Sermon Options: October 24, 2021

August 31st, 2021

SOUND, SIGHT, AND FAITH

JOB 42:1-6, 10-17

A new bride, just home from the honeymoon, was preparing a special meal with ham and lots of extras. The young husband was surprised when his wife cut off apparently two good ends of the ham before it went into the oven. “Why did you do that?” he asked. “That’s the way my mother always fixed a ham,” she replied.

On a visit to her folks he asked his mother-in-law about it and heard, “That’s the way my mother always cooked a ham.” The young groom made a special trip to grandmother’s house to hear her explanation. “Son, that’s the only way the ham will fit into my pan.”

Do you respond to life the way others have, or do you make your own decisions? Is it truth for you because someone else said it, or do you have to see it for yourself? Job’s testimony reflects the tension between sound, sight, and faith.

I. Responsibility Accepted

Job acknowledged, “I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you” (42:5). In the pilgrimage of faith it can’t be all hearing or all sight. Both are involved and we must make a responsible decision to both. Job accepted the responsibility for the word God spoke (vv. 3, 4), and for his own rash words. “I have uttered what I did not understand” (42:3). His personal encounter with God left him speechless at first (40:4-5).

“Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” ( Rom. 10:17, NKJV). When we respond by faith to God’s word we begin to see God. The word spoken by Jesus will judge us at the last day ( John 12:48) . The rich man, concerned about his sinful family, was told, “If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets (the word of God), neither will they be convinced even if someone rises from the dead” (Luke 16:31) . God has spoken through his word. Have you made a responsible decision and come to know him personally? Jesus said, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe” (John 20:29).

II. Repentance Acknowledged

Sound and sight came together in a fresh encounter between Job and God. He made the response the prophet made when he saw the Lord “high and lifted up” (Isa. 6, RSV): “Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes” (v. 6). Alexander Maclaren noted, “If we rightly understood His power, we can rest upon it as a Hand sustaining, not crushing us. . . . It is better to trust than to criticize, better to wait than to seek prematurely to understand.”

True repentance was evidenced in Job’s lack of demands. He asked for no vindication, nor for a healing touch. He was content with the presence of God.

III. Restoration Experienced

A turn from pride, rash demands, and self-sufficiency always brings one to a position of usefulness to God. Job was used as an intercessor for his friends (42:8, 10). He was restored to fellowship with his neighbors (42:11). New leadership in his family resulted (42:12-16). He died “full of days” (v. 17).

It doesn’t always happen that way. Sometimes entrance into glory restores health. Sometimes the divorce goes through. Restoration to a vital relationship with God and full days in his will is always the best result. (Bill D. Whittaker)

ALWAYS ON THE JOB

HEBREWS 7:23-28

As the Chaplain of the Week at the local hospital, I am required to wear a “beeper” 24 hours a day so that I can always be reached in case of an emergency. I am, in effect, always on call and thus “always on the job.”

There are a number of things that need to be always on the job. For example, for the safety of the nation, our National Defense system must always be on the alert, ready to respond anytime. We desire that our utility providers stay on the job. We need our power, our water, and of course our cable TV! Perhaps most important is the 911 emergency system. People are always on the job, waiting to help if there is an emergency. We need that kind of protection.

In the seventh chapter of Hebrews, as readers we are reminded of the great assurance and peace that Christ can offer. He does so because he is always on the job. Christ continues to work in our behalf, at all times, in every situation. In this passage, Christ is being compared to the high priests of his day. He is shown to be superior because, unlike them, he lives forever, he makes constant intercession, and he offers the perfect sacrifice.

I. Christ Lives Forever (v. 24)

In the old system of high priests and sacrifices, death meant there was a continual need for replacements. As soon as one priest died and new one would have to be appointed. Over and over the process of replacement went on.

One of the problems with computers and the software to run them is the problem of upgrades. No sooner is a program purchased and installed on the hard drive, than a new version, an upgrade is announced. There is a constant game of obtaining the newer, better, and faster program. Constant replacement can be tiresome.

Christ is superior to the finite high priests of his day. Christ is eternal and he holds the priesthood permanently. Christ will always serve as our high priest. Eternity is a difficult concept to comprehend. We have difficulty even visualizing such an expanse of time. But the truth of God’s Word proclaims that as long as there is time, Christ will lead us, protect us, guide us and forgive us. He will open and maintain a channel to God. He lives forever and is our Priest forever.

II. Christ Makes Constant Intercession (v. 25)

To intercede means to “intervene” or to “mediate.” Christ “always lives to intercede” on our behalf. Before Christ came, a mediator or priest was needed to act as a “go between” uniting man with God. The priest became a middle man taking the petitions of each sinner to the throne of God’s grace.

Most of us have been through the frustrating process of buying a car. It seems that at every dealership there is a middle man that we have to encounter. He takes our offer to someone else and then returns with the answer. It seems that we are never allowed to talk directly to the person who can make the deal. It is frustrating to play the game of indirect communication.

Christ comes to offer constant communication. He continues to petition God for our needs; he continues to provide the atonement for our sins. It is as if Christ says to God over and over again, “I know this man; he is one of mine.” Christ intercedes on our behalf constantly; he mediates the relationship between God and man.

III. Christ Offers a Perfect Sacrifice (vv. 26-27)

On the Day of Atonement, the high priest would enter the Holy of Holies to make two important sacrifices. The first sacrifice offered was to atone for his own sins. The second was to atone for the sins of the people. It was a continuing action. It was repeated over and over, year after year. Christ died once for all! He has offered for us a complete and perfect sacrifice. When Christ died for our sins, it marked a complete and final sacrifice. His sacrifice met our needs. All that was, is, and will be needed to atone for our sins, Christ has already provided.

Sometimes dentists have the unpleasant task of filling cavities. On some occasions, a temporary filling is placed in the cavity until the permanent filling can be put into place. What agony as a patient, to go through the process over and over again. A complete and final fix would be the desired result.

Christ has done a complete work. His sacrifice has covered our sins for all of time. Christ is always on the job, making intercession and offering his love for us. (Jon R. Roebuck)

EYES OF FAITH

MARK 10:46-52

Every reporter has an agenda. Ask five people who witness an accident to give an account of what happened, and you’ll get five different testimonies, even if they’re all trying to be objective. Every retelling of a story has a purpose; it’s true of current events, and it’s true in biblical narratives. The way we remember and repeat the healing of Bartimaeus says something about us as well as him.

Our grandparents may have sung Homer Rodeheaver’s interpretation of this passage, “Then Jesus Came:”

One sat alone, beside the highway begging, His eyes were blind, the light he could not see; He clutched his rags and shivered in the shadows, Then James came and bade his darkness flee. When Jesus comes the temper’s pow’r is broken; When Jesus comes the tears are wiped away. He takes the gloom and fills the life with glory, For all is changed when Jesus comes to stay.

The remaining stanzas recall the healing of the Gerasene demoniac, the person who had leprosy, the person who could not hear or speak—the bottom line being that everything is different when Jesus comes to stay. A more contemporary rendition of the story, “Blind man sat by the road and he cried,” emphasizes Jesus showing us the way to go home, that is, to be saved.

When Mark recounts this event of Jericho Road suggests his motive. He wasn’t establishing that Jesus could heal the sick; that was already done at the beginning of the Gospel. The episode is set near the end of Jesus earthly ministry. Earlier in the chapter we find the story of the rich young man, the account of James and John asking special favors, and Jesus third prediction of his passion and death. Jesus was on his way to the crucifixion, and this is the final healing miracle Mark records.

How the story is framed tells us of Mark’s purpose. The blind beggar perceived something those closest to Jesus couldn’t see. Bartimaeus called him “Master”—the first time in Mark’s Gospel the Lord is addressed that way. Bartimaeus proclaimed Jesus “Son of David” before the crowds of Palm Sunday used the title. Bartimaeus glorified God and inspired others to give glory. Faith and praise—even from someone considered an outsider—made a person whole, and gave him confidence.

Mark’s depiction of the disciples make plain they didn’t understand who the Messiah was or why they were going to Jerusalem. James and John’s request resulted in a quarrel among the disciples. They showed an uncaring, even nasty attitude toward a blind man seeking the Great Physician. Mark’s depiction showed even long-time followers getting in the way of God’s power and purpose, when blinded by a merely human vision.

But the persecuted, Gentile church for which Mark wrote would also have heard it as a message of hope: that “outsiders” are included in the Kingdom; that God’s purpose is accomplished even on the way to a cross; that those who are broken may still lead others to faith.

Today, Mark’s perspective offers encouragement to Christians anxious about the future and tempted to close ranks against a sometimes hostile environment. Like Bartimaeus, we are to risk everything to proclaim the gospel, relying on God’s promises rather than visible evidence. We are all blind or broken in some way, but by the grace of God we can be healed and used to the glory of Christ. (Carol M. Noren)

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