Let’s Be the Good News People, Part 3:
What Do You Want to Take Home Today?
February 5, 2006
The Rev. Dr. Anthony J. Godlefski, Pastor
Montgomery United Methodist Church
Jesus Heals Many
29As soon as they left the synagogue, they went with James and John to the home of Simon and Andrew. 30Simon's mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told Jesus about her. 31So he went to her, took her hand and helped her up. The fever left her and she began to wait on them.
32That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed. 33The whole town gathered at the door, 34and Jesus healed many who had various diseases. He also drove out many demons, but he would not let the demons speak because they knew who he was.
Jesus Prays in a Solitary Place
35Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. 36Simon and his companions went to look for him, 37and when they found him, they exclaimed: "Everyone is looking for you!"
38Jesus replied, "Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come." 39So he traveled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, good morning! This morning I’d like to wrap up our sermon series. This is part three of “Let’s Be the Good News People.” And the subtitle is also a question I’d like to ask you – “What do you want to take home with you today?” We’ve got some beautiful hints about that in today’s gospel. Let’s study it together.
What do you want to bring home with you from church? When I was a boy, we had certain Sunday morning customs with my family. Life during the week could be pretty intense. My father was a pretty intense fellow – that’s a story for another day. But on Sunday we were together, because we all believed in God. We all believed that the Lord’s Day is holy, and we all went to church. I’m 54, and as long as I live I will never forget Sunday mornings as some of the sweetest moments ever with my family. We didn’t do any unnecessary work on Sunday. My father was a builder, among other things. We have bricks and mortar running around in our blood. But there was no heavy lifting on the Lord’s Day. It was a day of rest, a day for worship, a day for family.
My mother had to work, of course, getting us ready for church. So on cold, beautiful mornings like this, I remember, Mom would be trying frantically to get us ready. Dad was always early for everything; he never liked to be late. I’d dress up like my dad in a little shirt and tie, and I’d put on my cap. Then Dad and I would go out to the car. We had an old Edsel. You’re all too young to remember what Edsels are. We’d go out to the car, and Father would get that thing going, and we’d be out there for a while. And then Dad needed to signal that it was okay for Mom to come down, so he would say some words in Polish that I did not understand, and then he would blow the horn several times.
Gentlemen, I do not recommend this technique.
Mom would come out, things would settle down, and we would go to church. We went to church as a family. After church, we might go to the cemetery and say a prayer at the grave of loved ones that I never knew. Then we’d go get a Star Ledger from the newspaper store and stop at the bakery to bring home some nice, fresh rolls – and doughnuts, if it wasn’t Lent.
So what did we bring home? We brought home some baked goods, fresh rolls, and a newspaper. And we brought home togetherness.
What do you want to bring home on Sunday morning? Oh, friends, I have a suggestion for you. Let’s take a look at the scripture and see what the disciples brought home.
“As soon as they left the synagogue, they entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told him about her at once. He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up. Then the fever left her, and she began to serve them.”
Say, friends, what did the disciples bring home? They brought home Jesus. And that’s what I’m inviting you to bring home. When you go back to your house, bring home Jesus. You meet Him here in church, in the smiles and handshakes of one another. You meet Him at the table; you meet Him in the scripture. Don’t leave Him here. Bring Jesus home with you.
How will you know if you brought Jesus home with you? Maybe there are folks at home who couldn’t get to church this week. How will they know that things are different because you’ve been here? Well, you can tell. Let’s see what happens in the scripture.
The first thing Jesus brings is togetherness. Notice all those ‘ands’ in the first verse. “As soon as they left the synagogue, they entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John.” And there was Jesus in the midst of them. He was like the hub of a wheel. There was togetherness in the house; there was a spirit of understanding. Oh, how I long for that for you! Wouldn’t you like to bring that home with you today? I so would like you to do that.
I’ve been preaching for about 27 years now. My deep desire is that when wonderful folks like you come to church, you would go home feeling better than you did when you came in. I think that’s what God wants for you. Take Jesus home with you. Don’t take a spirit of worry or put-down; take Jesus with you.
Oh, dear church leaders, I love you so much. I cherish so much what you do in this church. But I worry about you. It’s so tempting to come to church and talk about business. Oh, how I want for you on a Sunday morning to just enjoy the Lord. It’s so tempting, when everybody is together, to solve problems. But let the Lord’s Day be the Lord’s Day. Take Jesus home with you. Let there be a spirit of togetherness about the family. Let there be laughter around the table. That’s what there was with Lord.
What else happens when you take home Jesus? In the scripture, there was a problem; Simon Peter’s mother-in-law was sick with a fever. So what did they do? They did the right thing. They told Jesus. And Jesus solved the problem. So the first thing He brings is togetherness. The second thing He brings is uplift. Did you see what Jesus did? Did He just say, “Woman, be thou healed”? No, He didn’t do that. Did He put His hand on her forehead and say, “Be healed”? No, He didn’t.
Let’s look at the scripture. It says, “He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up.” That was the healing gesture. What do you think that was all about? I wonder what she was sick of. Maybe she had a case of low-grade anger. Maybe she had a case of chronic frustration. Maybe she didn’t get much help around the house. Maybe she was unappreciated. I wonder. There was something about that gesture of Jesus, taking her by the hand. I wonder what He did when He took her by the hand. Maybe He said, “My dear” – let’s call her Hannah – “Hannah, what beautiful hands of service you have. What beautiful hands that help so much, that bless so much.” Maybe she needed that gesture of encouragement and uplift, because Jesus lifted people up.
Maybe He quoted to her Proverbs 31: “She puts her hand to the sewing needle, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.” Maybe He quoted to her a scripture from Isaiah, chapter 40, starting at verse 29: “He gives power to the faint, and strengthens the powerless. Even youths will faint and be weary, and the young will fall exhausted; but those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” Maybe she heard Him speak those words to her. Jesus took her by the hand and He lifted her up. He gave her a hand. He said, “I’m with you, sister. I appreciate what you do.”
He appreciated her. You know, if you play the piano, and you want to make your piano playing more beautiful, do you know what you do? You say a prayer. You say, “Thank you, God, for my beautiful piano-playing hands.” And just listen to what that does to your playing. Do you sing? To make it better, say, “Thank you, God, for my beautiful, one-of-a-kind voice,” and hear what comes out. Jesus was affirming Hannah, this mother-in-law, this servant-woman, this person who loved to serve. And He lifted her up, and “the fever left her, and she got up and served them.” You know, she probably made the best French toast in all of Galilee. She served them, and there was joy in Galilee.
So what happens when you bring Jesus home with you? There is togetherness, a peaceful, easy feeling. There is uplift. And there is healing. Wouldn’t you love to have that in your house? What will you bring home with you from church? Oh, friend, take Jesus home with you, and your home will be a haven of blessing and a place of peace.
God loves you. I do, too. Have a wonderful week. Amen.
© 2006 Anthony J. Godlefski