- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 20, 2006

The following are excerpts from a recent sermon at First Trinity Lutheran Church delivered by the Rev. Thomas J. Knoll:

Have you ever made serious misjudgments about something or someone? There are some very successful and famous people in life who have made serious misjudgments along the way. Here are just a few of them. Ken Olsen, the founder of Digital Equipment, in 1977 said, “There is no reason that anyone would want a computer in their home.” In 1859, Edwin Drake tried to enlist workers to help him drill for oil. This is the response he got: “Drill for oil? You mean drill into the ground and try to find oil? You’re crazy.” Bill Gates said in 1981 that 640 kilobytes ought to be enough for anybody. These are some pretty bad misjudgments.

But they are insignificant compared to the misjudgment that Mark reports in Mark 6:1-6. In today’s reading from Mark, the community from Jesus’ hometown of Galilee misjudged Jesus. The familiarity with Jesus and His family displaced their sense of awe. Isn’t this Jesus the carpenter we know? Where did He get all this scriptural knowledge? Where did he learn how to do these miracles? He is just a carpenter’s son. The people of His hometown misjudged Jesus and rejected His Lordship.

How about us today? Have we lost that sense of Jesus’ majesty and holiness? Is worship for us just a time to go through the ritual, or do the words and phrases really mean something? What about prayer? When we pray, have we lost the sense of humility and inner awe for the holiness of Christ? In our speech, do we use the name of Jesus or things about Him in a dishonoring way? If so, then we have lost the Jesus of majesty and holiness.

This Gospel reading today is a show-and-tell kind of message. Despite being misjudged and rejected, Jesus is teaching His disciples how to do the work of the ministry. And now, He’s taking them to the next level. He’s saying, “All right. You’ve watched Me preach. You’ve seen Me do healings. You’ve observed Me driving out demons. You’ve watched Me love people that have never been loved before. Now, it’s time for you to do it. I didn’t pick 12 apostles so that you could stand around Me and watch Me do all the work. It’s time for you to get some experience.”

Today we read that Jesus gives them tools for ministry. First, He gives them a model for ministry. Verse 6 says, “Jesus went around teaching from village to village.” Here Jesus leads by example. Before He tells the disciples to go out there and do the work of the ministry, He was out there doing it first. Jesus didn’t hide up in heaven and tell us what to do from a distance. He showed us what to do. And notice that Jesus doesn’t wait around for the people to come to Him. He left Nazareth and goes to them.

I am convinced that most of the ministry that God calls us to do is outside the church. It happens when we reach out with God’s word to the people in our own community: when we teach our kids right from wrong, when we discuss Bible stories around the dinner table, when we reach out in Christian friendship to co-workers that God has placed in our lives. Reaching out with the love of God beyond the walls of this building: That’s our model for ministry.

The second thing that Jesus gives us is companionship for ministry. Verse 7 says, “Calling the 12 to Him, He sent them out two by two.” It was customary in both Jewish and Greek culture to send messengers in groups of two. That way, if something were to go wrong, there would be two witnesses to testify on behalf of the sender. But the bottom line is that God never intended you and I to do the work of the ministry by ourselves. We need help. We need encouragement.

Look at the apostle Paul. As great as he was, when the church sent him out on his first missionary journey in Acts 13, they didn’t send him out there alone. Paul went with a friend named Barnabas. Do you know what the name Barnabas means? It means “Son of Encouragement.” We all need encouragement in our lives. We all need people who will love us, people who will build us up when life gets tough.

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