We’ve been going through the life of Jesus leading up to Easter weekend, I haven’t had time to jot down my notes from church and now I have 3 sermons of notes – so here we go.
Faith – When Jesus came to his hometown He was not greeted like a hometown hero. In fact, people were like, ‘Isn’t this Jesus, Mary’s son, a carpenter?’ They had no faith in HIm. They were offended by His claims, He was of low status, He was one of them, He didn’t have the proper credentials. Jesus did fewer miracles in their presence because of this lack of faith. Their pride and unbelief made their faith small and the smaller the faith the less Jesus could do. Faith has value when it’s put into practice, it is more doing and less saying, it means that we shouldn’t assume that we know everything there is to know about God. Part of our belief comes without answers. But, it’s not a blind trust, we have faith because of the things we have seen. So, don’t judge others for their lack of faith, maybe they haven’t seen the things you have or their belief has been shaken.
Mark 6:5 He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. 6 He was amazed at their lack of faith.
(OJB)5 And he was not able there to do many nissim (miracles), except on a few cholim (sick people) he laid (his) hands and administered refuah (healing) to them.6 And he wondered on account of their lack of emunah.
The Hebrew word for faith is emunah – it is faith, it is belief, it is trust. This is from Chabad.org, “….the greatest vitamin you can provide emunah is plain exercise….. emunah grows taller and deeper as you accustom yourself to see all the phenomena of life as manifestations of the Creator’s presence and glory. All the more so is emunah enriched by being tested and withstanding those tests; and by making sacrifices in life for the sake of your emunah.”
Traditions and true worship – A healthy life grows from the inside out. It is what comes out of your heart that defiles you, not what goes in it. The greatest threat to your spiritual well-being is not what is happening around you, but what is happening inside of you; what you allow in and then spew back out. Religious traditions are outward things that we can start to lean on and follow instead of God’s laws and rules. When the act of communion becomes a checklist or outward show instead of a reflection of repentance – the heart of God is broken. When charitable acts are done for show, when tithing is practiced with a clenched fist, when time is spent on things instead of on relationships – these are traditions that can be skewed and end up creating a threat to your heart, your worship and your spirit.
Mark 7 1-4 The Pharisees, along with some religion scholars who had come from Jerusalem, gathered around him. They noticed that some of his disciples weren’t being careful with ritual washings before meals. The Pharisees—Jews in general, in fact—would never eat a meal without going through the motions of a ritual hand-washing, with an especially vigorous scrubbing if they had just come from the market (to say nothing of the scourings they’d give jugs and pots and pans). 5 The Pharisees and religion scholars asked, “Why do your disciples flout the rules, showing up at meals without washing their hands?”
6-8 Jesus answered, “Isaiah was right about frauds like you, hit the bull’s-eye in fact:
These people make a big show of saying the right thing,
but their heart isn’t in it.
They act like they are worshiping me,
but they don’t mean it.
They just use me as a cover
for teaching whatever suits their fancy,
Ditching God’s command
and taking up the latest fads.”
14-15 Jesus called the crowd together again and said, “Listen now, all of you—take this to heart. It’s not what you swallow that pollutes your life; it’s what you vomit—that’s the real pollution.”
Compassion – it is more than a feeling, it is a feeling that leads to redemptive action. When you see something that breaks your heart, churns your stomach, grates at your soul and you react and act – that is compassion. The action can be brokenness, for God uses the broken more than we know; thankfulness, for reflecting on what we already have can help us to use our resources wisely; and generosity, for we are called to be open handed with what we’ve been given to help others and to show the love of God. No one can multiply blessings like Jesus, but when we come alongside Him to be compassionate, it’s amazing what can be done. One person can’t feed starving children, but an entire church can spend time packing meals that will feed 250 children for a year. When compassion causes action, the blessings will multiply. To have rachmei shomayim (heavenly compassion and mercy) is what Christ wants for us to show others.
Mark 8 1-3 At about this same time he again found himself with a hungry crowd on his hands. He called his disciples together and said, “This crowd is breaking my heart. They have stuck with me for three days, and now they have nothing to eat. If I send them home hungry, they’ll faint along the way—some of them have come a long distance.”
4 His disciples responded, “What do you expect us to do about it? Buy food out here in the desert?” 5 He asked, “How much bread do you have?” “Seven loaves,” they said. 6-10 So Jesus told the crowd to sit down on the ground. After giving thanks, he took the seven bread loaves, broke them into pieces, and gave them to his disciples so they could hand them out to the crowd. They also had a few fish. He pronounced a blessing over the fish and told his disciples to hand them out as well. The crowd ate its fill. Seven sacks of leftovers were collected. There were well over four thousand at the meal.