Sunday, September 27, 2009

“On Whose Side Are You?” (Mark 9:39-40).

S-1140 9/27/09 17SAP/3B Hymns: (O) #400; (S) #451; L.S. #307; #528; #310 (C) #193

Texts: Numbers 11:4-6, 10-16, 24-29; James 5:13-20; Mark 9:38-50

Theme: “On Whose Side Are You?” (Mark 9:39-40).

Question: “How often do you take sides?”


Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen! Indeed! Alleluia! The text for our meditation this morning is the Gospel lesson: “But Jesus said, ‘Do not stop him, for no one who does a mighty work in My name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of Me. For the one who is not against us is for us…’” (Mark 9:39-40).


Saints in Christ, in the last few months, the fans of the Vikings Football team were waiting eagerly to know what decision Brett Favre will make. Will he make the decision to join the Vikings or will he stay in retirement. Speculations ran wild. One day you heard he is going to sign and the next he decided not too. The fans couldn’t wait. They wanted to know on what side Bret will be. Finally, he made the decision that many of the Viking fans are rejoicing and hoping against all odds that this new quarterback can make a difference and lead them to the Super Bowl.

Today’s text doesn’t speak about Super bowl, or a quarter back, but about life issues. More specifically spiritual issues dealing with on whose side are you? Are you a follower of the Rabbi from Nazareth Jesus the Christ or are you child of the world?

St. Mark today, shares with us the concern that John raises to His Master and Lord. John notices and hears someone who has not been sitting at the Master’s feet now using Jesus’ name to drive out a demon. By the power of Jesus, cleansing took place. John didn’t think that was right, so he tried to stop him. We see this strength of our God in Christ Jesus.  He uses the unnamed man to bring about deliverance, even though he was an outsider, not one of the 12 or even the 70!  Our God has not changed.  He is still that powerful that He can use outsiders like you and me to not just be blessed, but a blessing.  All the glory goes to Him.  Yes, at this point John reacts the way he does because he didn’t think that was the right thing to do, he wasn’t part of the group, he wasn’t part of the disciples; and thus had no right to do what he did.

I don’t know what possessed John to do what he did. Perhaps he wanted to protect Jesus. Perhaps he thought the man needed training. Perhaps he was scared of what was taking place. For whatever reasons, he determined to stop the unnamed person, who was doing good.

John shared what he did with His close companion and Savior, Jesus. “But Jesus said, ‘Do not stop him, for no one who does a mighty work in My name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of Me. For the one who is not against us is for us…’”

DON’T STOP HIM. If the unnamed person is honoring me let him. If he is exalting my name let him. If he is glorifying my name let him. Don’t be concerned if the unnamed person is part of the group, or belongs to the same church or even the same denomination. Let God be God as He uses people in every area of life to bring forth the Kingdom of God.

We saw the same thing taking place in the O.T. lesson today. Joshua was upset that two men Eldad, and Medad prophesied even when they were not in the camp. But Joshua wanted them to stop because they were not part of the group. The question comes back: “on whose side are you?” – and the answer is clear:  The side chosen by Him who makes all things new!

So often it seems that we take sides. Rather than looking at it from God’s perspective. Rather than seeing the whole picture we determine who should and who shouldn’t be part of the household of faith.

But of more importance is knowing on whose side you are. Are you a follower of Jesus or the world? Are you one who stand up for Christ and speak out against the wrongs the world is carrying out or are you one who says nothing. The sermon hymn for today challenges us to do just that. “Stand up, stand up for Jesus, the trumpet call obey; forth to the mighty conflict, in this his glorious day. Ye that are brave now serve him against unnumbered foes; let courage rise with danger,   and strength to strength oppose” (LSB 660 v.2).


As followers of Jesus we are called to be bold, brave and daring in our walk of faith; realizing that sometimes we have to take a stand. In the Old Testament there is a book about Ester. She went into the King’s court without being invited with the possibility that she might die if she goes in. None-the-less she still did it. 

We have an Ester in our day and age, a young 17 year old girl from Ohio, by the name of Rifqa Bary. Four years ago, while living in a very devout and radical Muslim home, Rifqa met Jesus in a powerful way as her Savior. She hid her conversion, prayed and read her Bible in secret at night in the bathroom. But then her love for Jesus was discovered.

Rifqa’s father demanded that she renounce Jesus or he would kill her as is commanded by the Koran according to the Shariah law. As a radiant Believer in Jesus she refused to renounce her Lord and fled to Orlando, where she was taken in and cared for by a Christian Church and family. Now she and many who are praying for her are waiting the decision of the court. This young convert has taken a bold stand for Jesus. She is just like Ester. She is bringing honor to the name of the One whom she is bowing the knee to and giving praise to Him. PAUSE.

Beloved in the Lord, the Church must be and ought to be with Christ. Its teaching, its doctrine, and its message ought to reflect that they are Christ’s. Anytime the church takes another stance contrary to Scripture they have chosen to be disobedient to the One who died and rose for her. The Church has been called to be a light to the world, not the other way around. The church has been called to influence the world, not the world to influence the church.

The ELCA church has wondered from the truth. They have denied the inerrancy of Scripture and have chosen to follow the father of lies. We need to pray for our brothers and sisters to wake up and come home to the truth, because it matters on whose side you are—Christ’s or the world’s?

Bret Favre chose to play for the Vikings and the fans are happy. Rifqa Bary has forsaken her father’s religion of submission to Allah and by the Spirit’s power have chosen to bow the knee to the Author of life even at the cost of loosing her own. How about you and me? Are we taking a firm stand to follow the Savior? Are we willing to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world? Is our life a reflection of God’s love? Are we bringing honor and glory to the Savior, Jesus? Are we willing to stand on the Word and His promises? Do we reflect the Gospel of Jesus that we are the children of God? Only by the Spirit’s power can we humbly walk with Him and by Him.

But did you know that Jesus have chosen to be part of your life? Did you know that He chose to leave the comfort of heaven and live among us in this sin-polluted and sin-permeated world? Did you know that He was willing to give up all the glory of heaven for the simple joy of carrying the burden of our sins on the cross? Open your eyes faithful followers of Jesus and see that He is by your side strengthening you, supporting you, and sustaining you with His heavenly manna.

Know this, saints of God, Jesus loves you more than life. He determined to be on your side because He wanted you to be part of the team, a team that will stand up to the world and its vises. A team that will represent Him in this world—by forsaking all—including an eye, a hand, a foot for being a child of the King of kings and Lord of lords. That is you dear ones.

In God’s holy house today, you will hear again why God has chosen you to be with Him. As you gather in His house you will drink from the ever flowing spring of water (Baptism), and you will eat from the banquet of delicacies He has prepared for you (the Lord’s Supper). And you will receive the forgiveness of sin He offers you through His Word.


Saints in Christ, today you know that God has chosen you to be on His side. See His blood oozing from the cross; see Him hanging suspended between heaven and earth; see Him crucified in your place; and know as you look at Him, you are seeing Your Savior, whose seal of love surround you and assures you that you will always be with Him not only here on earth, but forever in heaven. Amen.

Now the peace…

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