Dr. Ed Young - Reach Out and Touch
I've had the privilege to go to the Vatican and visit the Sistine Chapel on several occasions. The last time Jo-Beth and I were there, we got what they called a backdoor tour. Our guide knew someone there and we went into the Sistine Chapel before it was open to the public. There's only a handful of people there were able ready to look at it. And I think it was the time they had just completed a restoration of the colors and it is indeed magnificent. Most of you are familiar with it. You can look and see it there on your screens. It's a powerful figure.
You see to my right there on the screen, there's God. You see him reaching all the way out. He's leaning way over. His muscles are taunt. He's extending his finger toward Adam. Now, this is called The Creation of Adam. It's a poor title. It's not one that Michelangelo gave. It's what people that picked up. It's not the creation of Adam, obviously, there's Adam. He's already created. He's alive. His eyes are opened. But notice whereas God is reaching and straining to touch Adam, Adam is sort of reclined, see? He's, you know, leaning back the other way. He has his left hand out, his elbow's on his knee, and he just sort of languishing. God is reaching to touch and Adam is saying... now he is looking at God but it's sort of a placid more or less seemingly disinterested look. His left leg is up and he's just, all he had to do to touch the finger of God was look, whoop. All he had to do, whoop.
God was already there inches apart. He just had to go, whoop. But he didn't in this painting. The Bible tells us that God is nearer than any one of us could imagine or understand. The theological word is omnipresence. It's the concept that God is everywhere at all time, and all places, and all situations. God is with us. God is tabernacling among us. God is everywhere. He's nearer than any one of us could imagine or think. A little girl told her daddy, "Daddy, Jesus lives in my heart". And he said, "Well, how do you know, Susie"? She said, "Every time I put my hand over my heart, I feel him walking inside". Near, near.
We're gonna discover about how God is near. We've been walking through Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. We talked about it being body of God walking on this earth and the bottom line is the word we say at Christmas but it's true all the time, Emmanuel, God with us, God with us. He's near, right here, right now, this place, every place. God is near. And we've taken Jesus all the way from birth in Bethlehem, all the way to Jerusalem, for purification, all the way to Egypt. We've taken him back to Nazareth. We've taken back to Jerusalem. It's a 12-year-old and a Passover. We took him back again to Nazareth and now we've taken him all the way down.
Look at your map there, he was baptized by the Jordan and the bottom part of the Jordan River, see it? After he was baptized, he went in the wilderness. He moved in the wilderness there where he was tempted, the place of desolation and then following that, we run into a very interesting Scripture. We have John the Baptist who baptized him and we have a Scripture there. Here's what happened, gospel of John chapter number 1, verse 35, "But again the next day, before his baptism, John was standing with two of his disciples," verse 36, John 1. "And he looked at Jesus as He walked, and he said, 'Behold, the Lamb of God!'" He just said that in verse 29 that takes away the sin of the world.
"And the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus. And Jesus turned and saw them following, and said to them, 'What do you seek?' They said to Him, 'Rabbi, where are You staying?' He said to them, 'Come, and you will see.' So, they came and saw where He was staying; and they stayed with Him, with Jesus, that day, it was about the tenth hour. And one of the two who heard him speak and followed Him, was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother. He found first his own brother Simon and said to him, 'We have found the Messiah' (which translated means Christ). And he brought him to Jesus. And Jesus looked at him and said, 'You are Simon the son of John; and you shall be called Cephas'," rocky, Peter Aramaic. "The next day He purposed to go into Galilee, and He found Philip. And Philip said to him, 'Follow Me.' And now Philip was from Bethsaida, and the city of Andrew and Peter. And Philip found Nathanael..."
What's happening here? Principle we learned at Bethany, you can't give away what you do not have. Tomorrow somebody says, "What did I learn in church? I learned that you can't give away what you do not have. Boy, that's profound. I wish I'd have heard that". But that's what we see here. And the calling, the discernment of Jesus and calling these about, what did Jesus give to these two? By the way, when John the Baptist says, "Behold, the lamb of God which takes away the sin of the world," he identifies Jesus as Messiah and immediately, two of the followers of John the Baptist left John and followed Jesus. Who were these two guys? Andrew and John. And they followed Jesus and Jesus turned around and said, "What do you want? Why are you following me"? And they said, "We want to visit with you. We want to go home with you".
And he took them and he spent the rest of the day. What happened in that conversation, do you think, between Jesus, and Andrew, and John? I think he listened, he asked questions, and he answered questions. Does that sound familiar of the 12-year-old boy in the temple, remember? That's the way we teach. That's the way we learn. We listen, we ask questions, we answer questions. We listen, we ask, we answer, we answer, we listen, we ask. That's the genius of learning, and that's exactly what they did. Jesus listened to them. He asked them questions, then he answered the questions they were asked.
And what happened? Jesus gave to them, remember the purpose for the life of Jesus? Remember what he said it was? He came to change hearts, change hearts, give us a new heart, and then a new agenda to announce that you now have a new kingdom. You're in the kingdom of God and that's what he gave these two. And now they had something, didn't they? They that new hearts, they had a new agenda, and what'd they do? They said, "Let's go find Peter". They found Peter and they give him, they introduced him to Jesus. He had a new heart, a new kingdom. Peter said, "I want to find my friend Philip," and he did the same thing with Philip. And Philip said, "Let's go tell Nathaniel about it". All of a sudden, you have the gospel being gossiped and you have new hearts and new kingdom endeavors just exploding all around us. They were giving that which they had. Before they'd been baptized with the baptism of John the Baptist, repent, try harder, go under, come up, that's the old way. "I'm gonna just try hard".
Now they had a new heart, new power, new motivation, and they were in the kingdom. They were giving to one another that which they were excited about, that new heart, that new life. Some people have a hard time loving. Why's that? You've never really been loved? Some people have a hard time forgiving because you've never really understood and perhaps never felt you've been forgiven. Some people have a hard time trusting people. It's because maybe you have never been trusted. You see, you can't give away except that which you have. You can't give away anything you do not have. And so, the first commandment says, I shall love the Lord thy God with all thy heart soul, mind, spirit, with everything you got, then you ought to love your neighbor, and then finally you can love yourself.
And a lot of people don't love themself because they haven't loved God. They have the inability to love their neighbor, and they haven't understood that God so loved them. And God fills us with love and then we have the capacity to love. A lot of people have trouble here. We say, "Boy, I want to be patient". Whatever you need, that's what you give. Need somebody to listen to you, listen to somebody. And then you will have that ability. You'll be able to give it away. That's the way life works. That's the way the principles of God in Christ work with a new heart, with a new agenda, with being new in the kingdom. You can't give away what you do not have. And they had Christ, they had Jesus, a new heart, and they begin to give it to everybody they came in contact with. That's what we learn at Bethany. You can't give away what you do not have and you see these early apostles just giving away, giving away Jesus, showing them how that when they put their hand on their heart, they will feel him walking around inside there.
Now, they travel all the way to a wedding. They go to Cana. What happens in Cana? Wonderful, wonderful story there. Now, these are recently followers of who? Of John the Baptist, keep that in mind. And so, they walk all the way to Cana. Verse 3, chapter 2 of John, we read, "When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to Him, 'They have no wine.' And Jesus said to her, 'Woman, what does that have to do with us? My hour has not yet come.'" That's not the tone of voice Jesus had to his mom. Let me tell you what this is really saying. He said, "Woman," by the way, the same word he used at the cross when he looked at Mary and said to his disciples, he said, "That's your mom now, and mom, that's your son now". The same word of "reverence" and "respect" as you like.
My dear lady, what does this have to do with us? "My hour has not yet come". What's he saying? He's saying here in this phrase, "It's not the time for me to publicly to begin to perform miracles". And then the next verse, I like what Mary said. Mary said, "His mother said to the servants, whatever he says to you, do it". Now, quietly, not a public miracle, but a private miracle known to his mom and the servants there. "Now there were six stone waterpots set there for the Jewish custom of purification, containing twenty or thirty gallons each. Jesus said to them, 'Fill the waterpots with water.' So they filled them up to the brim. And He said, 'Draw some out now and take it to the headwaiter.'"
This is the first miracle. He turned water into wine. But you know what's interesting here? Very, very interesting, first of all, the bride and the groom and all of them were embarrassed, particularly, the parents of the groom, that they ran out of wine. They ran...by the way, wine in that day would be something they would drink because the water was not pure. It'd be like coffee or tea for us today. And it would be mixed one part of water, three parts of wine. So, don't get into the alcoholic thing here. That's not what I'm dealing with. That's not the situation here. They use it as a part of a ceremony, and they would pass it along and they would drink wine all through the ceremony. And it would be a shameful thing, disgraceful, "We've run out of wine. Ooh, what are we gonna do"?
Mary had some position there. Didn't tell Jesus to go and get wine or turn water to wine. She just said, "Here's our problem". And Jesus said, "I'm not ready to go public". And Mary said, "Whatever he says do, you do it". And they had big pots for purification, had six of them. They'd hold between 20 and 30 gallons in each one. So, he multiplied 6 times 30, Jesus produced 180 gallons of wine. Whoa! Why, we could have a wedding for everybody here. You see, this is a principle we learn in Cana, very important principle. The Christian life is more about abundance than it is austerity. You see, here the apostle of John the Baptist, they'd been out in the boondocks, in the wilderness, eating locust, wild honey, man, they had been lives of severity.
"Repent, the kingdom is coming," a hard life, a tough life, a reclusive life, a life of hermits and now they follow Jesus. The first thing he says, "Let's go and have a party at a wedding celebration for a week in length". Jesus was a party animal in the best sense of the word. Now follow me, doesn't mean he was a winebibber. Doesn't mean that he participated in all kind of... but it means where Jesus was, there was fun, there was excitement, there was electricity. He was somebody you'd want to be with. You see it always in the Bible. And we've got him in sort of a... no, there was a joy in Christ. And by the way, that's the most important word in the Bible to scribe a Christian is the word "joy". If you want joy, real joy, let Jesus come into your life, give you that new heart, that new kingdom. And these apostles where John was saying, "My goodness, we've never seen such celebration".
Being a Christian is more abundance than it is austerity. Doesn't mean we'll all be rich, no, not that, but it's abundance of things that last forever. The joy in Christ, the celebratory atmosphere, that's what we learn at Cana. We learned what at Bethany? You can't give away what you do not have. Cana, we learn the Christian life following Jesus is more abundance than it is austerity. It is a thrill to be with brothers and sisters in Christ. I love people think, "We as Christians, we won't have any fun". Just follow us around for a week, we'll show ya and we'll have the finest kind of Christian fun you can ever imagine. That's the kingdom, that's right, you may applaud.
Now, and then Jesus goes and they take a little trip, just about 3 miles away, and they go to Nazareth and he speaks in his home synagogue. He had gone there every Sabbath, every Saturday, his whole life. He had been taught there. That was his background and he goes to be the leader in worship there in the reading of the Old Testament, the prophets, and then the rest of it. And this is what he read. He read prophecy of Isaiah and it is a very, very interesting, interesting prophecy there. And look over, if you would, all the way over in Luke.
Now, Luke chapter number 4, "And Jesus took the book of the prophet Isaiah handed it to Him. He opened the book, found the place where he wrote, 'The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor.'" Not just those that do not have. The poor he would mean who was disenfranchised, someone who was out of fellowship with people. They were poor. "And He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives". Captives would be those who were crushed. "And recovery of sight to the blind". You have no illustration of that in the Old Testament of someone blind receiving their sight. This was the mark of Messiah. These are messianic passages. "To set free those who are oppressed," those who are scattered, those who are down. And then finally, "To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord". This would be the year of Jubilee.
You see, they had the sabbatical year, seven years, and they forgave all their debts. But every 50 years, really 7 times 7, 49 and the 50th year, they had the year of Jubilee. And in Israel what they would do is all debts that you owe would be forgiven. All the land that had been bought and sold for the past 50 years went back to the original family, the original owners. And all slaves would be set free. In other words, they would enslave members of one another's family when they couldn't pay debts. Now, there was a leveling of all of Israel and they planted nothing or harvested nothing for an entire year. It was a year of jubilee, a fresh new beginning for everybody, and that's what Jesus is saying. He's saying, "I came to proclaim the year of Jubilee". It is the Messiah has come, that's the announcement.
And now, here he is in his home church standing up saying, "Hey, I'm the Messiah, I'm fulfilling all of this". Verse 21, "And Jesus began to say to them, 'Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.'" And notice how they responded to that. Verse 22, "And all were speaking well of Him, and wondering at the gracious words which were falling from His lips; and they were saying, 'Is this not Joseph's son?' He said to them, 'No doubt you will quote this proverb to Me, Physician, heal yourself! Whatever we heard was done at Capernaum, do here in your hometown as well.'" What is he saying? They're saying, "Look, we've heard you perform some miracles over in Capernaum and other parts of Galilee, we want a miracle right here in Nazareth. This is your hometown. Perform, do a sign".
By the way, if you were here we dealt with temptations jumping off of the top of temple, he'd already said that's not the way to build a kingdom. Remember that? This is the same, "Oh, show us a sign". He refused to do it. Then he goes over to say, "A prophet's without honor in his own country". What's he saying there? He's saying look at all the prophets in the Old Testament. How many of the prophets did the people of Israel listen to? How many did they respond to? Well, maybe temporarily, they didn't get it. And then what Jesus said, the very profound phrase, verse 25 he says, "I say to you in truth". By the way, I like truth unless it begins to cut me, unless, you know, it begins to tell me the truth.
"Oh, oh, now wait a minute. I don't know." We all love truth until it brings under conviction and begins to speak to where we are. And Jesus says, "I tell you the truth, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah". And he goes on and he says to those prejudice, bias, narrow, provincial inhabitants of his hometown. He says, "Let me tell ya, there's a prophet named Elijah and there was a widow from Sidon, a Gentile, and he provided food for her and her daughter. And also there's a prophet named Elisha and Naaman, a Syrian came, another Gentile and Elisha healed the Syrian". And he's saying, "Why in the world didn't these two prophets heal some Israelites? There were a lot of Israelites who were hungry after three and a half years of no rain. And there are a lot of Israelites, these Israelites, they had leprosy, why didn't he heal one of them"?
You see, the prejudice that was there in Nazareth? Nazareth, you remember, if you look at it closely, was a city that prided itself on being totally Jewish. They were Jews, Jews. Anybody wasn't a Jew, they were not welcome. So, they were very narrow in their belief. Everybody went to synagogue, everybody had the same thing, and they'd said that, "this is only for us". And that's the reason Nathaniel said, who was from right up the road 3 miles away, Cana, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth"? It was small town competition and Nazareth was so legalistic and pious he said, "Man, can anything good come out of Nazareth"? And Nathaniel, by the way, he knew that the prophet said that Jesus would be born in Bethlehem and now they said he's a Nazarene. That was something he had to jump over in order to become and have that new heart in Christ.
So, we see the principle that is here. What do we learn in this sermon in Nazareth? What do you think? Old principle, "You can't put new wine in old wineskins". That's what you... and what happened here to Jesus? When he told them that how God had healed these two Gentiles they said, "We've had enough of this". They took him and tried to push him over a cliff. You put new wine in old wineskins, what happens? The new wine ferments and the old wineskins go boom, that's what happened in the church in Nazareth. That's what happened there. You see, they wanted things to remain as they are. They wanted nothing new. And we find that in the body of Christ today.
"Well, I want to put this new life in Christ and the old way I used to live, the old way I used to think. I'm gonna have the same friend to do the same thing. I've just sort of tacked on Jesus". Not so, Jesus is like that new wine. You can't put it in our old lifestyles if we do, it'll explode. It will not work, very, very important. Go back up to the Sistine Chapel a minute. I wonder how many of us are like Adam. "Lord, I want you to touch me, but I'm not willing to leave this reclined comfortable position and just to go boop". No, just boop.
Somebody here all you need to go is go boop, and you'll discover that God in Christ is right there to take you, to take me, where we are and to give us a new heart, a new kingdom agenda, and take us into a new life, a fresh beginning. Being a Christian doesn't mean, "Now I'm doing better". No, no, being a Christian means we're brand new in Jesus Christ. That's the miracle of it all. And then we'll be able to say, "You know, Jesus is in my heart". Well, how do you know that? "When I get still, I can feel him walking around". That's what that is, folks, that's what that is if you're in Christ. That's Jesus walking around in your heart and in mine.