Year 2 Day 131
Read — Acts 8v9-25
Message Scott Woodburn
“First posted Year 1 Day 340 - 27 February"
We can rejoice at the extraordinary impact of the Gospel in Samaria but sadly, not everyone believed rightly. In Samaria there was a magician by the name of Simon. His abilities were so amazing that the people associated Simon's power with God Himself (v10). Where did Simon's power come from? Perhaps he was just a really talented trickster or perhaps his abilities came from a more sinister and satanic place. Regardless, he amazed the people (v11).
Then one day a preacher called Philip came to town. The people received Philip's message by faith (v12). Signs and great wonders were performed (v13) and Simon was amazed. Indeed we are told that Simon believed and was baptised and continued to follow Philip. Wonderful! Another saved man! Sadly, not quite.
Later as Simon witnesses the mighty works of the Apostles he offers them money so that he too might be able to perform mighty acts (v18-19). Peter's response is fierce. He rebukes Simon with the words "may your silver die with you" (v20), literally he says "to hell with you and your money!". Simon saw the gift of God as something to be bought and something to be used. His heart wasn't right before God (v21) and now Peter urged him to repent and if possible to be forgiven (v22).
According to Peter, Simon is still in his sinful chains (v23b) and is full of bitterness (v23a). The magician's spiritual condition is dire. He has professed faith in Christ but he is not a true believer. The Gospel was another mighty trick that Simon could perform. The Holy Spirit was "something" to used for fame and profit. Simon had heard the Gospel but he had not received it by faith.
Simon asks Peter to pray for him so that nothing of what Peter has said will come true (v24). Tragically however there is no evidence that Simon prayed for himself and repented of his sin. What are we to make of Simon the Magician? John Trapp once said "a man may go to hell with baptismal water on his face." In other words, just because a man professes Christ and is baptised, doesn't mean that such a man is truly born again.
The visible church has always been a mixed body with the wheat and the tares growing together. Brothers and sisters, we should not be surprised when there are those within our fellowship who do not truly believe. All is well for many years and then from nowhere we see a heart bound to sin and a spirit of bitterness. We are surprised by such a man's actions or such a woman's words and we weep when by their actions churches are divided. Christ warned us about such individuals. We would recognise such false Christians by their actions (Matthew 7v16).
The true Christian has been declared righteous by God Himself (justification) and is growing in Christlikeness everyday (sanctification). The true Christian knows that God is not "something" to be used for fame or fortune. Instead they have received Christ by faith and they know that Jesus is their greatest treasure. This isn't worked by magic but by the grace of God, the power of the Gospel and the working of the Holy Spirit.
Q22 How did Christ, being the Son of God, become man?
Christ, the Son of God, became man, by taking to himself a true body, (Heb. 2:14,16, Heb. 10:5) and a reasonable soul, (Matt. 26:38) being conceived by the power of the Holy Ghost, in the womb of the Virgin Mary, and born of her, (Luke 1:27,31,35,42, Gal. 4:4) yet without sin. (Heb. 4:15, Heb. 7:26)
Year 2 Day 130
Read — Mark 6:1-6 (focus v5-6)
Message Alan Burke
During the weeks we have gone though Mark’s gospel, we have heard the gospel, the good news about Jesus Christ, the Son of God. We have thought about his teaching, the miracles he preformed, the mighty acts. From the calming of the storm to the casting out the demons, the healing of the woman and the raising of Jairus daughter. But among his own people, their spiritual apathy was such that the words of Jesus fell on deaf ears. They couldn’t believe and they found him offensive, how dare he say things like this, do things, pretend to be something he’s not, after all he’s just a local boy whose lost what reality is (6:2-3.
To them Jesus had his head in the clouds, look what was the result, he could not do any miracles before them (5). It wasn’t that their unbelief sapped his power that resulted in Jesus not being able to do any micelles there. Rather it was because the miracles that he preformed testified to the truth of who he was, they wouldn’t believe the truth so there would be no confirmation of his identity in the miracles he had performed. The miracles were of no use to change their unbelieving hearts, their spiritual apathy and blindness would prevent them from seeing and in seeing believing.
It’s something that we have seen with the pharisees, the idiom seeing is believing, well they had seen but they didn’t believe and likewise for those in his home town if they had seen they sill would not have believed. He was the local boy who thought too much of himself, nothing was going to change their attitude to him. Other than healing a few sick people, there were no great signs and wonders among them, so Jesus went to the other villages.
As he left, we are told he was amazed at their lack of faith. Their unwillingness to believe caused amazement. The greatest obstacle to faith is not the failure of God to act but the unwillingness of the human heart to believe and accept what God has done. In how God has condescended to us, in only a carpenter, in the son of Mary, they could not believe what God had done, they could not believe that Jesus was anything more than the local handyman. Their familiarity to Jesus had bred contempt towards the gospel that he proclaimed.
There is one thing I want to draw to your attention even though as Jesus left Nazareth it seemed all was lost because of their unbelief. Later we learn of James the brother of Jesus would later come to faith and lead the church in the book of Acts (Acts 15) going on to write the epistle of James. Then there is Judas, not the disciple who betrayed Jesus but his brother who would later come to faith and write the epistle of Jude, called Jude because after the betrayal lots of Christians who were called Judas shortened their name to Jude.
Here James and Judas were part of the unbelieving family of Jesus, they didn’t believe he was the Messiah, they had thought he was out of his mind (Mk 3:21). In John’s gospel (7:5), were told that not even Jesus brother believed him. Yet in the plans and purposes of God, according to his time they were saved and God can do things we never expected in our own lives and those whom we know and love and the community we serve. God can and does work, and for those who are closest to us, the unbelieving spouse or child, a brother, sister, mother, father, friend or who ever else it may be continue to take them before the Lord in prayer trusting in him and is plans and purposes.
Q21 Who is the Redeemer of God’ s elect?
The only Redeemer of God’ s elect is the Lord Jesus Christ, (1 Tim. 2:5–6) who, being the eternal Son of God, became man, (John 1:14, Gal. 4:4) and so was, and continueth to be, God and man in two distinct natures, and one person, for ever. (Rom. 9:5, Luke 1:35, Col. 2:9, Heb. 7:24–25)
Year 2 Day 129
Read — Acts 8v3-8
Message Scott Woodburn
“First posted Year 1 Day 336 - 23 February”
As chapter eight begins the church is experiencing great persecution at the hands of a man called Saul (v3) and yet the story of the Gospel doesn't end. The Lord governs all creation with a wise and providential hand and even the persecution of His church is used by the Lord for good.
How can this be so? The persecution in Jerusalem scatters the church here, there and everywhere and wherever the believers ended up, they preached the Word (v4). Philip ends up in Samaria and immediately set about preaching Christ (v5). The Samarian response was wonderful. The crowds listened intently to what was being said and the message was confirmed by signs and wonders (v6).
Unclean spirits were driven out and the paralysed and lame were healed (v7). The Gospel had arrived in Samaria and the result was great joy (v8). Today, if we could somehow put joy into a bottle we would make an absolute fortune. This year was supposed to be radically different from 2020 and yet in the past week our lockdown has been extended. When we do meet, we keep our distance and talk about Granny who has received her vaccine. Every day seems like the last one. Homeschooling tests our patience and family bond. We grow angry when we see the number of cars heading for Newcastle and wonder if we are the only ones taking Covid seriously. Oh what we would give for a bit of joy!
My friends the joy in Samaria came as a direct result of the Gospel. The problems those men and women faced didn't suddenly disappear. Those healed of demons and physical ailments still had to get on with life. Work needed to be done. Families needed to be fed. Leaky roofs needed to be fixed but still, Gospel joy had come.
I pray today for that same joy to return abundantly to our lives. Even in the midst of our problems may the extraordinary gift of the Gospel ring in our souls. Christ has made an end to our sin and His resurrection is a certain guarantee that we too will stand again on this earth. We have been blessed by the gift of the Holy Spirit who strengthens our legs for days like these and even if the world is turned upside-down we know that nothing can pluck us from Christ's hand.
Christmas may be an increasingly distant memory but brothers and sisters "joy to the world! The Lord is come!"
Q20 Did God leave all mankind to perish in the estate of sin and misery?
God having, out of his mere good pleasure, from all eternity, elected some to everlasting life, (Eph. 1:4) did enter into a (covenant of grace), to deliver them out of the estate of sin and misery, and to bring them into an estate of salvation by a Redeemer. (Rom. 3:20–22, Gal. 3:21–22)
Year 2 Day 128
Read — Mark 6:1-6 (focus v2b-4)
Message Alan Burke
As Jesus went to Nazareth, teaching in the synagogue the people were amazed at his teaching, yet their amazement soon turned to offence. Look at what they said to him, “where did this man get these things”, notice they didn’t even call him by his name. Then “What’s this wisdom that has been given to him, that he even does miracles”. They had all likely heard the wonders that he was doing but they remain unconvinced, after all his family had and had tried to shut him up (Mk 3:20-21). Then “isn’t this the carpenter”, it’s like saying sure he’s only a labourer, he never went to university. There remarks are mockery but they are not to bad, it’s like saying sarcastically; “aww great teacher isn’t he”, then “ooo I wonder where he gets this wisdom from” and “he’s a miracle worker don’t you know”. As they continue they exclaim, “Isn’t this Mary’s son”
Remember the culture at that time, sons were always identified by their fathers, not their mothers. Even when their fathers were dead your were still identified by your father, like in a similar many of us have the surnames of our Fathers. The point that they are making is, sure isn’t he the illegitimate child of Mary! Added with the other children of Mary, his brothers and sisters, they are making the point that Jesus is an illegitimate child, ordinary lad, thinking too much off himself! Jesus was one of them and he’d come back, hearing his claims it was too much for them. Finally it is clear as verse three ends, they took offence at him.
All of this is because they know him, among those listening there in the crowd would have been ladies who nursed him, changed his nappy or what ever they had back then, there were also those who grew up with him, those who Jesus had done a bit of work for, whom he had fixed their roof, sorted out their plough, it wasn’t that long ago that he was doing these things. They took offence not because they did not know him, rather they took offence because they knew him.
They knew him not as Jesus the teacher, the miracle worker, the Son of God the long awaited Messiah, but they knew him as the local boy, they can’t wrap their heads around it. Not only is Jesus rejected by the people of the town and the wider circle of relatives there, but also by His own family. Just like other prophets before him, (2 Chr 36:16; Jer 11:21; Mk 6:17; 12:1–12), Jesus is not honoured by his own family and his hometown. He makes that clear in verse 4 in what he says. Yet this rejection by his own foreshadows the ultimate rejection he would face in Jerusalem by the whole of the people of God.
There is a sense at some level we know this is how people work. Spiritual apathy makes the message of Jesus hard to hear, the condition of our hearts by nature is such that people don’t want to know. Yet we must tell others of the good news, those whom we know and love, knowing that God will work according to his time and purposes. At times it’s easier not to share the gospel with others because they know about us, they know our past, our indiscretions, or weaknesses, and it can hold us back. But the grace of God that forgives sinners like us covers all those things and we are to tell others of the good news of the Christ, Crucified Risen and ascended, and the grace of God.
Q19 What is the misery of that estate whereinto man fell?
All mankind by their fall lost communion with God, (Gen. 3:8,10,24) are under his wrath and curse, (Eph. 2:2–3, Gal. 3:10) and so made liable to all miseries in this life, to death itself, and to the pains of hell for ever. (Lam. 3:39, Rom. 6:23, Matt. 25:41,46)
Year 2 Day 127
Read — Acts 7v51-53
Message Scott Woodburn
“First posted Year 1 Day 331 - 18 February”
The late Stanley Rea was a man of prayer who would always call upon the Lord to save the lost. I can hear his encouragement yet telling me that I had just preached a "strong" sermon and that the congregation no longer had any excuse about the demands of the Gospel. I miss Stanley in many ways but I especially miss his zealousness for the work of the Lord. He understood the gravity of sin and that a lost eternity was terrible indeed.
As Stephen finished his sermon he turned to face his accusers directly. Despite his eloquent sermon, full of grace as he recounted the work of God, the assembly had not fallen on their knees in repentance. Unsurprisingly they had refused to listen. Stephen called them a "stiff necked people" (v51a), language used by the Lord Himself when describing the Israelites to Moses (Exodus 32v9). They will turn neither to the right or the left, they are stiff necked and will not see what the Lord has done.
Stephen continues by stating they are uncircumcised in both heart and ears (v51b). This is an extraordinary claim. To be circumcised was a mark of your identity. You were a Jew, a follower of the one true God, you were part of the team. Yet it is possible to be a Jew outwardly in the flesh and not to truly know God inwardly. A true Jew, a true Believer will have his/her heart circumcised by the Spirit (Romans 2v29). These men were not true to what they professed. They resisted the Lord as their forefathers had done long ago (v51c).
The true prophets of God had always known persecution (v52). Those who had announced the coming of Christ had been killed (v52b) and when Jesus finally arrived He had been murdered as well. He was the Righteous One who came to His own, but His own did not receive Him (John 1v11).
The tragedy of these accusations was that those listening to Stephen could trace their family history back to those who had received the law at Mount Sinai (v53). God had brought these people out of captivity and had promised them a land and a future. Yet even as the Lord delivered the tablets of stone by the hand of angels (v53), these people didn't keep it. Even as Moses was returning, the people were worshipping the golden calf (Exodus 32).
Spiritual blindness is a terrible thing. It shuts the eyes to the plain teaching of Scripture and it closes the ears to the Gospel of grace. Men and women walk through the gates of hell utterly unaware of the tragedy of their condition. I pray that in these days of trouble many will realise their condition and call upon the Lord. Only the Spirit can soften hard hearts and lead the lost to Christ and so we pray...Father God, may the Spirit be much at work in these dark days. May the blind see their need of Jesus and may you open their ears to receive the call of the Gospel. Unstiffen necks. Soften hearts. Save the lost we pray! For Christ's sake, amen.
Q18 Wherein consists the sinfulness of that estate whereinto man fell?
The sinfulness of that estate whereinto man fell, consists in the guilt of Adam’ s first sin, the want of original righteousness, and the corruption of his whole nature, which is commonly called Original Sin; together with all actual transgressions which proceed from it. (Rom. 5:12,19, Rom. 5:10–20, Eph. 2:1–3, James 1:14–15, Matt. 15:19)
Year 2 Day 126
Read — Mark 6:1-6 (focus v1-2a)
Message Alan Burke
Today we live in a world that is more interdependent than at any other time in human history. That’s not all down to the technological revolution that has happened in our lifetimes, yes it has had a profound impact supply chains, production patterns, outsourcing but from the industrial revolution onwards we have been becoming more and more interdependent. Before the industrial revolution most peoples lives were failure insular. This meant that you would have been reliant on your neighbours, nearly everything would have been made, produced and sourced locally. Needed new sandals well it’s your man down the street, your fella two doors down he’s your man to build you a new shed, everyone was reliant on everyone else, everyone knew everyone else.
That’s how it was in Jesus day and Nazareth where he came from Nazareth wasn’t a big place. Your talking population of about 500 people, with dwellings made of earth, flat roofs, and in town land terms its around sixty acres of rocky hillside off the beaten track. Like there would have been fairly insular, there were no cars to jump into to head to the nearest supermarket or hardware store, no amazon man arriving with your brown box of goodies, not even a general store.
As Jesus arrives to Nazareth, there is no mention of the crowds who were coming out to Jesus, he isn’t welcomed by a ticker-tape-parade, there are no welcome home banners adorning buildings, nobody lining the streets in expectation. Rather it’s Jesus accompanied by his disciples, those who he had called to himself, the twelve with maybe a few dozen others.
His arrival though wouldn’t have gone unnoticed, it’s not a big place after all, but what is significant is that in the year or so that Jesus has been away, likely leaving there alone, maybe unnoticed, he returns with disciples. He returns with those who had seen and heard, who had witnessed amazing things, who were learning more and more about the wonder of the word incarnate Jesus Christ. The disciples may have expected that Jesus would be welcomed as a hero, that he would do many wonders among them, there in home town, but the reality of spiritual apathy is clear. Here reality bites and rejection comes.
Were told that when the Sabbath came, Jesus began to teach in the Synagogue. There is nothing striking about this, after all Jesus had taught many times in the synagogue throughout his ministry, and had taught the people where ever he was as the crowds came out to him. But they were not coming so much to hear the message that he proclaimed, to hear what he had to say, rather they came in their droves, to see what he was doing, how he was healing many and casting out demons.
Look what we are told that in his own town “many who heard him were amazed” (2a). They were full of wonder, they are taken aback by his teaching but their amazement ends up in offence. Just like the family of Jesus, these people were those in a sense who were closest to him, they had seen Jesus grow up but their proximity meant nothing. Familiarity to Jesus, knowing about him, knowing who he was and is, knowing the claims that he makes, does not make one a disciple, we must respond in faith. To those who receive him, those whom believe in him, he gave the right to become children of God.
Q17 Into what estate did the fall bring mankind?
The fall brought mankind into an estate of sin and misery. (Rom. 5:12)
Year 2 Day 124
Read — Acts 6v7
Message Scott Woodburn
“First posted Year 1 Day 324 - 11 February"
The late Noel Agnew used to tell me stories about people who he met on his travels who had experienced days of revival in the church. I would sit and listen as he spoke about old ladies who as young girls remembered seeing local alcoholics converted, abusive husbands radically changed and thousands gathering to hear the Gospel and to call upon the Lord in prayer.
I have yet to see such days but by the grace of God I may see them yet. In today's passage we note that the church was continuing to grow. Every single day men and women were receiving Christ as their Saviour. How could this be so? Because the word of God continued to increase. This phrase says much about what days of revival look like.
During such days the Word wasn't an optional extra. The Word was preached consistently at home and abroad. The Word was studied in private homes and preached faithfully in the public square. The Word was at the front and centre of each service of worship and the people during days of revival would receive the Word gladly and believe it passionately.
The church in Thailand is a tiny minority in that great nation and yet it exists and grows slowly but surely. I was there many years ago when our team was asked to lead a service of worship in a small Christian village. We all took part and our team leader preached in the Thai language. When he had finished, the congregation looked at one another as if to say "Is that all?". It wasn't a comment about the quality of the sermon, just that they were used to spending the entire afternoon in the Word. May the Lord give us such a hunger for His Word!
When the Word goes forward there are no doors which can keep it out. Luke records for us that in those days even a great many priests were receiving Christ as their Saviour. The significance of this shouldn't be understated. We have already seen in Acts the opposition of the Jewish leaders to the Gospel. They wanted it silenced and yet here were some of their own number who had turned to Christ.
The Gospel can soften the hardest heart. The Gospel can loosen the stiffest neck. The Gospel can convert even the most powerful. The Gospel is the power of God unto the salvation for all who will believe. So today may we delight in the Word of God and may we pray for the salvation of many. Pray for politicians, popes, kings and queens, the rich and the famous. Pray for Biden and Boris and Nicola and Arlene and Michelle. Ask that if the hearts of the powerful and famous are not yet receptive to the Gospel then may they soon be. In one mighty verse Luke brings a world of encouragement. The Word increased and many were saved.
Q16 Did all mankind fall in Adam’ s first transgression?
The covenant being made with Adam, not only for himself, but for his posterity; all mankind, descending from him by ordinary generation, sinned in him, and fell with him, in his first transgression. (Gen. 2:16–17, Rom. 5:12, 1 Cor. 15:21–22)
Year 2 Day 123
Read Mark 5:35-43
Message Alan Burke
There are times that we have all faced news that we didn’t want to hear. Bad results in our exams, the loss of a job, your husband bought another bike, there are many things that we could add to that list. The last one we ever want to hear is the loss of someone we love especially a child. Jairus had come to Jesus, falling to his knees, pleading for the life of his daughter, pleading that he would come put his hands on her. Jairus believed if Jesus did this then she would be healed and live, he turned to the only place that there was for him to be helped. While Jesus was dealing with the woman news comes that Jairus’s daughter had died.
The men’s comment of why bother the teacher anymore is understandable but Jairus doesn’t say anything to the news they bring, he couldn’t. Look though to the words of Jesus, don't be afraid just believe. Jesus ignored what the men said and instead gets Jairus to focus on him, the only hope that Jairus had was to believe, believe in Jesus for though God all things are possible. Rather than give up, rather than despair, Jairus must believe.
Taking only Peter, James and John, Jesus goes with Jairus to his home. There they were greeted with people crying and wailing, it’s a heart wrenching scene, death’s sting is often felt most when it is a child, the grief of parents, siblings. They make their way through the mourners, as they grieve, crying, wailing, this was heartbreak. Among them there would have been professional mourners, those hired to play the flute, women to wail loudly, it may seem a little strange to us but it was a public manifestation of grief. The professional mourners there would have known that the girl was dead, there would have been no doubt in their mind, and to Jesus saying that she is mearly sleeping they laugh. Going in, taking her father and mother, he takes her hand and said Talitha koum, which means little girl, or rather little lamb get up. Immediacy she did, she was twelve, they were astonished, she was up walking and eating, this is a total restoration of her life.
The power of Jesus over physical death is displayed, that’s something only God can do for he was the one who gives life, created life by speaking all that is into existence (Gen 1). This girl is spared death at this moment, but one day again she would die, the woman had been healed for now but she would face new ailments as she grew older and she would die. Not everyone will find physical healing and all of us will one day die. But as we thought of on Monday, for us we can have faith in Jesus, how in the face of death and though our Saviour Jesus Christ death has been defeated, it is not the end because of the resurrection of Christ. So that through faith we can face death and know that the souls of believers are at their death made perfect in holiness, (Heb. 12:23) and do immediately pass into glory; (2 Cor. 5:1,6,8, Phil. 1:23, Luke 23:43) and their bodies, being still united to Christ, (1 Thess. 4:14) do rest in their graves, (Isa. 57:2) till the resurrection. (Job 19:26–27). This is our hope, immediately as we wait the general resurrection of the dead.
Q15 What was the sin whereby our first parents fell from the estate wherein they were created?
The sin whereby our first parents fell from the estate wherein thy were created, was their eating the forbidden fruit. (Gen. 3:6)
Year 2 Day 122
Read — 2 Corinthians 9
Message Scott Woodburn
“First posted Year 1 Day 235 - 14 November”
This week's devotions have been focused on the thorny subject of money with Paul urging the willing Corinthians to give financially to support the wider church. No one likes to talk about money and certainly no one likes to hear the topic preached. However we have no right or authority to ignore passages like this in the Word of God and so we finish 2 Corinthians 9 by grasping the nettle once more.
Some of you will be men and women who tithe. What is tithing? Tithing is the practice of giving a tenth (a tithe) of your income (before you pay tax), as a minimum, to the church of Jesus Christ. It isn't something invented by a preacher or denomination, instead we find tithing on the pages of Scripture. Abram returning from a great victory meets Melchizedek the king of Salem and honours him by giving him a tenth (a tithe) of the spoils of war (Genesis 14v20). This incident takes on huge significance when we realise that Christ comes in the order of Melchizedek (Hebrews 6v20).
So thats settled then. Christians should tithe? Steady on. Others argue that tithing does not find itself as part of God's moral law (the ten commandments) and therefore should not be imposed upon Christians. So what then should we do? I think the first step is to avoid the pitfalls and then to have our practice shaped and reformed by the Word of God.
The pitfalls? Yup, the pitfalls. Some reject the tithe or any standard of giving and sinfully ask the question "How little can I give?" Others, beginning in a place of generosity, grow to a place of hardness asking "Why doesn't everyone contribute the way I do?" Yet another believes a false Gospel and thinks "The Lord and I are okay because I pay in." Still others keep their name on a church list and contribute something just to keep their graveyard privileges (let me assure such a man, I'll bury you for free but today you must be born again). We avoid the pitfalls and then let the Word thunder. God is not silent even when a subject is thorny. Indeed the thorns of this particular subject are removed by the sharp sword of God's Word.
He tells us to give according to our means and at times to go beyond this (2 Corinthians 8v3). The Lord tells us that we are not to be forced into giving but to give cheerfully (2 Corinthians 9v7). The Lord tells us that our faith (or financial gift) will not guarantee health, wealth and prosperity, the Christian walk will be hard (John 16v33). The Lord tells us that our salvation has got nothing to do with our finances (Acts 16v31). The Lord tells us that we do not give Him a gift that He will have to repay, He is not a genie who responds to your money with three wishes (Romans 11v35). The Lord tells us to avoid storing up treasure on earth (Matthew 6v19). The Lord tells us that our giving is in response to His grace (2 Corinthians 9v8) and the Lord tells us that our giving should always be in view of His glory and the advance of the Gospel (2 Corinthians 9v12-13).
Ulster wisdom likes to say that "you can't take it with you" and perhaps such wisdom echoes in other parts of the world too. It's right. We can't. Only the kingdom of God has foundations that will never be shaken. Men die with Christ or they die without Him. Heaven or hell remain the only two eternal destinations. A cheerful investment in the Gospel is more precious than gold.
Q14 What is sin?
Sin is any want of conformity unto, or transgression of, the law of God. (1 John 3:4)
Year 2 Day 121
Read Mark 5:25-34
Message Alan Burke
You’ve likely heard how bad hospital waiting lists are, apparently Northern Ireland has 'lost control' of hospital waiting lists (I quote that from the BBC by the way, 19 May). Things are pretty dire, the NHS has been underfunded by years and we don’t want to pay more tax to fix it. Even though it’s under funded, even though the waiting lists are bad, I am so so thankful for it. Imagine no NHS, no doctors, no regulation, just self appointed quacks who have wee bottles of cure-alls, our lives would be very different. The woman who came who touched his cloak had been bleeding for twelve years, she had suffered, not only suffered but suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors, and instead of getting better she grew worse.
The significance of the bleeding would have impacted her life in so many ways. To help us understand this we need to know part of the Levitical law, the loss of blood would have made this woman unclean. That may not mean much to us, but those who were unclean couldn’t go into the company of others for they would have made them unclean, if others did come in contact with her they would be banished until evening or they would have had to preform purification rights, ritual washing or sacrifices. In effect this woman was cut off from all physical contact with anyone, if she had been married by now she was likely divorced, she couldn’t be part of normal society and she couldn’t go to the synagogue or the temple. She was cut off from everyone and cut off from God and as she walked the streets, she would have had to shout, unclean, unclean every time anyone came near her. Her entire existence was of isolation, she was shunned by those who knew her, there was no such thing as woman’s aid or the NHS.
Her situation was desperate, she had spent everything she had on quacks, at one time she may have been like Jairus with wealth and status, but now she had spent it all and in the end not only left with nothing instead of her condition improving she had got worse. Twelve long years, that’s every day, three hundred and sixty five days a year for twelve years this was the plight of this woman. In spite of all of this, this woman, heard of Jesus, she came and touched his cloak. Longing in faith just to touch Jesus.
She reached out, touched the cloak of Jesus and was healed. Without a word, the power of Jesus healed her. Then as the wonder of the healing she experienced Jesus knowing the power had left him among the sea of people, stopped to find out who touched him. But instead of rebuking her, Jesus does something else. Knowing that she had faith, Jesus could not let her believe that it was his clothing that cured her rather he tells her that it was her faith (34). Or rather the object of the faith, Jesus Christ himself.
Whether we want to admit it our not this woman is a picture of us without Jesus. Although we may not have known at the time we were desperately sick because of sin, our focus was using our time and what we had to seek remedies which do not work, that might have been pleasure, enjoyment, the stuff that we have, we try to sort the massive hole in our lives and the fear of death we these things, yet it is only Jesus who can fix our problem of sin. This woman had been excluded from the presence and worship of God because of her illness Jesus had the power to heal her and make her clean. Yet the reality is that by our nature none of us are clean, none of us can approach a Holy God, we are spiritually dead, not because of a physical sickness but because of sin, unless we are made clean by Jesus then then we cannot come before God. Jesus alone has the power to make us clean, The power of Jesus - Over spiritual death v 25-34 frees us from our sin so that we can come this day before a Holy God.
Q13 Did our first parents continue in the estate wherein they were created?
Our first parents, being left to the freedom of their own will, fell from the estate wherein they were created, by sinning against God. (Gen. 3:6–8,13, Eccl. 7:29)