Monday, October 30, 2023

Going In the Gospel #3 Storm Riding With the Savior - Luke 8:22-25


Going In the Gospel #3 Storm Riding With the Savior
Text: Luke 8:22-25


It is not a secret to tell you that our world is filled with troubles. This is such an universal truth that in 1949 engineers in the Air Force who were trying to see what happened when you strapped a man to a rocket sled mounted on a railroad car and sent it down the tracks at 100s of miles and hour. Maybe you’ve heard about the law called Murphy's Law? Named after Edward A. Murphy Jr. an air force captain and aeronautical engineer. It is usually stated, Whatever can go wrong will go wrong.” Sometimes it is stated, “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong, and at the worst possible time."  It also has several corollaries, such as, “Nothing is ever easy: and “It will always take longer than you think.”

Then there are other less work centered Murphy’s laws, like, The line you are in always moves slower. The toast always falls with the buttered side down. Inside every large problem is a whole bunch of small problems just waiting to get out. Whatever hits the fan will not be evenly distributed. No matter how long or hard you shop for an item, after you've bought it, it will be on sale somewhere cheaper. Any tool dropped while repairing a car will roll underneath to the exact center. You will remember that you forgot to take out the trash when the garbage truck is two doors away.  And of course, the light at the end of the tunnel is probably an oncoming train. There is even a Mrs. Murphy’s law, “Mrs. Murphy's law" which states that "Anything that can go wrong will go wrong while Mr. Murphy is out of town.”

Everyone know things will go wrong in this world, but how you deal with those things, how you understand your place in the middle of everything going wrong, that is the most important thing aspect of troubles, especially for Christians.

Our sermon today is about a time in the life of the disciples when following the Lord seemingly went wrong. Turn to Luke 8.

Weak In the Wind Luke 8:22-23

Now it came to pass on a certain day, that he went into a ship with his disciples: and he said unto them, Let us go over unto the other side of the lake. And they launched forth.

Center of His Will, Center of The Storm

The disciples were obeying the Lord’s command. He had told them, “Let us go over to the other side of the lake.” They obey Him and yet they find themselves in peril. They were doing exactly what Christ had required. They were exactly where Christ had told them to be, but that did not keep them from the danger of the storm.

The Bible says there came a “storm of wind” on the lake and they were filled with water and were in jeopardy, they were in danger of sinking.

In Matthew 8:24 it says, “there arose a great tempest in the sea, insomuch that the ship was covered with the waves:”

 The wording here describes a squall, or a terrible windstorm that came almost without warning. Just as scripture said it came down, it fell on their little fishing boat, like a blow from an axe and the waves were swamping the ship. They were going down. They were flounder in the waves and they were sinking.

There is fear is in their voices as they call out to Jesus, Luke 8:24 Master, master, we perish. in Matthew 8:25 Lord, save us: we perish.” In Mark 4:38 “Master, carest thou not that we perish?” Lord, don’t you care if we die?

Isn’t that amazing? Isn’t it sober to see that even for the disciple doing exactly what their Lord told them to do, there was no guarantee of calm seas. Even though they were right where Jesus had told them to be, and even though Jesus was in the ship with them, they are caught in a life threating storm. No wonder they cried out, “Lord don’t you care if we die?”

When His Commands Don’t Bring The Calm

We are not apostles, but we are disciples. In Matthew and Mark’s account we are told that it wasn’t just one boat but several. Mark 4:36 And when they had sent away the multitude, they took him even as he was in the ship. And there were also with him other little ships.” We are like those other disciples trying to keep up with the Lord and trying to do what He asks of us.

As disciples, we need to be doing what Christ commands, what He asks of us.

Listen carefully, when it comes to walking or in this case sailing with the Lord, there is no unknown will of God. Our commands are as clear for us today as they were for those disciples when Jesus, “Lets go to the other side.”

When it comes to following the Lord, there is no unknown will when it comes to the Lord’s requirements of us as disciples. His will is found and easily understood in His written word. When He says these things I command you, He really means just that.

In all truth, it is not ignorance of God’s will, but fully understanding God’s will that often keeps us from serving Him. His Word and will are painfully clear and shockingly simple to understand.  

Painful and shocking because, just as we see in this passage, the center of God’s will is often the center of the storm.

Let me give you some Murphy’s law as modified by a pastor, “Commit to tithe and watch your car's engine fall out.”

“Commit to teach Sunday School and find the only opening is the junior high boys class where the last teacher quit after a lesson on Abraham and Isaac and he wound up being Isaac.”

“Commit to be a witness of the Gospel and find yourself facing the meanest looking, face tattooed, ear ring, nose ring, chest ring wearing, lost neighbor who answers the door wearing nothing but a Speedo, smoking a cigar and guzzling Coors, now go ahead and tell Him about Jesus.”

Why do these things happen? Paul tells us in Ephesians 6:12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

Being a disciple, being a real Christian, isn't a game or make believe, it is a battle, a war with terrible casualties, wounds, and sorrows. We fight for eternity and that means the stakes are high on both sides.

The disciples made themselves front line warriors for Jesus when they committed to follow the Lord and if you are a Christian then you are taking your place on that same battle line.

If you have given your heart, your soul, your life to Christ, then you are a soldier in this war and the enemy has you in his sights. (You might as well paint a big target on your chest and say, “Here Satan this will make it easier for you.” (Maybe we should get that on some T-Shirts.)

Being a disciple and following the Lord is not easy as some teach, and their naïve followers expect. Those people are like the Children of Israel when they arrive in the Promised Land and found out they have to fight giants.

Illustration:  The Children of Israel

They send the spies into Canaan, their promised land, their land of milk and honey then they find out there are actual giants behind tall wall in cities built like fortresses.

Their dialogue with God is not that of warriors but of slaves looking for an easy life. It might be something like this for them and for us.

Lord, I thought You were going to give us this land.

Yes, the Lord says, but you've got to go into battle and fight for it.

But there are giants in the land behind fortified walls.

Yes, but I am bigger than the giants and stronger than the walled cities.

But Lord, Some of us won't survive the battles.

Yes, some will give their life in My cause and for My people, but I will welcome them home as heroes for eternity.

Listen, some things are worth risking everything for. Eternity and the kingdom of God is more than worth the risk.

The disciples follow Jesus command and wind up in a life threatening storm. What they do next is what we would do, they call out to Christ.

Calling for Christ - Luke 8:24

And they came to him, and awoke him, saying, Master, master, we perish. Then he arose, and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water: and they ceased, and there was a calm.

Fear then Faith

The disciples truly believed they were going to die. I don’t blame them. The storms on the sea of Galilee are monsters of terror and dangerously powerful. Sudden violent squalls occur when winds in the mountains funnel down to the Sea of Galilee, 600 feet below sea level. When that cold mountain air hits that warm lake water, terrible, swift storms erupt almost without warning. For those disciples in a small open fishing boat, death was as close as the next wave breaking over the top of the gunnels.

They were very afraid, they were going to be destroyed by the storm and they turn to their master. They awaken the Lord, who was asleep in the ship on a pillow, can you imagine how tired He must have been. Jesus wakes and then He tells the storm to settle down, like an unruly child. He rebukes the storm and is good but then He also rebukes the disciples, not good.

In the parallel account in Mark 4:40 “he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith?

His rebuke was not because the storm wasn't really dangerous but because they could see the storm's power but could not see their Savior's promise and protection.

What do you see, The Furious Storm or The Faithful Savior?

When modern sailors are caught in a storm and can't see the way they rely upon the compass, maps, radar and GPS. By having faith in their Global Positioning System they can ride out any storm.

Faith in the Word of God, and in the promises of the Lord, is our GPS in the storms of life. The navigators of this age depend on their GPS, the Global Positioning System, but disciples of the Lord in all ages navigate through life depending on our own GPS. That stands for God’s Promises and Salvation. (GPS) (Now that really should be on a T-shirt. “I find my way by GPS, God’s Promises and Salvation.”)

Through that faith we keep our eyes upon Jesus Christ and in Him and with Him we'll make it through the storms of life.

Understand, faith is not denying the perils of the storm but in trusting the more powerful promises of Christ.

Faith is not in denying sickness but in seeing Jesus as the great physician.

Faith is not in denying poverty but in finding the real riches of God are too great for this world to hold.

The wonderful truth was just this; the boat couldn't sink because Christ was in it. Jesus was not to die by drowning in a sea but on a cross. He had already told the disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” That meant they would go over to the other side. Satan, the Prince and Power of the air, could easily call up a storm to try and sink the Lord and His disciples. But he could not take Jesus Christ the Son of God before it was His time. The boat couldn’t sink in the midst of the storm because Jesus was in the midst of the boat.

If it was true for a fishing boat, how much truer is it for our life, our church, our families and our soul?

Away with the spirit numbing fear of losing your salvation. Isn’t your soul more precious than a boat? Away with anxiety over our problems being too great for God. If He could still the wind and the waves, don’t you think he can still the worries of your heart? Away with any fear of any thing this world and its ruler can threaten us with. Isn’t Jesus’ promise greater, "Lo, I am with you always?"?

Peace be Still.

Master, the tempest is raging!
The billows are tossing high!
The sky is o'ershadowed with blackness,
No shelter or help is nigh;
Carest thou not that we perish?"
How canst thou lie asleep,
When each moment so madly is threat'ning
A grave in the angry deep?

The winds and the waves shall obey thy will.
"Peace, be still!"
Whether the wrath of the storm-tossed sea,
Or struggles or evil, whatever it be,
No water can swallow the ship where lies
the Master of ocean and earth and skies:
They all shall sweetly obey thy will.
"Peace, be still! Peace, be still!"
They all shall sweetly obey thy will.
"Peace, peace, be still!"

The storm is over, the danger is past, but the lesson Jesus teaches the disciples and us is next.

Finding Full Faith - Luke 8:25

And he said unto them, Where is your faith? And they being afraid wondered, saying one to another, What manner of man is this! for he commandeth even the winds and water, and they obey him.

Where Is Faith Found?

Jesus asks about their faith. His questioning rebuke must have must have seemed as harsh as the storm.

He asks them, “Where is the evidence of your faith? Why did it not show itself in the storm? Where was the evidence of their belief and trust in him? Why did your faith fail?”

After the storm and the rebuke, the disciples fear their Master even more than they feared the storm. Luke 8:25 “What manner of man is this! for he command even the winds and water, and they obey him.” Who is this man who is more powerful than the forces of nature. Their fear is not about the danger of the storm but amazement of the power of the One who has called them to follow Him.

This amazing fear at the power of Jesus shows that at this point in their discipleship, they did not fully know Him. And it was that lack of knowledge, that lack of experience with Him that caused their faith to fail.

If you were asked, "Where is your faith?

If you were asked, where was the evidence of your faith, when you were struggling in the storm? Where can it be seen, how can it be identified? How can we keep it from failing?

Misconceptions of faith.

Many think that faith is willpower but in truth faith is not self-discipline but submission. Faith is not my strength but my surrender.

Neither is endurance, faith.  You see endurance doesn’t produce faith; it is faith that produces endurance.

Nor is faith a rare or unique power. Faith may accomplish supernatural deeds but it is not a supernatural ability.

Christ asked, "Where is your faith?" I think the question points to two truths about faith.

First, faith will be seen, especially in the storms of life.

James said, "shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works."

Faith is seen most brightly in the darkest of the storms. It's the lighthouse one the shore that is never noticed until the hurricane strikes then it becomes the only thing that is seen in the deadly dark.

Second, faith can be found and it is found in the person of Jesus Christ.

Faith is seen in direct proportion to the extent of my trust in Jesus as my Savior, and Lord.

Faith is not subjective, dependent upon my feelings, but is objective dependent upon something real and true outside myself, and the object of faith is Jesus, that's where faith is and must be found.

John 6:47-48, Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life. I am that bread of life

John 10:11 I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.

John 11:25-26 Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?

Jesus is telling the disciples and telling us, “Believe in me! Quit looking at the storm, quit looking at the waves, quit looking at the wind. Look to me.”   

Faith comes down to this, Simply taking Jesus at His word and look to Him in the midst of the storm.

The Empty Chair

Leslie Weatherhead tells the story of an old Scot who was quite ill, and the family called for their dominie, or minister. As he entered the sick room and sat down, he noticed another chair on the opposite side of the bed, a chair which had also been drawn close. The pastor said, "Well, Donald, I see I'm not your first visitor for the day."

The old man looked up, was puzzled for a moment, then recognized from the nod of the head that the pastor had noticed the empty chair. "Well, Pastor, I'll tell you about that chair. Many years ago I found it quite difficult to pray, so one day I shared this problem with my pastor. He told me not to worry about kneeling or about placing myself in some pious posture. Instead, he said, 'Just sit down, put a chair opposite you, and imagine Jesus sitting in it, then talk with Him as you would a friend."' The aged Scot then added, "I've been doing that ever since."

A short time later the daughter of the Scot called the pastor. When he answered, she informed him that her father had died very suddenly and she was quite shaken for she had no idea death was so near. Then she continued, "I had just gone to lie down for an hour or two, for he seemed to be sleeping so comfortably. When I went back he was dead." Then she added thoughtfully, "Except now his hand was on the empty chair at the side of the bed. Isn't that strange?"

The minister said, "No, it's not so strange. I think I fully understand." - James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988), p. 416.

Transition: The final lesson about the storms of life.

Beginning the Blessing - Luke 8:27-35

Then they went out to see what was done; and came to Jesus, and found the man, out of whom the devils were departed, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed, and in his right mind:

After the storm there was work to be done

When they got to the “other side” where Jesus had commanded them to go, there work to be done. There was a man to be saved, demons to be destroyed and a miracle to be seen.

The blessing of that man being set free, was on the other side of the storm, the other side of the lake. Jesus knew this and sent this disciples through the storm in order to reach that man and destroy the demons in his life.

Are we willing to ride out the storm to find the blessing on the other side?

The storm is the beginning of the journey to God’s blessing. If you hold on through the wind and the waves, if you keep your eyes on Christ, if you’ll trust Him even when you can’t see the other side, then you'll come to the blessing.


Monday, October 23, 2023

Going In The Gospel #2: Standing For The Savior


Going In The Gospel #2: Standing For The Savior

Mark 3:1-5

Introduction and Background:

Our Series “Going In the Gospel” continues now in the book of Mark. Mark is the shortest of the Gospel accounts and was written by John Mark, the nephew of the apostle Peter. Many believe that Mark based his Gospel upon the memories of his uncle and with the inspiration of the Holy Spirit recorded them.

Mark begins His account of the Gospel with Jesus first appearing and the start of His public ministry, Mark is saying that Jesus was the Gospel, He was the good news. Mark says “Mark 1:1 The beginning of the gospel (the good news) of Jesus Christ, the Son of God;” He then tells us of John the Baptist announcing the coming of Jesus and then in verse 9 he writes, Mark 1:9-10  And it came to pass in those days, that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized of John in Jordan.  And straightway coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon him:

There are, as you know, four Gospels; Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. The first three Matthew, Mark and Luke are called the synoptic Gospels, the word means “with one eye.” They are called synoptic because they follow, for the most part the same order and cover the same events. John is the only non-synoptic Gospel and though it overlaps with much of the other Gospels it covers an entire year, at the very beginning of Jesus ministry that the other accounts do not. Mark may have been the first Gospel written around 67- 70 AD, while John’s Gospel was not written until about 95 AD.

All the Gospels record the life of Jesus, but they all present our Savior in the perspective of the man writing. The Holy Spirit used their vocabularies, styles, and memories to give us a full view of who Jesus was. Matthew presents Jesus as the rightful King of Israel and gives us many Old Testament prophecies to show that truth. Luke shows Jesus as the perfect, sinless man, while John show us Jesus as God, God in the flesh. Mark’s view of Jesus is as the servant. He uses words that are dramatic and forceful and show Jesus driven by His mission for God the Father.

The Wycliffe Bible Commentary says, “The characteristic word of this Gospel of action is euthys, which occurs some forty-one times and is translated straightway, immediately, forthwith, anon. … In numerous places words of unusual forcefulness appear, such as "driveth" (1:12), compared with "led," which appears in the other Synoptic Gospels (Mt 4:1; Lk 4:1).” - The Wycliffe Bible Commentary.

When all four Gospels are read, we see Jesus as God, who became Man and as the King, who became a servant. All of these descriptions of Jesus are true. He could not have been our Savior unless He was fully God who came down from glory and entered a virgin’s womb to be born a man. He was rightfully our King but willingly made himself a servant who died for us on Calvary.

We must be right about who Jesus is and we must be right about how the salvation He offers us becomes ours. I can’t afford to be wrong about salvation, no matter how good my intentions may be. The Gospels tell us of Jesus who is able to save.

Crippled Before Christ – Mark 3:1-2

And he entered again into the synagogue; and there was a man there which had a withered hand. And they watched him, whether he would heal him on the sabbath day; that they might accuse him.

Physically Crippled

This is the second Sabbath controversy in the book of Mark. The first takes place in chapter 2 when Jesus allows his disciples to pluck ears of grain and eat them on the Sabbath. Because Mark starts us out later in the life of Jesus, we don’t read about the year of obscurity, that John records, but are immediately plunged into the controversies with the Pharisees in the year of opposition.

The Bible simply tells us that there was a man with a withered hand and they, the Pharisees, watched Jesus to see if He would heal the man on the Sabbath Day.

The Pharisees see an opportunity to destroy Jesus with the law and let a man continue to suffer, but Jesus sees an opportunity to overcome the law with His love and to heal a man with His power.

This man was weak, his hand was useless. The word used to describe the withered hand means that it was due either to an injury or to disease. He would not be able to work as a whole man could. He was not as God had created him, he was marred by the world and its sin.

In this man and in the actions of Jesus I can see a picture of us as lost individuals, not with a withered hand but with a withered soul.

Spiritually Crippled

We stand spiritually crippled before Jesus. This is a withering that is more debilitating, than the man in the synagogue that day. It is the withering of our souls, our spirits due to sin.

The Bible says this happened when sin entered the world as Adam and Eve disobeyed God in the Garden.

God told them in Genesis 2:17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

But they disobeyed God and, on that day, they lost eternal life and they began to die physically, but they immediately died, spiritually.

They fled from God, hoping to not be found, but He sought them and when He found them, He told them that because of what they had done, the rest of their lives would be filled with pain and sorrow. And not just them but all those who would come from them would be tainted by the crippling power of sin.

This is what the Bible says about Sin and Me. The Bible says sin has withered my soul.

Romans 3:23 For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.

Romans 5:12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:

1 John 1:8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

We are spiritually crippled and just like that man on that Sabbath Day we need Jesus to see us and heal us from the devastating effects of sin.

Transition: The man with the withered hand probably had been this way for years. Day after day he struggled with this weakness but today was no ordinary day, because today he was going to meet Jesus.

Called To Christ – Mark 3:3-4

And he saith unto the man which had the withered hand, Stand forth. 4 And he saith unto them, Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath days, or to do evil? to save life, or to kill? But they held their peace.

Called To Stand Forth

Look at the character of Jesus in this situation, he sees the man and he sees the Pharisees and knows that they are watching. The Bible does not tell us that the man came up to Jesus to ask for healing but instead it is Jesus who addresses the man. He could have walked by, he could have let this man continue in weakness and disability, unable to fully use his withered hand. But praise the Lord, that is not our Jesus.

He looks at the man, he looks at the Pharisees and then he tells the man, “Stand forth.” Stand up and step out so everyone can see. Let them all see what what the Lord of heaven and earth can do.”

Jesus calls the man to Himself. The man listens and comes to Jesus, but the Pharisees leave to find allies they can use to kill Jesus.

Jesus asks the crowd a question, but it is especially directed at the Pharisees, Mark 3:4 Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath days, or to do evil? to save life, or to kill?

Now that is not a hard question, is it? The answer is simple unless you’re a Pharisee or a legalist. Is it okay to do good on the day of Rest? Yes of course that is okay. Is it okay to do evil? No. That is never okay. You and I have no problem understanding the answer but the Pharisees are so bound up in their law, they “held their peace.” They won’t answer because they know Jesus is right, but they don’t care about what is right, or good or loving. They only care about their Law, their power and their traditions.

There is no better illustration in the Bible of the difference between the law and love. One leads to death, the other leads to life. That handicapped man is about to learn the difference and we must learn it as well.

Called To Come

Jesus is still calling today, calling through the Gospel, through His Word, through His church and through his people. He is calling those with sin withered hearts to “stand forth.”  

Listen to the words of Jesus himself.

In John 6:44, he tells us that, “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.

Then in John 12:32, he tells us when that drawing will happen. “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.”  

Some would take John 6:44 and tell you that you can’t come unless God draws you, and that is true but then they will tell you that God only draws certain ones. Aren’t you glad that Jesus sets all that straight in John 12:32? He tells us exactly how we will be drawn and it is just as easy to hear for us today as it was for this man drawn to Jesus in the synagogue that day. Jesus says, “If I be lifted up.” He is speaking of the cross, his death on the tree and He says in that lifting up, He draws all to himself.

Every time we tell someone that Jesus died for them, we lift him up, and as He is lifted up the Holy Spirit calls out to that lost person and they hear the voice of Jesus saying, Come to me. This is the power of the Gospel. It draws people to the Lord.

If that is not plain enough listen once again to Jesus in Matthew 11:28-30 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

When we hear the voice of Jesus and you have heard it just now, will you be like the man who stood fort and come or will you stay back like the Pharisees, resenting that we are being told that we are weak, sinful, lost and without hope in ourselves?

Jesus is the Only point of Judgment

After healing a man born blind and then seeing that man thrown out of the synagogue because he also was healed on the sabbath, Jesus finds him and after presenting himself as the Son of God, the once blind man says, “Lord, I believe” and he worships Jesus. Then Jesus turns to the once again watching Pharisees and in

John 9:39-41 For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind. And some of the Pharisees which were with him heard these words, and said unto him, Are we blind also? Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth.

They refused to admit their own blindness, refused to come to the only one who could heal their spiritually crippled eyes and so remained in their sin. They were proclaiming, We don’t have sin and we don’t need Jesus.

Pay attention to what Jesus says they will be judged for? He brings us to one sole point of eternal judgment. He says, “I came into this world.” The only reason we are not saved is if we reject Jesus as our Savior. Just like the Pharisees we reject and walk away from Jesus and that is the only reason forgiveness, salvation and heaven is denied to me.

The story of course doesn’t end with Jesus calling, it doesn’t end with the man hearing the call of Christ for there is one especially important action that must still take place. We see it in verse 5.

Cured By Christ – Mark 3:5

And when he had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts, he saith unto the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it out: and his hand was restored whole as the other.

Restoration or Rebellion

Here we see the character of Christ. Mark is very good at showing us the emotions of Jesus. The Bible says, he looked round at them with anger, grieved for their hard hearts. This anger is not sinful nor is it inconsistent with the love and mercy of the Lord. It would be wrong for Jesus not to be angry when confronted with the wrong that would leave a man crippled when he could be healed.

Jesus looked around at every single Pharisee in that room, knowing they were daring Him to do what they said He couldn’t do according to the Law. Mark records there was anger written on His face. Mark 3:5 when he had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts.

There was anger that could be seen on Jesus’ face. Anger at their hardened hearts. The word here is πώρωσις pōrōsis; it means hardness, stupidity or callousness. We know this word when it comes to bones becoming hard and brittle. Jesus sees their calcified, impenetrable hearts, made that way by the misuse of the Law. And it angers Him, but Mark says it is an anger caused by grief. Grief at what sin does, and anger because He can cure sin and its effects, just as He can cure this man’s hand, but they would stop Him from doing both. And Jesus is righteously, rightly angry.

Now I’m going to challenge you with a simple question, exactly when was this man healed? Was it when he heard Jesus? Was it when he stood forth? No, the Bible clearly tells us when he was healed.

He was healed when he responded to the words of Christ to stretch out his hand. The man did as Jesus said, and He reached out toward the Lord. His belief in Jesus was shown when He acted upon what Jesus told him and he stretched forth his hand. The Bible tells us, “And he stretched it out: and his hand was restored whole as the other.”

Salvation or Damnation

Every person has two choices when they are confronted in their sin and weakness by Jesus. Harden your heart or Heed His call. You can, like the Pharisees, harden your heart and refuse to heed the calling of Jesus. You can refuse to look upon the Lamb of God sent to die for you. You can choose to not acknowledge the personal revelation that He came and died for you on Calvary.

You can ignore what it says in Isaiah 53:4-6 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.  But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

Yes, you can like the Pharisees, harden your heart and reject the Lord, but understand that also, like them, you will know the wrath and judgment of God.

Romans 2:3-5 And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God? Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God;

The two choices are so plainly laid out in just one verse, Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Someone has rightly said that if you are lost then this world right now is the only heaven you will ever know. This is as good as it gets. This life with it's sorrow and heartache, pain and suffering is your only paradise, if you are lost and reject Jesus. And the world which awaits you upon death is one in which there is no goodness of God. There is no light, there is no friendship, there is no hope, there is no comfort, there is no family, there are no dreams of a better future. All these things are blessings from God and Hell is devoid of all these. All that is left is the worst most inconsolable pain and suffering and torment that exists for those who reject God and choose not to have Him in their life. Hell is exactly that and it burns with that fiery torment and regret for all eternity.

But please listen, Hell was not meant for you. God fashioned it for the Devil and his angels, but God created you to have fellowship with Him. Even when that fellowship was broken back in the Garden, God had already planned to send His own Son so that it could be restored. Revelation 13:8 says that Jesus is “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.”

And so now He calls. Calls us to the cross, calls us to Jesus’ wounded side and pierced brow. Calls us to the foot of the cross so that He may be lifted up and we can find restoration, redemption, and righteousness in Jesus Christ.


Will you walk away, or will you come? These are only two choices you have. Turn you back or Stretch forth your hand? Reject Him or trust Him.

If you would be saved. If you would have your crippled soul and broken spirit healed, then you must do as the man in our sermon today did. You must stretch your hand, your faith, out to Jesus.

Will you find salvation in Jesus? Will you stretch forth that withered soul, that stunted heart, that broken spirit toward Him?  Please don't harden your heart, give it to Jesus this morning.