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Jesus is Trustworthy

Jesus Is Really Good - Sermon #2: Jesus is Trustworthy
Vineyard Church of Ann Arbor • Feb 21, 2016 • Rev. Donnell T. Wyche, Senior Pastor

Preamble
Good morning and welcome to the Vineyard!

We’re so glad you are here with us this morning. If this is your first time or 100th, we are honored that you are here today in our community. Whether you arrived here this morning because of an Internet search, because you were invited, or because you already knew the way, we are grateful for your presence. Our simple prayer for you is that you would experience peace, welcome, and acceptance. We also pray that you would find space to encounter the loving presence of the living God during your time with us this morning!

Introduction
Last week, we launch our Lenten Sermon Series called Jesus is Really Good by exploring the picture of Jesus as a Good Physician. For many of us, doctors have become our modern day high priests. However, Jesus, is the true mediator between us and God , and he calls us to give up our personal agendas and trust his agenda for us and our lives instead. Our act of obedience, to follow Jesus through the narrow gate into life is something we do for our benefit. . Over the next several weeks we will continue to explore the goodness of God as demonstrated by Jesus.

Lenten Spiritual Practices Review
Lent, as you may know, is the 40 day period before Easter used by the church to prepare ourselves for baptism and the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus. During this Lenten season, we have five Lenten Spiritual Practices to help you meet God at the edge of your comfort zones and be reminded of his sheer goodness.

  • My Bold Request & The Answered Prayer Wall
    • Identify one thing you’d like to ask God to do for you and then ask daily. This is personal and a little selfish, in the sense that it’s for you. It could be something you really need right now or something you’ve always wanted.
  • The Answered Prayer Wall
    • If during Lent you have any answered prayers, please take a moment to come up and write it down on a sticky-note and stick it on the Answered Prayer wall. This is a little reminder to us all that when one of our prayers is answered, all of us are blessed because we’re all connected in Christ.
  • Identify and Pray for Your Six
    • We invite you to prayerfully select six people in your world to pray for each day. We suggest people just beyond your primary relationship circle.
  • Blow Some Money on Your Six
  • Experiment with a daily devotional
    • We have a daily devotional available on the church website as a PDF that you can download and print out yourself.

 

Jesus is Trustworthy
In this sermon series, we will be using the scriptures to inspire, encourage and nudge us into taking little leaps of faith during Lent. We also want to focus on the sheer and surprising Goodness of Jesus. We sometimes forget that through all the suffering, loss, and daily hassles of life that God is ultimately, chronically, and refreshingly good.

Taste and see that the Lord is good;
blessed are those who take refuge in him. (Psalm 34:8)

STORY: I’m a bit cynical. I remember like it was yesterday the first time my dad lied to me. This single event forever changed my relationship with him. After my biological parents separated, my paternal grandmother set up their custody arrangement and it was simple: every weekend I spent at my dad’s. I loved it! He had a cool car, a great job, an amazing record collection, a betamax, and HBO. It seemed to me that he enjoyed spending time with me. I remember vividly going to his place excited to just be around him, hanging out with him, learning from him. He always made space for me and my questions and always challenged me to think for myself. I think it’s safe to say that I worshipped my dad. I also feared him – all my mom had to do to bring me in line, was threaten to call my dad. Then I grew up and discovered like most teenagers do that our parents – our heroes – are broken like everyone else. We start to see things that we were once blinded to. I remember the first lie. Shortly after my grandmother died, my dad, all of sudden, got busy almost every weekend with work – he was no longer available to spend time with me. This was the start of our broken relationship, which never healed or was repaired. I tend to think as an adult that I would have been able to handle the unfortunate truth that he didn’t want to spend time with me any more. But he chose to make up excuses to get out of his obligation to me, so I just stopped asking. And it may surprise none of you, but I projected my broken relationship with my dad onto God.

Jesus answers fear with faith
Into a world littered by brokenness, unfulfilled promises, dashed hopes and shattered dreams, Jesus reveals the very goodness of God in human form that is both personal and relatable. In every story that Jesus tells he reveals a heavenly Father who is good –good like no other. He reveals a Father always out for our good, even if we fail to see or understand it. And Jesus presents himself as one who can be trusted.

When Jesus had again crossed over by boat to the other side of the lake, a large crowd gathered around him while he was by the lake. Then one of the synagogue leaders, named Jairus, came, and when he saw Jesus, he fell at his feet. He pleaded earnestly with him, “My little daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live.” (Mark 5:21-23)

More often than I care to admit, I struggle with my picture of God. Is he really good? Does he love me, really? Or does just he just like me? What happens when I don’t measure up? Will he rescue me when I need him? Will he answer when I call?

Jairus had to take his own little leap of faith. Jesus was a lightening rod in his community, threatening the natural order of things, frustrating many of the religious leaders, and offering an alternative kingdom of god that challenged the King. As a synagogue leader, Jairus undoubtedly had a reputation to maintain. Would trusting Jesus cost too much, would it ruin his reputation, and end his position of authority in the community? But disaster struck. Why worry about religious controversy and political danger when your daughter is dying? Sometimes we finally reach our point of desperation where nothing else matters and where we are willing to lose ourselves to pursue what we want in spite of its cost, our dignity, or any opposition.

So Jesus went with him. A large crowd followed and pressed around him. (Mark 5:24)

Jesus does what he does: he answers fear with faith. He has the power to take people from fear to faith. “Take a leap of faith with me. You can’t see what is going to happen, but are you willing to take a little leap with me and see what the Father will do?” This is why I love Jesus so much! He doesn’t always give us what we want, but he is always willing to go whatever it is with us. He answers fear with faith. “Though the night is dark, though the way is unclear, have faith. I am with you.”

Jesus answers fear with compassion

And a woman was there [among the crowd] who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, because she thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering. At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?” (Mark 5:25-30)

One of favorite exchanges between Jesus and his disciples in scripture happens next, almost sarcastically, the disciple answer in reply:

“You see the people crowding against you,” his disciples answered, “and yet you can ask, ‘Who touched me?’ ” (Mark 5:31)

You can sorta hear them saying, “Dude, you are pressed in on every side, a better question would be, ‘Who isn’t touching you?’ ” Undeterred by them, Jesus knows something has happened, and he presses on.

Can you imagine the amount of nerve and gumption this woman would have had to muster to go up and touch his cloak? At point in the story, if you are paying attention, you might discover that Mark is trying to make a point here. He’s telling us this story, yes, but there’s more to the story. It’s a story within a story. Jesus is on his way to heal Jarius’ daughter who is twelve, and this woman (another daughter) has been suffering with an illness for 12 years. For as long as this little girl has been alive, this woman has been suffering with this disease. Imagine with me the pain, the suffering, the brokenness, the exclusion she must have experienced. For 12 years she hasn’t been able to join the community in worship, yet there is still something alive within her. Just like Jairus, she decides to risk everything on Jesus. She takes her own leap of faith. “If I can just touch the hem of his garment, I will be healed.”

But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.” (Mark 5:32-34)

Did you notice that Jesus calls her “daughter”? On his way to heal Jairus’ daughter, another daughter of God is in need of healing, and rescue. Expecting condemnation, expecting curses, expecting shame, expecting more suffering, he calls her daughter. He answers her fear with compassion. This woman with this disease made herself, and everyone, and everything she touched unclean. Her husband (and maybe her children) couldn’t eat anything she cooked, sit on any chair she touched, or join the community in worship. We can even imagine that maybe no one has touched her during this 12 year period.  Touching Jesus with this issue of blood should have made him unclean. Instead, touching Jesus makes her whole. This is Jesus at his best: compassionate, trustworthy, powerful, healer.

Jesus answers fear with power
When life crowds in with all its pressures, there is still room for us to creep up behind Jesus – if that’s all we feel we can do – and reach out to touch him, even in the midst of our fear and see it turned into faith.

While Jesus was still speaking, some people came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue leader. “Your daughter is dead,” they said. “Why bother the teacher anymore?” (Mark 5:35)

Seeing Jesus heal the woman with the issue of blood, probably created another spark of faith within Jairus. You can hear him thinking, “Yes, I made the right decision, my leap of faith will pay off. My daughter, like that woman, will be healed. Jesus, thanks be to God, you can be trusted.” Then the news of his daughter’s death comes crashing in on his growing faith like a building collapsing under its weight because of an earthquake. This news shatters and breaks apart his faith, his hope, his desire. Jesus answers his fear with faith and will later do it with power.

Overhearing what they said, Jesus told him, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.” He did not let anyone follow him except Peter, James and John the brother of James. When they came to the home of the synagogue leader, Jesus saw a commotion, with people crying and wailing loudly. He went in and said to them, “Why all this commotion and wailing? The child is not dead but asleep.” But they laughed at him. (Mark 5:36-40)

As Jesus rebukes the mourners, insisting the child is only sleeping, their weeping turns to mocking laughter. Many of us have experienced this in our lives, those on the outside mocking us for having faith and trusting Jesus. But Jesus can be trusted. He started out on this journey to heal Jairus’ daughter, responding to his leap of faith, and committed, Jesus presses on.

After he put them all out, he took the child’s father and mother and the disciples who were with him, and went in where the child was. He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum!” (which means “Little girl, I say to you, get up!”). Immediately the girl stood up and began to walk around (she was twelve years old). At this they were completely astonished. He gave strict orders not to let anyone know about this, and told them to give her something to eat. (Mark 5:40b-43)

Jesus answers Jairus fear with power. Right at the moment when it seemed hope should be abandoned, Jesus does the unexpected.  He reaches out and takes her hand. The scripture tells us that anyone who touches dead bodies is made unclean, unable to be in the community, unable to worship, unable to meet with God. But Jesus declares the truth in his simple act, God is not defiled by us, he is not made unclean by us, in fact, his touch is the only thing that can heal us. In reaching out and taking her hand, he continues his declaration about his kingdom and his authority – his authority over nature, over demons, over powers, and ultimately, over death.

Jesus has everything we need. He brings life to the dead, cleanliness to the unclean, and healing to the sick. He is offering us salvation, hope, and life. His intent is to reverse the curse, break the power of sin and death and to give us everything we need: life. He is inviting us to trust him and respond to his invitation as true sons and daughters beloved by a compassionate, loving, powerful Father.

Prayer Senses

  • If there is something that you are ashamed of and it keeps you from coming to Jesus, offer it to him this morning (or week by writing it down) and surrendering it to him. If you want to take a risk this morning, start by acknowledging God’s presence and his ability to be trusted by opening your hand right now.
  • Prayer: Father, in the name of Jesus I pray that you would release your forgiveness and healing right now. As you come to communion, if you want to surrender to Jesus as you receive his broken body and blood poured out for you.
  • As I was writing out the story about my biological father and our broken relationship, my godfather called. It was a powerful moment of God’s faithfulness to me, a reminder that Jesus is: “Gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” God was reminding me that I have not been abandon, even though my biological father rejected, God was reminding me that he doesn’t. There are a few of us this morning that need to be reminded of that.

Practical Tips

1. Get Baptized on Easter: In order to take hold of the salvation that Jesus won for us on the cross, we have to surrender our allegiance to sin and death. We must reject their claims on our life and turn our back on them. Baptism is more than the outward symbol of our loyalty to Jesus, it’s the place where we break solidarity with sin; we change our status, and enter the kingdom of God where we are no longer subject to the rule and reign of sin and death. Sign up at the Events Station in the Lobby.

2. Join a Lenten Life Group: Anna Hillaker & Jade Ho will be leading a Tuesday evening Lenten Small Group. 7pm at the church, focusing on Lenten Spiritual Practices.

3. Renew your mind.

Paul says, Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:2)

This week, set aside some time to ask yourself a really honest question, when no one else is concerned, “How do I you truly feel about God?” Write down what you feel, sit with it for a bit (a day or so), then ask, “Is the way I feel about God consistent with the God that Jesus revealed?”

4. Believe that you are an object of God’s care and provision.

Try reading Psalm 23 or Psalm 131 and try to visualizing yourself in the good care of God. As you do this, here are some questions to consider the following questions: How do I feel? Am I defensive? Am I able to surrender? Am I able to accept his provision and care for me? Do I trust that God is really good? Do I believe that God works for me?

 
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