Matthew 2

Title: Where is the one who has been born King of the Jews?

Text: Matthew 2

Introduction: Matthew 2 is unique to the Christmas story. Luke doesn’t tell these stories. Neither do Mark or John. When I was younger, I would often wonder why one of the gospel writers would choose to tell a story that the others didn’t. What was it about that particular story? Take this story, for example: why?

Well, I’ve come to understand through time that each writer has a purpose to his book. You can usually find their purpose set up at the beginning and the end of their books. In hermeneutics we call this the top and the tail. For Matthew we find a phrase here and at the end of the book: The King of the Jews. Pilate asks Jesus plainly: Are you the King of the Jews? Here, the wise men come seeking this one who has been born King of the Jews. Bookends. Top and tail.

But there is more: within each story are lessons for us. That is probably closer to the answer than the top and the tail. Paul wrote in Romans 15: For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. God is using Matthew’s stories to draw us in and show us a little about ourselves. So let’s looks for ourselves. I’ve outlined Mt 2 for us like this:

  1. Feeling Threatened
  2. Coming Undone
  3. The Paradox of Christ’s Kingdom

Transition: let’s begin with point #1…

I.     Feeling Threatened (1-10)

exp.: Boy! Who wouldn’t? Think about this: you’re a king. You’re sitting on your throne. A large delegation comes from a far away country. Their camels are loaded with gifts. These magistrates, these important political leaders from this a far away country enter with pomp and circumstance. Why have you come to see the King? We’ve come to inquire as to where is this one who has been born King of the Jews? Our text says that Herod was troubled and all Jerusalem with him. And rightfully so, because Herod was well known for his treatment of those he thought threatened his throne. His wife…which by the way, he had a few, but she was his favorite…he had his wife killed because he thought she wanted her son to take his place. Oh, and he killed his son, too (others in his family, as well). I’m sure the thought was: whatever you make the King think, don’t make him think you want his throne!

The King summons the religious leaders as to where ‘this one’ would be born. They consult the Scripture and find that he is to be born in Bethlehem. So Herod tells them and sends them on their way with this one ‘request’: when you find him, let me know, in order that I too may come and worship him. And we know he’s lying!

But, God was at work protecting his son. So, he warned the Magi in a dream to go home by a different route. And so they did. Not only did God warn them in a dream, but he warned Joseph, too. So, Joseph packed up his family and fled to Egypt.

When we get to v 16, we read that Herod was furious. That alone demonstrates his heart for us. But he went further – he wanted this baby king dead; rd v 16:  16 Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men.

ill.: I think it is interesting…timely maybe, that at this time in our history, there are many refugees, millions even, fleeing that part of the country…fleeing from war, persecution, famine and, like this family here in the Bible, oppression. This past week a refugee became disgruntled and jumped a curb at Ohio State University. He then jumped out of his vehicle and started slashing people with a knife. He didn’t kill anyone, but himself. He injured something like 11 people. So, this issue is before us, almost on a daily basis. If you think about it, Jesus and his family were refugees. They did like many are doing today; they fled across the border to Egypt where there was a large Jewish population.

app.: Now, these two stories (the Somali refugee and King Herod) point us in the direction I think Matthew is wanting us to go. We want answers. Why would someone go off like that? – Either one of them? Some would argue against the rich and the powerful. They did this! Think Trump and the post-election demonstrations going on across the US. Others would argue that this comes from the poor, disgruntled people: those on the other end of the spectrum. But I think Matthew’s point is that the answer is a much larger section of people. Think really big because the Bible teaches us that this wickedness is in every person’s heart; including yours and mine.

Transition: which brings me to my 2nd point…

II.    Coming Undone (3)

exp.: this can actually be seen in two ways:

  1. Coming undone: as in coming apart; losing it; trying to kill or destroy what threatens your kingdom and authority. This is what we see in King Herod of Matthew 2.
  2. Coming undone: as in recognizing Jesus as King and removing yourself from the throne of your heart. Surrendering to Jesus and crowning him Lord and King of your life.

You see, this 2nd definition is much harder to accomplish. Your and my natural tendency is to become angry and fight against giving up our heart’s throne.

Jeremiah 17.9: The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?

Think about this: if you want to be king of your own heart and someone comes and tells you that you don’t belong there – that there is someone who is really the King – you’re going to fight that. Those are fighting words. When someone says that Jesus is Lord and if anyone would come after him, they must deny themselves, take up their cross daily and follow him, they’re calling for total allegiance. No one can serve two masters: either you’re king of your heart or Jesus is. King Herod isn’t the only one with this problem. You and I suffer from the same malady.

Romans 8.7 tells us why it is that way: For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. “Hostile toward God”; you and I have a natural tendency toward self-preservation and self-centeredness. We think to ourselves: No one is going to tell me what to do.

Even if you’re a Christian, your natural tendency is to fight it. So a battle rages everyday. We have to fight it every single day of our lives because it isn’t natural to surrender our heart. That is why it is so hard for us to pray. I’m talking about intense, “get on your knees and fight like a man,” kind of prayer.

Paul really brings this to light in Romans 7, where he says: 18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Why is this? It is because you and I have a little king Herod inside of us that wants to fight to sit on that throne.

app.: But, when you and I come to the realization the this story of Christ, born in a manger is true, we must surrender to that – every day. That is why you and I must become undone – not the King Herod way, but the Isaiah way and say: Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.

t.s.: Well, part three is…

III.   The Paradox of Christ’s Kingdom (19-23)

exp.:  As we’ve been making our way through Isaiah on Wednesday nights I’ve been struggling with the prophecies concerning this King Jesus. My struggle is identifying exactly which ‘coming’ of Jesus Isaiah is talking about. You see, according to Scripture, Jesus is coming twice. The 2nd coming will be in power. It will bring to an end all evil and suffering. When Christ came the 1st time though, it was in a totally different way. That’s what threw so many off – and still confuses many today. For example:

  • He wasn’t born into pomp and circumstance; his 1st bed was a feeding trough for animals. He wasn’t born in a palace in Jerusalem, but rather in a home in Bethlehem to common, poor folks.
  • He grew up in Nazareth. Matthew 2.19-23 teaches us about the family’s return to Israel. Rd 19-23; Instead of Judea, they returned to Galilee; instead of Jerusalem, they went back to Nazareth. That doesn’t mean much to you and me, but for Israelites, they new that Nazareth wasn’t the place to be from. In John 1.45 Philip found Nathaniel and told him they had found the Messiah – the one Moses and the prophets wrote about. Philip said: Jesus, of Nazareth, the son of Joseph. Nathaniel replied: Nazareth? Can anything good come out of Nazareth?

ill.: Do you guys remember the movie Blast from the Past with Brennan Frazier? In that movie, Adam, played by Frazier, is warned by his mother to avoid women from Pasadena. I’m guessing people from California found that funny. But, for you and me, those of us not from California, we understood what she was saying: Can anything good come out of Pasadena?

app.: here’s where I’m going with this: This 1st time around Christ did things in a way that didn’t draw people naturally to him. For some reason, God has chosen the weak things to confound the strong and the wise. He’s always done that:

  • Isaac over Ishmael
  • Jacob over Esau
  • Leah over Rachel – the one who was not loved over the one who was…
  • He chose the Jews to be his people in a land that isn’t even very attractive. How odd of God to chose the Jews. Why not Rome or Greece or Babylon – some rich, powerful nation? No, that hasn’t been his style.
  • Oh the list goes on: David over his older brothers; Ephraim over Manasseh; Abel over Cain;

app.: Here is what Matthew is leading to: Jesus, through his weakness would bring victory and salvation to the World. He would save us – not with a sword, but on a cross. He would never really own anything, never really travel anywhere outside of the few miles he lived. He would never acquire degrees, or accolades. He would never hold office or invent something that everyone needs. He wouldn’t become rich and powerful.

t.s.: So, what? Where do we land when we come to this conclusion?

Conclusion: I think we all need to go through these three steps.

  1. Feeling Threatened: we need to recognize that feeling and desire to be king of our lives. We need to see that rebellious attitude we have toward God. We need to see that by nature, we are at enmity, we are enemies, we are hostile toward God’s declaration that he must be King and not us. We must identify that threat. And then 2ndly,
  2. Coming Undone: Then, we need to come undone! Not like Herod, but rather like Isaiah. We must recognize our tendency and desire to be king of our own hearts and then surrender all of that to God. The Bible calls that repenting of our sin. It means acknowledging that God is right and we’re wrong. When He calls s sinners, and says that all have sinned – all have rebelled – that there is none righteous, no not one – He means you and me. And that means daily taking up our cross, denying ourselves as king and following him.
  3. Living the Paradox of Christ Kingdom: to quote St. Francis of Assisi:

It is in giving that we receive,

It is in pardoning that we are pardoned

And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Make me an instrument of your peace,

I want to know what its like to follow you.

When men look at me, I want them to see,

The Light of the World inside.

 

Invitation

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Isaiah 9:2-7

Title: The People who walked in Darkness Have Seen a Great Light!

Text: Isaiah 9.2-7

Introduction: Thank you Jason Hall for reading our text today; however, without context, it might not make a whole lot of sense. To be sure, you’ve probably heard this before.

Sing Handel’s Messiah.

You and I know this passage is of the Messiah. You and I know this is the passage about Jesus. But today, I’d like to give you the context for this passage. I’d like you to see and feel and hear what the people of Judah went through with Isaiah.

Our story takes place around 734 BC, when Tiglath-Pileser king of Assyria, cut off the Egyptians supply line to Israel and Syria (Israel, the Northern Kingdom and Syria, the country just to their north). In 734 BC, Israel is divided into two separate countries: the Southern kingdom of Judah and the Northern Kingdom called Israel. The Southern Kingdom consisted of two tribes: Judah and Benjamin. The Northern Kingdom was the other 10 tribes. By 733 BC Israel would lose much of her land (Megiddo, Galilee, the Transjordan). Their King would wise up and become a puppet king – but it only saved her for another decade. Syria would fall to Assyria the next year. For the next 10 years Israel (i.e.: northern kingdom) would go back and forth on their commitment to Assyria and in 722 BC – they would be annihilated. Assyria would send in people to settle the land and inter-marry with the Jews there. This land would be known as Samaria.

What you and I find truly sad, is that Isaiah gave them fair warning, but they wouldn’t listen. He will do the same for Judah, but they will not listen either. In another 100 years, Judah will begin its time in exile.

I wonder if people will look back at us in the decades to come and think similar thoughts that you’re having about the Northern and Southern Kingdoms? Why didn’t they listen? Why didn’t they listen?

Behold, Distress and Darkness

Ill.: At this time of year the sun goes down earlier and the night gets longer. When there is no moon out, it gets really dark. My brother-in-law was hunting out on the ranch this past week and shot a deer. It was wounded and so he had to track it. He called us up at the ranch house and asked for help. We went down to where he was to help track this wounded deer. I’m telling you, that when I pulled up and turned off the lights to the jeep – I was enveloped in a sea of darkness. My eyes adjusted to the stars, but all around me was pure darkness. And guess what? I didn’t bring a flashlight! I couldn’t even take a step without the light. It was just too dark. And with all the cacti and thorny mesquite, I didn’t want to take a step without some light.

This is where we find the people of Jerusalem and Judah in our text: 8.22 – 22 And they will look to the earth, but behold, distress and darkness, the gloom of anguish. And they will be thrust into thick darkness.

How did they get here? We have to go back to chapter 7.1 and read through chapter 8 to get the context. Here’s how I’ve outlined it:

  1. A decision to be made.
  2. A sign to be offered.
  3. Ahaz rejects God. He chooses the King of Assyria over the King of Kings.
  4. God rejects Israel and Judah; but, a remnant will return
  5. The Promise of a Remnant

Transition: let’s begin with #1.

I.     A decision needs to be made as pressure mounts from outside forces (7.1-9)

exp.: rd 7.1-2; the story begins with these two countries to the north of Judah needing Judah to join forces with them to withstand Assyria’s aggression. They could all come together – but it would be of no use. Ahaz rejects Syria and Israel’s invitation and so they decided to attack him, defeat him and put another king on his throne – one who would be sympathetic to their cause.

exp.: in v3-9 Isaiah is sent to Ahaz to encourage him. God is on his side!

V7 says: These two kings’ plans will not stand!

8-9a say who these two kings are – they’re sons of kings. However, There is this idea that Ahaz is someone’s son, too. He’s the son of David – and as his heir, he’s been promised by God the protection he needs. Ahaz only needs to be faithful. He must believe God’s word and follow. That’s it – other wise; rd 9b. Their plans will not stand – but neither will you if you don’t stand in your faith.

t.s.: now, that is the 1st word of encouragement from Isaiah to Ahaz. But God is good. He’s really good. So, he sends Isaiah again with another word – a promise he wants to make. And that’s point #2

II.    A sign is offered to demonstrate God’s great mercy and to strengthen Ahaz’s faith (7.10-12)

exp.: rd v 10-11;

7.10-11: Ask for a sign – I’ll go to any lengths to help and encourage you. There is no valley to deep or no mountain to high that I won’t scale for you. So how does the king respond? Rd v 12; But, Ahaz rejects God’s offer;

III.   Ahaz Rejects God (7.13-8.7)

exp.: and so God himself will give them a sign. Rd v 13; and here’s the sign: rd v 14-17; that probably sounds familiar; if you have a footnote in your text, you can look up what Immanuel means: God with us.

App.: Ahaz’s rejection of God results in God’s rejection of him. His poor attempt to veil his lack of belief in his piety results in the very thing Ahaz wants to prevent: full collapse, being conquered and going into exile. God says: These two kings will amount to nothing and your land and people will be decimated – just like theirs.

And that’s point # 4

IV.  God will reject Ahaz, Israel and Judah (7.13-8.7)

exp.: In 7.13-17: God, through Isaiah informs Ahaz that Judah will fall and nearly be destroyed, but God offers Judah some hope in v 18-25.

To save some time, I’m going to just tell you about 7.18-25: In that day…; Judah – land, people, people, land. Then, in 8.1-7 God, through Isaiah, informs Israel that she will be utterly destroyed. No hope is offered for them; however, in v 8, God turns back to Judah and offers them hope. In v 5-8, God tells Israel that a flood called Assyria is going to annihilate them. rd v 8a; so this flood of annihilation is coming to Judah, too. Rd 8b; so it will almost drown Judah, but it will stop at the neck.

Now, at this point, we’ve identified a couple of Characteristics about this promised sign:

  1. He will be special and like no one else. He will be born of a virgin (conceived and born). He must be divine. Today’s technology makes this possible and I wouldn’t be surprised if the anti-christ makes such a claim.
  2. He must be king. This is ‘his land’ in v 8;

Note: some folks argue that this one, Immanuel, mention in 7.14 and again here is really the son born to Isaiah in 8.1-4; but, Isaiah’s wife isn’t a virgin – remember 7.3? She already has had children. Chapter 8.1-7 is for Israel – who will disappear from the face of the earth for her sins and rebellion. This sign is for Judah. Rd v 9-10; Isaiah is saying that even though the floods will rise up to the neck – Judah and Jerusalem will survive because…our God is with us. If you look at your Hebrew Bible, that is translated Immanuel. Here is our 3rd Characteristic:

  1. He will be the one who will protect them and bring them through.

So, even with disaster coming – God will still protect them.

t.s.: And this brings me to point #5…

   V. The Promise of a Remnant

exp.: Chapter 8.8-10 inform us that a remnant will survive; however, 11-22 tells Judah what is coming.  rd v 11-15; Here we learn about this remnant:

  1. The Remnant will experience God’s presence. (8-10; 14) Ahaz and the rest of the people will not know the presence of God. 2ndly,
  2. The Remnant will fear God and not any other king or ruler or country. (8.11-15); Ahaz and the rest of the people fear Tiglath-Pilesar.

Here we also learn our 4th Characteristic of Immanuel, God with us:

  1. The Messiah will cause many to stumble. (Cf.: Luke 20.9-18; Mt 21.44)
  2. The Remnant will experience true hope. (8.16-22); and though they are few, it will be what sustains them. As for the others, they will remain in the night – no dawn will come. They will be in utter darkness. But for those who hope in God – they will experience victory.
  3. The Remnant will experience a light at the end of the darkness. (9.1-7) Only utter darkness remains for Ahaz and the rest of the people. And that light – is the Messiah of God.

Rd 9.1-2; notice Isaiah is using past tense. It is as if he has been transported into the future and he can see back over time so very clearly. Rd v 3; their joy is intense and great! Rd v 4; he has broken their chains and set them free from their captors; rd v 5; the war is past – peace has come. Rd v 6-7; A messiah is coming! He is promised and the zeal of Yahweh will accomplish this!

app.: They will know and experience all of this because of Immanuel, God with us.

t.s.: well, ladies and gentlemen, we really are in the future. We can look back through time and see that Isaiah did see it right.

Conclusion: God did prove himself faithful to His Word.

  1. A Virgin did conceive and she did bear a son. And his name is called God with us.
  2. He is the King of kings and the Lord of lords.
  3. He has continued to protect and care for his own.
  4. He is the rock that causes many to stumble and others to be crushed.

Oh yes, there is more to come. But let’s stop here. Let us, for this moment, celebrate the faithfulness of God. Let it wash over you and encourage you as you look to the future. In this moment, celebrate. Celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior. May this holiday season be the most wonderful season ever!

  1. As you go out to buy gifts, be buoyed by the faithfulness of God.
  2. Sing the old carols with more gusto than you have as of late.
  3. Go to the office party or whatever Christmas party you go to with more cheer. You can be cheerful, because God is good. And God is faithful. He has given us the real reason for the season – he has given us Jesus – just as he promised he would!

Invitation.

 

 

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Mark 10:46-52

Title: The Son of David

Text: Mark 10.46-52

Introduction: We’ve reached the end of this section in Mark. We’ll hear a wonderful story this morning and that will bring the ministry movements of Jesus to an end. Chapter 11.1 and following will bring us to the Triumphal Entry and the passion week of Jesus.

Really the timing is perfect. I didn’t plan it this way. I’m grateful God interceded and worked it this way. Next week we’ll enter the Holiday season. So the break is perfect. With the New Year, we’ll pick up the passion week. Maybe. I’m leaning that way, but have some other ideas, too!

Today we’re in Mark 10.46-52. In 10 chapters, Mark has shared with us very little of the three years Christ has walked with his disciples. That’s right: 10 chapters, 3 years. Mark has been intentional. He has written with purpose and direction. Do you remember the melodic line of Mark? 1.1; 1.11; 3.11; 5.7; 8.31; 9.7; 10.45; 15.39

Jesus is the Son of God. He is the Messiah. He is the fulfillment of all OT prophecy. Mark will bring us back to this again in today’s story. I’ve outlined it this way for continuity and flow:

  1. The Setting
  2. The Conflict
  3. The Climax
  4. The Resolution

Transition: So, let’s open up the story in v 46 where Mark presents the Setting.

I.     The Setting: Who, What, When, Where (46)

exp.: rd 46a; 46 And they came to Jericho. Matthew and Luke tell us so much more that happened around here. What comes to mind for me is Zacchaeus – the wee, little man, who climbed up in a sycamore tree. Matthew also tells us that there were two blind men. Here, Mark only tells us of one; rd 46b; Why this little discrepancy? Well, I don’t think it’s a big deal. My guess is that Bartimaeus, or his father Timaeus, became prominent figures in the early church. Mark would have used his name because the early church would have identified them. He does so with Rufus and Alexander.

I think this is good for us. Usually, we just hear of a blind man, or a leper, or a demon possessed man; however, these are real people with real names. If we never saw Mark and only had read Matthew and Luke, we wouldn’t look at this blind man as closely as we do. But this is a reminder that these people are real people – real parents, with real struggles.

We don’t see the other blind man here, but we know of him from the other gospel. What was his name? Who were his parents? What is his story?

We need to remember that when we reach out to help people – they’re real people. Don’t dehumanize them. Don’t belittle them. God is choosing to use you and me to minister into their lives.

app.: As the setting here unfolds we learn the who, what, when, and where of the story.

  • Who: Jesus, his disciples, a large crowd, a blind beggar named Bartimaeus.
  • What: Jesus is passing by with this large crowd and there is a blind beggar sitting just off the road.
  • When & Where: As Jesus is leaving Jericho. Only the cross is now before him. He’ll walk up that long hill – 15 miles or so – and face the cross.

t.s.: that is the setting. Mark will outline for us now the conflict of the story…

II.    The Conflict: Bartimaeus can’t reach Jesus (47-50)

exp.: rd v 47; What’s all this commotion? He wouldn’t know, he can’t see. Someone tells him it is Jesus, of Nazareth. Or, maybe he just hears it come from the mouth of someone near.

Freeze.

By his reaction, he knows this moment is fleeting. He knows what Jesus can do – but he hadn’t even imagined that he would be in Jesus’ presence. Or maybe he had dreamed, but never thought it possible. Fantasy, yes, but reality… no. He must have heard the stories – the ones we’ve covered in Mark 1-10. He must have heard the stories that fulfill Isaiah 35.5-6: Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then shall the lame man leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute sing for joy.

(Go through Mark mentioning the stories): He must have heard and He must have believed what he had heard.

Can you imagine the adrenalin rush – the panic not to let this moment pass! He’s been sitting by the road that leads in and out of town. He would hear someone coming by and ask… beg for some help. Suddenly, a large, energetic crowd passes outside the walls and spills into this area where he is sitting. The crowd is noisy. What’s going on? It’s Jesus…of Nazareth! He would have to scream it loud enough to be heard! Kyrie Eleison! A cry of the Psalms: Lord, have mercy on me! Here he cries out “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

So, here’s the conflict:

  • The Crowd Separates – he can’t jump up and run over to Jesus – he doesn’t really know where Jesus is within the crowd. He can only cry out. Now, this isn’t on purpose. They’re not trying to be mean to him. These are just the circumstances in which he finds himself. He can’t jump up and walk along with the crowd. He’s blind. So, this 1st Conflict is the crowd separates him from Christ.

Let’s continue reading in v 48: and the crowd, moved with compassion helped the man up and brought him to Jesus. Is that what it says? No! What did they do? rd v 48: they rebuked him and told him to be silent! Here is the 2nd Conflict…

  • The Crowd Silences – This is on purpose. They rebuke him and tell him to be silent. Why? I don’t know.

I wonder if this is because there is this beggar on the side of the road. Passing on the road there is the coolest, most popular person in the entire Holy Land. A blind beggar on the side of the road…well, that’s a nuisance. An eyesore. An embarrassment. He’s just sitting there on the side of the road with his cloak across his lap and on the road, so people can put their money in it. I don’t know this, this is just how I’m picturing it.

And they want to silence him. But he isn’t deterred. rd v48b; “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Jesus must hear him. rd v 49a; now why? What was it about the cry that got his attention? I think it was the phrase: Son of David. We’ve not seen this anywhere else in Mark – at least not to this point. We’ll see again in chapter 11.10 at the Triumphal Entry. And, Jesus will bring it up when he stumps the Religious Leaders in 12.35 – during the passion week leading up to the time they kill him. But up to this point – Mark hasn’t used this title.

It is a special title referring to the Messiah. That is the point Jesus makes in 12.35. The Messiah. The Messiah would come and do some very special things. Like what I referred to in Isaiah 35.5-6: Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then shall the lame man leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute sing for joy. But most people are thinking of these statements – they’re thinking of the military ruler who will sit on a throne.

Ill.: I’ve just begun reading a book on prayer. It interested me because this book deals with prayer in the Bible. Right now I’m in the Pentateuch and prayer in the 1st 5 books isn’t praise or worship or really even intercession, but ‘calling upon the name of Yahweh’. Prayer changes in the NT to calling upon the name of Jesus. There is a connection here from Yahweh, the Father to Jesus, the Son. Different, Distinct and yet, the same.

From the beginning, Yahweh has promised to correct what was made wrong in the Fall. Creation – chapter 1; Man – chapter 2; the Fall Chapter 3 – and in the Fall, God promises restoration. As Scripture plays out, we begin to understand this One who will come and make things right will be the Messiah. He will be like his earthly father – that is from his line, his lineage – King David.

My guess is that as Jesus leaves Jericho and begins his first steps up that long incline, those who are thinking of what it will be like at the top of that hill, know nothing of what it will be like – what Jesus knows is going to happen.

Son of David! That’s different. Rd 49a again through 49b: 49 And Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart. Get up; he is calling you.”

I’m guessing the sound of the crowd died down a bit as they come to a stop and Jesus asks for Bartimaeus.

Look at his response: rd v 50

I don’t know if he used his cloak to collect money. I don’t know if there was even any money in the cloak. But whatever, it didn’t matter. He cast it aside! The only other time this word is used in the NT is in Hebrews 10.35: 35 Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. You have a picture of someone discarding or casting aside something that is valuable.

app.: But not anymore! Now the only thing that matters is getting to Jesus. There are so many things we have in out lives – that we think we need – until we come to Jesus. And if you’re not a Christian, you won’t get this… But when Jesus calls us, those things lose their value – and they don’t really matter that much anymore.

t.s.: Well, that’s the Conflict – now let’s look at the Climax of the story…

III.   The Climax: Jesus heals Bart (51-52a)

exp.:  rd v 51a; interesting – this is exactly what he just asked the Sons of Thunder. Their problem was they were asking for prestige and power and position. He isn’t asking anything of the sort. Rd 51b; He just wants to see again. That’s the word used here, to inform us that he wasn’t born this way. Maybe he has cataracts…or, who knows. I only know from this word here that he lost his sight at one point and he wants Jesus to restore it. Rd 52a; And just like that…Jesus heals him. No spittle. No “wash in the pool”. Jesus didn’t put his thumbs over his eyes. He just spoke. And really, it appears that he healed him even before he spoke! Go your way; your faith has made you well.

t.s.: Well, the Resolution is short and sweet…

IV.  The Resolution: Bart is healed and follows Christ (51-52a)

exp.: rd 52b; immediately, his sight is recovered and he follows Christ.

ill.: isn’t that what real discipleship is?

For by grace you have been saved through faith

  • Grace – unmerited favor. A gift. Not achieved; Not earned; Not warranted. Just freely given.
  • Faith – that element of action on the part of the one who believes. With your mind and with your soul and with your whole heart you know… you just know… and so you act. That’s faith.

And this is not your own doing; it is a gift of God; not by works, so that no man may boast.

t.s.: It is amazing to me how these two work together (Grace and Faith).

Application: So, what will we take home with us today? What have we learned from our lesson?

  1. God calls us to love real people with mercy and compassion. I love that Mark tells us his name, Bartimaeus. And, that he tells us his daddy’s name. This makes him real for us. He is someone; not to be cast aside or seen as an embarrassment. Remember that: people in need are just that – real people, with real needs. Maybe Christ is bringing that person into your life for a reason. Maybe Christ wants you to stop what your doing – even though it might be really important – and display some mercy and compassion toward that person. I think this takes insight and discernment. Pray for it.
  2. Jesus is the Messiah of God. I find it interesting that this Blind beggar could see who Jesus really was…Son of David. And yet, many others who had sight were blinded to who he really was. I’m thinking of the rich young ruler and even at how the disciples have been lately – dull. Maybe that is a goal of Mark’s here – to contrast these people and show us that Jesus is the promised Messiah – the Son of David.
  3. True discipleship is characterized by persistent faith.
    1. Think of the men who had to dig through a roof to get to Jesus;
    2. Think of the woman who fought through a crowd to touch the hem of his garment.
    3. Think of Jairus must continue to believe Christ, even after his friends have come and reported to him that she was gone – no need to trouble the master any longer;
    4. Think of the father concerned for his son who cries out – help me in my unbelief;
    5. Think of a blind man who cried out at the top of his lungs, even when he had been repeatedly rebuked and silenced by the crowd.

 

Invitation: to respond to this grace through your faith

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Mark 10:17-43

Title: Markers of the Followers

Text: Mark 10.17-43

Introduction: This week I’ve tried to be more conscientious about sharing my faith – at least opening the door to share my faith. You might think it would be easier for a pastor, a minister to do. But honestly, I think it is harder. I was a much better evangelist when I was a regular Joe. Once I became a minister, people would just shut me down.

With that being said, it didn’t slow Jesus down!

Paul said in 2 Corinthians 13.5: Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves.

Mark is doing that for us here – he’s outlining for us certain markers to identify – to test ourselves to see if we are in the faith. I think a lot of people assume they’re in the faith. Let’s look to see what markers he shares with us about Christ. Mark 10 is where we are, beginning in v 17; 17 And as he was setting out on his journey

It appears Jesus is just now turning toward Jerusalem. And, in fact, if you consider how he’s traveled around northern Israel as of late in these figure 8 outlines, you’d probably agree. I don’t, but I can see what some scholars do. I think he’s just packing up from where he is and headed toward where he’s been heading all along – to Jerusalem. Rd 17; a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

This is a good sign that someone is open to the Gospel. In Acts 2, they ask Peter a similar question as they are cut to the heart: Brothers, what must we do? As in, in light of what you’ve just told us, what must we do?

ill.: I’m teaching an evangelism class on Sunday nights. One of the lessons is on discernment. It is noted in this study, that just such a question is a clue that someone is open to the Gospel. However, just because someone is open, doesn’t mean they’re ready. We’ll see that in this passage, because v 22 tells us he departed dishearten.

But for now, as an evangelist – and that is what you are. Say it with me: I am an evangelist! Oh, some of you were already asleep. Say that with me: I am an evangelist!

I heard a preacher recently say: The lowest requirement of any disciple is to share his/her faith with others.

I don’t know if it is true or not, I’ve not seen some scale that marks that as the lowest. I think loving each other would rank up there with the minimum amount required. However, I think that preacher was on to something. Jesus commissioned us all to share the gospel. You don’t hire someone to do that for you. You can call a youth pastor or a worship pastor, and the list goes on. You can hire someone to mow your yard and clean the facilities. But you cannot hire someone to witness for you.

That makes you an evangelist.

So, mister and misses evangelist, what are these markers Mark is listing for us?

Markers:

  1. A life that is totally devoted to Christ. There is no one or no thing that rises above him. Period.
  2. A heart that recognizes: you still have a long way to go. This is piety. Comparing yourself to someone else may make you feel like you’ve arrived, but comparing yourself to Christ leaves you way short of the intended goal.
  3. A mind that has a clear understanding of the Gospel: the suffering death, burial and resurrection of Christ.
  4. A purpose that identifies your place in the economy of God: I am a slave.

Transition: we’ll look for these markers as we make our way through. They appear in this storyline of position and pride. Right? That is what all of these stories deal with: position and pride.

1st, we have a young man who thinks he’ll get into heaven because he has kept the law since he was young (20).

2nd, Peter thinks he has attained some level of recognition because, as he puts it: we have left everything and followed you (20). I suppose, he makes this statement in comparison to this rich, young man.

3rd, James and John begin bucking for position in the new Kingdom. Namely, these two wish to sit at Christ’s right and left – the two highest positions of recognition to Christ. It makes sense. I mean, other than Peter, who would you think belonged there? These three have been the closest to Jesus throughout this journey. And in case you don’t know it, it’s about to end. The triumphal entry is in Chapter 11.1.

Jesus and the disciples are coming near to the end. After the Triumphal entry, there is one week left. And, for Jesus, three of those days will be spent in the tomb!

So let’s look at these stories.

I.     A young man who thinks he’s kept the law.

exp.: rd v 18; I think the point Jesus is making here is for this man not to think more highly of himself than he ought. You can see this in the next couple of verses: rd v 19-21; this 1st part covers the last 6 commandments. He ends with the 1st command in the 2nd level – honor your father and mother; and, he changes do not covet with do not defraud. My guess is that because this guy is rich, he doesn’t necessarily covet what his neighbors have; all of these commandments are concrete except coveting. And defrauding someone is the concrete form Jesus uses with this man. Many of the rich got that way by defrauding others. That’s the 1st part of the commandments.

The 2nd part covers the 1st 4! i.e.: go, sell all you have, give it to the poor and follow me. And that is the problem this young man has. He thinks being good will get him into heaven.

ill.: If you’re sitting here this morning and you think you’re good enough to get into heaven – you’d better think again. You can obey the last 6 commandments perfectly and still wind up in hell. Do you hear me? Being good doesn’t get you into heaven!

app.: Jesus basically says here – you’ve obeyed the last 6 commandments pretty well. But, unless I’m 1st in your life, you’ll never have eternal life.

t.s.: Just like the young man here, you’ll depart disheartened. Storyline #2:

II.    A zealous disciple who thinks he’s sacrificed everything to follow Christ.

exp.: In our story, the young man departs with his head down. His money, his idols, his possession mean more to him than eternal life. The disciples are blown away when they watch this young man walk away. Rd v 23-27; Peter must be inspired with this speech of Jesus. Rd v 28; I think you just missed something. Go back. Do you see it? Man, this is great staging, great drama: Peter began…to say. The NIV misses this. Peter began to brag and Jesus speaks up over him: rd v 29ff; highlight with persecutions;

ill.: Then, Jesus illustrates this with a third reminder: the coming passion.

app.: 31 But many who are first will be last, and the last first.” “Look at me, I’m the example,” Jesus says.

t.s.: Now, We’ve seen the 1st marker missed by the young man: Markers:

  1. A life that is totally devoted to Christ. And, we’ve seen that Peter is lacking humility and piety, which is marker #2.
  2. A heart that recognizes: you still have a long way to go. We’ve seen marker #3 in Christ, who will demonstrate perfect humility and piety in the gospel.
  3. A mind that has a clear understanding of the Gospel: the suffering death, burial and resurrection of Christ.

Transition: You’d think at this moment the disciples would be on it. Remember, this isn’t the 1st time he’s said this. We’re in the midst of the 3rd cycle where Jesus has told them plainly that he will go to Jerusalem and die. You would think that they’ve got this by now. But this leads us to the two brothers vying for position and power.

III.  Two zealous brothers who think they’re able to drink the cup of Christ and experience his baptism.

exp.: rd v 35-37; rd v 38a; That should be a real attention grabber for them. You do not know what you are asking. Rd 38b; and boldly they say, yes: rd v 39a; they don’t know that his cup is suffering and persecution; they don’t know that his baptism is by fire!

ill.: Do you ever figure when you’re praying that you have no idea what you’re asking? Do you ever wonder if when you ask God to do this or to do that – you have no idea what you are asking for?

This should get our attention. Jesus identifies this last marker for us:

  1. A purpose that identifies your place in the economy of God: I am a slave.

app.: your purpose is His glory! That might be through death. That’s exactly what happens here. James will be the 1st one of these disciples to die.

t.s.: Here’s the catch – here is what Mark is driving home story by story…

  1. Jesus lays out the Law for the young ruler: All these I have kept from my youth; Jesus basically says: no, you haven’t
  2. Peter says: We left everything – we’ve sacrificed everything to follow you. Jesus says: no, you haven’t
  3. The brothers ask: Let us sit on your right and on your left; Are you able to drink and be baptized … They say, “we are.” And Jesus says: No, No, No… you don’t even know what you’re asking for…

Conclusion: So, we have these Markers…markers that help us examine ourselves, to test ourselves to see if we are indeed in the faith.

So now, let us examine ourselves. Look for these markings in your life: Do you have…

  1. A life that is totally devoted to Christ? Or, could Jesus peg you and cause you to drop your head, turn away and leave disheartened?
  2. A heart that recognizes: you still have a long way to go? This is piety. Comparing yourself to someone else may make you feel like you’ve arrived, but comparing yourself to Christ leaves you way short of the intended goal.
  3. A mind that has a clear understanding of the Gospel: the suffering death, burial and resurrection of Christ?
  4. A purpose that identifies your place in the economy of God? That you are a slave.

 

Prayer; Invitation; Lord’s Supper

 

 

 

 

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Mark 10:1-16

Title: Faith-filled!

Text: Mark 10.1-16

Let me begin with a story: It was a political time and of course, being outspoken, I waxed eloquent about the sinfulness of abortion, the right to life, and the need for us to pick a leader who would stand for Life! I don’t remember even saying it, but later, Lisa came and spoke to me about what I had said. Someone there at that gathering couldn’t face this judgmental legalist. What was passed on to me through my wife was this: I was right in what I said, but I needed to be aware that when I’m harping on the sinfulness of abortion, there might just be someone in my presence who has experienced it. And for those who had gone through the pain of abortion, their suffering in silence needed my message of hope and forgiveness. My ‘lightning bolts’ and ‘thunderous’ preachingcould be offset with a little bit of rain.

I look back on that time with shame. I wish I could have presented myself with more of God’s grace and mercy. Abortion is wrong, it is murder, but where there is shame, there is mercy and forgiveness, too.

You see, what’s ironic about that is I’m a sinner in need of God’s mercy, too. I don’t think of mercy in areas I’ve never needed it. I’ve never had an abortion nor have I been party to one. But I have knelt before God in need of his mercy, begging for his forgiveness.

Now, You’ve heard the passage read today and you’re probably thinking: uh, oh! Well, I don’t think it will be that bad. Yes, where we have failed, there is a sense of guilt – I say a sense because God’s forgiveness removes our guilt, but it doesn’t remove the feelings – not totally. And if you’re divorced then there is always someone in the church to remind you that you’re a failure. Well, that isn’t the goal here. Because, I wouldn’t say you’re a failure, but rather your marriage failed. There is a huge difference between those two.

I’m not here to cast stones. While it is true that divorce is a very public sin, I want you to know that if you are divorced, you can look around at those here who have never been divorced and know that we have sinned, too. Ours is just hidden. We have failed in that regard. There are folks here who would hear of your divorce, raise their eyebrows in disapproval and then say a secret prayer – please God, don’t let my sin be exposed. Because trust me – we’re all sinners here. Some of us are just better at hiding it than others. Some of us just didn’t get caught in whatever rebellion we were participating in…

So, let me begin with this premise: all of us here today are sinners. I want you to know that we’re not casting stones today. 2nd, some of you are not going to agree with me. I’ve always felt that I’m a conservative – pretty dogmatic about my beliefs. But I’ve changed over the years. I’m not more liberal – not at all. I’ve just come to a place where I don’t accept traditional teaching as readily as I used to. Instead, I’ve searched out the Scriptures to help me formulate my theology – my understanding of what Jesus is really teaching here. I would encourage you to do the same.

I think context gives us what we’re looking for. Taking the words at face value, without context, sets us up for legalism.

Context

Now last week, I had a couple of folks get lost in this phase of establishing the context. I mentioned that there is a cycle that repeats itself three times in 8.22-10.52. Mark is showing us something – he’s giving us context:

You’ll find in each cycle, three key elements:

  1. The Passion Prediction: Jesus will suffer and be mistreated by evil men; they will kill him, but 3 days later he will rise again.
  2. A Zealous Response on the part of the disciples: Peter, John, James & John;
  3. Jesus Teaching on what True Discipleship looks like – misunderstanding what following Jesus means, Jesus then teaches those with him what it means to be a true follower.

Jesus says:

  1. You understand me to be the Messiah. You want to follow me and be like me, good. Let me tell you what the Messiah looks like. I will travel to Jerusalem where I will be betrayed into the hands of sinful men who will shamefully mistreat me and kill me. But, after three days, I will rise again.
  2. The Disciples do not understand what Jesus is saying and demonstrate that with a zealous response:

a. Peter rebuking Jesus.

b. John, rebuking a man who isn’t in their group.

c. James and John ask for positions next to Christ in the new kingdom.

  1. Jesus then says: Uh-Uh… you’re not getting it. Disciples of the Messiah are different than what you’re expecting. They aren’t selfish and self-seeking. They don’t want positions of power and prestige to my right or to my left. They are like me – they give of themselves on behalf of others.

That’s the cycle, and we see it in

  1. 31-9.1; the 2nd in
  2. 30-50; and the final cycle in
  3. 32-45

So, contextually, Jesus is teaching them what the Messiah truly looks like and what disciples or followers of the Messiah look like. That’s our context: What a true disciple of Christ looks like.

Transition: Now, we’re in Chapter 10, verse 1. More detail, more “context” is given here. He moves from private teaching to a more public teaching. Crowds are gathered and the Pharisees are there. Next, what happens is that Christ moves from teaching the crowds to addressing the topic the Pharisees have given him: Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife? Here is where it gets quiet. All eyes are focused on him. What will he say?

I think verse one is important in gaining context, because Mark tells us where Jesus is. Do you remember the two men who appeared with Christ when he was transfigured before the disciples on that mountain? Elijah and Moses. This is where both men ended their lives. This place is where a chariot of fire separated Elijah from Elisha and Elijah then went up in a whirlwind to heaven. This is also the place where Moses preached his last sermon – the book of Deuteronomy. This is the topic under discussion – Deuteronomy; and the place Moses was before he marched up Mount Nebo and died.

This is the topic because the Pharisees bring it up. But why? To Test him – this is the same word used of the devil in chapter one, when he was tested, or tempted by the devil in the wilderness when he fasted for 40 days.

Context: What a true disciple looks like in light of the Pharisees testing him; Now, why would they test him?

A Trap is Set: More Context

This is not only the area where Elijah was taken up and where Moses preached his last sermon, but it was also the place where John did his baptizing. He preached against Herod Antipas and Herodias and their immoral relationship. Herod had taken his brothers wife and was shaking up with her. He had tossed the law of God under the bus so that he might fulfill his own selfish desires. Maybe, and I don’t know that this was their motive, but I tie it to this word describing their actions as that of the devil’s in chapter one – maybe they hope he will be like John the Baptist. Maybe they’re hoping Jesus will get on his high horse and criticize the King. If he would do that, they could run to the king and condemn his actions. Which by the way, is what they eventually will do. Not by telling the King that Jesus preached against his immorality, but that Jesus set himself up as a king. And when confronted with this, Pilate sought to set Jesus free, but they said to him, if you do, you’re not friend of Caesar’s. And so Pilate throws it back at them and they say: We have no king, but Caesar!

With this understanding, (they’re trying to trap Jesus as he is teaching the people), Jesus gives them his answer: he answers with a question: rd v 3; What does the Bible say? Rd v 4; “Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of divorce and to send her away.” Read Deuteronomy 24.1-4:

24 “When a man takes a wife and marries her, if then she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some indecency in her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out of his house, and she departs out of his house, and if she goes and becomes another man’s wife, and the latter man hates her and writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out of his house, or if the latter man dies, who took her to be his wife, then her former husband, who sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife, after she has been defiled, for that is an abomination before the Lord. And you shall not bring sin upon the land that the Lord your God is giving you for an inheritance.

From that, the Pharisees condense that law down to: “Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of divorce and to send her away.

They have missed it. 1st,

  1. They like the part that reads, if then she finds no favor in his eyes…
  2. However, they totally overlook that part that reads, because he has found some indecency in her… the Hebrew word used here for indecency means she was found naked and her behavior improper; the LXX understands this word and translates it in the Greek as he has found her in an ugly affair. Not affair as a euphemism in the 21st Century, but rather meaning matter. So, to be fair, Moses doesn’t say adultery – and that makes sense. That law has already been addressed. She should be put to death. So, it is a serious matter outside of adultery. Just what? We don’t know.

Well, the religious leadership wanted to nail that down – so they outlined what some indecency in her might mean. And they came up with some of the following answers

  • If she burned his meal.
  • If she feeds him food that isn’t Kosher
  • If he finds someone more beautiful than her because she finds no favor in his eyes.

They have missed it because they like the part she finds no favor in his eyes, and they’ve missed it because they skip the part where he finds some indecency in her, and they’ve missed it because

  1. The law here is he may not take her again to be his wife. All the rest are conditions being set.

24 “When a man takes a wife and marries her, if then she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some indecency in her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out of his house, and she departs out of his house, and if she goes and becomes another man’s wife, and the latter man hates her and writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out of his house, or if the latter man dies, who took her to be his wife, then her former husband, who sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife, after she has been defiled, for that is an abomination before the Lord. And you shall not bring sin upon the land that the Lord your God is giving you for an inheritance.

She is defiled because there is no longer a purity between the 1st husband and the woman. The Religious leadership then took it upon themselves to ignore the law of God and interpret their own desires into God’s law. Eventually making it so that a man could put away his wife simply because he wanted someone different; someone younger, prettier, richer, or whatever!

The Savior knows their hearts; he knows their motives. They aren’t interested in the doctrine of Divorce. They want to trap him. They want him to say something that goes against their traditions and teachings. They want him to upset the King. They want to give him enough rope that he will hang himself. But Jesus doesn’t fall for it. rd v 5;

The Law was given to show us our Sinfulness

The commandment stems from your hard hearts. That was never God’s plan for marriage, for God created marriage. His plan was perfect. His plan for marriage is perfect. It is His idea! Do any other combination outside of this picture and you destroy what God has made. And that is what he teaches us!

 

  • Two men – that’s not marriage – that’s an abomination; punishment: put them to death.
  • Two women – that’s not marriage – that’s an abomination; punishment: put them to death.
  • Adultery – that’s not marriage – that, too is an abomination; punishment: death.

The list goes on: incest, bestiality, fornication, pedophiia – read Leviticus 17-18; The punishment was so severe as to demonstrate to others that God detests something other than what he made. That’s why he gave us His Law – to show us that we are sinners and we need his forgiveness.

 

Rd v 6; this Gk word translated Hold Fast means to be faithfully devoted to; most lit.: to glue to;

Illustration: In the movie Master and Commander of the far side of the World, there is an old, old sailor on the boat. On his hands, right about here, he has letters tattooed on his fingers. HOLD FAST; So, in a storm, when he’s got his hands wrapped around a rope, he’ll never forget and let go!

That is the idea behind what God has planned in marriage – That we would HOLD FAST to the one we’ve committed our lives to… to the one we entered into covenant with – that’d when the storms of life rage upon this storm-tossed sea of our lives, we would not let go because we know to let go would be the death of us!

(Pause)…but somehow, they miss that! Jesus re-iterates three times: rd v 8; and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” You can’t be any clearer than that!

Meanwhile, back at the ranch…

The disciples want Jesus to do some clarification. And Jesus answers them plainly: “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her, 12 and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.” Keep this statement within the context of the whole story. Don’t isolate this statement and make it the focal point. I don’t think that is what Jesus is doing here. I don’t think Mark is writing this story to us and saying, now forget everything I’ve said and hang your hat on this statement alone. The context of Jesus’ statement is that a Pharisee can’t just be unhappy with his wife because he finds a pretty young lady and then gives her a writ of divorce and sends her away and marry this other lady. If he does, he is committing adultery and if she remarries, he’s causing her to commit adultery.

Let me also say, I’m not saying go ahead and get a divorce at whatever grievance you may have against your spouse.

Let me be very clear – divorce is granted in certain situations – those situations arise out of sinful behavior.

I think what Jesus is teaching here about remarriage in verses 10-12 must be used within the context of the whole passage. When someone today gets a divorce, it doesn’t negate the vows the person took. You stood before God, your family and your friends and you said…

But let’s go back to what Jesus said in the beginning – the Law there is showing us we’re sinful people. Sinful people need forgiveness. That isn’t an excuse! I’m not saying, Go ahead, get your divorce, God will forgive you. Go ahead, get remarried, you can ask for forgiveness. That isn’t how the mercy of God works. Because the truth is divorce is destructive.

The Destructive Nature of Divorce

I find it very interesting that the next topic is Children. They were the passage above and below. Children are so tender and so vulnerable. Children are impressionable and trusting.

I was a child of Divorce. My parents divorced before my 1st birthday, so I never knew a home where my parents lived and loved together. But I lived the struggle in that both of my parents were married three times.

I asked my dad about it once, when I got bold and he was open to the discussion. I asked him if he ever regretted getting divorced. He said he would tell me the answer, but he didn’t want me to get confused. He affirmed his love for my stepmom. He was glad he had me and my little sister – he couldn’t imagine life without us. But, the answer was yes. Now, I have to admit, at that time, it surprised me. Now that I’m older; not so much. But he said that he wished he would have worked through those problems with his 1st wife and never experienced the damage divorce brought.

Faith-Filled Holidays

I began this message with the premise that we’re all sinners and prone to sin. So what can we do to make our marriages and our families stronger? Cornerstone is beginning another initiative: Faith-filled Families.

Show video…

Over the next so many months, we want to give your family, your marriage some tools to help you. The truth is Satan wants to destroy your marriage, he wants to destroy your family. So, we’re going to do our best to help you with your family devotions, with making sure your have devotional ideas and materials for the holidays.

We will provide you recipe cards in Cornerstone. I’m going to send you an email from time to time. Wendy and Phil will be reminding you along the way to be proactive in your marriage and in your family.

Conclusion: Go with what you know. Well, this is what I know for sure:

  1. Your marriage is a picture of the Gospel to others: your children, grandchildren, friends, workers, and the world. Divorce is not a picture of the Gospel. God has given us evidence of his great love for us in so many different wonders of the world. Marriage is one of those. I believe this is one of the reasons the world has done all it can to redefine marriage and to do away with it all together.
  2. We are all sinners in need of God’s grace. Sin separates us from God. However, Sexual sin is different in that it involves a broken covenant. It is very serious in God’s eyes. And, it should be serious to us. He created the marriage bond to be a spiritual bond. Bearing false witness hurts. Stealing something hurts others. But sexual sin destroys in a catastrophic way. There is a ripping away, a tearing away of these two fabrics that have become one fabric.
  3. Don’t use his grace as a free pass to sin! Shall I sin all the more that grace may abound? God forbid! Don’t cheapen the grace of God, as Bonheoffer says.
  4. Some of you want to know the answer: Can I get a divorce? Can I get remarried? Should I leave my 2nd spouse? My advice to you is what Paul said to the Corinthians: remain as you are. 26 I think that in view of the present distress it is good for a person to remain as he is. That would be my advice to you – remain as you are.

a. Therefore, if you are married – protect it! Men, don’t be flirtatious. Don’t open that door. Don’t even go near it. Get accountability. Wives, same advice. If you’re feeling the need for someone to tell you how pretty you are or to make you feel attractive – get counseling. You problem will not be solved by another relationship. And ladies, may I just remind you: all men are jerks. They may act like they care, but you’re headed for disaster.

b. If you are divorced, don’t do more damage by getting remarried. John Piper writes: Temporal frustrations and disadvantages are much to be preferred over the disobedience of remarriage, and will yield deep and lasting joy both in this life and the life to come. Being lonely, or sad, or thinking this will help me financially… and the list goes on, are not good reasons to remarry.

c. If you are remarried – Do not divorce again. New promises have been made and should be kept. Yes, you broke commitments before. Just because your previous spouse broke their vows first, doesn’t give you a green light to violate yours. But, You have and here you are. So, seek forgiveness from God for past sins. That’s what grace is all about. Now that is the easy answer – I know that answer probably won’t work in every circumstance. Remember: your tendency is toward sin. Do your best not to go there.

This is not an easy subject – especially with today’s standards (or lack of them in our society). Just remember, wherever you are, whatever you’ve done up to this point, God’s mercy and grace can extend to you right now. Will you receive his grace and mercy? Right where you are just bow your head and ask God to meet you right where you are. Tell him you’re ready to turn your life over to him or back over to him. Let’s pray.

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Mark 9:30-50

Title: The Picture of a True Disciple

Text: Mark 9.30-50

Introduction: Let’s take a moment and get some context, shall we? This passage is the 2nd cycle of three we will see in this section of Mark. The parts to the cycle are simply these:

  1. The Passion Prediction: Jesus will suffer and be mistreated by evil men; they will kill him, but 3 days later he will rise again.
  2. A Zealous Response: Peter, John, James & John;
  3. Teaching on True Discipleship – misunderstanding what following Jesus means, Jesus then teaches those with him what it means to be a true follower.

We see the 1st cycle, which we covered in recent weeks

  1. 31-9.1; the 2nd in
  2. 30-50; and the final cycle in
  3. 32-45

Let me show you a couple of interesting similarities in this section which will add to our context: When you conclude this section in 10.45 – there is the story of Jesus healing a blind man, Blind Bartimaeus. I was curious to see if a miracle like this was a part of each cycle. Well, the answer is no; however, I did notice there was a healing of a blind man just before these cycles began, in 8.31, There is the story of Jesus healing a blind man in Bethsaida starting in 8.22.

My 1st thought is to ask? Is this a coincidence or an accident? I don’t think so. So, I would bundle this all together in one section with the healing of a blind man serving as bookends.

There is another interesting similarity that adds strength to this idea. Luke brings this out in an undeniable way. He uses the phrase set his face toward Jerusalem. Mark’s reference here is a little more subtle, but very real just the same. Look at 8.27; on the way; we find it again in the 2nd cycle in 9.33-34; on the way; we find it once again in the 3rd cycle in 10.52, after he heals Bartimaeus; on the way; Chapter 11.1 they get to where they’re going – The Triumphal entry. They’ve been on their way to Jerusalem where Jesus will experience what he’s been trying to tell them.

That’s the big picture…

Transition: let’s zoom in now to this 2nd cycle and cover all three steps in one fell swoop this morning in v 30-50…

What we see in this passage is what a true disciple of Jesus looks like…

I.     A True Disciple is one who is…

exp.: in v 30-32, Jesus is trying to keep their whereabouts unknown to the outside world so that he might be able to have a concentrated time of teaching. By the way – that is what discipleship is all about: teaching. Someone who commits his life to Christ is committed to learning everything he can about Christ and the life Christ wants him to live. Jesus teaches with his words and with his life. We’ll see that here… 1st lesson for these men…A true disciple of Jesus is…

  1. He is self sacrificing – like Jesus. (30-32) He isn’t seeking his own way, but rather, is willing to lay down his life. Some of you may be wondering just how this differs from a disciple of Mohammed.

Ill.: This morning I read in the News that a Palestinian attacked and injured 8 Jews in Jerusalem. Well, those ‘disciples’ of Islam lay down their lives with the purpose of killing others. Jesus, however, calls us to lay down our lives so that others may live. That’s a big difference! The Sacrifice of Christ will save millions – maybe billions of lives. We’re called to do no less than be just like him. He’ll tell them this in v 35. 2nd

  1. He isn’t seeking power or prestige. (33-35); in 33-35 Jesus asks them point blank what they’ve been discussing. Vs 34 uses a different word – argue. Jesus has told them that he would suffer and be crucified. V 32 tells us that they just didn’t understand, but were afraid to ask. They then demonstrate that they don’t get it by arguing amongst themselves who is the greatest.

Illustration: in today’s society and in our culture – we’d be appalled at this. Oh, we’d still want to know, but we’d keep it on the down low because we know people would frown at our behavior. It wasn’t necessarily so in their day. Paul demonstrates this for us in his final letter to the Corinthians. Boasting or bragging was a part of their culture and society. It gave them position and power. That’s why Paul apologizes for his boasting. Christian values are different than those of the world. It was then and it is now. Thankfully, Christianity has had an impact on our society for good. Most people wouldn’t know it, but that’s why we frown up boasting and bragging.

Jesus then illustrates this for them through a little child. We see that in v 36; taking him in his arms. Children weren’t thought very much of in those days. But here, Jesus takes the lowly and uses him to teach his disciples what he means when he says he must be last of all and servant of all.

t.s.: So, Jesus is teaching the disciples (and us) that a true follower of his is self-sacrificing and isn’t someone who seeks power or prestige. 3rdly,

  1. He isn’t jealous of others who serve in Jesus name. (36-40) I don’t know why this one is so hard for us – maybe its just because we’re sinful creatures. I think of the two brothers, Cain and Abel. Why is it we don’t celebrate when one of our brothers or sisters is successful? Think on this for a moment: Do you ever find yourself wishing a particular person or group would fail? Have you ever sat watching someone be recognized for an achievement and you sat there in disbelief? Your group was far better, or did more or didn’t cheat! In our text, John seeks to impress Jesus with his zeal. But Jesus corrects John, just as he did Peter back in chapter 8. #4…
  2. He is concerned for the next generation of believers – to teach them correctly and not lead them astray. Rd v 42; v 41&v 42 go together; where 41 is aiding and helping believers, 42 is a word of warning against those who would hurt or harm them. The word sin here is σκανδαλίζω, and it is the word we get scandalize from. The idea is to cause someone to fall into sin. Some translation may say stumble – with the idea of causing someone to fall. To fall, to stumble is a euphemism for sin. The issue here is with the individual who would cause a believer to sin. And what Jesus says is that it would be better for that person if a great millstone were tied to his neck and he were cast into the sea.

Illustration: picture of millstone I took this picture going into the city of Jerusalem – the one from the time of Jesus, which is walled off. It would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea!

Ill.: Now I’m a sinner. I’m grateful for God’s mercy and grace in my life. And I know we all need God’s forgiveness. I think I have great mercy for people because I’ve needed great mercy. But, Can I say, that I detest three types of individuals: Those who hurt senior adults; those who run from or disobey the police; and those who hurt little children. You see that millstone? … That’s pretty harsh… Jesus is communicating to us how God feels about this – about our responsibility to care for and protect our little ones. #5

  1. He is committed to Christ as a living sacrifice – committing all of himself. Rd 43-48; his commitment to Christ is seen…
    1. In what he does (hand)
    2. In where he goes (foot)
    3. In what he sees (eye)

ill.: Gehenna (a.k.a: the valley of Hinnom) is the valley outside of Jerusalem where the trash was taken and sometimes bodies of criminals. It was, akin to what we would consider the city dump – basically. Ahaz and Manasseh sacrificed their children to the god, Molech in the valley of Hinnom. Josiah brought about reform and destroyed what his grandfather had established. In his reforms, he turned that place of idol worship into a dump. There was always a fire going of trash being burned. It came to be a symbol of hell – the place of the dead where the fire never dies. It would also correspond to an unclean place outside the camp in the days of the Tabernacle in the wilderness.

Back in that time – when the Tabernacle existed , Aaron and his sons were consecrated as priests (Lev. 8.20-24). They would have this ceremony where a ram would be sacrificed and the blood from the sacrifice would be touched to the ear lobe, the thumb and the big toe; first, for Aaron and then for his sons. The OT uses the ear and Jesus here says the eye, but I think the same thing is being said – a total devotion for the priest in everything he does – and, for the disciple, a total devotion of one’s whole self to God in everything he or she does.

There is one last part to this passage that sticks out for me: what does Jesus mean when he says: rd v 49-50; Mark Horn writes: Contrary to popular belief in modern NT teaching, the ancients were well used to salt as a flavor that makes food taste better. Then he quotes from Job 6.6: 6  Can that which is tasteless be eaten without salt, or is there any taste in the juice of the mallow? Job is one of the oldest books in the Bible! Horn continues: What is more, God revealed to the Israelites that He like grain offerings better with salt. Then Horn quotes from the O.T.: 13 You shall season all your grain offerings with salt. You shall not let the salt of the covenant with your God be missing from your grain offering; with all your offerings you shall offer salt. God is telling them to burn their sacrifice with salt on it. Salt isn’t being used as a preservative in that case! But why the salt and what is it used for? I think the answer in is that verse in Lev 2.13: 13 You shall season all your grain offerings with salt. You shall not let the salt of the covenant with your God be missing from your grain offering; with all your offerings you shall offer salt. We see this term used in Numbers 18 (.19) and in 2 Chr. 13.5. Both refer to an everlasting covenant. The salt symbolizes something that will last and never ends. It is a reminder of God’s faithfulness. The salt was a reminder for the Israelites of God’s everlasting faithfulness.

In the New Covenant – an eternal covenant established by Jesus, we’re to offer our bodies as living sacrifices: our heads, our eyes, our ears, our hands, and our feet. When we’re warned about losing our flavor – it is probably in reference to the living sacrifice we are.

  • When we are not self-seeking – looking for power and prestige;
  • When we are not jealous of our brothers and sisters in Christ, but rejoice in their good fortune and blessings;
  • When we offer a cup of water to drink to those in need;
  • When we care for the least of these – the little ones and protect them from those who would lead them into sin;
  • When we are committed to Christ fully with our lives – with every fiber of our being, then we are salty and effective.
  • Then, we are true followers of Christ.

Let’s pray…

 

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Mark 9:14-29

Title: O’ Faithless Generation!

Text: Mark 9.14-29

Introduction: In today’s message, Jesus and 3 of his disciples have descended the mountain and find… – or should I say, what they don’t find, is today’s topic! We will see this as we make our way through the passage… But, before we even dig in, I’m just going to give you the answer: Faith

  1. Faith is what they don’t see.
  2. Faithlessness is what they find.

Let that ring and echo in your head for a moment. Faith. What is it? How is it measured out, so that you can track it, see it, feel it, hear it, experience it? Boy, that’s a hard one. Let me stop right here and clarify my intention this morning:

My goal isn’t to lead you on some guilt trip. That’s not what we’re doing here. I’m not going to go through this message with the objective before me to make you feel weak and wimpy. Listen, as I started researching and preparing this message I was overcome with a sense of guilt. For many of you, you’re with me on this, I know. But please don’t let guilt be what drives your listening and your responding. Now, that doesn’t let you off the hook before God. You’ve gotta deal with God and faith on your own. Do as the Lord leads, but understand, the goal isn’t guilt this morning.

Here’s the deal, this is just where we are in the text. I feel this is the message God would have me to preach this morning. I’m standing here telling you about faith, when I sometimes am the wimpiest believer, my faith is lacking and I just sit crying before the Lord. I’m there – and that isn’t where I want you to be.

Yes, make an honest assessment; study, pray, do what the Lord leads you to do – but not out of guilt. Let your drive be energized from your passion to faith. Want, more than anything else, to do this thing called “Christianity” right. Not because people are watching – though that is a good motivator.

So, back to the story: they’re coming down the mountain, discussing eschatological issues; dreaming about what the future will look like and boom: what do they not find? They don’t find faith in the disciples.

Transition: This leads me to a question. Technically, a few questions, but it starts with this one.

I.     How do people act or what do people do when they are faithless? (14-16)

exp.: We see the answer in v 14; Rd v 14; Answer: they argue. The disciples are followers of Christ. They’ve been given the ability to cast out demons and have done so in the past. Mark 3.13-15 – 13 And he went up on the mountain and called to him those whom he desired, and they came to him. 14 And he appointed twelve (whom he also named apostles) so that they might be with him and he might send them out to preach 15 and have authority to cast out demons. That was intended from the beginning. In 6.7 Mark tells us: And he called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. And in 6.13 we see that this is exactly what they did: 13 And they cast out many demons and anointed with oil many who were sick and healed them.

ill.: But now, they find they’re unable to accomplish what they did before! You ever been there? What worked before isn’t working now? God? What are you doing? Where are you in this? Why can’t I just do what I did before?

Exp.: Can I add to this? There is a lot of pressure with an audience. Man, I’m a rock at 4.30 in the morning, on the couch, under a lamp; just me, my Bible and a cup of coffee and I’m visiting with the Lord. But, put me in front of an audience who is watching me pray – now I’m feeling a little pressure. What if God says no? I’m going to look foolish in front of the skeptics, in front of the unbelievers.

app.: Why arguing? I’m sure they were caught off guard when they couldn’t cast out the demon like they had before. People are watching and all. I can just see them trying to step up and be the man. Peter, who is traditionally the leader isn’t there. Neither is James or John. So maybe Andrew is first. Flop! Let me try… Flop! Come on guys, step aside. This is how Judas and I did it… Flop! Arguing ensues…

exp.: But the real man and the other three disciples come walking up; rd 15; that’s what I’d do; I just read that verse and I’m so moved. Oh, dear Jesus, show up and interrupt my messes. I gladly bow out. Steal my show! My dog and pony routine only takes me so far! I see him and I’m amazed, too!

I wonder if this amazement has anything to do with the Transformation that just took place up on the mountain? I think of Moses and the Exodus story where Moses descended from the Mountain, having been in the presence of the Glory of God and the glory stayed with him. He needed a veil to hide his face from the people.

Exodus 34.29-35 describes in detail how that worked as Moses would remove the veil before the Father as he spoke with God – and then he would cover his face with the veil as he would return to the people.

Is this why they were amazed? I don’t know, but it fits with the Exodus parallel we saw last week.

Jesus then asks them: rd v 16-17; So, they’re all arguing about this casting out of a demon. I wonder how these ‘discussions’ get started. I wonder if the religious leaders were there to investigate Jesus, to trip him up. Well, he wasn’t, but his disciples were and what an auspicious occasion for them as they witnessed their failure.

Funny thing about these religious leaders: we don’t see them anymore in this passage. They cause trouble and then disappear. That is so like troublemakers! I wonder if religious leaders today are like that – not worried about the people and their needs. They just want to maintain their power and position. So, they do their best to stir up trouble and dissention among those who are doing their best for God – even if it is failing, they’re doing their best.

So this father identifies the reason for the arguing going on: the disciples failure and then, Jesus speaks: rd v 19

t.s.: O’ faithless generation. Who is he talking to?

II.    Who is this ‘faithless generation? (19-25)

exp.: Did people look at the disciples? Did they, the crowd, think he was talking to them, too? Did they just lower their heads? How would you respond if that was said to you by Jesus: O’ faithless generation. I don’t want Jesus to feel that way about me. When the son returns, will he find faith here? Please, Lord, let me be found faithful. Let us be found faithful. So, who is Christ speaking to? Answer: I don’t know.

  • The Disciples: some folks think he’s just talking to the disciples. They’ve been taught and trained and have done this before. Make some sense. They’ve failed here – was it their lack of faith that caused this failure. If you don’t understand how faith works, you just might be thinking that he’s talking to the disciples. If they just had the faith, they could have accomplished this.

Listen, Beloved, don’t buy into that lie! Faith doesn’t work like that. When someone tells you that all you need is a little more faith – that’s a cop out. Faith isn’t dispensed like water or gas or soda. There is something super cool about knowing that God can do something and being totally at peace if he chooses not to do that.

Maybe he was talking about:

  • The Father: rd 20-24; is there a more powerful, poignant dialogue between two people in this gospel? Boom – What do you mean: if you can?!?! Years ago, there was a lady in our church, (Copperas Cove), who had been attending a ‘health & wealth; name it, claim it church; she was sharing with me of how the pastor’s message was: when you “can God?”, you “can” God! Like canning vegetables or fruit. Doubting God’s ability makes it where he can’t do something. That’s another lie I’m begging you not to fall for. Yes, it preaches well and makes the preacher sound really witty. But it ain’t true! There is no power on earth that will ever limit the power of our God. Your lack of faith doesn’t weaken him one bit. God isn’t up there crying to himself because he has become inefficient and ineffective at the faith of the people here on earth! There is no faith meter registering the faith of the church at Calvary or in the home of a member.

Ill.: using a meter, demonstrate weakness; Well, there just aren’t enough members putting their faith in me, so, I feel weak. If just a couple of more would believe!

That’s non-sense and it just isn’t Biblical. Look at what Jesus says: All things are possible for the one who believes. Lit.: All things are possible to the one who believes. The ESV, the NIV – I think their translation is weak. The NASB, The Holman – they do a better job of translating from the Gk: to the one, not – for the one. That is slightly different in form – tremendously different in meaning. When you use the word for, you think reason or cause. When you use the word to, you think direction. For would imply that nothing is impossible for him or her, placing the emphasis on faith or even you. But, when you use the word to, which is what the original language uses, that means that nothing is impossible toward you – that work lies outside of you. The idea isn’t that faith does the work, but rather placing faith in an object, which does the work.

Ill.: present the GOSPEL; Romans 3.23; 2 Cor 5.21; Isaiah 53.6 – So faith is not in what you can do just because you believe – but rather, faith is placing your trust in an something else that can accomplish the task. Faith in a chair isn’t faith until you sit in it. Faith in a plane is faith until you get on it and fly. Faith in Christ isn’t faith until you surrender all of who you are to Christ. And trust that what He did – the work of dying on the cross, being buried in a tomb, and rising three days later – trusting that what he did is what saves you.

Ill. #2: There is a story of three men who refused to bow down to a king. The King ordered that they be thrown into the fire – to be killed as punishment for their rebellion. They said they couldn’t bow down, because God had ordered them not to. The King was furious! And in a rage ordered their death. The Bible reads in Daniel: 16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. 17 If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. 18 But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”

He can, but that doesn’t mean he will! That’s faith – trusting Him to do what He has chosen to do to bring Him Glory and Honor.

Ill. #3: David, fasting, praying, laying on the floor, begging God to save his baby boy. The Baby dies. David gets up, cleans up and goes into the Temple to worship. Then, he comes back and asks for some food. The servants are like, what, you were fasting and praying and beginning God before. Now, the baby is gone and you’re eating? David said: I will go to him someday, but he will never return to me.

That is a picture of FAITH. Trusting, begging God to work, but knowing that He will do what is best for His Glory.

Transition: The 3rd, group some folks believe Jesus is referring to is the…

  • The Crowd: rd v 25; some say, their unbelief would hinder his ability to do this miracle – he’s got to get it done before this non-believing pagans interfere. No. That isn’t what this verse is saying. I simply understand this to say that more people were coming, running to see what was going on. Maybe the disappearing religious leaders have gone back into the town and were overheard talking. We don’t really know. What we do know is that it isn’t just the growing crowd. And, it isn’t just #4…
  • The Religious Leaders: We know they don’t believe.

I think it is all of them. The only one not included in that statement is Jesus. He is different; He is set a part from them – above them.

Now some might argue with me and say look at Mark 6 and Matthew 13 where Jesus was in Nazareth, his hometown, but he couldn’t do any miracles there because of their lack of faith. Let’s clear this up. That isn’t what the Scripture says at all.

Mark 6.1-6a; that doesn’t say he couldn’t because of their unbelief. I don’t think it is even implied. Matthew clears it up a bit. But we will stay with Mark. Mark isn’t saying a lack of faith on the part of the people of Nazareth limited Christ in anyway – only that he marveled at their unbelief. The only reason you and I think this is because we’ve heard it taught incorrectly. Matthew even words it differently than Mark and clarifies it for us that Jesus didn’t do any mighty works there because of their unbelief. Not that he couldn’t because the faith meter was too low limiting his power.

Some might ask, that if it isn’t faith, then what was it? Why ‘couldn’t’ he? My answer is I don’t know. Don’t read in to Scripture something that isn’t there. Jesus was sent by his Father and led by the Spirit.

Ill.: I have a rule with my staff – it is simply this (Diana, write this down): if you ever make plans to do something, and after I’ve prayed about it, feel you shouldn’t do it, I simply ask that you cancel those plans. I may not have a reason, except that I have a check in my spirit – that I just don’t feel good about it when I lay it before the Lord. It may work, it may not, but for unity and respect for my position as pastor – please, just don’t do it.

I can’t explain it. I don’t have a valid reason. It isn’t because I lack the faith. And, when asked why your not doing that ministry, you would simply answer as here: I just couldn’t do it.

app.: Maybe the Father told Jesus not to. Maybe, miracles among unbelievers is like casting your pearls before swine. I don’t know.

III.   What causes a lack of faith? (26-29)

exp.:

  1. The Father: his experience; repeated attempts to find relief and nothing; each attempt thwarted; no one has been able to help; repeated failure brings frustration; But God had other plans: Our heavenly Father wanted this father and his son to meet Jesus, His Son.
  2. The Disciples: their eyes; what they saw; failure and then, doubt creeps in; hopelessness builds; (describe the boy’s response); foaming at the mouth; that is why we walk by faith and not by sight.
  3. The Religious Leaders: their knowledge – or should I say, what they thought they knew for sure or to be true.
  4. The Crowd: Secular; wrapped up in the world; mostly curious; onlookers – wanting to see a show or something spectacular;
  5. Jesus – he gives us the answer in v 29; rd v 29: a lack of prayer; Prayer and Faith go hand in hand. Al Mohler teaches: prayer doesn’t change God – and get him to align with our will, but rather, prayer changes me – prayer changes the individual – and aligns our will to His. That is nowhere clearer than when one prays to receive Christ as Lord and Savior. The change that takes place is in the repentant sinner.

I’d love to just camp out on this for a while – this idea of prayer and faith. Maybe I will next week. It is amazing to me how prayer and faith go hand in hand. Lyle read it last week in James 5.15: And the prayer of faith will save the sick one, and the Lord will raise him up.

Conclusion: O’ faithless generation… I don’t want that to be said of me – I don’t want that to be said of us. I want to hear: O’ Good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your salvation!

Application: So, what are we to make of this or, what are we to take from this?

  1. Understanding faith is hard – especially with all of the strange teaching out there. So let me offer a few steps to make it a little easier:

a. Follow: Let your faith in Christ lead you to a place where you trust that God is in control. No matter the circumstance. I don’t care who dies, who is elected president, what hurricanes or tornadoes do, if the sun rises tomorrow – God is still sovereign!

b. Then, Surrender to His leadership. That may be the hardest part of exercising your faith. Too often my selfish desires get mixed into the equation. But I don’t want to let go of him, her, it, whatever! Don’t let that happen – surrender.

c. Pray: Ask Him to do, accomplish, save – whatever it might be – Just ask, let your requests be made known to God. Pray Psalm 20:

May the Lord answer you in the day of trouble!

May the name of the God of Jacob protect you!

    May he send you help from the sanctuary

and give you support from Zion!

    May he remember all your offerings

and regard with favor your burnt sacrifices! Selah

    May he grant you your heart’s desire

and fulfill all your plans!

    May we shout for joy over your salvation,

and in the name of our God set up our banners!

May the Lord fulfill all your petitions!

Note: This is a good practice – to align your heart with God’s heart: Weave Scripture into the mosaic your prayers.

d. And then Rest in the power he has to accomplish anything you can think or even imagine.

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Mark 9:2-13

 

Title: Just a Glimpse!

Text: Mark 9.2-13

Introduction: Ever watch a movie trailer and say to yourself: Well, I don’t have to see that movie now – they just showed us the whole thing! Lisa and I have this thing, when we see a movie trailer of some movie about to be released that we’ll take no interest in, one of us will say to the other

  1. That looks like a real winner.
  2. Thanks for letting me know, I won’t be going to see that movie!
  3. I just saw more of that move than I think I’ll ever care to see of that movie!

All that from just a glimpse; Of course, sometimes I see a trailer and can’t wait for the movie to come out. I’m no Tom Cruise fan, but I love Jack Reacher. I saw the first part of the trailer and didn’t want to see anymore. They show way too much. So, yeah, I’ll be looking for that when it comes out at RedBox or on Netflix.

Catching just a glimpse. That’s what those movie makers want to give you in hopes that you’ll want to see the whole thing. What a difference just a glimpse can make! What hope it can give.

Yesterday I read at Linda’s Kenner’s service from Romans 8.29-30; 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. I said in my message that Linda had held each of these links of this Golden Chain. Called, Justified, Glorified.

Today, in our text, Peter, James and John are going to catch just a glimpse of Jesus in his glorified state. I don’t know if it lasted as long as a movie trailer, but what a sight it must have been.

Transition: Today’s text is set in two separate scenes:

  1. Scene 1: A Glorious Mountaintop Experience: Jesus is transformed before their very eyes.
  2. Scene 2: A Deep Theological Discussion: The disciples have many questions as they descend the mountain.

I.     A Glorious Mountaintop Experience (2-8)

exp.: We begin in v2 with a time reference that Mark rarely makes (the only other time is in 14.1); next we find that he is only taking with him three of the disciples; he did this when he raised Jairus’ daughter from the dead in 5.37; He does this again now, and He’ll do it a 3rd time in Mark when he prays in the Garden of Gethsemane. I call these three his garden buddies. I didn’t make that up. I heard another preacher refer to them as such. But you get the idea that Jesus is allowing these three to be a part of some very important parts of his ministry.

So we have a timeframe and we have a list of who is in this story. Next, we have a place – up on a high mountain. Mt. Tabor is the place considered to be the Mount of Transfiguration. I don’t have a good picture of Mt. Tabor, but it doesn’t matter, because I don’t think this is where it happened anyway. Truth is we don’t know. Anywhere north of Caesarea Philippi is the Mt. Hermon range. Jesus could taken these disciples up that way. There is some doubt that it is the Mt. Hermon way because…1st, it is 6 days later; and 2nd, when they descend, there are scribes there arguing with his other disciples. I doubt the Scribes would follow Jesus into Gentile territory. But, here’s the thing: Mark doesn’t think the name of the mountain is important, but rather what happened on that mountain is what is important.

ill.: The prophet Isaiah’s ministry spanned many decades and 4 kings. The last was Hezekiah. I was reading up on Hezekiah and read that he broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made, for until those days the people of Israel had made offerings to it (it was called Nehushtan; 2 Kings 18.4). I thought that was so wise on Hezekiah’s part! It’s funny how we as humans make idols out of religious relics! Traveling to Israel and seeing how people acted at the sites in Jerusalem is heartbreaking. Hezekiah was so moved by the people’s idolatry toward something incredible, he destroyed it.

Mark didn’t tell us where this place was, because if he did, there would be a monastery there and they would be charging us to get in!

Look at what takes place: rd v 2;

  1. He was transfigured; I love that Peter and John were eyewitnesses to this; James was the 1st to die of the disciples – so he didn’t really get a chance to write a gospel for us; But Peter and John lived long enough to pass some things on; John records this event in his gospel and Peter writes a personal testimony of this in his 2nd letter, 1st chapter: 16 For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” 18 we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. He speaks of Christ’s Majesty and of the voice they heard from the cloud. He says they were eye-witnesses! He is transformed, transfigured; rd v 3; his transformation is really indescribable; he is saying it is like nothing he has ever seen before; 2nd, Jesus converses…
  2. He conversed with Elijah and Moses; rd v 4; what are we to gather from this bit of information? Why these two? Let me be honest and say: I don’t know. However, I have some thoughts…

a. Some have said they represent the Law and the Prophets (The OT writings), But Elijah didn’t write an OT book, like Isaiah or Ezekiel or Jeremiah; And why then isn’t there a third man to represent the writings or poetry? No, I don’t think it is that.

b. Some people assume it is because these two didn’t die. For sure, Elijah didn’t die, he was taken up in a whirlwind; And Moses wandered off; Jewish tradition teaches that God just took Moses; There is only one problem with their tradition: Moses did die and God buried him (Due. 34.6); no one knows just where, and that is good; if we knew, we’d probably build a monastery there and charge people to get in to see his grave! No, the only other person who didn’t die was Enoch; so why not him instead of Moses?

c. Here’s my assumption: I think it has something to do with end times because their names are associated with end times. I think it has something to do with eschatology. For example, in a moment, the disciples with Jesus will ask him about Elijah. They understand the eschatological ties with Elijah. Malachi 4.4-6, the last three verses of the OT read:

“Remember the law of my servant Moses, the statutes and rules that I commanded him at Horeb for all Israel.

“Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes. And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.”

Furthermore, Deut. 18.15ff reads: 15 “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers—it is to him you shall listen— 16 just as you desired of the Lord your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly, when you said, ‘Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord my God or see this great fire any more, lest I die.’ 17 And the Lord said to me, ‘They are right in what they have spoken. 18 I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him.

So, both of these OT men are associated with end times!

d. Added to this, I thought of Revelation and the two witnesses of Ch. 11; now, mind you, their names are not mentioned; however, the witnesses who serve the Lord in Rev. 11, have the same abilities, as do these two and these men are highly intimated in that passage.

One last question: some may ask, how do the disciples know who these men are? I think that is a silly question. Maybe they were wearing nametags! Mark doesn’t care to tell us. And neither do any of the other gospels. Peter could have said so in his letter. But he doesn’t – he only mentions Jesus. Which I think is the focal point here. Christ is greater than these! He is greater than the Law and greater than Moses. He is greater than any OT character or event.

Trans.: Now this has to be an incredible moment. Think for a moment and wonder: what would I do? How would I act? Well, if you know the story, you know what Peter did;

  1. Peter speaks foolishly; rd 5; I’m thinking that there is a time to speak and a time to remain silent (Ecc. 3.7). Peter doesn’t know which is which! I wonder if he thought to himself: build three tents? Where did that come from? What, will each disciple take on the task of building a tent? I wonder if the three (Jesus, Moses and Elijah) are talking. They’re interrupted by Peter: “Rabbi, (the 3 look at Peter and the other disciples) it is good that we are here. Let us make three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah. And then they look back at each other and begin conversing again – like Peter never said a word. Rd v 6; He’s so caught up in the moment and terrified out of his mind, that he just blurts something out!

Trans: well, to be sure, he should have kept quiet, look at v 7; rd v 7;

  1. The Father speaks from within the cloud; there is some Exodus symbolism throughout this passage;

a. 6 days; Exodus 24, the glory of the Lord rested on Sinai for 6 days; and remember, this is only one of two times Mark gives us a time reference;

b. Moses was ‘transformed’; he needed to wear a veil to cover his face when in the presence of others;

c. As the disciples were terrified out of their minds, So were the people in Exodus; there was a tremendous fear – terrible fear from the people of the Lord.

d. Just like our experience here, A cloud enveloped the mountain in the Exodus story;

e. God spoke from the thick cloud at Sinai; just as he does in our story.

There are just too many similarities to ignore it. Now look at what he says: “This is my beloved Son; listen to him.” Gk. Lit.: hear him; a command, so it is understood that you’ll hear and obey; hence, listen. Do what he says! And just like that…

  1. It was over in an instant! Rd v 8;

They begin making their way down the mountain, back to their buddies and I’m sure many questions swirled around in their heads.

That’s where we pick up in this next section…

II.    A Deep Theological Discussion (9-13)

exp.: rd v 9; I wonder what prompted Jesus to say something. I can just hear Peter: Man, no one is gonna believe this! Jesus then warns them of the Messianic Secret – which he has warned them about many times already. This time, however, there is a terminus to the warning. You can let the secret out after the Son of Man has risen from the dead. Now, I’m sure their minds are really going! Rd v 10; this isn’t the 1st time they’ve heard this. Go back to 8.31 and we begin to get some context. Rd 8.31; you remember that Peter doesn’t like Jesus being so negative! He and all the disciples knew that Jesus would ride into town on a white stallion and conquer Jerusalem from the Romans and kick them out! What’s all this talk about rising from the dead? So, Peter rebukes Jesus. That doesn’t last long – Jesus rebukes Peter in front of the disciples. They need to hear this, too. Then, he teaches the crowds in v 34 and following. He concludes his teaching with this idea of end times and of his 2nd coming: This story might actually begin in v. 1; and for that matter in 8.38; It’s possible, and I’m not saying this dogmatically, but it is possible that this passage finds its context in 9.1 and 8.38 at the conclusion of this previous time of teaching the crowds: And he said to them, “Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God after it has come with power.” And if you go back further, another verse, you see Jesus talking about the 2nd coming! I don’t think to this point we’ve heard anything about a 2nd coming:

38 For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”

This majestic glory is something Peter mentions in his letter; maybe, these verses give us context to say that Jesus is allowing these three to see what is to come – the future glory – the resurrection glory. Follow it in order from 8.38

  • 1st, Jesus talks about his 2nd coming, when he comes in glory.
  • 2nd, he says there are some here (in their midst) who will not taste death, but would see this glory.
  • 3rd, he takes them up on a mountain and is transformed, allowing them to see him in his glory as he converses with Moses and Elijah.

I’m not 100% sure of this, but it makes a lot of sense when you read it that way. This gives a lot of credence to the pre-millennial view.

Now, why is all of this important? Because it informs our eschatology – our understanding of end times. The amillennialist will quote vs 1 and say: see this, we’re living in the millennial era. Jesus died on a cross, was buried and rose three days later. Those disciples right there are seeing the Kingdom of God ushered in! The Premillenialist will say no, no, no! Chapter 8.38 and 9.1 give our passage context.

And these things are indeed going through their minds. Maybe not Pre-millennial or A-millennial questions, but eschatological issues, nonetheless. So, they ask the one who knows!

exp.: rd v 11; a great question – and v 12a clarifies for us what the disciples are actually asking; rd 12a; so together, they’re asking if Elijah, whom they’ve just seen on the mountain with Jesus, comes to restore all things. If that is the case, then they might wonder why would it be necessary for the Son of Man to suffer and die? Especially, if all things have been restored. And Jesus asks that question for them; rd 12b; then he answers his own question: rd v 13; Jesus is tying the suffering of John, the Baptist together with that of the Messiah.

Prophecy is hard to understand. Sometimes a statement means one thing or refers to one person or one group. At other times, a prophecy might refer to more than one person or group.

A great example is using Elijah. Sometime it is clear that Elijah is John, the Baptist. At other times, it appears that prophecies of Elijah are fulfilled in Jesus. I suppose there might even been times when it is unclear which person the prophecy is about: John or Jesus.

app.: So, what are we to make of this? What do we do when things get too tough to understand?

1st we must ask ourselves what is clear – what are we sure of?

  • Well, we’re sure that Jesus is the promised Messiah.
  • We’re sure that Jesus is glorified here. He is glorified in that He has supremacy over Moses and Elijah. The book of Hebrews validates our understanding of this. The Father validates that for us in his declaration: “This is my beloved son; listen to him.”
  • We’re sure that Jesus died on a cross, was buried in a borrowed tomb and rose again three days later. And more than that, that he ascended to the right hand of the father where he rules and reigns in glory. These three disciples got to see that state of glory. We will, too, one day!
  • And, We’re sure that these lowly bodies are not the glorified bodies we’ll one day have. For we shall be like him – for we shall see him as he is. We shall all be changed – in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall all be changed.
  • We can be sure that victory lies ahead for us. At the 2nd coming, all things will be restored – Eden will be restored. That doesn’t mean there won’t be suffering, as we see Christ tie the suffering of John and himself together here in this passage. We can be sure that victory lies ahead for us.

 

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Isaiah 1:1-9

Title: Court is in Session

Text: Isaiah 1.1-9

Goal: to understand Isaiah and what he is doing in writing his book.

Introduction:

Good morning… Here’s what I want I’d like to accomplish this morning:

  • My goal is to look at the outline of Isaiah and get some direction for where we’re going at W.E.B.S.
  • 2ndly, I hope to set the tone of the book within the preface of Isaiah from within the context of the entire book.
  • I’m hoping some of you here would see the beauty of this book and desire to be a part of this study on Wednesday evenings.
  • I’ve chosen to leave Mark for this morning, because I just haven’t had any time to present an introduction. I’m not used to the new time on Wednesday evenings. And 2nd, this opening section in Mark has moved me, and I want you to be moved with the same sort of passion.

As a way of introduction, let’s review 1.1: 1The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah.

  1. The Vision
  2. Of Isaiah
  3. Concerning Judah & Jerusalem
  4. In the days of Four Kings

Transition: let’s begin 1st with …

  1. The Vision (1)

exp.: Note 1st, the vision is singular; he doesn’t record visions, but rather a vision. So this book is to be observed, studied and understood as a ‘vision’ from God. It is not a collection of visions.

2nd, a vision isn’t something God shows Isaiah, or any of the prophets for that matter. It could be and at times is; however, it isn’t necessarily seen. Many times, a vision is what God says to Isaiah. Cf.: 21.2; 29.11;

3rd, this vision isn’t chronological. I believe this creates problems for some – but not for me. I see Isaiah as his memoir – a collection of sermons and messages and stories, which have been put together systematically and not chronologically. He presents his point and then, illustrates it with a story.

4th, the vision of a prophet was powerful and amazing.

ill.: Listen to O. Palmer Roberston in his book, The Christ in the Prophets:

Inadequate evidence makes it impossible to affirm that a vision of the Almighty was essential to every call of a prophet. But in the cases of Isaiah and Ezekiel, the manifestation of God in his glory formed an integral part of their call and commission as prophets of the Lord. Jeremiah asserts that the false prophets have not “stood in the council of the Covenant Lord” (Jer. 23:18 NIV), implying that he has undergone that awesome qualifying experience (see also 1 Kings 22:19-23). The exalted vision of divine majesty played a vital role in the summons of many of the nation’s prophets, and this visionary experience could not fail to have strong impact on the prophet.

The word of God comes “with the strength of [God’s] hand” upon him (Isa. 8:11). Cramps seize the loins of the prophet like those of a woman in labor, and twilight becomes a horror to him (21:3-4). After receiving his vision, the prophet was exhausted, lay sick for several days (Dan. 8:27), and his “natural color turned to a deathly pallor” (10:8 NASB). When he heard the message from the Lord, the prophet’s heart pounded, his lips quivered, decay crept into his bones, and his legs trembled (Hab. 3:16). On receiving his call, the prophet sat overwhelmed by his vision for seven days (Ezek. 3:15). These words do not describe merely hyperpsychic experiences, for they consistently result in the most exalted of human utterances that give all glory to one and the same creator God.

t.s.: Now, I’d like to turn our attention to the 2nd part of this opening statement: The Vision Of Isaiah.

  1. Of Isaiah (1)

exp.: Who was Isaiah?

  • He was the son of Amoz, who was brother to the King – Uzziah or Amaziah.
  • Isaiah: lit.: The Lord Saves. We could spend so much time on what his name means; but suffice it to say for now… The Lord Saves. This idea of salvation comes out in his book:

t.s: Let’s look at the purpose of his vision…

  1. Concerning Judah and Jerusalem (1)

exp.: Isaiah was a prophet of the Southern Kingdom. Indeed, during his tenure, the Northern Kingdom will cease to exist. The conqueror will pull within 8 miles of Jerusalem after annihilating the Northern Kingdom. Judah will toy with the idea of trusting in Egypt and Assyria; some kings will  – other will not!

  1. In the days…of the kings (1)

exp.: Here is my guesstimate: His dates are from 740 (the year Uzziah died) to 689 BC – According to tradition, and I don’t know how accurate that is, Isaiah was sawn in half at the command of Manasseh in 689 BC during the waning years of Hezekiah. The writer of Hebrews was probably referring to Isaiah in 11.37 because of rabbinic tradition concerning his martyrdom.

Transition: let’s begin to look at the outline of the text:

  • Chapters 1-39 – Book 1: Looking for the coming perfect king in the line of David
  • Chapters 40-55 – Book 2: Looking for the King who would be the Servant (suffering servant)
  • Chapters 56-66 – Book 3: Looking for the eschatological King – the Savior and great Avenger

As for our outline, we will follow J. Alec Motyer. Motyer puts chapters 38-39 with the 2nd book. Understandably so, he aligns Hezekiah’s fatal choice with the change of book 2. Here is our outline for book 1:

  • 1-5: Preface
  • 6-12: The Dying King and the ‘Holy One’ the King of Israel.
  • 13-27: The Lord hasn’t abandoned his plans; he is going to accomplish them in the Messiah.
  • 28-35: Presented in a series of denunciations. Even though God’s people fail and see the help of outsiders, God will accomplish his purposes: a king will reign. After unfaithful kings, Hezekiah comes to reign and he trusts in God. God then proves his trustworthiness and delivers his people in a most miraculous way.
  • 36-37: The story as played out and fulfilled prophecy. They trusted in God and He delivered.

Transition: It is all very interesting, but I want to get to our text this evening, so let’s look at this first section: the Preface, chapters 1-5. Specifically, this morning, we’ll begin with 1.2-9; What is Isaiah saying and what are we to understand of ourselves?

Answer: 1.2-9 deals with sin. Here is what it all boils down to as we begin. God has made a covenant with Israel, his children, which they have entered into with him. Yahweh is a covenantal God. And we enter into relationship with him by covenant. That hasn’t changed. So with this in mind, let’s look at the text in outline form.

I.      The Arraignment: SIN (2-9)

exp.: I love the way he sets this up

The Summons: “Hear, ye, Hear, Ye!”

    Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth;

for the Lord has spoken:

The Charge: Sin and Rebellion

“Children have I reared and brought up,

but they have rebelled against me.

 

The Charge Illustrated:

    The ox knows its owner,

and the donkey its master’s crib,

but Israel does not know,

my people do not understand.”

 

The Charge Repeated: Sin and Rebellion

    Ah, sinful nation,

a people laden with iniquity,

offspring of evildoers,

children who deal corruptly!

They have forsaken the Lord,

they have despised the Holy One of Israel,

they are utterly estranged.

 

The Charge’s Necessity: Repeated attempts at Reconciliation on God’s part have been rebuffed: Not only has she sinned, Not only has she rebelled; Furthermore, Israel has repeatedly refused Discipline and resisted against God’s work to bring them back into a right relationship with Him!

    Why will you still be struck down?

Why will you continue to rebel?

The whole head is sick,

and the whole heart faint.

    From the sole of the foot even to the head,

there is no soundness in it,

but bruises and sores

and raw wounds;

they are not pressed out or bound up

or softened with oil.

    Your country lies desolate;

your cities are burned with fire;

in your very presence

foreigners devour your land;

it is desolate, as overthrown by foreigners.

    And the daughter of Zion is left

like a booth in a vineyard,

like a lodge in a cucumber field,

like a besieged city.

 

Deferred Adjudication: She has sinned through her rebellion. She has refused repeated attempts to be reconciled with her God. And Yet, God has not destroyed her; God has remained faithful to keep a remnant!

    If the Lord of hosts

had not left us a few survivors,

we should have been like Sodom,

and become like Gomorrah.

Now, it would be the defenses turn to speak. Really what can he say? What would the opening arguments of a defense be?

t.s.: Let’s take a moment and look at…

II.    The Grounds for the Charge (Deut. 28-29)

exp.: Turn to Deut. 28; Conditions of the Covenant have been set in Deut. 28; the Covenant is quite simple: Blessings for Obedience; but Curses for Disobedience!  So, they enter the Promised Land;

  1. The cycle of Judges; 1 Samuel 12.19-25; he has repeated over and over again what they have done throughout their time of being led by Judges. Now, they have a king; the covenant is remembered;
  2. The cycle of Kings; Hundreds of years pass – day after day, week after week, month after month, decade after decade, century after century after century – and the story remains the same: the people prove themselves to be unfaithful.

app.: and so the charges are presented…

t.s: Now, that’s the quick message. There is, however, a much richer look at this passage. I’ve entitled this last section…

III.   The Richness of God’s Righteous Charge against his children (14-20)

exp.: rd v 2; He is God! He created all that there is! Nothing was created that has been created that was not created by him! And, to begin this charge, he summons creation to bear witness of the charges.

ill.: (Motyers) In the Old Testament the heavens and earth are frequently summoned

(i) as witness to an oath (e.g. Dt. 4:26);

(ii) as witness for the prosecution when the Lord charges his people (e.g. Ps. 50:4ff.);

(iii) to rejoice when the Lord’s greatness is declared (e.g. as king, 1 Ch. 16:31; as Saviour, Ps. 69:34–35);

(iv) to express abhorrence of Israel’s sin (e.g. Je. 2:12).

Thus, the created universe is always on the side of its Creator. The Creation in relation to the Creator perfectly reflects the way the relationship should be between God and man. So what we see here is this call to witness this charge.

You might see them as witnesses who proclaim what the relationship is supposed to look like.

exp.: his charge reads: I have reared – they have rebelled!

ill.: rd v 3; How many of you are ‘dog’ people? What does your dog do when you come home after leaving them there for a long time? Animals know their masters. They treat strangers differently.

In v 4, he explains the charge: their sin! Isa. 59.1-2:

59 Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save,

or his ear dull, that it cannot hear;

    but your iniquities have made a separation

between you and your God,

       and your sins have hidden his face from you

so that he does not hear.

Now, even in this charge we can see the great mercy and compassion toward his people, Israel:

List 1st, the terms of endearment; nation, people, offspring, children; List the words that describe either sin or rebellion: sinful, iniquity, evildoers, corrupt, forsaken (they are not forsaken; rather they have forsaken), despised (they are not despised, but rather they have despised), estranged (their choice, Not God’s – remember the covenant? They didn’t do their part).

In v 5-8 we see God’s continued attempt to restore them into a right relationship with him. They have been disciplined severely:

  • It appears foreigners have abused her at the Lord’s leading.

Discussion: it is sometimes hard to see what God is doing and what God is allowing. How can we know the difference between punishment, discipline and God at work, doing something that will glorify him or bring us growth? Is there a difference between the suffering one endures for the sake of disciple brought about by disobedience.

Of v 5, Motyer writes: The form of the question requires it to be translated, ‘Why, seeing that you will be beaten again, do you rebel again?’ Sin is not only unreasonable (2b) but also unreasoning, unable to draw proper conclusions and make appropriate responses. It is blindness to what God is doing (cf. 5:19). pā·šǎ (paw-shah; rebellion) emphasizes stubborness rather than wilfulness (cf. verse 2; see Ho. 4:16). Stubborn, Stiff-necked; These people are so stubborn, that they will lay there, beaten and bruised; their cities in ruin, their fields empty. And yet, subborness will not let them repent.

V 6-7; again, metaphors, illustrations to describe their condition because of their stubbornness; if your body lay in this condition – physically speaking, what would you do?

ill.: I know America is not Israel. Israel’s covenant is not ours. Still, I can’t help thinking that we as a nation are headed for disaster. We cannot think that we are immune from the effects of sin.

V 9: Sodom & Gomorrah! Sin has its effect; Repeat that so I know you heard me: Sin has its effect! 1st, when we sin and 2nd, from Adam; Do you understand? We’ve been affected by the sin of Adam, as it has affected the whole earth; and we experience the effects of sin, when we willfully, stubbornly reject the teachings of the Lord and live life our own way.

But, here’s the beautiful part of the story: no matter how bad it gets, God is still faithful to stay his hand, to slow the effects, in order that a remnant might remain. Had he not slowed the effect, they would have been wiped out. As America embraces sinful behavior as a lifestyle, As America devalues marriage – to the point that it really has no meaning anymore; as America blurs the lines of gender – to the point that gender doesn’t exist anymore, as America thumbs its nose at God – we cannot think for one moment that God will continue to bless us.

Conclusion: Notice how nicely Isaiah bookends, sandwiches, brackets this passage: Isaiah begins and ends with an emphasis on the Lord; He who created, calls upon creation as his witness; and concludes w/ The Lord of Hosts… I used to think that hosts was the angel army of God. And it can be! But it isn’t just that. Hosts represents anything and everything. In terms of creation, it refers to everything God has made. Think back to v 2; it is saying the same thing: He is sovereign over everything, because everything that is – He Created! So, you have these bookends – scholars call it an inclusio.

So what, Pastor, that’s them! What has that to do with us? That’s a good question! What good have we done, if all we do is gather information and puff ourselves up with knowledge?

Application:

  1. God is perfectly righteous in making all of these decisions. He is perfectly just in his actions. He is the creator. He is God. He is Sovereign. Before you say a word; before you make a move, let that thought resonate in your mind; close your eyes and listen to this reading – Psalm 8:

                      O Lord, our Lord,

how majestic is your name in all the earth!

                        You have set your glory above the heavens.

                      Out of the mouth of babies and infants,

                        you have established strength because of your foes,

to still the enemy and the avenger.

                      When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,

the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,

                      what is man that you are mindful of him,

and the son of man that you care for him?

                      Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings

and crowned him with glory and honor.

                      You have given him dominion over the works of your hands;

you have put all things under his feet,

                      all sheep and oxen,

and also the beasts of the field,

                      the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea,

whatever passes along the paths of the seas.

                      O Lord, our Lord,

how majestic is your name in all the earth!

  1. If you and I are Christians, then: We have entered into a covenant agreement with God. We should therefore, live our lives in obedience, too. The covenant isn’t the same as Deu. 28; however, it is a covenant just the same! Look at these similarities
    1. We’re the people of God. We are the people of God, called by his name, called from the dark and delivered from shame. One holy race, saints everyone, because of the love of Christ, Jesus, the Son. We’re the people of God. We’ve been grafted into the vine.
    2. Being called “Christians” we then have an obligation to live our lives as he taught us. With the mouth we confess Jesus is Lord and with the heart we believe he God raised Jesus from the dead. There is the internal aspect of our conversion, yes, but there is the external, too. Jesus is Lord, means we no longer are Lord. What he says, goes. Period. So, we live our lives worthy of this calling we’ve received – Christians.
  2. Sin still separates us from God. Yes, we’ve been forgiven; however, when we choose to live in sin, the relationship suffers the lack of fellowship with God. Too much of that and it just might be that we’re not saved. I don’t mean you lose your salvation by any stretch of the imagination. I mean you were never saved to begin with! Someone who chooses to live in sin and reject Jesus as Lord isn’t saved. Remember, its duality? You can’t be a Christian inwardly only – that doesn’t match the word of God. Some people get very defensive with me about this because of this. But I believe the entire counsel of God’s Word points in this direction. Some people say you only have to say the words of a sinner’s prayer and wha-lah! You’re saved! No. I don’t believe that to be what Paul means when he says in his testimony: 19 “Therefore, O King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, 20 but declared first to those in Damascus, then in Jerusalem and throughout all the region of Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds in keeping with their repentance. You and I can’t have it both ways: say the sinner’s prayer and live like pagans.
  3. We cannot live in sin and expect God’s blessing. We don’t represent all of the U.S. But the U.S. is our home here on earth. We’ve been given the standard. It is our duty, as Christians and as Americans to raise the standard high – and to live out that standard in a public way. We must not endorse sinful behavior as an acceptable lifestyle. What God has called sin and rebellion, we must acknowledge is sin and rebellion. What just might stay God’s hand in destroying the U.S. is a righteous wave of believers holding high the standard of God in the public arena. I look at our younger generation and I’m encouraged in many ways. I see godly young men and women rising up to meet the challenge. Let’s raise the standard – bear the message of hope for a lost and dying world… that…
  4. God is merciful. God is patient with us. God’s tenderness is evident in the way he still treats us. He won’t always be. So, won’t you take advantage of the day and commit your life to Christ?

 

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Mark 8:22 – 9:1

Title: Discipleship Defined

Text: 8.22-9.1

Introduction: I’ve told you before that Mark seems to love Triads? Well, observe this set of Triads: a triad of triads.

Cycle of Events:

1. Prediction of the Passion: 8.31, 9.30-31, 10.32-34

2. Demonstration of selfishness and pride: 8.32, 9.33-34, 10.35-41

3. Teaching on True Discipleship: 8.34-38, 9.35-37. 10.42-45

  • An Illustration of the slow progression of blindness to sight (8.22-26). Basically, here is how the Scripture flows in Outline form:
  • An Example of Peter in the midst of his progression to perception (8.27-33).
  • The Reality of Discipleship: you must be like Christ! (8.34-9.1)

Transition: let’s begin with the illustration we finished up with last week.

I.      An Illustration of the slow progression of blindness to sight (22-26)

exp.: As a way of review, I think this story fits our storyline; the miracle is completed in two stages:

  • 23b: and when he had spit on his eyes and laid his hands on him, he asked him, “Do you see anything?”
  • 25: 25 Then Jesus laid his hands on his eyes again; and he opened his eyes, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly.

This progression illustrates for us the slow, progressive coming to faith the disciples’ experience; and, especially in today’s passage, Peter’s journey.

app.: Jesus demonstrates that He is The Messiah through the healing of the blind man. He is the answer to the prophecy found in Isaiah 35.5-6. He concludes with the command to keep the Messianic secret: Don’t even enter the village.

t.s.: Mark then gives us the an example of Peter’s progression.

II.     An example of Peter in the midst of his progression to perception (27-33)

exp.: where he lets us see into a certain time frame in Peter’s journey; rd 27a; where are they headed toward? Caesarea Philippi.

Let me digress for a moment – when traveling in Israel this past June, we went Caesarea Philippi. This is the sight of Banias Springs the second tributary of the Jordan. It is actually “Panias” but Arabs cannot say a P and there is no P in Arabic, thus they called it Banias. It is named Panias because they would worship their many gods here (Hence, the word Pan). At the start of this area is where the spring used to be – you can see from the picture that the water carved out a little cave. At the mouth of this spring, the people who worshiped their many gods believed was the entrance to the underworld, Hades, hell. The river that flows through Hades is the river Styx.

Remember that, we’ll come back to that. For now, they’re on their way and Jesus asks them a simple question: who do people say that I am? This is the 2nd time we’ve seen this: 6.14;

6.14 King Herod heard of it, for Jesus’ name had become known. Some said, “John the Baptist has been raised from the dead. That is why these miraculous powers are at work in him.” 15 But others said, “He is Elijah.” And others said, “He is a prophet, like one of the prophets of old.” 16 But when Herod heard of it, he said, “John, whom I beheaded, has been raised.”

8.27 And Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi. And on the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” 28 And they told him, “John the Baptist; and others say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets.”

So, the rumor mill is the same; however, Christ wants them to know that he isn’t any of those men. And so he asks them, personally in v 29: “But who do you say that I am?”

  1. It appears at first that Peter understands who Jesus is: Q.: Who do you say I am? A.: You are the Christ or Messiah. That’s huge! So, it appears that Peter gets it. He understands.

Matthew 16, records this same story and expounds on it quite a bit. “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. 18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

Transition: we have the Messianic Secret again in v 30 where he charges them to tell no one. What Peter has said is true, but his time has not yet come. And then, in v 31…

  1. Jesus gives a clear picture of the Messiah in his prediction of the passion.

app.: rd v 31-32b; So, just to be sure you understand when you say I’m the Messiah – this is what the Messiah looks like:

  • Suffering: Lit.: It is necessary that the Son of Man will suffer much (the word things doesn’t appear in the Gk)
  • Rejection: will come by the religious leaders;
  • Death: he will be killed
  • Resurrection: after 3 days, he will rise again

That’s the Gospel! That’s the whole reason Christ has come! That is the job of the Messiah. That is how he will save his people from their sins – he will pay the penalty for them. Thank you, Mark for v 32a…

So Jesus asks who they think he is. Peter gets it: You the promised Messiah! Jesus says, yes, wonderful. Let me let you in on more of what the Messiah has come to do. He will suffer and be rejected. He will die, and he will rise again.

Transition: and this leads us to the third step in his progression… rd 32b-33

  1. It appears that Peter doesn’t understand at all who Jesus is at all.

exp.: Peter makes one of the most beautiful declarations in Scripture! He thinks he knows who Jesus is! It’s kind of like Jesus says Do you know who I am. Peter says: Yes, I do. And Jesus says: uh, no, you don’t.

This is a cycle we’ll see repeated and climax at the end of this cycle of triads.

  • What do you know or what can you do?
  • I do know, or, I can…
  • No, you don’t or No, you can’t

Transition: to be sure, Jesus now outlines what it means to be like him… what it means to be a true disciple.

III.    The Reality of Discipleship (8.34-9.1)

exp.: rd v 34: Deny yourself, take up your cross and follow me. You’ve probably noted before that Jesus commands those individuals listening to take up his or her own cross, but they don’t have the context of Jesus doing the same thing. You and I do! Still I wonder, if he’s not giving them context here. He just told them he was going to suffer, be rejected and die. I’m wondering if that is the context for this statement. I’m going to suffer, be rejected and die. And, if you want to follow me, you’ve got to do the same thing as me (i.e.: take up your cross). You’re going to have to suffer and be rejected and die to yourself on your cross.

Jesus then presents or defines this reality, this task of discipleship with a set of oxymorons:

1) Save and lose

2) Profit, gain, and forfeit;

 3) Give and return;

4) Shame and Glory

app.: One author wrote: Jesus presents the choice of following him through a series of dichotomous positions.

t.s.: I wish I could talk like that!

Conclusion: Jesus has just defined for us who the Messiah is and what the Messiah will do. He is not one who comes for conquests; but, through suffering and rejection he will die. The good news is, three days later he will rise again.

He then turns to the crowd and he speaks to individuals. This is important, don’t miss this – he doesn’t speak to the crowd, but rather individuals in the crowd: If someone wants to follow me, you (sg) must

(1) Deny yourself (reject): That means you’re no longer calling the shots for your life. You surrender what you want to what Jesus wants. And when selfishness rears it’s ugly head, you reject or deny yourself (daily) and follow after Christ.

(2) Take up your own cross (lift it up and carry it); Have you ever thought about this? What do you do with a cross? You don’t ride them – they don’t take you anywhere? You don’t give them to other people – Jesus makes that clear with the relative personal pronoun he uses. What do you do with a cross? You carry it, until you lay it down and climb upon it to die.

(3) Follow him; The paradox of the Christian faith is that by dying to ourselves and following God’s way, we inherit true life. We save it, when we lose it. We truly profit and gain it, when we forfeit it.

Application:

  1. Jesus wants to clarify misperceptions about him. He is the promised Messiah!
    1. He is not Elijah, John the Baptist or one of the prophets.
    2. He is not a military or political ruler.
    3. He would suffer and be rejected and die on a cross to pay the penalty for sins.
  2. Jesus demonstrates true Christian leadership through sacrifice and service. And, he calls us to be like him.

In a few moments we’re going to baptize a couple of girls. But I don’t want to let this time slip away and offer someone here the chance to follow Christ. Just as he did 2,000 years ago, Jesus spoke to the crowd, but he was speaking to individuals. If you hear his voice today, summoning you to follow him – I want to give you that chance to make it public this morning.

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