Monday, February 20, 2012

Jesus' Hands: God's Love Touching Our Lives - Part 2

Preached at Northwest Christian Church
David P. Kautt
Sunday Morning, February 19, 2012

Ephesians 3:14-21, “For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.  Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”
How is it that God makes His love for us concrete, tangible, practical, touchable? 

To be strengthened with might by God’s Spirit in the inner man, that Christ might dwell in our hearts by faith, to be rooted and grounded in love – these were the things the apostle Paul asked God to do in the fives of the Christians at Ephesus, why?  So that they might be able to comprehend with every other Christian, the dimensions, the ‘Cross-Sized’ dimensions of God’s love, in Christ, how wide it is, how long it is, how deep it is and how high it is.  But not just to GRASP it, intellectually, conceptually, but what?  Paul prayed that the Church, the people of God, would KNOW that love, that we would EXPERIENCE that love that goes way beyond intelligent comprehension and so be filled with all the fullness of God!  Wow!  Have you ever prayed a prayer so gigantic, so enormous in scope and purpose? 

Lord, would you, please, answer that pray in me, would you please, accomplish that prayer in us! 

The love of God, how is it that God answers, has answered, that prayer?  How does He make His love for the world, and, in particular, for His Precious Bride, the Church, real, practical, tangible, touchable?! 

You remember it from last time, don’t you?  Can you put your hands together in this way? 

The gospel of Mark, that unique portrait of the life of Jesus presented, I believe, through the eyes of the Apostle Peter, and his young friends, John Mark, this portion of Scripture provides us with at least seven powerful illustrations of God’s love, long, wide, high and deep, through the hands of Jesus.  Would you find again that portion of the Word of God, and let’s explore, not only God’s love, His tender compassion for sin-sick humanity, but also, His special redeeming love, sanctifying love, for the Church, His Bride. 

Mark 7:31-37, “Again, departing from the region of Tyre and Sidon, He came through the midst of the region of Decapolis to the Sea of Galilee. Then they brought to Him one who was deaf and had an impediment in his speech, and they begged Him to put His hand on him. And He took him aside from the multitude, and put His fingers in his ears, and He spat and touched his tongue. Then, looking up to heaven, He sighed, and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.”  Immediately his ears were opened, and the impediment of his tongue was loosed, and he spoke plainly. Then He commanded them that they should tell no one; but the more He commanded them, the more widely they proclaimed it. And they were astonished beyond measure, saying, “He has done all things well. He makes both the deaf to hear and the mute to speak.”

Have you ever made a list of the things, the common things, the ordinary things, you take for granted?   It’s 6:30, 6:45 in the morning, sun will be up shortly.  We take that for granted, don’t we?  Got to run to the grocery store, got to head off to work.  Jump in my car, put the key in the ignition, it’s gonna start, right away.  We take that for granted.  How about this?  We awaken in the morning, yes, to the blare of the alarm clock, but also the sounds of people we love and who love us, clanking around in the kitchen or bathroom, little feet, and big ones, too, pitter-pattering in the living room or laundry room.  Can you imagine what it would be like to awaken each morning to silence?  We take our hearing for granted, don’t we?  Or, what about this?  I can relate, “Where would this preacher be, if, when he opened his mouth, nothing came out?  We take our ability to speak, for granted, don’t we?  Imagine not being able to SAY the words, ‘I love you!’  Imagine not being able to HEAR them!  That was the plight of my great uncle, Jim McKnight.  And that was the plight of this unnamed man whose friends brought him to Jesus. 

How is it that God makes His love for the world real, tangible, practical?  The hands of Jesus, look what Jesus dos with His hands.  Verse 33, first of all, Jesus takes this man aside, away from the crowd, to minister to him privately and personally.  You know, that’s just a little detail in the account, but, if you think about it, it speaks volumes about the kind of gracious Servant/King Jesus is, and about how to go about ministering to the needy as Jesus did.  Jesus didn’t merely pronounce a ‘blanket blessing’ of help and healing on a sea of faces.  He didn’t run them through a cattle chute like some big ‘herd’ – next!  Next!  Next!  Next!  No!  He took this man, whose world was full of silence, and, I suspect, full of great pain, and with His powerful, healing hands, OPENED, LOOSENED, FREED, what had previously been closed and pad-locked!  Jesus’ hands, the amazing instruments of God’s love, look at what He does with those hands: the Awesome Creator Who made these incredible organs of hearing and speech, Jesus uses those very same hands to heal this man’s body and to open, wide a door he’d likely never, ever walked through before. 

I mentioned the teachers, the preacher, the sales-people in our midst, those of us blessed with the ‘gift of gab’.  Jesus, the Master Teacher, the Prince of Preachers, if anyone ever had the ‘gift of gab’, He did.  But, look.  One more thing we need to notice here.  The thing about Jesus that caused everyone to marvel, in this instance it wasn’t His speaking, His telling a parable or preaching a sermon.  No!  Rather, verse 37, take a look, the text says that what caused the people to be astonished was what Jesus had DONE, not said, but DONE, with His hands!  “He had done ALL things well!  He makes both the deaf to hear – no more silence!  Hallelujah!  And He makes the mute to speak – praise the Lord!” 

When God says, ‘I love you’, He doesn’t write it on the clouds, He doesn’t put up a billboard along the highway!  He doesn’t send you a text with smiley faces and strange abbreviations!  No!  He uses Jesus’ hands!  He uses His Son’s hands!
Mark 8:22-26, “Then He came to Bethsaida; and they brought a blind man to Him, and begged Him to touch him. So He took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the town. And when He had spit on his eyes and put His hands on him, He asked him if he saw anything.  And he looked up and said, “I see men like trees, walking.”  Then He put His hands on his eyes again and made him look up. And he was restored and saw everyone clearly. Then He sent him away to his house, saying, “Neither go into the town, nor tell anyone in the town.”
So far, in our look at the hands of Jesus, God’s incredibly tender and powerful instruments of His love for the world and for the Church, we have learned that Jesus used His hands to CLEANSE the leper; He has CLEANSING hands.  And that He used His hands to QUIET Peter’s mother-in-law, who was sick with a raging fever.  Jesus has CALMING, QUIETING hands.  And that He used His hands to give life to Jairus’ little girl; ‘Talitha, Cumi – Little girl, arise!’  Jesus has LIFE-GIVING hands! 

But, now look, what kind of hands does Jesus have?  Mark 8:22-26 – Jesus has illuminating hands.  I mentioned a moment ago, that you and I have a tendency to take things, many, many ordinary, everyday, but very, very important things, for granted. 

Peggy can relate, can’t you, Peggy?  You had your second cataract surgery performed last week, and praise God, so far it appears as if everything was very successful.  She can see things, CLEARLY, that she hasn’t seen in years!  Imagine, Peggy, what it would be like to awaken each morning, not to a world of silence, that would be bad enough, wouldn’t it?  Can you imagine what it would be like to awaken each morning to a world of darkness?  Groping about, stumbling along, trying to find your way.  By the way, darkness, blindness, that is the situation, spiritually of every lost, unsaved man, woman and child.  God, please open their eyes, that they may see! 

Take a look at this text.  Mark 8:22 and following.  First of all, please notice the DEPTH of the need!  Remember Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 3 that we read at the outset?  Paul prayed that we might comprehend and experience the DEPTH of God’s love for us in Christ!  Listen.  This passage in Mark 8 illustrates the point well.  The depth of God’s love, demonstrated, ultimately in Jesus’ great SACRIFICE of love at Calvary, that DEEP, DEEP love, can ultimately only be calculated in terms of the exceeding depth of our need for it!  Mark 8:22 – “Then Jesus came to Bethsaida and they brought to Him a blind man…”  Then, notice the next sentence, the next phrase, it says that the people BEGGED Jesus to touch him, to heal him!  This wasn’t a request for a cure for a hang nail, or a case of the sniffles.  No!  This was an urgent plea for the LIGHT of the World, the Maker of this man’s eyes, to Shine into his life, to touch him with His hands, that he might see!  Illuminating the DARKNESS, taking away the blindness, that’s what Jesus does with His hands.  That’s how God shows His love through Jesus’ hands! 

I was contemplating these things, and their message for me, for us, and realizing those things that we take for granted, physically, organs of hearing and speaking and seeing that function fully and flawlessly.  Those of us who aren’t like my great uncle, Jim McKnight was, those of us aren’t afflicted like this blind man was, we forget that, unless and until Jesus extends His loving hands to lift the veil over our eyes, and to open and loosen our bound tongues and blocked ears, we won’t see Him, we won’t hear Him, we won’t be able to speak for Him

One final passage, the very next section of Scripture in Mark chapter 8.  Jesus gathers around Him not the multitudes, but His disciples.  We might put it his way, He gathers around Him His church.  And, what does He do?  He wants to know, yes, what the crowds are saying about Him, sure!  But more importantly, much more significantly, Jesus wants to know, wants to hear, to see, to know who WE think He is.  And what is Peter’s answer?  Mark 8:29, “You are the Christ,”  “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.”  (Matthew 16:16)

Here’s my question for you, Church.  Here’s what we must always keep in mind, people of God.  How did Peter come to know this?  I mean, if you look at his life, this guy, at times, he’s as blind as they come!  At times, he’s as deaf as they come, speaking when he should have been listening!  How did Peter, this often very ‘blind’ and ‘deaf’ man come to this world-changing conclusion: Jesus, you are the Christ, the Son of the Living God?!

Here’s how: Matthew 16:17 – The parallel passage to this text in Mark 8, Jesus, the One whose hands give sight to the blind and hearing to the deaf, Jesus says, “Flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven!”

I praise God for my eye sight and for ears that are open and a tongue that is loose, maybe at times too loose!  But, listen – what I need even more, more, more, more, are eyes to see the things God helped Peter to see and ears to hear the things God helped Matthew and Mark to hear! 

Why?  So that I might speak!  So that I might go, and tell!  The hands of Jesus, God, would you use Your Precious Son’s hands to help us see and hear and speak! 

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