Seeing Jesus
Dr. Stephen Johnson
Mark 6:52-56
February 02, 2020

1200 years after the closing of the canon - when the final books of the Bible were written - a guy named Stephen Langton divided each book of the Bible into chapters. Well, except Obadiah, Philemon, Jude, and 2nd and 3rd John.

In 1445 Mordecai Nathan divided the Old Testament into chapters and verses. And it wasn’t until 1551 that the New Testament was divided into verses, the famous English printer, Robert Stephens—of all things, while riding on horseback from Switzerland to France!

The chapter and verse divisions were somewhat arbitrary and created some interesting oddities.

[Stephanus’] fourth edition (1551) is possibly even more significant as it is the first edition of the Greek New Testament that divides the text into verses. Until then, the text has been printed all together, with no indication of verse division. There’s an amusing anecdote associated with how Stephanus did his work for this edition. His son later reported that Stephanus had decided on his verse divisions (most of which are retained for us in our English translations) while making a journey on horseback.
Undoubtedly he meant that his father was ‘working on the road’—that is, that he entered verse numbers in the evenings at the inns in which he was staying. But since his son literally says that Stephanus made these changes ‘while on horseback’, some wry observers have suggested that he actually did his work in transit, so that whenever his horse hit an unexpected bump, Stephanus’s pen jumped, accounting for some rather odd verse placements that we still find in our English translations of the New Testament.

Verses which, taken on their own are incomplete sentences and really make little sense. Verses which start with “and” that finish with a comma. There are a couple of those verses in our text for this morning. But when you read the full paragraph it all makes sense. This really has little to do with our message this morning, but serves to pique your interest in this particular text.

It is a text which almost appears to have been plopped into the middle of a manuscript, as though Stephanus had theses verses on 3x5 cards and upon hitting some bump in the road the card with these verse got shuffled into the wrong spot!

Why do I say this?

The feeding of the 5000 is thought to have occurred near Capernaum, under the mount of beatitudes. The disciples get in a boat to go to Bethsaida, which is east of Capernaum. But they land in Gennesaret which is west of Capernaum.

And it is here that the events of these four verses take place.

I considered simply skipping these verses as we walked through the gospel of Mark - but they are part of inspired scripture, so there is a lesson contained here. And this is what I believe God wants us to see from this text today:

When people see Jesus, they come to him to have their needs met.

Follow along with me as we read Mark 6:53-56

“When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret and moored to the shore.

And when they got out of the boat,
the people immediately recognized him

and ran about the whole region and began to bring the sick people on their beds to wherever they heard he was.

And wherever he came, in villages, cities or countryside, they laid the sick in the marketplaces and implored him that they might touch even the fringe of his garment. And as many as touched it were made well.”

This is the word of the Lord.

What struck me first from this passage is the phrase in verse 54

“The people immediately recognized him.”

They saw Jesus

Something happens to people when they see Jesus!

Unfortunately, Jesus isn’t walking on earth today.

He has ascended into heaven and left his reputation to us!

People need to see Jesus in our life.

The way people will see Jesus today is if they see his life in us.

So how do people see Christ today?

There are a few instances in scripture where we are given hints to how we can reflect Christ to those around us.

From Acts 4 we receive some pointers on how people will see Jesus in us.

At the beginning of the chapter we encounter Peter and John who are annoying the captain of the temple and the Sadducees because they were teachng people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead.

Now you may remember that the Sadducees didn’t believe in the resurrection of the dead - so Jesus presented a problem to them.
They arrest the two disciples and keep them overnight and brought them before a powerful group of religious leaders the next day.

In this context Peter utters a sentence which distills the whole message of scripture, Acts 4:12

“There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

Salvation is found in Jesus Christ and in no other.

But that is a message for another time. In terms of having people see Jesus in us it is the next verse which is telling.

“When they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they have been with Jesus.”

Three ways people see Jesus in us.
By our boldness. We are not afraid to speak the truth.

They presented themselves as uneducated, common men. They had humility.

They were bold, humble men.

There was no sense of superiority.
They came across as just normal people.

You have to read the fuller context around Acts 4 to see another point about how people saw Jesus in the life of Peter and John.

In Acts 3 the two had been met at the gate of the temple called the Beautiful Gate by a man asking for alms.

And Peter uttered another well known response:

“I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus, rise up and walk.”

They had performed an act of kindness and compassion.

Boldness, humility and compassion.

I want to point out two other ways that people see Jesus in our lives.

Again our model is Peter. At the end of the Gospels, when Jesus has been arrested, Peter is confronted by a servant girl who accuses him of being a disciple.
He famously denies any connection with Jesus.
But his accent, the way he talked gave him away.

Now, I know this is a mild stretch, but Jesus can be seen in you by the things you say and the things you don’t say.

Scripture calls us to forgo gossip.
To put away slander.
To avoid coarse jesting.
To speak the truth in love.

People will see Jesus our life when we speak with boldness, exhibit humility, act in compassion towards others and have conversation which is above reproach.

Jesus adds another way that the world will know we are his disciples - if we love one another.

The way we speak about his church reveals something about how much of Christ will show in our lives.

So I ask you, how will people see Jesus in your life?

It is important for us to ponder this because
When people see Jesus in our life they will want him in their life.

In our text, the people recognize Jesus and flock to be near him. They want him in their lives.

Why, because by this time he has a reputation.
|He has spoken with boldness - as one with wisdom and authority.
He has treated people with compassion.
Feeding them, healing them, casting out demons.
He has spoken with humility and grace

They may not have been certain what the question was, but they knew that Jesus was the answer.

In Jesus people were finding peace, forgiveness and hope. So they flocked to him.

What we need to do is show people how Christ has met our needs so that in seeing Christ in us they will turn to Christ themselves.

And we do that by telling stories interlaced with scripture.

Someone asked me this week why I’ve stayed in ministry for my whole life.

The simple answer is that I am convinced that ministry is what God has called me to do.

But the fuller answer is that Christ in my life has given me life itself. And I long to share that life with others.

At age 7 I knew I was a sinner and needed Christ.
Raised in the church till first grade.
9 years of wandering in the wilderness of a dysfunctional family.
Invited to youth group where I found love, acceptance and forgiveness.
Christ invaded my life just in time for my mothers attempt at killing herself.

I wanted to experience in my life the love, acceptance and forgiveness I saw in others who knew Christ.

And it was Christ in me that transformed my life in the years to come.

I went to college and saw my faith strengthened as I studied philosophy and eastern religions.

And Christ in me transformed me from an angry, bitter, hateful youth to someone trusted to preach.

As I saw Christ in people from the church I attended, Mike Howard, who taught me how to study scripture. Who knew how to laugh and enjoy life.
Jack Schrader. who loved me as part of an ensemble.
Who had deep love for Jesus and taught me to worship.
And Ralph Stanford, who bowled with me and asked me to preach my first sermons.
He taught me to love the downcast and encouraged me to express my faith.

I wanted Christ in my life because of men who had Christ in their lives.

As I saw Christ in them, I wanted more of Christ in me.

And he has been with me throughout my life.
He has proven to be trustworthy.

When Michele and I married we committed ourselves to tithing. Tithing is really an act of trust and faith. Trust that God will provide and faith that obedience to him in the area of tithing is the best approach to life.

By 1984, three years into our marriage, 4 years into seminary and with 2 children we faced a financial crisis.

I was doing exactly what I believe God wanted me to do, but as with Elijah, the river ran dry - I ran out of money to pay tuition.

So I went to withdraw from seminary only to find out that someone had paid my bill.

Wouldn’t you like to have a life like that?
Where God takes care of you?
As God says in Malachi, “Bring the full tithe and put me to the test, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you.”

And this doesn’t happen just once.
While serving in my first church in Wisconsin, Michele needed surgery to remove a tumor on her thyroid.

I was making about $1000 a month and people from the church graciously sent money to help with the expenses. Through them, God provided all the money we needed to pay for the expenses and we had $200 left over. $200 was a lot of money.

Bonus! Except we felt God leading us to pay for Bibles to be smuggled in to China. So we did.

And about a week after sending that check, we got another bill - for $200
Another week passed before I attended a conference and sat down with a fellow pastor who told me that his elders had been praying for us and they felt moved to write us a check for medical expenses - for $200!

You see, when you are faithful to tithe and give generously, God rewards you and never lets you down.
Wouldn’t you want a God like that in your life?

It is when we tell others the stories of faith from our lives that they begin to see Jesus in a whole new light and want him in their lives.

When others see us experience peace in the midst of great turmoil they catch a glimpse of Jesus and want what Jesus has to offer.

When others see our boldness in speaking truth because of Jesus.
When others see our humility and our compassion because of Jesus.
When others see our lives transformed because of Jesus.
When others see our love for one another because of Jesus.

They want Jesus.

People need to see Jesus in our life and when they do, they want Jesus in their life as well.

I read this text and I am challenged to say:

Let’s live in such a way that people see Jesus in us.


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