Sermon Series – March 9, 2014

(Lenten Series 1 of 6)

What Did Jesus Do?

Mark 10:13-31 & James 2:14-17

  #1 WHEN JESUS LOOKED AT PEOPLE

 The first Gospel Lesson has already been read to you, I will now read from James 2:14-17;

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.….

1-“What did Jesus Do? When Jesus looked at people; For the Christian there is much to be learned from a consideration of what Jesus did in varying circumstances.

So it is during Lent, 2014, that I invite you to consider answers to these questions: What did Jesus Do when he was tempted? when he preached? when he prayed? when he taught? when he took part in a demonstration? when he died…and rose again?…and today, what did Jesus do when he looked at people?

I.

The gospels are so filled with accounts of Jesus’ confrontations with individuals and groups, that over the last year or so I have preached on such themes as: Jesus and the Multitude, and Sir We Would See Jesus series to name just a couple.

II.

As we read the gospels…Matthew, Mark Luke and John; as we carefully study the biographies of Jesus; or as we simply browse through the pages, glancing here and there, one thing that comes through loud and clear is that Jesus had a tremendous concern for people.

Never would Jesus have “made it” in a cloistered monastery, never would Jesus have shut himself away in an office, never would Jesus have longed to live on a deserted island, never would Jesus have been content with getting reports on how things were going with the citizens of his kingdom. Jesus spent his earthly life and ministry in daily, hourly, moment by moment contact with people.

III.

Today’s reading from the gospel according to Mark provides a superb example. The 10th chapter of that biography of Jesus finds the Master….first, looking at children; second, looking at a sample adult; and third, looking at people who are financially well to do.

That first familiar tale bears rehearing….

“People were bringing little children to Jesus to have him touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them; ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth; anyone who will not receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.’

“And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them, and blessed them.” (Mark 10:13-16)

 

What a world of difference between the way Jesus looked at children and the way his disciples looked at them!

Incidentally, it may be added that more was done by Jesus in behalf of the status of women than by anyone who ever lived before or after.

As Arthur Gossip has pointed out: “It was Christ who gave women her chance, who saw her possibilities, who discovered her value…who emphasized her worth…” (1)

“He who immortalized the woman’s mite; and the woman with the box of ointment; and the cottage of Bethany with its two sisters, Mary and Martha; he who spoke some of his noblest and profoundest words to an outcast woman at a well in Samaria; has done more to liberate and redeem womanhood from servitude, inferiority, and injustice than any other in history.”

For Jesus “looked on women not as property but as people. That appears in all his contacts with them, and in his sayings concerning them. Against the customs of his time, against the commonness of the idea of male dominance which runs through Hebrew thought and practice, he gave to his nation and to the world a new conception of women as persons, equal with men in the sight of God.” (2)

And did he do less for children?

Zeal, on behalf of both, is indicated when we recall that “An affectionate letter from an Egyptian laborer named Hilarion to his wife Alis, written at the beginning of the Christian era, advises her that when their child is born, she should rear it if it is a boy, but if it is a girl, she should allow it to die.” (3)

Contrast that with the picture of Jesus presented in the gospels, noting for example, these words from Matthew: “Calling to him a child, Jesus put him in the midst of them, and said, ‘Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the Kingdom of heaven. “Whoever humbles himself like this child, he is greatest in the Kingdom of heaven… Whoever causes one of these little ones….to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.” (Matthew 18:5-6)

IV.

We have considered “Women and children first”, (-this is the order in which the matter appears in its gospel preaching of today-) but note also, the fashion in which Jesus responded to the male of the species, remembering that the whole picture is simply the way in which Jesus looked at people.

This morning’s reading of the gospel continues: “As Jesus was starting….on a trip, a man ran up…”

There is a profoundly significant bit of question and answer between them, and then this tremendously moving observation by the reporter: (as we have heard) “And Jesus looking upon him loved him….” The remainder of the story is neither so happy nor so promising as the beginning, for as the Bible reports the man’s reaction: “gloom spread over his face”, at what Jesus commanded concerning him, “and he went away sad because he was very rich.”

Yet there is that strangely compelling conviction within each of us that the truth is there….that whatever be our lot, our outlook, our situation, Jesus is such a person that should we run up to the Master, it might indeed be reported concerning us;

“And Jesus looking upon us, loved us…” For you see, this was the way Jesus looked at people.

Very early in his ministry, it was reported concerning him: “So Jesus went around visiting all the towns and villages. He taught in their meeting houses, and healed people from every kind of disease and sickness. :As he saw crowds, his heart was filled with pity for them, because they were worried and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. So he said to his disciples, ‘There is a great harvest, but few workers to gather it in. Pray to the owner of the harvest that he will send out more workers to gather the harvest.’” (Matthew 9:35-38)

“More workers” with Jesus. Remember that!

V.

But one cannot leave the final section of the original passage of that scripture, which occupies our attention this morning without further comment…for the gospel of Mark has pointed out, not only the special care Jesus had for children, not only the love so obviously lavished on individual adults, but an almost unique bit of compassion and caring on behalf of the well to do. How well aware Jesus was of the spiritual dangers of wealth! How strong and unrelenting was his condemnation of profit-making turned religion, and riches made an object of worship!

“How hard it will be for rich people to enter the Kingdom of God!” he said; “much harder than a camel to go through the eye of a needle.”

But Jesus didn’t stop there, you see. When his disciples pointed out just how impossible then it would be for the rich to be saves, Jesus specifically opened the door of hope: “…impossible for men, but not for God; everything is possible for God.” And that may have to be our hope, yours and mine, who share in the riches of the most economically favored people on the face of the whole earth. The point is, that Jesus looks upon us, also, with love.

VI.

Read the gospels. See how it was when Jesus looked at people. Children turned away by others, Jesus calls them to himself. Women in a state of peonage, Jesus puts them on a pedestal.

Adults filled with questions and problems, and fears, “looking upon them he loves them.” People in peculiar situations of embarrassing plenty or of enslaving poverty…for each, Jesus has a special care.

That’s how it was when Jesus looked at people. That’s how it is when Jesus looks at people.

VII.

And what of us? What of Us? For a little over a year, I have been saving in my home office, a copy of “WHY?” (Show copy, author unknown)

I did not know when, or in what situation, that this should be read. But when I considered the way it was when Jesus looked at people, I knew the time had come. For now I read it to you.

I read the observations of an Australian, I read what we might see and say when we look at people.

“I walked today through the slums of life, down the dark streets of wretchedness and of pain. I trod today where few have trod and as I walked I challenged God.

I saw the sots in the bar rooms. I saw the prostitutes in the dance halls. I saw the thieves as they picked pockets. I saw men and women devoid of life, living in worlds of sin, and above the din I whispered: ‘Why, God Why?’”

“I walked today down the lanes of hate, hearing the jeers of bitter men, hearing the names as they cursed and spat…

‘Dago’, ‘Spic’, ‘Kike’, ‘Jap’.

I saw the dejected men they stoned. I felt the anguish of their cries. I saw them as they slapped the lonely, as they turned their backs on human need. Snarling, growling were the fiends of hell. These, God called His Sons! Gasping for air, I cried: ‘Why, God, Why?’”

“I walked today through war’s grim dregs….over fields of blood, over graveless men. I saw the dead, the crucified, the headless, the limbless, the pleading, the crying. I saw the pain, the waste. I smelled the odor of rotted flesh. I saw the children gathered around…watching, naked, hungry, weeping, diseased, dirty…the baby trying to nurse from a dead mother. The ruins…

the agony. The despair! Disaster…disaster all around!”

“Blinded with tears, I fled down the streets. I stumbled, and then stopped. I shouted: ‘Why, God, Why?’ Why do you let men sin, hate, and suffer? Unmerciful Father?”

“God, art thou blind…art thou wicked and cruel? God, canst thou watch and do naught? Why must this be?”

“The world grew silent. I awaited reply. The silence was heavy. I started to tremble. I waited long…half rebuking, half fearing.”

“Then I heard from close behind me: ‘Why, Man, Why?’”

And I wonder if too often, the difference is not in the way Jesus and we look at people.

This has been my sermon on behalf of God.

How do we look at people? Nuisances? Scum? Undeserving? Unimportant? Hopeless?

Or can we look at them as Jesus Looked? And, like Him…Love them every one?

More workers with Jesus…Remember that!

—————————————————–

Please join me in prayer;

May our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope, comfort your hearts and establish you in every good word and work. Blessed be God, because He has not rejected our prayer or removed His steadfast love from us. Blessed be His holy Name forever and ever!

Amen.

 

1-Int. Bible, Vol. 8, p. 530

2-Halford E. Luccock, Int. Bible, Vol. 7, p. 795

3-Sherman E. Johnson, Int. Bible, Vol. 7.pp. 468-469

4-Harold Cooke Phillips, Int. Bible, Vol. 6., p. 612

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