The Touch of the Master’s Hand
A sermon by John Bell, M.D.
September 3, 2017
Pentecost 13 Proper 17
LINK TO THE PDF VERSION Good for saving.
The scripture in Romans today is dedicated to the importance of love and service for our fellow man. I would like to emphasize the love that Jesus has for each of us. When asked what the greatest commandment was, Jesus said to love the Lord with all your heart and all your soul. The second greatest commandment was to love your neighbor as yourself.
Jesus used the parable of the shepherd who had 100 sheep. He had found 99 of them but he was not satisfied until he found all 100 of them. You are important to God, no matter how small or how great. God loves us all.
The interaction of Saul (later Paul), Barnabas, and John Mark in the New Testament demonstrate the great value that all of us have no matter if we have failed in the past, and the importance of giving everyone a second chance. Saul was a strong Jewish man that persecuted the Christians with a vengeance. He was on his way to Damascus to continue persecution of the Christians. He was struck down and became blind. Three days later the scales fell from his eyes and his sight returned after.
He continued from Damascus to Jerusalem. He sought out the disciples. Because of Paul’s history of persecution they could not believe, he had become a disciple of Jesus. There was a man named Barnabas that realized the transformation within Paul and the importance of giving him a second chance. He took Paul to the disciples and convinced them that Paul had indeed changed.
Later Paul and Barnabas went on their first missionary journey. Young John Mark went with them. Mark left and returned to Jerusalem before the journey was complete. When Paul and Barnabas were planning their second journey, Barnabas insisted on taking Mark with them. Paul refused. The contention between was so sharp , that they parted ways. Paul took Silas and went on his second missionary journey. Barnabas took Mark and sailed to Cyrus.
Paul was not willing to give a second chance to Mark, even though Barnabas had given him a second chance. We never hear about Barnabas again in the New Testament. But Paul becomes the great Missionary responsible for spreading the message of Christ’s love to the gentile world. Paul also is responsible for many of the earliest writings in the New Testament. Some people think this is the same Mark responsible for the Gospel of Mark. Without that person named Barnabas willing to give others a second chance Christian practices in the western world may have been very different and possibly not exist at all. Barnabas is the most underrated character in the New Testament in my opinion.
The message is compelling. Each of us is important to God, no matter our past. We all have a place in His kingdom no matter our social or economic status. God will be with us every step of the way. If we fail when trying, it’s not time to quit. It’s time to try harder! We must give everyone a second chance. They deserve that second chance. We may not be able to keep them from failing, but we must give them that chance and support them if they fell. Like Barnabas, we may not get much recognition. That is not important. What is important is that we spread Christ’s love to all people. Prayer, a forgiving spirit, humility, and a willingness to help those around you are important. You are important to God even though you may feel insignificant.
The Touch of the Master’s Hand
“Twas battered and scarred,
And the Auctioneer thought it
hardly worth his while
to waste his time with the old violin
but he held it up with a smile.
“What am I bid, good people” he cried.
“Who starts the bidding for me?”
“One dollar, one dollar, Do I hear two?”
“Two dollars, who makes it three?”
“Three dollars once, three dollars twice, going for three”
From the room far back a gray bearded man
Came forward and picked up the bow.
Then wiping the dust from the old violin
And tightening up the strings,
He played a melody, pure and sweet
As sweet as the angel sings.
The music ceased and the auctioneer
With a voice that was quiet and low,
Said “What now am I bid for this old violin?”
As he held it aloft with its bow.
“One thousand, one thousand. Do I hear two?”
“Two thousand. Who makes it three?”
“Three thousand once, three thousand twice,
Going and gone,” said he.
The audience cheered,
But some of them cried,
“We just don’t understand.”
“What changed its worth?”
Swift came the reply.
“The touch of the Master’s Hand.”
And many a man with life out of tune
All battered and bruised with sin
Is auctioned cheap to a thoughtless crowd
Much like that old violin
A mess of pottage, a glass of wine,
A game and he travels on,
He is going once, he is going twice,
He is going and almost gone.
But the Master comes,
And the foolish crowd never can quite understand,
The worth of the soul and the change that is wrought
By the touch of the Master’s Hand.
Man sees you for where you have been. God sees you for the beautiful person he knows you can become.