O give thanks unto the Lord for He is good, His mercy endures forever (1 Chr 16:34). Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church - Winnipeg, MB
What do we really need?
What do we really need?
Based on Mark 1:29-39
Preached on February 8, 2015
Click on the Play button
to listen to the Sermon.
Fellow baptized saints, what do you need right now? Needs are a funny thing, aren't they? Have you ever pulled "the two-year old"? That's when you think you really need something, and you need it so bad that you devote all your time and energy into figuring out how you can get it, whereupon shortly after you finally have it, you quickly realize not only do you NOT need it, you don't even want it, and you wish you never had it in the first place?
There was this special kind of jeans when I was a teenager - Exhaust Jeans. Oh, they were all the rage, and somehow I got it into my head that I needed these jeans. I begged to my mom for them everyday, until she finally took me to the store. I can even remember the way I felt at the cash register. I was so proud. I even wore them home. But the very next day at school, someone saw my new jeans, and called me a poser and a fake - and I never wanted to wear those jeans again.
What we think we need and what we really need are often very different, and we don't always know what we need. I didn't need jeans. I didn't know what I needed, but this was because my focus was in the wrong place.
Jesus shocks us this week when He teaches us the same thing about salvation. That what we think we need and what we really need are absolutely different, and we don't really know what we need. But this He has come to teach us.
Over the last few weeks, we've followed Jesus during the start of His Ministry, where He has been trying to preach the Gospel in Galilee. I say trying because last week we heard how He got interrupted by an unclean spirit. He was preaching in the synagogue and had to stop because the demons were interfering with His message. Well, He got rid of them, but that threw the people He was teaching into a panic. So much for that lesson.
I say trying because this week we see what happened right after He left the synagogue that day. He went to His disciples' house so He could instruct them in peace, but He was stopped yet again, this time by His own disciples, who immediately told Him about Simon's mother-in-law who lay ill with a fever. They didn't want a preacher. They wanted a miracle worker.
Then we're told that same evening, at sundown, the whole city gathered together at the door, and they brought to Him all who were sick or oppressed by demons and He healed them. With all these people requesting healing, Jesus didn't have a moment to preach the Gospel.
Now at first glance we may think "Wow, isn't this wonderful! Jesus is helping all these people," but the actions and words of Jesus that followed these miracles reveal something very different. Something that is bound to shock us. He woke up very early in the morning, while it was still dark and He went out to a desolate place and there He prayed. He went and hid. He snuck away from the people. And when His disciples finally found Him they said, "Everyone is looking for you." And He said to them, "Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came." These people don't want to hear me preach. All they want are handouts. Quick fixes. Miracles that throw a bandaid on a wound that needs surgery. (big pause)
But this is human nature, isn't it?
Howard, our head elder here, told me a story the other day from when he was young. He and his brother were racing to get to the fridge one day when they realized they had been a little too eager. As Howard peeled himself out of the hole in the drywall, he looked at the "problem" with a healthy dose of consternation. There was only one thing to do. He wrapped his arms around the fridge and slid it in front of the hole. No, his dad was not fooled by the misplaced fridge.
But this is just it - when it comes to sin, that thing inside of us that keeps us disconnected from God, the thing that's killing us, we don't know what we need. What we think we need is to make the appearance of it go away. We are unable to fix it, so what do we do? We cover it up. We move the fridge. We manage the symptoms. We cut away the part of the weed that we can see, and try not to think about the root underneath. Heal my fever. Take away my hardships. Make my life comfortable. I need a quick fix Lord. A bandaid. Some salvation. Why won't you give it to me? Much like Howard's dad, our heavenly Father is not interested in appearances.
Yet look at how prevalent and pervasive this problem is, even in our Lord's Church. There are whole branches of Christianity that define themselves based on what they think their needs are. That church should be based on what people think they need, even though God tells us we don't what that is. We think we need other ways of expressing our faith. We think we need to change things for the children or the youth. We think church can't simply show everyone the big, ugly hole in the wall, and then point to Jesus for salvation, because let's be honest - that's not fun enough. Its not nice. Its even uncomfortable at times - and there's no way that can be what we need. However, as quickly as those hungry for miracles, and quick fixes may fill churches, Jesus leaves them looking for those who want to hear Him preach His Word. Which is the point of what He is trying to teach us this morning.
What do we really need to be saved from? The answer may shock you. The problem isn't simply that we try to cover up the holes. It isn't even chiefly that we need a new piece of drywall - the real problem is the way we think! That we don't understand the problem. This is the real problem! We are so deceived by the devil and our sin, so enslaved by our sinful condition, that we don't even realize it. We call this unbelief. We need to be saved from sin, death and the power of the devil, from our unbelief, and that does not happen when our hardships go away and our life is made easy. It happens when Christ preaches His Word and by His grace we believe it. Faith is the salvation Christ brings. Faith in His Word. Faith in His promise.
Jesus didn't come to deal with part of our problem. He didn't come to take away some of our concerns, or the ones we realize we have right now. He came to totally save us. To redeem the whole human package. To make us new. We've seen Him casting out the inner, evil spirituality of man and we've seen Him healing the outer physical condition of man. But both of these are only symptomatic of what He really came to do. Both of these are merely evidence of what He promised God was doing in Him. That is, purging mankind in body and soul of all their enemies by His own sacrificial death on the cross. Sin, death and the power of the devil - unbelief - ALL GONE in the Son of God who trusted His Father into the grave.
God knows what we need. We need faith in what He has done for us. Faith in what Christ has made us by His death and resurrection. Now faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the Word of Christ.
This is why Christ came to preach. This is the significance of hearing the preached Word. It is God's solution to our unbelief problem - to speak faith into our hearts and minds. When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth? Will He find someone that wants to hear Him preach? Because faith and the Word belong together. They are always together. You are saved by grace through faith, because faith clings to Christ's Word of grace. You are forgiven. You are free. You have eternal life in Christ your Savior. His Word is all you need.
Fellow baptized saints, What do you need right now? You need to hear this Word of Christ that He speaks to you: I have made you totally new, and I promise you will see it on the Last Day. In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Rev. Cameron Schnarr