S-1293 4SAE/3B 1/22/12 Hymns: (O) #578; (S) #744; LS #618; #625; #628; (C) #924 LSB
Text: Deuteronomy 18:15-20; 1 Corinthians 8:1-13; Mark 1:21-28
Theme: “It Boggles the Mind!” (Mark 1:23-27)
Question: “What does it take to Amaze you?” Armour, SD.
Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Alleluia! The text for the 4th Sunday after the Epiphany is from the Gospel Lesson: “And immediately there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit. And he cried out, ‘What have You to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have You come to destroy us? I know who You are—the Holy One of God.’ But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying out with a loud voice, came out of him. And they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, “What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey Him” (Mark 1:23-27).
Beloved in the Lord, there are so many stories in our broken world that boggles the mind. Here are some that I can’t understand and neither will you:
Last year, in St. Louis, MO., an elderly man was beaten to death by a gang of thugs as part of a “Knockout game.” The game targets “innocent bystanders.” These young people beat up people till they knock them out and the odd thing; they do it to get their 15 minutes of fame on u-tube. It boggles the mind.
In Sidney, MT., on Saturday January 7th, 2012 a 43-year-old schoolteacher and a mother of 5, was out for her morning jog when she disappeared. The only trace left was one of her running shoes found along her route. On the 13th two men were in custody after confessing they had killed her. But as of yet, they haven’t found her body. It boggles the mind.
In Grapevine, TX, a Southern Baptist minister, Ed Young and his wife Lisa have staged a bed-in on the roof of their church to encourage parishioners to put the zing back in their marriages - by having sex for seven days straight. Here is a quote from their book: Sexperiment 7 Days to Lasting Intimacy With Your Spouse: “We have kicked the bed out of church and God out of the bed. We need to bring the bed back in the church and God back into the bed.” It boggles the mind.
Carol Everett, spurred by the anguish caused by her own abortion, began her own abortion business in the Dallas-Fort Worth area in the 1980s. “I wanted to be a millionaire,” says Everett “And the way for me to be a millionaire was to do 40,000 abortions a year.” In her counseling of women she encouraged them to have abortions. And she and her workers had the audacity to hand out defective condoms and birth control pills. It boggles the mind.
These and other stories like them truly jolt us to our core and boggle the mind. By these stories we see the greatest injustice done by humans to other humans. These events show the depravity of man and how loathsome we are because of SIN. PAUSE.
But none of these stories amaze, astonishes, and astounds us as God’s Holy Scriptures. From its beginning to its ending the Bible demonstrates the beauty of God’s love to sinners—that really boggles the mind. In today’s reading, the evangelist Mark tells us of a couple of events in the life of Jesus that boggled the mind of those who listened to Him and witnessed His power at work in the lives of people He touched.
First, we meet Jesus in Capernaum as He was teaching. And all who heard Him were astonished at what He said. They sat there amazed, with mouths wide open as He taught with authority. He boggled their minds.
And second, a demon possessed man challenges Jesus that He came before His time. But Jesus tells him: “To shut up and come out of him!” The evil spirit obeys Christ’s command and comes out of him. And this, too, boggles the mind. PAUSE.
Like those who have gone before us we can’t understand nor comprehend such love—amazing love-eternal love. We are amazed at what Jesus teaches and does. With these words from Mark we are jolted back to reality to see the grace of God at work. It is like Automated External Defibrillator or AED used to jolt someone whose heart had stopped and they shock him back to life again.
We see here the spectacular and splendid work of Christ in everything He touches, in everything He does and in everything He says. In a way, our minds are re-boggled at what we are taught by the power of the Holy Spirit through the teachings of Scripture.
I will be honest with you that there are many things that boggle my mind, and I can’t wrap my mind around it. Our advances in medicine are mind boggling and spectacular. We have all sorts of machines to help doctors identify problems and improve our lives—X-ray machines, MRI, EKG, Ultra Sound, CT, Corometer, glucose meter and others.
We have made mind boggling advances in computers that we can now speak with people around the world via Skype, MSN and my meetings. We have Blackberries, Ipad, and Iphones, that download any image, receive e-mails and your identification form as you check in for a flight. We have cars that have GPS’s, talks to you and cameras to tell you that you are close to an object. We can travel to the moon and back. Cross the ocean and I can visit my family half way around the world in a matter of hours. All of these things boggle the mind.
But none of these things that I have mentioned boggle the mind as God’s life-giving Word. Read it, study it and learn it and you will see things that astound us and amaze us. We see God creating man in His image. We see Him setting the stars, moon and sun in the skies. We behold Him splitting the sea, bringing forth water from a rock, feeding the Israelites with manna and quail and defend them against every enemy. We learn of His protective and providential hands to supply all of our needs.
But even these things don’t boggle the mind as we humans try to understand God’s amazing love. How is it that God could love ME enough—a man who is no good, A SINNER WHO ALWAYS RUNS AWAY FROM HIM? As David writes in the Psalm: “What is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You care for him?” (Psalm 8:4) How is it that God wants to be MY God and have ME spend eternity with Him? How is it that God cares enough to give ME the very best—His Son to be MY Savior?
Do you really want to see things that boggle the mind? Then travel with me to Jerusalem and see Jesus entering the city, and weeping over it as He calls for its resident to follow Him. Come with me to the Upper Room and see Him give us His Meal of love and forgiveness. Walk with Him in Gethsemane and see Him sweat drops of blood as He anguished at what is to take place soon. Stop by and see the courtyard where He is condemned to be crucified for the sins of others. Follow Him to Golgotha as He carries His cross and eaves drop as He labors to take a breath as He is suspended on the splintered cross; and hasten early to the tomb and see Him defeat our enemy—DEATH as He rose victoriously on the third day.
No wonder John Newton wrote one of the most beloved hymns of all times—Amazing Grace. The story is told that Captain John Newton, a slave trader was on his way back from a voyage from Sierra Leone and was attempting to steer the ship through a violent storm that almost broke his ship and killed him and his crew. He experienced what he was to refer to later as his “great deliverance.” He recorded in his journal that when all seemed lost and the ship would surely sink, he exclaimed, “Lord, have mercy upon us.” Later in his cabin he reflected on what he had said and began to believe that God had addressed him through the storm and that grace had begun to work for him.
For the rest of his life he observed the anniversary of May 10, 1748 as the day of his conversion, a day of humiliation in which he subjected his will to a higher power. “Thro’ many dangers, toils and snares, I have already come; ’tis grace has bro’t me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home.”
We, too, just like John Newton, have had our “Great Deliverance” by the One who hears the prayers of all His people—Jesus the Christ—, who saves us, forgives us and loves us to the end. AND THAT MY BROTHERS AND SISTERS IN CHRIST, IS SOMETHING THAT BOGGLES THE MIND! AMEN AND AMEN.
Now the peace…
SOLI DEO GLORIA