Before I get into this blog, I want to put forward that I am making an assumption. I am assuming your pastor is called by God, preaches the Word, has a burden for the message God has laid on his heart that week, and begs the Holy Spirit to speak through him (or her) so the message is not the pastor’s but is coming from the Lord himself. If that is not a description of your pastor, you need to communicate with him and then look up my blog “Thinking about leaving a church?”
So moving forward with my assumption in place, let’s explore a story in Mark 3: 1-6…
“Another time (Jesus) went into the synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Some of them were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal him on the Sabbath. Jesus said to the man with the shriveled hand, “Stand up in front of everyone.” Mark 3: 1-3
Here we have Jesus going to the synagogue, a tradition He would generally do to worship and to teach. This is much like your pastor today where he goes to his local church focused on teaching the Word. Now like some of our churches, He is there to teach to a group that is pumped, ready to dig in, and respect and encourage their pastor as well as those sitting back just waiting for the pastor to mess up to jump on him. Why people with this attitude don’t find something better to do with their time, I have no idea. It’s something hurting within them but it tends to happen at times.
Some pastors who are aware of these people get timid and very cautious with every little thing they say and do hoping to avoid a conflict. This is not the case with Jesus! He has the man with the damaged hand stand up in front of all to do what is right and loving. Every one is on the edge of their seats wanting to see what happens next.
“Then Jesus asked them, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they remained silent.” Mark 3: 4
Here it is…. a one sentence sermon in the form of a question. The law (that Christ came to fulfill so we are no longer under it through grace) said no work could be done and Jesus challenged it. Which is God’s heart on the Sabbath? Good or evil? Life or death?
No one said a word….. No one responded. This is not because they didn’t know the correct answer. It’s because they closed down their hearts and didn’t want to do the right thing. Didn’t want to follow God’s heart. They were hard-hearted and closed down.
This happens in our own lives at times during the message time too, doesn’t it? We know God is wanting to break down some walls in our lives. We know that He is calling us to do something, change something, or release something as the pastor brings the Word but we just decide to fold our arms, sit in the shadows, and decide to blow it off.
You might say, “Wait, Tom…maybe they didn’t know the right answer.” OK, let’s read on…..
“He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored. Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus.” Mark 2: 5-6
Did you catch that?They would not submit to his challenge and encouragement to change and respond so Jesus was… ANGRY! We are used to Jesus getting angry at the temple and kicking out the money changers but here we see He gets mad at people who refuse Him. He was DISTRESSED at their stubborn hearts.
We get this view that Jesus is ever gentle with so much patience that we can do whatever we want…. whenever we want… and He will just sit on the sidelines until we need Him. Come on now!
He calls us for one reason; he wants us to respond. When you feel a challenge from your pastor in the Word, when you feel a conviction as you read the Word, when you know He’s trying to reach out to you……. Listen! Act! Move!
Will you act on the Word today or, like the Pharisees, will you blame the messenger and plot against him?
What you do with the Word……MATTERS!