Jesus Had a Plan. Shouldn't We?

It's Super Bowl Sunday. What are your plans? (Allow volunteers.) Most of us will watch, at least a while, if only for the commercials. Some of us will actually watch the game. Now, I can't tell you too much for certain about what we'll see and hear. But I can guarantee this. At least at the start, there will be a lot of talk about game plans. And not just the coaches'. Folks will game plan getting the best seats, getting the best snacks, getting to the best parties, (sadly) guzzling the most junk food and beer. (United Methodists, of course, will opt for grape juice, or some other suitable substitute.) When the question is, "Are you ready for some football?" the answer, at least on this Sunday will likely be, "Hey, I've got a plan!" Being ready seems to need a plan. Why, long before football, even Jesus… had a plan. A plan for spreading the saving Word. Surely we need a plan for spreading the Word too. So let me ask again, "What are your plans?"

According to Mark this was Jesus plan. Go where folks want to know God. Teach them in no uncertain terms, and in a way they can clearly understand. Second, insist on healing, early and often. And then third, get outside the walls and do the same things, taking on the demons, healing the hurts, touching those declared to be untouchable.

Here's the thing. Go where folks wanna know God. Teach in an eye/heart opening way. Surely this ought to be our church's plan. And our personal plan for ministry too. When Jesus came into town, he headed for the synagogue first. He always began where folks were searching for God in the first place. (Here's a challenge for us, by the way. If Jesus came to Odenton, would he head first for Nichols-Bethel?) I know no more precious gift in all the world than the gospel of salvation. Where better to begin to offer it than to those who are already waiting to receive it! For us and for our church, the mission field always begins right here! Jesus habitually began with those who knew God had promised himself to them. They had received his covenant. Now they were looking to see if theirs was the day it would come to pass. The church is the community of those who have seen Jesus. We have received his person. Now, we want to know him. We want to know if today's the day the kingdom's coming. Months ago, I sat in one of your homes. We talked about worship. One partner said to me straightforwardly, "I come to church because I want to praise God and learn what he wants me to do for him with my life." Who here would want to quarrel with that? So often, together and personally, we think of or make ministry seem so complicated and far removed. Like it would take a trip to the far reaches of the earth, or the wisdom of Solomon, or the spirituality of Mother Theresa to offer the Good News of Jesus. Not! Already, all around us, right now, are souls yearning to know and see Jesus. Now's our time. (We can be as immediate as Jesus, fresh in town and straight to the church of his day) This is our place. So…what place are you taking in showing and telling Jesus. We've got a head start. There are already people all around us all ready to receive him! If we're lookin' for a plan, this is the place to begin, just like Jesus.

Heal. Mend. Cleanse. Make new. Early and often. (It's not a one shot deal.) That was Jesus' game plan. Will we make it ours? Ours as the church? Ours as believers? A friend of mine used to call Mark 1 the Kaboom Chapter. Three reasons. Stuff happens. It happens fast. It makes all the difference. He used to say, "Let the other folks pastor the big churches, the fancy ones, the famous ones. I just want the bishop to send me to the First United Methodist Church of Kaboom." I like that. It's so, so… Jesus! 6 times in 13 verses Mark says immediately Jesus does or says, or folks respond to him. And each time it's life changing, from here to eternity. He taught like nobody else. And the people said, "Awesome!" Even the unclean spirits. People were made clean. Right away. (No meetings required.) So people came from all over. And Jesus wowed 'em, kaboomed 'em, over and over, at "church', in their homes, as they came to him, and come they did, from all over town. It was no accident. It was the divine plan for ministry in the name of Jesus. And you know what? Were you to flip forward three books in your Bible to the Book of Acts, chapter two, you'd see almost exactly the same words describing the church from its birthday forward. And then you can read about Peter. And read about Paul. Same story. Same plan. Kaboom! Kaboom!

If your spiritual life lacks a plan, if your personal ministry needs some direction, if you'd like the church to offer Jesus as never before, there's good news. We don't have to design the way. It's already been done. In this Super Bowl of the Spirit, all the x's and o's were charted along, long ago. Know Jesus. Speak Jesus. Show Jesus. Touch like Jesus. That's our playbook. He cannot speak without compassion. Neither can we. In the very midst of the congregation, his eye meets the man in need of healing. The one who is tormented by an unclean spirit touches him. Can we care for each other in something like the same way? Jesus mends. Who do you know here with a hurting place you can help? And where we don't know each other well enough, couldn't we fix that too? I had a call from a 90-year-old member the other day. Few of you know her. But one of you touched her. A youth. A shovel. A pile of snow moved. OK, it wasn't a prayer, a sermon; a healing of her arthritis, a miracle as most would define it. But she said to me, "That day did more than clean my driveway. It made me feel clean all over in my heart. I felt like I wasn't alone. I remembered God has not forgotten me." Pretty good folks, but then, that's the Plan.

Get outside the walls, get into the face of the demons, and get in touch with the untouchable. There you have it. It's not the Plan to just keep what we've got. It's to give it away. It's not to bottle up Jesus in our church or in our person. It's to fan out and pour out the blessings. It's to confront the demons that tempt and torment us. It's to silence them by bringing them into close contact with all that is holy in Jesus. I wish I could say that now that we've come near to Jesus, the demons are no more. But that would be nothing but wishful thinking. Some sad truths. Super Bowl Sunday sees more spousal abuse of wives and children by husbands than any other day of the year. No other day drinks more. The news will take a break from reporting today on the hunt for weapons of mass destruction. Whatever you think of that, I can tell you this for sure. Aids is destroying an entire generation of God's own on the African Continent, right under our noses. Ignorance of simple sanitation claims untold thousands the world around. Hunger destroys masses of children every day. And in a hundred places in and out of the news, conflicts are joined with weapons where the soul-force of persons touched by the Spirit could make a difference. Jesus went among the people. He helped them face their demons just as he did. And when these lesser powers knew they were in holy company they shut down, shut up, and shied away. Because that's what they do. That's why it's in the Plan. Could that be our plan too, and yours, and mine? So many Jesus touched were thought unclean. Beyond the pail. But he offered them the same saving grace he offered you and me. And it worked! Souls were won. What do you think? Isn't that our calling as well?

In only a moment, we will come to his Table. And we will taste and see the goodness of the Lord. And we will be encouraged to go in peace, knowing that the God of peace goes with us all. We will be asked to take the name of Jesus with us. Maybe more than one of us will say, "Yes, but how could it be? What can I do? How will I do for him?" Friends Jesus had a plan. He gives it to us. It is not complicated or unattainable. It is not easy. But it is not hard to understand either. Begin where folks wanna know him. Begin right here. Teach in an eye opening, heart opening way. Plan to heal, mend, cleanse and make new, any way you can… by his authority. Get outside the walls, get into the face of the demons, get in touch with the untouchable. And give to any and to all the very peace you (and I) have been given, the peace of Christ, Christ alone. He is the Lord of the earth. And the Kept-Promise of God for heaven.

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