Know the Generosity of God…and never thirst! (John 4)

What Changed?

Mark 6:1-13

1[Jesus] came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him.2On the sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astounded. They said, “Where did this man get all this? What is this wisdom that has been given to him? What deeds of power are being done by his hands! 3Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. 4Then Jesus said to them, “Prophets are not without honor, except in their hometown, and among their own kin, and in their own house.” 5And he could do no deed of power there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and cured them. 6And he was amazed at their unbelief.   Then he went about among the villages teaching. 7He called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. 8He ordered them to take nothing for their journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no money in their belts; 9but to wear sandals and not to put on two tunics. 10He said to them, “Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave the place. 11If any place will not welcome you and they refuse to hear you, as you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.” 12So they went out and proclaimed that all should repent. 13They cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.

A question for you:  How many Christians does it take to change a lightbulb?  And, I have an answer for you!

Charismatic: Only 1 – Hands are already in the air.

Pentecostal: 10 – One to change the bulb, and nine to pray against the spirit of darkness.

Presbyterians: None – Lights will go on and off at predestined times.

Baptists: At least 15 – One to change the light bulb, and three committees to approve the change and decide who brings the potato salad and fried chicken.

Episcopalians: 3 – One to call the electrician, one to mix the drinks, and one to talk about how much better the old one was.

Unitarians: We choose not to make a statement either in favor of or against the need for a light bulb. However, if in your own journey you have found that light bulbs work for you, you are invited to write a poem or compose a modern dance about your light bulb for the next Sunday service, in which we will explore a number of light bulb traditions, including incandescent, fluorescent, 3-way, long-life and tinted, all of which are equally valid paths to luminescence.

Methodists: Undetermined – Whether your light is bright, dull, or completely out, you are loved. You can be a light bulb, turnip bulb, or tulip bulb. Bring a bulb of your choice to the Sunday lighting service and a covered dish to pass.

Nazarene: 6 – One woman to replace the bulb while five men review church lighting policy.

Amish: What’s a light bulb?

Lutherans: None – Lutherans don’t believe in change.

Change…Change is difficult for most people, Christian or not.  

Change is to make or become different or the act or instance of making or becoming different.

Change, transformation, alteration … however one may choose to name it, can be seen all around us. Whether this change be taking public transportation rather than an Uber, making healthier lifestyle choices, or deciding to be a little more friendly to that colleague at work; more often than not, we all have personal behaviors we wish we could adjust, stop, or start. 

St. Paul states:  I get up in the morning and do the one thing I don’t want to do.  

It is difficult to change.  We like the way “It’s always been done!”  It’s comfortable.  It feels good.  Change puts us out of our comfort zone.  We become afraid of what the change might look like – 

When Jesus went to his hometown, Jesus was not the same person anymore.  He had changed!

He was no longer the little boy that they remembered running down the street.

On the Sabbath, he got up to preach and his neighbors could not believe how awesome he was – His wisdom, and the authority he held when he preached.  

They may had heard about this man – Jesus – healing people – but when they saw him, they said – not this man!  We know this guy.  He used to live here and was one of those snotty nosed kids that would run around in the streets.  We know his family.  We know his mom and dad.  They could not accept the fact that Jesus had changed – He was a man.  

And so, they took offense at him.  

I can only imagine that in Jesus’ humanity, it probably hurt a little bit.  I believe that he may have even felt embarrassed.  I mean, one would most likely think that in all places, your hometown folk would build you up – be proud of who you became – 

But here in Jesus’ case, was the complete opposite.  

And, in Jesus’ disappointment in their unbelief, he says, “Prophets are not without honor, except in their hometown, and among their own kin, and in their own house.” 

And, in their unbelief, Jesus was only able to heal and cure a few people. 

But…it is this second story just after what happens in his hometown that really gets my attention…and causes me to pause…

After Jesus goes into the temple to preach, Jesus and his disciples go into the villages and continue to teach. 

We learn from Jesus’ hometown visit that it is our faith – our belief in knowing that Jesus is the Messiah – the Son of God – that Jesus is able to exercise his power and authority over our lives…

These disciples in the last few weeks, had done everything to demonstrate their difficulty to believe who Jesus is…

They witnessed his miracles but yet still found it difficult to realize and understand who Jesus was and is…

And when Jesus spoke in parables, he took the disciples aside and gave them the inside scoop about what the parables meant.  Jesus gave them the Keys to the Kingdom.

It was the same day that they get into the boat to go to the other side of the Sea of Galilee.  Jesus falls asleep on the boat.  Meanwhile, a storm comes up and the disciples go to the back of the boat to wake up Jesus and they say to him, “Do you not care that we are perishing?”  

Jesus responds and says to the sea, “Peace.  Be still.”  And there was dead calm.  

He then says to the disciples, “Why are you afraid?  Have you still no faith?”

And they wonder…who is this man that even the sea and wind obey him.  

And now, here go the disciples…Jesus sends them out on a mission trip two-by-two – with very explicit instructions…

  • Take nothing for their journey except a staff; 
  • No bread, no bag, no money in their belts; 
  • But to wear sandals and not to put on two tunics. 
  • Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave the place. 
  • If any place will not welcome you and they refuse to hear you, as you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.

And, what happened…They proclaimed that all should repent…

They cast out demons, anointed the sick with oil and cured them.

These same disciples who lacked faith and even questioned who this man Jesus is that even the wind and the sea obey him…

It begs the question for me:  What changed?  

This mission trip was so radically different than anything they had ever done! These were 12 men who just a few short days ago, lacked in their faith, could not grasp that Jesus was Lord of all, and relied on Him for their well being.

What changed? 

You know, I have been worried about the church since the pandemic.  So many people, especially the younger generations, have gotten out of the habit to going to church and have found it easier to just watch a service every now and then online.  

I believe it will take some really hard work to get the church back to what it was before the pandemic. 

And honestly, I also believe this is very serious.  And here is why I believe this…

The church is where God calls his people to be in fellowship with one another, to hear God’s word for us, to participate in the body and blood of our Lord, and receive God’s amazing grace and forgiveness through the means of our baptism…

Without the church, there is no intentionality to be in God’s word, to share our love for one another…to be in fellowship with each other, to know and understand what it means to become a disciple and practice our discipleship, and to share in our commonality of our belief and faith in Jesus Christ!  

This text begins with the most important piece of information that I believe we are supposed to hear:  

It was the Sabbath and Jesus began to teach and many who were there, were astounded!  

The disciples were there!  They followed Jesus into the Temple that day.  They heard the Word of God!  They just weren’t there and listened. They were there and heard it!

When they heard the Word of God, something new happened…they had a change of heart!  

They could have witnessed the sea and wind obey Jesus; resurrect a little girl from the dead; heal a hemorrhaging woman after 12 years; and cast out demons…

But without the Word of God, for all they knew, could have just been some kind of magic.

You see, it is the very same with our baptism…

I can pour water over the head of a human being all day long…but without the God’s Word of grace, mercy, and love for us – it has no effect and means nothing.

Through the Word of God – that God’s grace is enough for us and our salvation – 

That through the means of our baptism and the body and blood of Jesus Christ, we are CHANGED!  

We are not just merely human beings, but children of God!

I believe that that day when the disciples went into the Temple with Jesus and heard him preach – Something happened, they were changed from ordinary to extraordinary!

It was through a new faith of their own, they received God’s authority!  It was a pure gift in which they are then called by the One whose resurrection power enabled them to do what they could otherwise never do, or even dream of doing.

They heard God’s Word and God’s call for them that gave them a life radically different from anything they could ever imagine. 

This transformation – This change comes from hearing God’s Word and allowed them to put their faith into action by accepting God’s gift of authority and power that began to change the world!

So the question:  How many Lutherans does it take to change a lightbulb?

The answer:  None, because us Lutherans do not like change. 

Change is hard…And, it is true for us Lutherans especially, that we don’t like change…We love tradition.  We love the liturgy and the way we worship our Lord. We love the “way it’s always been done.”   

But here is the Good News!

Our change, our transformation that we receive, is a pure gift…It is a change that happens to us, through us, and within us.

You have already been changed through your baptism –

You receive God’s grace through the body and blood of Jesus Christ when we come to the table.  

This transformation – this change – happens in the church among fellow believers and our love for one another where the Word of God is spoken.

We come to this place where we hear with our hearts the Word of God in such a profound way that we accept God’s authority, right along with Jesus, as disciples, to proclaim, heal, and claim victory over evil.

We find ourselves stepping up in ways we have never dreamed we were capable of doing or having the ability to do otherwise.

We come to hear to this place to hear the Word of God and we begin to see beyond what we could never expect to see. 

We begin to see the world differently because we can now see through the Lens of Jesus Christ!

We come to this place where the Word of God connects us with others as if our life depended on it. It becomes a life-or-death concept that can only come from the heart.

I had a very dear parishioner die the other day.  He was from my congregation in Pennsylvania, but we had always kept in touch over the years. 

Before he died, he told his daughter who was sitting by her side, “Oh my, look at that!”  

His daughter said, “Dad, I don’t see anything.”

He told her, “There are 5 flyers – I believe that they are angels – And I see my Betty and I see God.” 

Our belief that Jesus Christ is the Messiah, the Son of God, the One who was resurrected from the dead…

The One who was crucified on the Cross…gives us our salvation – gives us our eternal life…gives us the opportunity to experience God’s amazing grace.  

Just so that you and I can one day look up in the sky…and say, “Oh my, look at that!”  

Amen.

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