【2013년 2월 3일(주일)】VKC 주현절 넷째 주일 예배
【본문】누가복음 4:33~34, 예레미야 1:4~7
【제목】당신이 누구인줄 아노니
“I know who you are”
I sometimes wonder how much our church members know about me. How much do you know about me?
It has been three years and half since I came to Victoria August, 2009. Meanwhile I have often talked about myself during my sermons. I talked about my childhood, my children, my churches, my love story with my wife and so on. We read the Song of Solomon in last early morning sermon. So I talked about romance and marriage.
However, I haven’t opened some about me. Actually, I still hide more about me. Especially I don’t want talk about my story during the storm and stress. I am struck with owe all of a sudden whenever my old friends tell me that they plan to visit to Victoria.
I would like to discuss about ‘knowing’ today together with all of us. God says He knows Jeremiah in ‘Jeremiah.’ In Luke, ghosts say they know who Jesus is. But each meaning of ‘knowing’ is different from each other. Today, I would like to discuss why they are different and what true knowing is.
When we first look at Jeremiah verse 5 it says, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” In response in verse 6 Jeremiah says, “’Ah, Sovereign LORD,’ I said, ‘I do not know how to speak; I am only a child.’” Upon reflecting on these verses I thought that it was a little strange.
Because God says that he knew Jeremiah. The word ‘knew’ here is ‘Yada’ in Hebrew. It connotes knowing inside out, completely. Just thinking about the fact that God knew Jeremiah this way, even before he was formed in the womb, would have probably made him feel ecstatic.
Moreover, God had also ‘set [him] apart,’ which can also be interpreted as making one holy. What was he set apart for? To become the prophet to the nations. The word ‘nations’ here not only means multiple countries but it points to the entire world, the universe.
When I was little, I hated the fact that I was normal. I wasn’t smart, or gifted. Nothing about me was special.
However, God had set Jeremiah apart and considered him to be special. If I told you right now “Your children are special to God. They were chosen by God even before they were born and they will be called upon to do God’s special deeds,” how would you feel? Wouldn’t you be proud and happy?
And yet, Jeremiah in verse 6 says, “Ah, Sovereign LORD.” Upon hearing that he was chosen and was set apart, Jeremiah sighs and says “Ah.”
Later on in the verse he says, “I do not know how to speak; I am only a child.” Jeremiah at the time was around his 20s and he’s comparing himself to a child and saying that he is that immature and unready.
Strange right? Jeremiah wasn’t happy about the fact that he was specially called upon. Instead, he sighed in grief and told God that he was too young to handle such deeds. Although this can be seen as Jeremiah being modest, it doesn’t explain the fact that he sighed in grief.
In order to understand this, we must look at Jeremiah in more detail. Verse 1 tells us that Jeremiah was the “son of Hilkiah, one of the priests at Anathoth in the territory of Benjamin.” Although this verse doesn’t seem special, the behind story of the verse is something to be noted. 1 Kings Chapter 2 tells us that the priest of David’s time was Abiathar. When Adonijah and Solomon were fighting over the reign, Abiathar sides with Adonijah. When Solomon was reined as the next king, Abiathar was deported to Anathoth, his hometown and from then on Zadok’s lineage filled the position of the priest.
The fact that Jeremiah’s father was the priest of Anathoth means that Jeremiah is Adonijah’s descendant. Naturally, the fact that Adonijah was deported resulted in much hatred, anger and resentment in the family including Jeremiah. This type of strong resentment doesn’t stop at the person but tends to extend to God. Thus, it’s possible that Jeremiah, in his youth, was both angry and bitter toward God.
And yet one day God speaks to Jeremiah and tells him “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”
Jeremiah in response sighs in grief because he knows that of everyone, God probably knew his hatred toward God the best. Realizing how young and immature he was.
Next week is Korean New Year's Day. During the holiday, all of my family gathers around and have a service together. One of my uncles, being a rector of a big church, used to lead the worship. However, he passed away after suffering from cancer, and since then the elder of the church in the family took the spot of leading the worship. Then one day after I had received ordainment , the elder told me to lead the service.
Being the mischievous trouble maker, of the family ever since little, I was very worried to lead the service in front of my 80 relatives. That day I barely made it to the end of the service because it was extremely difficult to preach the people who knew me very well.
Reminiscing this day, I came to think of the story of Jeremiah. When Lord said
"Jeremiah I know you very well, I've been watching you ever since you were born", Jeremiah cried out and said "I am just a kid". This seemed to me like a reasonable respond because if I can't even keep my head straight infront of my relatives, how could I behave infront of God?
However God responded to Jeremiah by saying , "Do not say, 'I am only a child.' You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you". Then God reached out his hand and touched Jeremiah's mouth and said "Now, I have put my words in your mouth"
First of all, God said "You are not a child". What does that mean? It means that since you are not a child you shouldn't live like a little kid. Jeremiah did live like a kid before: he blamed and hated other people, and fulfilled all his wants. However, God told him not to live like that, because he had to become the messenger of God. And that is why God put his words in his mouth.
If you take a look at Ephesians Chapter 4, 13-14, it says "until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming". Mature people are those who reached unity in the faith and in knowledge. But the church remembers of Epenetus were living cunningly and deceitfully. Therefore, Paul the Apostle told the members to reach unity in the faith and in knowledge to no longer live like a child.
My fellow friends, How are you and I?
If we only do what we want to do and eat only what we want to eat, we are only at the stage of a child. God said to Jeremiah, "Say not, I am a child: for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you..."
In the synagogue there was a man possessed by a demon, an evil spirit. He cried out at the top of his voice, "Ha! What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are--the Holy One of God!" (Luke 4:33-34)
Previously, we had a sermon about Mark Chapter 1. Before then no one had recognized Jesus but the evil spirit recognized him immediately. “The Holy One of God!” This is a surprising confession. What was Jesus’s purpose of coming to earth? The purpose is to make us believe he is the Son of God and gain salvation. In order to do this, we need to be able to know who Jesus is. But the “great” (?) demon knew who Jesus was.
"Be quiet!" Jesus said sternly. "Come out of him!" Then the demon threw the man down before them all and came out without injuring him (Luke 4:35)
But what did Jesus do when he heard the demon say this? Jesus rebuked the demon instead of praising him. Why?
In other words, the reason Jesus drove out the demon was because the demon was trying to use his strategy of separating life and faith. The demon’s scheme was to separate what people know and what people believe… The demon knew that the Christians would not be able to grow up if he did this. That is why Jesus had rebuked the demons.
Today, many Christians tend to fall into such a trap made by Satan. Not too long ago, the results of the statistical surveys on the faith of Korean protestants were announced: When asked for the primary reason for their religious life, 38.8% said “to have peace of mind,” 31.6% said “to gain salvation and eternal life,” and 18.5% said “to receive health, wealth, success, and other blessings in life.”
But in 1998 and 2004, the results of the same survey were different. In both years, the answer “to gain salvation and eternal life” came first as 47.1% and 45.5%, relatively. But this year, the percentage who said this answer had fallen by 15% and instead, the percentage who said “to receive health, wealth, success, and other blessings in life” had increased by 10%.
It is shocking to see such a result… Basically it has been revealed that while people formally confess their faith, the most important thing for them is their life. Jesus confessed that he is the Son of God. But people think this confession has nothing to do with their lives. They want to think that faith is just faith and their lives are just their lives. They want to clearly distinguish the two.
"You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that--and shudder” (James 2:19)
The belief that there is one God is not a wrong belief. But if a person believes this, he should be believing in God and relying on Him the most. But what do the demons believe? Yes, they also believe there is only one God. They do confess. But they’re asking what that belief is to them, and why this fact matters so much. The demons are tempting us to think that way as well.
Beloved church members, I hope that we can give our sincere faith and confession towards God. But I also hope that those confessions do not just end there as the confessions made by the demons. Our life should match and agree with our confessions. What we know and what we believe should be made one.
Today, we looked at two types of knowledge, but what is the difference between the way God “knew” Jeremiah and the way the demons “knew” God?
With all that I have just said, in conclusion I want to say that true knowledge is not really knowledge, but love.
God said that He knew Jeremiah. Through those words, Jeremiah realized that he was like a young child because like a child, he would pour out any anger, resentment, or sadness. But God said, “You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you.” I will be with You, I will save You… This kind of knowledge changes people.
However, for the demons, their knowledge contained no love. What do you want with us? It’s because words like these are based on strictly selfishness. They believe, but do not sacrifice. They believe, but reject the cross. The selfish attitudes of the demons, that is their knowledge.
… It is about the love that we know so well of. If you read the first few verses, it reads “If I speak the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.” God who knew Jeremiah, the demons who know Jesus… in between these two lies 1 Corinthians 13. And Paul said that even with the knowledge of all secrets and of all wisdom, it is nothing without love.
Jesus truly knew Jeremiah. The young child Jeremiah, after receiving God’s calling, was able to become a mature Christian because God’s calling was imbued with love. On the other hand, the demons were only resounding gongs and clanging cymbals because their words contained no love.
Our church motto for the year 2013 is “God’s inexhaustible fullness.” I hope that, above all, God’s love is abundant in you, and that you will become more intimate with Him.
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