Third Sunday before Lent – Sermon 209

Holy Communion 10.00am

3rd Sunday before Lent

5th February 2012

Bible References :

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Prayer to start

May the words of my lips and the thoughts of our hearts be graciously received for the Glory and honour of our Lord Jesus Christ

AMEN

Introduction

 

Have you not Known?

 

Have you not heard?

 

Have you not been told?

 

The opening words from our Old Testament lesson – as Isaiah reminds those who have been wearied by the exile in Babylon – to wait on and to  trust in the  wonderful promises and saving grace of God –

 

Hearing about and understanding God’s presence in the world is vitally important for our faith – for our belief in Jesus Christ –

We – in church –  have been told about God and  Jesus –  and his wonderful message of salvation –  but what about those outside ?

 

What about telling those – who haven’t heard?

 

Should it worry us?  – Is it our concern?

 

Is it something we need to do something about?

 

Point 1        The message from Isaiah

 

Suppose someone asked us – to guess how many grains of sand there were on a beach or how many stars there were in the sky – we wouldn’t have a clue would we? – despite all our technological developments

 

Its something that is beyond our comprehension –

 

– there’s something of this in the picture of God – painted for us by Isaiah

 

after years of exile in Babylon – the people had decided that God was either unwilling or unable to help them –

 

They considered themselves beyond forgiveness –

felt powerless – defeated – without hope –

 

But Isaiah tells them to raise their sights –

 

God  is the creator of the ends of the earth – ruler over space and time  –

 

He is more loving –  and more powerful –  more gracious than any of us can ever begin to imagine –

 

God  is more – than ready –  to pardon those who are looking to be pardoned –

 

God  is more – than ready –  to renew their strength –  and restore their hope –

 

God  is more – than ready – to lead them  forward – out of their despair –

 

We just need to trust Him – and allow Him into our hearts  – into our lives – allow Him to lead us to a much greater future than we can ever imagine –

 

And that message is just as true today –  as it was in Isaiah’s day –

 

But who is going to tell the people? – not Isaiah

 

Point 2        Jesus’  heals, speaks and teaches

 

Imagine being in the little town called Capernahum – in Galillee –

 

if you’ve ever been there – you’ll know its not much  bigger than the centre of our village –

 

A man begins to teach  – not one of the recognised teachers – He begins on his own authority to tell people about what God’s will is – and how the kingdom is coming –

 

The usual teachers – priests and scribes – the literate ones – don’t teach like he does –

 

They always start with- ‘Moses said this’ or ‘the Rabbi said this’

 

Jesus speaks with a quiet – gentle –  but compelling authority of His own –

 

He quickly attracts huge crowds –

 

And with that same authority – He starts attacking demons – helping people for whom life had become a total nightmare – whose personalities seemed to have been taken from them –

 

The demons seemed to know  who He was – and what He’d come to do –

 

And then there was the healing – with that same gentle authority – He’d speak words of healing – to anyone who came to Him – they would be healed – there and then – people’s lives would be turned around  – just through meeting Him – or touching Him –

 

whatever diseases people happen to suffer from  – Jesus dealt with them all – all with that same gentle but effective authority –

 

Jesus healed out of love – He cast out demons because they had no right to be there – He taught in parables – because like the healing and exorcisms  – they required a response of humble faith –

 

When the crowds had dispersed  – and in the middle of the night – he’d be found praying – to God –  receiving power and strength – Jesus needed such moments – so He was ready to do it all again the next day –

 

But just as He was getting popular –  just as people were beginning to talk about Him and the great things He achieved – He’d move on – to the next town –

 

Its as if  – Jesus knew when it was time to speak and when it was time to be silent – when it was time to stay and when it was time to take – that gentle but effective authority – on to others –

 

Jesus had been sent by God to take on the forces of evil and destruction –  to become a human bridge across which – people could climb to safety – and in the process paid with His own life – on the cross –  when He completed the healing work He started  that day in Gallilee –

 

Today that same gentle authority still heals – still teaches – still reaches out to those who are ready to accept and receive Jesus  – but who will tell them about Him? –

 

point 3        Paul tells us we must do all we can

 

People need to be ‘won’

 

a word used five times in our passage from Paul’s  first  letter to the Corinthian Church –

 

God has invested everything in the Gospel –  and in Jesus – and He wants something back – He wants us – and everyone who is prepared to Follow Him –

 

Paul tells us that – he used every opportunity  he could – to tell people about Jesus as the Messiah  – and about His  Gospel message –

 

Paul was prepared to be everything – to everyone –

a Jew to the Jews – a Greek to the Greeks –

 

‘To the weak I became weak – in order to win the weak’ – says Paul

 

He was prepared to ‘talk their language’  – observe people’s customs – and laws –  address them in terms of their own faith and culture – just so they would not be put  off – from hearing what Jesus has to say –

 

We too have to – do all we can – to convince people about the truth of the message  –

 

As far as Paul was concerned  – the message  stays constant – and its the messenger who must be trimmed  – who must swallow their pride  – so that others can be reached  – and the Gospel – proclaimed.

 

Effective testimony takes two things –

a willingness to speak honestly about what God means to us  – and a sensitivity toward those we are talking to – so that God may speak – in turn to them –

 

ending         So what is our response?

 

So what’s our response?

 

Are we ready to take God’s message to those that need it?

 

When we leave here will we mention Jesus to some one we know – who needs to know about Him?

 

Jesus has given us the Good news to share -and its other people He wants us to share it with –

 

 

So in the words of Isaiah: Empowered by His Spirit – may we – “mount up with wings like eagles – run and not be weary – walk and not faint”

 

and may God give us the Grace and the power to be bold and spread the Good news of His saving Love to all

Prayer

In the name of the Father Son and Holy Spirit-AMEN