SBD June 2019
I read an article this week that said extreme poverty in the world could be ended with £175 billion dollars. Other experts challenge that figure and it certainly got complicated – how you defined extreme poverty – what level of income would end it – how many people were in that situation etc.
But with that much money you could do something about changing poverty – changing the world.
When you think about it, a lot of people, spend their time changing things in the world: medics, social workers, politicians, charities, NGO’s, law enforcers, counselors, educationalists, lawyers. All dealing with problems in the world – and solving them make this world a better place.
I say that because we’re going to look at Jesus making the world a better place.
And in particular – I want us to think about - what does it take to make the world better in radical and foundational way – what do we need to truly change how things are?
So let’s look at our passage and first of all we get a picture of a truly changed world. A world put right.
1) God’s king – who will put this world right, 8v15-16
We read in v14 READ. Fever in her day almost certainly meant death.
But v15 READ.
There’s no convalescence - she immediately gets up and starts cooking dinner.
And then we read v16 READ.
It’s not surprising is it? Once you hear what Jesus is doing – if you know someone who is ill - you get them to Jesus. And he healed all them.
So for a moment in Capernaum – the GP surgery was closed. The hospital was empty. The crematorium was silent. For a moment it really was a changed world – a radically different world.
We said last week this is a demonstration. It demonstrates Jesus is the king - the one in control of this world. And it demonstrates – one day Jesus will put this world right.
We saw that in Isaiah God has promised a perfect world – a party – where death is swallowed up. Here Jesus gives us a picture of that – it’s a like trailer for it – showing us he can change this world and put everything right.
Now I said last week I’d say something about Jesus healing today. But as I prepared something on that I was aware it’s a big topic and a sensitive one – it really deserves a whole sermon. And I decided my comments were too brief to be very helpful. So I’m going to leave that for another day – feel free to ask me about it if you like.
The big point here is – here is the king who will put the world right. Jesus is demonstrating he’s the one in charge and that one day he really will change the world – and put it right.
The question is – what will that take? How can you change the world like that?
2) The king puts this world right by taking our wrong
Well - having said v16 – Jesus healed everyone – Matthew says – v17 READ - that is a verse from Isaiah 53.
So I’d like us to turn there if you don’t mind - and see what is happening in Isaiah 53.
• God’s suffering servant, Isaiah 53
Just to put this into context, Isaiah talks about two characters. He talks a lot about God’s king or ruler – the one that will rescue God’s people and put this world right – it’s the promise of Isaiah 25 of the party where death is swallowed up.
But then Isaiah starts talking about God’s servant – and he is a rather different character. V2 READ – he’s unimpressive.
V3 READ - he is someone who suffers so terribly – people can’t watch.
But the heart of this is – why he suffers. V4-6 READ.
Transgressions, iniquities – that is how we have rejected God, and lived our own way. And so we are in trouble with God – we face his judgement.
But I hope you picked up – this servant has taken our trouble for us. V4 – he took our infirmities. V5 he was pierced for our transgressions. V6 the Lord has laid on him our iniquity.
The suffering servant – takes our wrong – v5 says he takes our punishment and so brings us peace.
Let me try and illustrate this. I remember sitting with my brother watching a Cowboy and Indian film once – and half way through it he decided he wanted to join in. He was on the side of the cowboy’s of course – this was well before the days of political correctness – so the cowboys were the goodies, and the Indians were baddies. And so to join in – he got out his marbles – and every time an Indian appeared – he threw the marble at him – and tried to hit him. It was great. Pelting the TV – got another Indian.
Wasn’t so good for the TV. Small craters in the screen. Became rather like the surface of the moon….
Imagine my parents hear the noise – coming into the room – seeing the cratered screen – marbles – and they are rightly furious.
Then I say, ‘It was me – I did it.’
So my parent’s anger then falls on me. Go to your room, no pocket money for a month, no TV for a year.
Actually, I didn’t say that. I’m not that nice. In fact, what actually happened was – I was throwing marbles too.
But if I had been, innocent and very loving – I could have taken by brother’s place. I could have put things right for him – by – taking his wrong for him.
Well, that is what Jesus has done. He is innocent and very loving – and so he comes to earth as one of us and says to God, about all we’ve done wrong – it was me, or rather, let it be me. He takes our place – takes our wrong.
Upon him was the punishment that brought us peace – he’s the suffering servant – fulfilling Isaiah 53.
And what I really want us to get is – that is what will bring about a perfect world.
We see that in Isaiah actually – do you know what comes after Isaiah 53? Well unsurprisingly it’s Isaiah 54 – but Isaiah 54 is another description of that perfect world. Another description of God’s party – the world put right.
And it’s happened because of Isaiah 53 - the suffering servant taking our place. That leads to this perfect world.
We’ve said - Jesus is the king who will put this world right.
But Jesus is the servant – who puts this world right – by taking our wrong.
Let’s pause for a moment and ask – why is this? Why is it Jesus’ death – that brings God’s perfect world?
We said last week the ultimate cause of what is wrong in our world is our rejection of God. That’s not the immediate cause – we don’t get ill or things go wrong for us - because of a specific wrong we did. But in general terms the brokenness of the world flows from humankind rejecting God.
So to put the world right – you’ve got to deal with us and God. You’ve got to deal with our wrong before God. That’s the heart of it issue.
If you like – to really deal with the effects of sin – you’ve got to deal with sin itself.
That’s why saying it will take £175 billion to end poverty is only a start. To actually end poverty as well as the money we need to overcome selfishness and greed.
Or to change the world - we not only need better laws – we need to change people’s hearts so they don’t steal. We not only need better education so we know what’s right – we need to be changed so we want what is right. We not only need to make people better but for illness and disease to end.
Now we’re right to work at these things – better laws, education, medicine – they are good things. We should work at them and encourage them and celebrate the change they bring.
But we could say – they are only dealing with the symptoms. If you want to really change the world in a fundamental way – you have to deal with the cause – the heart of the problem - sin and rebellion against God.
And to do that you need someone to take our place. Someone to take our sin and all that that deserves.
That is what Jesus does - ‘It was me, I did it’. ‘He was pierced for our transgressions, the punishment that brought us peace was upon him.’
That is how he brings about God’s new world. He puts this world right by taking our wrong.
3) Following God’s servant king
We’re going to finish by looking at two people who want to follow Jesus. And so show us what following him is like - and I want us to see that what following him is like – flows from who he is – that he is a king but he is also a servant.
Let’s start with second bloke here – where we see that following Jesus means putting him first.
• Putting Jesus first, 8v21-22
Now it’s probably not that his father has died and is waiting for burial. He’s probably saying – I want to follow you Jesus - but let me wait until my father dies – so I can fulfil my responsibilities to him.
Jesus says – v22 READ.
Which is pretty strong isn’t it.
Jesus isn’t saying we shouldn’t ever go to funerals. Rather it’s an overstated contrast.
It’s like when he says – you can’t follow me unless you hate your father and mother. But elsewhere he says love your parents. So when he says you must hate them – he’s saying – in an over the top way - I come first.
And it’s the same here – you want to follow me but your father comes first. No – I’ve got to come first.
And that’s because of who he is – he’s the king – in charge – absolute control and authority - so he comes before anything and anyone.
But following Jesus means putting yourself out to serve others.
• Putting yourself out to serve others, v18-20
Maybe this guy has been watching the healings – impressed by Jesus power – and he wants in – I’ll follow you.
But Jesus says v20 READ.
You want to follow me. Do you know what that means – because I don’t have anywhere to sleep tonight. Even animals have homes. But I’ve given up my rights. Because I’ve come to serve – to suffer - to die.
So following me – well I’m the suffering servant – and so following me means the same for you – it means copying that - putting yourself out – giving up your rights – to serve others.
Jesus says the same to us today if we want to follow him. I’m the king – so it means putting me first. And I’m the suffering servant – so it means serving others.
So if we believe in this Jesus – if we follow him - the question for us – the challenge – is how are we doing on putting him first and putting ourselves out serving others?
I want to say what that looks like in practice – rather than just a general statement like put him first – I want to talk about our time and energy and values and money and hobbies – because this affects everything. But if I start to say this means doing this with your time – come to church every week or whatever - or doing that with your money – it’s starts to sound like rules. And it’s not rules. It’s about a relationship with Jesus.
But it’s a relationship that effects us – it’s a relationship with a king – who has served us. And that shapes us. So let me put it like this.
Imagine someone examined your life - looked at your diary - looked at your bank statement. How you spent your time and energy. Listened to your conversations and read your messages. What would they think?
Would they say – I’ve got a weird one here. I’m mean, it’s normal enough life – they go to work see friends and all that – but it’s like someone else in their life. I look at other people’s lives and they are all about their relationship, or they are after popularity, or driven by career, or looking good, or being comfortable. Those things control them. But this one – last week they gave some money to a missionary – then they told the truth even though it didn’t go well for them – why do that – it’s like they are living for something else – someone else. Someone else is in control.
And sometimes they say no to things which would be really nice for them – last week they didn’t stay in with Netflix but travelled across town to see a friend who was down – and was no fun at all. They keep putting themselves out – for other people. There is a servant thing about them.
Now nothing wrong with Netflix sometimes. Or having fun. And the truth is our lives will be very mixed at best.
But my point is - would they see something of the shape of Jesus. See the shape of a king who is in charge. See the shape of a servant – where you put yourself out for others?
Years ago I worked with a guy who was football mad. Gary. He loved football – Fulham was his team – there every week. Just to give you an idea - once I said – I remember Southampton winning FA cup and seeing the parade. He said – 1976 – Southampton vs. Manchester United – 1-0 – goal scored by Bobby Stokes. He loved football.
One world cup - he went to every England game in their group. And that got you the right to a ticket to the final. And it was 1966. Which if you don’t know – was when England won the world cup.
But he didn’t go – because he went on a children’s summer camp, to tell kids about Jesus.
I love that. Don’t get me wrong – he could have gone to the game – no rules. Good to enjoy football. But for him, in that situation, it was him putting Jesus first. And he put himself out to serve those kids. That’s a Jesus shaped life – there’s someone who knows a king, and a king who choose to serve him.
Jesus is the king who will make the world right one day. Jesus is the servant king – who dies – takes our wrong to make the world right.
Following him means your life has got a king in it, and it’s got a servant in it.