miracle worker – which He is – but is that ALL He came to do?

 

As you ponder that question, I am going to ask you to again, step out of 21st Century America and try to go back to the culture and the surroundings of 1st Century, Capernaum.

 

As I talk about what Mark has written, I want you to do your best to put yourself back in the Middle East, in the city of Capernaum at the time Jesus was there.

 

You may recall, Capernaum is located at the northern edge of the Sea of Galilee, and the amenities we take for granted, such as running water, electricity, grocery stores and vehicles, do not exist.

 

The types of relationships we have between males and females, adults and children are also quite different.

 

It is safe to say, it would have looked drastically different and life for each of us would have been completely different.

 

Were we there today, I dare say, there would be no women sitting in the pews. Only men would have seen what happened in the synagogue with Jesus talking with the demon.

 

However, women immediately would have been part of the picture when Jesus and his four followers entered Simon & Andrew’s home.

 

You see, rituals of the day were not only prevalent in the synagogue; there were distinct rituals that “good” Jewish people did and did not do, for all parts of life.

 

One of these rituals would have been that a rabbi, or teacher, which Jesus would have been called, did not take the hand of a woman, especially not the hand of a woman who was not a member of the healer’s family. 

 

And yet we read, that as soon as Simon told Jesus that his mother-in-law was sick, Jesus went to her, took her hand and helped her up.

 
Ritual number one, broken.
 
Oops, ritual number two broken.
 

Not only would a rabbi not touch the hand of a women who was not in his family, he certainly would not touch the hand of anyone who was sick.

 
To top it all off,
 
Ritual number three broken,
 

Jesus did these things on the Sabbath day, the official day of rest.

 
Three strikes, He’s out!
 
Jesus was performing social offenses, left and right.
 

And if he proclaimed to be God, shouldn’t He of all people be aware of the rules He was breaking?

 

We will notice, that Jesus does not see the touch of a woman, even a sick woman, as any more defiling than the touch of a man with a skin disease. The rules don’t seem to pertain to Jesus. This could have been quite confusing then, and just as confusing today.

 

It is important to note, Jesus doesn’t only heal her physical sickness, He also restores her to her proper position in domestic society.

 

She was the matriarch of her household. Hospitality shown to important quests was one of her main responsibilities. This was a matter of honor, not necessarily servitude.

 

Just think about how it works for us today, if there is a special dinner planned at your house, and there is a woman organizing it, not many are allowed in near the kitchen without her consent.

 
This is represented by the need to ask the question,
 
“Is there anything I can do to help?”
 

This leads me to think that the healing Jesus managed to perform was not simply a physical healing, but also a social healing, a restoration of people back into community.

 
 

Well, it didn’t take long for the news to spread. By evening, or sunset, which would have officially ended Sabbath, and begun a new day, Mark records “the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed. The whole town gathered at the door!”

 

Okay, have you noticed, we have Jesus “healing and restoring” sick and demon possessed people and not once have we heard anything about anyone having “faith”. This causes me to ask,

 
What is the relationship between faith and healing?

It appears that faith does not seem to be a requirement for healing.

 

What is mentioned and seems to be a requirement for healing, is the presence and power of Jesus.

 

As I read this, and after reading many commentaries, I am aware that the people who are coming to Jesus for healing are not doing so, because they have faith in Him as the Messiah. They are coming for relief from physical ailments.

 

I suspect, the people heard of an amazing miracle worker, and decided to check it out and see if it was true. They were seeking a temporary respite from their woes. I don’t think they saw Jesus breaking through with the “new world”, with the Kingdom of God coming near.

 

But if we go back to why Jesus came, which he claimed in verse 15,

 

“The time has come, the Kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!

I think it is important for us to comprehend the misunderstanding between where Jesus is coming from and where the people are coming from. Perhaps Jesus understood completely how far the people were from realizing the nearness of Kingdom of God and the need to repent, or maybe Jesus’ human side was starting to get in the way and being human He was starting to think, “Wow, I’m doing a great thing here, this healing business is making me look great, and in order for Jesus to get re-centered and continue on the mission God gave Him, He needed some time alone with God.

 
Whatever the reason,
 

The next thing Mark records Jesus having to go out, early in the morning, before the sun comes up, to find a place to be alone with God and talk to Him about it.

I think Jesus knew that as soon as the sun came up, there would be even more people at the door wishing to be healed. If he could get away before they arrived he could find a quiet time with His Father.

 

I am going to put in a plug here for the concept of time alone with God and not necessarily the time of day. I have spent a great deal of my life in evangelical circles and it has become a mantra that in order to have a deep personal relationship with God, one is required to get up, early in the morning, and have a “quiet time” with just you and God. This verse has been used to back up that ritual.

 
Again with the rituals.
 

I think it is important to realize actually what the meaning is behind the ritual.

Mark says Jesus prayed during this time.
 

Time away with just you and God. Time away from the crowds. Time to reflect, build up, discuss, or just be, with God.

 

When I was single, and because I am a morning person, I used to wake up a couple hours before I needed to be anywhere and sit down with my coffee and Bible and enjoyed time alone with God.

 

The delivery of two children changed not only my internal clock, but took over any quiet time in the morning. I must admit, it took me a long time to get over the guilt I carried because I wasn’t able to continue having “quiet time” at the “right” time of day.

 

But by God’s grace I can let you know, I am no longer limited by what the evangelical’s say is the “best” time, but have focused on the purpose,

 
finding time with God, alone.
 

I encourage you to follow Jesus’ example of finding a time with God when you can be alone with him. Especially when things happen that are misunderstood or you need to be built up and encouraged.

 

Regardless of the time of day it is, whatever time works for you and your situation.

 

Be sure you find time, and note, Mark doesn’t give us the detail of just “how long” Jesus spent, but just that he found time.

So Jesus is in a solitary place and Simon and his companions find him. Then we have the first dispute between Jesus and his disciples.

 

The disciples tell Jesus that everyone is looking for him. I suspect they saw him as being successful, so he should go back to Capernaum and continue healing.

 

Jesus says he is supposed to move ahead and go to new areas. Jesus did not come to keep the gospel hidden in Capernaum, but to spread the gospel throughout Galilee, Judea and eventually the whole world.

 

Which takes me back to the question I proposed at the beginning.

 

At this point the disciples are probably thinking, we are with the right guy. Did you see all the people he healed last night? We keep this up and we are going to be famous and powerful.

 
However, hind sight is often 20/20.
 

On the surface, the acts of healing people and driving out demons and doing the miraculous cannot be the sole purpose the religious of His day were out to execute Jesus.

 

Jesus was threatening their way of thinking, their way of worship, their cultural stereotypes, their understanding of religious purity.

 

The religious rulers of the day had placed themselves as the “God police”. The ones called on to “protect God and His holy rituals”.

As I spent time this week thinking about the idea of me or you having the ability to “protect God’s anything” it seemed ridiculous.

 

And then I began thinking, “Exactly what are God’s rituals for worship? What would God want me to protect if I could?”

 

I am open for discussion on this question, but for now, the only answer I have come up with comes from

 
Micah 6:8

“He has shown you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

 

For some reason, the Jewish leaders felt it was their responsibility to spell out, in great detail, all the ways God’s chosen people were to look, and what they should do, and how they should do it, while fulfilling Micah 6:8.

 

I am not so certain we have changed much in the 21st Century. Are there certain things Christians are supposed to do and not do in order to “look like and be a ‘good’ Christian”?

 

I remember having a conversation with a church member once who declared “any good Republican Christian would never vote for that”. It made me think, I wasn’t sure the adjectives, “good” and “republican” were synonymous with Christian.

 

Each of us sitting here today has our picture of what we think an “ideal” Christian is and what the ideal worship service should look like.

 

And if I were to interview 10 of you, I would probably come away with 10 different description of a Christian and 10 different scenarios for what worship should look like. Oh, there would be some similarities but I don’t think they would be exactly the same.

 

Our view of what a worship service should have and be like is usually based on what we enjoy and on what we think should be part of the worship service to produce an atmosphere where we feel comfortable and “enjoy” coming to church.

 
All this being said, where does that leave us today?
 
Today’s Scripture presented three different events:
 

1)      Jesus Healing Peter’s Mother-in-Law

2)      Jesus Healing Many People

3)      Jesus Withdrawing and Departing Capernaum

 

I think our church, our community and our world today is in, as much need of healing,

as Capernaum and Judea were in Jesus’ day.
 

Even when Jesus was on Earth, He did not heal everyone. This leads me to think that it wasn’t the healing that Jesus came to proclaim.

 
It brings me back to verse 15,
 

“The time has come, the Kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!”

 

This is where grace abounds. Christ came to share that regardless of who we are, or what we have done, the Kingdom of God is near, and it is our responsibility to continue sharing this evidence of grace today.

 

However, I think we at Damariscotta Baptist Church are a lot like the disciples when they finally found Jesus during his quiet time. We have seen Jesus’ miracles in our lives and the lives of those in our church and we believe He can make a difference in our lives, but we are comfortable with Jesus staying right here and doing what we have always done.

 

But, Jesus is telling us, just like He did His disciples,

“Let us go somewhere else – to the nearby villages – so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.”

Jesus wants us to go with Him to the people outside our church.

 
I hope everyone here agrees with that last statement.
 

However, I think there may be some roadblocks that keep us from acting on it.

 

Here are a few I came up with and I am sure there may be some others you may have.

 
Roadblock #1
 

Centering on our own church is safe and has become comfortable, vs. centering on the unchurched, dechurched or unbelievers, can be scary. 

Roadblock #2
 

Venturing out into the unknown means we will need to become vulnerable. It takes us into unsafe places where we may not be able to answer all the questions correctly or behave like we think we should.

 
Or maybe Roadblock #3 is
 

We are stuck, continuing to do the same old things because they have been comfortable, even if they are no longer appropriate or no longer effective.

 

Mark uses the Greek word aphiemi, which is translated leaves, when the fishermen leave their work to follow Jesus, and the fever leaves Peter’s mother-in-law.

 

Aphiemi can also be translated “allow”, when Jesus does not allow the demons to speak when he sends them out of people.

 

This word denotes a drastic change from what was before,

 
to the present.
 

It is a “letting go” of something in order to move on….

 

Whether that is a person leaving or letting go of a family or jobs

 
Or sickness or sins leaving a person.
 
They have been left behind.
 

So what do you need to aphiemi

 

in order to “let go” of what is holding you back from reaching outside of your comfort zone and telling the people around you that the Kingdom is near and we need to repent and believe the good news?

 

What do we need to do as a church to aphiemi and “let go” so we can take the good news we believe and reach out to our community to the unchurched, dechurched or unbelivers?

 

Maybe there are some things, inside our church, we need to “let go” so others will feel more comfortable to come here and worship with us?

 
I have my answers to these questions, how about you?
 

I know the Holy Spirit is doing great things here at Damariscotta Baptist Church, I’ve seen them happen.

 

I believe if we are willing to “let go” of the things that hinder us and we are open to what God wants to do with us, we will only be amazed at what more He has in store for us.

 

Like those who saw Jesus heal the sick, give sight to the blind, and cast out the demons.

 

Jesus was demonstrating what it is like to have the Kingdom of God be near.

 
 

Let’s not keep this to ourselves. You each have a God story, a story of when God has been a part of your life. A place and time where the Kingdom of God has entered your life space and made a difference.

 
Well, I am asking you to find someone and
sometime this week …………….share it.
 

Follow Jesus’ example, simply share what you know. I did not say, share what Jesus knows, I said, “Share what you know.”

 

It may mean stepping out of your comfort zone, but just a bit. And if you ask God for courage to share what Jesus has done in your life or how you have seen God work in others lives, I am sure it will be given.

 

Be assured, you are not responsible for how the person responds to your story.

 

You are just called to go out to world and share God’s grace,

 
And may it abound.
 
Let’s pray ………………..