Summary: We don’t like to be told ‘no’. When we ask for something and the answer is ‘no’ we feel rejected and deprived. We walk away frustrated or sad. What about when God says 'no'? Let’s look at some examples where people had a proper response to being told no.
WHEN GOD SAYS “NO”
INTRODUCTION: We don’t like to be told ‘no’. When we ask for something and the answer is ‘no’ we feel rejected and deprived. We walk away frustrated or sad. It can take the wind right out of our sails. Sometimes a ‘no’ answer will cause us to want to throw in the towel and call it quits. What about when God gives us a ‘no’ answer? I think we can go through the same set of emotions and responses; maybe even more so because it’s coming from God. Cable TV mogul Ted Turner, who criticizes Christianity, said he had a strict Christian upbringing. He even considered becoming a missionary at one point in his life but he said he became dissatisfied with Christianity when, despite his prayers that she would get well, his sister still died. Unfortunately, a response like this is all too common. Let’s look at some examples where people had a proper response to being told ‘no’.
1) Jesus said ‘no’ to the man from Gerasenes. Mark 5:18-20. [set-up] The man pleaded and begged Jesus to take him with them. It made sense. If I had just gone through an experience like this I wouldn’t want to be away from Jesus for a second. Jesus saw this man’s eager desire to be with the one who just healed him. I’m sure it was hard for Jesus to tell him no, but he did. Why? Because there was a greater purpose in him staying behind. Jesus said yes to the demons because putting them in the pigs and having them run down the embankment served a purpose. He was willing to leave the region when the people asked him to because he wasn’t going to stay where he wasn’t wanted. Now, he told the man delivered from possession no because it served a purpose to have him stay there. If he went with Jesus he would have a testimony but how much greater an impact that testimony would have on those who knew him as a demon possessed man. Not only that, but by staying behind the people could see not only an initial drastic change but an ongoing one. They would be able to be convinced that the miracle wasn’t a fluke but a permanent healing. So how did the man respond to being told ‘no’? He did what Jesus told him to do. He saw that Jesus’ will was more important than his own. And what was the result of his willingness to accept his ‘no’ answer? “And all the people were amazed”. It would be interesting to know the rest of the story and see how many of the people that didn’t want anything to do with Jesus came to believe in him through the example of the miraculous conversion of the demoniac. The Decapolis means “ten cities”. That’s quite an area. Word got around. Matthew 4:25 says that large crowds from the Decapolis followed him. I’m sure part of the reason for that was this man being obedient to what Jesus told him to do. Because he was willing to respond positively to Jesus denying his request, many people from his region went from being fearful to being followers. We can do great things when we are willing to trust in Jesus’ wisdom and follow his instructions.
2) The Father said ‘no’ to Jesus in the garden. Mark 14:32-36. Jesus was facing the most gut-wrenching mission in history. He was to about to pay the price for the sin of mankind. Nothing anyone could ever go through would be weightier. As he agonized over this realization, he asked the Father that if there was any other way for the world to be saved, let it be done. Who could blame him? Jesus wasn’t abandoning the mission. He wasn’t caring more about himself than the world. That’s not what’s going on here. How did he end his prayer? The same way we should end all our prayers: ‘yet not what I will, but what you will’. And God’s will was to tell his Son ‘no’ and have him go to the cross. This was how it needed to be done. And Jesus accepted that. We need to lay down our will for the sake of God’s. We will never be able to accept a no answer from God and continue to carry out his plans if we are not willing to surrender our desire to see our will done for the sake of his. Bobby Richardson, a player for the Yankees, once offered up this brief but spot-on prayer, “Dear God, Your will, nothing more, nothing less, nothing else. Amen.” We might be in a situation that is painful to endure. We may find ourselves going through something or seeing the writing on the wall and as we anticipate the inevitable we pray for God to deliver us from the situation. Let me escape the pain. But can we finish it up with-but if that is not permissible, I accept it? If it be your will that I must suffer then I do it without wavering in faith and duty. That’s what Jesus did and we know whatever trial we may face pales in comparison. But we’re not without help. Luke 22:42-44. “Angels came and attended him”. The Father knew that his ‘no’ answer was going to be troubling to his Son. He sweated drops of blood such was his anguish. So what did God do? He sent angels to strengthen his Son. That’s what he will do for us. When we receive a no answer from God we will receive strength to be able to press on as Jesus did. When God says ‘no’ he won’t leave us without remedy.