A Jesus for the Weak
Pastor Duane Smets
June 25th, 2017
I. Weak Disciples
II. Weak Spirits
III. Weak Bodies
IV. Weak Lives
Today we are moving ahead with our study and tour through The Gospel of Luke in the Bible in our endeavor to get to know Jesus and His mission through it. The section we’re moving into today has four pretty powerful scenes in it where Jesus does some amazing things.
Sometimes sections of the book focus on Jesus’ words and teaching and sometimes they focus on Jesus’ actions and the responses. Last week’s section was mainly about things Jesus said and how He wanted to be heard and understood. This week’s section is mainly about things Jesus did and what it accomplished.
All four of the scenes we’re looking at today are linked together by Luke. If you read carefully you pick up on these connecting words between the stories like, “one day”, “then” and “when Jesus returned.” Those are textual clues that tell us Luke means for all these scenes to be considered together.
When we do that with the section we’re going to read in a minute the picture of Jesus is one which shows Him to be immensely powerful. He does four pretty incredible miracles where we end up seeing His power over disaster, His power over darkness, His power over disease and His power over death.
But here’s the thing. Anytime we’re reading the Bible we ought to be asking ourselves, “Who are we in the story?” And one thing you can always be sure of is…you’re not Jesus. So we know right away that one thing we’re definitely not meant to walk away with is thinking that the lesson is that we’re powerful too or at least that we should try to be.
What each of these stories we’re going to look at is about weakness. Each one of them points out some fundamental weakness that we have as human beings living as broken people in a broken world. And what Jesus shows us is that in each of our weaknesses we can turn to Him and that He will take care of us.
So if there’s one line that you might walk away remembering from today it’s this, “We’re weak, but He’s strong”, “We’re weak, but He’s strong.”
Let’s go ahead and read these incredible accounts of Jesus’ power and goodness.
22 One day he got into a boat with his disciples, and he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side of the lake.” So they set out, 23 and as they sailed he fell asleep. And a windstorm came down on the lake, and they were filling with water and were in danger. 24 And they went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” And he awoke and rebuked the wind and the raging waves, and they ceased, and there was a calm. 25 He said to them, “Where is your faith?” And they were afraid, and they marveled, saying to one another, “Who then is this, that he commands even winds and water, and they obey him?”
26 Then they sailed to the country of the Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee. 27 When Jesus had stepped out on land, there met him a man from the city who had demons. For a long time he had worn no clothes, and he had not lived in a house but among the tombs. 28 When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell down before him and said with a loud voice, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me.” 29 For he had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. (For many a time it had seized him. He was kept under guard and bound with chains and shackles, but he would break the bonds and be driven by the demon into the desert.) 30 Jesus then asked him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Legion,” for many demons had entered him. 31 And they begged him not to command them to depart into the abyss. 32 Now a large herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside, and they begged him to let them enter these. So he gave them permission. 33 Then the demons came out of the man and entered the pigs, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and were drowned.
34 When the herdsmen saw what had happened, they fled and told it in the city and in the country. 35 Then people went out to see what had happened, and they came to Jesus and found the man from whom the demons had gone, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind, and they were afraid. 36 And those who had seen it told them how the demon-possessed man had been healed. 37 Then all the people of the surrounding country of the Gerasenes asked him to depart from them, for they were seized with great fear. So he got into the boat and returned. 38 The man from whom the demons had gone begged that he might be with him, but Jesus sent him away, saying, 39 “Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” And he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city how much Jesus had done for him.
40 Now when Jesus returned, the crowd welcomed him, for they were all waiting for him. 41 And there came a man named Jairus, who was a ruler of the synagogue. And falling at Jesus' feet, he implored him to come to his house, 42 for he had an only daughter, about twelve years of age, and she was dying.
As Jesus went, the people pressed around him. 43 And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, and though she had spent all her living on physicians, she could not be healed by anyone. 44 She came up behind him and touched the fringe of his garment, and immediately her discharge of blood ceased. 45 And Jesus said, “Who was it that touched me?” When all denied it, Peter said, “Master, the crowds surround you and are pressing in on you!” 46 But Jesus said, “Someone touched me, for I perceive that power has gone out from me.” 47 And when the woman saw that she was not hidden, she came trembling, and falling down before him declared in the presence of all the people why she had touched him, and how she had been immediately healed. 48 And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.”
49 While he was still speaking, someone from the ruler's house came and said, “Your daughter is dead; do not trouble the Teacher any more.” 50 But Jesus on hearing this answered him, “Do not fear; only believe, and she will be well.” 51 And when he came to the house, he allowed no one to enter with him, except Peter and John and James, and the father and mother of the child. 52 And all were weeping and mourning for her, but he said, “Do not weep, for she is not dead but sleeping.” 53 And they laughed at him, knowing that she was dead. 54 But taking her by the hand he called, saying, “Child, arise.” 55 And her spirit returned, and she got up at once. And he directed that something should be given her to eat. 56 And her parents were amazed, but he charged them to tell no one what had happened.
• Pastoral Declaration: This is the Word of the Lord.
• Congregational Response: Thanks Be To God.
We’re weak, but He’s strong. We’re weak, but He’s strong. This idea runs straight against the grain of most of the cultural impulses we’re constantly experiencing.
We live in a world of achievement, where we are all attempting to move up, to progress, to become and to rise up. We constantly hear the mantra, “you can be anything and accomplish anything you set your mind to.”
Friedrich Nietzsche, the famous atheist, argued that the will or desire to for power is a main driving force inherent in humans…that we cannot-not want the highest possible position in life. Yet as Lord Acton has been famously quoted many a time, “power tends to corrupt.”
This week the San Diego City Council had a very important vote, which passed. Castleton Drive in Clairemont will now have its street name changed to the name of a man whose story, is perhaps one of the most well known and famous stories about of a man wrestling with power, the desire for power and it’s tendency to corrupt. Luke Skywalker.
As most of you know, Luke Skywalker’s story begins in a galaxy far far away with a young man named Anakin Skywalker, who in seeing civil unrest and injustices decided to take power into his own hands to try to do good. But over time that power ruined him, darkening his heart and damaging his body.
The story of Star Wars hangs on Anakin’s son, Luke Skywalker, with the question of whether or not he will follow in his father’s footsteps or go down a different path.
What we’re going to see and learn from Jesus today is that the way up really is the way down, that no one is strong enough, that all of us are weak, and that it’s in our weakness where God wants to move and work. We’re weak but He’s strong.
I’ve got four points today to help us see that, one point for each of the scenes where Jesus shows off His power and goodness, “Weak Disciples”, “Weak Spirits”, “Weak Bodies”, and “Weak Lives”.
I. Weak Disciples: Jesus’ Power Over Disaster
Our first point today, “Weak Disciples” comes from one of my all time personal favorite stories of Jesus.
They’re in the Sea of Galilee which is about 13 miles long and 8 miles wide. It's about 636 miles deep and is surrounded by mountains reaching up to 2,650 feet. Because of these sharp altitude differences, the Sea of Galilee is notorious for these crazy storms where intense winds will sweep down the mountainsides and churn up the sea violently.
The scene of the disciples and Jesus and this storm is a wild scene. Imagine. You're in a boat. This violent storm swoops down and you're caught in the middle of the sea. It’s dark, there's thunder and lightning. It’s loud. The wind is howling. Waves are crashing up over the side of the boat filling it with water.
Some of these disciples are experienced fishermen. They’d been in storms before. But this one they think is the one that is going to end them. They realize they are in a dire situation. They’re all running around frantically, bailing water, pulling in the masts, just trying to hang on. But things start looking pretty grim. It’s dangerous and they think it’s the end.
And where’s Jesus this whole time? Asleep. Just below deck taking a nap. Not worried about a thing. Doesn’t even hear it. So they go wake him up saying, “Master, Master, we are perishing!”
Jesus is like, oh, no big deal. Gets up, walks to the bow of the boat and I imagine with the same voice that spoke those very waters and winds into existence at creation, says, “Peace, be still.” And automatically the whole sea just become a lake. With a smile, he leans over the boat railing looking into the water and sees His reflection.
Then He turns to His disciples, who've committed their lives to following Him, and says, verse 25, “Where is your faith?”
Now when He says this, I don’t think He’s condemning them. I don’t think Jesus here is saying,
“Come on guys! Why were you worried? You’re a bunch of pathetic weak hearted, weak faith-ed fishermen.”
I don’t think that’s Jesus' tone here.
I could be wrong about this but I think Jesus probably had a smirk on His face here when He says, “where is your faith?” As in, “you guys have no idea who I really am.” I think Jesus is stoked here to give them a glimpse into who He really is as the Son of God, through whom God spoke the world into existence.
And I think I’m right about this because look at their response in verse 25, they say, “Who then is this, that he commands even winds and water, and they obey him?”
You see, I don’t think Jesus’ question to them is a condemning accusation saying,
“You should be stronger. You should just have more faith.”
I think what Jesus is saying, is look, guys,
“I got you. I will always take care of you. I’m the Lord of Creation. The winds and the waters are at my command. There is nothing outside of my power and control. I got you.”
Jesus isn’t trying to teach His disciples to be stronger and not to be weak, He’s trying to show them that they can be weak and it’s okay because He is strong.
Really, the whole nature of being a disciple of Jesus who believes in Him and follows Him is dependent upon being weak. It’s an admission that we don’t have all the answers and that very little is outside of our control and that’s why we need help. That’s why we need Him.
Really, we as human beings have very little real power over our lives. Experts say ninety-five percent of what sets the course of their lives is completely outside of our control. Think about it. What century and place we’re born. Who are parents are, what our physical features look like, our genetically wired talents…not to mention what places we end up getting a job at, what kids we have, how things go for us in life. Very very little is in our power or control.
Which can be scary. That’s why what we need is someone who is in control. Someone who is strong. Someone who does have the power to truly care for us that we can entrust our lives to. Someone like Jesus.
Today, do you feel lost and uncertain about your life or your future? Do you feel yourself grasping at power and control, trying to make your life go a certain way in fear that it won’t turn out well?
What I want you to know today is that you can let go. You can be free to be weak and entrust yourself to the one who is strong. He’s the Lord of creation and He offers to care for you. We’re weak, but He’s strong.
Well, the next scene after this shows Jesus’ power in a very different way as He addresses the darkness spread by demons and Satan in our world. So let’s check it out in our next point, “Weak Spirits.”
II. Weak Spirits: Jesus’ Power Over Darkness
So to start off with this point I think I just gotta say, this story is weird. There’s this guy whose demon possessed, whatever that means and then Jesus performs this exorcism on him and sends the demons into some pigs, who then go jump off a cliff. Oh-kayy.
You guys know the phrase, “when pigs fly”? This is where it comes from. Here’s what’s up with this story. First, this guy obviously has some serious issues going on. He runs around naked screaming. He sleeps in a cemetery. And anytime they try to chain him up, he escapes. So there’s definitely some mental illness stuff going on here.
Here’s what’s up with this story. First, this guy obviously has some serious issues going on. He runs around naked screaming. He sleeps in a cemetery. And anytime they try to chain him up, he escapes. So there’s definitely some mental illness stuff going on here.
Does that mean all mental illness is demons? By no means. But here is what is true about demons.
The Bible teaches us throughout all its pages that the world we live in is not just a physical world, that it is spiritual too. It teaches us that we are not just physical beings of flesh and bone but that we are spiritual beings too. So there is a spiritual reality to life and existence.
At the beginning of the story of the Bible, with the first man and the first woman, they live in happy harmony with one another and with God as spiritual beings living in the physical world God created. But then Satan comes along, who was an angel gone rogue against God, he comes along and attempts to turn the man and the woman away from God.
How he does it is by engaging their minds. He introduces them to lies and deceives them, tricking their minds into believing things about themselves and about God that are not true. And the moment they buy into these lies, a darkness enters into their mental state, really making them less human and Satan and his demons from that point on have been terrorizing the minds of men and women.
So what I want to say is, obviously this guy was an extreme case. And I do believe there is such thing as really demon possession. We don’t see that a whole lot in our culture because Satan is much more successful in corrupting our minds through subtle, crafty, manipulation of our intelligence…where we think we are being smart and wise but are buying into something that totally isn’t true.
For example, many in our culture have come to think that you cannot believe in science and the Bible, that science and the scientific theory disproves God. But science is merely a study of how things work, which presupposes an order, determined and designed by a highly intelligent force, like God.
So Satan doesn’t use demon possession in our culture a whole lot. It is, however, a very frequent and common thing in animistic, third world cultures where highly developed educational systems do not exist and belief in spirits and openness to them is commonplace.
What I getting at is that it’s easy to write off the guy in this story as some crazy freak. But really, we’re all in the same situation. We are all spiritual as well as physical, with minds that are susceptible to dark forces and dark ideas. We’re weak. We’re easily swayed by false ideas about God, ourselves and the world we live in.
Now, what is interesting to me in this story are two things.
One, what the demons say. They automatically recognize Jesus. Verse 28 they say, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God” and then verse says they begged Jesus “not to command them to depart into the abyss.”
We often have trouble recognizing Jesus for who He really is. They don’t. Not a bit. They call Jesus the very same title that the angel Gabriel did at Jesus’ birth, “Jesus, Son of the Most High God.”
They know who Jesus is and are afraid. They’re afraid because they knew Jesus came to defeat them. Jesus already defeated Satan’s temptations in the desert. Satan is their leader so they know they’re no match for Jesus. And they know Jesus’ promise to eternally throw them along with Satan into a lake of fire forever and ever (Revelation 20:1-15).
That’s the first interesting thing. They know who Jesus is. The second interesting thing to me is what happens to the man after Jesus frees him from these demons. Look at it with me in verse 35 and 39, “Then people went out to see what had happened, and they came to Jesus and found the man from whom the demons had gone, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind…Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” And he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city how much Jesus had done for him.”
“'Then people went out to see what had happened, and they came to Jesus and found the man from whom the demons had gone, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind…Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.' And he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city how much Jesus had done for him.”
What a beautiful picture. This man received physical, religious, psychological and vocational healing. He was running around naked before, now he’s clothed and sitting. He hated and screamed at Jesus, now he loves Jesus and is at His feet. He didn’t have control of his mind, now he’s in his right mind. He couldn’t hold a job down before, now he has a special assignment from Jesus.
It’s a beautiful picture here. It’s the picture of this man’s humanity being restored. Jesus makes him human again.
And this is what Jesus offers to us…to make us fully human again. Jesus offers to restore our humanity. He offers to restore our minds from all the ways and things that have dehumanized us, telling us we’re damaged goods. Jesus offers us His love and offers us to do something with our lives that actually counts for eternity.
You see here’s the thing. All of us get confused. All of us toy with and even believe things we know are not true. Our minds get cloudy and sometimes even hardened and angry like this man was. We’ve got weak spirits…and we don’t have what it takes to find the truth on our own, to correct all our thinking and to put ourselves together.
But Jesus does. He’s strong. He has a right mind. He is the truth. He has power over the devil and all darkness. He can restore us. Jesus can make us fully human again.
Today, do you just need some answers? Turn to Jesus, He has them. Today, are there things you’re going through, that just doesn't make sense? Turn to Jesus, He’ll help you. Today are there things you think and feel that you know are wrong and not true? Jesus can restore you.
You see, we’re weak. We’ve got weak spirits and weak minds. But Jesus is strong. We can entrust ourselves to Him.
Okay, we’ve looked at the disciples, we’ve looked at a guy with a demon, now let’s look at this woman with a brutal disease in our third point, “Weak Bodies.”
III. Weak Bodies: Jesus Power Over Disease
With this one what we have is this woman who verse 43 says, “had a discharge of blood for twelve years, and though she had spent all her living on physicians, she could not be healed by anyone.”
“had a discharge of blood for twelve years, and though she had spent all her living on physicians, she could not be healed by anyone.”
So, one of the reasons I’m glad God made me a dude is that I’ve never had a period. From what I hear it kind of sucks. I don’t know how we can even begin to imagine what this woman would have felt like to have always been on her period for twelve straight years?
On top of the physical pain of her body literally chewing herself up she would’ve experienced immense psychological, spiritual and social trauma.
Due to the blood, she would have been considered ceremonially unclean according to Jewish law. So she likely lived with lepers and anytime she was in public she was required to call out “unclean, unclean.” She was actually breaking the law by being in this crowd of people.
When you think about the psychological and spiritual implications of this, I’m sure she felt immense shame. She probably asked herself hundreds of times, “Why has this happened to me? What’s wrong with me? Why is God punishing me?”
I wonder how long it had been since she had been without hope, feeling that she was just cursed for the rest of her life? But then…then she hears about Jesus, that He heals that He cares and that He restores and thinks if I can just sneak in and touch Him, I’ll be healed.
So she does. She fights her way through the crowd. Pushing and clawing her way, trying to get close to Jesus. She finally sneaks through a bunch of people and gets close enough just to stick a hand out and brushes the edge of His robe. And the moment she does, she feels it instantly. The bleeding stops and she is physically restored.
But Jesus wanted to restore all of her. So he stops walking and says, “Who touched me?” To which the disciples should’ve said after seeing Jesus on the boat…”Uh…Jesus, you’re God, I think you know who touched you.”
I’m sure Jesus did know. But he wanted to draw the woman out. She wanted to remain anonymous. Jesus wanted to welcome her into His special family. So He says, “I felt power go out of me” and beckons her to come forward.
Thinking she did something wrong and fearing public ridicule and scorn she inches forward. But instead of words of condemnation, Jesus says to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.”
Ahhh man. So sweet. So kind. So tender. So gracious. Jesus calls her “daughter.” It’s the only time He calls anyone that term and with those words restores not only her body but her soul, telling her that God loves her and welcomes her into His special family. I love this story.
This story gives us insight into something we all universally experience. Here’s a fact. Everybody gets sick at some point in their life. Ever since that tragic moment in the beginning with the first man and woman in the garden, something happened to our physical bodies that made them subject to breaking down.
Now there are all kinds of illness and diseases that can affect us. And what happens when you’re sick? It affects your spirit and your mind doesn’t it? You don’t feel well and it makes you have discouraging thoughts about life. There’s nothing like being sick that makes you feel weak and powerless.
It’s that experience that Jesus speaks life and healing. He came healing people’s bodies so that their souls might be healed and restored as well.
Now, just like the demon deal, we don’t see a lot of physical healing miracles in our culture, much more in third world animistic cultures because that’s what they often need to believe in Jesus. But for both cultures, the spiritual healing we need is the same.
Into those moments where we feel like we don’t belong, like there’s something wrong with us, when we feel like God is absent or out to get us, Jesus opens His arms to us and says, “I’m here. Through me, you are loved and welcomed into the family as God’s sons and daughters.” With Jesus we’re allowed to be weak, we’re allowed to come close to Him, to touch Him and have Him heal our hurts, our pains, and our wounds.
Today, are there things that have wounded you, where you know deep down your hurting and you need Jesus to heal your soul? He can do that. It’s okay to be weak before Jesus because He is strong. He loves us and cares for us because for those who put their faith in Him, they're a part of His family. We’re weak, but He’s strong. So we can trust Him.
Alright, we’ve got one last point and story to look at, where Jesus raises this little girl from the dead. So let’s wrap up with this last one, “Weak Lives.”
IV. Weak Lives: Jesus Power Over Death
Jesus was delayed in getting to this little girl’s house because of having compassion on the woman with the blood issue and in that time she dies. Once He gets to her house, He says to the friends and family, verse 52 “Do not weep, for she is not dead but sleeping.”
Some laugh at Him because she’s clearly dead. But Jesus, as the One who spoke life itself into existence has a much bigger and longer view, so He says she’s sleeping. Then He takes her hand and with the same voice that took dust from the ground and breathed life into it making man a living being, He spoke to the girl two simple words, “Child, arise” and the girl came back to life.
Jesus’ ultimate mission in coming to earth was not just to teach some good things and do some good things for some people healing them of various stuff…His ultimate mission was to go to the cross and to die and put to death all the sin and brokenness of people and the world and then to rise in new life, instituting a new power to be unleashed in people, the world, and the world to come.
Try to think about it in this way. Back in that garden, when disaster, demons, disease, and death first entered the world…it unleashed a dark shadow casting itself forward on the plane of history. But when Jesus died and then rose, light sprang up, turning back the darkness, overpowering it, undoing all the bad and bringing about a newness of life and light forevermore.
So I think when Jesus healed this little girl He was not only tapping into the same power He used when He created life itself back in the garden, but He did it looking forward in time to when He would rise to new life Himself, so that all who believe in Him might taste it and live forevermore.
Here’s why I think that. This is what the Bible says in 1 Corinthians 15:20-22 “Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.”
“Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.”
So what we call “death” in the long and wide view of Jesus is actually just asleep, because, for all who turn to Him, they are raised to a new life, getting a new body like His resurrected one, a body that can never die.
This is the ultimate truth, all of us are weak. None of us has the power to beat death. There has only ever been one. Jesus Christ, who was crucified, was buried and rose again on the third day.
Eternity is a long time. For all of us, there’s either eternal death in the lake of fire with the devil and his demons or eternal life with Jesus and His family in heaven. What Jesus offers us is life, He calls us to arise and have life in Him.
Today, have you had your spirit restored like this little girl? Our own junk and the terrible things done to us steal life from us. But through Jesus, we get back our life. He gives us new life, a good life, one of eternal quality and eternal quantity.
We are weak, but He’s strong. May God help us to grab hold of Jesus’ hand and follow Him.
Well, we did it. Four different stories where we’ve seen four different weak people experience the power and goodness of Jesus.
We started out the sermon today talking about Luke Skywalker. The very first movie I ever remember seeing was Return of the Jedi. The climax of Return of the Jedi is near the end where Luke is fighting with his dad in this epic light saber duo and he’s also fighting this inner desire to grab hold of power. In the end, he ends up resisting, which wins over and rescues his dad’s soul who had long given into power trying to take things into his own hands.
The truth is deep down we all have a deep fear of powerlessness that ultimately stems from our alienation from God. That’s the reason we reach for control, trying to be strong, independent, taking care of ourselves in order to power our own lives. But it never works. In that, we lose our humanity because we were not created to be independent and in power, we were created to be dependent upon the power and goodness of God.
Jesus came to show us that and He ultimately showed it by giving up His power. He gave up His seat in heaven and became a weak man and then He laid aside His divine power and authority giving Himself up to the cross.
He did it so that we might see His true power and goodness. That the way up is the way down. That His power is perfected in our weakness. That we can trust Him because He is strong enough to save us and to carry us.
We’re weak, but He’s strong. It’s okay to be weak.