Jesus – God Incarnate – say what?

This sermon can be listened to here


Gate Pa – Year B  6th Sunday in Epiphany, 2018

Readings:
Psalm-                         Psalm 30  
First Reading-             2 Kings 5:1-14            
Second Reading-        1 Cor 9:24-27                         
Gospel-                       Mark 1:40-45                         
What I want to say:
I want to explore what words we might use to describe what Jesus does when he heals the leper, and what those words teach us about the nature and character of God. (using David Lose’s posting on Working Preacher from 2012)
What I want to happen:
I want people to explore what this story says to their understanding of God

The Sermon

       1.     Introduction:

If you were asked to describe God using 4 words – what would they be?
plenary

       2.     Incarnation

At the heart of the Christian faith is the incarnation
- the second person of the Trinity comes among humanity as one of us.
- that Jesus the Christ is both fully human and fully divine
where we then get stuck is the purpose of the incarnation
what is the incarnation for?
get lost in theories of atonement about Jesus dying for our sins
            -however we understand that
often ignore who Jesus is all together
creeds Jesus life is reduced to a full stop
born
dies
between that is a full stop or comma
who he was and what he did and said disappears
birth and death becomes all important
incarnation somehow becomes pretty irrelevant
except for virgin birth and dying on cross
Gospel writers
including Mark
wrote their gospels because they believed that Jesus is the one who holds within his person and how he lives the character and nature of God.
say this again because very important
Gospel writers wrote their gospels because they believed that Jesus is the one who holds within his person and how he lives his life the character and nature of God.
Because of this they also believed Jesus as living the kingdom of God
in Jesus life and teaching he embodies the nature and character of kingdom or reign of God
so when we read story about Jesus
one questions need to ask is
what does this teach us about the nature and character of God.
what does this teach us about the nature and character of the reign of God

        3.     Mark, Jesus and the Leper

One of the commentators read (from working preacher – David Lose) suggests that we are offered 4 words in this story about who Jesus is and through that character and nature of God
going to read the story again
want you to notice any words that might describe character and nature of God

   40 A leper came to him, begging on his knees, "If you want to, you can cleanse me."
   41 Deeply moved, Jesus put out his hand, touched him, and said, "I want to. Be clean." 42 Then and there the leprosy was gone, his skin smooth and healthy. 43 Jesus dismissed him with strict orders: 44 "Say nothing to anyone. Take the offering for cleansing that Moses prescribed and present yourself to the priest. This will validate your healing to the people." 45 But as soon as the man was out of earshot, he told everyone he met what had happened, spreading the news all over town. So Jesus kept to out-of-the-way places, no longer able to move freely in and out of the city. But people found him, and came from all over. 

Scripture quotations from THE MESSAGE. Copyright © by Eugene H. Peterson 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.
What words struck you?
Four words that David Lose highlights

       4.     Compassion – Jesus has compassion

this man is on edge – ostracised by community
no longer belongs
breaks so many rules to get in front of jesus and beg his request
Jesus response is one of compassion
-         God is compassionate
-         reign of God marked by compassion

       5.     Touch – Jesus is not afraid to touch the man

reaches out in compassion
not just say word, issue command, perform an action
Recognizes this man’s deep need for human contact
he was a leper
      ostracized
      removed from human society
and human contact
from touch
      Jesus reaches out and touches him
      person to person
What does that say both about the character of God and of the reign of God
where do we both experience and offer this level of compassion?

       6.     Willing

Jesus does more than just respond to the man
In his willingness he treats him as child of God
            person with dignity, value, worth
Amazes me how quickly how those call themselves followers of Christ
want to reduce gospel to those forgiven
            those deserve God’s wrath and punishment
            get really angry at through God might just be willing
see and treat all people with dignity, value, worth
as children of God
and yet – that is nature of God
that is one characteristics of reign of God.

       7.     Lonely

cost to all this
beginning of story Leper is living in wilderness unable to enter his town
return home
end of story Jesus is returned to living in wilderness
unable to again enter town
compassion – love shown to this man comes with cost
Jesus becomes increasingly popular
and increasingly lonely
            isolated
            misunderstood
            this is the beginning of the road to the cross.
What then does this teach us about the character and nature of God
and the character and nature of the reign of God?

       8.     Conclusion

we stand on verge of Lent
7 weeks prayer and fasting
7 weeks to reflect on who is God for us
as we read Gospels
invited to examine what words we use to describe the nature and character of God
character and nature of the reign of God
wonder what other ways we might be invited to see God

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