Sunday, February 01, 2015


Sunday, February 1, 2015, Stoney Creek Sermonette: Number 36

(This is a series of sermonettes on The Gospel According To Mark.  We will not be to the crucifixion and resurrection in the book of Mark by April 5, 2015 so we will not be doing the resurrection story when it is being celebrated this year.)

Scripture for Today:  Mark 2:13-28 English Standard Version (ESV)
Jesus Calls Levi
13 He went out again beside the sea, and all the crowd was coming to him, and he was teaching them. 14 And as he passed by, he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him.
15 And as he reclined at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners were reclining with Jesus and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. 16 And the scribes of the Pharisees, when they saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, said to his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 17 And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”
A Question About Fasting
18 Now John's disciples and the Pharisees were fasting. And people came and said to him, “Why do John's disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?” 19 And Jesus said to them, “Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. 20 The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in that day. 21 No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. If he does, the patch tears away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear is made. 22 And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the wine will burst the skins—and the wine is destroyed, and so are the skins. But new wine is for fresh wineskins.”

Jesus is Lord of Sabbath
23 One Sabbath he was going through the grainfields, and as they made their way, his disciples began to pluck heads of grain. 24 And the Pharisees were saying to him, “Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath?” 25 And he said to them, “Have you never read what David did, when he was in need and was hungry, he and those who were with him: 26 how he entered the house of God, in the time of Abiathar the high priest, and ate the bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and also gave it to those who were with him?” 27 And he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. 28 So the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath.”

Sermon for Today:

It should amaze you as much as it does me that each time Jesus called someone to be a disciple, they got up from whatever they were doing and went with Him.  Today, I don’t know what He would have to do to get our attention to even ask one of us to follow Him.  We are a busy people, but do we know where we are going?

Jesus was always being criticized about something, but He took a lot of criticism for the company He kept.  He was called on the carpet for eating with tax collectors and sinners.  Remember he had just called a tax collector to be one of the twelve disciples.  Jesus had a simple answer.  A well person does not need a doctor, but a sick person does.  If you are not out among the sick, then you are not doing the work of the Kingdom of God.

The question of fasting comes up in our scripture lesson for today.  Fasting is not for getting down to a desired weight.  Fasting is addressed by Jesus in Matthew 6: 16-18.
“16 And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 17 But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, 18 that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”   

Fasting is to help bring one into the presence of our Father and not to be seen as a pious endeavor by others.

The last criticism in our lesson today may be the most interesting of them all.  Jesus points out that one of God’s favorite people went into the temple and ate bread that was not even eaten by the priests.  Then He said “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. 28 So the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath.”

This is important folks.  The Sabbath was a gift from God to us so we might refresh our spirits, souls and selves on a day directed towards and dedicated to the Father.  Jesus was a gift from God to us who John says in opening his Gospel is one with the Father. John 1: 1-5  English Standard Version (ESV)

“1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

To say that Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath if He was there from the start and was with God and was God is certainly no big stretch.   What we need to help “sick” folks understand is that there is a way to healing.  You notice I did not say a way to heal.  

You may be one of those people that think we can reach Christian perfection here on earth, but I believe with every bone in my body that the Bible makes clear we will need our advocate the Lord Jesus Christ when we are justly judged on that day to stand beside us as our advocate because we cannot reach perfection.

I speak of healing because it is a process of ongoing growth and it is full of great leaps forward and slips backwards.  If you reach a time in your Christian life that you think you have reached perfection, get down on your knees in a closet and pray that God will help you to find humility once again.  The humility you had when you knew you were a sinner and needed Him.  I wish people studied John Wesley and what he actually said on this subject  of Christian perfection rather than just spouting rubbish.

“SOME thoughts occurred to my mind this morning concerning Christian perfection, and the manner and time of receiving it, which I believe may be useful to set down.
1. By perfection I mean the humble, gentle, patient love of God, and our neighbour, ruling our tempers, words, and actions.
I do not include an impossibility of falling from it, either in part or in whole. Therefore, I retract several expressions in our Hymns, which partly express, partly imply, such an impossibility. And I do not contend for the term sinless.A PLAIN ACCOUNT OF CHRISTIAN PERFECTION by John Wesley

The Sabbath was for healing and Jesus is a healer.  Jesus is the Son of Man and Lord over all.  The process is easy to start, but takes work and faith to keep on the path Jesus laid out.  The great thing is we do not walk it alone.

Prayer for Today:

Father, May the Gospel story come so alive in us that Your Son comes alive to the world around each of us.  For we know You sent Him for all peoples and He gave His all that all of us might have life forevermore if only we find Him, the one and only Way.  It is in His name I pray. Amen.

© Ed Cooper, February 1, 2015, Stoney Creek, Tennessee
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