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Catechetical point: What is prayer?
Message: God answers prayer in 1 of 3 ways: Yes, wait, or no—I have something better for you. He gives us what we need because He loves us, and we know He loves us because †.
There's a lot of that going around
Grace, mercy, and peace be to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
Text: (Mark 1:40-45) A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees, "If you are willing, you can make me clean." Filled with compassion, Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. "I am willing," he said. "Be clean!" Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cured. Jesus sent him away at once with a strong warning: "See that you don't tell this to anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them." Instead he went out and began to talk freely, spreading the news. As a result, Jesus could no longer enter a town openly but stayed outside in lonely places. Yet the people still came to him from everywhere.
This is the Word of our Lord. In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Amen.
A. This time of year, there's a phrase you'll hear all too often:
B. "There's a lot of that going around."
1. For whatever reasons, cold and flu run rampant this time of year
2. Scientists say it has more to do with being indoors and dry air than heat or cold
3. But by being inside a lot, close contact with others and their germs means more cold and flu going around
C. Today's text has a man suffering from much worse than the flu
1. He was suffering from leprosy
2. Leprosy is curable today
3. But in Jesus' day it wasn't
4. And while not highly contagious, it probably transmitted through breathing
5. Consequently, people with leprosy were removed from society
D. According to the Book of Leviticus, a person with leprosy had to remove himself from society and live outside of the city
1. When anyone approached, they were to yell, "Unclean! Unclean!" to warn others to stay away
2. Consequently, they were unable to talk to or touch their families or friends
3. And they were unable to go to the temple and have their sins forgiven
4. They were separated from man and from God, or so it was understood
E. But that leads to our malady
1. Because we also suffer from a disease that separates us from God and man
2. That disease is sin, and "there's a lot of that going around"
3. It's not contagious so much as it is epidemic
4. It's infected human being that ever lived except Jesus
5. And while leprosy causes all kinds of skin deformities (not rotting) and eventually death if untreated
6. Sin causes death immediately: we are conceived and born sinful and thus spiritually dead
7. And no multi-drug antibiotic therapy can cure sin
8. Only the blood of Christ can cure that malady
II. And a leper came toward Him, entreating Him and kneeling and saying to Him, "If you want, you are able to cleanse me."
A. This man recognized his need
B. He knew that he had no hope in himself
1. He couldn't will himself better
2. He couldn't do anything to save himself from a slow death
C. In the same way, we have no hope in ourselves
1. We can't will ourselves out of sin
2. We can't even will ourselves to believe and be saved
3. We are solely dependent on God for faith and salvation
4. It all depends on His will
5. Because He is able to save us
D. And like this leprous person, we need simply say, "Thy will be done."
III. And moved in the gut, He stretched out His hand and touched him and said to him, "I want to. Be cleansed." Immediately, the leprosy departed from him, and he was cleansed.
A. This man hadn't had any human contact since he contracted leprosy
B. But Jesus wasn't afraid to touch Him
1. Jesus is Lord over life and death
2. So He didn't need to fear a life-threatening disease
3. Because nothing can threaten the life of the Lord of life
4. Even in death, He only died because He so willed
C. And He healed this man the same way He heals us
1. With His Word
a) He simply spoke, and he was cleansed
b) And in the same way, God does the same for us
(1) He has healed us with His Word
(2) He spoke the Gospel to you and gave you faith
(3) And He continues to strengthen and preserve you to eternal life
(4) This is how God works—through His Word
2. And to show this man that he was healed, Jesus touched Him
a) He couldn't lawfully touch the man before he was healed
b) So, like rolling away the stone of His empty tomb,
c) This touch was a sign that the miracle was already accomplished
(1) The touch signified that the healing was complete and his life was saved
(2) The stone rolling signified that death was already defeated, and our lives are saved forever
IV. And He sternly warned him and immediately sent him away.
A. Why was Jesus so stern with this man?
B. He had already shown his unwillingness to do as he was told
1. Remember, a person with leprosy was to call, "Unclean!" when people approached
2. But St. Mark tells us he approached Jesus
a) While this may have been done in faith in God's power,
b) It was also in defiance of the established laws
C. So if he was a lawbreaker, why did Jesus heal him?
1. Not because he earned it
2. Any more than we deserve to be saved because of anything we've done
D. Rather, Jesus healed him because He wanted to
1. Why did Jesus save us? Because He wanted to
2. He wanted to go to the cross and be pierced through and killed?
3. He wanted to save us, so Jesus was willing to do whatever was necessary, even if it meant dying for us
V. And He said to him, "See that you say nothing to anyone, but depart and show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded as a testimony to them."
A. Now this seems confusing
1. Why would Jesus tell him not to say anything?
2. Whatever happened to, "Make disciples of all nations"?
B. What would the effect be if he hadn't said anything as Jesus commanded him?
1. By going to the priests, as was the law, he'd be showing that Jesus' followers are moral, lawful people
a) But he went everywhere but there
b) And while people believed him and sought Jesus all the more,
c) This turned the priests against Jesus all the more
d) This guy gave Christians a bad name
e) The ends don't justify the means
(1) You can't break laws to spread the Gospel—unless you're in a country where spreading the Gospel itself is illegal
(2) Churches are possibly the worst culprits in the world for breaking copyright laws by photocopying copyrighted material
2. By keeping the story to himself, Jesus could've focused on the most important part of His ministry, preaching
a) But instead, people became obsessed with the miracles
b) They missed the meaning of the cross
c) And so it is today
(1) Don't go around looking for miracles
(2) The only miracles God has promised you are faith, forgiveness of sins, and resurrection
(3) And while He is able to do others, He's made no such promise
(4) But that's OK: the promises He has made are more valuable than anything He could do with flashy special effects
(5) If you like special effects, just wait until the last day when the dead rise and the earth is destroyed in nuclear fire
3. By keeping the story to himself, Jesus would have still been able to go into the cities and proclaim the Gospel there
a) Instead, he was limited to remote areas where He wouldn't get mobbed and would still be able to be heard
(1) So He was still able to teach and preach
(2) But think how many more people He could've reached if this guy had done as he was told!
b) When God gives a command, we might not understand why, but He knows best
(1) "Eat and drink Jesus' body & blood to get your sins forgiven"—does that make sense?
(2) "Women must not have authority over men in church"—why not?
(3) "And as Naaman asked in the Old Testament lesson, "What's so special about this water that it can wash away my leprosy," or today, "What's so special about water that it can wash away sin in Holy Baptism?"—God alone understands this mystery
C. But what would have happened if he had listened and kept it to himself?
1. Jesus would've still been allowed to preach in the synagogues
2. People would've listened to His words, not just obsessing over His miracles
3. And Jesus would've been able to preach the Gospel to more people that more might be saved
4. It's important to understand that, when we sin, our neighbor is the one who suffers
VI. But he went out and began to proclaim it much, and to spread the word, so that He could no longer publicly enter into a city, but stayed out in the desolate places, and they came to Him from everywhere.
A. And yet, you'll note that the man was still healed
B. Jesus still saved him in spite of his defiance to his Savior
C. And He did the same for us
1. In fact, He died specifically for that reason: because of our defiance
2. And because He saved us in spite of our sin and from our sin,
3. Your sins are forgiven
4. You are healed
5. In the Kingdom of God, when you talk about forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation, there's a lot of that going around in Jesus' name. Amen.
Now the peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.
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