S-1128 7/05/09 5SAP/3B Hymns: (O) #175; (S) #400; #644; (C) #577
Texts Ezekiel 2:1-5; 2 Corinthians 12:1-10; Mark 6:1-13
Theme: “Hands Tied” (Mark 6:5-6)
Question: “Have you ever felt your hands were tied?”
SOLI DEO GLORIA, Armour, SD
Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen! Indeed! Alleluia! The text for our meditation this morning is the Gospel lesson: “And He [Jesus] could do no mighty work there, except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them. And He marveled because of their unbelief.” (Mark 5:36).
Saints in Christ, in the early 1900s lived a great magician by the name of Harry Houdini. Houdini, spell bound people every where he went. He was escapologist, stunt performer, and actor. But the one thing that really made him famous was his ability to escape from anything they tied him with. He was actually known as “The Handcuff King”.
Everywhere Houdini went he razzled dazzled people at his ability to escape and free himself. No matter what they put him in, he got free. That is until he was in England. The people in England stated that they have a jail that Houdini couldn’t escape out off. The bet was on.
Houdini was placed in the cell and within seconds began to work on the lock of the door but to no avail. He tried again and again and again, but no success. After 3 hours of trying, he lay on the floor exhausted and dumfounded that he was unable to unlock the jail. Finally, the people told him that the door of the jail was never locked; it was simply shut. All the time the door had been opened. Had he reached with his hands and opened the door he would have walked out of that jail. But the trick worked and his hands were tied for the first time.
In today’s text, there is no trick. No jail cell to open. No magician’s hands to spell bound the people with his ability to escape, but a local man had returned home. Word had gone out about this man that He could do wonders—raise the dead, heal the lame and opened the eyes of the blind, and still the storms. But when He returned home, St. Mark tells us that His hands were tied of their unbelief.
It is interesting to note that Jesus’ as the Son of the Carpenter is not greeted with welcomed arms as He comes home, but with closed fists and tied hands. He doesn’t receive the honor due Him. Earlier in Mark, (3:20-35) we read of another visit to His hometown and the familiar tension that arises as He is surrounded by a great crowd—His family tries to take Him by force, claiming that He has lost His mind.
Jesus comes home and enters the synagogue and preaches. But rather than hearing the message, the crowds refuse to hear and begin in astonishment to say, “Isn’t He the Son of Mary? Aren’t His brothers and sisters with us?” We are told Jesus is hindered from doing many things in His hometown save few miracles.
Jesus should have been welcomed home with open arms. If Nazareth was New York City, it would have been fitting for Him to be honored with a Canyon of Heroes parade complete with the ticker tape. I know if a son of a community like ours would come home to visit, there would be those who would feel that it would be in order to bring out all the fire trucks and police cars and have a parade! That is the way that Jesus SHOULD have been welcomed home.
But, as we see in this text, this was not the way it played out. No, instead of a hero’s welcome, there is nothing but skepticism, denial and even a bit of jealousy. The word of our text in the original Greek tells us that they were “scandalized” by this Jesus. They just couldn’t get past the fact that Joseph’s little boy would possess such great power and authority. They were so familiar with who they thought Jesus was supposed to be that they were bound in the clutches of the greatest enemy to true freedom: unbelief!
Jesus had come to announce the Kingdom of God. He had done it in Capernaum. He had done it in the Decapolis. He had done it in the synagogues. He had done it among complete strangers. And yet, because of the slavery of familiarity and unbelief, He couldn’t do the great things among His own kinsmen! It was as if His hands were tied!
Indeed the Messiah’s hands were tied, not because He didn’t have the power to use His hands to do what He came to do, but because they refuse to believe in Him as the promised Savior of old, the Deliverer of God, the One who comes to free them from the tyranny and torture of hell and satan. Christ’s hands were tied for their lack of faith in Him. PAUSE
Don’t forget dear friends of Christ, that Jesus never forces His love on anyone. He never forces anyone to believe in Him, obey Him, follow Him and be His servant. Jesus never uses His hands to chain us to Him. Oh, no. He unshackles us and brings freedom to our lives.
Study the Scriptures and you will see from the beginning that God desired to have a relationship with His people. A relationship built on trust and love. We see that played out with our forefathers. God gave them the freedom to do what they thought was right in their eyes. He never forced them and the end results were tragic, they used their hands to reach for the forbidden fruit and walked away from His love, His presence and His peace.
The only power human beings truly have is the power to refuse the grace of God. Sadly Adam and Eve, the people of Nazareth and you and I let go of the great opportunities God lays before us. Even though we have a God who creates us, sustains us, provides for us and does all this because He loves us, we can tie the hands of this Almighty God. And we tie the hands not with cords, or zip ties or handcuffs. No, we tie the hands of this good and gracious Lord by refusing to believe!
And that is what the essence of sin is. Every sin is nothing other than the outbreak of the unbelief that dwells within us that Luther called the Old Adam. This guy WANTS us to not believe God. This dastardly Dan WANTS us to tie the hands of our loving and gracious God. He WANTS us to walk away from the very Jesus who would die on the cross for the likes of unbelievers in Nazareth and Armour. PAUSE.
I am thankful that we live in this great nation and especially on this weekend that we observe and celebrate our Independence Day. It is during the Fourth of July weekend we appreciate our brave soldiers who use their hands to give us the liberty and freedom we cherish. These men and women fought with open hands so that we can have what we have today.
Because of men who have fought the good fight FREEDOM reigns in our midst. Because of men and women who left home, family, friends, occupations and went to distant shores and destroyed the enemies we live in freedom and peace in this land of ours.
How much more should we be thankful that the God of the universe sent His Son, Jesus Christ to carry out the greatest freedom mission ever? Jesus left His heavenly home and came to do what we can’t do. He came to usher in the Kingdom of grace, not by force BUT By faith. Not by power BUT by peace. Not by torture, BUT by a tree. It was on the tree of the cross that Jesus’ hands were literally tied. Not by Romans soldiers, not by cords and not even by nails that pined Him to the wooden beam. Oh, no. It was love that tied His hands to that tree. It was love that hung Him there. It was His love for you and you and you.
Many people today still tie Jesus’ hands, including us. Yet, Jesus’ hands are never tied towards us. His hands are open to welcome us into His bosom. His hands are free to heal. His hands are open to touch us with the splash of water. His hands are open to serve us a heavenly meal. His hands are open to love us unconditionally.
Satan and others may want to tie our hands so that we don’t honor the Lord always. But today, Jesus unties our hands, unshackles us so that we can freely and joyfully serve Him. As the sermon hymn reminded us: “Take my hands and let them move At the impulse of Thy love; Take my feet and let them be Swift and beautiful for Thee” (TLH 400 v2).
As we celebrate our freedom, our Independence Day, we give thanks to all who have made it possible. But today, I urge you not to be independent of Christ, but rather be dependant on Him, for His hands are strong enough to hold you, embrace you and forgive you all of your sins. Thank God that Jesus’ hands are not tied towards us. And this is no magic trick. Amen.
Now the peace…