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Mark 1:14-20

Pastor Jenny Lee, Ph.D.

 

 “The Power of the Good News

I want to share a funny story that I heard about this couple. A man finally went to the doctor after weeks of symptoms. The doctor examined him carefully and then called the patient’s wife into his office. The doctor said, “Your husband is suffering from a very rare form of anemia. Without treatment, he’ll be dead in a few weeks. But, the good news is that it can be treated with proper nutrition. So, you will need to get up early every morning and fix your husband a hot breakfast-pancakes, bacon, and eggs. He’ll need a big, home-cooked lunch every day and then an old-fashioned meat and potatoes dinner every evening. It would be especially helpful if you could frequently bake cakes, pies, and homemade bread. These are the things that will allow your husband to live symptom-free. Ah, one more thing. His immune system is weak, so your home must be kept spotless at all times. Do you have any questions?” The wife had none. The doctor asked her, “Do you want to break the news, or shall I?” The wife replied, “I will.” She walked into the examination room. The husband, sensing the seriousness of his illness, asked her, “It’s bad, isn’t it?” She nodded, tears welling up in her eyes. The husband asked her, “Tell me, what is it?” With a sob, the wife blurted out, “The doctor says you’re gonna die!”

It is a funny story. But, it gives us a good lesson that the good news empowers us only when we trust, accept, and practice it. If you hear the good news, you have to trust, accept and practice it. Otherwise, the good news is not good news for you at all. The power of the good news might be exercised by trusting, accepting, and practicing it.

When I was in a hospital due to a broken spine, I was depressed with hopelessness because my doctor told me that I wouldn’t be able to walk again. At that time, a pastor and his wife in the church where my mother attended visited me. After they prayed for me, the pastor’s wife said to me, “Sister, please read the Bible. If you are done reading the whole Bible, God may heal you. You may walk again.” It must be the good news for me that I may walk again if I read the Bible. However, because I did not believe in God, I couldn’t trust them. I thought that the doctor couldn’t heal me. How could it happen through reading the Bible. Two years later, God gave me a second chance. A pastor visited a girl who shared a room with me. I heard his prayers for the girl. At that moment, I felt strangely warm in my whole body. I asked him to pray for me. Through his prayers, I accepted Jesus Christ as my savior and my Lord, and finally, I could believe in the good news that God could heal me. I started reading the Bible, hoping I could walk again. Meanwhile, I received surgery on my spine and received several physical therapies. Finally, I could walk again. I sometimes think that if I trusted the pastor’s wife, could I have walk earlier? If I read the Bible at that time, would I have suffered from hopelessness for such a long time? I still often think that if I didn’t accept the second chance, how I would be now.

To be mine the good news, I should believe it. To believe it, I had to throw away my thoughts. After I had thrown away my thoughts, finally, I could trust the good news that God could heal me. God can make things happen that we can’t. The core of the good news is that Jesus is the Lord. The Gospel of Mark 1:1 says, “the beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” In the Gospel of Luke 7:22, Jesus answered to John’s disciples who asked him if he is the Messiah [Christ] who they waited for, “the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have good news brought to them.” They have seen wherever Jesus went, these things happened. The core of good news is that Jesus is Christ. I hope that you can sense that God gives you a chance. God may notify us through several channels. The Book of Revelation 3:20 says, “Listen! I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come into you and eat with you, and you with me.” God’s grace opens to everyone, but only a few people can notice it.

In today’s Scripture, we may find some people who caught the first chance God gave. When Jesus called Simon and Andrew, who were fishermen, they immediately followed him. Some scholars interpret that they immediately followed Jesus because a rabbi called them who were poor, rarely getting a chance to receive an education. It might be right. However, that place was Galilee, which is a small town. Perhaps, everyone in the town knew each other well. Jesus grew up in Nazareth of Galilee. They might know that Jesus was a carpenter, who was the son of Joseph. How could they follow Jesus immediately? The verses 14-15 says, “Now John (the Baptist) was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, the time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.”  I believe that the reason they could follow Jesus is the power of the good news. We may guess that they might hear about John the Baptist’s proclamation. They might hear that Jesus’ proclaiming the good news of God. Even though they heard about the good news, when they met Jesus, the good news empowered them to follow him. The core of his message is “repent” and “believe in the good news.” My point is that Jesus is the good news, and his message is “repent” and “believe in the good news (Jesus Christ).”

The word “repentance” in the Old Testament means “turn around (Nakam)” and “Change of mind” (Metanoia).” That is, it refers to turning away from a sinful attitude of life and returning to God. “Repentance” is required for believing in God. Without returning to God (repentance), we cannot believe in God. Jesus said, “no one can serve two masters” (Matthew 6:24). With our desires toward the world, we cannot believe in God. We should decide on a God-centered mind.

What do you think the most blessed thing is in your life? It perhaps is how you let Jesus Christ in your life. What do you pray for your children and grandchildren? Perhaps, for their health, especially in this pandemic season. Perhaps, for wealth, successful life, harmonious family, of course, you pray for their faith in God. What about praying for your children and grandchildren to meet faithful teachers, friends, and coworkers in God? Depending on whom they meet, their life may be different. The first disciples of Jesus are an example.  After they met Jesus as their teacher, friend, and coworker in God’s ministry, their life had changed from fishers to fish for people.

When Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fish for people,” they immediately left their nets and followed him. They might throw their thoughts and prejudice away and trust him to make them fish for people. In the Gospel of Luke, we can see more clearly that they had thrown their prejudice away and followed Jesus (Luke 5:1-11). When Jesus saw Simon, he said to him, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.” Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything, but because you say so, I will let down the nets.” And then they had done so. They caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. Think of that situation. Simon was a fisherman from birth and knew how to fish and where to fish more. However, as soon as Jesus, who was a carpenter, said to them, he answered, “I worked hard all night and haven’t got any, but I will do it because you say so.” And he immediately practiced it. The good news empowers us only when we trust, accept and practice it.

When Naaman heard the good news that he could heal his leprosy if he goes and washes his body seven times in the Jordan River, at first, he went away angry. He thought the prophet Elisha came and prayed for him, laying his hand on over the spot of leprosy. He did upset because he did not do as he thought. However, later on, his servant says, “My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it for your cure?” So, he changed his way and washed and was healed (2Kings 5:10-14). Without returning to God, we cannot say that we believe in Jesus Christ. With our thoughts, we cannot expect the good news empowers in our life. It is essential to meet Jesus Christ in our life. If you already met him, please accept him as your Lord, and live everyday life with a God-centered mind. Jesus Christ is the good news for everyone, but only for those who believe in him.

Thanks be to God. Amen.