Week commencing 11th June  2017   With a PDF found here

Notes for next week’s sermon on Tell me the stories of Jesus – Mark 2:1-12 and Luke 19:1-10

We return for the next four weeks, to a series we always enjoy called “Tell me the stories of Jesus”. These are either stories about Jesus or stories by Jesus – ie one of his parables. Each week in this series will feature two sermons – so make sure you listen to the one you missed online so you can enjoy this series to the full.

DAY 1: Read Mark 2:1-7                                                                                   

Jesus returns to Capernaum and it is not long before a crowd gathers again. Notice what Jesus is doing in v2 – he is preaching the word to them. He was preaching that the kingdom of God was near and that they should respond by repenting and believing. During this time some men bring a friend. He was paralysed so they carried him on a stretcher. The crowd is so huge that they can’t get any near Jesus. They go up on to the roof and start making a hole in it! Mark only tells the essential details, but think about the size of the hole they must have made; big enough to let the man down on a stretcher.

Jesus sees the ingenuity of this man’s friends as faith, and he looks up at the friends and around at the crowd and down at this man lying before him – each of them waiting for a miracle and says “my son, your sins are forgiven.” Here is everyone waiting for a miracle and the man waiting in anticipation of being able to walk again and Jesus says something about sins being forgiven? Everyone thought that to get this man up and walking again was the most important and significant thing that could happen to him. But no, Jesus actually did the best thing he could do for the man; declare his sins forgiven. Jesus is making the man whole in a far more wonderful way then if he just healed the man. Our most significant need is to be forgiven and Jesus possible. We have to filter the value system we are being fed in this world through such clarity as this. We need to see that everyone’s greatest need is to be forgiven.

Well Jesus’ declaration of this man’s forgiveness caused quite a stir. When Jesus said – your sins are forgiven, the religious leaders put two and two together: “hang on; he declared this man’s sins forgiven! That’s outrageous! – we know that only God can do that! Who does he think he is – God or something! Blasphemy!” Jesus wasn’t just claiming to be God – he was declaring it. Your sins are forgiven, because, I Son of God, with all the authority of God, declare them forgiven! It was an amazing thing for this man to say and they were shocked by it.

Are your sins forgiven? Jesus has met you at your deepest point of need! Give him thanks today!

DAY 2: Read Mark 2:8-12

How can Jesus’ demonstrate that he does have the power to forgive sins? How can he show that this man’s sin had been dealt with – blown away?? Which is easier to say – your sins are forgiven or get up and walk? implication is that it is easier to say – “your sins are forgiven” – for there is no validation. Who knows whether it has happened or not? Easy to say. But Jesus wants to demonstrate that it has in fact happened and the very next words He utters, makes things perfectly clear. I say to you rise, take your mat and go home. Immediately the powerful word of Jesus took effect. He was completely healed and restored and amazed everyone by walking out. The bed that once carried him – he would now carry – just as indeed the sin that once had power over him, he would now have power over.

Jesus’ powerful word demonstrated by the visible healing, that the invisible forgiveness had taken place! Note the response: This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this.”

In this powerful account we see clearly, Jesus’ authority over two areas: this authority to forgive, for he is indeed God in flesh. And his authority over illness – for he is indeed God in flesh. May we constantly also be amazed and our hearts filled with awe and wonder!

DAY 3: Read Luke 19:1-6

This will be a familiar story for many of us but there are some great insights here into the nature of the gospel. Jesus has begun his journey to Jerusalem. Jericho is about 24kms from Jerusalem and we read that Jesus is passing through. Remember that tax collectors were loathed and persecuted. Zacchaeus was wealthy because of those from whom he had stolen in the process of collecting their tax. An outcast among his own people, he had obviously heard about Jesus’ reputation for mixing with – even dining with – sinners and tax collectors and so tried to get to see him. Making a way through the crowd to gain access to Jesus was difficult due to his height so he shows some initiative, running ahead and climbing a tree. The tree he chose (think something like the English oak) is very easy to climb with a short trunk and wide lateral branches forking out in all directions.

Note here that although the man had shown a general interest in Jesus, it was Jesus who took the initiative in the relationship. This was so typical of Jesus whose propensity to hang out with tax collectors and the like had already seen him under question by the religious leaders who understood that such contact with the ‘unclean’ would make him ‘unclean’. Yet Jesus came to seek and to save the lost (v10)! God came to Zacchaeus in Jesus by his sheer grace. He hadn’t shown any desire to turn over a new leaf; he hasn’t said he will stop cheating people or anything like that at this stage. And yet Jesus not only engages with him while he’s up the tree, he proclaims he’s going to come and eat with him – a very significant sign of love and acceptance.

God has come to you also, in the person of Jesus Christ. He took the initiative. By sheer grace, he reached out you to welcome you in. You were once lost – but Jesus came to seek and to save you. Praise God today for his grace to you and for those through whom you came into a relationship with Jesus.

DAY 4: Read Luke 19:7-10

In spite of Zacchaeus’ known reputation as a tax collector, Jesus is saying – I want to be with you. In spite of your record, your flaws, your collaborations, the way you’ve extorted people, I’m coming to spend time with you. In spite of your sin, I want to be with you. Zacchaeus met such grace with joy (v6); the crowd meanwhile is unimpressed (v7).

Did you note what happens after dinner as a result? Zacchaeus has changed. Grace will do that! But note the order: grace first, then change. The change was radical. Although the Old Testament required that 10% of income be given to God, Zacchaeus is so thrilled with Jesus’ grace, he wants to be generous too. So he proclaims he will give away 50% of his possessions to the poor. Furthermore, he commits to making it up to and then abundantly blessing all those he has cheated (v8).

Once you grasp God’s grace – or God’s grace has grasped you – then you want to change in every part of your life. The way you spend your money, your thought life, your sex life, your family life, the jobs you take, the jobs you turn down; everything will end up impacted by the gospel of grace.

Jesus proclaims in v10: “Today salvation has come to this house” not as a reward for Zacchaeus’ determination to change, but because the change is the evidence of – the outflowing of – salvation!

Can you see evidence of God’s amazing grace in your life? Give thanks to God for all the change you see but continue to ask God to transform you by his grace, into the person he wants you to be!