September 5 – What is Evangelism?

Posted on September 7, 2021

Home Sermon September 5 – What is Evangelism?

September 5 – What is Evangelism?

The Bible lesson that we have today from the Gospel of Mark has always fascinated me.

There is so much here to unpack.

Thirteen years ago, this particular Bible story happened to be the first Bible story that I gave a sermon on when I was an intern pastor in Dodgeville and still in seminary.

I can remember how on that week before Sunday I spent hours and hours in preparation for that sermon on the Syrophoenician woman.

It would be the first of many sermons that I would give in that Lutheran church in Dodgeville.

What does God need to tell us in this Bible reading?

This miracle and healing story is only told in one other place in the Bible and that is from the Gospel of Matthew.

Luke and John leave this Bible story out of their Gospels.

In Matthew interestingly, she is called a not a Syrophoenician but a Canaanite woman.

But the point being here, which both Gospel writers clearly make, is that she is not Jewish.

The woman is not from the tribe of Israel.

Jesus is Jewish.

Jesus is a Jewish miracle worker, healer, and teacher.

Up to this point in Mark his mission is mainly for the people of Israel.

The woman, who is not Jewish and who is not even given a name here in the text, comes to Jesus and begs him to heal her daughter.

But Jesus refuses.

Does it surprise you that Jesus refuses to help?

When I was working on this sermon back when I was an intern I can remember thinking, “Why does Jesus initially refuse to help this woman?”

In the text we read that he doesn’t budge.

The though woman persists.

She will not give up.

Because she is fighting for her daughter.

And we all know how much a mother will fight for her child.

Even though she is not Jewish.

Even though it would not have been the custom of the time for a woman to speak so boldly to a rabbi.

She puts all of that to the side.

She believes, without a doubt, that Jesus can heal her daughter.

The woman has what we all need to have.

It is what you and me and everyone needs to have.

What does she possess so strongly?

She has faith in Jesus.

She has real faith in Jesus.

And Jesus sees this and he changes his mind and decides to help the woman’s daughter.

Or it could have been a test and if that is the case the woman passes the test.

By faith she passes Jesus’ test.

In Matthew, at this point, Jesus even praises her faith.

In Mark it simply says:  “For saying this you may go on your way; for the demon has left your daughter.”

But in Matthew, he takes it one step further.

It says in his Gospel:  “Woman, great is your faith!  Be it done for you as you desire.”

In both instances then the woman’s daughter is immediately healed and restored.

Now what happens next in the reading?

This is really an important point here.

Don’t miss this!

Look at verse thirty-one.

It says:  “Then he returned from the region of Tyre, and went through Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, through the region of the Decapolis.”

So, what’s Mark saying here.

He does some traveling now.

He is in Tyre and then he goes north to Sidon and then travels in a wide arc to get to the Sea of Galilee and then to the region of the Decapolis.

This is a very significant point here.

The region of the Decapolis is mostly populated with non-Jewish people.

Jesus is moving his ministry immediately to those people who are not Jewish.

Jesus’ ministry expands beyond the Jews here.

He greatly enlarges and goes even beyond the borders that he lived by.

Jesus’ work of evangelism and doing God’s work is now going to be shared with all people.

The word evangelism means bringing good news or announcing good news.

Now if you only had good news for certain people, it would no longer be good news.

Sure, it would be good news for some but if the good news is not for everyone than it really isn’t that good.

It would be sort of good news.

It would be like this… imagine me saying this morning – the people over here Jesus will feed and heal and do miracles – you are God’s chosen people.

But you people – I don’t know about you… you are not God’s chosen people.

That would not be so good.

That would not be good news.

But the good news of Jesus is really good news.

It is better than what we could ever image or comprehend.

This is because the good news of Jesus is for all people.

Jesus and his message and his teachings and his miracles and his healings and his forgiveness are meant to be shared with all people.

And so, evangelism is the work of spreading and sharing the good news – that Jesus is with and for all peoples.

And our work of evangelism begins by recognizing this truth and then acting on this truth.

In conclusion, let’s take these ideas home with us today.

First, knowing that Jesus is for and with all peoples – let’s consider how knowing that changes the way we present the Gospel message and the way that we believe in the Gospel message of Jesus.

Our faith says that the good news of the Gospel is not located in a particular group.

Rather our faith say that the good news of the Gospel is located and found in the faithfulness of God and of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.

Jesus compels us to reach out to all peoples with a message of salvation that is found in him.

This is what is meant by evangelism.

If we come to God with persistent faith like the woman than relax, don’t worry, be at peace for God will be there.

If we think we want to know God, God wants to know us even more.

God is with and for all people.

God desires to know us even more than we want to know God.

God calls us to announce the good news and to do it now.

And quite possibly that is a great place to start when it comes to the work of evangelism.

Join Us for Sunday Worship

  • 9:30 a.m. In-Person & Virtual Worship with Holy Communion


October 17, 2021 – Stewardship Part 2

Last week I spoke about giving with a joyful and thankful heart. I spoke about how good it feels when our hearts are bursting with...

Read Sermon →

October 10, 2021 – Stewardship Sermon

I recently came across an old Williams Bay Lutheran church newsletter from the fall of 1995. On the front page of the newsletter w...

Read Sermon →

October 3, 2021 – Jesus Blesses the Children

One of the great responsibilities of my work is to officiate at weddings. Before the wedding I always meet with couples two or thr...

Read Sermon →