Monday, January 20, 2014

How Much More, Part II

Epiphany III
January 19, 2014
Fr. Philip Eberhart

Well, this morning I'm sure that many minds are on the battle that will be raging at Mile High Stadium at 1 p.m.  So I consulted the famous book, The One Minute Manager and looked to see of there was a way to do a One Minute Sermon ...

There isn't!  No Way!

I know some of you are disappointed, but I will make this as brief as possible!  After all, we're only talking about eternity, and its place in our hearts and lives today!

I want to follow on from last week's sermon, entitled HOW MUCH MORE?  We commemorated Jesus' Baptism last week and this morning's gospel lesson from John 1, tells the story a bit more in detail from John, the Baptizer's sign and adds some comments about the significance of the "sign" from heaven, the presence of the Holy Spirit as a dove, to the baptizer.  Here is what he said:

And John testified, "I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water said to me, `He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.' And I myself have seen and have testified that this is the Son of God."

John, the gospel writer and apostle, identifies statements made by John, the Baptizer.  John the Baptizer was beheaded by Herod while Jesus was still alive, so this testimony comes from those who were near John at the time, by name, Andrew for one, Peter's own brother.  This passage identifies him as John's follower or disciple at the time.  No doubt he saw the same things, when Jesus was baptized.  I believe that it was an actual dove that was sent as a sign, a kind of sacramental sign if you will, outward and visible, of an inward gift from the Father to the Son!  But a sign, for John and others who were nearby - not so much for Jesus himself.

And for me the point of extending this sermon into a series is that we need to think about the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the life and ministry of Jesus just a bit more - especially as it applies to the ministry of the Holy Spirit in our lives and ministries!  So the question remains ... HOW MUCH MORE?

John, the Baptizer, had a word from God.  "He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain is the One who baptizes with the Holy Spirit."   It was a sign from God to John, in witness that this was Jesus, The Son of God.  John was the first in a long line of "eye witnesses."  And the first to make the public confession, "...this is the Son of God."

The point for me to ask the question again this week is to drive home the need we have to enter into the same fulness that Jesus had and that He offers us in, what John's gospel calls, "the Baptism with the Holy Spirit."  This phrase is used unanimously - by all four gospelers:  Matt 3:11; Mark 1:8; Luke 3:16 and John 1:33.  A unanimous witness across the gospels that Jesus promises to be our baptizer IN< WITH< BY the Holy Spirit.  Any of those three words is allowed by the translators.

So the point is, this "baptism" in, with, or by the Holy Spirit is to be our every day experience!  Just like Jesus had and appropriated the power of God, through the Holy Spirit in His ministry, SO we are to experience and expect the immediacy and power of the Holy Spirit in our lives as we live out the Jesus' life in this world.

Now I want to take a moment to give you a brief survey of the "works" that Jesus did, by the Spirit:  and for brevity sake I'll limit the scope of our survey to Matt 4 - 9, mentioned last week.  The space of the INCLUSIO, that Matthew intended to be a snapshot of Jesus teaching and works:  Matt 4:23 - 9:35.   The very next verse begins this section with:

The news about Him spread throughout all Syria; and they brought to Him all who were ill, those suffering with various diseases and pains, demoniacs, epileptics, paralytics; and He healed them.

He healed them.  Simple as that.  All in one sentence!

The next three chapters are called The Sermon on the Mount!  No great grand healings - just the deepest teaching the world has ever heard!  That is another, year-long sermon series!!

So we get to Chapters 8 and 9 of Matthew, if you want to turn there with me.  Just put your finger on the text and follow with me:

Jesus heals a leper, in the first three verses, (kind of jumps in the deep end first!!).  Then a Roman Centurion's servant, just by saying the word, according to the faith of the Roman!  In Vs 14, Jesus is at Peter's house and heals his mother-in-law - (always a good thing to have Jesus around when your mother-in-law is sick!).   And in v. 16 we read:

When evening came, they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed; and He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were ill.

Then they left and crossed over the Sea of Galilee to the other side.  While they were crossing they got caught in a passing storm, something quite common on the Sea of Galilee, and Jesus stood and calmed the storm, a demonstration of power and authority even over the wind and the waves.

Have you ever commanded a storm?  Any hands?

I have - twice!  Once at a Heavenfest Event and more recently at the Franklin Graham, Rock the Range event a few years ago.  Both were threatened with heavy rain and lightening storms, and both had groups of intercessors.  At Rock the Range they actually stopped the concert and prayed.  I was on a weather app on my phone at the time they prayed, watching the radar of the storm as they prayed and it stopped at I-76 and turned left, up the highway, around the Dick's Sporting Goods Park venue.  The same thing happened at Heavenfest a few years prior to that.  The storm actually split and went around us.  At the end of the evening, we were surrounded by storm clouds and lightning, but not a drop fell on the venue.

Coincidence?  Hmmmmm?!!  The disciples asked, what kind of man is this that the wind and the waves obey him?

Following that, you have the healing of the Gadarene Demoniac, the incident with the pigs and Jesus being asked to leave the area!

Jesus returns to Capernaum, heals a paralytic after forgiving his sins;  He calls Matthew, the tax-collector, and goes to his house for dinner - all quite controversial.  Teaches there that "I am not come to the healthy, but to the sick and the sinners" and about New Wine and New Wineskins...  By The Way - please don't think that your ministry, if done with Jesus' power, will be any less controversial !!  I'm just sayin.

While he was teaching, the ruler of the local synagogue, whose daughter lay ill, near death, came to Jesus and asked him to come.

As Jesus was going, the woman in the crowd, who had been bleeding for 12 years, was healed by "touching the hem of his garment."  Power "went out from him" -  Hmmmm?!!
What a coincidence!

He goes on to heal Jairus' daughter, who was reported to have died, and afterward heals two blind men there and a mute who was demon possessed.  We also see that controversy was brewing already in the barbs of the Pharisees, "He casts out demons by the father of demons."

and then the verse that is the end of the INCLUSIO:  9:35

Jesus was going through all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness.

Now this is a fairly short list of Jesus miracles, a sampling if you will. But its a good representative slice of his ministry:

Healings:  A leper, A Roman Centurion's servant, Peter's Mother-in-law, All before dinner!  After he returned from Gadara, a paralytic, Jairus's daughter, two blind men and a mute person - and by the way / or ON the way, the woman with the issue of blood for 12 years.  

Demonic oppression:  The passage begins with "they brought him many who were demon-possessed and he cast out the demons with a word" -  then there was the Gadarene demoniac, a pretty hard case with "thousands of demons" - so many that they caused the herd of swine to run into the sea.   (on a side note - we think this is probably the first instance of "deviled ham!")

Also we want to note that the demonic oppression was the cause of the mute state of the last healed man.  

This was a two day stretch - a snap-shot of Jesus life and ministry.  9+ physical healings,1 raised from the dead, 2 or 3 demon possessions,  Oh and a storm calmed along the way.  All in a couple day's work!

Do you see my point?

We are likely talking about a 48 hour period in the life of Jesus, the Son of God.  And my point is, friends, we have the same Holy Spirit and the same mission and commission from Jesus, that He had from His Father!

Look at the next three verses, no the next four verses

"Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd.
Then He said to His disciples, "The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few."
  "Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest."

and 10:1 

Jesus summoned His twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every kind of disease and every kind of sickness.

OK.  There you have it.   Authority.   The power of the Holy Spirit!    The compassion of Jesus!  A world white unto harvest - in which there is no shortage of sickness and oppression.

What are we waiting for?  

The opportunities are all around us just like they were all around him - in every day of our life.  
Those are the instructions:

"Jesus summoned His twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every kind of disease and every kind of sickness."
"And as you go, preach, saying, 'The kingdom of heaven is at hand.'"
"Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. Freely you received, freely give."

Friends, this is the normal Christian life!  It is what we've been saved, called and empowered for.  From the first followers of Jesus down to us, with no difference!  The difference is in us.  Will we appropriate for ourselves the power and the legacy of the followers of Jesus Christ, the Messiah?  Will we?   Will you?  Or will we substitute excuses for EXOUSIA (Greek for Authority and Power - Jn 1:12)

HOW MUCH MORE?    How much more do we need the equipping of the Spirit to do the work of the Kingdom of God.  What we have seen and heard this morning is the command and expectation of heaven for us. It is our prayer in fact as we pray every week, some every day?   "Thy Kingdom come and Thy will be done, on earth, as it is in heaven!"

So I want to pray this morning and ask you to simply place your hand on your heart.  I want to pray for a renewal of the power and of the gifts of God's Holy Spirit - for His fire in your heart - the fire of compassion, and open eyes to see, open ears to hear the needs around you.  I want to pray for our willingness, our availability and our obedience every day.

Will you pray with me - and if you want to participate in the answer, please place your hand over your heart:

Dear Jesus,

You have sent us.  But you have given us the equipment of the Holy Spirit as you send us.
Renew in us today - renew in me and in each one who is asking you this morning, the refreshing of the Holy Spirit - His presence in our lives and His power for our lives.  Lord we want to be Your witnesses, as it says in Acts 1, so Come, Holy Spirit and fill us anew with your presence and your power.  You are not reluctant to give, as we are reluctant to receive.  

Cleanse and forgive us for our fears - give us your Holy Boldness, the boldness Peter acquired on the Day of Pentecost.  The boldness the church prayed for in the face of persecution weeks later:  So we pray... ""And now, Lord, ... grant that Your bond-servants may speak Your word with all confidence,"
"while You extend Your hand to heal, and signs and wonders take place through the name of Your holy servant Jesus.""

Shake this place and us, Lord, and fill us anew with the presence and power of your Holy Spirit.  Let your Kingdom come, Jesus,
here on earth, among us and through us, as it is in heaven.


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