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Church of the Holy City

That Is Why I Came

That Is Why I Have Come
Rev. Dr. David J. Fekete
February 3, 2012

Isaiah 40:18-31 Mark 1: 29-39 Psalm 147

This morning’s Bible passages are cosmic and at the same time personal. In our selection from Psalm 147, God determines the number of stars, calls the stars by name, and brings clouds and rain to the earth. These powers put God above the heavens in a cosmic context. But in the same Psalm, this cosmic God, who determines the number of stars and calls each one by name, this cosmic God cares for each single, humble person. This cosmic God heals those who are weak and brokenhearted, and He takes delight in those who place their hopes in His unfailing love:
The LORD sustains the humble . . . He heals the brokenhearted
and binds up their wounds. . . .
the LORD delights in those . . . who put their hope in his unfailing love.
We have a similar passage in Isaiah 40. In this passage, as in Psalm 147, God is a cosmic God who also cares for the weak and humble of the human race. Isaiah 40 is even grander in the way it depicts God. Isaiah says that God, “Sits enthroned above the circle of the earth.” This is the God who created everything, “The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.” As in Psalm 147, Isaiah says that God, “brings out the starry host one by one, and calls them each by name.” This is a God who, “brings princes to naught and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing.” While God brings rulers to nothing, He cares for the humble. Isaiah also says that God, “Gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.” This shows the typical Old Testament protection of the disenfranchised in society, but Isaiah 40 concludes with an inspiring passage addressed to all who have faith in God:
Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men will stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint (40:30-31).
This Isaiah passage is interesting for another reason that bears on our New Testament reading. In Isaiah 40 we find one of the many, many places in which God is called the Holy One. Isaiah 40:25 reads, “‘To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?’ says the Holy One.” In Mark, we are told that the evil spirits know who Jesus is. Last Sunday, we heard about the evil spirit who said, “I know who you are–the Holy One of God” (Mark 1:24). This statement tells us that Jesus is the Holy One in Isaiah, or Yahweh God.
When the evils spirit identifies Jesus as the Holy One, Jesus’ first response is to say, “Be quiet!” He doesn’t want His identity revealed. We find the same thing in this morning’s Mark reading. In Mark 1:34 we read,
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.
I’m curious as to why Jesus would conceal His identity. I do have a few thoughts, though. I think it is for the same reason that God displays His glory and wonders every day–but only to those who have eyes for it. We see the sunrise, the sunset, and the starry heavens to which the Psalmist and Isaiah testify. We see these as free gifts from God. We are treated to these wonders daily, if we choose to look at them. Yet God does not sign these works of divine art as human artists do their paintings. In a beautiful sunrise, there is no signature that reads, “I, God, made this.” This is to preserve our freedom. God will not force Himself on us. God will not, cannot, compel anyone to believe or love. Think of someone you love. Can you force them to love you back? You can do things that make you attractive, you can entice someone to love you back, but we are powerless to actually make someone love us who doesn’t. It is the same with God. God wants a genuine love relationship with us. He entices us to return His infinite love by giving us sunsets each night, and then He brings out his stars. He touches our hearts in prayer, and when we do good to others. We can see God in His creation, and feel God and know He is there–but only if we begin by wanting God in our lives. We will never see God if we withhold our assent until God proves himself to us.
So Jesus didn’t want to force belief on people. He simply wanted to do good to the human race, and to demonstrate what Divine Love looks like. “That is why I have come,” Jesus says. And He travels throughout Israel healing, preaching, and driving out evil spirits. He showed that God cares about us, teaching us what is good, and taking away the things that hurt us. But Jesus didn’t seem to want people to get caught up in questions as to who He was. He continually dodged questions about whether He was the Messiah. He also dodged questions about whether He is God. On one occasion, He pointed the Jews to His actions, in order to answer their questions about who Jesus was.
Do you say of Him, whom the Father has sanctified and sent into the world, “You blaspheme;” because I said, “I am the Son of God?” Do not believe me unless I do what my Father does. But if I do it, even though you do not believe me, believe the works; that you may know, and believe, that the Father is in Me, and I in Him (John 10:36-38).
So Jesus doesn’t offer proof that He is the Son of God. He points His questioners to His works. It is as if Jesus says, “Look at what I’m doing. My actions speak for themselves.” And the works Jesus does are all dedicated to the human race whom He loves–teaching and healing.
We can take this story to a personal level. Jesus can heal our spirits the same way that He drove out evil spirits 2,000 years ago. By driving out evil spirits from our souls, Jesus can come into our hearts with love. For the Great Creator God, who formed the earth, spread out the sky, and brings the stars out at night one by one, has all power to save and infinite love for His creation.
Jehovah, or the Lord’s internal, was the very Celestial of Love, that is, Love itself, to which no other attributes are fitting than those of pure Love, thus of pure Mercy toward the whole human race; which is such that it wishes to save all and make them happy for ever, and to bestow on them all that it has; thus out of pure mercy to draw all who are willing to follow, to heaven, that is, to itself, by the strong force of love (AC 1735).
God has love and mercy to everyone. God is present with everyone. God dwells in the deepest recesses of everyone’s soul. We might call these deepest recesses our sub-conscious. We are not aware of this level of our personality.
Who we are is a matter of where our conscious mind is. It is what we consciously love and enjoy, and what we think about. And for us to feel happy, we need for God to enter the conscious level of our personality. When we feel heavenly loves; when we think true thoughts, and when we do good things, then we can say that our personality is Godly. Then we can say that we have an angelic personality. Then we can say that God’s Spirit lives in our hearts. Then we can say that we are heaven-bound.
These thoughts bring us to a final statement about the process of regeneration. We have looked at spiritual causes for the good and evil that we feel in our lives. I now need to finally talk about how we open up to allow God into our lives.
God is love itself. We are only vessels that can hold love. This means that in order for us to have God’s love in our hearts, we need to get rid of anything that would block God’s love. As I said before, God wants to enter into a relationship with every human being. He looks with care and mercy on the whole human race. “The mercy of the Lord is perpetual with every person, for the Lord wills to save all persons whomsoever” (AC 8307). But God cannot flow into us until we have removed evils from our lives.
this mercy cannon flow in until evils have been removed, for evils and falsities therefrom oppose and hinder. As soon however as evils are removed, mercy flows in, that is, good of mercy from the Lord, which good is charity and faith (AC 8309).
Swedenborg is quite optimistic about our power to resist evil. He says that God gives us all the power to do so,
That a person can abstain from evils, is because the Lord continually flows into the will of a person with that endeavor, and thus implants in his freedom [the power] to desist from evils, and also to apply himself to good (AC 8307).
How do we do this? Swedenborg gives us two formulas. The first formula is to, “examine one’s self, to know and acknowledge one’s sins, to make supplication to the Lord, and begin a new life” (TCR 535). We are told that this is “exceedingly difficult,” and Swedenborg gives us another way that he claims is easier is also given.
when one is considering evil with the mind, and is intending it, he should say to himself, “I am thinking of this and intending it; but because it is sin, I will not do it (TCR 535).
It was Socrates who said that the unexamined life is not worth living. I think that all great spiritual leaders call us to some sort of critique of our life.
Well, after Swedenborg talks about the work that goes into reformation, he seems to let us off the hook. In a magnanimous act of spiritual diplomacy, Swedenborg writes, “But still, all they who do good from religion avoid actual evils” (TCR 535).
This church puts a lot of emphasis on good works. We talk about resisting harmful and unhealthy drives and we talk about doing good and healthy things, for ourselves and for those around us. This is how we understand putting our hope in the Lord. And when God flows into our souls with His Divine Love, then our hearts feel the way Isaiah talks about it,
but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint (40:30-31).


Lord, we think of you with wonder and awe. You have created the vast unfathomable universe, with its billions of galaxies and stars. And we think of you with wonder and awe when we contemplate the smallest things in life, the cells in our bodies, the molecules in the cells and the atoms in the molecules. You have created them and through perpetual creation, you keep alive all of the things that grow and walk the earth. We give you thanks, Lord, for your care for us. For even as you rule the universe, you care for each single humble human being. Your love goes out to everyone; you wish to bring everyone into relationship with you; and you never cease to lift us out of our worries and cares and into heaven’s peace.

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