This is the audio from the January 3, 2021 sermon, “A NEW Hope”, shared by Tom Lemler at the North Wayne Mennonite Church.
Text: Mark 2:1-12
As we embark on a new year, many people are inclined to look back to consider the previous year then look forward with the hope that things will be different. While 2020 has definitely given us plenty of things we would not wish to see again in the new year, the truth is that is generally the case every year. It is in the looking ahead and looking to God that we find a hope that can make us new regardless of what our year has been like. Paul writes and tells us that if our hope in Christ was only valid for the time we live on this earth, then we ought to be pitied above all people. The good news is that because of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus we have a hope that is new and gives us the assurance of life beyond what we experience on earth.
In this message we will look at an encounter one man, his friends, the religious leaders, and a crowd had with Jesus and see the NEW hope God wants us to live with
When we encounter Jesus, we find hope that is . . .
Necessary: Mark 2:1-5 — Early in the public ministry of Jesus, wherever He went a crowd was sure to gather. That was certainly the case in today’s text — the crowd filled the house where Jesus was at and spilled out into all of the surrounding areas where people might just catch a glimpse of Jesus or hear a word of what He had to say. Showing up a little late to the gathering was a paralytic being carried by four of his friends. While he and his friends likely thought the thing most necessary was making this man walk, Jesus had a different idea. When Jesus sees the faith of this man’s friends, He tells him his sins are forgiven. While walking would soon come, the greatest need this man had was for the forgiveness of his sins. In fact, that is the greatest need any of us have regardless of how important we may believe our other needs are. It is in the forgiveness of sin that we find the real hope which is necessary for life eternal.
Exclusive: Mark 2:6-10 — Not only does our encounter with Jesus provide that which is necessary for real hope, He is the exclusive provider of what we really need. The religious leaders gathered in the home that day were offended that Jesus told the man his sins were forgiven. The offense wasn’t in the pointing out that this man was in need of forgiveness but rather in the exclusiveness of God alone being able to forgive sin — and they refused to believe that Jesus was God in flesh. In agreement that only God can forgive sin, Jesus set out to show them His authority by doing what could not be disputed — making the man walk. While it is very easy to say the words, “Your sins are forgiven”, proving that the forgiveness actually took place is virtually impossible by observation of man. The more difficult thing to say, because it would be obvious if it worked or not, would be to tell the man to walk. Jesus made it clear that He is the only way to the Father and He not only forgives our sins, He calls us to walk with Him as living proof He can exclusively do what we need most in providing the hope of eternal life.
Witnessed: Mark 2:11-12 — When the necessary hope of the forgiveness of sins meets the exclusive hope of the power or God at work within us, there out to be a visible result that the people around us can witness. In the text we looked at today, the people caught a glimpse of this new hope because they could see the result of this formerly paralytic man’s encounter with Jesus. Because they could see His power at work, they praised and glorified God for the mighty thing which they had witnessed. The new hope we live with each day ought to have the same results. People should see the transforming work of God in us and know there is such a thing as forgiveness of sins. I believe this is why Peter tells us to always be ready to give an answer for the hope that lies within us. When God does what is necessary, as only He can, people should see us walking with Him in a way that catches their attention. It is this witnessed hope that carries the message of Jesus to the world and offers to them the same NEW hope that we have found.
As you consider the new year, how hopeful are you? When you consider all the things you believe are necessary for the new year to be successful, is forgiveness at the top of the list? As you seek hope in a hopeless world, are you committed to Jesus as being the only way, truth, and life that can bring hope that lasts beyond life on this earth. As a Christ-follower, are you living in a way that others can witness the result of a new hope residing in you? Are you sharing with them the reason for this hope that you have — which is the hope that they need? I pray that each one of us would look ahead and pursue a NEW hope each day that God gives us life here on this earth.