People Worth Touching -- GET UP! -- 10/10/2021
People Worth Touching!
October 10, 2017
Emmanuel Christian Reformed Church
Type of Sermon (expository, narrative, pragmatic, visionary, integrated)
“When Jesus came into Peter’s house.” There are some significant things to notice about this statement. First in the three healing stories the phrase “When Jesus” always introduces the dramatic action.
• “When Jesus came down from the mountainside”, then a man with leprosy came and knelt before him.
• When Jesus had entered Capernaum” a centurion came asking him for help.
• “When Jesus came into Peter’s house” he saw Peter’s mother-in-law lying in bed with a fever. Jesus touched her and the fever left.
It is not an accident that Matthew paints for us a particular sequence of Jesus’ healing activity that becomes narrower in geographic scope and more personal in nature.
When Jesus came down from the mountain, we see Jesus at work within the region of Galilee. Jesus heals the leper as a testimony to Israel that the one who fulfills the Law is active. In Capernaum, a town withing the region, Jesus finds saving faith in a Roman centurion and declares that faith in who Jesus says he is and trusting that Jesus can do what he says he can do is the kind of faith by which both Jews and Gentiles enter the kingdom of heaven.
Slide of Peter’s House
Now Jesus steps into a particular home in the town of Capernaum in the region of Galilee. This was not just any home, but the home of Peter, Jesus’s disciple. This was a home Jesus probably frequented many times. Based on the Gospel of Mark, 1:29-35 there is speculation that Jesus may have lived with Peter in his home. If that were true, then we see Jesus coming into his home as well.
Matthew gives us no indication that Jesus knew the leper or the centurion prior to their request for help. Not so with Peter’s mother-in-law. Peter’s mother-in-law may have also lived with Peter. Doubtless Jesus not only knew her, but loved her, and considered her his friend. He may have even had a nickname for her as Jesus seemed fond of doing. He called Simon – Peter meaning rock. Maybe her nickname was Rock Mamma – we will never know!
However, so that I don’t have to say mother-in-law throughout the entire message, from this point forward I will refer to her as “Mom” as is often our custom in referring to our own mothers-in-law.
Matthew tells us, “When Jesus came into Peter’s House, he saw [mom] lying in bed with a fever. Let’s not rush pass this phrase as mere introduction to get to the good stuff “he touched her hand and the fever left her.” Before the miracle two important things happened. First, Jesus came into Peter’s house. Jesus came. Jesus was physically located in Peter’s house. Peter’s house represented Peter’s extended family living under his roof. Now because Peter had submitted himself to Jesus as His Lord, Jesus enters this home not as a guest, but as its Lord.
What does that mean for us in this very moment? This is what it means: Jesus is present with us right now. Jesus said,
“For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”” (Matthew 18:20, NIV)
We call ourselves a family of God because that is who we are. We are children of our heavenly Father who belong body and soul in life and in death to our faithful Savior Jesus Christ who is present with us right now. Just as Jesus came into Peter’s house not as a guest but as Lord, Jesus is present today with our church family, not as a guest but as our Lord.
The Apostle Paul wrote,
“And God placed all things under [Jesus’s] feet and appointed [Jesus] to be head over everything for the church, which is [Jesus’s] body, the fullness of [Jesus] who fills everything in every way.” (Ephesians 1:22–23, NIV)
If we could only get this in our souls, that every Sunday, the real presence of Jesus is with us it would change everything. If we really believed this, we would not miss a Sunday because disciples of Jesus long to be in the presence of their Lord. If we really believed this, we would not be anxious when the service goes longer than expected because disciples of Jesus long to linger in His presence and that desire to be with and linger with our Lord overrides everything else.
There is a sense in which, we cannot see the visible presence of Jesus or hear the audible voice of Jesus or feel the physical touch of Jesus. Yet, there is a sense in which we do see Jesus, hear Jesus, and feel Jesus when we are together. Let’s demonstrate this. Find someone close to you, take their hand, and say, “I’m so glad you are here today.”
There we have it, we have just seen, heard, and touched Jesus in each other. You see if we believe that Jesus lives in each of us, when we encounter each other, we can experience Jesus if we will open ourselves up to that possibility. Imagine how our Sunday morning worship and all our activities together could change if we simply show up expecting to see, hear, and touch Jesus through each other.
Each of you hear today, carry for me a potential word of instruction, an encouragement, an expression of care, a reason to give thanks or praise that Jesus would like to express through the uniqueness of you. Likewise, Jesus has a word of instruction, encouragement, an expression of care, a reason for thanksgiving and praise for you that he would like to express to you through the uniqueness of me. This is a great gift that is available to us if we will deeply believe two things (1) Jesus is real presence is with us when we gather (2) the life of Jesus in each of us can flow through us to each other. When these two beliefs get into our souls then our time together as a church family will be transformed from duty into delight.
Returning to our passage, Matthew tells us “Jesus saw mom lying in bed with a fever”. Let’s linger a bit on these words “Jesus saw”. The discipline of philosophic phenomenology teaches us that to perceive any object as it is, we must intend the object. In other words, we must by an act of our will pay attention to the object of our concern. The Greek implies this is the kind of “seeing” Jesus engages with Mom. The word translated “saw” in this text means to “pay attention to”; “to concern oneself with; to understand by perception.”
What does that mean for us today in this moment? It means this, Jesus is present here with us. It means that Jesus sees us as we are right here, right now. Jesus sees us and perfectly cares about and understands us. He sees, cares about, and understands each one of us. And he sees, cares, and understands us as His church family gathered in His presence. What does it mean to you with all the challenges that you face to know that Jesus sees you right now, he cares for you perfectly right now, and he understands you perfectly right now? How does knowing this move your heart, mind, or body? What does it mean for us as a church family with all the challenges we face together that Jesus sees us as we are right now, he cares for us perfectly right now, and he understands us perfectly as a church family right now?
If we know deep in our souls that every time, we walk through these doors Jesus is with us, he sees us, he cares for us, he understands us in our present reality, how might that change what it means for us together here together every Sunday?
Jesus is here. Jesus sees us. Jesus perfectly cares for us. Jesus perfectly understands us as we are in our present reality. Perhaps, we could rightfully say, “Wow, that’s enough for us, what more could we possibly want?” And yet, there is more that Jesus extends to us.
We talked about many times how persons in Jesus’s day understood a connect between the eyes and the heart. What entered the eyes was believed to enter the heart. Hear we see a picture of that understanding.
Jesus sees Mom as she is in reality: lying in bed with a fever. Mom was so sick she could not get out of bed. Jesus saw her, understood her, cared for her and out of the depths of his compassionate heart, without waiting to be asked” Jesus goes to her, touches her hand, and immediately the fever afflicting Mom was gone.
Like Mom, we are in the position to experience a compassionate miracle from the touch of Jesus when Jesus is present with us, when he sees, understands, and cares for us, then Jesus will move to touch and heal us in exactly the way we need to be touched and healed. That is what is open to us every Sunday morning, if we believe that Jesus is who He says he is and will do what He says he can do.
Mom then got up and started to attend to and serve Jesus. I doubt that she did that with a begrudging attitude. She probably was not thinking to herself, “O great, I’m healed. Now, I must get up and cook supper for Jesus. No recovery time, I’m no better than a slave in this household.” The implication of the text is that out of gratitude for being made completely whole, Mom was willing and able to be attentive to Jesus’s needs, just has Jesus had been attentive to her.
We may be tempted to think, “Oh, if Jesus touched me and healed me like that I would get up and serve him with joy and energy! If only Jesus would touch me like that!” My brothers and sisters, take heart, Jesus has touched everyone of us exactly like that.
You see, if we are a Christian, it is because our Heavenly Father, saw us has we are. You see we are all the leper who cannot cleanse himself, we are all the centurion’s servant paralyzed and wracked with pain, we are all Mom feverishly wasting away. All of us are sin sick without any hope of curing ourselves. God sees us as we are and without waiting to be asked, He moves upon us and draws us to Jesus,
Slide of Hagar
You may recall the story of Hagar becoming pregnant by Abram. Although Abram’s wife, Sarai, gave Hagar to Abram specifically for that purpose, Sarai was not at all pleased when Hagar got pregnant. For her part, Hagar despised Sarai and Sarai mistreated Hagar so badly that Hagar ran away into the desert. The Lord found Hagar in the desert. After instructing Hagar to go back to her mistress, the Lord gave Hagar the promise that her descendants would be to numerous to count. In response, Hagar said, “You are the God who sees me . . . I have now seen the One who sees me.”
“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them.
Our Heavenly Father saw you and he saw me. In his grace and mercy, Our Father drew us to Jesus. Without us asking, by the Holy Spirit the Father worked in us to place our faith in Jesus to believe that Jesus is who he says He is and will do what He says he can do. We said, “Lord if you are willing you can make me clean.” Jesus said, “I am willing Be clean”. We said, Lord, “Just say the word and I will be healed.” Jesus said, “Go, let it be done to you as you believed it would.” Jesus saw us in our in sin-sickness. Jesus gave his body to be broken and his blood to be poured out as the perfect cure for sin-sickness.
Our passage closes with people bringing to Jesus, family, friends, and neighbors who were demon-possessed. Jesus cast out the demons by the power of his Word and Jesus healed all the sick persons who were brought to Him. Matthew wants us to understand that Jesus came for this. Jesus came to heal our sin-sickness in all its manifestations, body, mind, and spirit. He drives that point home with a well-known quote from the prophet Isaiah,
[He (Jesus] took up our infirmities and bore all our diseases.”
The Apostle Paul puts it this way,
“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace” (Ephesians 1:7, NIV)
Jesus comes to us. He sees us. He understands our condition. In his compassion Jesus gives his body and blood for the sin of the entire human race. In his grace and mercy, the Father draws us to Jesus, so that we put our faith in Jesus. Jesus touches us and makes us whole.
“For [Our Father] chose us (saw us) in [Jesus] before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in [Our Father’s] sight. (Ephesians 1:4, NIV)
We have been healed from our sin-sickness and in response, we get up! We get up to attend to and serve Jesus. We get up not out of duty! But out of thankfulness for the healing we have received, that we are receiving, and which will be made complete when we see Jesus return in glory.
Balm in Gilead Slide
The old spiritual says, “There is a balm in Gilead, to make the wounded whole; There is a balm in Gilead to heal the sin-sick soul.”
There is a balm in Gilead and his name is Jesus. For Jesus, every sin-sick soul is a person worth touching.