Summary: This message is based on the preaching of Jesus in Capernaum, His prayer to the Father which reminded Him of His purpose, to proclaim the message of grace, not just healing out of compassion. We have the same purpose.

In Jesus Holy Name February 6, 2021

Text: Mark 1:38-39 Epiphany V Redeemer

“Our Missionary God”

Almost 2,000 years ago when Jesus walked this earth, He began preaching in the village of Capernaum. (Mark 1:21) In the middle of His sermon about God’s grace, a man possessed by a demon interrupted Jesus. The haunted man pointed out to everyone that Jesus was the “Holy One of God”. I can see the man pointing to Jesus standing in the synagogue. The demon knew that the Messiah had arrived. He believed it was the final judgment. The demon did not know the true reason for the arrival of Jesus. Jesus had arrived to fulfill the promise to Mary and Joseph. He will save humanity from our broken commandments and defeat the power of Satan.

As soon as they left the synagogue Jesus and his disciples went to the home of Peter and Andrew. Peter’s mother – in -law was ill with a fever. Jesus healed her on the spot. She felt so good that she got up and served a meal.

That day there were two healings in one day. What did people get out of it? Did they say, “Wow, this is God’s Son?” and agree with the words of the demon possessed man, just a few moments ago? No, they did not. Even Jesus knew that his purpose was more than healing people. Do you know your purpose in life? Does your church know its purpose? We are to carry on the work of our “missionary God.” He has given us His Holy Spirit to empower us to tell His story.

During WWII there was a Jewish concentration camp in Hungary. Hundreds of prisoners were enslaved in the compound’s factory which processed garbage into alcohol which could be mixed with gasoline. One day, everything changed. Allied bombs leveled the factory. All work was canceled. That’s what the prisoner’s thought.

Surprisingly, the next day, they were marched out of the factory as if nothing had happened. They were ordered to shovel a great pile of sand into carts and deliver it to the other end of what had been the factory. The next day the process was repeated, all in reverse. The same pile of sand was moved back and forth, day after day after day.

Slowly the prisoners realized their future had no future. One man broke down in tears and was dragged away. Another started screaming. He was beaten until he was quiet. One individual, a veteran of three years in the camp, ran toward the electrified fence. Prisoners shouted a waring. Guards demanded he stop. He didn’t. These, first of the living dead, were soon joined in their madness by many others. Men went mad because their lives had no purpose. They discovered life without purpose was empty. (illustration Rev. Klaus 2003 Mark 1:29)

This is why, very early in the morning, before everyone else was up. Jesus left the house and went off to a solitary place where He prayed. Healing people was important but it was not His purpose. All the Gospel writers tell us that Jesus healed thousands… but He did not heal everyone in the land.

(read Matthew 4:23-25)

The miracles were acts of compassion and they grabbed attention…so that people would hear the message of a loving God who offers mercy and forgiveness to His wayward children. His message was consistent. To the men standing around, with stones in their hands. He said: He who is without sin may throw the first stone…. Thump, thump, thump. They all left. We are all prodigal sons and daughters who have been invited to “return home” and enjoy the offer of grace and mercy.

Early in the morning, in His conversations with His Father I’m sure Jesus was reminded by His father of God’s promise to Adam, Eve and Abraham. The mission was clearly spoken by Peter in Acts 4. “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”

Our God is a missionary God. He has always been a missionary God, seeking the lost, offering forgiveness to Adam and Eve and their descendants. God’s plan was to use a special people to tell the good news of salvation. What did God tell Abraham in Genesis 12?

“I will make your descendants into a great nation. I will bless you”….because I want all people on earth to be blessed through you.” The rest of the bible is a story of how God would accomplish the task of blessing all people so their broken commandments might be forgiven just as He forgave Adam and Eve.

The tragedy of the Old Testament is that Israel kept forgetting the universal scope of God’s promise. They became preoccupied with their own history, and over time caused them to boast in their privilege status that they were immune from God’s judgment. The prophets kept reminding them that they were to be a “light for the Gentile nations”. That’s why Jesus told the story of the Good Samaritan. The overly self righteous Jews would not even walk on the same side of the street or enter a Gentile house. (Acts 10) Rev. John Stott The contemporary Christians p 326.

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