Summary: Do you know Jesus first hand, or just second hand?
I’m getting ready to go to Haiti with several members of our church and I’m looking forward to that experience – but going to Haiti means I needed to have some shots. Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B.
So Friday I went to the doctor’s to get my shots.
This lady comes into the examination room and she swabs down my arm with alcohol, and then she starts fumbling around with my chart and fumbling around with whatever she has brought with her. Finally she says, “You know, I need one of those needle things.”
“A syringe,” I suggest.
“Oh yes, that’s it. I need one of those things. Be right back.”
She comes back in and she swabs my arm down with alcohol, and then she hesitates. “You know, I need to get the vaccine. I’ll be right back.”
A few minutes later she comes back in and she swabs down my arm with more alcohol. She looks at me and asks me, “It does go into the arm, doesn’t it?”
She says she’s going to ask someone about that and she leaves.
She comes back and says someone else will be giving me my shots.
We start talking and at some point in the conversation she says she didn’t get much sleep last night because she was so excited about her new job. Today was the first day she was working in the doctor’s office.
The only thing that kept me from asking this lady about her last job was the fear of hearing her tell me that she had worked at McDonalds, or some place like that.
I’m sure she was trained, but she just didn’t seem to have any experience.
At least no first hand experience.
A lot of us are like that woman. We have lots of second hand knowledge, but no first hand knowledge or experience in certain areas of life.
I watch a lot of medical shows on television – ER and shows like that. I know all about subdural hematomas and defibulation and saline solutions.
Well, I don’t really know about them. But I have this second hand knowledge about life in a hospital.
I have second hand knowledge about what the White House is like because I have watched lots of episodes of West Wing.
I have second hand knowledge about the military, because I talk to people who serve in the military.
Second hand knowledge is good, it’s helpful, it’s interesting – but it is no substitute for first hand knowledge and experience.
We have been studying the Book of Acts for several weeks, and we come to this interesting chapter, which shows that news of Jesus Christ was growing. The whole world was beginning to hear about Jesus – but for many people this news was second hand information.
As the New Testament reading from Acts tells it, “Some Jews who went around driving out evil spirits tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon-possessed. They would say, "In the name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out." What’s interesting here is that they did not know Jesus personally. Their Jesus was a second hand Jesus.
And of course, it does not turn out very well for them. As they were trying to deal with a demon possessed person, the evil spirit answered them, "Jesus I know, and I know about Paul, but who are you?" Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding.
Is your Jesus a second hand Jesus?
Do you know of Jesus only from what you have seen in the movies, or from what you have read in books, or by what you have heard from teachers and preachers?
I said a moment ago that second hand knowledge was a good thing – up to a point.
Knowing Jesus second hand is never quite sufficient for us.
It is not enough to know about Jesus.
One must know Jesus personally and through one’s own experience.
How do you do that? For many people, Jesus is an abstract thought. They know about him like they know about Abraham Lincoln or about George Washington.
How do you make Jesus personal in your life?
In our reading from Acts, there are three things the people do to move from knowing ABOUT Jesus, to the point where they know him PERSONALLY.
1. Respect the Name
First – there must be a respect for the name and person of Jesus Christ.
In the Book of Acts, news about the power and authority of Jesus begins to spread. As our New Testament lesson puts it, “When this became known to the Jews and Greeks living in Ephesus, they were all seized with fear, and the name of the Lord Jesus was held in high honor.”