Wait on the LORD: be of good courage,
and he shall strengthen thine heart;
wait, I say, on the LORD.
- Psalm 27:14
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What do you want me to do for you? 2/27/2013


May the grace, mercy and peace from God our Father and His Son our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ be multiplied to this day and forever, Amen.

This sermon will be preached today, Lord-willing, at the Mesa Apostolic Lutheran Church in Mesa, Arizona, where my wife and I were called to be the guests of this congregation and where I was asked to bring four messages during this weekend.

Today is the second Sunday Sunday in Lent, a time during which we customarily focus on the giving of Jesus Christ for the sins of the world through His suffering and death, as the One who gave His life for ours so that we might live abundantly and eternally. Today's text is found in the Gospel of Mark, the second Gospel in the New Testament and a text in which we encounter Jesus on His way to Jerusalem with his followers walking along with Him listening to those things that He is saying and watching those things that He is doing.

As we journey with Jesus toward the cross during this Lenten season, let us ask ourselves the question: How would we answer if Jesus during our walk would turn to us and ask us this question: What do you want me to do for you? or What do you want from me? How would I answer? How would you answer? As our text today involves Jesus' third prediction of his upcoming suffering, death and resurrection, and as we travel along with Jesus on the way to His suffering, death and resurrection, let us take an overview of His previous two announcements of his impending suffering, death and resurrection..


Jesus tells for the first time of his future death and resurrection

Mark 8:31 And he began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.
32 And he spake that saying openly. And Peter took him, and began to rebuke him.
33 But when he had turned about and looked on his disciples, he rebuked Peter, saying, Get thee behind me, Satan: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men.
34 And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
35 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel's, the same shall save it.
36 For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?
37 Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?




Jesus does not mention crucifixion, the means by which He would be die, when He speaks of His impending suffering, rejection, death and resurrection, and Peter rebukes Jesus for saying such a thing. Jesus the tells them that if they want to come after Him, they must deny/disown themselves, take up their cross and follow Him. This language would not be lost on the hearers, for in those days the Roman government used crucifixion to punish criminals as well as to warn by example those who were observing this type of punishment. In today's world it would perhaps be more appropriate if we spoke of the cross as if it was an electric chair in the sense that the primary message left in our mind would be of death. Jesus would in that sense tell us today: If you will come after me, disown yourself, take up your electric chair, follow me......

They would have got the message when Jesus spoke of their taking up of the cross, Jesus was telling them that in their following of Him, death was in the picture. . ........to save their life they will have to lose it,....and so on....


Jesus tells for the secondtime of his future death and resurrection

Mark 9:30 And they departed thence, and passed through Galilee; and he would not that any man should know it.
31 For he taught his disciples, and said unto them, The Son of man is delivered into the hands of men, and they shall kill him; and after that he is killed, he shall rise the third day.


32 But they understood not that saying, and were afraid to ask him.
33 And he came to Capernaum:(Capernaum to Jerusalem 85 miles)
and being in the house he asked them, What was it that ye disputed among yourselves by the way?
34 But they held their peace: for by the way they had disputed among themselves, who should be the greatest.
35 And he sat down, and called the twelve, and saith unto them, If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all.
36 And he took a child, and set him in the midst of them: and when he had taken him in his arms, he said unto them,
37 Whosoever shall receive one of such children in my name, receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me, receiveth not me, but him that sent me.



After the second announcement of his deliverance into the hands of men, of his death and resurrection, they still did not understand what He was talking about, and were afraid to ask Him. Coming to Capernaum, by themselves in the house with Jesus, they were asked a question by Jesus: What were you arguing about while we were walking along after I had told you again what was going to happen when we got to Jerusalem? They were quiet, for they knew that He knew that they had been arguing about who was the greatest. I want to be boss, I want the attention, I want to be on the highest seat...

Jesus sat down as this was a teaching moment for Him and a learning moment for them. Calling the twelve to gather around Him, He tells them that in their desire to be first, they must take the low seat of humility and to serve all. He then took a child, set him in the midst of them, and after taking the child in his arms, tells them that when they receive a child in His name, that they receive Him, and when they receive Him, they receive His Father who send Him. Again we need to understand that children were not valued in this society and for them to be told that when they receive a child they receive Him, it would mean they would have to change their way of thinking...


Jesus tells for the third time of his future death and resurrection

Mark 10: 32 And they were in the way going up to Jerusalem; and Jesus went before them: and they were amazed; and as they followed, they were afraid. And he took again the twelve, and began to tell them what things should happen unto him,
33 Saying, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be delivered unto the chief priests, and unto the scribes; and they shall condemn him to death, and shall deliver him to the Gentiles:
34 And they shall mock him, and shall scourge him, and shall spit upon him, and shall kill him: and the third day he shall rise again.

As they continue on the journey to Jerusalem, with Jesus leading the way, they were amazed and also afraid as they followed. He again took the twelve aside and told them what was going to happen at the end of the road. He was going to be delivered to the chief priests, unto the scribes and they shall be the means by which this death that He has been speaking about will come to pass, for they shall condemn Him to death and ahall deliver Him over to the pagans. Jesus tells them that the Son of man, Himself, will be mocked, scourged, spat upon and they shall kill Him,......and on the third day He shall arise again........

James and John's Request
35 And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, come unto him, saying, Master, we would that thou shouldest do for us whatsoever we shall desire.

James and John, referred to by Jesus as the sons of thunder, ( 3:17) having been in same crowd hearing and seeing those things which Jesus said and did, now approached Jesus with a request, asking Him to do that which they asked of Him.. Jesus responded...

36 And he said unto them, What would ye that I should do for you?

37 They said unto him, Grant unto us that we may sit, one on thy right hand, and the other on thy left hand, in thy glory.
38 But Jesus said unto them, Ye know not what ye ask: can ye drink of the cup that I drink of? and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?



Jesus responded to their question by telling them that they did not know what they were asking and He in question form challenged them to think through that which they were asking.....

39 And they said unto him, We can. And Jesus said unto them, Ye shall indeed drink of the cup that I drink of; and with the baptism that I am baptized withal shall ye be baptized:



They replied; "We can." Jesus then went onto say that they indeed will suffer as a result of their union with Him, even though they did not understand what He was saying, nevertheless in time they would.

40 But to sit on my right hand and on my left hand is not mine to give; but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared.
41 And when the ten heard it, they began to be much displeased with James and John.


He then directly addressed their question by saying that it was not His to give, for that was the Father's business and He would divvy out those things as He saw fit. Wouldn't you know it, this little interchange provoked anger at James and John for their request of Jesus. So, again, there was need of teaching...

42 But Jesus called them to him, and saith unto them, Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them. {are...: or, think good}
43 But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister:
44 And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all.
45 For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.


Jesus again called them to Himself, and again explained that in my kingdom, things are different that you are used to here in this world. In essence, He says: "The great one among you will indeed be your minister, or deacon, and whosever will be chief among you, will be the one who serves all. He then points to HImself as the example as one who came not to be ministered to, but to minister to others. He closes this discussion by reminding them that His life would be a ransom for many. As they continue walking, they come to Jericho (Jericho to Jerusalem 15 miles)

46 And they came to Jericho: and as he went out of Jericho with his disciples and a great number of people, blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, sat by the highway side begging.
47 And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out, and say, Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me.
48 And many charged him that he should hold his peace: but he cried the more a great deal, Thou Son of David, have mercy on me.
49 And Jesus stood still, and commanded him to be called. And they call the blind man, saying unto him, Be of good comfort, rise; he calleth thee.
50 And he, casting away his garment, rose, and came to Jesus.
51 And Jesus answered and said unto him, What wilt thou that I should do unto thee?

The blind man said unto him, Lord, that I might receive my sight.
52 And Jesus said unto him, Go thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole. And immediately he received his sight, and followed Jesus in the way.

Yet 15 miles from Jerusalem, thinking about what has been said concerning what will happen at Jerusalem, they come upon a blind man, whose way of life is to beg for daily bread. He hears that Jesus of Nazareth is passing, and he cries out, Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me. By referring to Jesus as the Son of David, we are told that he understood that this is the long awaited Messiah and by asking for mercy for his soul, we know that He is understanding who Jesus really is and why He has come.

As the blind man called out, many around him told him to be quiest, but he cried all the more the same words that he had cried earlier. At the second cry of the blind man, Jesus stood still....and commanded him to be called, at which those around him encouraged him by telling him to be of good comfort, to rise, for he calls you.

The blind man cast away his garment, rose and came to Jesus.... As he stood by Jesus, Jesus asked him the same question that He had asked James and John: "What do you want me to do for you?"

The blind man replied, "Lord, that I might receive my sight."

Mark 10:52 And Jesus said unto him, Go thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole. And immediately he received his sight, and followed Jesus in the way.

Wow, two questions and two completely different answers: James and John desired to have a place of prominence while the blind man asked that he might receive his sight. Let us think a bit about this which we have heard and seen while journeying with Jesus. And let us look at it from the place of the blind man and to do so, let us think out of the box and imagine that we are the blind man.

"I am blind and one day as I was sitting by the road like I usually do, I heard a large crowd of people approaching me. I asked what this was all about and was told the Jesus of Nazareth was passing by. At all other times I would have cried out for alms, for somebody to drop something in my cup, but something inside me welled up and I shouted out, "Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me." There were people who were walking in front of Jesus and they told me to be quiet, but that did not stop me, for my need of mercy overwhelmed my fear of what they might do to me. I cried even louder, "Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me."

Then it seemed like the crowd stopped moving, and even though I could not see anything, hope welled up in my heart that help was coming to me. Sure enough some came to me and told me to be comforted, they told me to get up on my feet, for this man Jesus is calling for me. I got up, cast away my garment, and came to the man they said was Jesus, who I somehow knew was the long awaited Messiah, the One who would be merciful to me in my blindness. As I stood there before Him, I heard Him ask me a question: "What do you want me to do for you?" He was asking me a question...This long awaited Messiah was asking me what I wanted him to do for me!!


I replied, "Lord, that I might receive my sight." I heard Jesus say, "Go your way, your faith has made you whole." Immediately I could see, and I then joined the crowd and followed Jesus as He journeyed toward Jerusalem. I was not sure where the crowd was going and why they were following Him, but I was going to follow Him wherever He went.And I followed Him, praising God as I went and all the people seeing that I could now see, gave praise unto God "


Two questions were asked by Jesus in our text today, and a third is being asked of you and me by Jesus now as He passes by in His Word.

Jesus asks us: What do you want me to do for you today?

We know the end of the story, for we have heard and read of that which Jesus went on to accomplish on the cross and of how He arose from the dead on Easter morning and therefore He lives. He has cried forgiveness from the cross for all, He agonized and suffered as His Father's face was turned away from Him, but in the end He has shouted across the ages these merciful words; "It is finished!" and then He died so that we might live. One of the thieves on the cross was given the grace to cry out for His mercy......


Luke 23:39 And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us.
40 But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation?
41 And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss.
42 And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.
43 And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.



He passes by today, awaiting our calls for mercy so that we might truly see things as they really are. That we might see that we are blind when we are in our sins, that He who paid our sin debt is merciful to all who cry out to Him and that through placing our faith in Him, we have eternal life through the forgiveness of our sin. And having eternal life, we are able to recognize that in dying to self we began to live a life that will never end.

The doors of His grace and His mercy are wide open, awaiting our cry to Him today. Let us draw near to Him in our time of need, being assured that His grace is sufficient for us. And receiving this mercy either for the first time or receiving it anew, we will then see as He sees...

May we thank and praise Him for His mercy, now and forevermore, Amen.

Pastor Orval Wirkkala

Our closing Hymn is " Are ye able", written by Earl Marlatt who was a professor of religion at Boston University when he wrote the words to “Are Ye Able” for a consecration service. The hymn was originally titled “Challenge.”


1. "Are ye able," said the Master,
"To be crucified with Me?"
"Yea," the sturdy dreamers answered,
"To the death we follow Thee."

Chorus

"Lord, we are able" our spirits are Thine;
Remold them make us like Thee, divine.
Thy guiding radiance above us shall be
A beacon to God, to love and loyalty.


2. "Are ye able" to remember,
When a thief lifts up his eyes,
That his pardoned soul is worthy
Of a place in paradise?

Chorus

"Lord, we are able" our spirits are Thine;
Remold them make us like Thee, divine.
Thy guiding radiance above us shall be
A beacon to God, to love and loyalty.


3. "Are ye able?" said the Master
Whispers down eternity,
And heroic spirits answer,
Now as then in Galilee:

Chorus:

"Lord, we are able" our spirits are Thine;
Remold them make us like Thee, divine.
Thy guiding radiance above us shall be
A beacon to God, to love and loyalty.
Posted on 24 Feb 2013 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala
Love is the Greatest Gift
Sermon: February 17, 2013

Front Cover: ESV 1 Corinthians 13:13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.


Call to Worship: Dear Lord, please teach us of your love which you demonstrated by giving your Son for us.

Announcements
Opening Hymn: Oh, How He Loves You and Me
Praise Song: I Will Sing
Reading: Psalm 91
Praise Song: His Name is Wonderful
Praise Song: God So Loved The World
Scripture Reading/Prayer/Lord's Prayer/Offertory Prayer: Luke 4:1-11
Offertory Hymn #271 Love Lifted Me
Sermon Text: 1 Corinthians 13
Sermon Title: Love is the Greatest Gift
Benediction
Closing Hymn: #343 Love Divine, So Great and Wondrous


Dear congregation,

May the love of God, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you always. Amen.

This is the first Sunday of Lent, a time when our focus is on the greatest expression of love ever given, in that God demonstrated His love for humanity by sending His Son to be the ransom for the sins of the world so that whosoever would believe in Him would receive the forgiveness of sins. During this time of the year we are invited to focus particularly on the passion/suffering of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying that through a deepening understanding and knowledge of this gift of God's love, we would be drawn closer to our Lord and Saviour in the oneness and intimacy that He desires to live in with us. For one is not able to understand or receive the love of God independent of understanding the purpose and the meaning of the death of Jesus on the cross.

At the end of last Sunday's text from chapter 12, there words were written: 1 Corinthians 12:31 But earnestly desire the higher gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way.

In chapter 13 the meaning of this last sentence in chapter 12 will be explained by the writer of this letter, Apostle Paul who wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. In this chapter he speaks of the importance of love being the preeminent characteristic that must govern all other gifts that have been given to believers in Christ.

In the last verse of chapter twelve, we find these words written: 12:31 "But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way," words which summarize the 12th chapter as well as to continue the teaching the Paul is giving to the Corinthian church which is marked by division and dissension within the congregation. He tells them to seek the best gifts, i.e useful and beneficial gifts, the list of which he has described in the chapter he is concluding. He then introduces the next chapter by writing that "I show you a more excellent way."

KJV 1 Corinthians 13:1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.
3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.


Previously in 8:1b we read these words, , "Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth." It was a different question that he was applying this to, but neverthless that short statement that can be applied to many different situations. At the beginnning of this 13th chapter Paul is now pointing to love as the greatest gift of all, which without, all all other gifts, natural and supernatural are nothing.

That should get our attention, since who wants to be found in the place of speaking without edifying anyone, who wants to be found in the place of having the ability to prophecy, to understand all mysteries, to have all knowledge, to have all faith that removes mountains, and yet be found as nothing. Or who wants to come to the place where one has given all goods and possessions away to feed the world's poor and even give one's body to be burned, and still be found as having gained nothing?? Wow!!!

What is going on here? Was it not enough that we heard from Paul in the previous chapter that all gifts are of the Spirit, are given by God, are for the mutual edification of the body and that these gifts are distributed by Christ as He sees fit? That was the overall teaching, but now he found it necessary to expand on that which by the Holy Spirit abides in us (love) and which He desires that we would be reminded is the greatest gift of the Spirit.

Hearing these first three verses cause one to ask: What is this love that he is talking about? How is defined? We do not have to wonder, for Paul by the leading of the Holy Spirit, is going to describe 15 characteristics of this love that he is referring to.

This is love in its perfection, in its ideal, it is the love of God that is in Christ Jesus. If one reads verses 4-8a and places the name of Jesus in the place of love, one will be starting in the right place in our understanding of love. He is love and these 15 characteristics of love put some practical meaning to us as we see love in action.
That is our starting place...Let us use the ESV in so doing....


Jesus

4 Jesus is patient and kind; Jesus does not envy or boast; Jesus is not arrogant
5 or rude. Jesus does not insist on its own way; Jesus is not irritable or resentful;(keeps no record of wrongs)
6 Jesus does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but Jesus rejoices with the truth.
7 Jesus bears all things, Jesus believes all things, Jesus hopes all things, Jesus endures all things.


We read through it again, this time putting our name in the place of love.

4 I am patient and kind; I do not envy or boast; I am not arrogant
5 or rude. I do not insist on its own way; I am not irritable or resentful; (keeps no record of wrongs)
6 I do not rejoice at wrongdoing, I rejoice with the truth.
7 I bear all things, I believe all things, I hope all things, I endure all things.



A third time we read through it, this time putting "our congregation" in the place of love.

4 Our congregation is patient and kind; our congregation does not envy or boast; our congregation is not arrogant
5 or rude. Our congregation does not insist on its own way; Our congregation is not irritable or resentful;(keeps no record of wrongs)
6 Our congregation does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.
7 Our congregation bears all things, Our congregation believes all things, Our congregation hopes all things, Our congregation endures all things.


Why read through it that way?

This is why... Paul wrote to the congregation at Corinth in straight forward language because they were caught up in attitudes of self importance because of their fleshly (3:4) state which was due to their immaturity in their understandings of God and His ways. We refer to it as Law and Gospel, which means that in order to be built up one first must be broke down. What does this mean? Let us talk about it by bringing in what Paul write in this place:

2 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,
17 that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work

God has given His Word of truth, He brings us to an encounter with His Word so that we would be taught, and since we are prone to "do our own thing," we need to be rebuked of our sin, we are given direction as to which way to go, and in order for us to grow in the knowledge of God, we are to be continually in a place of being "trained in righteousness" so that we could be fitted and furnished to be that who He made us to be.

Have we gone to a counselor? If so, we have seen that the counselor will listen to our story in order to find out "who we are in our thoughts, attitudes and actions," will then point us to what is true and godly according to the Scriptures, and then will work to bring us to grow in our understanding and knowledge of what is the will of God in the area that we are lacking. This will require honesty before His Word, it will require admitting that God is right and we are wrong, it will require repentance and a change of direction and so on.

Simply put, whether in preaching or counseling, the same principles govern: This is what God wants for us, this is where we are in our life now, and in order to move toward what He wants, we must honestly and truthfully come to see the true state of our condition. In my experience, it is not the lack of competent counseling that people are not able to get help, but rather it is the inability of one to see that they are in need of change for the better in their life. If we are not able to see that we need help, we will not reach for the help.

Jesus sets love before us by His coming into the world and by action demonstrating that He is love; as I slowly read through the "list" allowing the Holy Spirit to minister grace and truth to my heart, I find myself lacking in all these areas of love, which causes humility and repentance, and as I read through the third time with my brothers and sisters in Christ in mind also, I am caused to pray these characteristics of love into our hearts and minds so that together we would grow together in love.

God desires that we live in love: I find myself convicted of my lack of love, but grace and knowledge are given to me through this Word of teaching, of rebuke, of correction and of ongoing instruction, which by God's grace I am given a heart of repentance in humility before Him, and therefore I seek to work towards being unifying member of the larger body of believers into which it is my privilege to be a part of.


8 Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.
9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.
10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. {doaway: Gr. vanish away}
11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. {darkly: Gr. in a riddle}
13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.

He closes this chapter by pointing out that spiritual gifts are not for eternity, for only love abides forever. When eternity comes, the temporary will pass away. He points to the importance of growth in our Christian lives, (remember 3:1-4) and that as we grow in maturity of the things of God, things that we believed and lived in will fall away from our lives already here in time.

There is a day coming when we will see him face to face, and we will then be able to know in fulness how loved we were by Him through Christ Jesus. We believe in Him, we trust Him and hope keeps us going, but when we see Him face to face, love alone will remain.........

We are one in Him and as we come to His table today, we receive His gift of forgiveness as He ministers His body and blood to us in the Sacrament of Holy Communion. As we approach His table of grace, may our hearts be warmed towards Him and towards those who we love and enjoy being with in His love. May we remember that:

4 He is patient and kind; He does not envy or boast; He is not arrogant
5 or rude. He does not insist on its own way; He is not irritable or resentful;(keeps no record of wrongs)
6 He does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but He rejoices with the truth.
7 He bears all things,He believes all things, He hopes all things, He endures all things and He, being love, is eternal.

May His rich and abundant grace be upon us today as bask in His love....

Pastor Orval Wirkkala

Posted on 17 Feb 2013 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala

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What do you want me to do for you? 2/27/2013
- Posted by Pastor Orval Wirkkala


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