Astonished beyond measure / Mark 7:31-37; James 2:14-18 / Pr. Lucas Andre Albrecht / Sunday September 5th 2021 / Season Of Pentecost / Mount Olive Lutheran Church
Text: Mark 7:31-37
Theme: Astonished beyond measure
I wanted to show two impressive things I can do:
1) A magic trick
2) A flower that I planted and flourished.
Which of them would leave you amazed, or astonished?
I think I kind of know the answer. It is not that you don’t recognize the miracle in the growing of a plant but that happens all the time, right? But a pastor with magic powers?… That’s not too common…
In the Gospel we hear people being astonished at Jesus beyond measure. Was it for real? And most importantly, was it for the right reasons?
CONFORMED BEYOND MEASURE
Before we talk about astonishment, we want to talk about its opposite. Perhaps there are few the things that would surprise us these days.
You know, the news cycle has become so fast that a hurricane that leaves us speechless is quickly shelved because now there is a record low temperature. Then comes the earthquake report. Then a shooting rampage. And so on.
There might be so much going on in our lives that we forget the astonishment the word of God causes in us. May become obliterated to the regular things that God does in our lives. – especially if we live a compartmented life, where faith is just another piece among many other things, and not the golden thread uniting everything.
This might be something that comes from a place of secularization and emptying of God’s power, presence and miracles. Sometimes we may fall pray of attempts to explain away what He does with human smartness. For example: Jesus’ miracles, The miracle of Creation out of nothing, Jesus’ virginal birth, the real presence in the Holy Supper, and many other examples.
It all boils down to believing in the Bible: it seems that because you cannot prove it with rational thoughts, it must not be considered to be true in all its content. But that would be like not accepting the doctor’s treatment because you can’t understand fully how that medicine works.
CONFUSED BEYOND MEASURE
Back to astonishment, we know actually that God continues to do amazing things in our lives though. Day by day. There is plenty to be astonished by.
But it’s important to pay attention to the right reason to be astonished by.
_Health and wealth only? (How much of both to we need to ascribe to the Lord our praise?)
_”My prayer was answered” only? (What’s an answered prayer after all: my will or God’s will being done?)
_Miracles only? (How many people have seen God’s miracles and still don’t believe and/or don’t ascribe them to Him?)
_My agenda being followed only? (Which agenda has more chances to guarantee us what we need?)
Here lies the reason why Jesus requested them not to tell it abroad. He knew they would do it for the wrong reasons. Many of Jesus’ followers were after him not necessarily because of the Gospel, but because of all the things He done well when it came to providing for their material needs.
God is working anyways though. And in every way. They might have had the wrong reasons. Jesus had the right one.
LOVED BEYOND MEASURE
Is it wrong to be astonished beyond measure by God’s provision in health, wealth, healings, and attended prayers? Not at all. But that’s not all. The main reason is at the root of everything God does. The main reason is Jesus’ work of opening our ears with His holy spirit to hear the Gospel, opening our mouths to declare His praise, opening our hands to help our neighbour.
Jesus’ love is always beyond measure. OUR measure.
_Take for example the teachings of the Apostle’s Creed to so the amount of amazement we will get out of it.
It is not so much about being amazed every single day, every single Sunday for what we feel – for feelings can change all the time – but for what we know that happens all the time, and that never changes.
LOVING BEYOND MEASURE
James 2. The living faith. It impacts people’s lives beyond measure. Magic is not required here. Just regular, daily Christian life.
The most regular thing you do – coming to Church for example – may one day be the amazing thing that will impact somebody’s life and lead up to the Holy Spirit’s transformation in their life. Don’t give up practicing your faith, every day, even in the most “boring”, regular ways. Faith saves alone, but it’s never alone, and may bring Christ to save someone who’s alone.
I would often compare the astonishment beyond measure in Christ in my life with two things that astonish me beyond measure. Airplanes in the sky and Children’s language learning. If human things like these can leave us astonished, I pray that God would concede us in faith that his Work of Love in Christ, and that his Works of love in my life would keep my faith alive and active beyond measure. God’s love for us: beyond measure. He saves us, moves to action. And He will give us the life that never ends, in astonishment beyond measure that will never end.
Cc – One last thing: Remember the 2 amusements of the beginning? Of course we would be more amazed by the magic trick. But remember: The trick is… a trick. It’s fake. Whatever I did to make you feel amazed was false. With the plant though there is no such thing. If it is growing, it is for real - no tricks at all.
The world may have some ways to amaze us, but often with fake promises and principles. God amazes us in many different ways. And the most important ones are those that sometimes will not bring us a feeling of astonishment at the moment. But those are the ones that are not false. They are for real; they are for life. They show His love beyond measure amazing us every day.