Father Santosh Madanu: Who Can Save You When You Reject the One Who Saves—Jesus the Messiah?

Sermon delivered on Trinity 5B, Sunday, July 4, 2021 at St. Augustine’s Anglican Church, Westerville, OH.

If you prefer to listen to the audio podcast of today’s sermon, usually somewhat different from the text below, click here.

Lectionary texts: 2 Samuel 5.1-5, 9-10; Psalm 48; 2 Corinthians 12.2-10; St. Mark 6.1-13.

Prayer: Lord Jesus we pray that this world may see you with spiritual eye to recognize you as the son of God

HAPPY AND BLESSED INDEPENDENCE DAY

Independence Day, the Fourth (4th) of July is a public holiday in the United States of America that commemorates the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, which declared the original colonies to be free from British rule.

Freedom is an inalienable gift of God to His children.  All the fundamental rights would make the person for what they are.  The Bill of Rights protects freedom of life

  • Right to self-determination. Right to liberty.  Right to due process of law. Right to freedom of movement. Right to privacy. Right to freedom of thought. Right to freedom of religion. Right to freedom of expression.
  • The freedom of will and conscience helps us to have the liberty and justice to life the godly life with kingdom virtues and values.
  • We thank God the almighty that we are able to enjoy these fundamental freedoms in the United Nations.  We all know there are many even today in many countries have no fundamental freedoms.  They are still treated as slaves in many ways.

Let us reflect the gospel passage: Mark 6:1-13

Jesus was rejected by His own people from his own town – Nazareth.  Because they see him with human eyes rather than eye of faith

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”   
Isaiah 61:1-2

Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. He said to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4:14-21) The promise and prophecy are being fulfilled in the Lord Jesus Christ.

This is very profound statement. Jesus returns to the town where he grew up and starts a public ministry. One Saturday, he goes to the front of the synagogue – the Jewish house of worship where he spent many Saturdays as a kid — and reads a famous Messianic passage from the Prophet Isaiah. He finishes the prophecy – one that Jewish people had read for nearly 700 years – by identifying himself as the one spoken of by Isaiah.

Jesus rejected in his hometown of Nazareth – The Result

Jesus goes off and gets baptized by John at the river, runs off to the mountains for 40 days, and comes back revealing himself as the long-awaited Messiah to his hometown congregation.

Needless to say, the people were a bit skeptical. Then, Jesus calls them out and challenges their doubt. He points to past Hebrew generations that also doubted the scriptures and the prophets. Ultimately, the townspeople get angry and even try to kill Jesus by throwing him off a local hillside.

WHAT A TRAGIDY! Rejecting Jesus the true messiah

Who all those rejected Jesus?

His relatives and friends and his own town members rejecting Jesus- the anointed messiah.

The Jews, Pharisees, Scribes and teachers of the Law.

Today Hindus, Muslims, Sikh, Jainism, Buddhism and Gnostics and so on.

Can anyone have a being and have a hope of redemption without Jesus of Nazareth?

No one can be saved without the grace of Jesus Christ.

Have you been rejected by your own family, friends, relatives and community? If yes.  Then know this even Jesus is rejected and suffered the pain of rejection. Jesus understands our pain and loss of love from our own community. Many of the prophets were rejected by their own people. St Paul was rejected and his message was rejected.  He was in physical pain till his death. But he kept on going to place to place with the gospel of grace and power of Christ Jesus.

St. Paul in today’s 2 Cor 12: 7-9 speaking about a thorn in the flesh.  We all suffer physically, mentally and emotionally for various reasons, especially for being a missionary for the kingdom of God.  This is the promise of the Lord “my grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness”.

Sending Out the Twelve:

The vision of Jesus Christ – Mission of Jesus Christ in sending the twelve disciples

What should be the character of a disciple of the Lord Jesus?

FRIENDSHIP GROWS OUT OF DISCIPLESHIP Disciples have to go through training, but once we graduate from discipleship, we become friends of the Lord. The Lord said to His disciples, “You are my friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father.” (Jn 15:12-15) More than just friends, we are called to be the relatives of our Lord, for He said, “For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” (Mt 12:49f) When we are friends of God, there is nothing we will not do for the Lord, and there is nothing the Lord will not do for us! Faith in God depends on how intimate we are with Him.

“He called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.”

Work of God Jesus is the saving grace to the believers.

“He called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.” When Jesus was looking for workers in his harvest field, whom did he choose? Certainly not from the religious class! No learned Pharisees and stoic Sadducees, and no expert Scripture scribes! Rather he chose them from among his ordinary disciples. And there’s a good reason Jesus did that. They had a certain quality that he couldn’t find among the religious people. His disciples had a deep desire and willingness to learn from him. A “disciple” basically means a “follower” and a“learner”. 

It was a whole new teaching and radical teaching the Lord Jesus

And God gives these the strength to withstand the world and its temptations as they continue to live with Jesus and learn from him how to honor and glorify God. So Jesus equipped them with what was necessary in doing the work of God. How then did he equip them, and with what? Read verse 1 “He called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.   Spiritual authority! The world is sick with the plague of sin which brings about diseased hearts and minds, and unholy possessions from evil spirits. Human technologies cannot cure the hearts and souls of people. Only God can heal them. It takes God’s authority to do the job! 

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20) Those who are called for kingdom work need to believe this otherwise their labor is in vain.

What’s an apostle? He is “one who is sent out”.  Jesus at this point began to recognize his disciples as apostles! In other words, those who are sent out— men with a mission from God. Christ’s ambassadors to all people 

Now let’s consider the principles of gospel work which Jesus gave his apostles when he sent them out into the harvest field.

First, be a witness to others. (5-6) look at verses 5b and 6. “Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel.” Jesus taught his disciples something very precious— who to witness to first. They need to first witness to the closest people. In other words, evangelism should first start where you are. 

Second, declare the message of the kingdom of God. (7) Read verse 7. “As you go, preach this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven is near.’” That’s what was on Jesus’ heart! The kingdom of God! Jesus told them to declare the message of the kingdom of heaven. It was and still is the message of prime importance. It’s the message of hope. 

Third, “Heal the sick.” (8) Read verse 8. “Heal the sick, raise the dead, and cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons.Freely you have received, freely give.” This is the character of Jesus’ ministry! It’s a ministry of preaching and of healing. It’s a ministry of compassion and sacrifice. 

Fourth, depend only on God, and nothing else. (9-10) Read verse 9. “Do not take along any gold or silver or copper in your belts.” A servant of the kingdom should always depend on God and on nothing else. 

Fifth, establish one person. (11-15) Read verse 11. “Whatever town or village you enter, search for some worthy person there and stay at his house until you leave.” Jesus told his disciples to look for one worthy person and stay with them. Who’s a worthy person? A worthy person is any person genuinely searching for the truth of God.

Sixth, expect persecution. (16-31) everywhere there is a work of God going on, there is also always Satan there doing his own work. So Jesus prepared his apostles to expect persecutions— under God’s sovereignty. 

Needed the good-committed missionaries.  One missionary can make a difference in the lives of many thousands.  Example of a missionary in North India namely Israel baptized about 30 thousand Hindus as they got converted to the Lord and preached to millions of people with his simple and humble life of Christ. An ordinary professor of the college became missionary with his family lived poor life- with minimum expense about $150 per month even today.

Seventh, acknowledge the name of Jesus. (32-42) Read verse 32. “Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven.” Jesus wants his disciples to acknowledge him before the whole world. That’s the same as a confession of faith in Jesus.  Therefore, to acknowledge his name is not a private matter. 

In verses 34-42 Jesus tells all of us something very true about the Christian life! It’s a spiritual battle that requires loyalty to Jesus and to the gospel. Christian life is costly. And we need to bear that cost— willingly. You should first accept the authority he gives you serve his kingdom. 

I would like to share a story:

Once a group of blind people went to beautiful park and asked the photographer to take their photos individually and in group in different areas of park.  People in the park wondering why these blind people are taking their photos when they cannot see themselves.  

What do you think? Then one in the park asked them why you want your pictures taken? Then one of them said I go to the person who can see and ask him about my continence, color of my dress and about the garden and so on. And I get to know everything.  In the same way we need to go to the Lord Jesus to know about the heaven and paradise that St. Paul speaking in his letter about the paradise.

Jesus says John 10:28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand.

Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” Luke 23:43

Revelation 2:7 to the one who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.

  • Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven ( 2 Kings 2:11)
  • Ezekiel saw the heaven opened and had seen the vision of God. ( Ezekiel 1:1)

Therefore dear brothers and sisters in Christ we are all assured of resurrection in Christ Jesus.  Let us believe it even when we face the real struggles of sickness and death of our beloved ones. 

Prayer: Lord Jesus may we receive your grace and power in our weaknesses, sicknesses and struggles of life. Spirit of God bless us to be willing to go where ever your Spirit leads us to do the evangelization and to be good harvesters, in Jesus name we pray. Amen.

Independence Day 2021: The Full Text of America’s National Anthem

Oh, say, can you see, by the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hail’d at the twilight’s last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars, thro’ the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watch’d, were so galantly streaming?
And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof thro’ the night that our flag was still there.
O say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On the shore dimly seen thro’ the mists of the deep,
Where the foe’s haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o’er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam,
In full glory reflected, now shines on the stream:
‘Tis the star’spangled banner: O, long may it wave
O’ver the land of the free and the home of the brave!

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle’s confustion
A home and a country should leave us no more?
Their blood has wash’d out there foul footsteps’ pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

O, thus be it ever when freemen shall stand,
Between their lov’d homes and the war’s desolation;
Blest with vict’ry and peace, may the heav’n-rescued land
Praise the Pow’r that hath made and preserv’d us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause is just,
And this be our motto: “In God is our trust”
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

—Written by Francis Scott Key, 1814

Independence Day 2021: George Washington’s First Inaugural Address of 1789

Such being the impressions under which I have, in obedience to the public summons, repaired to the present station; it would be peculiarly improper to omit in this first official Act, my fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the Universe, who presides in the Councils of Nations, and whose providential aids can supply every human defect, that his benediction may consecrate to the liberties and happiness of the People of the United States, a Government instituted by themselves for these essential purposes: and may enable every instrument employed in its administration to execute with success, the functions allotted to his charge. In tendering this homage to the Great Author of every public and private good I assure myself that it expresses your sentiments not less than my own; nor those of my fellow-citizens at large, less than either. No People can be bound to acknowledge and adore the invisible hand, which conducts the Affairs of men more than the People of the United States. Every step, by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation, seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency. And in the important revolution just accomplished in the system of their United Government, the tranquil deliberations and voluntary consent of so many distinct communities, from which the event has resulted, cannot be compared with the means by which most Governments have been established, without some return of pious gratitude along with an humble anticipation of the future blessings which the past seem to presage. These reflections, arising out of the present crisis, have forced themselves too strongly on my mind to be suppressed. You will join with me I trust in thinking, that there are none under the influence of which, the proceedings of a new and free Government can more auspiciously commence.

Read it all.

Independence Day 2021: The Preamble to the Constitution of the United States of America

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Preamble to the Constitution
Read it all.

Would that God raise up leaders for us who would speak to the vision and ideals laid out in our Constitution’s Preamble instead of creating rancor and division by engaging in partisan and petty politics and playing the shame and victim’s game. There is much talk of justice, but not about justice for all, including those tasked with insuring domestic Tranquility. Where fearless leaders are desperately needed who are steeped in our nation’s history and willing to carry on the many good traditions of this country while addressing the bad ones, generally I see only weak and spineless politicians (I cannot call them leaders because they fail to lead) who cower at the mob because they are clueless about their own nation’s heritage (or even worse, hostile to it). It’s a sad state of affairs and simultaneously infuriating. There has been much blood shed to defend our nation and its great heritage, and those politicians who refuse to honor our Constitution’s Preamble by defending it not only betray those who elected them to office but also bring dishonor to those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice to defend this country. May the good citizens of this country condemn this behavior by voting them out of office this November. This Independence Day, pray for our nation. We are in desperate need of God’s blessings.

Independence Day 2021: Lincoln on the Declaration of Independence and the 4th of July

lincoln19

In the 1850s, Abraham Lincoln’s rhetoric was suffused with a profound sense of loss. He considered it shameful national backsliding that a new affirmative defense of slavery had arisen in the South. At the time of the Founding our nation had merely tolerated slavery; now, it was an institution actively celebrated in part of the country.

In a letter in 1855 despairing of ending slavery, Lincoln wrote to the Kentuckian George Robertson that “the fourth of July has not quite dwindled away; it is still a great day–/for burning fire-crackers/!!!”

At around this time, Lincoln fastened on the Declaration of Independence as “his political chart and inspiration,” in the words of his White House secretary John G. Nicolay.

He made it the guidepost by which the country could return to its lost ideals. His example shows the enduring vitality and the endless potential for renewal that is inherent in the Declaration.

Some good stuff here. See what you think.

Independence Day 2021: Today in History

From here:

images

In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the Continental Congress adopts the Declaration of Independence, which proclaims the independence of the United States of America from Great Britain and its king. The declaration came 442 days after the first volleys of the American Revolution were fired at Lexington and Concord in Massachusetts and marked an ideological expansion of the conflict that would eventually encourage France’s intervention on behalf of the Patriots.

Read it all and give thanks to God for this country of ours.

Independence Day 2021: The Declaration of Independence

With the forces of lawlessness and mob rule that are attempting to wipe out this country’s history and identity in order to destroy it, it is critical that we know the principles contained in our nation’s founding documents on which our country is based. Take the time to read and reflect on the Declaration of Independence and give thanks to God for this great nation of ours, warts and all.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

The Declaration of Independence

Read it all.

Another Prayer for Independence Day 2021

Lord God Almighty,
you have made all the peoples of the earth for your glory,
to serve you in freedom and in peace:
Give to the people of our country a zeal for justice
and the strength of forbearance,
that we may use our liberty in accordance with your gracious will;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and ever. Amen.

A Prayer for Independence Day 2021

Lord God Almighty,
in whose Name the founders of this country
won liberty for themselves and for us,
and lit the torch of freedom for nations then unborn:
Grant that we and all the people of this land
may have grace to maintain our liberties in righteousness and peace;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you
and the Holy Spirit, one God,
for ever and ever. Amen.