Sunday, September 13, 2015

“A Father’s Heart is Healed” (Mark 9:14-29)

S-1514 16SAP/3B 9/13/2015 Hymns: (O) #725; (S) #728; LS #629; #632; #633; (C) #729

Texts: Isaiah 50:4-10; James 3:1-12; Mark 9:14-29

Theme: A Father’s Heart is Healed” (Mark 9:14-29)

Question: “Does your heart ache when you see injustice?” (5th sermon at Trinity)

(This sermon will be preached in Narrative style. I am dressed as a first century Jew from the Galilee area)

As I stand before you on this glorious day, I declare to you the joy and happiness that fills my heart to overflowing. But it wasn’t always that way. There was a time when my heart was heavy without help or hope. Tears flowed easily every night as I went to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in prayers on behalf of my son…But that was then.

Please forgive my rudeness and interruption in your service today. I should have introduced myself to you. My name is Moshe ben Yohanan, (Moses son of John) and my son whom you heard his story in your Bible reading today is Yaacov ben Moshe, ben Yohanan (Jacob, son of Moses, son of John). My wife Ruth and I were looking forward to having a family. Shortly after our wedding, my wife informed me I am going to be a father and I was happy. We announced it in the Synagogue and our village. All of the elders and neighbors congratulated us on the news and wished us the blessings of the God of Israel upon the new arrival.

But soon that happiness turned to sorrow. Our young toddler was different. Pain filled my heart and life as I watched my Yaacov throw himself into the fire and water. Oh, I tried to help him, but couldn’t. The evil spirit that possessed him almost destroyed his life. I felt helpless against the demons. I took him to every doctor in our village but to no avail. I spent a fortune, but didn’t get any results.

Then one day I heard of a Rabbai from Nazareth by the name of Yeshuah Ha Massiah, (Jesus the anointed One) so I brought my Yaacov to His disciples but they couldn’t help him. Then I brought Him to the Rabbi and that’s when help and hope was offered to me. PAUSE.

I came to this Rabbi pleading to Him to remove the demon from my Yaacov. At the sight of the Rabbi the evil spirit immediately convulsed my son. He fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth.  Then, the Rabbi Yeshuah asked me, “How long has this been happening to him?” I responded, “From childhood. I told Him that often the demon threw him into fire and into water, to destroy him.”

Then, I pleaded, “Rabbi, if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” And Jesus said to me, “‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.” Immediately I cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!” To believe in God’s Word is a difficult thing. How challenging it is to trust Him always. How taxing it is to put all of our hopes in Him. We rely so much on our own power to do everything to get ourselves from difficult situations. Add to that, the many obstacles the devil throws at us to doubt God’s Words of love, hope and forgiveness for us sinners. These are struggles I faced, and am sure you face them too. (move to a different location)

But then…then my ears were riveted to His Word and eyes were glued to His touch. In mercy He spoke a loving word and touched my son and restored him to my wife and I. Oh that feeling of joy that flows in my heart. That day I knew that miracles do happen. “That day the Lord delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling; and knew that I will walk before the Lord in the land of the living” (Psalm 116:8-9). That day my heart was healed!

Today, because of the Rabbi from Nazareth, I believe what our Torah taught. I believe that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is the ONLY true God and with Him there is nothing impossible. He can heal, open the eyes of the blind, deliver those who are demon possessed and raise people from the dead. My son Yaacov was one person among many whom this Rabbi touched, healed and restored. PAUSE.

But sadly, not all of our Jewish leaders liked Him. I even heard that when He traveled to Jerusalem, He was captured by the Pharisees’ guards. He was dragged in chains to the High Priest and interrogated illegally, spat upon, beaten mercilessly and condemned to death. I couldn’t believe the news I was hearing. Why? What crime has He committed?…

I never heard anything out of His mouth but kindness. I heard others from our neighboring villages telling of the many kind deeds and miracles He performed. He touched many lives. He even turned water into wine and fed multitudes of people around the Sea of Galilee with five loaves and two fish.

(Look up in disgust and disbelief) At hearing the heart-breaking news that He was sent to Pilate—the Roman governor, who gave the order to crucify Him; my heart ached and almost stopped beating. I still can’t believe the news…It can’t be! He is so kind and caring, loving and merciful, compassionate and gracious. Yet, some hated and wanted Him dead, {raise voice} DEAD, because they were afraid to lose their power over the people.

My heart was heavy again. Tears run down my cheeks and I began to wonder how did His Father feel? (move around and face people) Can you imagine His Father watching His Son being beaten by the Roman soldiers? Can you hear the whip running across His back? Do you hear the pounding of the nails into His hands and feet? Can you see the blood running down and gathering on the dirt beneath His crucified body?

I was sick to my stomach. I felt His Father’s pain. But I heard a report from others who were in Jerusalem saying that even while the Rabbi from Nazareth was on the cross, He showed compassion to His enemies crying out to His Father: “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they do!” (Luke 23:34). After that He said, “Father, into Your hands I commit my spirit” and He died. (Luke 23:46). They lowered His body and some of His secret disciples wrapped Him and laid Him in a tomb. PAUSE.

(Change location and rub my mustache and face).

I still can’t believe the news. It can’t be. But it is true…You know what is even truer. Word had gone out that on the third day, He rose from the grave. Oh, yes, the Jewish leaders were trying to deny it. But I tell you many saw Him and for over 40 days He showed Himself to many.

I then, remembered His Words to my Yaccov when I brought my son to Him so long ago: “‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.” I then said, “I believe; help my unbelief!” The Holy Spirit helped me believe, grow in walk of faith, and trust Him more than ever. Faith had taken hold of me and my heart was made sure that this Rabbi is truly God’s own Son who came into the world to take away our sins.

Our prophet Isaiah put it this way, “Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was pierced for our transgressions; He was crushed for our iniquities; upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with His wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth” (Is. 53:4-7).

Today, I stand before you and tell you the true story of a father’s heart that was healed by the touch of the Rabbi Jesus—that father was me. I want you to know that He is STILL alive today. He can touch your hearts and heal them from every pain and anguish as He did mine and my son. In fact He has already. He did it in His suffering, death and resurrection from the grave. All of Scripture testify about Him as the God who came to earth to save us—sinners. Please don’t let your troubles or trials keep you away from Him. Don’t let the demons within you keep you away. Don’t let issues in your lives or church keep you away. Instead come to Him in faith and cry out to Him, as I did, “I believe; help my unbelief!” And know for certain, He hears the cries of His people and comes to their aid.

I am glad you gave me the opportunity to let you know what happened to my family so long ago. And I pray that you would tell this story to others that they too, may worship and believe in the Rabbi from Nazareth, Yshuah ha Massiah.

Moshe leaves the stage without any words.

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