Don’t be discouraged by the world’s rejection
Sunday, July 4, 2021
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We Need A Personal Prophet
He knows me. Years ago there was a guy who had a family doctor. He liked his doctor. In fact, he liked his doctor so much that he told others about how good of a doctor he was. He told his friends that his doctor was a good doctor because “he knows me.” A couple of weeks later he had a visit with his doctor. And his doctor told him to cut back on the smoking or it would give him cancer or emphysema. Then the guy went around telling all his friends that his doctor had a bad bedside manner. There is a problem with knowing someone well. Can there be a context in which someone knows us too well? This morning we see that question being put to the test. In Mark 6, we read: “1 Jesus left there and went to his hometown, accompanied by his disciples. 2 When the Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed. “Where did this man get these things?” they asked. “What’s this wisdom that has been given him? What are these remarkable miracles he is performing? 3 Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him.” (Mark 6:1–3 NIV11-GKE)
In these words Jesus has begun his public ministry. He has preached in other villages, letting them know that he was the prophet, the Christ. But then he goes to his own village, his own home. And we would think that his own people would be happy for him. After all, everybody likes a “local boy makes it big” sort of story, right? We are drawn to this. A few days ago I was driving up to Hutchinson. And on every sign leading into town, I learned that I was entering the home of Les Kouba. We love the “local person makes it big” stories. But, instead of welcoming Jesus, they are offended at him.1 And the reason they are offended at him is that he knows too much. And it’s not just that he knows too much. It’s that he exposes it too—that is what they are offended at.
And it’s easy to look back and see how wrong they were, isn’t it? There, right before them, they had the Christ, the Prophet. And how much more they should have been content and happy because he knew them and they knew him. But that’s the problem, isn’t it? This prophet knew too much. He knew their sins personally. And he took it personally when they sinned.
But, my friends in Christ, we do the same, don’t we? We might say to ourselves that we want a prophet who knows us. But when Jesus exposes what is in us, that’s when we deny his right to speak to us. For Jesus is the one who has said that whoever hates his brother is a murderer. Jesus is the one who has said that whoever looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery in his heart with her. He knows us. He exposes us. Jesus is the prophet who personally pierces us with the truth of our sin.
But, my friends in Christ, there is a beauty and blessing in that. For it is true that Jesus takes our sins personally. He is offended at them personally. But, my friends, since he knows us, he also pays for our sins personally. In the most intimate and intricate way the sins he knows are there in us, he pays for there on the cross. That’s the sort of prophet we need. We need a personal prophet. He personally pierces our hearts with the truth. But he also personally pays for our sins. But these words continue. Jesus reacts to their amazement with amazement of his own: “4 Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home.” 5 He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. 6 He was amazed at their lack of faith.” (Mark 6:4–6 NIV11-GKE)
We need a personal prophet. So Jesus is the personal prophet. He pierces our hearts. He pays for our sins. But in his care for us, what is amazing is that he gives us personal prophets in our lives. He gives us pastors who, as time goes on, get to know us. And my dear friends in Christ, know that this is a blessing. In all of those months of COVID we expanded our opportunities to share God’s word. And it is a great tool for sharing God’s word. But it has a weakness. The weakness is that I don’t know the people that I’m sharing God’s word with. I have no personal connection with them. And so, it’s easy for me to communicate in ways that do not work, simply because I do not know them personally. Imagine you had a guest preacher a few weeks ago. Imagine that the pastor could see the dry fields around here and he opened his mouth to pray for rain. And he didn’t just pray for rain, but instead he prayed for piles and mountains of rain to fall. After all, if a little rain is good, then even more rain is better, right? I can just picture you all cringing in your pews. For the last thing you want is your fields washed away. But that’s what happens when you have a pastor who does not know you.
But it’s not just bad for the pastor when he doesn’t know you. It’s bad for you too. The problem with sermons on the internet that you watch is that that prophet and pastor doesn’t know you. And so the words that are supposed to pierce you, don’t. And the sin that should be brought out in the light is kept in the dark. And the amazement that should be there at how personally your Prophet, Jesus takes his commitment to pay for your sin is missed.
But look what your gracious Prophet Jesus has given to you. He gives you a personal prophet to share God’s word with you—not generically and at a distance. No, instead, he shares God’s word with you personally and sincerely. Your pastor is there in person to baptize you or your children. He is there in person to marry you and then look back with you rejoicing at that day. He is there with you in person to bury your beloved ones who die and grieve and mourn with you. He is there week by week, year by year to correct sins that you commit and console you with the payment for sins that The Prophet, Jesus, paid.
And my dear friends in Christ, please know that this blessing of having a personal, up close pastor is not just a blessing to you. It is also a blessing to me. Very soon, if you haven’t figured it out already, you will see that your prophet here in the pulpit is a sinner. I have my own weaknesses and frailty. So, please, just as I correct and console you, please do the same for me. Be close. Be personal. For my friends, that’s what we need. We need a personal prophet. Jesus is that personal prophet. But, in his kindness to us, he also gives personal prophets too. Amen.
1 “ⲉⲥⲕⲁⲛⲇⲁⲗⲓⲍⲟⲛⲧⲟⲉⲛⲁⲩⲧⲱ” (Mark 6:3 GNT-ALEX)