Epiphany 4 – The Mighty Word Must Be Preached

February 6, 2022

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What Does The Gospel Bring?

Not every day is that bad. One of the great truths about life in this world is that not every day is a bad day. Each of us has had days where we tell ourselves that it would have been better to just stay in bed that day. You lose your keys, lock yourself out of your car or house, or speak the wrong words at the wrong time. You look back on the day thinking, “I had a bad day.” But, as God’s word tells us, “Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love.” (Psa. 90:14 NIV11-GKE) We know that not every day is a bad day. In the words we look at today, Jesus has just had a bad day. In fact, it’s hard to imagine a worse day than this. Jesus preaches in his home town of Cana. Instead of welcoming him, they get so angry that they drag him to the edge of town and try to throw him off of a cliff. But Jesus left them. And not every town was the same as his hometown. Here, in these words, we meet people who want to hear Jesus. In Luke 4, we read: 38 Jesus left the synagogue and went to the home of Simon. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was suffering from a high fever, and they asked Jesus to help her. 39 So he bent over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her. She got up at once and began to wait on them.” (Luke 4:38–39 NIV11-GKE)

In these words Jesus goes to the house of Simon. He has had a bad day and needs rest. But there’s a problem. Simon’s mother-in-law is sick. She has a fever. And it’s not a small sickness. It’s the sort of sickness that puts her in bed. And there she stays. Jesus goes to her, stands over her, and drives away the fever.

And my friends in Christ, notice what the gospel brings. The gospel brings rest. First of all, it brings rest to our bodies. Now, please don’t misunderstand me. It isn’t as if, as soon as anyone hears the good news about Jesus, any fevers and flus just go away. But what the gospel brings to us is the truth that there is a who beyond and behind the sickness. Think of how the rest of the world who does not know Christ lives. I had the opportunity to think about that while I’m recovering from my COVID sickness. If you do not have this good news about Jesus, you know that there are viruses and they’re bad. And you do not know where this virus comes from and where it goes to. You are just a test subject for an unknown virus. You are out of control and without hope. But when the gospel comes to us it gives us rest. We know that there is a who behind and beyond this illness. We learn that death and disease came as one of the results of the fall into sin. But Jesus rules over death and disease. He watches over my body even amidst my sicknesses. The gospel brings rest for our bodies. But there’s more: 40 At sunset, the people brought to Jesus all who had various kinds of sickness, and laying his hands on each one, he healed them. 41 Moreover, demons came out of many people, shouting, “You are the Son of God!” But he rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, because they knew he was the Messiah.” (Luke 4:40–41 NIV11-GKE)

Notice the time. At sunset, right when the sun was going down, masses of people came with their sick and diseased loved ones. Why did they wait? Jesus was done preaching in the morning. He went to Peter’s house. They had hours to come to him. What took them so long? They didn’t come out right away because they would get into trouble. They were commanded by their leaders, the Pharisees especially, that they couldn’t do any work on the Sabbath. And, according to the Pharisees made it clear that doing miracles was work. Imagine the heart-breaking tyranny. They could look out their windows, down the road and see the house that Jesus was in. They knew that help was within walking distance away. But they lived in fear of spiritual tyranny.

And my friends in Christ, this too is what the gospel brings: rest from a tyrannized conscience. How amazing it is to read, learn, and study God’s word so that we can learn again and again what actually is wrong and right. And we don’t need to burden our own consciences by what is not actually wrong. That tyranny against our consciences is gone because we know what the truth is. But just as important as that is the forgivness that Jesus shares with us. The areas where we knew what was right, and yet we did what was wrong: our selfish thoughts and lies are forgiven by Jesus. And we receive rest for our souls.

Rest, true rest for our souls—that’s what the gospel brings. I’ve served now in four congregations across our nation. And what an amazing joy it is to see the freedom that the gospel brings from the tyranny of false-teaching. I’ve had people join my church because they were told in the church they grew up in that they would be committing a mortal sin if they ate meat on Fridays. And if they ate meat, they would get in trouble. And the rest the gospel gave them was amazing. I’ve had people leave the own church and join ours because their former church wanted to be relevant. So their church stopped using church words and instead adopted the vocabulary of the world around them. That was the first stage. The second stage is that then their own church became embarrassed about the truth of God’s word. They became ashamed of baptism, the Lord’s Supper. Their leaders in that church became embarrassed about the careful and caring corrections that God’s word speaks of. So, when they tried to speak up, they were tyrannized for being Christian. And when they got to the church I was privileged enough to serve in, they found rest, true rest for their souls. You have that rest. And you get to soak that rest up every Sunday. For the gospel gives you rest for your bodies and for your souls too. But there’s one more gift that the gospel brings to us: 42 At daybreak, Jesus went out to a solitary place. The people were looking for him and when they came to where he was, they tried to keep him from leaving them. 43 But he said, “I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent.” 44 And he kept on preaching in the synagogues of Judea.” (Luke 4:42–44 NIV11-GKE)

Notice the word that Jesus uses: must. It was absolutely necessary that Jesus leave them and share the gospel to the other towns. It is true that the gospel brings rest to our bodies and souls. But it also does, seemingly, the opposite. It brings restlessness. It brings with it this sort of zeal to reach out into the darkness so that those who do not have this rest will have it.

The people here in this small town found rest. But, sadly, they also found contentedness. They had this rest. But their hearts didn’t move beyond their own town to the hearts and lives of others. And even worse than that, they tried to constrain Jesus, to force him to stay there. They were content—in a bad way. And they constrained Jesus.

So my dear friends in Christ, let me ask you, are you restless? Is there this desire to have the rest that you know and have shared with those out there? Or are you content just the way that things are? Even worse, would you constrain the gospel here, not working to share God’s word with those in the area who are living in darkness?

Here is where I confess my own sin. I can’t remember the last time I prayed for the names I don’t know. There are people out there along hwy 19 who do not know Jesus and do not have the rest that we have. And I can’t remember even praying for them. For my own part, I have to confess, that there have been times I have become quite content to have my rest to myself and for myself. I cannot peer into your hearts, but I want you to ask yourself a question: Am I too content to have our church just the way it is? Even worse, are there times, like these Galileans, when I constrain the gospel, not wanting the gospel to go out there, not supporting the work of evangelism with my time and money and prayers? Each of us has faced and given into this temptation in our own ways.

What then is the solution? Or, how can I regain my restlessness in a good and godly way? First, let us return to the reading and study of God’s word. Let us be reminded that we do not live in tyranny. What amazing church you have that you don’t need to be tyrannized for believing the truth of God’s word or be embarrassed by it. What amazing church you have that, here in this church, you have a Savior who still serves you. He still forgives you, even like me, when you forget to pray for those still living in darkness.

Return to the study of God’s word. For there you find rest for your souls. And after that rejoice in the freedom from tyranny that you now have. And finally, together, let us reach out with this gospel. Let us not be content to let this rest for our bodies and souls stay here. And our good and gracious Lord will strengthen us for this task. For that’s what the gospel brings. It brings rest for our bodies and souls. But it also brings restlessness. Amen.

Pastor at Immanuel, Steve Bauer

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