When Small Is BigSeries: Turbulence
WHEN SMALL IS BIG
Sermon By Terry Siverd / May 31, 2020 / Cortland Church of Christ
Greetings to all of you. Our re-start date on June 21st is now just three weeks away. You'll notice that I'm a pinhead - - I got a haircut this week after going 84 days without one. In just a few minutes I want to share with you a very touching story. But before we get to this tear-jerker, I want us to think about the life of Jesus.
There is so much about the life of our Lord Jesus Christ that we are left to wonder about.
Luke's gospel notes that Jesus began His ministry when he was about thirty years of age (Lk.3:23). Wouldn't we like to know what His first three decades were like. We are told very few details about these first thirty years. We know a little about His birth. Various details leading up to and including His birth in Bethlehem are recorded in Matthew 1-2 & Luke 1-2. Luke's gospel records His circumcision and presentation at the temple in Jerusalem, some eight days following His birth (Lk.2:21ff). Matthew's gospel provides a compressed account of the flight into Egypt, shortly after His birth, after which, Joseph, Mary & Jesus took up residence in Nazareth (Mt.2:13-23 & Lk.2:39-40). Luke's gospel also details a visit to Jerusalem during the Passover Feast when Jesus was twelve (Lk.2:21f). This incident involved Jesus lagging behind, during which time He discoursed with a number of teachers of Israel (listening and asking questions (Lk.2:46).
Other than these few exceptions we know so little about the first thirty years of Jesus.
We can avail ourselves to some good reading material that allows us to extrapolate some general knowledge about the typical life of a young boy and man in Palestine in the first century, yet as helpful as these readings made be they lack the specificity we yearn to acquire.
When it comes to the ministry of Jesus, the four gospels give us considerable information. Jesus' ministry lasted about 3-3½ years before He was crucified. What is rather astonishing about these three years is the common ordinary nature of them.
Jesus did some BIG things: He was baptized (Lk.3:21); He was tempted by Satan in the wilderness (Lk.4:1ff); Twice He confronted the money-changers in the Temple (Jn.2:13f & Mt.21:12f); He delivered the sermon on the mount (Mt.5-7); He was transfigured on the mountain (Lk.9:28ff); And occasionally Jesus spoke sternly to the scribes & Pharisees (Mt.23). And yes, He performed numerous miracles. John's gospel delineates 7 miracles that seem to expand on 7 particular “I AM' claims of Jesus. Towards the end of John's gospel he notes (Jn.20:30-31): Many other signs therefore Jesus also performed in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name. John closes his gospel saying (Jn.21:25), There are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that were written.
What I want us to think about in this lesson are the numerous SMALL THINGS that Jesus did. I think we are sometimes too enamored by the BIG things in life that we squander days of SMALL things. Jesus is the perfect model when it comes to the importance of SMALL things. Even though Jesus might have performed a number of BIG miracles over the course of His ministry, it is also very likely that most of His days were filled with ordinary small encounters. Interacting with fisherman as He invited them to follow Him; Going to weddings and attending funerals; Talking late into the night with a man named Nicodemus; Conversing with a woman of Samaria by a well; Taking time to talk and play with children; Speaking informally to people in groups of all sizes, using sometimes humorous but potent parables and spending time in casual dining with Lazarus and Mary & Martha and Zaccheus and a host of others.
Even if Jesus performed dozens of BIG miracles, His ministry spanned about 1,300 days.
Spread 100 miracles overs 3½ years and that means there were 1,200 rather ordinary days of SMALL stuff.
I'm about to share a special story with you, but before I do I want to emphasize this point:
The ordinary SMALL stuff is quite often that which has the potential to make a BIG difference.
An Old Testament king named Zerubbabel was down in the dumps because progress on the re-building of the temple seemed to be going at a snail's pace - - moving neither rapidly nor in a grandiose way. Zechariah the prophet was aroused by Jehovah God to deliver an important message to the king. The essence of his memorandum was to tell the king: Do not despise (look down on) the day of SMALL things. Rather, he was exhorted to do the small stuff and trust God: not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit (Zech.4:6 & 10).
I spoke at length recently with one of my longtime friends, Rick Murphy. I've known Murph since I was nine years old. We roomed together for two years at Harding University. He now lives in Memphis with his wife Dorinda - - she is presently rehabbing from a surgical procedure. I asked Murph if he had read the article that his wife Dorinda had posted on Facebook. He hadn't. I told him to be listening for a soon-coming sermon. This is that sermon. What I'm about to read appeared on Facebook and was forwarded to our household by Dorinda Murphy. It had the name Joseph M. Bruso attached to it, but I think he was simply the sender. Since it seemed anonymous and unnamed, I gave it the title, A Little Moment Of Joy. It will be posted elsewhere on our church website. Please pause here to access and read, A Little Moment Of Joy.
This story has a tenderness about it that makes it shine. It tells the story of the kind of person we all long to be in our ordinary days. It's a story about Jesus, even though His name is never mentioned. It's a modern-day story that powerfully conveys the life of our Lord Jesus, Who, as Peter told the household of Cornelius, went about doing good (Acts 10:38). It is not at all hard imagine that this is the kind of SMALL thing Jesus would do. This is the kind of SMALL thing that nourishes souls (our's and others) opens us up to the gospel of Christ. Let us all pray that God's Spirit might empower us to excel as doing SMALL things that can truly make a BIG difference in the long run.
Dear Heavenly Father,
Help us to never become so fixated on big things that we come to despise the day of small things.
Give us eyes and a heart to see the beauty in common, ordinary encounters with our fellow human beings.
Grant us the strength to do many good deeds - - even and especially the small things.
May our love, like that of Jesus, thrive on going about doing good to others.
Through Christ Jesus, who served and loved ordinary people on ordinary days, we pray. Amen