Isaiah 61: 1-3
MATTHEW 9: 35-38
MATTHEW 28: 14-16
LUKE 22: 19-26

February 2, 2020

TURN YOUR EYES … upon JESUS.  Look up …”

What a beautiful classic hymn of the church.   A hymn calling us tolook up in His wonderful face and the things of earth will grow strangely dim.  In the light of His glory and grace.”

“I believe in Jesus Christ … our Lord, … who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontus Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; the third day He rose from the dead …”.

He is RISEN CHURCH <<He is RISEN INDEED!>> Our Lord … our Savior … He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God the father … together, we proclaimed this morning that He is the judge not human rule setters; not those who would prefer to divide churches and people because they like some people and dislike or fear others.  We declare in our Affirmation, our Creed, our CREDO that Jesus Christ is truly special.  Our Lord; the only Son of God; the one who will judge.

So …. when was the last time that you seriously considered Jesus Christ the only Son of God, the Father Almighty?  When was the last time you allowed the Light of Jesus Christ to cause the things of earth to grow strangely dim … because you were caught up in Christ’s light?  Christ’s grace?  The love of God that came to humanity through Jesus Christ?  WHEN CHURCH … When?  Or is the strange noise of the world so seductive and so loud that it overwhelms you and it overwhelms me.  Have we allowed the taunts of worldly powers to diminish or shut down the message of Jesus Christ our Lord?

God didn’t send Jesus as a wealthy king … In fact, God has never forced any human to bow down and blindly accept God’s will; like human dictators and leaders attempt to do.   God sent Jesus into a world where as a baby He was born to parents forced to stay in a barn; there was no room for them in the gilded hotels … God sent Jesus into a world where a human leader’s anxiety and fear that he would lose his personal power led that human leader to kill the new born sons in his nation, mere babies whose parents had just celebrated their births because that leader feared that a new king might take his place; he would do anything to stop that … blocking God’s intentions … trying to shut out the light and maintain darkness.  But, we are taught that Jesus and Mary and Joseph fled … seeking sanctuary and safety in another nation that was not their own where the spoken language was different and thankfully Egypt didn’t send the teenage mother, her baby, and the man who was not really Jesus’ father back to their homeland to be killed.  After King Herod died, it was safe again for young boys in Galilee so Jesus, Mary, and Joseph returned to their hometown of Nazareth.

The historian named Luke tells us that Jesus “grew up and became strong.”  That boy was not a weak child; God knew that God’s Son would need to be strong later in His life.  Luke, when he talked with Mary in her later years noted that she remembered how her special child was “filled with wisdom and God’s favor was on Him.”

When He was 12, Jesus snuck away from Mary and Joseph to discover more about God from the teachers of His faith.  Church, I have met many children in today’s world who wish they could be in church .. wish they could be in Sunday School learning from teachers but in today’s world … with today’s families … other priorities take over but Jesus even at 12 was learning from the teachers of the faith but what was more astonishing to those adults … those rabbi’s and teachers was the fact that “everyone who heard Him was amazed by His understanding” at 12.

They listened … and were amazed by Jesus the Christ when He was 12.  Church, this past Wednesday afternoon did you have a moment when you listened to Jesus and were amazed?   What about Friday morning?  Last night before bed?  During today’s Super Bowl parties will you find a reason to listen to and be amazed by Jesus Christ, the only Son of God the Father Almighty, our Lord and our Savior even if the referees are busy calling a penalty against the team you hope wins the big game?

Church … we do not know the words that Jesus spoke to the rabbi’s and teachers when he was 12 but we know the words that He spoke throughout His ministry and adult life.  They are documented in 4 separate accounts named MATTHEW, MARK, LUKE, and JOHN. Church … JESUS SPOKE with clarity on how we are to live our lives but church … do we listen?

And, if you were here last Sunday morning I suggested that when we considered the words “I believe in God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth” we needed to remember that the words Jesus spoke … the words recorded in the Gospels came directly from God.  Jesus words are the words of the creator of the universe whose image we are all made in.  I suggested that we each should read at least 1 page from any of the four Gospels this past week … did you?  Will you? Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.  The words I have spoken to you, I don’t speak on my own.  The Father who dwells in me does His works.” 

So, church are you interested in listening to God?  Do you have any desire to follow God’s directions for life?   The question of the day remains … the question when we head into Lent will still be there … the question for you .. the question for me … the challenge in this messed up world, ‘JESUS SPOKE, DO WE LISTEN?’

In this morning’s Scripture readings you heard of the Easter contrast between those listening to human leaders and those listening to God through Jesus.  When the priests heard about Jesus resurrection they bribed the soldiers to lie and to say that “Jesus’ disciples came at night and stole his body.”  They told the soldiers not to worry about their lies because they will make sure everything with the governor would be taken care of … so the soldiers “took the money and did as they were told.” 

But, “the eleven disciples went to Galilee, the mountain where Jesus told them to go.”  They listened to the Son of God.  They obeyed their Lord and Savior.  The Gospel continues, “when they saw Him, they worshiped Him.  Jesus spoke to them and said, ‘I’ve received all authority in heaven and on earth.  Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the FATHER, THE SON, and of the HOLY SPIRIT … teaching them to obey everything I’ve commanded you.”

So there’s the contrast … take the money and lie … or obey the Son of God and share the Good News with the world.  It can’t be much more clear than that. In those few verses.

We remember that when Jesus began His ministry he unrolled the scroll from the prophet Isaiah and told his home town that “the Spirit of the Lord God is upon me.  He has sent me to bring good news to the poor, to bind up the broken-hearted, proclaim release to the captives, and liberation for prisoners declaring the year of the Lord’s favor” forever.  If those people in Nazareth had listened the news would have been clear … not confusing like Punxsutawney Phil and his shadow; and reports from that western Pennsylvania town are that Phil didn’t see his shadow today so an early Spring is coming … anyhow, if the people of Nazareth had understood that the young man in that synagogue was not only the child they knew from Mary and Joseph’s home but the Son of God they would have realized that Scripture from beginning to the end is constantly teaching those who believe in God the Father Almighty, the maker of heaven and earth to live lives that contradict the world.  And, that Jesus was again sharing God’s intent that the poor and the hurting get cared for as a priority not as an after thought.

Jesus spoke … do we listen?  Love God … love neighbor!  We heard this morning Matthew’s report, “Jesus travelled among all the cities teaching and announcing GOOD NEWS of the kingdom.  When He saw the crowds, Jesus had compassion for them because they were troubled and helpless like sheep without a shepherd.  The size of the harvest,, Jesus said, is bigger than you can imagine, but there are few workers.  Therefore plead with the Lord to send out workers for His harvest.”

Church, that applies today … the harvest is huge but it takes workers to bring it in.  We all know families whose children would fit in very nicely on our children’s bench during Children’s Moment in church.  Our Sunday School classrooms have room … our new youth group (The next meeting is next Sunday at 5pm) has room for every single young person from grade 5 through 12 in our community but someone has to invite them .. someone has to lead them.

And, today the table of the Lord is before us.   JESUS SPOKE … “This is my body, which is given for you.  Do this in remembrance of me.  This cup is the new covenant by my blood, which is poured out for you.”

The meal is yours … Jesus Christ is waiting for you and for me to listen to His words and then to follow Him treating Jesus as our Lord and verifying that we believe in God the Father Almighty maker of heaven and earth … the very God who gave Jesus the words that tell us God’s expectations for those who decide that believing in God .. having faith … accepting Jesus matters more than the world.  Are you turning your eyes upon Jesus; are you willing to let the things of earth go strangely dim?  Are you willing?  Am I willing?   Questions we need to be considering on this Super Bowl Sunday when a silly groundhog didn’t see his shadow.


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