Feb. 16, 2018

"That I may preach; that is what I came for."

Mark 1:29-2:12 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible

And immediately after they came out of the synagogue, they came into the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. 30 Now Simon’s mother-in-law was lying sick with a fever; and immediately they spoke to Jesus about her. 31 And He came to her and raised her up, taking her by the hand, and the fever left her, and she waited on them.

32 When evening came, after the sun had set, they began bringing to Him all who were ill and those who were demon-possessed. 33 And the whole city had gathered at the door. 34 And He healed many who were ill with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and He was not permitting the demons to speak, because they knew who He was.

35 In the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place, and was praying there. 36 Simon and his companions searched for Him; 37 they found Him, and said to Him, “Everyone is looking for You.” 38 He said to them, “Let us go somewhere else to the towns nearby, so that I may preach there also; for that is what I came for.” 39 And He went into their synagogues throughout all Galilee, preaching and casting out the demons.

40 And a leper came to Jesus, beseeching Him and falling on his knees before Him, and saying, “If You are willing, You can make me clean.” 41 Moved with compassion, Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him, and said to him, “I am willing; be cleansed.” 42 Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cleansed. 43 And He sternly warned him and immediately sent him away, 44 and He said to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone; but go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.” 45 But he went out and began to proclaim it freely and to spread the news around, to such an extent that Jesus could no longer publicly enter a city, but stayed out in unpopulated areas; and they were coming to Him from everywhere.

2 When He had come back to Capernaum several days afterward, it was heard that He was at home. And many were gathered together, so that there was no longer room, not even near the door; and He was speaking the word to them. And they came, bringing to Him a paralytic, carried by four men. Being unable to get to Him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above Him; and when they had dug an opening, they let down the pallet on which the paralytic was lying. And Jesus seeing their faith said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” But some of the scribes were sitting there and reasoning in their hearts, “Why does this man speak that way? He is blaspheming; who can forgive sins but God alone?” Immediately Jesus, aware in His spirit that they were reasoning that way within themselves, said to them, “Why are you reasoning about these things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven’; or to say, ‘Get up, and pick up your pallet and walk’? 10 But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—He said to the paralytic, 11 “I say to you, get up, pick up your pallet and go home.” 12 And he got up and immediately picked up the pallet and went out in the sight of everyone, so that they were all amazed and were glorifying God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this.”

Why did Jesus Come to earth as a man? You might answer that He came to die for the sins of the world. 1 Peter 3:18 says:  Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God.  You might answer that He came to show us how to live. Mark 10:43-45 says:  “Whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant;  and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”  Jesus came to redeem us from sin.  In today’s text it says Jesus healed Simon’s mother-in-law, many who were ill with various diseases and cast out demons.  Jesus healed a leper and the paralytic who was lowered through the roof. Jesus performed so many miracles and crowds sought Him:   to such an extent that Jesus could no longer publicly enter a city, but stayed out in unpopulated areas; and they were coming to Him from everywhere.

Jesus came as a servant and also as one who had love and compassion, even for the unlovely, the sinners and outcasts. Jesus performed miracles everywhere He went. Jesus did many things while He was here, but in today’s text, in response to the crowds seeking Him out, He says:   “Let us go somewhere else to the towns nearby, so that I may preach there also; for that is what I came for.”     Jesus began His ministry saying:  The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, And recovery of sight to the blind, To set free those who are oppressed, To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.” (Luke 4:18-19)    Jesus also began His ministry saying:  "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." (Matthew 4:17)   Jesus purpose, the reason He was here while He lived was to preach. His message was a message of repentance, but not of condemnation. Jesus preached the gospel, the good news, of the kingdom. He came to proclaim the favor of the Lord, to release people from captivity, not put them in bondage. That’s the good news. It is not condemnation. It is not about sacrifice, what we give up to follow Jesus. It is about living in and with the Lord’s favor. In John 10:10 Jesus says:   “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”   Jesus came to preach. The miracles, the signs and wonders, the healings and deliverances, were simply the overflow of the presence of the kingdom of heaven which was accompanying and within Jesus.  In Luke 17:21 Jesus says:  “Behold, the kingdom of God is within you.”   The same kingdom is within us.

Many people today want to be like Jesus. They do many things. Many believe the answer is to associate with and to show love and compassion to the unlovely and the outcasts; even to sinners. Many others preach a message of repentance, a turning from sin. Many seek to do what Jesus said we would do in John 14:12-14:   “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father. Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.”    They believe, that like Jesus, they can perform miracles, healing and deliverance. Perhaps the problem lies in that none of these are wrong, but individually none of them are doing what Jesus came to do and what He has called, commanded and commissioned us to do. If we truly want to be like Jesus, if we truly want to do the things, all the things He did and greater things, we need to do everything He did, not just one part of it. We need to be compassionate, to love the unlovely. Like Him we need to associate with sinners and outcasts. Like Jesus though, our message to them, in love, must be a message of repentance. It must be a message of good news and the favor of God. Like Jesus, the kingdom of God is within us and we should be those who carry it with us everywhere we go. In Mark 16:15-20 Jesus commissions His disciples. It says:   “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned. These signs will accompany those who have believed: in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues; they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”  So then, when the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them, and confirmed the word by the signs that followed.     If we would do the things that Jesus did, then like Jesus we would be agents of the abundance of the kingdom of heaven. Love and compassion would be our method. Repentance and favor would be our message. Miracles, signs and wonders, healing and deliverance would come as the overflow of the kingdom of God and His favor touched those around us, confirming the gospel, the good news. Jesus taught us, commanded and commissioned us to be like Him and do what He did. Jesus taught us to pray saying:

‘Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. ‘Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven. ‘Give us this day our daily bread.  ‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. ‘And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.’    Amen.