Series: From the Head to the Heart Text: Mark 7:24-8:25
When was the last time you were pleasantly amazed? You know that feeling that makes your jaws drop open – and makes you go WOW! Was it an exciting experience like your first Kiss, or a pleasant taste in your mouth, or something you touched or something you saw like the ‘Bungoma James Bond’
I remember one such experience in 2006, when I went to Geneve, Switzerland- the beautiful cites, sophisticated technology, the cuisine and flavor and some culture shocking mannerisms from some of the natives filled me with amazement. One specific one, was when we visited a carnival and took those ‘Disney’ rides. I was confused between crying, laughing with excitement or gripped with fear. We then witnessed the largest and longest fireworks display, it was…..well amazing.
But I have realized the older I get, somehow I have lost that childlike sense of amazement- Like many adults I find myself saying “Been there, done that and even bought a T-shirt’. It takes a lot of effort to amaze me and if you think I’m worse…try my wife.
There is something powerful that happens when we are amazed. A lot of the things you have acquired or done is because at some point they amazed you. Remember meeting your wife for the first time, your first day at work, and your first car? Or holding your baby for the first time.
There is so much emphasis on spectacle! The world sells on the sense of being amazed. We buy when it is faster, Newest, Rarest and of course we buy that which is leisurely, entertaining and with least effort.
There is something powerful about being amazed- we are drawn into a space deep within us that recognizes that there are things beyond our understanding and control.
We have been looking at this series from the Head to the Heart. As we study Mark, we pray that the Lord Jesus Christ is coming out of these scriptures and coming up ‘to your face’ and you are moving from having an opinion about him to really believing Him. Today we ask – Have we lost our sense of wonder as believers today. Have we discovered Jesus- the God of wonders beyond comprehension? We will contend with questions
Are there still miracles happening today? Will any more miracles change us? Who can receive a miracle? How do we respond to this miracle working God? Do we respond with our heads or our hearts? My Thesis is – The Kingdom of God comes with Power to anyone who believes. Anyone can exclaim: WOW- what a God. We pick up from where we left off.
Read Text: Mark 7:24-8:25
Remember When we started Mark we saw the core of why Jesus came- To call us to Repent, for the Kingdom of God is near. A big part of this call to repent was Our Lord Jesus undoing and confronting the many definitions of what people thought the Kingdom was and who the kingdom belonged to.
As we saw last week, Jesus redefines the people of the Kingdom not as those who keep human traditions but those who live by faith in Him. He redefined ‘Clean and Unclean’. This far He also showed us that the Kingdom is also for the riff-raff of the society by eating with sinners. He was redefining the people of this Kingdom- from the traditional Insider- the Jews and outsider- the Gentile perspectives. This would be particularly intentional for Mark as He wrote to a Gentile (Romans) audience.
In these episode- Jesus is intentional that the Kingdom does not only belong to one Jewish region, but also to all region and now he ventures into the gentile world in Phoenicia in the towns of Tyre and Sidon, then later he heads to Ceasarea Philippi and North about 30 miles from Galilee- Outside the Jewish world. The cities of Tyre and Sidon were big port cities, flourishing with trade and were very wealthy, they were equally proud gentiles, and historically these were Canaanite cities. May be for this reason, he wanted to begin his ministry quietly.
He is accompanied by His disciples (Jewish), to this woman’s house. Jesus was also making a statement about the place of women in the Kingdom, contrary to the traditional view held of women. Notice how many women who encountered Jesus personally in the gospel of Mark.
Please note that these towns were strange to them. But the point here is this- this syrophoenecian woman readily solves Jesus riddle concerning children, food and dogs.
It is possible that Jesus reference to a dog, may have meant a house hold pet (a dog) or also the derogative term used to refer to Gentiles. But this Woman, saw beyond these boundaries and labels and believed in Jesus for her miracle. Her daughter was freed from the demon. The Kingdom had come to her with Power.
He then went into another area in Sidon into another Gentile space along the Sea of Galilee. There he performed another miracle of healing a deaf and mute man. He took him out privately and putting His hands on the man’s ears and spitting- he touched the man’s tongue and there was progressive and miraculous healing.
This amazed people and even though he asked them not to tell, they could not hold it. Jesus never wanted to be popular, but he wanted to be effective. But listen to the emphasis in Verse 37. The people were overwhelmed with amazement for he was doing everything well.
I want you to note here that they were filled with wonder. Nothing like this had happened before, this special consideration, this kind of inclusion and this healing was all part of the miracle. They were amazed.
We see another Miracle- Similar to the feeding in Jewish territory, now in Gentile territory Jesus equally has compassion and feeds about 4000 people with bread and fish. Seven baskets are left. Amazing!
He later restores another blind man.
When were you last amazed by God?
This is the 11th recording of Miracles by Jesus in this Gospel- Have you been amazed by this powerful God? What do you make of Jesus miracles this far?
First, I believe that God still does miracles today. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. If he did it then, he can and He will and He does even now. If we do not have the supernatural in Christianity- we have nothing but a religion. Christianity is a LIFE- a way of living God’s LIFE that is an outflow of this Kingdom power.
However, Jesus never intended for miracles to simply excite people with a Spectacle, But He used miracles to demonstrate the power of the Kingdom for anyone who believes. There are those who witnessed these miracles or signs and wonders, but left unchanged- It never went from their heads to their hearts.
A miracle starts as a physical manifestation of God or an act of God that we experience with our physical bodies- We are healed, touched, fed, saved from death, that leads our souls to feel, think, and wonder and ultimately leading us to believe deep down in our spirits.
Miracles were a sign that the Kingdom of God had come with power. Miracles are not just for us to receive, but for us to Perceive. (To see into) Sometimes they are personal because God is an excellent communicator sometimes they are public, but either way both are so that we perceive His Kingdom and ultimately worship Him.
Miracles ultimately should lead to repentance not just for Self –Preservation or to create a spectacle. Miracles lead us not just to stand amazed at the spectacle but to worship God in Awe.
But perhaps we do not recognize miracles or miss our WOW, because of a self-centered search for miracles and Miss the LIFE- Centered miracles. Some of God’s greatest miracles are not only in our healings or provisions. But daily displayed in our lives, yet so easily missed. How well have you appropriated this wonder working God? I’ll give you a few examples.
- Creation- Have you come to appreciate that you are part of an amazing artistry of God. Have you seen the beauty of a sunset, amazing display of the evening skies, the mountain and the valleys, the birds and creation- As that old song says- Oh lord my God when I in awesome wonder….If this has not gripped your heart, will another miracle do?
- How about His Ceaseless care- That His eyes are always over you, nothing that happens to you surprises him. He is constantly thinking and loving you, His mercies are new every morning, His love is steadfast. His care is not only when he acts to deliver you, but how He has been thinking about you even before He acts. We are often unable to worship God, because we think he has forgotten us, we are cast down with prolonged domestic difficulties- But have your difficulties lasted 430 years like the children in Israel- who worshipped God in Exodus 4, not because he had delivered them, but simply because He had heard their cries.
- How about His Salvation- Oh what a wonder. Have you not been arrested by the way in which he has moved, choosing you from among the multitudes around you and making you his own. You are divine choice, Eph 1. Or when we think of His grace, is it really amazing grace for you. Have you considered how unworthy you were before he chose you and saved you, Have you forgotten that He died to snatch you away from death. Not just a road accident, but from eternal condemnation. He saved you because He wanted to, because He was delighted to do it. So there is nothing for you to say, nothing for you to do, nothing but just to worship in awe.
- Has his Wisdom amazed you- How God chooses to act, whom or what he chooses to use- as Corinthians says- he chose the foolish things to shame the wise. He chose a way that looks like foolishness to those who are perishing. Even our best wisdom is like foolishness to him. Have you considered that what He does is Right and needs not our opinion or suggestion. No one can question him and that He questions everyone, He Accounts to no one and Everyone accounts to Him, Have you considered that no one counsels him, that theirs is nothing above him, He defines knowledge, knowledge does not define Him. He is proven right by everything.
- Has how He provides amaze you: Not just what He provides but how he does it. Like Abraham how he provided a lamb at the hour of need. Have you been amazed how he orchestrated your path to who you have in your house now as your wife or child? Like the servant sent by Abraham to look for a wife for Isaac in a distant country- Have you considered the journey of life your spouse or brother has gone through, Does that amaze you?
- Have you been amazed, Have you been amazed at the intimate Covenant that He has drawn you to- that you belong to Him, He belongs to you, that You are in Him and He is in you, that You are one with Him, that the God of the universe would at the same time dwell in me. He who is in you is greater than He who is in the world.
I could mention many more, but oh how we miss these grand miracles daily displayed around us. How then will another miracle change us? How much more does God need to do for us to believe Him? Which is why Eternal Condemnation is not just punishment, but rightful judgement for those who do not believe?
After He had come back from this Gentile world, The Pharisees came back and asked Jesus for a Sign, A miracle. Previously they had tried to reason out Jesus- they claimed Jesus miracles were done by luck, coincidence or evil power. They demanded for a sign from Heaven- that which only God could do- Jesus declined because not any more miracle would turn their hearts. They were set not to believe.
In verse 15- Jesus gives the disciples a strong warning and send the same warning to us- Watch out against the Yeast of the Pharisees and Herod- Watch out against such unbelief, such coldness to the work of God before you for not any more miracles will change your hearts.
Let it not surprise you that in these last days, The miraculous signs and wonders prophesied will happen and some I believe are happening- Earthquakes and Wars among others, yet the unbelieving will remain unchanged in their hearts. Blessed are you, If His works have pierced your heart.
In the same way today- We must watch out that we do not reason God but to believe Jesus as who He says He is. Miracles are not for God to prove Himself- He does not need to, but His sovereign choice to do what he does.
The Christian LIFE is one big Miracle. One Amazing wonder. We believe Christ is who He said He is. He is God’s LIFE available for every one of us. We walk in power to perceive God’s miracles when we believe that God is What and Who He says He is, We are who HE says we are, He will do what He says He will do, We can do what He says we can do, We have what He says we have, everything is what He says it is. This is what we believe.
Lastly- The disciples misunderstand Jesus questioning about the yeast of the Pharisees and think its about the bread they did not carry. But these words come to us as well
Don’t you know or understand even yet? Are your hearts too hard to take it in? You have eyes but cannot see, you have ears but cannot hear?… Don’t you understand yet?
He prompted them to think about the 2 feeding incidents. He brings some Mathematics- about the Numbers of people, bread and the left over baskets and compares them, But His conclusion is not Mathematical.
He had just redefined another dimension of the Kingdom? Anyone who believes, even the gentiles can perceive God’s Kingdom?
But for us today- Don’t you know or understand even yet? Are your hearts too hard to take it in? You have eyes but cannot see, you have ears but cannot hear? Don’t you understand yet? Have you not been Amazed?
Study Questions for LIFE Group?
- When was the last time you were amazed. Describe the feeling, and details if you can. Are there any decisions you made?
- Try and recount an Act of God in your LIFE recently, can you tell it with such detail? How has your life changed
- Which of these things about God amazes you most? Consider how these meditations would influence your worship
- Are there areas of repentance that God has showed you, Has the yeast of Pharisees hardened your heart to what God is doing?
- How much more do you need to Trust God? What are you trusting God for and how has God spoken to you about it? Is it a question of trusting more, or appreciating more?