Sermon Starters

Support and Resources For Pastors and
Christian Ministry Professionals

Thomas F. Fischer, M.Div., M.S.A., Editor

The Fifth Sunday After Epiphany
Series B

 Option One: "A Ministry Of Healing"
Mark 1:29-39
Rev. Wayne Dobratz, M.Div.

I. For the body--Mk 5:41ff; Acts 9:41-42; Text, vv32-34

II. For the spirit

    A. Power to heal the demon-possessed--Mk 1:25, 3:7-12; Lk 4:41; Acts 16:16-18

    B. Power to heal the sin-oppressed--text, v38; Isa 61:1-3; Lk 4:18-21; John 9:4-5, 17:4 & 8; Lk 5:30-32, 24:44-47; Acts 5:31, 11:17-18, 26:20

John F. MacArthur, Jr. has some thoughts to consider about our Lord’s preaching and the preaching we do in His Name: The content of biblical preaching can be summed up in two Greek words: kerugma and didache˘. Kerugma derives from the verb kerusso˘, which means "to proclaim," or "to announce a proclamation." The noun kerugma refers to the content of a proclamation. At least five elements made up the New Testament ke˘rugma. First, it presented Jesus as the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy. Second, it described Him as God in human flesh. Third, it focused on His life and work, especially His death and resurrection. Fourth, it spoke of His second coming. Finally, it declared that salvation was only through faith in Him, and that those who rejected Him as Lord and Savior would be eternally damned.

In addition to kerugma, or proclamation, true biblical preaching must also contain didache˘, or teaching. Didache˘, from which the English word "didactic" derives, refers to the doctrinal content within the preaching of the kerugma. The epistles are largely composed of this theology of salvation that provides the depth and breadth and height of preaching. True preaching is proclaiming the great truths and undergirding them with the richness of the supernatural and profound wisdom revealed throughout Scripture, particularly the New Testament. There is no such thing as genuine biblical preaching that is devoid of doctrinal content.

The book of Acts frequently records that men were persuaded to believe and be redeemed by apostolic preaching. After Paul and Silas preached in the synagogue in Thessalonica, "some of them were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas" (Acts 17:4). In Corinth, Paul "was reasoning in the synagogue every Sabbath and trying to persuade Jews and Greeks" (Acts 18:4). After arriving in Ephesus, Paul "entered the synagogue and continued speaking out boldly for three months, reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God" (Acts 19:8). Even while imprisoned at Rome, Paul kept up his ministry of preaching and persuading men:

And when they had set a day for him, they came to him at his lodging in large numbers; and he was explaining to them by solemnly testifying about the kingdom of God, and trying to persuade them concerning Jesus, from both the Law of Moses and from the Prophets, from morning until evening. And some were being persuaded by the things spoken, but others would not believe. (Acts 28:2324)

The use of the term "persuaded" suggests the apostolic preaching had both a logical flow and doctrinal content. And Paul affirmed that saving faith comes by hearing a message about Christ (Rom. 10:17).

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Lamb’s Message

Mark 1:32-34: That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all the sick... The whole town gathered at the door, and Jesus healed many who had various diseases.

Visual aid: Cold medicine appropriate for children

I want you to think of the last time you got sick. Let’s say you had a bad cold and you couldn’t go to school. What did your Mom give you? Medicine. Maybe you had a headache and she gave you children’s aspirin. Do you know where our medicines come from? They come from things that God put into his creation. Some really smart people had to study about this and then we made medicine of these things, but God put them there right from the very start.

In today’s Bible story (Mark 1:32-34), we are told that Jesus healed many people. He didn’t have to use medicine because he used the power of His Word. His same powerful word created the medicine we use today.

He can still heal today the way he did then, but most of the time he uses people and medicine to heal us. It takes a little longer that way, but it is still Jesus who is healing us.

Someday, at a time that God only knows, he will make you better forever when he takes you to heaven. The Bible tells us that we will never get sick again once we enter eternal life. It tells us that for the people in heaven there will be no sorrow or crying or tears or pain for the things of this life are gone. Gone forever!

In the very last chapter of the Bible, God tells us that he will heal us forever. We read in Revelation 22: Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.

(Take bottle in hand) You won’t need this after you get to heaven and you’ll see Jesus. And that’s nothing to sneeze at!

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Option #2: "Enablement or Empowerment?"
1 Corinthians 9:16-23
Rev. Kelly Bedard, M.Div.

A. Morality

    1. The goal: sanctification--instruction, improvement and refinement leading to salvation

    2. Self-/ritual-/rule-worship

B. Immortality

    1. The goal: salvation--forgiveness leading to reconciliation and renewal

    2. Love of self and neighbor: relationships rather than formulas


1. To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will certainly be rung, and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully around with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The only place outside heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is hell. (C.S. Lewis)

2. Paul's great object was not merely to instruct and to improve, but to save. Anything short of this would have disappointed him; he would have men renewed in heart, forgiven, sanctified, in fact, saved. Have our Christian labours been aimed at anything below this great point? Then let us amend our ways, for of what avail will it be at the last great day to have taught and moralized men if they appear before God unsaved? Blood-red will our skirts be if through life we have sought inferior objects, and forgotten that men needed to be saved. Paul knew the ruin of man's natural state, and did not try to educate him, but to save him; he saw men sinking to hell, and did not talk of refining them, but of saving from the wrath to come. To compass their salvation, he gave himself up with untiring zeal to telling abroad the gospel, to warning and beseeching men to be reconciled to God. His prayers were importunate and his labours incessant. To save souls was his consuming passion, his ambition, his calling. He became a servant to all men, toiling for his race, feeling a woe within him if he preached not the gospel. He laid aside his preferences to prevent prejudice; he submitted his will in things indifferent, and if men would but receive the gospel, he raised no questions about forms or ceremonies: the gospel was the one all-important business with him. If he might save some he would be content. This was the crown for which he strove, the sole and sufficient reward of all his labours and self-denials. Dear reader, have you and I lived to win souls at this noble rate? Are we possessed with the same all-absorbing desire? If not, why not? Jesus died for sinners, cannot we live for them? Where is our tenderness? Where our love to Christ, if we seek not His honour in the salvation of men? O that the Lord would saturate us through and through with an undying zeal for the souls of men. (George Spurgeon)

3. It was not an American evangelist but St. John Chrysostom, Bishop of Constantinople at the end of the fourth century, who wrote: "Nothing is more useless than a Christian who does not try to save others... I cannot believe in the salvation of anyone who does not work for his neighbour's salvation." (Douglas Webster)

4. In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity. (Philip Melanchthon)

5. ...the truth of the Gospel is embodied and demonstrated in relationships rather than propositions or formulas. (Douglas Webster)

6. The evangelist therefore is filled both with expectancy and despair. His despair arises from a full assessment of the situation he confronts: a gang of wayward juveniles, a factory canteen, a theater line-up, a vast Muslim city. How impossible it is for a mere man to convey the Gospel in words which will make sense! Only God himself can communicate it effectively. But the expectancy of the true evangelist arises out of this certainty--that God does this and that he deigns to use men as his instruments. To have seen God at work once is to expect him to work always, whether or not we see the results. (Douglas Webster)

7. It means, clearly, that love and concern for other members of the community is to be placed ahead of all attempts at personal self-realization. (N.T. Wright)

Rev. Kelly Bedard

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