Good morning, my name is Phil Human, and I’m a pastor here at Journey Church, and it’s my pleasure today to be able to speak with you about Jesus, and about what He is like. If you are interested in reading about the life of Jesus, then grab a bible and read the first four books of the NT. They are called the gospels – Matthew Mark, Luke and John. And pick one and read it. You can download an app called You Version – and last week when it was warm I took a walk around Chalco hills and pressed play and got a chance to listen to some other people read the book of Luke to me. I got through the first six chapters or so before I turned it off. I discovered that apparently some people in Jesus day spoke with an English Accent – Zachariah sounded like Sean Connery. I think that sounds regal to us.
I think it would be funny if they gave them like an Irish brogue – His name shall be called John the Baptist. Wouldn’t it be awesome if we go to heaven and God has an Irish Brogue – welcome – my good and faithful servant! Some of you are trying to figure out if I’m being blasphemous or not. You’re like, “God doesn’t have an accent man. He speaks good old midwestern english. He sounds just like me! Alright – if you insist.
So I said all that to say, read your bible and learn about Jesus and imagine any kind of accent you want so long as you listen to what he is saying. You will read about the most amazing, most loving, most compassionate human who ever lived. Allow yourself the right to be wrong – to be challenged and changed about spiritual matters. Encounter Jesus as the Bible presents him and then consider for yourself whether he is worth following.
We are in our second week of a series leading up to Easter we are calling Encounters with Jesus. And we’re reading about people whose lives have been changed after doing just that. They counted the cost of following Jesus and some decided to follow Him and others walked away unchanged. It is possible to encounter Jesus and walk away unchanged.
Why? Because God treats us with respect and gives us the dignity of choice. We are not robots – we are made in His creation and he allows us the freedom to walk away from him. To our own peril.
Last week we looked at the Pharisees. Generally – though not universally because some Pharisees did follow Him – they encountered Jesus and left unchanged, mainly because their legalistic religious system was so restrictive that Jesus himself couldn’t crack the code to get on the inside of it.
Today though we are going to read about two people in particular who encounter Jesus and walk away forever changed.
We started Journey Church about 8 years ago with the hopes or helping people engage or sometimes re-engage with Jesus on their spiritual Journey. We recognized that there are any people who, for whatever reason, either never began a spiritual journey or pressed the pause button a long time ago and have kind of been idling for many years. Maybe that’s you today. If so then you found the right place. It’s what we do.
What we discovered as people like you began to be part of our church was that there were three three reasons why people decide to pick up their spiritual journey.
We found three themes that kept coming up as we asked people why they decided to reignite their spiritual life. I’ll tell you the top three but maybe you can guess them as I tell you them.
1. One reason was Children – you have a kid and all of a sudden you think, I want to be a god parent and I want to teach my kids about God. Wonderful and commendable and there’s more than a few adults in here who came for their kids only to discover that God wanted to do something special in their own life, and it was a wonderful surprise.
2. A second reason was simply a change of address. You moved to Gretna and you think – it’s a good time for a fresh start. And so maybe that’s why you are here. Very cool if that’s the case.
3. If these first two reasons were joyful reasons to come to church, this last category is a painful one, and that is Crisis. Something painful has happened to you and your world – if it hasn’t been turned upside down, it’s at least tilting precariously close. So you come to church to try to see if God can make sense of it all.
Your marriage is in trouble or has ended. Maybe disease, cancer, death, illness, loss of job. You are in pain and need God’s help. And the good news is that God is here and he DOES love you and he is with you, and I’m thankful that as you walk through the valley of whatever it is you are going through, you’ve found room in your heart to invite God to walk alongside you through it. And he certainly will.
Ye though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for though art with me. That’s Psalm 23. And it’s my bread and butter – my number one psalm that I try to pray through at least once a day. Personally Psalm 23 is a tremendous blessing to my soul, whether I am in a green pasture, besides quiet water, or in the valley of the shadow of death.
Today we are going to read about two people who found themselves in the valley of crisis – and as a result – they sought Jesus out in order to receive help from him.
So let’s turn to Luke and read. Luke 8 NLT
40 On the other side of the lake the crowds welcomed Jesus, because they had been waiting for him. 41 Then a man named Jairus, a leader of the local synagogue, came and fell at Jesus’ feet, pleading with him to come home with him. 42 His only daughter, who was about twelve years old, was dying.
When I get the privilege of speaking with people who are skeptical about the existence of God – one of the questions they ask is, if there is a God, then why do 12 year olds die? Why do children die of cancer? Why does anyone die of cancer?
See much of what is wrong in the world can be directly traced to the problem of evil in the human heart. Anger, rage, malice, cheating, slander, lust, gossip, back stabbing, adultery, greed, selfishness – all of these and much more can be traced to my heart and yours. These things generate from inside of our heart and cause great pain and anguish in life.
But there are some things in life that can’t be blamed on us. Primarily two things. Natural disasters – like tornados and tsunami’s – these things are beyond our control and people die. And diseases. So the skeptic asks – if there is a God then these things belong in His realm and so, either God is not good or God is not powerful.
Valid question. Valid obstacle to belief. We don’t have the time because it would take many conversations to address – and even then we have to admit that some things are left a mystery on this side of eternity – but allow me to share a couple of thoughts from the Bible regarding the issue of crisis.
1. It was never meant to be this way. It was not created this way. It became broken in the garden when Adam and Eve used their free will to decide they wanted to go it alone. The world itself became broken. A world that once produced on it’s own accord food to eat, now demanded farming and all the work that comes with it.
Check out what Romans 8 tells us about creation – But with eager hope, 21 the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay.
Death, decay and disasters resulted from the introduction of sin in the garden. It was a consequence of the rebellion of mankind.
2. When bad things happen to us – it is not because God is punishing us. Disease, disaster and death occur in our lifetime because we are participants in humanity. And humanity lives in a world that is busted.
John 9 As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man who had been blind from birth.2 “Rabbi,” his disciples asked him, “why was this man born blind? Was it because of his own sins or his parents’ sins?”
3 “It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins,” Jesus answered. “This happened so the power of God could be seen in him.
3. God can take garbage and turn it into gold.
This might not be something you want to hear today. If you are in crisis you might not be comforted by these verses in Romans 8. But let’s take a peek back again at romans 8 – because creation isn’t the only thing groaning as it waits for God to fix things – we are too.
But when we decide to place our faith in Jesus we enter into the Kingdom of heaven. The Kingdom of God. The place where God wisely governs the days of our life. And when we know that we can trust him, and only when we know that, can Romans 8 bring us some degree of comfort when we read…
18 Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later.
Only when we are sure that God is good and faithful and abounding in love can we find comfort when we read 2 Corinthians 4
16 That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. 17 For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! 18 So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen.
I have shared my story before and so don’t want to share it again now, but I am here today as a believer in Jesus because my mom got cancer. And she made a deal with God in the hospital that if she ever got out she would find him. And she brought me along and as a young teen made the decision to follow Him forever.
God really can work all things together for good – though if you are in the middle of a crisis, that might be little comfort to you to hear. You want relief. I don’t know if it would have been that comforting to Jairus who’s daughter was deathly ill.
As Jesus went with him, he was surrounded by the crowds. 43 A woman in the crowd had suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding, and she could find no cure. 44 Coming up behind Jesus, she touched the fringe of his robe. Immediately, the bleeding stopped.
45 “Who touched me?” Jesus asked.
Everyone denied it, and Peter said, “Master, this whole crowd is pressing up against you.”
Here’s a woman who is sick with a particularly cruel illness, in that her sickness involved the discharge of blood. And that meant she was ceremonially unclean. Couldn’t go into the temple, and if she, an unclean person, touched someone who was ceremonially clean, that person would then also become unclean.
It’s a universal principle that dirt makes clean things dirty. If I wash my hands, but you have grease all over your hands, and I shake your hands, then I get grease on me and I have to wash my hands all over again.
So this woman, she is considered unclean and she doesn’t want to make Jesus unclean by touching him or by asking him to touch her and heal her, so she sneaks up behind Jesus and thinks, maybe I can be healed without making him dirty, so she sneaks a touch of his garment. She isn’t embarrassed, she is considerate and kind.
What she doesn’t know is that Jesus is the first and only person who reverses the process. When ‘unclean’ things touch Jesus they become clean, not the other way around. She is healed, and Jesus then repays her by doing something considerate and kind.
Now remember – they are on their way to heal Jairus daughter who is literally dying, but Jesus stops to make sure he ministers to this woman.
46 But Jesus said, “Someone deliberately touched me, for I felt healing power go out from me.” 47 When the woman realized that she could not stay hidden, she began to tremble and fell to her knees in front of him. The whole crowd heard her explain why she had touched him and that she had been immediately healed. 48 “Daughter,” he said to her, “your faith has made you well. Go in peace.”
Jesus does this woman a favor by helping her understand that it wasn’t the robe that healed her. It was Jesus. And it wasn’t the touch of the robe that made her well, it was her faith in Him that healed her. And by bringing her forward he announces to the crowd – she is healed. She has been cleansed. Her faith in Jesus has healed her.
Now let me just say a quick word about healing, because someone might ask – it seemed like Jesus healed everywhere he went, why doesn’t Jesus heal everyone now.
A few thoughts. Although Jesus commends this woman for her faith, it’s not the amount of faith that triggers divine healing. Some have made grievous errors in assuming that God wants to heal us, but we just don’t have enough faith. And so we beat ourselves up, we take the blame – if only I really really really REALLY believed, then God would answer me. That’s called ‘faith healing” and it’s important we distance ourselves from it.
It demeans God as petty or vindictive, and it ultimately destroys our faith in the goodness and compassion of God. It distorts our view of God as someone who keeps good things from his children and blames them for it.
Although it’s true that Jesus at times commends people for their tremendous faith, and at times informs the disciples about their lack of faith, the most important thing about faith is who we place our faith in. After all, it’s Jesus who tells us that faith as small as a mustard seed can be effective. The mustard seed is a tiny seed.
It’s true that Jesus healed many. Did he heal everyone? no. For instance, the Apostle Paul was a person who appeared to have health issues – he apparently had eye trouble – and he writes about his prayers for healing in 2 Corinthians 12,
8 Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. 9 Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.”
So the Lord reserves the right to not heal, as well as heal. And he asks us to trust that his grace for us will be sufficient.
So why doesn’t Jesus heal everyone who asks him today? Well, there are some things more valuable than a disease free existence. And He asks us to allow our illness to crowd us to the cross.
Sometimes Jesus does things that doesn’t make tremendous sense to us from the viewpoint we old today.
And ultimately, healing everyone doesn’t really solve the larger issue – which is death itself. All of these people Jesus healed, eventually died.
So we can pray for healing. And as we pray we have faith in the one who can do all things. And we pray that God will make us well. But the prayer that supersedes all other prayers, is the prayer, Thy Will be done. Thy will be done. There’s nothing contradictory about that prayer.
It’s not a cop out to pray that God would heal me, and then add, but thy will be done.
That’s actually, in my opinion, the manner in which Jesus directs us to pray. I wish to be healed. I desire for my loved one to be healed, but God, I humbly allow you to run the universe, knowing that although you welcome my input into how I think things should be run, you are a good father.
My faith might be great or barely hanging on – but it’s in the right person. The one who knows best. Thy will be done.
Back to our story. Jesus has brought the processional to Jairus house to a standstill in order to heal this dear woman.
49 While he was still speaking to her, a messenger arrived from the home of Jairus, the leader of the synagogue. He told him, “Your daughter is dead. There’s no use troubling the Teacher now.”
Jairus’ worst fears come true. If you were in Jairus shoes, how would you feel? That Jesus has let you down? Would you feel angry? Upset? Deeply saddened?
But Jairus is about to discover that God’s timing is never off.
50 But when Jesus heard what had happened, he said to Jairus, “Don’t be afraid. Just have faith, and she will be healed.”
Jesus says, whatever faith you have Jairus, shaken faith. Wounded faith. Doubting faith. Whatever kind of faith you have Jairus, don’t lose it. Don’t give up on it. Hang tough Jairus. Don’t give into fear and think your faith ended up in the wrong place. Don’t let fear rob you of your faith Jairus. Whatever adjective you have attached to that faith- it’s enough. Bring it with you and let’s go see your daughter.
Imagine being in Jairus shoes. Imagine Jesus looking you in the eyes and saying, death isn’t the end of the chapter. This story isn’t over. Let’s go.
51 When they arrived at the house, Jesus wouldn’t let anyone go in with him except Peter, John, James, and the little girl’s father and mother. 52 The house was filled with people weeping and wailing, but he said, “Stop the weeping! She isn’t dead; she’s only asleep.”
53 But the crowd laughed at him because they all knew she had died.
Jesus tells us it doesn’t take much faith, but you have to have SOME faith.
The crowd had zero faith that Jesus was able to work in that situation, and as a result, they missed the main event. Jesus shuts the door – literally, and they don’t get to witness the greatest miracle of all – raising the dead.
54 Then Jesus took her by the hand and said in a loud voice, “My child, get up!”
Jesus uses a term that properly translated would be like you calling your daughter honey. Or Darling. Jesus simply reaches down to the girl and says, Honey, it’s time to wake up. Like you do when you are waking you child up for school in the morning. Time to get up darling. So beautiful. So tender!
55 And at that moment her life returned, and she immediately stood up! Then Jesus told them to give her something to eat. 56 Her parents were overwhelmed….
Jairus, his wife and daughter – changed forever by their encounter with Jesus. What they learned changed them? What do we learn about Jesus from this story?
We learn that Jesus power is never lacking. He has the power to do anything. For Jesus – raising a dead girl to life took no more of his power than curing a fever.
If Jesus can raise the dead to life, then he has the power to do whatever it is you are asking him to do for you. He can do anything. His power is never lacking.
Many of Jesus’ miracles were specifically about the two things that are beyond the control of mankind. For instance, one time he was on a boat and the wind is whipping and the boat feels likes its about to capsize – Jesus stands up and says, be quiet and the wind stops…
There is no lack of power on the part of Jesus. Whatever you are facing has no hold over him. And he is on your side.
Second – I believe we see in this story that Jesus’ timing is never off. God’s timing is never off. Jairus thought that Jesus’ timing was off – he delayed too long.
Right now, is God delaying something in your life and you feel like giving up? Are you feeling impatient with him? There may be a crucial factor that you just don’t have access to. The answer, as with Jairus, is to trust Jesus.
His decisions are never wrong. We can rest in the Kingdom of Jesus. We can rest, assured, confident that He knows what he is doing. Even should he chose to not heal. We can even receive a “No” from him as an answer without freaking out.
Therefore we get to live without fear. We don’t have to receive fear – it’s not a part of a healthy breakfast. We don’t need to digest fear. We can refuse that order. We can return it to Hell’s kitchen.
You might be going through something that – should it have it’s way, would terrorize you and impale you with fear. Will you let Jesus speak to your heart today and hear him tell you, don’t be afraid.
No need. We fear no evil. We fear no illness. After all, what’s the worst that can happen? Death? Pulease! death is a defeated foe. Death has lost it’s sting!
No – to live is Christ and to die is gain. No worries – if we’ve placed our faith in Jesus then we’re already living an eternal life. It’s already started. We will all one day pass through a door to the other side, where we are promised, by the way, no more tears, no more heart ache. No more disease, no more death.
Now this is what we’re going to do now. I’m going to pray and then Neil and the band is coming up for two more songs. And if you would like someone to pray for you then head over to underneath the basket back there in the left side. We have some elders and their wives and they will pray for you.
Are you sick? Let them pray for you. They will pray that you are healed and they will pray God’s will be done in your life – and if you would like someone to pray that prayer then head over there at any point during the next two songs.