Like the Pharisees, we have a tendency to only worry about the mask we’re putting up on the outside, rather than worrying about what is on the inside. But Jesus speaks directly opposing to that tendency, saying that what matters most is what is found in the heart. Henry Drummond emphasizes it well:
“[Religious people] are inclined to look upon bad temper as a very harmless weakness. We speak of it as a mere infirmity of nature, a family failing, a matter of temperament, not a thing to take into very serious account in estimating a man’s character. And yet here, right in the heart of this analysis of love, it finds a place… The peculiarity of ill temper is that it is the vice of the virtuous. It is often the one blot on an otherwise noble character.” – Henry Drummond, The Greatest Thing in the World
We don’t need to be obsessive-compulsive about the outward behaviors, because they will never be able to deal with sin. Only God can address our heart problem, first by sending His Son to die for us and second by putting His Holy Spirit inside us to write His laws on our hearts and transform us from the inside. Stop worrying about the outward behaviors and traditions, and instead focus on Jesus’ work that allows you to come directly into the presence of the Holy God. He wants our hearts, not our outward appearances, and that then allows us to enter into true community with the Body of Christ, the Church.
A Matter of the Heart – Sermon by the Rev. Charlie Holt from The Church of St John the Divine on Vimeo.
Jesus was never one to hem and haw about the truth. He was less concerned about numbers and more concerned about authenticity of faith. In John 6:66, the Bible tells us that this caused many of His followers to turn away, and He was left with just the Twelve. He challenged the Twelve, saying, “Are you going to leave Me, too?” And Peter says, “Where else would we go? You have the Words of Life.” The truth of Christ is so compelling that those who are called by Him have no where else to go. Jesus is the only source of life, and He still remains so today.
The Words of Life – Sermon by the Rev. Charlie Holt from The Church of St John the Divine on Vimeo.
In the below sermon, I challenge you to check your motivations for seeking Jesus the same way Jesus challenged those who were “seeking” Him in John 6. Are you truly seeking to worship and adore Him, or are you seeking the fringe benefits? What lies are you believing that are keeping you from worshiping Him in spirit and truth? Jesus confronts our bad motivations and self-centeredness. The only “work” He asks of us is belief.
Seeking Jesus, the Bread of Life – Sermon by the Rev. Charlie Holt from The Church of St John the Divine on Vimeo.
Our old saying says, “Familiarity breeds contempt.” The way Jesus said it was “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown” (Mark 6:4). The truth is that the more familiar we are with someone, the more likely we are to take them for granted. Jesus humbled Himself completely, leaving behind all the trappings of heaven, and He became someone so “regular” that the people of His hometown rejected the idea that He could’ve been the Messiah. He wasn’t handsome (Isaiah 53), He had no home (Matthew 8:20), and He sent His followers out with nothing (Mark 6:8). The only thing He had to recommend Himself to us is that He was God in the flesh, which is far more than we need or deserve. And that’s the only thing we need to be able to share Him with others as well. All that matters in the kingdom of God is whether you are bearing the name of Jesus Christ. Then, if people reject you, it can’t hurt you because all they are rejecting is Him.
Watch the full sermon:
Trading Places – Sermon by the Rev. Charlie Holt from The Church of St John the Divine on Vimeo.
This sermon is about another “Mark sandwich” found in chapter 5, verses 21-43. Mark shares the story of Jesus’ resurrection of the daughter of Jairus, and the story is split in the middle with another healing of the woman with the issue in the blood. In both cases, Jesus touches someone who would be considered “unclean.” Rather than being defiled by those touches, however, Jesus brings healing and restoration to the unclean. Jesus’ compassion and power declares worthy and lovable those who society considers “untouchable.” We need to take Jesus’ example and love ALL in our society. We are all loved equally as children of God, and each of us as His followers need to love all equally in His name.
Loving the Untouchables – Sermon by the Rev. Charlie Holt from The Church of St John the Divine on Vimeo.