Sermon delivered October 7, 2000 by Pastor Donald J Gettys

McDonald Road Seventh-day Adventist Church

McDonald, Tennessee

Biblical quotations are from the New International Version NIV unless otherwise noted.

The Stagecoach Church

Have you ever ridden a stagecoach pulled by horses? Not too many people. Back in the old days of the west if you wanted to travel to California you had to travel by stagecoach and it was a long trip. There were three classes of passengers: First-Class; Second-Class; and Third-Class. One day a man went to buy a ticket to get on the stagecoach. He discovered that he could save substantially by obtaining a third-class ticket. So he bought a third-class ticket and saved money. He looked over the seats. The seats looked all the same. They had a cushion on each seat and he thought, "My! I've made a wise decision here." Every thing went well for miles. All classes of people rode along in the same comfort; first-class, second-class and third- class. They were all the same. He rejoiced at his wise decision. The first-class folks were no better off than he was.

Finally they approached the base of a steep uphill road. The horses stopped. The driver jumped down from his high seat and opened the door and he said: "First-class passengers, keep your seats. Second-class passengers, please get out and walk! Third- class passengers, please get behind and push!"

There were many steep hills and the trip was long and hot and dusty. And each time he had to get out and push. Finally he saw the wisdom of buying a first-class ticket.

I want to speak today about first-class Christians and third- class Christians because in my humble opinion we all ought to be third-class Christians, be willing to get out there and push, because, you know, the first-class passengers would never have made it had it not been for the willingness of the third-class pushers.

There are many long steep hills along the road that leads to eternal life. I think each of us needs to do our part. Every church needs members who are willing to get out and push rather than just sit there and enjoy the ride. A lot of people never use their spiritual muscles or their means to help the church. They're content to let their fellow members do the pushing: "We'll just sit here and ride." Well, that's not what the Bible wants.

I'm going top divide this sermon into two parts: a first part, First-Class Christians; and a second part, Second-Class Christians.

PART ONE: First class Christians. (Those who are willing to ride but not to push. They're not willing to get out and actually put their shoulder behind the load.) Come to Luke 6 to see an example of what seems to be a first-class man: Jesus' little band left the wheat fields and entered the synagogue where Jesus was invited to preach. Luke 6:6,7 On another Sabbath he went into the synagogue and was teaching, and a man was there whose right hand was shriveled. The Pharisees and the teachers of the law were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal on the Sabbath.

There was this man, his hand was all withered up and they just knew that He was going to heal him. And did He? Oh yes, He did. Did Jesus break the Sabbath by healing that man? No. He broke the rules of the Pharisees because their rules were "No healing on the Sabbath." He didn't actually break their legalistic laws because Jesus did not touch the man, Jesus did not even ask that God heal him. All Jesus did is ask the man to hold out his withered hand and he was instantly healed.

Desire of Ages, p. 287 - "Those who hold that Christ abolished the law, teach that He broke the Sabbath." I looked this up on the Internet and on the internet you can look up a lot of things. On these verses many many churches do teach that right here Jesus taught that it is okay to break the Sabbath. The Sabbath is of none effect and is no different than anything else and has been nailed to the cross. Listen to what Ellen White says, "'they' teach that He broke the Sabbath here and justified His disciples in doing the same. Thus they are really taking the same ground as did the caviling Jews. In this they contradict the testimony of Christ Himself, who declared, "I have kept My Father's commandments, and abide in His love. - John 15:10 KJV." That's pretty clear, isn't it?

Luke 6:8-11 But Jesus knew what they were thinking and said to the man with the shriveled hand, "Get up and stand in front of everyone." So he got up and stood there. Jesus isn't going to do anything in secret. Then Jesus said to them, "I ask you, which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to destroy it?" Of course, Jesus was intending to save life while they were plotting to destroy the life-giver Himself! He knew what was going on. He looked around at them all, and then said to the man, "Stretch out your hand." He did so, and his hand was completely restored. That's amazing. And of course, the Pharisees were furious and began to discuss with one another what they might do to Jesus.

Now, Dr. Luke accurately diagnoses the medical condition as a withered hand, shriveled up and useless. Then Doctor Luke adds a seemingly insignificant detail: it was the right hand. Now for most of us, this would be a problem, wouldn't it. If our right hand was all withered up we'd have to write with our left hand and nobody could read it. And we'd have to wear a bib because we'd spill our food all down ourselves. But to the Jew it was a disaster even worse because the right hand to the Jew was a symbol of strength, a symbol of authority and generosity. Even today we offer we extend the right hand of fellowship. It was a disaster. The Israelite father passed on his inheritance by placing his right hand upon head of his son. This man obviously had never been able to do that in a proper way because hi hand was all shriveled up and withered up. He couldn't do anything with it. It was just there. The man with the withered hand had never fully experienced this rite. He was lame both physically and socially in his family.

In the audience were the conniving Pharisees who sought to trap Jesus. They did not intend to listen but to criticize Jesus. There are people like that today. They knew Jesus was full of love and once Jesus saw that man He would want to heal him. The pharisees would have a whole church full of witnesses to the illegal act.

In Matthew's account of this story Jesus asked them a question: Matthew 12:11,12 He said to them, "If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out? How much more valuable is a man than a sheep! Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath." That's interesting, isn't it. These people would rather relieve an animal from suffering because it would create financial loss to a person than they would to help an individual that was suffering himself. I wonder if this man with the withered hand actually came to church that day out of habit or if he was a plant by these spies to tempt

Desire of Ages, p. 286 - "Rather than violate their traditions, they would leave a man to suffer, while they would relieve an animal because of the potential loss to the owner if the animal were neglected. Thus greater care was shown for a dumb animal than for man, who is made in the image of God."

I wonder if this man with the withered hand actually came to church that day out of habit or he was a "plant" by these spies sent there to tempt Jesus to heal him on the Sabbath day. I don't know. He could not do the same as the other church members. Of course he could sit in the pew. He could see. He could hear the sermon. He could understand it. He could sing. But, he remained motionless when it came to lifting his hand for helping the church because he was not able to use that hand.

I wonder what happened to that man? You never read anywhere that he even said "thank you" for healing him. You would think he would become a disciple, but you don't read anything about that. You don't read that he did anything for the Lord. He was just healed and disappeared. Apparently didn't get out and push. He didn't get out and use his talents for the Lord.

Apparently both Jesus' sermon and His healing were unsuccessful. The Pharisees were so engrossed by legalism that they could not recognize the true Messiah even when He stood right there in front of them. By legalistically concentrating on keeping the letter of the law they completely missed seeing the Author of the law! He was right there in their midst.

The Pharisees really needed healing worse than man with the withered hand. They remained spiritually and emotionally handicapped while the handicapped man was completely restored. And there are some here today who are in this church. You need healing. You might be thinking, "Yes, there are some people like that. Not me, of course." Yes, you. Yes, me. We need healing, don't we. You may not have a shriveled hand, you may have a shriveled heart, and you need healing. Jesus Christ is here today. Do you believe that? And He can heal you today. There were two groups that come into every synagog in Jesus' day, and there are two groups that come into every church today. One group exits with renewed strength. They have gotten a blessing from being here. The other group comes to the church, and they don't receive a blessing. They go out through those doors just as critical as they ever were before. Just as discouraged as they were before. You need to invite Jesus into your heart. He can make the difference.

I want to share with you a story that happened with the Pathfinders on their way to Camp Kulaqua. I don't know at which portion of the trip this happened, but they were riding along and everything was going fine. They haul a red trailer behind the Pathfinder bus. At one point they stopped for fuel and they got out and they noticed that one of the tires had blown out. "Well, we didn't know that before." It was one of the tires on the trailer. It was a tandem-axle trailer: two axles and four tires. So that means that the tire that blew out and shredded to pieces and only the carcass was there. It didn't do any work, but the other tire carried the whole load on that side of the trailer for how many miles, no body knows.

You know, that's sort of like people in the church. Some of us are like Firestone tires. We blow out. That tire that had blown out had lost the entire tread and the carcass that was left was being hauled along by the other tire that was working as hard as it could work and was faithful and got under the load and shouldered the load and did the job. That's what we ought to be like. That's the burden of this sermon. Folks, we need to get behind the load. What ever the work of Jesus is, we need to be willing to do that work.

PART TWO The example of a third class stagecoach passenger who pushes whenever needed. This is somebody who is not like the first-class Christian. He's not going to sit in the stagecoach and just enjoy the ride while the others are out there pushing. I think we ought to be third-class Christians, people who are willing to get behind and push. And here's an example of that.

Come to Mark 1 in your Bible. Another Sabbath, Jesus arrives in Capernaum and we find that Jesus went to the church on that Sabbath. Jesus always went to church on Sabbath. What an example. That's what you need to do. If you're not in church on Sabbath, you're not doing what Jesus did. And after church they went over to Peter's house for lunch. But everything was not good at Peter's house. Look at Mark 1:29. As soon as they left the synagogue, they went with James and John to the home of Simon and Andrew.

Peter impulsively invites five unexpected guests to his humble fishermen's home for Sabbath lunch. How would you like to be Peter's wife? Here they come in unexpectedly into this humble fisherman's home for Sabbath lunch. You men would never do that would you on your wife? Jewish custom mandated that the main Sabbath meal would come immediately after the sermon. So, this would be at the sixth hour which was twelve o'clock noon. Jesus was coming there to eat and then to rest.

Now, I Corinthians 9:5 says that Peter, along with the other apostles, was married like all the other apostles. For those who think Peter was the first Pope, what does this say about celibacy? Peter's wife, on that Sabbath day, must have had her hands full because she had to fix a meal for all of those people and besides there was also sickness in the home. Peter's mother- in-law was off in a back bedroom somewhere sick.

Notice: Peter was among the most zealous of the apostles and yet sickness came into his home. Christians are not immune to affliction and pain. Is trouble going to happen in any body's house? Yes. Even Jesus was made perfect through suffering - Hebrews 2:10.

Now come over here to Mark 1:30 Simon's mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told Jesus about her. Greek doctors classified fevers in two categories; there's a fever and a great fever. In Luke 4:38 Doctor Luke diagnoses it as a great fever. So this was a fever over 105 degrees Fahrenheit.

In that particular part of Galilee, Capernaum, burning fevers were widespread because there were low lying Marshes in the area, damp areas according to the Pulpit Commentary. Maybe It is not wise to live in damp areas. As Peter's wife set five extra places at the table someone thought to mention the poor mother-in-law in the back room and they told Jesus about it. I imagine this good woman was aged. She was an elderly lady being cared for, as old people ought to be if at all possible, in the home of her loving relatives. That's where she was. And she was sick. She had a problem. And when you have a problem, the best thing you could do is tell Jesus about your problem. And that's what they did.

Luke 18:1 (KJV), "... men ought always to pray,". You ought to always be telling your problems to Jesus. And Jesus immediately entered the sickroom. He didn't delay. He came right in. Why did He do that? Because Jesus is touched with the feeling of our infirmities (see Hebrews 4:15). Isaiah 53:4 Jesus bears our infirmities.

Now, come back to Mark 1:31 So he went to her, took her hand and helped her up. The fever left her and she began to wait on them. Now, notice that Jesus did not lift her up but "helped" her up. Do you get the difference? He helped her up. She put forth what little feeble effort she could. This indicates that she was willing to be healed. She did her best. And quickly that fever left her and she began to wait on them, she ministered unto them (KJV). And this is the same Greek word that was used in the story of Mary and Martha. Martha is always in there doing the dishes, you know. That's the same word that describes Martha. She waited on them, she ministered to them and that word is only used in the Bible that I could find of women or of angels. Never of men. That word never refers to the work that a man does. With renewed strength she put on her apron and went into that kitchen and helps prepare a banquet for Jesus and His group. She put her shoulder behind the stagecoach. She's willing to do whatever. She prepares a banquet for Jesus and His group.

That meal must have been a very significant meal because Jesus was able to stay up late healing the whole town. I wonder who told the town that a healer was in the neighborhood? Do you suppose the old restored mother-in-law went out and told the townspeople all about how she had been healed after being sick for many days. If so, what a witness she was! Mark 1:32-34, That evening after sunset, That's when it happened, and that's when healing became legal to the orthodox Jew. the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed. The whole town gathered at the door, and Jesus healed many who had various diseases. He also drove out many demons, but he would not let the demons speak because they knew who he was.

What an example that healed woman is to us, Peter's mother-in- law. You're going to meet that lady when you get to heaven. She's going to be there. Unlike the man with the withered hand, this woman immediately got up from her sick bed and put her shoulder under the load and helped. And I want to tell you that when the cause of Jesus suffers true Christians roll up their sleeves and help while the hypocrites remain motionless or stand back and criticize the people that are helping.

Had Peter's Mother-in-law been a passenger on the stagecoach as it came to a steep hill, even the horses might not have had to work! She used her restored health for renewed service.

Friend, if Jesus has done a lot for you, don't you want to do a lot for Him? When the church has a work-bee, come and roll up your sleeves and help. What a work bee we had the other day here at the church! When the nominating committee calls, volunteer to serve. Be anxious to do what the Lord wants. It is my belief that nominating committee is a tool of God to connect His saints to service. You see, our job as saints is to serve. An old Scottish proverb says: "Saved to Serve". That's why we are saved.

Ephesians 6:7,8 Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men, because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does...

God's church is the stagecoach and we are the passengers. And friends, if we just sit in our first-class seat, and just sit there and expect every body else to get behind and push, what going to happen to the church? The church is never going to reach its destination which is uphill, the straight and narrow path We need to get behind the load and help. It is not easy to lead out in Vacation Bible School or Sabbath School or take a position of leadership. But God always provides strength if we are willing to be used.

Are you willing to go where Jesus wants you to go and to do what Jesus wants you to do?

Hymn of Praise: #221, Rejoice, the Lord is King
Scripture: Mark 1:29-34
Hymn of Response: #573, I'll go Where you want me to Go.


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