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Over the years I have written several "book" or "booklets" and many, many, many newsletter and bulletin articles. Because the book market seeks writings to meet specific needs at specific times, my material has never been accepted. I have a tendency to write what is on my mind and so I am left with self publishing. So, with the encouragement from my wife and others, I am beginning this blog in order to put my "ramblings" "out there"! I hope you enjoy!

Disclaimer

Please note that while my intentions are to use good grammar, because of the way in which some of the material presented here is presented (orally) the grammar and syntax might not always be the best English. Also note that good theology is not always presented in the best English so there may be times when the proper grammar rules are purposely broken.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Jesus Prayed - February 5, 2012 - Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany - Text: Mark 1:29-39

This morning we continue celebrating the season of the Epiphany. Epiphany, you might remember, means “God in man made manifest” or “the revealing of God becoming human”. It is during the season of Epiphany that we continue to celebrate the birth of Jesus and the fact that He was born to save all people, Jew and Gentile alike. We continue to celebrate the fact that Jesus was born for us.

This morning we continue our reading through the Gospel of Mark and we are brought to another day in the life of Jesus. Our text for last week ended at verse twenty-eight and our text for this week picks up at verse twenty-nine. Last week, you might remember, we were with Jesus in the synagogue where He was immediately confronted by a man who was demon possessed. This morning Mark brings us out of the synagogue as he says, “and immediately he left the synagogue and entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John” (v. 29). Again we see how Mark likes that word “immediately” as he tells us that immediately after worship, Jesus went with James, John, and their cousins, Simon and Andrew to Simon and Andrew’s home, perhaps for the Sabbath lunch. It was probably like when we go for our Sunday lunch, after church we like to go to our cousins house for lunch. Concerning Simon or Peter as he is called, Andrew, James and John; remember that these were the first four disciples Jesus called to follow Him and they were the one’s who were His inner circle of disciples, His closest friends. So, again, church is over and it is time to go home for lunch.

In our text for this morning Mark writes to more clearly show us the Epiphany of Jesus, that is that Jesus is true God in human flesh, that He is true God and true man. We see that Jesus is truly human as He spent the morning preaching and now He has gone to Simon’s home. Jesus is truly human. He was in need of some rest and He was in need of food. So, He went to Simon’s house to visit and have lunch. Later, after the evening sun had set, which brought us out of the Sabbath day and into the next day, which is Sunday, people again began bringing family members and friends to be touched by and to be healed by Him. Our day begins at midnight. For the people of Jesus’ day the day began at sunset. Thus, at about 6 pm in the evening Saturday was over and it was now Sunday, thus the Sabbath was over and the people could again work. One of the works of the people we see here is that they are working to bring their sick and broken family and friends to Jesus to have Him heal them. And Jesus continued to work, doing the signs, wonders, and miracles, even casting out demons, which showed that He is truly God.

Mark skips past the night to bring us to the rising of the sun in the morning, but we might presume that Jesus, being truly human, needed and got a good night rest and sleep. Then, Mark says, “And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place and there he prayed” (v. 35). Jesus shows us how human He is in His need to be in prayer and in His example of going out to pray. This was the first thing Jesus did, He went out to pray. He recognized His own need to be in prayer with His Father in heaven. He knew the importance of beginning the day in prayer and in fellowship with His Father, God the Father. His example reminds us of our even more pressing need to begin each and every day in prayer with God the Father. Martin Luther said that the more that he had to do in a day the more time he needed to spend in prayer at the beginning of the day. As busy as our lives often are, I would imagine that we would need to spend more time in prayer as well. I know this does not make sense to us, normally speaking, that is that the more we have to do, the more time we need to spend in prayer. We would, humanly calculate that the more we had to do, the less time we could spend in prayer, but our God is a God who blesses us, especially in our returning to Him from what He has given to us in the first place. It is amazing that as we are good stewards of the time He gives to us, so He gives even more to us in the end. Try it sometimes. If you have so much to do that you do not believe you have time to do it, begin with prayer and see if the Lord does not bless you with the time you need.

Moving on in our text. Again, Mark shows us the Epiphany of Jesus, that He is truly human and that He is truly God. When Jesus arrived at Simon’s house, after worship, He found his mother-in-law in bed with a fever. “And he came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and the fever left her, and she began to serve them” (v. 31). Notice that Jesus’ healing is complete healing. Jesus healed her so completely that there were no lingering side affects of her sickness. You know how it is, as you are getting better you continue to feel a little weak from your sickness. Peter’s mother-in-law was so completely healed and restored of her strength that she got up and waited on them.

Jesus continued to show that He was true God in that He healed many others who were sick, had various diseases, and were demon possessed. The Gospel writer John also writes about these signs, wonders, and miracles which Jesus performed as “proof” that He was true God.

But that was not enough for Jesus because He still saw the need to tell others the good news. He said, “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out” (v. 38). Jesus came to preach the good news of salvation. He came to live for us in our place and He came to give His life for ours.

Jesus is still working in, with and among us today. No, I do not mean that He actually physically comes to us, although I would never rule that out, after all, He is God and He can do whatever He wants. What I mean is that He does come to us to heal us of various diseases as well as bring us emotional and spiritual healing. He does this, that is He heals us through means, namely through the means of doctors and medicines. Yes, I do believe that sometimes He heals us immediately, because in some cases there really is no other explanation for someone’s healing, but His usual way of dealing with us is through means.

Today, Jesus continues to heal us physically and most importantly spiritually and He continues to proclaim His Gospel message to us through His Holy Word and through His sacraments, Holy Baptism, the Lord’s Supper, and even confession and absolution. Yes, as I said, I believe that Jesus can come to us immediately and proclaim His Word to us and to heal us, but His usual way of working with us today continues to be through means, namely through the means of grace, the Word, the Bible and the Sacraments, Holy Baptism and the Lord’s Supper, and through confession and absolution.

We live in a sin filled world and we are not immune to suffering. All one needs to do is read the newspaper, watch the TV news, or listen to the radio news and we can see the suffering that is present in our world today. We can look at our prayer list and see that people do continue to suffer and get sick in our world today. Yes, we are living in a world that has been infected by the fall into sin. And we can add to that, our own sin. Yet, how comforting it is to know that Jesus is always there for us. Even if we do not feel that He is with us or feel His presence we can rest assured that He is always with us. As we continue to see in His word, He has already suffered everything we suffer and more and now He is ready to be with us when we suffer. How comforting to know that we can go to Him in prayer and to know that He will come to us through His Word and Sacraments to give us the strength we need to face the struggles we have in life.

God never promised that life would be easy. As a matter of fact we find many places in His Word which remind us that life is often difficult. That does not mean that God is not with us nor that He has abandoned us. And we find comfort, not in the fact that others are suffering with us, but in this, that Jesus is with us in our own suffering. So, we are again reminded of our need to be in the Word. To daily follow Jesus’ example, that is that Jesus began each day in prayer with His Father in heaven. What better way do we have of beginning our own day than by reading God’s Word, having Him speak to us, and praying, speaking to Him.

Our reading from Mark reminds us of our need to recognize Jesus as the Christ, that is, as true God and true man. Jesus is the one promised in the Old Testament. He is the one who came and did fulfill all the Old Testament promises, completely, and perfectly. Jesus is who He says He is. He is the One who came to live for us, perfectly for us, in our place. He came to do what we are unable to do. Ultimately, He is the one who gave His life, literally traded His perfect life for our imperfect sin filled life. He suffered the eternal death penalty for us, in our place. He died that we might have life. His love for us is so great, as He Himself reminds us, “What greater love can anyone have than this that they would give their lives for another.” He loves us so much that He took the eternal suffering, the eternal death penalty and suffered it for us in our place.

Mark reminds us that we are given gifts, all of God’s many good gifts and blessings. Yes, we have struggles in this life, but we also have Jesus who is with us every step of the way. We are born in sin, steeped in sin, and live in a sin filled world. We know what it is like to toss and turn through the night, waiting for some relief when morning breaks. We know suffering, mental, physical, spiritual. We live in a troubled world, yet, we remember that Jesus came to overcome the world.

Jesus came to this earth. True God, giving up all the glory that was His. He came, lowly, born in a barn and laid in a manger. He grew up the son of a carpenter. He suffered temptation by the devil himself. He suffered physical pain, mental and emotional pain, and the greatest suffering of eternal spiritual death, hell. He did this because of His great love for us. And He won. He won the victory over sin, death and the devil. And now He continues to be with us, to come to us through His Word and sacraments to give us all His good gifts and blessings, to give us forgiveness of sins, faith, strengthening of faith and life, even eternal life. Our response is simply to say, to Him be the glory, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.

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