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Alcoholism, pornography, abortion, infidelity, homosexuality - are there some things that even Jesus refuses to touch? The way these topics are made taboo in Christian circles, one might think that church is the last place to go if you struggle. However, we are convinced Christ meant for His church to be the safest place on earth, a place for compassion, a place where we can come - just as we are.
Putting the Pages Back In - A New Look at Devotion as We Begin Year 2
Jesus' Return to Nazareth - The Shocking Results
Come, Change, Confess: His Pattern to Touch Lives Then and Now
When Little Lambs Arise, We'll All Experience the Joy of Jairus
A Man Living Among the Dead Meets the One Offering the Gift of Life
The Storms of Life: The Reasons For Them, the Captain of Them, and Your Response to Them
Sow the Seed, Shine the Light, Feed the Sheep, and Wait for the Day
3 Sometimes, 3 Anytimes -that You Need to Listen to 1 Time: Jesus on Family & Pharisees
Christ's Change of Strategy - His Plan for Them Then and His Plan for You Now
Their Opposition and His Answer - Getting to Know God for Who He Really Is
Lord, we thank you for the great truth that has been sung by folks who have come to know you for now almost a century in those words right there and people for 2,000 years have understood in a way they never did before, all the way back to that moment in time when there was a woman just locked up 12 years, separated from family, from friends, from society, even from your temple because of an issue she had in her uterus.
Lord, I thank you that she could come, and I thank you that the God she came to is alive and living today, and though we might have other things than uterine bleeding, you want us to come. You want us to come, and we can come just as we are. We can receive mercy and find grace to help in a time of need. I pray that truth resonates loud and clear today and some hurting soul, someone who is trapped by fear that Nate and Teresa so graciously shared with us, can come to you.
I pray they can experience grace from your people who love you and who try and receive others as you receive them and that we could bear their burdens and thus fulfill the law of Christ. We thank you for the privilege of knowing you and having come ourselves, receiving grace. We thank you for the kind intention of your will we have freely received, so now we gladly extend it to others. Teach us from your Word and change our hearts. In Christ's name, amen.
Well, you can imagine how hard it is sometimes to tell other folks, "I have this issue in my life that, frankly, is one I'm not supposed to talk about. It's one I don't feel like is societally acceptable." Certainly, in the day of Christ, a woman who had a consistent bleeding from her uterine area, because of the law of God, was forbidden at that time to have any kind of interaction.
For 12 years, this woman we find in Mark, chapter 5, had been denied the opportunity to be with her family, as she would make them unclean; to be with her friends, as she would make them unclean; and even to go to a priest because they would not want to be defiled. You know, there are many things in our day that God has not said shouldn't be talked about in the church, but we make folks feel that way.
We become experts at talking about stuff that's safe, and we become experts at sharing with others things, sins if you will, struggles that are not quite as controversial. I want to share with you today a little thing in my life my wife and I came across this week. This is my fourth-grade report card. This is what Mr. Young said about me in June in the early 70s.
"Work is still 'Hurry, hurry.' He's very impatient. I've observed some near accidents since the time he cut his finger off that point to his same 'Hurry, hurry.' Todd's mouth goes way too much. Calling that to his attention has no effect." In Social Studies, he wrote, "He has some trouble accepting the views of others in small-group work. His initial enthusiasm in projects is not always carried through. In Science, he goes too quickly. He's onto the next thing before he makes good observations about the thing that we were on. Hurry, hurry. Hurry, hurry."
You know, it's funny to stand up here and talk about a guy who, you know, some 30-odd years ago had trouble accepting the views of others. That's pretty safe to confess what was going on in my fourth-grade class, but you know, it's not so safe to say, "You know, all my friends are telling me that some of these things that were true still are true in my life today, and I need help to have folks spur me on to be more sensitive, to be more aware of others around me, and to hold firm where God's Word holds firm but to make sure there's a Spirit of grace that goes with me."
There are things that are safe to talk about in church. I made a list of them. You know, it's kind of safe during your small group to say, "You know, I have a problem. I don't come to a complete two-second stop. I roll through stop signs." Everybody can go, "Wow, bro! We'll be praying for you." It's pretty safe to say, "I put too much salt on my food. My doctor says it's affecting, you know, my health.
I'm not really caring for my temple, and they'll agree. It's really safe to say, "I work too much. Yeah, it's a crazy world, isn't it? I mean, we get all these gadgets, PalmPilots, email, cell phones. I'm busy." It's pretty safe to share that, but there are a lot of things it's not safe to talk about, and it's killing God's people. It's defaming his name.
It's not so safe to talk about the fact that there's some chemical dependency in your life, that somehow alcohol went from being just something you just went to just maybe for some pleasure because you thought it tasted good, but now it has a grip on your life, and you've been sacrificing your friends and your family.
It's not so safe to talk about the fact that you made some bad decisions in the context of a relationship, and it all of a sudden developed into an unwanted pregnancy. It's not so safe to talk about a decision you've made that now either has a child in your womb you don't want or a child somewhere going down a drain because of a decision you've made. It's not so safe to talk about that in church sometimes.
It's not so safe to talk about the fact that you and your wife are at the very end of your covenant commitment to each other and your marriage is bleeding to death. Day by day, moment by moment, your isolation in your home is becoming greater and greater. Your anger is getting more and more volatile. Your family is becoming more and more distant.
It's not so safe to say that some of you guys have been so isolated and so emotionally abandoned from each other so long that now it's turned to infidelity. It's not so safe to talk about the fact that some of us in this room struggle with sexual urges that aren't even for the opposite sex, and you go, "I don't know where I can tell people what's going on in my mind, but I surely can't do it there. Homosexuality is one of those things that's just… Man, it's just off-limits."
I want to tell you today, I hope you know after you look at this passage today there is no such thing as an issue, as Teresa so eloquently said, that Jesus goes, "Well, that's a little bit too big. Why don't you take care of that one on your own? Why don't you leave my people alone on that one? They're ready to handle all kinds of stuff. You're putting too much salt on your food? You know, you have a tendency to talk too much, or you sing off-key in church?
Okay, we can talk about that. Man, you have real issues? Can you just work on them over there? Can you pay somebody $150 or $200 an hour to listen to you? Then, when you get your life together, then you can come join a small group. Would you do it that way, please?" You need to know something. We are committed to shattering that perception of God's church.
This last week the Graybills shared very honestly about some poor decisions Nate had made over the past months and then shared with others about how they wanted them to pray for them. You know, he said, "We have a marriage. We're committed to oneness, but some decisions I made were starting to affect my relationship with my wife, and I want you guys to know I need you praying for me here."
There were other folks who talked about this last week in the context of true biblical community that we were careful of putting them in the right places who talked about some decisions that surrounded infidelity in their marriage. That gracious spouse in that room who had been hurt sat and listened as the husband just said, "We need help, and we need you to pray for us because we're committed to being the people who God saved us to be, but I want to tell you something, sin has a grip in my life, and we cannot do it alone."
It's happening here, and it can happen with you, if you just come like this woman did. "A woman who had had a hemorrhage for twelve years…" If I can tell you again, in that day and age, if you had a chronic uterine bleeding problem like she did… This is not just the normal period that a woman had, but she continually had a problem where she was putting forth an issue of blood, and there was no solution for her.
Mark says right here, "… [she] had endured much at the hands of many physicians, and had spent all that she had and was not helped at all, but rather had grown worse…" She was at the end of her rope, and it says in chapter 5, verse 27, "…after hearing about Jesus, she came up in the crowd behind Him and touched His cloak. For she thought, 'If I just touch His garments, I will get well.'
Immediately the flow of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her affliction. Immediately Jesus, perceiving in Himself that the power proceeding from Him had gone forth, turned around in the crowd and said, 'Who touched My garments?' And His disciples said to Him, 'You see the crowd pressing in on You, and You say, "Who touched Me?"' And He looked around to see the woman who had done this. But the woman fearing and trembling…"
Can you relate this morning to fearing and trembling that, what you know is a reality in your life, fearing and trembling that when God knows necessarily whether you're his child or not, he would look at you and say, "Hey, what's going on in your world?" You're going, "Oh, no, no." "…fearing and trembling, aware of what had happened to her, came and fell down before Him and told Him the whole truth."
What a great passage! Here this woman is, scared to death. She has gone to doctors. It's interesting that Luke, who we know to be a doctor, excludes the facts that Mark put in there in verse 26, where it says that she had suffered at the hands of many physicians. Good Dr. Luke doesn't have that in his gospel, probably on the advice of counsel, but Mark puts it in there. She had done everything she could. She had gone to all the right places, and yet, she still was struggling.
She had suffered at the hands of many. She was flat broke. She was without hope, separated from the nation and, in a sense without God, she was all alone, and there at the brink, she decided to come. She said, "I don't care." She said, "You know, I really don't care what people think. You know folks are going to realize I don't have the same olive complexion as the rest of my Jewish friends because I've been shut out for a while.
I've been living in the house. Folks have been sliding food under the door, but I'm going out. People are going to go, 'Wait! What got her back in here in society? What's she doing walking through the market?'" She didn't care. As Nate said, "There comes a time when you just don't care what people think anymore. You just want to come because you've heard about this Jesus." She came with not a lot of faith, and she just touched, it says, the outer part of his garment.
We'll comment on that a little bit. It was just on the tassels probably of his outward cloak, and having done that, she just pulled away as quickly as she could. She goes, "All right. I went to him. If there was anybody who could help, maybe it was that guy, the one they say is the Divine Physician," and she's walking away. Then all of a sudden, she hears that voice, "Who touched me?"
Immediately, there were two groups who were frightened to death. The first group was the disciples, who went, "What do mean, who touched you? Are you nuts? It's New Year's Eve. It's Times Square. Who touched you? I touched you. Thomas touched you. You know, John touched you. Everybody kicked you. The dog just touched you. What do you mean, who touched you? We all touched you. We're crowded.
There's a group of folks who just heard Jairus say, 'My daughter's dying,' and now we're all going to check out what you're going to do. It's the big scene here. What do you mean, who touched you? Have you lost it?" Jesus says, "No, I want to know who touched me." The disciples were frightened that maybe Christ was losing his mind, but I want to tell you something, there was some real fear and trembling over here, I don't know, 15 to 20 yards away.
As quickly as she could move back through that crowd, there was somebody who was like, "Oh no you don't, Rabbi. Not to me, not now. Don't you dare. Don't you ask me?" He said, "Who touched me?" He did it not because he was insensitive but because he wanted to correct her. He wanted to let her know it was not the faith in the fabric. This was not some magic trick that just happened. He wanted her to know a couple of things.
He wanted her to know she, in fact, had been healed, and he wanted her to know she was no longer needing to be separated and pushed out. He wanted to model that she was welcome in his family. Can you imagine that heart skipped when she heard those words, "Who touched me?" She was like, "Aw, I wanted to come, but I wanted to go away alone. I'm very content with my private encounter with the Savior." You need to know something.
Jesus is never content with your encounter with him being private. It doesn't mean we have a vulnerability contest in here, but it does mean we have to learn to tell our story, and we're going to see the power that comes from it. Now let me just make some observations, and we're going to take a passage… Through this truth in this little story right here and the way Jesus dealt with this woman, you're going to find out it's a pattern for the way Jesus wants us all to deal with him, and he wants you to know.
You're going to hear three things again and again today. You're going to hear he wants you to know you can come, he wants you to know you can change, and he wants you to know you can confess and it's going to be okay. There are a lot of folks who sit out here every week, who sit in churches all across this country and, yea, all over this word who have this public encounter with Jesus, who are near him.
I want to tell you, it's possible you can be part of a crowd and never receive a blessing from him, even though you're near him in worship. Let me give you a point: Christ knows the difference between the crowds of culturally curious individuals who brush by him and the truly convicted who come in faith to him to seek help. He knows the difference between the crowds of culturally curious who brush by him and the truly convicted who come to him in faith seeking help.
There are folks who we are sure who are here week after week who are unmoved. They're around here. They're just kind of watching this thing. They go, "There's something different about this place, something different about these people." We hope you see that because there was something different about Christ, and there was something different about those who followed him then, and there ought to be something different about those who follow him today.
You can be near him. You can travel with him from city to city. You can be with us from Sunday to Sunday. You can sing the same songs. You can be polite during our times of prayer, but Christ knows the difference between your culturally curious behavior… In America, many folks wake up, and they find a place to sit on Sundays, and that doesn't mean you have come truly convicted of your need to him.
I want to tell you, I think there are two great mission fields in this world we're living in, in our culture especially. First, there's a great mission field with those who would never so much as want to step into a building like this where the Word of God is taught and honored and where people worship and proclaim truths about his name and folks come out of this to try and grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ and try and get to a place where they, having been trained in truth, can themselves be strong in ministry after believing in this Jesus.
There are some folks who don't think there's anything they would possibly get or want from a group like this, and I love those people. I love meeting those people. I love blowing their perceptions and inviting them to come, as so many of you have told stories about how, for the first time, you're excited to bring people, and you look for opportunities to build relationships with folks to get them here to blow their perceptions about who Jesus Christ is and what his people are like.
I love that, and I look for opportunities to engage folks because I can't wait for them to meet you, to meet that parking team, to meet that greeting team, to meet the way their kids are treated over there in our children's ministry, to meet you because you're not like they think you're going to be, and I love that.
Secondly, there's another great mission field, and it's folks who are in churches every single week in this country and who just sit there and have this culturally curious behavior of attending church, maybe even this one, but they're unmoved. They've always watched the stories of other people, but they've never thought about their own story. They've never thought about their own needs because their sin isn't as dramatic or at least they do a better job of keeping it quiet.
They don't listen to that echo of conviction in their hearts, and they don't ever humble themselves and say, "You know what? It's time for me to do business with this Jesus. It's time for me to think about who he is and to realize our best deeds are as filthy rags to him." That's what is says in Isaiah. Those filthy rags are the rags this woman used to cover up her uterine bleeding. He says, "Your finest deeds… They're like those rags to me."
Those rags, as we can all imagine, were to be thoroughly tossed aside and burnt. Jesus says, "Don't come to me with your resume, with your own accomplishments, with your own attendance, and with your own Bible memorizations and Bible studies. Those are great things people do because they love me and are responding to my gracious initiation into their lives, but don't tell me that's going to make you acceptable to me because my standard is perfection and holiness.
You have to realize there's bleeding sin in your life, and unless you come and touch me asking for mercy and grace, you're going to bleed to death, and the wages of your bleeding are going to be eternal separation from me." There's time for folks who are here week after week to think for just a second, "What is it that makes me acceptable to this holy Jesus?"
We've seen him be so gracious and compassionate through the gospel so far, but you're going to see him increasingly become more and more clear about ultimately the fact that, if you don't come to him as Savior, you're going to one day find yourself before him trembling in fear that will never be answered. This Lamb of God who comes and tells you to come will one day be the Lion of Judah, and every knee will bow, and every tongue will confess that he's the man, that he's the King, and that he is worthy in his judgment.
Where are you with this Jesus? You're here. It's so great you're here, but you can be around Jesus in a crowd your entire life and never experience the power of his healing because you've never told him you have a need. I want to tell you this, there's not a single person in this room who doesn't have a need, not a single one. Some of ours are more dramatic, more often whispered in corridors like this, but none is without a need.
In this little section of Scripture right here, it says this woman couldn't come until she had heard. In verse 27, it says, "…after hearing about Jesus…" That's just a simple observation for me. Somehow, I don't know who, somebody who was going to this woman who was allowing her to have what she couldn't get herself by going to the market, somebody had taken her something and told her about this rabbi, this guy who was in town and that he was doing some amazing things.
She had heard somewhere from somebody that Jesus is something different and that he could maybe bring hope to this person who was without hope, when all else had failed and she had suffered at the hands of many people and, in fact, had grown worse. Is that your story this morning? I want you to hear about Jesus, and I want to let you know you can come to him. People cannot come to Christ, friends, until they hear about this Jesus.
It's our great privilege, yea our great responsibility, to be individuals who tell our friends who feel like all they keep doing is getting worse and "Maybe, just maybe, I'll have the courage to look up some Christian counselor somewhere and to pay him a couple of hundred bucks in some confidentiality agreement that's pretty safe because he can't tell somebody or he's in deep trouble with me and the law. Maybe I can tell him. Maybe I'll get some healing there."
We need to tell them there is a Jesus who tells them they can come, and they can get before him and humble themselves for free, and there are people there who can handle it. If they need some help and if they need some special care, they'll help them get there, but they will continue alongside of them in community. People don't know. Not everybody you meet in this town knows the biblical Jesus.
I do this every now and then. Lots of folks know the name, Jesus. You're going to have hard time finding somebody in this world today who has not heard the name of Jesus Christ, but that doesn't mean they know this Jesus. That doesn't mean they know the Jesus we lift up and worship here at Watermark, the one who is revealed in the Scriptures, and it's our great responsibility to talk to them about this Jesus.
I tell folks all the time, "When you mention the name of Jesus, you'd better make sure people are hearing what you're talking about." The illustration I use is simply this. Walter, a couple of weeks ago when he was here, talked about all the different views of who Jesus is. Remember that? I do it this way. I tell people (this maybe shouldn't surprise you) I love Barney. I do. I mean, being a dad of five, you can kind of figure that. I do. I love him.
I know he's a little dorky. I know he can kind of sometimes annoy you with his goofy behavior, but as far as Deputy Sheriffs go, he's the best one Andy ever had. He is. Now how many of you guys, when I was talking about Barney, saw a big, purple dinosaur? A whole bunch of you. I wasn't talking about him. I don't like that Barney any more than you do.
When people hear you talk about Jesus, you have to be smart enough to know there is a Jesus who is positioned in their mind who is a big, purple dinosaur, and he looks nothing like the sheriff. It's the sheriff who's going to bring them healing, not the dinosaur the world has put out there. It's the sheriff who tells them they can come and who will not accept their resume and will not accept their works.
It's the Jesus of the Scripture who says, "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast…" That's the Jesus. You need to make sure that they don't see him just as a good teacher and make the separation from the fact that he's not just a good teacher. He made some claims, and those claims are going to highly offend people who haven't investigated his life's Word and works to find out this man didn't just say some things. He backed it up.
The Spirit of God made evident he was the man you can find life in. That's why it's our great job, our great privilege to tell a lot of folks who have never heard about this Jesus. People will be indifferent to a Jesus who has not miraculously changed those who talk about how he has healed them. Again, people will be indifferent to a Jesus who has not miraculously changed those who talk about how he has healed them. In other words, our transformed lives matter.
That's why Paul, at the very end of 11 chapters of great truth in the book of Romans, talking about who we were and how we came to this God who loves us and demonstrates his love to us while we're still bleeding to death in our sin, said at the end of that, "I urge you, therefore, to present yourself."
Verses 1 and 2: "Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…" It doesn't meantransform yourself. Be transformed by the touch of Jesus Christ. "…so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
This last week, on Tuesday night, folks who through our college ministry over at SMU and with whom we partner with Crusade had a woman by the name of Amy Tracy come and talk. Amy has one of those issues we don't talk about often in the church. She was involved with radical lesbianism. She was vice president in the State of Washington for the National Organization of Women. In fact, she had risen very quickly through the ranks, until Amy had become an individual who was the National Press Secretary for the National Organization of Women.
She worked side by side with leaders of NOW and had constant interaction with the national media, briefing them on the different arguments that the right was going to present. She would constantly go when folks would be picketing abortion clinics, and she would look to take them on. She would go into their meetings to listen to the arguments they were going to use and where they were going to picket so she could get word out to other activists so they could come and disrupt different things.
This is one of the things Amy said. "Throughout my feminist career, I interacted with Christians on the front lines of political battles, many times at abortion clinic doors or at gay rights demonstrations. During the heat of confrontation, my actions did little to endear me to them. Unfortunately, the actions of many Christians did little to endear Christ to me either." Boy, do you hear that story again and again and again? I just want to ask you, do the actions of you as a follower of Christ endear Jesus to those like Amy?
Her testimony is really a powerful one, and she later came to know Christ. It happened, she said, when she finally met one believer who got away from the issues and just started to address not just God's love for those children who were being aborted in the wombs of those moms who were going into those clinics… They looked at her and said, "Do you know something? God doesn't just love that little child. God loves that mom who's going in there, and God loves you. I'm here to tell you just about that love, and I know you don't want to even hear it."
In fact, Amy was so conditioned to not like the Jesus she pictured in her mind (this is true) that she sought help from a therapist because she explained that she had a constant aching problem in her life of feeling vulnerable to God and this Jesus. She went and sought counsel. "How can I get rid of this longing inside of me?"
The answer is that she couldn't because it was the Spirit of God reaching out to her, calling her, wooing her, saying, "Come, come because I love you, and I know you think that, if I'm holy, I'd be the last person who would want to do business with you, but do you realize the miracle of the life of Christ? He is breaking through everything, and he's walking here in our midst to tell you he loves you and he desperately wants to commune with you and he's willing to go to a cross to do it."
If we're people who don't have transformed lives, if we haven't been healed of something, if we're not aware of the issues in our lives, folks are not going to think this Jesus is any different than the other teacher, and they won't come. People will be indifferent to that Jesus. People will not come to a Jesus who they have not heard people talk about his ability to deal with their burdens in life. They won't come if we're not a group who talks specifically, first person, present tense about what Jesus has done.
We're not just a bunch of good people here who have grown up in Christian homes and have done a culturally curious thing every Sunday all our lives and we have our act together and our hair's cut about the same length and our clothes are about the same and none of our skins have too many tattoos on them and we don't have piercings in places we shouldn't have piercings, and this is the place to be for folks like us. That just nauseates me. It nauseates me.
I pray we have more and more folks that are here who have stories saying, "You know what? My life wasn't what Todd just described, but the same God who Todd Wagner needed desperately is the same God who I needed. We got to him from different paths. We had different issues, and you couldn't see on him what you can see on me, but I want to tell you something, we both needed the same King, and I've found him here."
Listen to what Larry Crabb wrote in a new book called The Safest Place on Earth, which I want as many of you to read as possible, says "That cry from your heart is your longing to be part of a true church, to participate in spiritual community, to engage in spiritual conversations of worship with God and of co-journeying with others.
You yearn for a safe place, a community of friends who are hungry for God, who know what it means to sense the spirit moving within them as they speak with you. You long for brothers and sisters who are intent not on figuring out how to improve your life, but on being with you wherever your journey leads. You want to know and be known in conversations that aren't really about you or anybody else but Christ.
For too long, we've been encouraged by a solution-focused, make-it-work culture to flee to human mountains when life gets tough, when emotional distress and relational tensions and financial struggles threaten to undo us. […] We've been counseled, medicated, religiously entertained and inspired, exhorted, distracted and formula-directed long enough. We've lost our focus on spiritual living."
Nobody's talking about what Christ can do anymore. We've just dumbed him right out of our community. He says, "We need a safe place for weary pilgrims. It's time to put political campaigns and ego-driven agendas and building programs and church activities and inspiring services on the back burner. We need to dive into the unmanageable, messy world of relationships, to admit our failure, to identify our tensions, to explore our shortcomings.
We need to become the answer to our Lord's prayer, that we become one the way He and the Father are one. It's time we paid whatever price must be paid to become part of a spiritual community rather than ecclesiastical organization. It's time we turned our chairs toward one another and learned how to talk in ways that stir anorexics to eat, multiples to integrate, sexual addicts to indulge nobler appetites, and tired Christians to press on through dark valleys toward green pastures and on to the very throne room of heaven.
It's time to build the church, a community of people who take refuge in God and encourage each other never to flee to another source of help, a community of folks who know the only way to live in this world is to focus on the spiritual life—our life with God and others. It won't be easy, but it will be worth it. Our impact on the world is at stake."
I'll tell you something, I long to be a part of that kind of community that just says, "Come. Our Savior can handle your issues because he's handled mine and let me tell you what mine were." We have to be a people who boldly confess. Let me show you this. Let me show you how these truths show up in another place in the Scriptures in Hebrews, chapter 10, verse 19. Let me just take you there and let me read you this little bit.
"Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus…" Very quickly if I can, what's going on here in Hebrews, chapter 7, verse 1, through Hebrews, chapter 10, verse 18, is the writer is speaking to a group of folks who had been all about the priesthood that was developed in the Old Testament and who had learned to love the Levitical priesthood, a guy named Aaron.
They had learned to pursue God through a system he revealed that was just to teach them that he was holy and they were not and unless God somehow shattered through that separation of his holiness and our sin, they were going to forever be offering sacrifices, hoping again this year he accepts the sacrifice of the nation but never really experiencing forgiveness and never really having that gap closed.
The writer of this book is just addressing a group of people who were familiar with those religious systems and those practices God put in place to teach. He says, "I know you're pretty fired up about Aaron, the brother of Moses, as a priest, but let me just tell you something. There's a better priest, and his name is Jesus. I know you're pretty excited about the covenant God cut with Moses, but let me just tell you something. There's a better covenant which is a better contract between you and God.
I know you're pretty excited about the sacrifice the high priest gets to offer every year during the temple, but let me just tell you something. There's a better sacrifice. I know you're pretty excited about the moral law that reigns within Israel, but let me just tell you something. There's a better result in people's lives." He just comes right alongside of them, and he says, "Jesus is a better priest than Aaron was." He says, "Jesus has a better covenant. Jesus made a more complete and perfect sacrifice, and Jesus has better results." That being said, he gives them a "therefore."
"Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of Go…" Watch this. There are three of them that are going to come up. The first one. "…let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water."
The second. "Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful…" The third. "…and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near."
Just being in the same room physically does not take care of that last "let us," but let me just walk you through that. I'm going to show that what he's saying to you is, "Why don't you come in faith? Why don't you know you can change and have the hope that you can change radically and hold fast to your confession of a love for God and be a different transformed people?"
He says, "Then you go tell other people. You go tell other folks about who you were and what he has done, and don't neglect that." He says, "Don't even neglect because you're in a tough day so you need to encourage each other all the more." You have to tell folks what's going on in your world. "Hey, this is the issue with me right now. Will you pray for me?" and name it and find the power in the healing work of God that is still alive and present today.
Look at them. Let me just tick them off for you in another way broken out. "Let us draw near in faith." There are so many things I could take, and I could just drape this right over the story we just read. Faith, hope and love… First thing: "Let us draw near in faith. Let us hold fast in hope, and then let us gather in love." Let us draw near in faith, knowing that we can come. Do you understand?
This woman, when she came, she didn't have a whole lot of information, but she had enough faith to think, "If I can just get to this Jesus and give him a shot, maybe something can happen." She had just enough faith to touch the outer part of his garment, which is to say just the tassels. She didn't want to get all the way there. She didn't want to stop him and say, "Rabbi, look, here's the situation in my life. Can you help me?" She just snuck up in the crowd, and she touched the tassels that were at the very end of a garment of any Jewish man, and then she slid away.
She came in faith. That's all she had. You know, I want to tell you something. This morning, you may not know much. In fact, all you might know is you're without hope. All you might know is there is an echo in your life like was in Amy Tracy's life that whatever you're pursing and all the pleasure you're experiencing through your indulgences is leaving you hungry and thirsty, and you can identify it as rebellion, and you know it's sin.
You know, if there is a holy God and in your spirit and your inner person you're convicted of that, you know you have offended him. That may be all you know. Well, I want to lift up this morning the Risen One, and I just want you to come and just touch him, just ask him. You may not know much, but if you know you're a sinner and that he's offered solutions to sinners, what have you got to lose? That's the way that woman was. She was at the end of herself, so she reached out to touch him, and she came in faith. It doesn't matter how big your faith is. It matters what your faith is in.
I have to tell you, my faith has grown because I've trusted this King for a long time, but when I first came to him, I just said, "All right. I just heard my Young Life leader. He just laid out for me who this Jesus is and how he can deal inside a 15- or 16-year-old rebel's heart. I'm going to give him a shot. I'm going to touch him. What if I'm wrong? What do I lose? Absolutely nothing. What if I'm right? The hope, the forgiveness, the release, the purpose, the meaning, the joy in being reconciled in my Creator is all right there."
So on some lakeside hill up in Minnesota in 1979, I just went and I just touched the outer part of his garments. I just said, "God, I don't know much about you, but I've heard what they've said about you. I've heard that you love me enough to die, and I've heard you, as evidence that you were who you claimed to be, were raised from the dead and now you are seated at the right hand of God the Father and you offer life to me.
There's going to be day you come and return, and it makes sense that, if you don't do something about our separation, there's nothing I can do. I'm just going to come, and I'm just going to touch you with everything I know, that I'm a sinner and you're not and that you love me." I have to tell you, there was a change that happened immediately, not always as externally as immediately as I wanted it to be, but I can tell you, in my heart, I knew it was true. Let us come.
The second thing it said right up there is…what? After he said, "Let us draw near," he said, "Let us hold fast to the hope that he has changed us," not looking away and going other directions but just right here, believing that God can increasingly make us like him, but we need encouragement from other believers. As Crabb said. "Stay right here. There is where you're going to find real healing. You don't need to go somewhere else. Stay here. Stay with Jesus. Get in his Word. Grow in the grace and knowledge."
Then, he says, "Let us consider how we confess this great love to others." That's twofold. The other part would be, "Let us not forsake our own assembling together but, instead, work hard to intentionally connect with others in order that we might continually receive the grace and love he intends for us." Do you see what this woman did?
She didn't know much, but she thought she could come, and when she came, she found out she could be changed. Then look at what Jesus said: He said, "Who touched me?" He said, "I want you to confess." She gives a perfect model of what a testimony should look like. Next Sunday, you're going to hear a group of folks who stand up and do the exact same thing.
In Luke, chapter 8, in this passage that shows up in Luke, it says, "When the woman saw that she had not escaped notice, she came trembling and fell down before Him, and declared in the presence of all the people the reason why she had touched Him, and how she had been immediately healed." That's all she knew. When she saw she had not escaped notice…
Next Sunday, you're going to see people declare in the presence of all why she touched him and what he had done. Have you told somebody personally why you touched this Jesus? Have you ever stood before individuals and just said, "I want to tell you something. This is where I was. This is where I was in my life. I was without hope and without God in this world, and I went to him, and I touched him"?
Then can you testify what he has done as a result? That is a perfect outline of a testimony, and God wanted her to understand some things. Because she came back, she received a couple of things. She, first of all, heard him say these blessed words, "Daughter…" Do you know this is the only person in the entire Scripture who Jesus calls daughter? That's a term of great affection.
She hadn't even had so much as a touch, much less a hug, and now she gets the most intimate word a man can give another woman, daughter…daughter. What words of comfort! "…your faith has made you well…" What assurance comes! Then he says, "…go in peace." If we had time, I'd take you back to Numbers, chapter 15, where that's a blessing that's very familiar to a lot of folks that's you've heard if you've been around church very long.
"The Lord bless you, and keep you; the Lord make His face shine on you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up His countenance on you, and give you peace." That is a blessing that Moses was commanded to give to the priesthood of Israel. Do you understand what God's saying right here? "Daughter, you can come because you're my child. Daughter, your faith has made you well.
You can change because the power of God is at work in your life, and you now go as a priest. You go and tell the world who I am and what I've done." That's what he says to you. That's what he says to me. "Come. Let me change you, and then you go, and you tell others why you touched me and what I've done." Let's pray.
Father, we thank you for the amazing truth that still lives, that one touch from you and whoever is unclean and separated from God… One touch and we can be at peace with you, and then we can restore relationships here from a different heart. We can come and say, "Will you forgive me for how I've wronged you?" We can acknowledge our sin. We don't need to hide it anymore.
Father, I thank you that we can come from the crowd, that we can be changed and that we can go from being an outcast to being an ambassador and that we can go and then confess to the world who you are and how you continually actively work in our lives.
Father, I pray we would then not forsake the means of grace you have given us, which is community, and that we would be honest with one another and say, "You know what? There are still some issues in my life and, though I'm completely forgiven, there are times I go back and make some bad decisions. I want to tell you, I've asked forgiveness for those I've hurt as a result of that, but I need you to pray for me."
I pray we would have real community here, God. I pray this would be the safest place on earth because we would be people who would walk in your way and that folks who have just for 12 years found nothing but hopelessness could come and find hope here at the feet of Christ.
I pray people here who have been following you for a while but have little sins in their lives that just imprison them and with fear and trembling they're trying to deal with them alone that you would say to them this morning, "You come and you tell others so they can pray for you, and receive the freedom and release you were looking for." I pray tonight, Lord, as we pray together, that some of that would happen and increasingly we'd have stories here of people who have been transformed.
I thank you for the transforming work that you're still patiently doing in my heart. Many days, I say, "Who am I? Who am I, Lord, that you would call me? Who am I that you would know my name? Who am I that you would take me, an outcast, and that you would make me an ambassador?" I think of grace, and I pray we would be your people who just absolutely give out the same grace you gave to us. We thank you that we are your daughters and your sons and that we are your ambassadors to a hurting world. In Christ's name, amen.
The most influential person in history is also the most misunderstood and misrepresented. Two thousand years after He walked the earth, Jesus of Nazareth is still a mystery to many people. Whether you admire Him, worship Him, despise him or simply don't know about him, it's difficult to deny that any other single person has had more influence on our world than Jesus has. But how do we come to understand a man who is so commonly misunderstood? Join Todd Wagner for a walk through the Gospel of Mark and look into the life of one man who changed the entire course of human history. See Jesus for who He truly is and learn how He can change the course of every individual life that understands, responds to and trusts in Him. This volume covers Mark 2:14 through Mark 6:6.