"Seeing the Savior Sore"#88-49
Presented on The Lutheran Hour on August 8, 2021
By Rev. Dr. Dale A. Meyer, Guest Speaker
Copyright 2021 Lutheran Hour Ministries
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Text: Ephesians 4:26
Lord Jesus Christ, you are both the Son of God and the Son of Man. Give us your Holy Spirit as we now study Your Word. Teach us by Your example to use our energies and emotions to bring all people to know You. May we do that because You have brought us sinners to know and believe in Your forgiving love. Amen.
What makes you angry? Our television crew went on the street and asked, "What makes you angry?" Here are some of the answers. "What makes me angry? You really don't want to know." Another person said, "People that lie to me." Still another, "Rudeness, intolerance, racism; somebody cutting me off in traffic; people tossing their cigarettes out the window when you're driving down the road or just stopping and dumping their ashtrays. That really annoys me." Finally, this one, "I don't get mad at anything normally."
Let me disagree with that last opinion on the street. Call it mad. Call it irritated, frustrated, annoyed, vexed, whatever. You do get angry. There are many words that describe various expressions of anger. Anger is a natural human emotion. It shows itself in different ways. Sometimes we erupt like a volcano. Other times, we simmer like a boiling pot. Sometimes we lash out physically. Other times, we lash out with words. However we handle the feeling, we all express anger.
What makes us angry? One cause is when something I want or something you want is blocked. Going back to the people we interviewed on the street, another person said, "I get real frustrated and angry when I'm out of control, a situation where I don't have control." Authors Glen Taylor and Rod Wilson define anger this way. "Anger is an experience that occurs when a goal, value, or expectation that I have chosen has been blocked or when my sense of personal worth is threatened." As I said, everyone gets angry, everyone, including Jesus.
That's what today's message is about. The Bible teaches that Jesus Christ is true God and true Man. As true Man, Jesus showed anger. What made the Savior sore? Let's look at some Bible stories. The first story of the Savior sore is recorded three times in Matthew, Mark, and Luke. Here's how St. Mark tells it. Some people brought little children to Jesus to have Him hold them, but the disciples told the people not to do that. When Jesus saw this, He became irritated. He told them, "Don't stop the children from coming to see Me. Children like these are part of the kingdom of God." Irritated is a word from the anger family. What irritated Jesus? Remembering what Taylor and Wilson said, that we get angry when a goal is blocked, we see Jesus irritated because His goal was being blocked.
Jesus' goal is that all people come to Him. In John 12:32, He said, "I will draw all people toward Me." But here, His goal was being thwarted, and of all people, by His own disciples. Fast forward from biblical times to your daily routines. Have you ever thwarted the goal of young people coming to Jesus? Do you put your energies into bringing children and teens to know the goodness of Jesus, or are you only concerned about your own generation? Did you ever think that there might be less teen violence in our society if we older people did more to bring young people to Jesus, the Prince of peace? Psalm 145:4 lays out the goal: "One generation will praise Your deeds to the next."
Jesus got irritated when His disciples kept young people away from Him. Let's read another story where we see the divine Son of Man sore. Again, versions of this incident are found in Matthew, Mark, and Luke, but it's St. Mark who adds information about Jesus' emotions. Jesus went into a synagogue again. A man who had a paralyzed hand was there. The people were watching Jesus closely. They wanted to see whether He would heal the man on the day of worship so that they could accuse Him of doing something wrong. Jesus told the man with the paralyzed hand, "Stand in the center of the synagogue." Then He asked them, "Is it right to do good or to do evil on the day of worship? To give a person back his health or to let him die?" They were silent. Jesus was angry as He looked around at them. He was deeply hurt because their minds were closed.
Then He said to the man, "Hold out your hand." The man held it out, and his hand became normal again. The Pharisees left, and with Herod's followers they immediately plotted to kill Jesus. What made the Savior sore in this story? It's simple. It's not only young people whom Jesus wants brought to Him. God expects us to do good to everyone. It upsets Jesus when we don't. "This is what the Lord requires from you," says Micah 6:8, "to do what is right, to love mercy, and to live humbly with your God." Now, these religious people put on a good show, but in truth, they were not striving from their hearts to do what God expected of them. They probably didn't realize they were hypocrites, but they were doing exactly what the prophet Isaiah had decried centuries earlier. "These people worshiped Me with their mouths and honor Me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me and their worship of Me is based on rules made by humans," Isaiah 29:13.
It's significant that Jesus in Matthew 15:19, quoted that verse from Isaiah against the Pharisees. Again, we fast forward to a question you and I must ponder. Are you doing the good that God expects you to do? The answer to that question is a matter of values. How are your values shaped? On the one hand, the Bible opens our minds to what God would have us value: to do good, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with God. The power of God's Word puts those values into our hearts, making His expectations our sincere desire. On the other hand, human opinions have a way of closing minds.
Now, search your heart. Do you go to church and Sunday school and Bible class? Do you privately read the Bible? Do you listen to religious broadcasting programs like this Gospel program with your minds open, to be taught by God, to let His values become your values? Or do you take snippets from God's Word to fortify your own human opinions, using spirituality as a facade for your unchanged heart? The alternatives here are clear. If your values are shaped by God's Word, well and good. With His help you'll want and do what He expects of you.
However, if your values are shaped by your opinions, or the opinions of your family and friends, or whatever the media promotes, then you will not meet God's expectations. That wasn't good for the Pharisees long ago, and it's not good for you today. These Bible stories have taught us that Jesus did not get angry willy-nilly. You and I might do that, but Jesus got angry when religious people were using their energies and emotions to keep others away from Him, the Savior of sinners. In this way, Jesus is the model for how you and I should use the energy of our anger.
"Be angry without sinning," says Ephesians 4:26. There are two parts to this divine instruction. The first part acknowledges that we get angry. No problem there. You and I do that all the time. The second part of Ephesians 4:26 is the real instruction from God to which we need our minds opened: be angry without sinning. Here, we have trouble. You can be angry and use that energy in good, God-pleasing ways. That's what Jesus did. In His anger He did not sin. However, when you are angry and sin, you can hurt others and push them away from the Savior. Has someone ever been pushed away from Jesus because of the way you, a religious person, handled your anger? Let the truth be told. We have all sinned by the ways we have handled our anger at various times. Sometimes, our inappropriately expressed anger has pushed people away from knowing Jesus.
Yet, here is the good news. As great as Jesus' anger is when His disciples and religious people keep others away from Him, His love and forgiveness for you and me, sinners that we are, is even greater. The good news is to see your Savior; see the Savior sore, not sore at you because of your sins, but see the sores the Savior endured for you. Jesus' anger at the sin that keeps people from God led Him to win your forgiveness. See the sores in His hands: wounds inflicted as He was nailed to the cross to pay for your sins. See the sore in His side: a wound inflicted when He was dead, when He had said, "It is finished." The price has been paid once, and for all. See the sores in His feet: wounds that He showed to the disciples after His resurrection to assure them that He is the risen Savior of life.
Jesus is the model for how you and I should handle our anger. We should control the energies connected with our anger so that more people come to know Jesus. Before that, put your faith in Jesus as the Savior who brings you forgiveness for your sins—for all the times when you have not done the good God expects of us all.
One final incident where we see the Savior sore is the cleansing of the temple. Jesus went into the temple courtyard and began to throw out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the money-changers' tables and the chairs of those who sold pigeons. He would not let anyone carry anything across the temple courtyard. Then He taught them by saying, "Scripture says, 'My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations,' but you have turned it into a gathering place for thieves." I have not found any commentator who suggests that we should act the same way: using force to clean out the church. But there is one thing about which many commentators agree.
The temple was His house. The sacrifices in that temple foreshadowed His perfect sacrifice upon the cross. Jesus entered that building to dominate it as His own when He was only 12 years old. That earthly building pointed to His church, to all who have received His gift of forgiveness and believe He is their Savior. Ephesians 2:20-21 say that the Christian church is built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets with Christ Jesus Himself as the chief Cornerstone. In Him, the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord.
Jesus had the right to clear from the temple anyone and anything that did not serve His goal.
Let that be your goal. Clear from your heart the emotions that keep people from knowing the goodness of God. Test your thoughts by the Word of God to see if His values are yours, if His expectations are your desire. Whatever a person's nationality, whatever the race, whatever the color of skin, whatever the age, whatever the hygiene, whatever the level of education, whatever the part of town in which they live, whatever—the Savior wants them to be brought to know His goodness. The disciples who had used their energies to keep little children away from Jesus became missionaries to the whole world when they knew the power of His forgiveness and life. His Spirit transforms the energies of your anger so that you can work toward His goal of bringing the goodness of God to others. "My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations." Be angry without sinning. Amen.
Reflections for August 8, 2021
Title: Seeing the Savior Sore
Mike Zeigler: Today I'm getting to visit with Rev. Peter Kirby. He's a regional director for Lutheran Hour Ministries. Peter, you help direct the global outreach that Lutheran Hour Ministries does through our many sites around the world. One of those places is Mongolia. I've never been to Mongolia. I'm guessing a lot of people share that with me. So what's Mongolia like? Do you remember your first visit there? I've seen pictures of you on horseback riding through the Mongolian landscape. Tell us what it's like.
Peter Kirby: It was a very interesting country for me. I, when I was growing up would never believe that I'd end up being able to visit someplace like Mongolia. When I think about that, that's like the end of the earth. It's as far as you can get from where we are.
Mike Zeigler: Tell us about some of the people who work with Lutheran Hour Ministries there in Mongolia.
Peter Kirby: We started work in Mongolia in 2014. It was about the same time that the LCMS missionary was transitioning from another country to do some work in Mongolia. We asked if we could go alongside the LCMS, and they were preparing to do some church planting work there. We already had an evangelist working in Mongolia. So we asked if we could come alongside and help with media outreach and radio ministry. The beginning of our work was a vision to develop some radio programs that we could put on a Christian radio station there and do outreach. We hired a director, Carly, from back then, who's continued to serve with us until today. She has an assistant, Sully, that works alongside of her doing a lot of social media outreach now. Amazingly, Facebook is the number-one social media in Mongolia. Just about everybody uses it there. They actually have an arrangement with the government that allows people to access Facebook anywhere in the country without using data.
Mike Zeigler: Wow.
Peter Kirby: So they can have conversations over Facebook just as easily as you would texting or having a phone call.
Mike Zeigler: That's a great way to connect people.
Peter Kirby: Yeah, that's a great connection. So it's a good way for us to reach out and connect with a lot of people that way too and piggyback on all that success. So we've done a lot there with social media. And then we have four different radio stations around the country. They only have FM radio there, so they're fairly limited in terms of the distance from the tower that our radio signal goes out. But in each one of those communities where we have the radio broadcast we also have a correspondent working, who is kind of our person on the ground. So they distribute radio handsets to people and other technology. They gather news and information that we can put on the local broadcasts in those communities and also do follow up with the people who hear our broadcasts and respond to them. So that's become a way for us to connect locally then with those broadcasts.
Mike Zeigler: Now you mentioned the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. This is the church body of which we're a part. Another partner in that wider church body is the Lutheran Women's Missionary League. I was able to attend their national convention in Lexington, Kentucky, earlier this summer. I learned about a grant that they sponsored through their organization to help support our work in Mongolia. Tell us about that. What are we hoping to accomplish with that mission grant in Mongolia?
Peter Kirby: Yeah, we are so thankful to the ladies of the Lutheran Women's Missionary League for considering our grant and approving that for funding over these next couple of years. The goal for that was to expand our ministry among women and children in Mongolia. We have a really good ministry going on with those two groups of people. One of the ways that we've been working with the radio broadcast that we have there is to form listeners' groups. Those listener groups have become a place where you can invite a friend to come and join you and hear a little bit about it. Sometimes we may have respondents on Facebook or on other social media that are interested. So we'll invite them to come and join one of those listener groups in their area as well. So it's really become a good follow-up technique for us to connect with a lot of women in these communities and to help them to struggle with their life issues and to answer the questions that they have about life and about faith and how those two come together.
Mike Zeigler: Have you heard of a particular woman who's come forward and has responded to some of the work that we've done that sticks in your mind?
Peter Kirby: There was a lady named Tara who's about 38 years old, and she had graduated from secondary school in a small town outside of the capital. She lives with her husband and children. She has four children, and when our director first met her, she was very angry and violent and very lonely. She grew up in a family practicing another religion, but our correspondent in this community first met her while she was distributing radios there. The lady came to our listeners' meeting that month. And that meeting we gave out booklets and radios, and starting with that meeting she was always coming to the meetings after that and became one of the most active regular participants in those monthly women's meetings.
She's now a leader for other women, and she helps us every meeting and invited other women. One of her problems was that she found out that her husband had cheated on her and that he left her for another woman, and she became very angry about that. Our correspondent met with her and encouraged her, and they shared their own family history and testimony. The first time that we met her, they shared with her how to forgive her husband. The second time they met, they shared with her how to raise her kids, and the third time how to build up her family in the best possible way.
They also shared how to pray for her family and told her that there's nothing impossible with God. So she came to church once and was asking for prayer so that she may be able to find a job. With her husband going out, that was such a problem for her. She was able to get a new job in answer to that prayer just at the end of 2020. Now she's very stable and energetic, and she can see things from a very different perspective.
She has a very good friendship with her colleagues and has encouraged us and helped us as they're doing food distributions in that community to some of the poor there. They've become very close friends, this woman. We praise the Lord that in the end they did not divorce. She was able to reconcile with her husband, and they forgave each other and have seen a lot of positive changes in her family. That's an example, I think, of how one life has been changed through encounters with our staff, through these listener meetings and being able to be with like-minded other women in those communities that are struggling with many of the same issues in a lot of cases.
Mike Zeigler: Thank you for sharing that, Peter. It's like how we heard with Dr. Meyer's message today. This ancient message that Paul was talking about 2,000 years ago has power to change us. That we still experience anger, but in Christ we have a new perspective that we forgive others as God has forgiven us in Him. So praise the Lord for the work that is being done there in Mongolia and around the world.
Peter Kirby: Thank you for the opportunity to talk about it a little bit today and to share with the listeners what God is doing there in that faraway land of blue sky.
Mike Zeigler: Thanks for joining us.
Music Selections for this program:
"A Mighty Fortress" arranged by Chris Bergmann. Used by permission.
"Lord, Enthroned in Heavenly Splendor" From The Concordia Organist (© 2009 Concordia Publishing House)