St. Luke's Church Faribault
- Happy Valentine’s Day.Do you like Valentine’s Day? Is this a favorite holiday? It has chocolate, and flowers and candy and balloons., and romance… of course ---who can forget romance.I love you guys I was going to get you all candy and cards, but I got too busy. Do you forgive me? Try that for Valenties day how do you think that will work out?Now if you are in a new relationship, that would kill the relationship, however if you have been married, for 25 years or more, you might get away with that,Now, for those that have been in a long term relationship usually Valentines day is a bit less intense. But At first when you are boyfriend and girlfriend, Valentine’s day is a big thing, there are the gifts, and then you are wondering do I get then this is it too much, or is not enough oh no what do I do?Then as you are married for a while usually you dial it down a bit on Valentine’s day. You have your whole life to romance, You too are committed right? Till death do you part, so working out Valentines day gifts, well usually you got that figured out by now.Life with each other is now solidified. There are kids, and jobs and houses now. A 30-year mortgage together is a lot bigger commitment than a $50 bouquet of flowers.Romance is important, and there is plenty to be said about romance, I’m not talking about that so much. What I am trying to say is this.When you are young, and romantic and googly eyed over someone, it is far different than what life is like when you have a little more milage on you. The balloons and cards and chocolates come second to this life you too share and the tears and laughter of the years.When you are young, and you are in your first romance, you think you are in love right? You are all head over heels, and then we as older people look at those young people and say, wow, you have no idea.Love is a lot more than the gifts. It is about giving your whole life whole heartedly to one another, through the good times and the bad the tough times and easy times. Through the laughter and the tears. Right? Sickness and health -richer or poorer.Well, interestingly enough some people in today’s gospel lesson learned a little bit about what it means to really love someone.You may remember we are in Matthew chapter 8. Today’s focus is on verse 18 through 22, but we we start at the beginning of the chapter.1 When Jesus came down from the mountainside, large crowds followed him. 2 A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” 3 Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” Immediately he was cleansed of his leprosy. 4 Then Jesus said to him, “See that you don’t tell anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the gift Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.” 5 When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking for help. 6 “Lord,” he said, “my servant lies at home paralyzed, suffering terribly.” 7 Jesus said to him, “Shall I come and heal him?” 8 The centurion replied, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. 9 For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” 10 When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, “Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith. 11 I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. 12 But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” 13 Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go! Let it be done just as you believed it would.” And his servant was healed at that moment. 14 When Jesus came into Peter’s house, he saw Peter’s mother-in-law lying in bed with a fever. 15 He touched her hand and the fever left her, and she got up and began to wait on him. 16 When evening came, many who were demon-possessed were brought to him, and he drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick. 17 This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: “He took up our infirmities and bore our diseases.” 18 When Jesus saw the crowd around him, he gave orders to cross to the other side of the lake. 19 Then a teacher of the law came to him and said, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.” 20 Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” 21 Another disciple said to him, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” 22 But Jesus told him, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.”We left off at Matthew chapter 8, verse 17. SO we pick up at verse 18.18 When Jesus saw the crowd around him, he gave orders to cross to the other side of the lake.When Jesus …saw the crowd around him…There was a crowd connecting with Jesus People were caught up in the Jesus movement. This was bound to happen. It was inevitable.The ordinary people, with real problems in the real world heard the teaching of Christ. He promised the kingdom of heaven for the poor in spirit. How many of them were poor in spirit, and thirsted for God. How many of us are poor in spirit?He promised the meek will inherit the earth. Anyone here want to inherit the earth? Jesus promised that if you have a hunger and thirst for righteousness you will be filled. He promised the peacemakers will be called children of God. This is good stuff.Which of us wouldn’t want that? Deep in our soul there is this longing. God the Father created us with that seeking and searching in our soul, the hunger for something more.Jesus also taught about God being our Father-right he taught them the Lord’s prayer. This is good stuff. Who would not want God as our Father. Jesus promises answer to prayer. Our prayers are heard by God himself teaches us.This is big, this is monumental. We don’t get that. We come to church everyday, we were taught from very little onward-God hears our prayers.But think for a moment. What if you weren’t taught that as child.There are a lot of people right now, that do not know this. I know that seems strange, but many people right in our town, our neighbors and friends, some may believe in a God, a God that is somewhere out there, they will even say yeah he created the world but he doesn’t listen to people, and answer their prayers.And then Jesus healed them. He cured the sick. This is big. Have you ever been in a place where there is no hope, or no cure but Jesus? Again it is hard for us to get into that place. We can go to the Dr. They can cure quite a bit of the illnesses we go through. But what if you have no other hope but Jesus?What are you going to do? You are going to flock to Him. Like the people flocking to faith healers. They have conferences, and people pay large amounts of money and travel hundreds of miles to have the chance to have a faith healer cure them.Im not faulting them… we all want that don’t we? This is the crowd, it is the the desperate the hurting the needy coming to Jesus coming to have their needs met.What was it that drew you to Jesus? Think about it for a second what was it, or when was that time when you were coming to Jesus drawn to Him, needing Him to really do something and change something in your life.God often uses those moments to attract us to Him.It is like this. God is far above anything we can even think or imagine. He is in a different place than us, a spiritual plane, we are mortal. So what God does he reaches down to us. He accommodates Himself to us, to draw us to Him.For instance, sickness, hard times difficulties are a part of life. There is a whole planet full of people who experience these things on a regular everyday basis. Take Mayo Rochester for instance. Hundreds and hundreds of people stream into that place DAILY. Many are getting help, many have relatively minor.But many are in need to a miracle, they need a God that hears their prayers, and reaches down to them. Those people are ripe for the “crowd”.And what God does is accommodates Himself to us. He steps out of that spiritual realm and comes to us to walk among us. To walk through our temptations and sufferings, and well…even death.Look at Philippians 2, for a minute.5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; 7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!So, Jesus is there, and the crowd is there, and maybe today you can see yourself as part of the crowd. Then this happens...18 When Jesus saw the crowd around him, he gave orders to cross to the other side of the lake.He that is Jesus -gave orders to cross to the other side of the lake. Matthew makes a point to include this phrase - When Jesus saw the crowds, he gave orders to cross to the other side of the lake.That is strange isn’t it? You would expect… When Jesus saw the crowd around him, He …was very pleased- or he now spoke with joy? When Jesus saw the crowd-He passed some baskets and took up a collection. When Jesus saw the crowd… what… else He taught them some more? He went deeper into what he had taught them..Instead what we see is that gave orders to cross over to the other side of the lake. So…God draws the people, there, and he draws us, using our needs and our desires and our hunger perhaps spiritual, perhaps physical, and draws us to Him.Yeah I want God, I want that, If you are following the illustration from the beginning. It is the candy and flowers and balloons.But then Jesus leaves, He has the crowd right where wants them the message has been preached, now he leaves.And, get this…He leaves--- to not just anywhere, but to the OTHER side. This side of the lake is not a favorite place of the religious people, the crowd. This is the bad part of town. This is the other side is where the non-jews live, the non-God followers- It is a home to the pagans, the half breeds. There is awful sinful stuff that happens on the other side. EVEN the Demonic exists over there....Then look what happens next before Jesus leaves.19 Then a teacher of the law came to him and said, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.”So, this poor guy is in the crowd. He is a religious person, a teacher of the law. A pastor, a scholar a professor at seminary. Completely familiar with the Old Testament. probably to some extant even more than many people around today, and he likes this Jesus movement.SO, he is all in, He is Hey Jesus I will follow you wherever you go. I can see him....in my cartoon brain… He is standing there with a big box of candy, and balloons, and candy,, and He is all set to get on board, Hey I’m coming Jesus this is going be great.And Jesus says this.20 Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”I can see this guy’s jaw dropping open, the balloons float upward, the candy spills. Right?Anyway Jesus says, Really? Really? You want to follow me, I don’t even have a home....How is that for you? No House no place to sleep, and we are going to the other side, with demons-Still on board?Next another guy is there......21 Another disciple said to him, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.”Let me go have a funeral first, it is my father-this is important. I know some scholars say well, he means, he is intending to take care of His aging father, and once his father dies he will join up with- I don’t know perhaps-but honestly that is not too important- I don’t want to a big deal about because that is not the point of the text.The point of the text is that the dialogue is back and forth-the point is what Jesus says.21 Another disciple said to him, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” 22 But Jesus told him, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.”Follow Me----and the DEAD bury their own DEAD---WOAH.......That is intense right? There is a whole lot to unpack in that statement. Even that excuse is insufficient. Let the people of the world-- worry about the things of the world.You if you are following me have been born again. -You are not dead—Let the dead bury the dead. Man that is tough.The next verse states that it is the disciples or the followers of Jesus that actually get into the boat.23 Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him.So the disciples are the ones following, the not dead the ones that been born again- the people that are not the crowd.The crowd was looking for looking for the candy the flowers the romance the adventure the cool Jesus stuff-the healing the kingdom on earth the answered prayers- and Jesus is calling them out of the crowd to something more- He is calling them to the 30 year mortgage-the for better for worse,Put your house on the line put YOUR FAMILY on the line, Really put your life on the line. We are going somewhere really scary OUT into the untamed sea into the land of the demonic. Are you coming?That’s ok I had enough....I’ll be going now....What is your OTHER side?What is your enough? Where do you draw the line? I mean really is it your house? Is it your money is it your family? Please just really think about this for a minute.You know, I have been going to Bible Studies, and small groups for years, I have been to conferences and watched videos, and here is what happens, based on my experience.We sit in a Bible Study, with a bunch of “christians” because of course none of us want to admit that we may be the crowd, and the leader asks, would you give up your house for Jesus, and We say oh sure I will, because deep down, we know “he wont ask” Right?Oh we will hear a nudge to tell our neighbor to come with us to the evangelism outreach dinner, but we know we are not going to hear a nudge to sell our house and move to Afghanistan.If I’m wrong, please let me know, I’m just saying most people really don;t take this serious, and how do I know it.Because the same people that say that, walk right by their Bible every morning on their way to work. I have to read my Bible more they say, yet they get up and check Facebook before Leviticus.They still struggle with the same old sins, they still are self-righteous, and prideful and unwilling to make the changes to walk further in holiness.Here is what happens, and you can see this in other places in Scripture God brings us to a place, and he asks us to go further. It requires sacrifice, and faith, and trust, and if it is too much, God leaves us right there he leaves us right there on the shore.Look at Exodus. God led the people out-who wouldn’t want out- God led them out of Egypt right to the shore of the Red Sea, with Pharoah’s army closing in Moses needed faith that God was going to take care of them-And He parted the sea, and led them where? Straight to the promised land?They wish right…No into the wilderness, with snakes and plagues and ground that swallows up people, and what they wanted to go back didn’t they. Dont’s be like that.What is you other side? WHere is Jesus calling you? Where is the other side for this Church? What might God be calling us to give up?Ill tell you what let’s not start too big. Instead of saying sure we will sell our house while walking by our Bible let’s start with....say… holiness.Before God will lead us we have to be willing to be led. This Wednesday is the beginning of lent. We do not have a Ash Wednsday service planned, so instead, Make a comittment to go deeper with God-JUST FOR 40 days-and see how that goes.We will have a moment of prayer-Use that time to pray and ask God how you can be be more holy. Try reading your Bible every-single day for 40 days. A devotion EVERY single day for 40 days we have a lot in the back. Get rid of a particular sin. Fast every Friday, and spend it in prayer. Gove double what you give, all 40 days.Try that first, and see if Jesus takes you out of the crowd and to the OTHER SIDE,
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