It is All Fun and Games Until…

It is All Fun and Games Until…

Grace, mercy, and peace be upon you
from God, our Father, and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Beloved, the text for this morning
comes from the Gospel reading. You may be seated.

Now, last Sunday, if you remember,
Jairus’ daughter was raised from the dead, and the woman who had a blood
discharge for twelve years and had only grown worse was healed. Glorious
miracles. A resurrection from the dead and then a healing of someone who had
suffered for twelve long years. And then Jesus comes to His own hometown, and
the reception and the results are quite different.

Notice today’s reception. As soon
as He teaches in the synagogue, people begin to judge and judge completely by
what they see and by what their mind is able to put together. Notice the
questions they ask. “Where did this man get these things?” “What is the wisdom
given to Him?” Because He had expounded some of the Scriptures. “How are such
mighty works done by His hands?” Referring to miracles that Jesus had already
done, which had been proclaimed around the region. “Is this not the carpenter,
the son of Mary and the brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are
not His sisters here with us?” “How can He who does not appear to be anything
out of the ordinary, how does He who looks like all of us be God in the flesh?
And for that matter, we saw Him grow up. We remember when He was toddling on
his mother’s knee.” It still is the same as today, isn’t it? People ask the
same exact questions. And they’re offended. They’re offended because they
cannot believe with their mind, which makes perfect sense to us as believers, they
cannot make sense in their mind that this is real. And Jesus’ response is quite
unusual indeed. He says in verse 5 “He could do no mighty work there, except
that He laid hands on a few sick people and healed them. And He marveled
because of their unbelief.”

It’s all fun and games until that
happens. It’s interesting. When you and I are involved in proclaiming God’s
message, when we’re inviting people to come to church, when we have had a wonderful
conversation about spiritual things with someone and it kept a good even timbre
and they thought…you could tell that your words were being absorbed by them.
And that excites us. It excites us to see new people join the church, to see
adults baptized, to see kids come forward and talk about their faith in their
confirmation. But then when there is rejection or suffering because of
connection to Christ, and then it’s not so fun and it’s not so joyful and it’s
not so triumphant. And that is the kind of work that God has given unto us.

No, this is not one of those texts
that says in a very negative and grumpy manner, “Go out there and preach the
Gospel, because you’re gonna get rejected. It’s gonna be horrible. It’s gonna
be bad. It’s going to not be received.” And it’s just a complete downer to hear
such message. This is not what Jesus is saying, but this is a great temperer to
your and my faith. We have heard all the excuses probably in the world when
someone whom we have asked several times or someone we have talked to about the
Lord has given us their litany of reasons. And then we’ve created some of our
own reasons, which is kind of interesting. We’ve created reasons of our own why
people aren’t coming in through the doors, and there are a whole host of
reasons that are given. And none of them have anything to do with why you and I
have been brought in through those doors. It’s all about why they’re not, as if
they’re cut from a different bolt of cloth than we. Not at all. We are cut from
the same bolt.

In the collect, did you hear what
Pastor prayed? God’s power is revealed chiefly in showing mercy. Mercy. And did
you hear the psalm? It talked about the difficulty of others that have
oppressed the psalmist and then he revels in the mercy shown. The people of
Nazareth weren’t about mercy. They were about ensuring that everything appeared
copacetic. It’s supposed to be a certain way. God’s mercy is shown in your life.
You are the reason God wishes to send you out with such good news.

Consider Paul in the second reading
this morning in 2nd Corinthians. Paul has had unbelievable
revelation. Look at the other eleven apostles. None of them had a conversion
experience, but Paul, oh my goodness, Paul had the penultimate conversion
experience. He had the experience on the road to Damascus where he was struck
down with blindness, heard God speak to him, had his eyes cleared by someone,
and then is whisked off to the wilderness to be instructed by our Lord and then
is sent back to continue the work. Now if those aren’t believable, miraculous
things, there’s not a lot left. And yet, having been revealed in such a
dramatic way, Paul in this reading talks about this thorn in his flesh unto
which he has prayed to God numerous times, not just three as if that was all
that he prayed. Prayed to God and God did not deliver him from that adversity, and
rather instructed Paul through such adversity that power is made perfect in
your weakness.

So don’t give up. This isn’t about
a downer. Satan wants you and me to think in terms of, well, if it gets
rejected and we get spurned and it’s not received and it’s pushed away, we must
not be doing something right, or our message must need to be tweaked and
adjusted, or we must need to change something. Go back to why you are sitting
in the pew this morning. You have been shown mercy. You have tasted and seen
that the Lord is good. You have reveled in His great grace shown to a sinner
such as you. You have been given all that is needed, but know that not everyone
will receive such good news in the manner by the mercy that which you have
received it. And that is difficult for our flesh to deal with.

All of us want to be liked. Pastors
are no different. All people want to be liked. We want to put our ….I mean, of
course, there’s always those grumpy ones. You’ve kinda got to shake your head
at and scratch and go, “Their life is just lived in a grump.” For the most
part, most of us wish to be and desire to be enjoyed in life by someone else,
and we wish to give that back to them. But when God’s message and our great
gift of faith gets in the way, then we wish to do something so that it’s not
rejected, because we feel like, if it’s rejected, then we’re rejected, and
that’s completely too self-centered. It will be rejected.

Notice Ezekiel. Can you imagine if
you got the job that Ezekiel got? “Ezekiel, go and preach to this people during
this time of fairly peaceful era,” and it was, prior to Ezekiel’s preaching,
fairly peaceful. “You go there and you preach that there’s gonna be some bad
stuff coming, that the entire nation of Israel is going to be exiled to Babylon
for seventy years.” And notice what God says to him. “Whether they hear or
refuse to hear, for they are a rebellious house, they will know that a prophet
has been among them.”

No, you don’t come at any
difficult, challenging situation with someone that you’re trying to bring them
into the church and encourage them to come and hear what God has done. No, you
don’t want to take that and say, “Well, I’m going to just throw it at them and
if they reject me, great, because now I can at least say to myself I’ve done my
job.” Checking a block. That’s guilt driven, isn’t it, and that’s not what God
wishes. God wishes to drive you out to those people with joy. Joy not because
you might get rejected, but joy because of what God has done in you, how God
has shaped you, culled you, set you apart, and the most miraculous of all, that
He keeps calling you back. Calling you back when you’re stubborn, selfish,
grumpy. Calling you back when you’re angry. Putting balm on your wounds. Binding
up those hearts that get broken and torn apart so easily by ourselves and
others. You’ve received such mercy and that does produce and yield joy. That’s
what drives you and me out. And do not fear, “Well, our service is too long.
It’s too formal.” We have close communion. Do not fear these things, brothers
and sisters. God does His work through His Word, and none of those things about
which we can get wrapped up kept you away or me away. We were drawn near
because of mercy and faith that apprehended and trusted in such gloriously
given mercy, knowing full well we desired it, without God, no, but we learned
of what we lacked and He fulfilled it in Christ. That’s what we send out in our

Yes, it will be fun and games at
times and great joy, and it’ll be hard and arduous like Ezekiel. Christ Himself
met with it, didn’t He, in His own hometown where you would think they who knew
the Scriptures that Jesus spoke and turned their back on it. You see, we live
in a nation that’s very fat with this message. Yes, there are still several
people out there who have no idea about Christianity, but for the most part we
live in a nation that’s fat with Christianity. And being so fat with
Christianity, there will be rejection and complete disavowal of such a message
of mercy in Christ. That is the world in which God has sent you and me into.
He’s not called us to go overseas. He’s called us here to do the work that He’s
given you and me to accomplish, and He promises power will be shown in our
weakness. And the greatest power shown in weakness was God allowing the sinful
creature to curse Him, crucify Him, mock and kill Him. And yet, that is your
and my power; is it not? And yet that is your and my hope; is it not? And yet,
that is your and my confidence; is it not? It is fun and games in Christ, and
we will not be thwarted.

Go in peace. Serve the Lord. Thanks
be to God. Amen.

The peace of God which passes all understanding keep your
hearts and your minds on Christ Jesus to life everlasting.