St. Matthew’s Sermon 07-08-2018

St. Matthew’s Sermon 07-08-2018

Believing is Seeing

II Samuel 5:1-5, 9-10, Psalm 48, II Corinthians 12:2-10, Mark 6:1-13

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable in your sight, O God. Amen

In the chapter just before today’s reading from the Gospel of Mark we heard of Jesus negotiating with a legion of demons as he drove them from the crazy man in the land of the Gerasenes across the sea. Then we heard of the healing of the woman with perpetual bleeding, and the return of life into the daughter of Jairus.

In the first we learn that the demons are the ones to recognize Jesus as the “Son of the most high God”. In the second we learn that the woman was healed by her faith. And in the third Jesus reminded Jairus to “not fear, only believe”.

Now, Jesus enters his home town and, in spite of the miracles he has already performed, the hundreds of people healed, and the massive crowd following him; he is met with cynicism.

It’s easy for us to be distracted from the message we are receiving by that line where he says “Prophets are not without honor, except in their hometown, and among their own kin, and in their own house”. That’s not an explanation of why his teaching is rejected by his own townsfolk; it’s a statement of regret. Demons can see who Jesus is; a woman can have enough faith in his power to be healed just by touching his cloak; and Jairus can still, after hearing that his daughter has already died, believe that this isn’t the end of her life. But here, in his home town, the very people who watched Jesus grow up and live among them are unable to recognize him as anything but another member of their community; they’re unable to have faith in him or believe in his power.

It is a statement of regret; Jesus is saddened; not by their inability to see him for what he is, The Son of God, he is saddened by what they will not receive; the good that won’t come to them because of their lack of faith and belief. It’s right there in the next verse that reads “And he could do no deed of power there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and cured them”.

Think about that carefully if you will: “He could do no deed of power there…” It doesn’t say that Jesus would not do any deed of power, it says he could not.

It’s all related then; it’s all intertwined. Yes, Jesus is the Son of God who has been given divine power to cast out demons, heal the sick, and raise the dead! But he can do none of this without those whom he interacts with recognizing what he is, having faith in him and the one who sent him, and believing that he has been bestowed with power that exceeds human comprehension!

The villagers heard the wisdom given him when he preached, they heard of the many healings and “deeds of power”; but their inability to have faith and believe created a barrier; stood in the way of that wisdom and power taking glorious, wonderful, restorative action in their own lives.


We refer to God as “Almighty”; able to do anything; absolutely unlimited in his ability to create and alter the world in any way he chooses. I’ve been accused of heresy for saying it, but this is one of the Scripture readings that reinforce my belief that the power of God and Christ, though not limited in what can be done, is limited in what will be done. The miraculous power is always there! But it is our ability, our choice, to let it flow into our lives and the lives of the world or not.

In our world we are conditioned to not believe anything extraordinary unless we see it with our own eyes. I’m sure you’ve all heard the expression “Seeing is believing”. But as he does in so many other stories in the Gospels, Jesus turns everything about our way of thinking upside-down and backwards when he introduces us to God’s way of thinking; in Christ “Believing is seeing”. We must first believe, then we will see!

Immediately after this part of the story, Jesus sends his disciples out into other villages to proclaim that all should repent. Things needed to be turned around faster than Jesus could make happen on his own. And as they went, they too cast out demons and healed the sick; opening the barricades and allowing the divine power to flow with glory; relieving the suffering of many.

We live in a troubled world. Every day we hear of atrocities: wars, terror attacks, mass killings, ethnic cleansing, tyranny, theft, murder, rape and on and on it goes. Often, it all seems hopeless. And often it is easier to close our eyes to it all than to try to do anything about it.

But there is still hope! There is hope if we open our eyes, look at all the suffering, and believe that there is a better way; God’s way! There is hope that the power of God and Christ can, and will, enter this world, heal its sickness, and raise it up from death. But it requires our faith to not only allow that power to flow, but to help it to flow!

Believe, have faith; and see what happens next!



2 Samuel 5:1-5, 9-10
5:1 Then all the tribes of Israel came to David at Hebron, and said, “Look, we are your bone and flesh.
5:2 For some time, while Saul was king over us, it was you who led out Israel and brought it in. The LORD said to you: It is you who shall be shepherd of my people Israel, you who shall be ruler over Israel.”
5:3 So all the elders of Israel came to the king at Hebron; and King David made a covenant with them at Hebron before the LORD, and they anointed David king over Israel.
5:4 David was thirty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned forty years.
5:5 At Hebron he reigned over Judah seven years and six months; and at Jerusalem he reigned over all Israel and Judah thirty-three years.
5:9 David occupied the stronghold, and named it the city of David. David built the city all around from the Millo inward.
5:10 And David became greater and greater, for the LORD, the God of hosts, was with him.

Psalm 48
48:1 Great is the LORD and greatly to be praised in the city of our God. His holy mountain,
48:2 beautiful in elevation, is the joy of all the earth, Mount Zion, in the far north, the city of the great King.
48:3 Within its citadels God has shown himself a sure defense.
48:4 Then the kings assembled, they came on together.
48:5 As soon as they saw it, they were astounded; they were in panic, they took to flight;
48:6 trembling took hold of them there, pains as of a woman in labor,
48:7 as when an east wind shatters the ships of Tarshish.
48:8 As we have heard, so have we seen in the city of the LORD of hosts, in the city of our God, which God establishes forever. Selah
48:9 We ponder your steadfast love, O God, in the midst of your temple.
48:10 Your name, O God, like your praise, reaches to the ends of the earth. Your right hand is filled with victory.
48:11 Let Mount Zion be glad, let the towns of Judah rejoice because of your judgments.
48:12 Walk about Zion, go all around it, count its towers,
48:13 consider well its ramparts; go through its citadels, that you may tell the next generation
48:14 that this is God, our God forever and ever. He will be our guide forever.


2 Corinthians 12:2-10
12:2 I know a person in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven–whether in the body or out of the body I do not know; God knows.
12:3 And I know that such a person–whether in the body or out of the body I do not know; God knows–
12:4 was caught up into Paradise and heard things that are not to be told, that no mortal is permitted to repeat.
12:5 On behalf of such a one I will boast, but on my own behalf I will not boast, except of my weaknesses.
12:6 But if I wish to boast, I will not be a fool, for I will be speaking the truth. But I refrain from it, so that no one may think better of me than what is seen in me or heard from me,
12:7 even considering the exceptional character of the revelations. Therefore, to keep me from being too elated, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me, to keep me from being too elated.
12:8 Three times I appealed to the Lord about this, that it would leave me,
12:9 but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.
12:10 Therefore I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ; for whenever I am weak, then I am strong.

Mark 6:1-13
6:1 He left that place and came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him.
6:2 On the sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astounded. They said, “Where did this man get all this? What is this wisdom that has been given to him? What deeds of power are being done by his hands!
6:3 Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him.
6:4 Then Jesus said to them, “Prophets are not without honor, except in their hometown, and among their own kin, and in their own house.”
6:5 And he could do no deed of power there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and cured them.
6:6 And he was amazed at their unbelief. Then he went about among the villages teaching.
6:7 He called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits.
6:8 He ordered them to take nothing for their journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no money in their belts;
6:9 but to wear sandals and not to put on two tunics.
6:10 He said to them, “Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave the place.
6:11 If any place will not welcome you and they refuse to hear you, as you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.”
6:12 So they went out and proclaimed that all should repent.
6:13 They cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.