This sermon is number 37 in a series of 57
Studies in Mark - Part 37
"The Signs Of The Servant"
by David Legge | Copyright © 2008 | All Rights Reserved | www.preachtheword.com
Mark chapter 7, beginning to read at verse 31, and we have reached this point now in Mark's gospel, and we take up verse 31 to the end of chapter: "And again, departing from the coasts of Tyre and Sidon, he", that is, our Lord Jesus Christ, "came unto the sea of Galilee, through the midst of the coasts of Decapolis. And they bring unto him one that was deaf, and had an impediment in his speech; and they beseech him to put his hand upon him. And he took him aside from the multitude, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spit, and touched his tongue; And looking up to heaven, he sighed, and saith unto him, Ephphatha, that is, Be opened. And straightway his ears were opened, and the string of his tongue was loosed, and he spake plain. And he charged them that they should tell no man: but the more he charged them, so much the more a great deal they published it; And were beyond measure astonished, saying, He hath done all things well: he maketh both the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak". Amen, and we end our reading there at the end of chapter 7.
We're going to look at chapter 7, these last verses, 31 to 37, under the title 'The Signs Of The Servant'. We know this is the gospel of the Servant, and a lot of my titles in this gospel have been a bit ambiguous - they could have had several meanings, and each of the meanings would have been correct. You will see, hopefully, as we pass through this morning's study, that it's the same with this one: 'The Signs Of The Servant'. They are the signs of how the Lord Jesus operated in this particular miracle. They are the signs of how people knew He was indeed the Servant of the Lord, the Messiah - but they are also signs to identify us as we serve the Lord in this present age. So I want you to see all those particular aspects to it.
Now, if I was to ask you the question: which is worse, deafness or blindness? What would your answer be? What would your answer be? Blindness, some say blindness, any for deafness? A few - well, most people do say blindness. The idea of losing your hearing doesn't seem to be nearly as debilitating as losing your sight. However medical authorities, and deaf people themselves communicate that it is far worse to be deaf. Listen to one quotation: 'Terrible as blindness is, the blind do not suffer the social pain and stigma experienced by the deaf: gawking, impatient stares of those who are not aware of one's condition. There is also the humiliation of being thought stupid because one cannot understand or speak'. Now I know some may disagree with that, but many would concur with the fact that deafness is at times worse than blindness.
But here is a man in Mark 7 who was deaf and dumb, he couldn't hear, he couldn't speak. So this poor man couldn't ask any questions - imagine it. Let alone asking questions, he couldn't hear any answers or explanations to a question. Undoubtedly, he probably could not read because of his debilitating disability of lack of speech and hearing. So in a spiritual sense as well, this man couldn't read the Scriptures, he couldn't understand, perhaps, or grasp the truths that we are so privileged to learn ourselves. Now I'm sure that in the society the Lord Jesus lived in, many would have seen this as more than just a physical disability of the senses, they would have seen this man as demon possessed - that the devil somehow had afflicted him for some reason, whether it was his parent's sins or his own sins. However we describe this man, or understand him, one thing is absolutely certain: he had a miserable, hopeless existence in this society.
Now I don't think it is jumping into conjecture to see that what we are given here by the Holy Spirit of God is a very graphic picture of what a sinner is. We know that the miracles often are parables in action. When you think about it: sinners are just like this man, cut off. The Bible tells us that sinners are dead in their trespasses and in their transgressions. We are cut off from God, we are cut off also in the sense that we cannot communicate with the Lord the way we were created to do. Psalm 66 tells us that if we regard iniquity in our hearts, the Lord will not hear us. So we cannot communicate to the Lord the way we ought to. Now I'm not saying that God doesn't ever hear the prayers of an unsaved person, or a person who has sin in their life - I believe He does at times - but there's no guarantee or no promise that God should hear our prayers, and in fact the majority of occasions I think that He doesn't. The heavens are as brass to us. We are cut off from God, and that involves communication, it also involves connection - we cannot connect to God, and we cannot connect to God's people. Isaiah 59 tells us: 'Your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear'.
Now here we see this man, deaf and dumb, and what an illustration of what it is to be a sinner: cut off from the life of God, cut off from dialogue with God, cut off from any connection with God. A pitiful sight! But the message of this particular miracle is that there is good news, and the good news is the compassion of the Saviour who came to this man where he was and made him whole again. So we're going to see both of those things this morning, and we need to see them: we need to see sinners as they really are. If you're a sinner here this morning, you need to see yourself as you really are: cut off from the life of God, cut off from communication with God, cut off from connection with God and God's people. But we also need to see the wonderful compassionate Saviour who came to where this man was, and comes to where sinners are to meet their need.
Not only did the Saviour love this man, but others loved this man, others brought this man to the Lord Jesus Christ. Now we don't know how this happened: the venue where it took place was a place called Decapolis, which was geographically a place of ten cities. Now you may have heard of Decapolis before, we certainly met it before in this particular book. In chapter 5 we read that the demoniac went back to Decapolis to preach the great things the Lord had done for him, the Lord had had compassion on him. It may well be that the friends of this deaf and dumb man had heard about the miraculous deeds of the Lord Jesus toward the demoniac, with perhaps 6000 or more demons possessing him. Maybe they got a bit of encouragement and hope, enthusiasm that this miracle Man from Galilee could perhaps meet their friend's need.
So they had heard of the power of the Lord to change and transform lives, and this man's friend's brought him to Jesus. I wonder is there someone here this morning, and your friends, your loved ones are seeking to do the same. They know the power, the wonderful change in their life that has been wrought through Jesus coming into their heart, and they are wanting to bring you to Christ. Like these friends in verse 32, they are also praying for you to bring you to Christ. Now I know that this was direct dialogue with the Lord Jesus Christ - they besought Him to put His hand upon him, upon this man - but prayer is exactly the same thing today, that's what we're doing: we're coming to God through the Lord Jesus and asking Him to save people, transform their lives, revolutionise them, regenerate them through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Maybe that's what's happening to you - but certainly, believers in our meeting this morning, that's what we've got to be doing for our unbelieving friends: we have got to be seeking to bring them to the Lord Jesus; we have got to be beseeching, imploring the throne of grace that the Lord might reach out and touch them, and change and transform their lives. So this story has a twofold application: it applies to those in our meeting now who find themselves in a similar predicament to this deaf and dumb man, cut off from God, cut off from communication with God, connection with God and God's people. But it also applies to us as believers, that we need to touch people in the pagan world, and it tells us how we can touch them, how we can serve them, how we can win them for the Master.
So let's look at it, four headings: the first, we need to see the Servant's touch, verse 33. He took this man aside from the multitude, and put His fingers into his ears, and He spit, and touched his tongue. Now that's a strange and elaborate behaviour, isn't it? In fact, it's unique, you don't find the Lord Jesus doing anything like that in any of the other gospel records - but we shouldn't be surprised that it was strange and elaborate, because, as the hymn says, God moves in mysterious ways His wonders to perform. You see, the Lord Jesus has His own methods, and if we pray that the Lord should work in our lives and the lives of those whom we love - as his friends did in verse 32 - when we pray we've got to be open to the Lord answering prayer in His own way, in His way.
Now there's only one way to be saved, and that's the way of the cross, but there are many different paths or ways that leads to the one way that is the cross. God brings us often by all different and varied means to get to Calvary, and to bow in humility and admit our sin, and receive the Saviour. Is there someone here this morning and God is moving in a mysterious way in your life just now? It seems elaborate, unnecessary perhaps, pointless, a strange thing is happening to you. You're like this man who the Lord is operating on in a very strange manner. Well, don't question what God is doing in your life at present, don't fight against Him. What you need to do is do exactly what this man did: submit to Him, surrender to Him, and let Him have His way in your life.
Now, please note, as I've already said, you'll never find another account like this of how the Lord dealt with this deaf and dumb man. He deals with this man differently than anyone else, and only Mark records this incident. Now what does that tell us? It tells us that God deals with us individually. May I say, believers, that's the way we need to deal with unbelievers, people in a pagan world need to be dealt with by us individually. We need to use different tools for different problems, but the Lord does this in our own lives when He's working with us: He brings different circumstances to bear on different people in order to bring them close to Himself. Have you experienced the Servant of the Lord's touch on your life? Maybe for good or for bad: the Lord has brought blessing into your experience, has the goodness of God led you to repentance? It ought to. Maybe He has brought bad experiences into your life: well, have those things caused you to look up to God?
Do you recognize the Servant's touch in your experience? Now you might say: 'Well, how do I know if Christ is touching my life at present?', or, 'If we're trying to win people for the Lord, how do we know when the Lord is touching their lives?'. Well, here's two ways to note: the first is found in verse 33, the Lord Jesus 'took him aside from the multitude'. Now I think this is profound: the Lord separates people from the crowd when He begins to work in their lives. He separates them from the crowd. Now, in a literal sense, this man's lot in life was one of embarrassment - and perhaps the Lord didn't want to embarrass him any more, and so He separated him from the crowd. But there is a spiritual application here for us all, because when the Holy Spirit begins to work in our lives and moves in conviction of sin, He separates us from the crowd. What do I mean? The things we used to take pleasure in, the things of sin that would have given us a buzz in the past, no longer do it.
He begins to take us away from our love of sin, from the rest of the crowd, because He is preparing us to fall in love with the Lord Jesus. So maybe you find yourself in a position now: things of sin that you used to love, and appealed to you, no longer appeal. The things that you used to balk at and cringe at, are the things that you're being drawn towards, and your attraction is now magnetically being pulled to. Well, that is a sure sign that the Lord is beginning to touch you, if He's separating you from the crowd. You're beginning to feel different than the crowd, you're beginning to feel different than your friends, you're beginning to feel different than your nearest and dearest - God is making you different! God is doing it.
Now can I say, believers, that's what we need to pray for. It's alright jumping off the deep end and praying for people to be saved, but I think that's running ahead of ourselves at times. We need to first pray that the Holy Spirit will work in conviction. That's what the Lord Jesus promised in the gospel of John, that this One who would come after Him would convince the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgement to come. So we need to start seeing sinners as they are, we need to bring them to Jesus, we need to pray for the Lord to work in their lives - specifically by bringing conviction of sin to them, separating them from the crowd.
Here's a second sign of knowing if the Servant's touch is on your life: verse 33, the second part of it, the Lord Jesus, having brought him aside, put His fingers into his ears, and spat and touched his tongue. Now that is very strange! Here's the second point: not only does the Lord Jesus separate us from the crowd when He's working in our life, but He begins to communicate to us in a way that we understand. Did you get that? He starts to communicate in a way that we understand. Now why did the Lord thrust His fingers in this man's ears? Because that was the man's handicap, he was deaf, he couldn't hear anything the Lord was saying - so the Lord was letting him feel it and sense it. It was, literally, sign language. This was the sign of the Servant of the Lord to this man: 'I am going to make you hear', by putting His fingers in his ears.
Now why did He spit and touch his tongue? Well, He's telling the man what He can't do through dialogue: 'I am going to make you speak'. So the message was being communicated to this man by the Lord's touch in a way that this man could understand. Everybody else was aghast, their chin had dropped: 'What is this miracle Man doing now?'. They didn't understand, and maybe no one understands what's going on in your life - but you know God is communicating to you! This is what the Lord Jesus did in His life, He touched people in a way that they understood that no one else could appreciate. You remember the leper in chapter 1 and verse 41, you remember that they weren't allowed to touch lepers - it would make them unclean, the person that touched them would be unclean. Yet we see the Lord Jesus touching a leper and healing him, and the Greek word actually means 'embracing him', 'grabbing him', He took hold of him! A man who hadn't known the touch, perhaps, of his wife or his children! He had been banished from the community, from the society, and from the congregation of Israel - and now the Lord Jesus grabs hold of him! What a communication: 'I love you!'.
I wonder is the Lord grabbing hold of you? Believers, do you know that we need to communicate to unbelievers today in a way that they understand? The way that they understand - I'm not talking about puppet shows now, I'm not talking about dressing up as clowns, I'm not talking about bringing the world into the church, that's a fatal mistake - but this is the way people understand: it is through the touch of compassion, that's it. The touch of compassion! Amazing love! The Lord Jesus could have just willed for this man to be healed, the Lord Jesus could have spoken the word whether the man heard it or not, and he would have been healed right away - but He chose to touch the untouchable, He chose to love the unlovely, and He chose to do it in the full gaze of everyone in society, because He was saying to this man: 'I understand what you've gone through all your life, I know what it feels like to be you, and I want to make it right'. It's wonderful, isn't it? The Servant's touch.
Sinner, are you beginning to discern the Lord speaking to you, separating you from the crowd, communicating in a way that you really understand it is God? Maybe it's through your conscience; maybe it's through your circumstances; maybe it's through other Christians in your workplace, or in your family, among your friends or neighbours; maybe it's just through the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, through reading His word, through engaging His character and His claims - that's the Servant's touch on your life.
Observe a second sign of the Servant - not only His touch, but His look. Verse 34: 'Looking up to heaven, he sighed'. Now, why did the Lord Jesus look up to heaven? Remember, this man couldn't hear, and He was signing to the man where His help would come from - Psalm 121: 'I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth'. In Exodus 4 we read: 'Who hath made man's mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? have not I the LORD?'. The Lord Jesus was showing where the source of power for this miracle would come from. Is there an unsaved person in our gathering this morning: where are you looking for deliverance? Where are you looking for salvation? To whom are you looking to be saved? Some people are too proud to look to another man, to look outside of themselves; they're looking for the hero inside of themselves, or they're looking for some saint that will come out of themselves by following an ethic or some kind of religious code - but what we see clearly is that our help must come from the Lord, He must save us.
Even Bishop G. Bromley of Oxnam, who was the president of the World Council of Churches, on one occasion said: 'I would rather go to hell than go to heaven on the back of another man'. Well, to hell he will go, for the Lord Jesus said: 'Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God'. Some people are just too proud to accept salvation as a gift, they want to contribute something to it - but incidentally, believers, we also need to be clear in our heads where salvation will come from for people. It comes from heaven! Therefore that necessitates all the more that we go to heaven for the power, and we come in prayer - and I think we have underestimated, perhaps more than any society, perhaps because of all the means and education and technology we have, we have underestimated the need that there is for prayer in evangelism. If we don't pray, we might as well not bother, because our power comes from heaven, and people's salvation will come from heaven - and so we are meant to point them to heaven.
But you see, there is something else here: if we're going to win people like the Lord Jesus won this deaf and dumb man, we don't just need to touch them with the Servant's touch, we need to look at them with the Servant's look. I want to ask you believers here this morning: how do you look at unbelievers? How do you look at them? I, on occasions, have been with folk outside the church, and they see a drunk person, and they 'Tut, tut' and walk along the other side of the street. Is that the way you look at them? Or a person comes into the meeting, whether saved or unsaved, and they're wearing certain clothes - they are looked up and down, and 'Tut, tut'. Is that the way you look at them? I'm telling you: that's not going to win them to Christ. There's no way on this earth that will win them to Christ. It's a look of compassion that will win them to the Lord Jesus. How do we look at them? Do we frown at them? Do we disdain them? Do we express our indignation? There's a hymn that is so close to my heart, and it goes like this:
'I ask as I pass down the busy street,
Is it only a crowd I see?
Do I lift my eyes with a careless gaze,
That pierces no deep-down woe?
Have I naught to give to the teeming throng,
Of the wealth of the love I know?
Let me look at the crowd', the chorus says, 'as my Saviour did,
Till my eyes with tears grow dim,
Let me look and pity the wandering sheep,
And love them for love of Him'.
Is that how we look at them? It's not! You need to point to heaven, but there's no good pointing to heaven and not looking with a look of love. Are you coming with me? If we're going to have the signs of the Servant, we're going to have to see the unsaved as they are; we've got to bring them to the Lord Jesus; we've got to pray for the Lord to work in their lives by praying for conviction to separate them from the crowd, we've got to pray that they will be communicated to in a way that they understand and will respond to; we need to point them to heaven to show our power is from heaven, let them see that their salvation is from heaven - but we must look upon them with a look of love, because they can tell the difference! They can!
The Servant's touch, the Servant's look, thirdly: the Servant's sigh - verse 34: 'He looked to heaven and he sighed'. Now this was inaudible, in a sense, to the man, because he couldn't hear - but visually there was something being communicated. The sense of the word 'sigh' speaks of a heaving of Christ's breast. The Lord Jesus, as He breathed, His breast expanded - and as He exhaled to heaven, this man could see that the Lord was moved because of his pitiful condition. He was communicating in His sigh: 'Man, I care about you'. Does Jesus care? Oh yes He cares, I know He cares. Was He not called 'the Man of Sorrows'? Surely He was despised and rejected of men, acquainted with grief. Oh, the Lord Jesus cares for you, soul - no matter who doesn't care for you. Oh, the compassion that the Lord Jesus showed toward men. This man saw His sigh of compassion. Mary and Martha, at the grave of their brother Lazarus in John 11, that short verse, 'Jesus wept' - they saw His cry of compassion. The verse here in verse 33 speaks of a groaning in the spirit, a troubled groan, and it actually comes from an ancient Greek that describes - and I don't mean this irreverently, but it graphically communicates what we're seeing here, or should see - the snorting of a horse. It's as if there was an involuntary gasp, a trembling where the Lord Jesus just breaks down in a sigh because of this man's awful condition.
The sigh of compassion, the cry of compassion, and one day the whole world would see the Servant of the Lord die in compassion. 'Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted', all our sorrows laid upon Him, all our griefs laid upon Christ. Then again, on Golgotha's hill, on that Roman cross His chest would heave once more with breathless spurts as He hangs, nailed to the tree. You see, Christ's compassion didn't just bring this man to His feet, it brought, potentially, the whole world to His feet. Has it brought you to His feet yet? Have you come to Him yet? Do you not see His sigh over you? Do you not see Him cry over you? Do you not see Him die over the head of you?
Well, the same word, incidentally, is used in Romans chapter 8 and verse 26 - just listen: 'Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings', that's the word, 'groanings which cannot be uttered'. So it's speaking now that there is a sigh that we can experience in prayer, where we don't have the words with which to pray any longer, it's just our heart breaking and our soul being poured out to the Lord. Do we experience that in prayer? That's what's needed if we're going to see people touched, that's what's needed if we're going to see a pagan world transformed. This man was a Gentile in a Gentile region, cut off from God's people; and the Lord had to come in a different way, touch him, look upon him, sigh over him. In Galatians 4:19, Paul could say: 'My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you' - we're going to have to have birth pangs in the spiritual realm to see people born again! That'll take us away from the TV, it will take us away from the shops, it will take us away from our social gatherings at times, it will take us away from sleep, it will take us away from food - is it worth the hassle? That's what it's going to take.
The Lord sighed. So we're adding one thing to the list if we're going to have signs that we are servants of the Lord: we're going to need to travail in prayer. Now all these gestures were accommodating this man, remember the Lord was accommodating this man, He was coming down to his level, He was communicating compassion through sign language that he could understand. He took him aside, He looks at him in his inhibitions, his embarrassment, his shame and fear - but the greatest sign that ever communicated God's love was Calvary! Romans 5:8: 'God has demonstrated his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us' - now that is the ultimate sign, and we are to take it to the world. How are we to take it? With a tract? With a gospel message? With a banner? A sign on the back of a bus? Yes, all those things - but here's a way that we're not too familiar with: Paul says in Colossians, we rejoice in sufferings 'and fill up that which is behind', or lacking, 'of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body's sake, which is the church'.
Now let me explain that verse: it speaks of the death of Christ as lacking - you check it, that's what it says. Maybe the commentators will skip over it, but that's what it says: that the death of Christ was lacking. What was it lacking in? Well, it wasn't lacking in any efficacy of an atoning sacrifice for sin, no. It doesn't need to be added to where that's concerned. It's finished once for all, sufficient, but do you know what it means? It happened 2000 years ago, and Paul is saying that 'the suffering I'm experiencing in my flesh out of love and compassion for the lost, to win them to Jesus, is communicating the love of Christ in my body to them'. They can't press rewind, and go back in time and see what Jesus suffered on the cross, but they can see what I'm willing to suffer to bring them to Jesus! That's what he's saying.
Put it into one word, and it's the word 'sacrifice'. Now come with me, the signs of the servants: you need to see sinners - a lot of us don't even see them. You need to seek to bring them to Christ, are you bringing them? You need to pray for them that the Lord would move in their life, to bring conviction, to separate them from the crowd, to communicate to them in a way that they understand. We need to see that their source of help is from heaven. We need to look at them with a look of love. We need to travail in prayer that they may be born again - and we need to sacrifice time, money, tears, sleep!
The Servant's sigh, the Servant's look, the Servant's touch - four: the Servant's word, verse 34, the end of it, 'And he saith unto him, Ephphatha, that is, Be opened'. 'Ephphatha' is an Aramaic word, which means 'be opened', or 'released'. What we see here is the power of the word of God, the spoken word of God. Now this man, naturally of course, couldn't hear the word, and therefore he couldn't obey - but the power of Christ was in His word, and it was the power of Christ that supernaturally opened the man's ears and loosened his tongue, and creation heard the Creator's voice! 'Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free'.
Some of you may have known the touch of Christ in your life, His look, you've heard His sigh, you know He loves you, you know He died for you, you know He wants to save you. You know the truth, but your problem is: you haven't embraced it yet. Until you embrace it, you will never be set free. Saving power is in God's word. If you hear His voice, if you hear His voice personally to you, I urge you: embrace God's word to you, believe. 'Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God' - accept what God has said and put your all on it, and He will save you. Lydia heard the word of God, and God opened her heart and saved her. Can I say to you believers: that's what we need to give people, we need to give them the word of God. Yes, we need to communicate it in a way that they understand today. We need to, by all means, save some - and that's scriptural means of course, not unscriptural or sinful ones - but we've got to give them God's word, why? Because the power of God unto salvation is in the gospel, God's word, and I fear that we're all starting to doubt that! I really do! I think we're no longer seeing sinners the way they are. We're no longer seeing that they're lost, and they're on their way to hell for ever! We don't see that any more - but we need to see that the only answer is God's word, not thrown at them from 500 yards, not yelled through their open window by a speaker system, but we've got to get where these people are, into their lives. We've got to touch them, we've got to look upon them, we've got to love them, we've got to have compassion upon them, we've got to travail in birth pangs, sacrifice for them to give them the word.
Now friends, don't you think I'm standing up here above contradiction - I'm not doing this, I'm not doing it. None of us, I think, are doing it any longer. We need to start doing it if people are going to be won. How do I know that this man had faith? Well, I don't want to be crude, but would you let someone put their spittle on your tongue if you didn't believe in them, if you didn't trust them? This man was changed, you can be changed:
'Hear Him, ye deaf; His praise, ye dumb,
Your loosened tongues employ;
Ye blind, behold your Saviour come,
And leap, ye lame, for joy'.
Then the Lord told him: 'Don't tell anybody'. Now there's reasons for that: He was in a Gentile part of the world, and He wanted to minister first to the Jews, so He wanted to keep the avenue open to do that. There were other reasons: He didn't want to be flocked there and then with all sorts of people with different ailments. Remember He had gone to this vicinity to have a rest. Yet this man couldn't keep quiet - and we've seen this in chapter 1, chapter 3, chapter 5: people who know the touch of the Lord Jesus, experience the power of His word, their lives are changed, they can't keep it in! It wasn't long before everybody came to see Him. A large crowd gathered bringing their ill, bringing their handicapped, bringing their demon possessed, and the Lord Jesus took time to heal them all. The result was that the Gentiles - these are Gentiles - said, as Matthew 15 tells us, 'They glorified the God of Israel'. These folk said in chapter 7, astonished: 'He hath done all things well'. Now, had they lived this side of Calvary, they would have said it with even deeper conviction and feeling, would they not? He hath done all things well!
'And since our souls have learned His love,
What mercies He has made me prove!
Mercies which all our praise excel
Our Jesus hath done all things well'.
Are you afraid of trusting in Christ this morning? Do you think He's going to mess up your life? Don't be a fool: He will give you life to the full, for my Jesus hath done all things well. He never made a muck up, He never failed, He never botched up anybody's life, and He'll not make that mistake with yours. But believers, we're afraid, aren't we - we're tongue-tied - to offer the Lord Jesus to people? We need to tell them - oh yes, they have to turn from sin, but we've got to tell them that the Lord Jesus Christ will do everything well in their life! He will make the difference! Maybe the problem is - now wait for this - He's not making a big difference in our lives! I think that's it.
Something has happened repetitively in church history down through the years, and that is that people in the church have broken out - I don't mean broken off from the church, but sometimes that had to happen. It happened, historically, when the Church of England lost their way (if they ever had it from the beginning). John Wesley came out, or was pushed out, because he had a heart for the poor, he had a heart to see people won. The church was repulsed by the fact that Wesley would preach outside a pulpit, and preach in the open air - and now we can't get people to preach in the open air, everybody wants to preach in the pulpit. Almost 200 years later General Booth found himself in a similar position and so, because he would go into the pubs and go to the urban poor, places like Spittle Fields and Shoreditch in London, he had to found the Salvation Army. Now, they had a problem being hands-on servants in the church - we need to become those hands-on servants again, we need to. You listen to me: we need to do it. I'll tell you this: do you see if conservative evangelicalism in Ulster doesn't do it? They're finished! They're finished! I don't know how God will continue to do it, but mark you: He will - but that's what's needed, the touch, the look, the sigh, the word.
Francis Schaeffer had a friend that he was trying to convert. This man was a successful architect who dropped out of his career in the sixties through disillusionment. He hadn't yet come to Christ, but he said of Francis Schaeffer - he was a man who tried to live by the basic tenets of the New Testament, particularly the teachings of our Lord Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount - he said: 'I don't know if what Francis Schaeffer is telling me about Christianity is true or not, but I know this: that man loves me'. 'I don't know', is that what people are saying about us outside, 'I don't know if all that is true, but I know this: they love me'. Later on that architect was brought to Christ because of the servant's touch in Francis Shaeffer's life. Those are the signs of the Servant of the Lord, are those signs in our lives?
O Father, we want to give praise and thanks to God for what You have done for mankind through Your Son, the Lord Jesus. What You did for this man, You have done for sinners far and wide who have believed in the Lord Jesus. You can do it for folk in our meeting this morning - but Lord, help us as Your people to believe that You still have the power to do it, if we would only break out and seek to touch those whom we are not touching now. Lord, we confess we're not touching them, those around us in this district. Thank You for those who are trying, but Lord: we want to break through and make a difference in their lives, for those in our city, those in our land, those in the world who as yet have never heard the name of Christ. O God, forgive us, O forgive us, and launch us out, we pray, to touch them, to look upon them with the love of Christ, to sigh over them, to cry over them, to sacrifice for them, and to give them Your word. Lord, one of old could say: 'Why should people hear the Gospel twice, when some have never heard it once?'. It's a question we would be worthwhile thinking of, Lord. Lord, give us hearts like our Master, and help us to have the signs of the Servant marking our lives and our service in the gospel. Amen.
Preach The Word.
This sermon was delivered at The Iron Hall Evangelical Church in Belfast, Northern Ireland, by Pastor David Legge. It was transcribed from the thirty-seventh recording in his 'Studies In Mark' series, entitled "The Signs Of The Servant" - Transcribed by Andrew Watkins, Preach The Word.
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