FROM THE DESK OF WILL SPOKES, SENIOR PASTOR
How Sweet The Name Of Jesus Sounds
How sweet the Name of Jesus sounds
In a believer's ear!
It soothes his sorrow, heals his wounds,
And drives away his fear.
It makes the wounded spirit whole,
And calms the troubled breast;
'Tis manna to the hungry soul,
And to the weary, rest.
Jesus, my Shepherd, Brother, Friend,
My Prophet, Priest, and King,
My Lord, my life, my way, my end,
Accept the praise I bring.
Weak is the effort of my heart,
And cold my warmest thought;
But when I see Thee as Thou art,
I'll praise Thee as I ought.
Welcome to the Red Mountain Sunday Recap!
The Sunday Recap is a brief fly-by of what we did during Sunday worship. Did anything land with you from worship on Sunday? What did it make you think? How did it make you feel? What did you find especially sweet or challenging from God's word? What did we sing, read, or pray that left an impression on you?
Food For Thought!
God is therein precisely God in that he can do what humanity cannot do: God can allow himself to be rejected, to be made low and small, without thereby being driven into an inferiority complex….Whoever understands the suffering of the Son of Man understands God. It is there, and not in heavenly splendor, that one sees the heart of God. - Eduard Schweizer
The cross is the best and quickest summary of what God says to unworthy people…. With this in mind, the death of Jesus was crammed with meaning. All the letters of the New Testament peer into this event and discover that there was more to it than anyone thought. The universe itself turns on this event. It was…the new way God would bring people into the boundaries of his kingdom. – Ed welch
Confession of Sin:
Exodus 20:1-2, 16
And God spoke all these words, saying, “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. . . .You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”
Prayer of Confession
Father in heaven, our tongue has the power to set on fire the entire course of our lives. For it is out of the heart that come our evil thoughts and words of slander. We confess we use our words to tear down rather than to build up. We use our words to obscure the truth in order to make ourselves look better and to manipulate the truth in order to put others down. Please forgive us and free us from the need to turn words into weapons. Help us to so delight in your love that we no longer feel the need to distort the truth for our own selfish ends. Father, deliver us from every desire that prevents us from taking our deepest delight in you. Do not let us be mastered by them, but rule over us in liberty and power, in Jesus’ strong name we pray, Amen.
Words of Grace
For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
2 Peter 2:21-25
Confession of Faith: Westminster Shorter Catechism (1646)
Q. 24. How does Christ execute the office of a prophet?
A. Christ executes the office of a prophet in revealing to us, by his word and Spirit, the will of God for our salvation.
1 Long ago, at many times andin many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2 butin these last dayshe has spoken to us byhis Son, whom he appointedthe heir of all things, through whom also he createdthe world.
Sermon Text: Mark 8:22-33
22 And they came to Bethsaida. And some people brought to him a blind man and begged him to touch him. 23 And he took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village, and when he had spit on his eyes and laid his hands on him, he asked him, “Do you see anything?” 24 And he looked up and said, “I see people, but they look like trees, walking.” 25 Then Jesus laid his hands on his eyes again; and he opened his eyes, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. 26 And he sent him to his home, saying, “Do not even enter the village.”
27 And Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi. And on the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” 28 And they told him, “John the Baptist; and others say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets.” 29 And he asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Christ.” 30 And he strictly charged them to tell no one about him.
31 And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32 And he said this plainly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 33 But turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”
1. Jesus gives sight to the blind (vs. 22-26)
2. Jesus asks questions about his identity (vs. 27-30)
3. Jesus teaches plainly about his mission (vs. 31-33)
In the passage we looked at this week Jesus reveals his identity as THE King, but not the king anyone expected.
The question of Jesus' identity has been a key feature in the first eight chapters of Mark's gospel (re: 2:7; 4:41; 6:14-16). But this passage is the first time Jesus takes up the question (vs. 27-30) and gives his own answer (vs. 31-33).
The passage begins with an encounter between Jesus and a blind man. It comes right after a string of questions Jesus asks his disciples (vs. 18-21) who fail to see and understand who he really is.
The miracle of healing the blind man and the miracle of healing the deaf-mute man in 7:31-37 are very similar to one another and are the only two miracles in Mark that do not appear in Matthew and Luke.
Furthermore, this miracle is the only miracle that is not instantaneous in its effect.
23...when he had spit on his eyes and laid his hands on him, he asked him, “Do you see anything?” 24 And he looked up and said, “I see people, but they look like trees, walking.” 25 Then Jesus laid his hands on his eyes again; and he opened his eyes, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly.
Why the two touches? Jesus is teaching us that true spiritual vision, true spiritual understanding is a process, it's gradual. Why? Because the recovery of sight means relearning how to make sense of your world. It means learning to see Jesus in ways we never would have, left to ourselves.
Consider this description of recovering our sight from the National Reviewwritten by Keith Mano.
"Getting rid of blindness, I'm told, is not such a bargain after all. Human eyes, you see--even when healed physically--still need training and rigorous practice before they can transmit what is "real" and "not real" back to the brain. It doesn't much matter how long you've been sightless either: a decade or so of blindness and your cerebral cortex has to be completely reprogrammed, as if from infanthood. On opening his eyes, the healed seer confronts a nonsensical, frightful and, well, Cubist landscape. Over that shattered universe he must stubbornly impose the familiar 3D grid we live in.
Oliver Sacks has written about the new seer in An Anthropologist on Mars. Virgil, age 50 and blind since childhood, has had "successful" eye surgery. Five weeks later he "often felt more disabled than he had felt when he was blind...Steps posed a special hazard, because all he could see was a confusion, a flat surface of parallel and criss-crossing lines; he could not see them (although he knew them) as solid objects going up or coming down in three dimensional space."
Furthermore, Virgil "would pick up details incessantly--an angle, an edge, a colour, a movement--but he would not be able to synthesize them, to form a complex perception at a glance. This was one reason the cat, visually, was so puzzling: he would see the paw, a nose, the tail, an ear, but could not see all of them together, the cat as a whole." And, as his wife noted, "Virgil finally put a tree together--he now knows that the trunk and leaves go together to form a complete unit." (thanks to Elder John Pickering for this reference)
That last sentence certainly echoes the blind man in vs. 24. “I see people, but they look like trees, walking.” The disciples certainly had picked up details about Jesus and even very accurate ones as we see in Peter's confession in verse 29.
However, as is clear from Peter's reaction (vs. 32) to Jesus' teaching he and the other disciples simply couldn't synthesize what they were "seeing." Jesus' teaching that the Son of Man must suffer many things struck the disciples as "nonsensical and even frightful". They needed their spiritual vision to be completely reprogrammed and only Jesus can do that as he takes us by the hand leads us to see him (vs. 23) as the Christ according to his vision.
How does Jesus begin that gradual process? He doesn't reject the title "Christ" but he redefines it using the title "Son of Man" drawn from Daniel 7:13-14...
13 I saw in the night visions,
and behold, with the clouds of heaven
there came one like a son of man,
and he came to the Ancient of Days
and was presented before him.
14 And to him was given dominion
and glory and a kingdom,
that all peoples, nations, and languages
should serve him;
his dominion is an everlasting dominion,
which shall not pass away,
and his kingdom one
that shall not be destroyed.
But then Jesus adds the really "crazy" part. This Son of Man must suffer. The Son of Man is a king who like the suffering servant of Isaiah 52-53 must suffer many things at the hands of the religious leaders. Notice it's not the "worst" of humanity that put Jesus to death, but the very "best" of humanity.
How is this possible? We need help to set our minds on the ways of God rather than the ways of man. Jesus is a suffering King! He wins by losing. He comes not in power, might and strength but in humility, weakness and suffering.
This is how the kingdom comes...suffering then glory...death then resurrection! There has never been a King like this one or ever will be again!
Do you know this King?
3 He was despised and rejectedby men;
a man of sorrows, and acquainted withgrief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, andwe esteemed him not.
4 Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.
6 All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
This suffering King is the only King who can bring the peace and the healing we long for! He knows your rejection, sorrow, grief, shame, burdens, guilt. In fact he took them all upon himself in order that through believing in him we might receive his honor, his worthiness!
Clearly everyone has an opinion about who Jesus is (vs. 27-28) but only he can give us eyes to see how the journey of THE suffering King fit together for our good and God's glory!
- What was new or compelling to you? What stood out to you from this passage?
- What questions does this passage raise for you?
- Was there anything that bothered you?
- How does Jesus' healing of the blind man comfort or challenge you?
- Why do you think the idea of a suffering king is so counterintuitive or challenging to Peter...to us?
Suggested Resources & The Week Ahead
Given where we are in Mark's gospel (8:31-9:1), I want to suggest this brief little book by John Calvin about living the Christian life. At the heart of it, is a description of what it means to live under the cross and follow Jesus.
Songs for this week:
Praise To The Lord
Jesus, I My Cross Have Taken
The Christian's Hope Can Never Fail
He Leadeth Me
Savior, Like A Shepherd Lead Us
Until next time,
How Sweet The Name Of Jesus Sounds