Howard Mooney - Workers' Meeting - Seoul, Korea - Saturday, February 10, 1979

Shall we open our Bibles to the Book of Mark and Chapter 8.  Beginning with Verse 10, we read of Jesus coming into a place called Dalmanutha.  And the Pharisees came to Him and asked to see a sign from Him.  It says that Jesus sighed deeply in His spirit.  That means that Jesus was deeply hurt by that question.  I wondered what there was about it that had hurt Him like this.  Normally we appreciate it when people come to us and ask us to give proof that this is the right way.  So what was there about this that made Jesus sigh so deeply in His spirit? 


I notice that this place Dalmanutha is also called Magdala - you read that in the last verse of Matthew 15.  Dalmanutha was the Hebrew name of the city and Magdala was the Greek name.  It was from Magdala that Mary Magdalene had come.  People who grew up in Nazareth were called Nazarenes and the people who came from Magdala were called Magdalenes.  You know that to distinguish this Mary from the other Marys they called her Mary Magdalene.  This little village - city it is called - but it was a village on the north-west shore of Galilee.  It was a place where everybody knew the other person and what the other person was doing.  They all knew the great work that had taken place in the life of Mary Magdalene which represented the greatest miracle that could come into any life.  And that was why Jesus was so hurt when they came and said we would see a sign from you.  What greater sign could He have given them than the change that had come about in the life of this woman? 


Nicodemus also belonged to this Pharisee group, but he didn’t come to Jesus saying, "Master, we would see a sign from Thee;" he came to Jesus and said, "Master, we have seen the signs."  He said, "We know that you are a teacher come from God, for no man can do these miracles that You do, unless God is with him."  And the miracles he was referring to were the miracles he had seen in the lives of the disciples, just like the miracle that had taken place in the life of Mary Magdalene.  So Nicodemus didn’t say, "We would see a sign from Thee," he came asking, "Jesus, how can I get that miracle in my life?"  And Jesus explained to him it only came from being born again because that is the way God works a miracle in the life of His people.


My first companion was a wonderful help to me in many ways.  One of the things that he taught me when I was first in the Work, which has helped me all down through the years was, that whenever you read the scriptures, always try and get a lesson out of it for yourself.  He said sometimes it is easy to say, that was spoken to the Pharisees, or that was spoken to the scribes, but he said we can always get a message out of it for ourselves.  And the lesson I get out of this is that the greatest sign God can give to the people that I meet is to show them the great change that He has brought into my life.  The more change He can bring about in my life, the more evidence that He can give to the world that this is the Truth.  The psalmist said, "The Lord will beautify the meek with salvation."  Now in the world, people try to beautify themselves by what they add to the picture, but in God’s Way, God beautifies His people by what He saves them from.  I think we are all honest enough this morning to admit that we all have a tendency towards pride.


     And we all have a tendency towards selfishness and other marks like that within us.  If I let the Lord work in my life to save me from this tendency of pride, that works beauty into my life.  And if the Lord can subdue in my life the tendency towards selfishness, jealousy, and such things, that adds to the beauty in my life.  Many people will see that and it won’t impress them any more than it didn’t impress these people in Magdala about Mary; But wherever we come in contact with an honest person like Nicodemus - this is what they have been looking for.  Often people say when they meet a child of God, they saw in that person an answer to their prayer.  The more we allow the Lord to work in our lives and control our lives, the more His is able to give to the world the sign that the world is looking for.

Now turn to verse 22.  Jesus came now to BethsaidaBethsaida was a little fishing village on the northeast sea of Galilee, and a little strip of land divided these two villages from each other.  Bethsaida was also a city like Magdala.  It was a small place where everybody knew the other person and what was going on.  When Jesus came to Bethsaida, He found a blind man and He took him by the hand and He led him out of the town.  And He began to work with this man.  He asked him if he saw anything and he said, "I see men like trees walking."  He hadn’t seen very much yet, but he saw something.  And the Lord continued working with him till he saw all men clearly.  I wondered why Jesus led this blind man out of the village of Bethsaida before He could do anything for him.  You might have thought He would like to do this right in town where everybody could see him.  Then why did He lead him out of the town before He started to work? 


You will remember that Bethsaida was one of the cities that Jesus upbraided because of their unbelief.  He said if the mighty works had been done in Tyre and Sidon, then they would have repented long ago.  I decided that I would look into the story of Bethsaida and see what were these mighty works that had been done there.  What was the first thing that I found?  It was from Bethsaida that Philip, Andrew, and Peter had gone into the Work.  You read of that in John 1:44.  Again, these people at Bethsaida had seen a miracle of miracles taking place right before their eyes.  They had seen these young men converted and the change had taken place in their lives and they had also seen these young men give up everything that they had been living for and go out to give their lives to preach the gospel to others.  In spite of all of that, they would not believe. 


There are some people who base all of their salvation on the meaning of a verse.  They are not impressed by anything, but just insisting that everything depends on this one verse.  But, we have found that if people cannot be impressed by the sacrifice of a young worker, there is nothing that is going to touch them.  I would like to help you young workers in this meeting this morning to realize the greatness of your privilege as a young worker.  I know how I felt as a young worker.  I couldn’t say very much in the meetings.  I couldn’t do the things that my older companion could do, and I battled with the thought for a long while that I’m just not much good in the Work.  I didn’t realize at the time that a young worker going into the Work is by his or her sacrifice speaking the loudest sermon they will ever preach.  There is something about fresh sacrifice that will preach a sermon that nothing else can possibly preach.  I had the privilege of  taking  a  young  worker  with  me  a  few  years  ago.  In the field where we laboured, there was a man and his wife and four children coming to the meetings.  The wife and four children had professed for several years.  The man came to the meetings and he told his wife, "I don’t get anything out of the meetings, but I like to go with my family."  After we had been having our mission for a while, this man began to talk more and more to his wife about what he got out of the meetings.  One night, at the end of the visit, his wife said, "Bill, you are getting a lot out of the meetings now, aren’t you?"  And he said, "Yes, I am."  He said, "That young worker, he just kills me." 


After he professed, he told me one day, "I appreciated all you said in the meetings, but it was the sacrifice of that young boy by your side that helped me to realize what this was all about."  He said they had often had older workers in their home and he had appreciated what they were doing for the gospel’s sake.  But he said, "When you see a young man actually doing it, then it takes on a real meaning."  We would say to all of you young workers in this meeting this morning, don’t be discouraged because you cannot speak very well.  And, don’t be discouraged because you cannot do what your older companion can do.  Remember, there is no louder sermon that can be preached than the sermon preached by a young life being placed on the altar.  If people are not impressed by the sacrifice of a young worker, there is nothing going to help them.


So, when Jesus met this blind man in the village of Bethsaida, the first thing He did was to just take him out of that place of unbelief.  If they couldn’t be impressed by Philip, Andrew, and Peter going into the Work, there is no use trying to do any other work here - so He separated him from the city.  When He worked with this blind man, He asked if he saw anything, and he said, "I see men as trees walking."  A person doesn’t see much if you can’t tell the difference between a man and a tree, but you are seeing something, and as Jesus continued to work with him, he saw every man plainer and plainer.  I would just like to say that this is the work that goes right on into eternity.  Every year of our life, we see this work more plainly.  Every year of our life, we see the wonderfulness of it and the greatness of it like we never saw it before.  I had the privilege of celebrating my fiftieth year in the Work a few weeks ago.  I think you all know that this thing is fifty times more wonderful to me today than when I started out.  This is especially true of the Work.  The Work is the only thing in the world which gets more wonderful.  You see a little more the greatness in the height, the depth and the breadth of it all.


I have often thought of that time when Elisha and his companion were in a city and it was surrounded at night.  When the young worker got up in the morning and saw the enemy surrounding the city, he turned to his older companion and he said, "Alas, master, what shall we do?"  I like to think of the two things that Elisha did.  The first thing he said, "Don’t be afraid, the ones who are helping us are more than those who are against us."  What he was doing was helping that young worker to see through his eyes.  I thank God for my older companions who have so many times helped me to see through their eyes things which I couldn’t see for myself.  We all realize it is a sacred trust when God entrusts us with a younger companion.  Oftentimes we have to sit down and study with them and help them to see things through our eyes.  I sometimes have said to my companion, "If you could see this as I see it, you would never have another doubt." 


The second thing that Elisha did was to pray for his young companion.  And he prayed that the Lord would open his eyes so that he could see what he himself was seeing.  I would just like to say to the young workers here, don’t be afraid to go to your older companion.  If there is something you don’t see or you don’t understand or something that is worrying you, you go to your older companion and talk to them, and they will always be glad to talk to you. 


You will find with the passing of time that you will see things more clearly, too.  When I first started in the Work, all that I saw was that the Lord wanted me in the Work - I didn’t see beyond that.  And, at first I just saw it as a life of sacrifice.  As time went on, I began to see it as a privilege.  One of our young sisters in Oregon in speaking at convention this year said, when the Lord first called her into the Work, she said, "Why me?"  Other young people just seemed to make their own plans with freedom and the Lord put His hand on her and she said, "Why me, why is the Lord picking on me?"  But she went on to say, "I have been in the Work five years now and I am still saying, 'Why me?'  But it is now, 'Why should I have this privilege?'"  She said, "I see so many other people who are missing it and I think, 'Why should I have this great privilege to be in the Work?'"  That young girl is leaving in a few weeks to preach the gospel in the Philippines when others don’t have it.  Really, the Lord’s servants are the only ones who know the full meaning of the word privilege.  And I am so thankful that the Lord preserved me in the Work long enough so I could see this is not a sacrifice, but this is the greatest privilege that the Lord could give to any man or woman.


We also have our eyes opened as we go on in the Work to see the greatness of the privilege of service.  In the world, people begin as servants and they end up as lords.  But in this Work, we begin as servants and every year we become greater servants.  The last night Jesus was with His disciples, He talked to them about this.  He said, “Whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth, is not he that sitteth at meat? But I am among you as He that serveth.”  Jesus began His life as a servant. And, if we might use the term, as a young worker, He went out as a servant, but now you find Him at the end of His life and He is a greater servant to others than He had ever been before.  So, as we get older in the Work, the Lord just gives us the privilege of greater service. 


Some of you will remember back in 1969, we had our brother Willie Phyn with us for a workers’ meeting.  He told us something about King Rehoboam that has been a marvelous help to me down through the years.  People came to Rehoboam and asked couldn’t the king make the people’s load a little lighter than it had been before.  Rehoboam was wise enough to go to the older men who had counseled his father, and he asked, "What should I do about this?"  And the counsel that those old men gave was that if you will be a servant to these people and be kind to them, then they will be your servants forever.  I have found that that works very well in my own ministry.  I have found that the best way to help my young companion to be a servant is by being a servant to them.  And a person could go on and on talking about the different things our eyes are opened a little wider to see year by year.


After Jesus had opened the eyes of this blind man, He said, "Don’t go back into the town and don’t show it to anyone in the town."  What lesson do you get out of this?  I will tell you how it speaks to me.  What Jesus was saying, "If you appreciate what I have done for you, the best way of showing your appreciation is by keeping separate."  This is true in connection with all of God’s people, but it is especially true to those of us who are in the Work.  If we really appreciate what God has done for us, and if we really appreciate the place that He has given us in the Work, there is no greater way that we can show our appreciation than by keeping ourselves separated to the Work.  We could say a lot more about that also, but I think it speaks for itself.


Now let us turn to verse 27.  Jesus took His disciples now, and they went into the region of Caesarea Philippi.  It was there that He asked the disciples “Whom do men say that I am?”  Some said you are John the Baptist, or Elias or one of the other prophets.  They had not seen that He was the Christ.  But they saw the great resemblance between Him and the Prophets they were reading about in the Bible.  Caesarea Philippi was a Roman government headquarters.  It was there that Philip the tetrarch was governing the people.  Rome tried to impress people by its greatness whenever they set up a headquarters, by their big marble buildings and landscape gardens.  They wanted to impress  people that Rome was a great place to be able to do all this.  Those people had never seen Rome, but when they saw all these buildings, they would think that Rome must be a wonderful place. 


Right in the midst of this now stands Jesus the Son of God.  Why had God sent Jesus into the world?  He sent Him here to convince people that heaven was a wonderful place.  These people had never seen heaven, but when they looked upon Jesus and all the beautiful characteristics in His life, they would be convinced that heaven is a beautiful and wonderful place.  Both of those object lessons were really a good representation of the countries which they represented.  Those cold marble buildings were just the perfect representation of the Emperor of Rome - hard and no compassion for the people.  But there was Jesus in the midst showing to people the greatest compassion that Heaven could possibly produce in the world.  When people looked upon the life of Jesus with all that compassion, and all those heavenly virtues, they would be convinced that heaven is a beautiful and wonderful place.  It is a place worth striving for at any cost.


Then he turned to His disciples before He took them away from that scene and He said, "Now if you follow me and deny yourself and follow in my steps, then you will be able to give to the world the same wonderful picture of heaven that I have given by life."  So, if we follow the counsel that Jesus gave in the closing verses of this chapter, then we will give to the world the beautiful picture and representation of heaven that Jesus gave by and through His life. They will realize that only heaven can produce something like this.  Wouldn’t it be a wonderful privilege to spend all eternity with people like this, so that no matter what it means or costs?  I want to walk this Way, all the way to heaven.


So, I am glad that my first companion taught me the lesson that he did when it came to studying the Bible.  We can miss so many valuable lessons by saying, "Oh well, that was meant for the Romans, or that was meant for the Pharisees."  In all of these experiences, we can see a wonderful lesson in it for ourselves and something that will add to the wonderful and beautiful virtues and to the ministry of which we have a part now.  So, I hope we will all go forth from this meeting today to give to the world a clear picture of what this Work is, and what salvation is all about.  Then, when we come in contact with honest people, they will feel that heaven is so wonderful, I want to get there at any cost.  I hope this will be for His sake.