Bob's Sermon for Sunday, February 18, 2017

 

Please note: Robert’s Sermon series are copyrighted. They may not be reproduced in whole, or in part, without express written permission. A single copy may, however, be downloaded expressly for personal use.

                                  

 

 

“One day in Jesus’ life”

 

Mark 1:29-39 NIV

 

(Mark 1:29) “As soon as they left the synagogue, they went with James and John to the home of Simon and Andrew.

    (30) Simon's (Peter’s) mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told Jesus about her. (31) So he went to her, took her hand and helped her up. The fever left her and she began to wait on them.

    (32) That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed. (33) The whole town gathered at the door, (34) and Jesus healed many who had various diseases. He also drove out many demons, but he would not let the demons speak because they knew who he was.

   (35) Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.

    (36) Simon and his companions went to look for him, (37) and when they found him, they exclaimed: ‘Everyone is looking for you!’ (38) Jesus replied, ‘Let us go somewhere else--to the nearby villages--so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.’

    (39) So he traveled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons.”

 

     Wherever you are today, wherever you go, someone tries to sell you something. Or someone wants something from you. In Jesus’ day, it was like that, too. “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. “Simon and his companions went to look for him, (37) and when they found him, they exclaimed: ‘Everyone is looking for you!’ The Apostles sound testy and bossy, don’t they? “Where have you been, Jesus? We’ve looked everywhere for you!” 

 

     Nearly all of those people looking for Jesus wanted something from him. If so many folks needed their teacher, that made the apostles important, didn’t it? Especially Peter, James, and John; Jesus’ inner circle. Feeling special was high on their bucket lists. All the Twelve argued sharply about who was the most important, say the gospels.[1] Feeling foremost was not their only concern. When people brought little kids to have Jesus bless them, the “twelve” were jealously protective: “He’s too busy to bother with babies!”[2] 

        

     People continually asked, requested, and begged things from their teacher-boss. Jesus dealt with those interruptions. He also had to deal with officious apostles. We can identify with Jesus wanting some quiet. Today it can be hard to escape those wanting something from us. A computer pro showed me how to find a site where I can download Scripture from numerous translations—free. 

 

     I should not complain but usually I have to deal with a popup ad before I can access it. Lately there are popups behind the popup. Side bars try to sell me sermons and church supplies. “Sermon prep made easy: just use my sermon for a fee.” Hardly any of the sermons listed rates higher than three out of five stars. Google, EBay, and Amazon track your buying and fill your screen or iPad with nonstop ads.

 

     Donate to a charity, and within weeks a dozen other charities beg for money. On many days, 90% of our postal mail is from organizations that have somehow obtained our name and address. A few years ago, I sent a book submission to a religious publisher based in Kansas City, MO. They replied and used the right zip code for Cleghorn, but they addressed it to Plague Horn, IA.That publisher must have shared or sold my address to others; for many moons, I received junk mail in care of Robert Blair, Plague Horn, IA.Norma currently receives numerous ads addressed to “Normina” Blair.

 

     Life is demanding, filled with folks wanting things, but I think it was for Jesus. People constantly banged at his door: “(32) That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed. (33) The whole town gathered at the door, (34) and Jesus healed many who had various diseases. He also drove out many demons . . .” They requested, asked, and begged, but few seemed to get their immediate wants. They were so preoccupied with desires they didn’t see their greatest need.

              

     Today’s text should stop us in our tracks.

  

     In our daily info-overload, do we neglect this same need? All of us must confront this truth. We have the means to recognize it. We can usually find out who is telling truth. But with the clamor, noise, and info glut, how can anyone find the truth about this need? If you think that slick sales methods began recently, hear some examples I discovered researching today’s text.

 

     Prior to Mt. Vesuvius’ eruption, business boomed in the Italian city of Pompeii. As happens today, merchants and traders from India, China, Spain, Africa, and who knows where bought, sold, and got rich. At the time Jesus lived, a wealthy Pompeiian merchant named Umbricius Scauras[3]  manufactured and sold fish sauce known as “garum” (probably fermented mackerel entrails containing caviar). Umbricius marketed his special sauce all over Mediterranean world. They loved his sauce in the south of France. In his huge villa, the tiled floor of his atrium featured Mosaics bearing images of garum containers showing his brand. 

 

     It would be as if heirs to one of the popular ketchup brands such as Heinz or Hunts had images of ketchup containers in the tile floors of their mansions’ entryways. Wine merchants, then, often watered down their well-advertised liquids. People in other businesses falsified weights and measures. As some business people were crooked;[4] so were some preachers and prophets.

 

     Many who preach Jesus now promote myths and do not tell always truth. Money and power often motivate them. That occurred in Paul’s time and he wrote the Corinthian church: “Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit.”[5]

Not all who preach do it because they love Jesus; some do it for greed and fame. Let’s rid ourselves of another myth.

 

     Some have the idea that Jesus casually strolled about teaching and asking folks to follow him. He gathered a diverse crew of followers. But his success came, they say, mostly because he was one the fortunate few who happen to be in the right place at the right time. If it had not been for the genius of Apostle Paul, they contend, Jesus might not have been mentioned even as an “also ran.”

 

     You often hear that said, but the truth is that Jesus followed a well-planned strategy. He charted extraordinary life-goals. At 81, I fall further behind every day.   

But by the time Jesus was about thirty-three, he completely accomplished every objective. Just before his ascension he said: “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.”[6]

 

     The Jews divide their Bible (what we call the Old Testament) into three categories.[7] Their Bible contains the same books that are in the Protestant Old Testament. Though placed in a different order, the books are virtually identical. For example the last book in the Jewish Bible is 2 Chronicles.[8] Most of you know that Malachi appears as the last OT book in Protestant Bibles.

 

     Regardless of the order they appear, nearly all the 39 Old Testament books contain predictions about Christ.[9] Isaiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, and Zechariah made dozens of prophecies. Jesus knew each prophecy; a major part of his life-purpose was fulfilling all of them, especially concerning his death, burial, and resurrection.

 

     His other goals included:

·         declare the arrival of God’s kingdom;

·         call people to repentance and submitting to God

·         appoint and train 12 Apostles;

·         also choose at least seventy other disciples to teach about God’s kingdom.

 

     In complete accord with God’s will, Jesus developed a master plan and perfectly executed it. He healed and helped many wretched people. Jesus taught and lived by certain basics. Today’s text helps us see them and the profound truth about him.

In the midst the present frenzy, anger, and demands, what is that truth and what are the necessary life-basics?

 

     A few evenings ago, Norma and I watched a PBS special on Greece. That country’s history goes back thousands of years. Many consider ancient Greece the home of democracy and one of the most profoundly advanced civilizations ever. The Greeks produced memorable art, architecture, drama, comedy, poetry, musical instruments, and even the Olympic Games in 776 BC. But Greece’s greatness is all in the past. What do you gain if you flourish for a brief moment and then fade? Each passing year, erosion and decay dim Greece’s glory a little more.  

    

     Is there truth that gives life permanent meaning? 

 

     Most English translations divide today’s reading into three parts. As you read the text, you see differences between myth and Scripture. It is evident how frantic life was for Jesus. You also find how to connect with the history’s greatest truth in Christ.

 

          1)      We start with the first section I have labeled: “From Synagogue to Pete’s place.” 

 

     (30) Simon's (Peter’s) mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told Jesus about her. (31) So he went to her, took her hand and helped her up. The fever left her and she began to wait on them.” “But I thought Peter was not married,” you say.

Certain religions promote that myth, but Scripture says otherwise—more than once.

Peter’s real name was Simon as in our Mark text, but Jesus gave him a nickname similar to “Rocky.” In Aramaic, the nickname is Cephas; in Greek it is Peter.[10] Paul referred to Peter’s (Cephas’s) wife: “Don’t we have the right to take a believing wife along with us, as do the other apostles and the Lord’s brothers and Cephas? (6) Or is it only I and Barnabas who lack the right to not work for a living?”[11]

 

     Not only was Peter married, his wife traveled with him as he did missionary work and the church supported them. This passage explodes another heavily pushed myth. Jesus’ half -brothers (sons of Mary and Joseph) took their wives with them on mission as did all the other apostles.[12]

 

          2)      Part 2 of text: “a long, healing session:” “That evening after sunset (when Sabbath ended) the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed. The whole town gathered at the door, and Jesus healed many who had various diseases. He also drove out many demons . . .” When the sun went down, folks began banging on the door.

 

     Imagine having to deal with every sick person in town: the complaints, explanations, descriptions of symptoms.

 

          3)      “Early morning prayer and back to work.” “(35) Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.(36) Simon and his companions went to look for him, (37) and when they found him, they exclaimed: ‘Everyone is looking for you!’ (38) Jesus replied, ‘Let us go somewhere else--to the nearby villages--so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.(39) So he traveled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons.”

 

     Think of those people having their prayers answered, they are well and they can see and hear and be back with their families. They got what they wanted. How many of them got what they needed? We think we need happiness, wealth, and perfect health. “If you’ve got your health, you’ve got everything” we say.

 

     Unless we know and faithfully follow Jesus, health, wealth, and happiness are temporary fixes. Jesus is the force and mind behind all that moves and breathes in the Cosmos. Those people Jesus healed were in the presence of the most powerful being in the Universe. He “lit the fuse” that created the “Big Bang.” The healed folks got what they wanted, but most failed to see who gave it to them. Nothing-no one is more important than he; nothing is more essential than submitting to him.

 

     The basics are:

·         We exalt, honor, and love God as Jesus did;

·         We begin days praying as he did;

·         We minister to the hurting as he did;

·         Without shame or hesitation, we help   people see that in Christ, they must put God in charge of their lives.

 

     Peter summarized this vital secret: “I Simon Peter, am writing this letter. I serve Jesus Christ. I am his apostle. I am sending this letter to you who have received a faith as valuable as ours. You received it because our God and Savior Jesus Christ does what is right and fair for everyone. “(2) May more and more grace and peace be given to you. May they come to you as you learn more about God and about Jesus our Lord.

      “(3) God's power has given us everything we need to lead a godly life. All of that has come to us because we know the One who chose us. He chose us because of his own glory and goodness.

     “(4) He has also given us his very great and valuable promises. He did it so you could share in his nature. He also did it so you could escape from the evil in the world. That evil is caused by sinful longings.

     “(5) So you should try very hard to add goodness to your faith. To goodness, add knowledge. (6) To knowledge, add the ability to control yourselves. To the ability to control yourselves, add the strength to keep going. To the strength to keep going, add godliness. (7) To godliness, add kindness to believers. And to kindness to believers, add love.

     “(8) You should possess more and more of those good points. They will make you useful and fruitful as you get to know our Lord Jesus Christ better.”

 

     Your iPhone might have every “app” known to technology. But unless you turn it off, fall on your knees and repent in Christ, serve him, and get to know him better, you have nothing permanent.

      

·         Pray in him.

·         Quietly read his word, the New Testament.

·         Ask him to help you.

·         He will become more and more real.

·         As long as you have breath, keep praising God in Christ.

 

     God bless you as you follow Christ to eternal life. Only he can give and lead you to immortality.

 


[1] Mark 9:33, 34,; Luke 22:23, 24

[2] Mark 10:13-16

[3] This name was possibly spelled Sciaurus. In his book, POMPEII, A Guide to the Ancient  City (© 1998 White Star S.p.a., Barnes & Noble Publishing, Inc.), Salvatore Nappo, diagramed the location of tombs near The Herculaneum Gate. He identifies one as The Tomb of Umbricius Sciaurus; see page 150. Much of the above information also came from Wikipedia.

[4] Proverbs 20:14 NIV “’It’s no good, it’s no good!’ says the buyer—then off he goes and boasts about his purchase.” In Matthew 24, Jesus warned about false prophets. The New Testament books, 1 & 2 John and Jude tell how to recognize them.

[5] 2 Corinthians 2: 17a  NIV

[6] Luke 24:44 NIV

[7] Jesus alluded to them in the above passage: the Law (Torah), the prophets, and the Psalms or writings (Ketuvim, pronounced by some Ketubim). 

[8] That is likely why Jesus said what he did in Matthew 23: 35, 36 about Zechariah, son of Berekiah being the last of the prophets that opponents of God murdered 2 Chronicles 24:20-22.

[9] Books abound on the subject of Christ in the Old Testament, See Christology of the Old Testament by E.W. Hengstenberg, Kregel Publications (reprint), Grand Rapids, , 1970

[10] See John 1: 42

[11] 1 Corinthians 9:5, 6 NIV

[12] Matthias had replaced Judas (Acts 1).

 

Bob Blair

PO Box176

Cleghorn, IA 51014

 

 


 

Back To Home