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Don't You Know?

Updated: Jul 2




Isaiah 40:21-31, Mark 1:29-39, 1 Corinthians 9:16-23                             Rev. Rob Jones

                                                                                                                   February 4, 2024


Isaiah 40:21-31 NRSVue

21 Have you not known? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth? 22 It is he who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers, who stretches out the heavens like a curtain and spreads them like a tent to live in, 23 who brings princes to naught and makes the rulers of the earth as nothing. 24 Scarcely are they planted, scarcely sown, scarcely has their stem taken root in the earth, when he blows upon them, and they wither, and the tempest carries them off like stubble. 25 To whom, then, will you compare me, or who is my equal? says the Holy One. 26 Lift up your eyes on high and see: Who created these? He who brings out their host and numbers them, calling them all by name; because he is great in strength, mighty in power, not one is missing. 27 Why do you say, O Jacob, and assert, O Israel,“My way is hidden from the Lord, and my right is disregarded by my God”? 28 Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. 29 He gives power to the faint and strengthens the powerless. 30 Even youths will faint and be weary, and the young will fall exhausted, 31 but those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

 

Mark 1:29-39 NRSVue

29 As soon as they left the synagogue, they entered the house of Simon and Andrew with James and John.30 Now Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told him about her at once. 31 He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up. Then the fever left her, and she began to serve them. 32 That evening, at sunset, they brought to him all who were sick or possessed by demons. 33 And the whole city was gathered around the door. 34 And he cured many who were sick with various diseases and cast out many demons, and he would not permit the demons to speak because they knew him. 35 In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed.36 And Simon and his companions hunted for him. 37 When they found him, they said to him, “Everyone is searching for you.” 38 He answered, “Let us go on to the neighboring towns so that I may proclaim the message there also, for that is what I came out to do.” 39 And he went throughout all Galilee, proclaiming the message in their synagogues and casting out demons.

 

1 Corinthians 9:16-23 NRSVue

16 If I proclaim the gospel, this gives me no ground for boasting, for an obligation is laid on me, and woe to me if I do not proclaim the gospel! 17 For if I do this of my own will, I have a wage, but if not of my own will, I am entrusted with a commission. 18 What, then, is my wage? Just this: that in my proclamation, I may make the gospel free of charge so as not to make full use of my rights in the gospel. 19 For though I am free with respect to all, I have made myself a slave to all so that I might gain all the more. 20 To the Jews, I became as a Jew, in order to gain Jews. To those under the law, I became as one under the law (though I myself am not under the law) so that I might gain those under the law. 21 To those outside the law, I became as one outside the law (though I am not outside God’s law but am within Christ’s law) so that I might gain those outside the law. 22 To the weak I became weak so that I might gain the weak. I have become all things to all people, that I might by all means save some. 23 I do it all for the sake of the gospel so that I might become a partner in it.

 

Prayer:

Almighty Holy God, stand firmly in our presence as we discern your Word this morning. Translate all that is heard to be the message each of us needs to hear. Please give us the wisdom and strength to calm our minds and open our hearts to receive your Spirit. In Christ’s name, I pray. AMEN.

 

Don’t You know?

 

The Bible contains many good and bad stories, including epic travels, healings, wars, and even genocide. But what makes the Bible such a great collection of books is not the stories as much as the characters in those stories. The characters in the Bible are there by design to be relatable, to remind us of ourselves and those we know. Recently, I talked about Jonah, and I made a reference to him being grumpy and a little racist. We all know someone who always seems to be cranky and a little racist. Jonah reminds me of Archie Bunker (a famous TV character from the 1970s). Archie had a heart of gold but was set in his ways. There was nothing he wouldn’t do for his family, even though they annoyed him to no end. He would huff and puff about what he had to do, but eventually, he would relent and do his duty. Does that remind you of Jonah? Of all the characters in the Bible, the main one, present all the way through, is God. God creates, directs, cares for, and punishes. God is wise, attentive, and understanding, but can also be jealous, angry, and sometimes downright vindictive (read 1 Samuel 3-7). There is no doubt that God is the main character. But there are others, and they are some of the best characters in all of literature. My personal favorites are the prophets, but today, I am going to talk about three different characters in three different situations. Each is uniquely qualified in their role, but the situations are so different. Let’s begin.

 

In today’s first lesson, we see Isaiah in mid-rant. He is speaking to the people of Judah and reminding them of God’s power. Let me back up a bit and give you some context. King Hezekiah of Judah had gotten sick, and then he miraculously got better; thanks to his repentance, God showed grace and forgiveness. Then, King Merodach-baladan of Babylon sent an envoy to Jerusalem to say “congratulations” on getting better (really, it was to spy). Hezekiah is prideful and shows off his treasure room, the armory, and all the secrets of the kingdom (like one does with shiny things), and he takes all the glory for himself. Isaiah finds out and comes to him and says, “You really did it this time because God is going to let the Babylonians defeat Jerusalem, not while you are king, but while your son reigns.” Hezekiah was so self-centered he was just relieved that there would be peace in his lifetime; the poor guy never had a clue. Isaiah begins to tell the people what is going to happen, and for sure, it works as well as yelling “fire” in a crowded movie theatre. So, after Isaiah tells them the bad parts, he reminds them who their God is… “Have you not known? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning?” In Hebrew, Isaiah is using contractions that our English translators do not feel represent the “gravity” of the situation Isaiah has created. But I think a little different about it. Isaiah is showing intimacy in several ways: 1. He is intimate with the people of Judah; he knows them, they know him, and he can speak with authority, but also say, “Hey, don’t you know? Ain’t, you heard? Hasn’t anyone ever told you about YHWY? YHWH is the creator and sits above all this!” Isaiah reminds the people that everything is in God’s hands, and everything will happen in God’s time. Be faithful, and God will take care of you. What a magnificent speech that exudes authority and finality while also supplying comfort. This is only one example of why the Prophets are such interesting characters.

 

In the New Testament gospel of Mark, we witness Jesus exercising his authority through teaching and healing, echoing the authority seen in the days of the prophets some 400 years earlier. After finishing his teaching in the synagogue, Jesus visits Simon (Peter) and Andrew’s house, where Simon’s Mother-in-Law is ailing. This incident reveals a subtle aspect of Jesus' authority, as Peter, a married man, was able to follow Jesus, indicating Jesus' commanding presence. He proceeds to heal Peter’s Mother-in-Law and then heals all the sick brought to him by the townspeople. However, Jesus doesn't stop there; he urges them to spread the Good News, emphasizing the urgency of his ministry. Mark's gospel emphasizes two key points: the authority of Jesus as God and the dynamic pace of his ministry. Notably, the Greek conjunction "Kia," (English: and) frequently used in Mark's gospel, signifies the continuous and rapid nature of Jesus's actions, creating a sense of immediacy and momentum.

 

In the Gospel, the other characters, such as the disciples, the scribes, and the people receiving healing, are unaware that Jesus is Emmanuel, which means "God with us." However, even the demons recognize Jesus's true identity, and Mark ensures the reader understands this. Mark uses third-person knowledge to demonstrate the authority of Jesus in the gospel. Jesus teaches with the authority of God, proclaiming, "God cares for you; be good because the kingdom is coming." Through Mark's narrative, the reader is invited to understand the profound truth, "Jesus is God! And he is not just above all; he is right here with us!" The message is consistent in its authority and revelation of the power of God. Mark perceives it, and even the demons recognize it. Best of all, Jesus is intimate with everyone he speaks to, heals, or comforts. Every parable is spoken for the crowd he encounters, his compassion is focused on those he heals, and although the bystanders and disciples may not understand the personal teachings at the moment, the reader can understand that Jesus speaks as God, and cares for all creation.

 

Finally, in 1 Corinthians, we have Paul writing to the church in Corinth. He is using the same rhetoric as Isaiah, intimately speaking to the congregation and asking questions concerning their understanding using contractions. He speaks as someone who both knows and cares for them while maintaining his ability to see the bigger picture that they just haven’t grasped yet. He begins this diatribe in chapter nine by asking three questions: “Am I not free? Am I not an Apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord?”  Our lesson today is the section where Paul reassures the congregation that he is not unique; he is just the one God has sent with the message. “Don’t you know? Ain’t, you heard? Hasn’t anyone told you? Jesus is God! And he is not just above all; he walked right here with us! I saw his risen body! For those who believe, you will be saved from sin and death!” Paul speaks with the intimacy and love of Isaiah and Jesus. He truly cares for the church in Corinth, and he wants them to understand the message God has sent to them through him of Jesus and God’s grace.

 

"Three stories, three situations, but with the same message, the same salvation, the same God. Listen to the message, listen to the question, “Don’t you know? Haven't you heard? Hasn’t anyone told you? Jesus came here for you, walked among us to teach you, and died on the cross to save you!” Our salvation has been preached for more than 2,700 years. When will we begin to listen to the words that God is speaking to us throughout the Bible? When will we heed the words of Isaiah, Jesus, and Paul? The Word has been proclaimed; the decision is yours; act accordingly."

 

In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. AMEN

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