Holy Interruptions

 

As we began Week 4 of our 2017 WESTPAC Deployment, we dug into Mark’s Gospel in a sermon series called Surprised by Jesus. We were challenged to see interruptions in life, in a new Kingdom Way, as something that may be even holy. Designed by God for our Good.

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Today’s Replenishment at Sea (RAS) and Vertical Replenishment (VERTREP) were a  surprise for all of us. Not originally scheduled for Sunday, our “Holiday Routine” as we call it, Somehow they also coincided with the exact hours we normally have worship services on the ship. Causing us to reschedule.  Last night XO even said, “Chaps, I’m sorry, I think we’re throwing a hand grenade into your Sunday Worship Schedule.”

It was a challenge for the Command Religious Program Specialist (RP2) and I! Kinda broke to pieces our plans a, b and c for potential worship times, as schedule kept shifting.

But, I think the VERTREP AND RAS underscore a message, friends, that God wants us to hear, “How do we respond when the unexpected happens?”

Do we think,

“God may be at work!” , “This is a person, I may be blessed by or need to bless” or do you charge on stressed and annoyed?

Honestly, how does it feel when we’re already busy and something else gets added to the plate? Someone comes and says I need “this” now! Or the Facebook message comes from home, “the car broke down”

Payment’s late ‘cause credit card expired. “Your child’s misbehaving, and is considered being expelled!”

It’s that feeling that too many days are being crammed into one hour? Maybe even at times like God is into trashing our perfectly good plan. A cosmic “recalculating” reverberates just when you thought you were getting in the groove.

So what do we do? Throw an adult tantrum?

Go drink hard that weekend.
Smoke a pack of cigarettes in an hour or two.
Cuss out a subordinate for their failure—you know crap just travels downhill right?
Save up frustration to expend in compromising ways at a port visit?
Or maybe even suspend COMMs with God for an undetermined amount of time until we’re ready –nurse a grudge.

OR do we take it in, then gulp down some big exhilarating, wild-breath-of life-kind-of-air, and in FAITH say, “God you are up to something in this, it’s a DIVINE interruption I believe, its going to be a holy interruption for good, I know it”

This is how Jesus lived. We see it on display in the book of Mark. Let’s take a look.

MARK 5:21-36

  1. And when Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered about him, and he was beside the sea.
  2. Then came one of the rulers of the synagogue Jairus by name, and seeing him, he fell at his feet.
  3. And implored him earnestly, saying, “My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well and live.”
  4. And he went with him. And a great crowd followed him and thronged about him.
  5. And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years,
  6. And who had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse
  7. She had heard the reports about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his garment.
  8. For she said, “If I touch even His garments, I will be made well.”
  9. And immediately the flow of blood dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease.
  10. And Jesus, perceiving in himself that power had gone out from him, immediately turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my garments?”
  11. And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing around you, and yet you say, ‘Who touched me?’ ”
  12. And He looked around to see who had done it
  13. But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling and fell down before Him and told the whole truth.
  14. And He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”
  15. While He was still speaking, there came from the ruler’s house some who said, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?
  16. But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.”

Here in the passage, even in the midst of His great authority, power, foreknowledge and momentum– In this movement that was steadily revealing the kingdom of the living God– We see orchestrated what seems an operational pause diverting the plan that was unfolding (with force) in Mark’s Gospel.

And Why?

To show those closest to Him—the Twelve,
To show a tormented broken woman,
And a frightened Dad,

That God is SOVEREIGN IN THE STOPS! That He is actually, not only in control of them, BUT IN THE MIDST OF THEM.

These interruptions become opportunities for some of our most beautiful demonstrations of trusting faith when we don’t know what’s going to happen but we trust Him.

The interruptions also reveal His intervening power on our behalf.

Let’s shift gears and talk about our walk with Christ, and how it really is going for us following Him. Have you felt, maybe, yourself not quite alive, not excited to know Him as you used to? Stagnant? Dormant?

A good question to ask, then, may be—”Am I living a moment-by-moment obedience which is receptive to Divine Interruption?”

For this is actually the Kingdom Way and could explain why your faith is not being challenged or pushed.

We need to put “interruption” back on the “Menu” of our lives, not as nuisances but as critical to Christian obedience.

You may question this saying, “It’s easy to seem open to Divine Interruptions, if it’s a Spirit thing, but how do I know it’s God?”

Especially considering how extended high stress begins to change us in life.

Before, perhaps, you were open to the leading of His Spirit but now such holy interruptions aren’t so welcome…

-after the third flat tire.
-Or news that your child needs special surgery.
-Or that your orders have been canceled
-Or you’re on a deployment separated from your loved ones and you just don’t feel like it that day.

 

Studying Our Passage

V. 24

The Synagogue Ruler, Jairus, is likely a Pharisee with some wealth. But we meet him here in desperate need. His daughter’s grave illness opened his heart to Jesus.

So a Primary Truth we can internalize here is that we need to take the opportunity to introduce people to Jesus in their pain. C.S. Lewis said, “Pain is God’s Megaphone to Rouse a Deaf and Dying World.”

V. 25 Divine Interruption of His Mission to Help Jairus.

Often the most special ministry happens in the unexpected moments, interruptions, when we feel we’re too busy.  We already have an agenda…set. I mean doesn’t Jesus have a pretty important “customer” here in this synagogue ruler?

This is some “STRATEGIC MINISTRY” right? Maybe Jairus can help turn the tide of Negative Opinion these leaders have formed of Jesus.

We need to notice how intentional God was, to strike Peter, and his mentee Mark, with the circumstances that unfold here. Mark’s description of the woman with the issue of blood is very detailed compared to the people we see healed in this Gospel. Most of the them anonymous.

Her story. Her look. Her need, Her faith, captured Peter and the Disciples…It’s moving. We’ll come back to this.

V. 30 Jesus is teaching something about Himself; and about His Kingdom DNA, that we’re to live out.

HE STOPPED and then engaged the situation and the person with much tender care and intentionality.

Not a Nuisance or frustrating diversion! She is not an interruption to Jesus. She is a priority.

Do you feel the momentum of Mark…Miracle after Miracle, Just Deed after Just Deed, True Word after True Word.  Who is this man…

PETER will soon say in Chapter 8, “I believe you are Messiah, the Christ of the Living God”

There’s Inevitability, a sense of the unstoppable reality of Jesus’ coming revelation of glory and authority –you can feel the Kingdom that’s spoken of and glimpsed, will soon be seen in its sweeping immensity… the story is moving forward here with Jairus!!

BUT HE STOPPED

How often do you need to stop, and ask, “Lord what is happening? Are you saying something to me? Are you up to something here?”

Through life,

Through unexpected circumstances that compound one upon another.

Through His Holy Spirit’s nudges to us.  And through God’s Word.  I want to be listening. Do you feel that challenge too?

 

V. 28 “She (just) touched his garment”

Desperate. Humble. Demonstrates quiet faith…belief in him

And we know, there was compassion in His eyes. And throughout God’s Word it’s there. Look for it. Expect it.  And when you talk to friends or those who see our Lord as hard.  Remember how he Stopped for a woman who desperately reached up at the end of her hope to touch the hem of His garment.

V. 29: “She had suffered much at the hand of ‘physicians’ and ‘quack doctors’

Likely I imagine, experimental therapies…or new wave spiritual remedies from local “new age” village ‘doctors’

Certainly at the hands of whomever, even upstanding Doctors of the day, it was uncomfortable. The procedures embarrassing.

Think of now and then.  Chemo. Multiple surgeries. Former practices debunked, like blood-letting. AND

She “had spent all she had.”

Expensive medical bills apparently aren’t just a 21st century American problem.

V. 29 “She had heard reports”

May I ask, “How did you first hear about Jesus?”

And for her do you wonder what the reports sounded like…? I do,

Let’s call the woman with the issue of blood, ‘Sarai’

Imagine with me the first report she heard.

“Sarai, there’s a man, a rabbi, a prophet from Nazareth who is casting out demons, healing the lame, and many, many other sicknesses…You should go see Him?  What if God still has a cure for you?”

Or, maybe, as she sweeps the entrance to her home, she overhears people moving by pushing their cart piled high with vegetables and fresh baked cakes for the local convenience mart…

“Did you hear about what Yeshua did for the Cohens? Young Itzahk is now so active his parents barely know what to do!!

Just last month he was his usual mopey, hobble around self, — never could use that left leg for support …

But now they can’t keep him from climbing trees, and tousling with the boys playing touch roundball…

When was the last time we saw such a move of God in Israel?”

V. 31 The Disciples were like, “Come’on Jesus let’s keep moving…these crowds are thick.

Imagine the Beatles trying to get from the chauffeured car and walk the red carpet into Radio City Hall …Everyone crushing in around and they’re just trying to get to the door.  How many must have wanted Jesus’ attention? Even called out for Him. So the Disciples THOUGHT they were doing what was best, because they were doing what was GOOD. JUST MAKE A BEE-LINE to Jairus’ home miles away, the thought. But what they didn’t know, as they questioned Jesus sensitivity to this interruption, is that so often, we must expect in our Christ-Following obedience that You will be questioned when you Embrace Holy Interruptions

V. 33

Why is she afraid?  The ESV Study Bible Notes explain that perhaps because she’s ceremonially unclean, having touched all these people to get to Jesus, she may have become a potential target for public anger and abuse

V. 34

And He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”

A Divine interruption saved the most vulnerable person in this true story…

And a Divine interruption also occasioned our salvation my friends

We may ask, “Jesus you love me, even me??”

“Yes, I do.”  Hear him say.

Just as His actions said to the woman with the issue of blood.
Thank you Jesus that you chose to stop, not to pass by our pain, our loss, our crippling shock at the COLD and BRUTAL nature of this fallen world.

But You saw me, each of us, and lifted us up!

Do you remember when you felt it?  When the Savior drew you gently? And said, “I love you, I choose You. Follow me, and I will make you a “Fisher of Men.”

Yes He gave purpose beyond what you hoped for. Life brighter than you’d ever known, and salvation forever rich, free and not accidental.

It cost Him, the Son of God, His very life on Calvary. He gave His life to give you Yours.

Let’s open our hearts to Him today. We’ll be, forever interrupted. And forever loved we’ll stand.

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These sermons are written in the push and pull of operational service aboard CG-52, USS Bunker Hill. Preached for God’s glory and shared in Chapel each week to build up the believers aboard. Each one called by God and being equipped for remarkable things beyond our present understanding in the military and afterward.

Forgive the hum of nearly 100,000 Horsepower from the Gas Turbine Engines spinning ship’s shafts and propeller. It’s our background for worship from the deep.

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