God’s Great Love Exposed

Some people brought to Jesus a man who was deaf and could hardly talk, and they begged him to place his hand on the man. After he took him aside, away from the crowd, Jesus put his fingers into the man’s ears. Then he spit and touched the man’s tongue. He looked up to heaven and with a deep sigh said to him, “Ephphatha!” (which means, “Be opened!”). At this, the man’s ears were opened, his tongue was loosened and he began to speak plainly. – Mark 7:32-35

Email. Cell phone. Skype. We have many ways to communicate. How isolated we feel if the power’s out, the server’s down, or the cell tower is out of range.

Did this man they brought to Jesus feel cut off? How could he communicate? He couldn’t hear. He could barely talk.

None of this deterred Jesus. He broke through the communication barrier. He took the man away from the crowd. He wanted no distractions drowning out his message. He put his fingers into the man’s ears to communicate: I’m going to open your ears to hear. He spit and touched the man’s tongue to indicate: I’m going to enable your tongue to speak. Jesus conveyed his great concern and then accomplished what he had promised.

Jesus breaks through our communication barrier. The natural heart is deaf to God’s message. The inclination that you and I can help make things right with God blocks up the heart. With the attitude that God doesn’t care or isn’t fair with us, we turn deaf ears to him. But just as he did for that deaf man, Jesus does for you and me. He opens our ears and loosens our tongues.

How does he communicate? Jesus, our God, came in the flesh, born as a lowly baby. See how much he cares for us! And he is much more than fair—he suffered the death for sin that we deserved, and rose from the grave to proclaim victory over death and hell.
He has had all this written down for us. The Bible exposes our great need for a Savior and reveals God’s great love, which freely gives eternal life through Jesus alone. Jesus even touches us with water and the power of his word in Baptism, as he washes away our sins. What Good News he communicates, Good News for our ears to hear and our tongues to tell!

He Stills the Storms

“Master, Master, we’re going to drown!” Jesus got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm. – Luke 8:24

I’ve been there and so have you: knee-deep in a sea of trouble. Not the kind of trouble like the car breaking down. No, I mean the kind of trouble that immediately forms a pit in your stomach and presses you down with guilt and shame. You get caught. You hurt feelings. You lost a friend. You lose a spouse. These aren’t the kinds of trouble that just go away. These are the things that keep you up at night. Our bodies may be weary from a stress-filled day, but our brains are all too eager to catalog the day’s mistakes. These are what might be called the storms of life.

The disciples faced a real storm one day out on the Sea of Galilee. They didn’t know what to do. They didn’t know how they were going to survive. They were knee-deep in a sea of trouble, and getting deeper. “Master, Master, we’re going to drown.” Now, Jesus could have ignored them. Chances are they would have made it through. But Jesus never ignores the ones he loves.

And that is so true for us. The storms of life come. The waves of guilt wash over us, and we feel like we’re going to drown. But the Lord comes to our aid. “Be still!” He calms our fears. “Be still!” He takes away our guilt. “Be still!” And the storm subsides.

The greatest storm we face is the storm of sin. But even that terrible squall is no match for the rebuke of Jesus. With one act, Jesus did away with sin and guilt forever. He died on a cross, and his death paid the price for our sins. By his death, Jesus rebuked the storm of sin, and it went away.

Knee-deep in trouble? I’ve been there; so have you. But Jesus rescued us. His miracle of calming the storm reminds us of how he calms our greatest storms. It’s something to celebrate. It’s something worth finding out more about.

He Calms Our Fears

When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!”… Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will catch men.” So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him (Luke 5:8,10,11).

Simon Peter and his friends were fishermen when they first knew Jesus. After a long night of catching nothing, they were ready to call it quits. But Jesus told them to put out their nets in the deep water. It was now the hottest and brightest part of the day. A catch of fish seemed even less likely at this point.

The miraculous catch Jesus gave them ripped their nets and caused their boats to sink! Immediately, Peter realized that this wasn’t just another teacher, but the Son of God. When Peter saw God’s power that day, he was filled with fear. More than ever, he felt the big difference between God and himself. He was a sinner and God was not. He was entirely at God’s mercy.

Maybe it was a huge thunderstorm or the power of crashing waves that first made you realize how big God is and how small you are. When we see the awesome wonders of God in this world, sometimes we feel the same way Peter did. Sometimes we conclude that we need to distance ourselves from God because of our sin. He is perfect and we are not. The Bible tells us that God has every right to punish us for all of eternity because of our sin. All of this strikes fear in our hearts. Jesus’ powerful miracles had this same effect on people. But at the same time, his miracles draw our attention to an important fact about our powerful God: he is here to save us. Jesus calms our fears.

Jesus told Peter, “Do not be afraid…” As God’s Son, he wasn’t there to harm Peter. He was there to save him, and that is just what he did when he died on the cross and rose again. Jesus’ words calm our fears as sinners before a holy God. Now, we don’t need to cry, “Away from me, Lord, for I am a sinner!” Instead, in the peace of his forgiveness, we can take the time to set down the nets of our daily work and follow him to something greater in his Word.

The Ultimate Miracle

“Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said” (Matthew 28:5,6).

Alfred Hitchcock once wrote a story about a woman who murdered her husband and was sentenced to life in prison. She was determined to escape.

As her prison bus approached the penitentiary, she saw an elderly prison groundskeeper filling up a grave in a cemetery outside the prison walls. Immediately, she plotted her escape.

Once inside, she befriended the groundskeeper. He was going blind and needed eye surgery. “I’ll give you the money for your surgery if you’ll help me escape,” she said. He agreed.

This was the plan. The next time she heard the death bell toll, she would sneak down to the workroom where the casket was prepared. She would slide inside with the body and pull the cover closed. The groundskeeper would wheel the casket out to the cemetery, lower it into the grave and cover it with dirt. But that night, when nobody was watching, he’d return and dig up the casket and set her free.

One night the death bell tolled. The plan was executed. The woman waited for the man to dig up the grave as planned. However, several hours passed, and no one showed up to rescue her.

In complete panic, she reached into her pocket for a match. Once lit, she glanced at the corpse beside her and saw that it was the old man himself.

Her only hope lay buried right next to her! This woman had placed her hope in another human being who she thought would be able to save her. But he went to his grave and ended up taking her with him.

Friends, every religious leader in history is in his grave right now except one, and that’s Jesus Christ. His tomb is empty. He is not there because he lives! Since Jesus is God, he has the power to overcome the grave.

That’s why Jesus’ resurrection is the ultimate miracle. You can place all your trust in him to rescue you from death. His death paid for your sins, and his resurrection guarantees that you will live with him forever!

He Has the Power to Heal

“Lord, don’t trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. That is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you. But say the word, and my servant will be healed” (Luke 7:6,7).

It was an unlikely scene. A man of rank, a Roman centurion—a captain of 100 soldiers—sends an urgent message for help to a lowly Jewish rabbi named Jesus. The captain’s valued servant was on his deathbed. The physicians had exhausted their remedies. Time was running out. Jesus was his only hope.

This wasn’t a last-ditch cry of desperation, though. It was a prayer of trust. The centurion had heard about—maybe even witnessed—some of Jesus’ miracles. He was convinced that Jesus had the power to do anything. The Lord only needed to say the word, and the centurion’s servant would be healed. And that’s just what Jesus did.

Jesus still has the power to do anything. He cares about what we’re going through. He’s the only one who can really help. But like the centurion, we must admit that we are not worthy of his attention. God is holy. We are not holy. We fail him. We fail others. Why should he bother?

Every miracle showed God’s good intentions toward the unworthy. Each one was saying, “God loves you!” By delivering people from impossible problems, Jesus proved his power over the far greater problems of death and hell. Jesus exchanged his life for ours and paid the horrific penalty for every sin when he died on the cross. “God made Jesus who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21). Through Jesus, God declares us “not guilty.”

What are you facing today? Whatever it is, you matter deeply to Jesus. He has both the power and the desire to help. He has the wisdom and love to give us exactly what we need. He needs only to say the word.

With his Word Jesus also works the greatest miracle of all. He gives us the faith to trust in him. He makes us sure of his forgiveness. He gives us the confidence to trust him for everything.

He Turns Water into Wine

This, the first of his miraculous signs, Jesus performed in Cana of Galilee. He thus revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him (John 2:11).

A wedding is a day of celebration not only for the bride and groom, but also for friends and relatives who are happy for the couple. Preparing to get married can make for some anxious moments. But preparing to just attend a wedding can also cause a little angst as we hunt for the perfect wedding gift, a gift that will be unique, but useful for the newlyweds.

Jesus once attended a wedding with some of his disciples and his mother, Mary. A wedding celebration today will last six or seven hours. In Jesus’ day it lasted six or seven days. It’s easy to see how this celebration could have run out of wine. That would have been a major embarrassment for the couple. But Mary trusted that her son could provide the perfect gift. At first, Jesus’ response might seem startling: “Dear woman, why do you involve me? … My time has not yet come” (John 2:4). Jesus didn’t say he couldn’t deliver a miracle. But he wanted Mary to realize that while he was her son, he was also her Savior who had now begun his public ministry. He would not jump the gun on the work predetermined by his heavenly Father. Mary heard the words “not yet” in her son’s reply and told the servants to follow his orders.

Jesus told the servants to fill six large stone jars with water. Then he ordered them to take a sample to the wedding’s wine taster, who took a sip and tasted wine instead of water! He even mentioned his surprise that the better wine had been saved for the end of the banquet. Jesus saw the need and filled it—abundantly. He provided the perfect gift by his almighty power.

The apostle John calls this the first of many miraculous “signs” that Jesus performed during his ministry. Signs point the way to something, like to the Interstate, the nearest gas station, or a rest area. Jesus’ miracles recorded in the Bible point to him as the way to heaven. He’s more than a great man. He is God’s Son who supplied the perfect life that God demands from us. His death on the cross delivered the perfect gift—forgiveness for our sins and by faith a reserved place at the eternal wedding supper of heaven. His powerful resurrection—the greatest miracle—proves his words and work to be true.

We can depend on Jesus to provide everything that we need for this life and the next. We welcome you to gather with us on Sundays to learn how Jesus uses his power “to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine” (Ephesians 3:20).

He Helps the Paralyzed

“That you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins. …” He said to the paralyzed man, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” Immediately he stood up in front of them, took what he had been lying on and went home praising God (Luke 5:24-26).

The house was at capacity. Standing room only. Those not able to squeeze in strained to catch a glimpse through the doorway. They were there to see Jesus who was teaching a crowd. But one man in particular could not get into the house. He could not peer over heads. He could not even stand. He was paralyzed.

Yet he and his four friends were determined to see Jesus. So his friends clambered up to the roof. They removed the tiles and then the thatching, enough to fit their friend through. Using the mat upon which he was lying, they lowered him down. Right at the feet of Jesus.

Some might call them crazy. Others might say they were obsessed. Jesus called it faith. The paralyzed man and his friends were confident that Jesus was able to make him whole. And Jesus did with five small words: “Friend, your sins are forgiven.”

It’s not what many in the crowd expected to hear. It may not be the answer you want to hear when paralyzed with problems. We want real answers for our real problems. We want a cure for cancer. We want an end to family fights. We want money to cover our debts.

What about the problem of death? Death is the debt that we all must pay. But death is only the beginning. God’s judgment upon sin lasts forever. In hell. That’s what we deserve for thinking we have better answers than God does for life’s problems.

God’s answer? Jesus. God loves you so much he transferred your debt to his Son. On the cross, Jesus suffered for your sin. For you he endured hell’s eternal fire. For you he died. And for you he rose to life victorious. His victory is your victory!

The paralyzed man’s most critical problem was sin. So Jesus forgave him. Then, to prove to us that he is the perfect Son of God and the world’s perfect Savior with the perfect answer to all our troubles, Jesus restored the man’s legs. The man got up and walked home, praising God.

Have you been brought low? Troubled by sin? We welcome you to learn about and praise the miraculous Savior you have in Jesus. He has forgiven your sins. He has the power and desire to get you back on your feet. Whatever your woes, Jesus is the answer every time!