Mark 10.17-43

Title: Markers of the Followers

Text: Mark 10.17-43

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

Mark is saying something similar to us, here in our text this morning: – 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 why 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 – to the cross. 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 searching and possibly 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.: There is an evangelism class I like to teach. One of the lessons in that study is about 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 disheartened. But at least there is a sign that the Holy Spirit is at work in this person’s life.

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!

A few years ago, I heard a preacher 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?


  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 this passage. 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; Hold on to this question and the thoughts you’re having. I think the point Jesus 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. I wonder if this young man responds quickly and without thinking about what Christ has said. That’s the 1st part of the commandments. The young man responds: “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.” Really? All of it? Well,…

The 2nd part covers the 1st 4 commandments! i.e.: go, sell all you have, give it to the poor, and follow me. And that is the problem this young man has is that 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:

4. 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 markers 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;

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Filed under Scripture, 2 Corinthians, Evangelism, Sermon, Mark, Christian Living

Mark 10.1-16

Title: The Family: God’s Design

Text: Mark 10.1-16

I want to try something. You’ve all seen movies and TV, I’m guessing you’ll know what to say when I do this. Hello, my name is Fred and I’m a sinner.

Congregation: Hello, Fred.

Let me begin with a story: It was a political time and of course, being outspoken, I waxed eloquently 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’ preaching needed to 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.

Did you catch that? Where there is shame, there is mercy and forgiveness, too. That’s my sermon this morning! Because, when you look at any family, there is no perfect family. It is a unit of sinful people.

You see, what’s ironic about all of this, is I’m a sinner in need of God’s mercy, too. I don’t often think of mercy in areas I’ve never needed it. I’ve never had an abortion nor have I been party to one. As for family, Lisa and I have been married almost 40 years – next year we’ll celebrate 40 years of marriage! And in that time, I have not been the perfect husband, father, son or son-in-law. I have knelt before God in need of his mercy, begging for his forgiveness. I have had to ask pretty much every family member to forgive me for something, at some time.

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.

So, let me reiterate this premise: all of us here today are sinners, but where there is shame, there is mercy and forgiveness, too. I want you to know that I’m not casting stones today.

To help us understand what Mark is doing, let’s review our context. I think context gives us what we’re looking for in helping us understand this passage. Taking the words at face value, without context, sets us up for legalism.


Now last week, I think 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:
    1. Peter rebuking Jesus.
    1. John, rebuking a man who isn’t in their group.
    1. James and John ask for positions next to Christ in the new kingdom.
  3. 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. 8.31-9.1; the 2nd in
  2. 9.30-50; and the final cycle in
  3. 10.32-45

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. Rd 10.1; More detail, more “context” is given here. He moves from private teaching (9.35) to more public teaching. Crowds are gathered and the Pharisees are there. Next, Christ moves from teaching the crowds to addressing the topic the Pharisees have given him (rd 10.2): 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 place, where Mark tells us Jesus is teaching, is near where both of those 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 1.13, when he was tested, or tempted by the devil in the wilderness when he fasted for 40 days. They’re trying to trip him up, just like Satan. Cf.: 8.11

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 brother’s wife and was in an immoral relationship 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 a 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.

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

  • 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. (Hard Hearts has been an underlying theme through these passages) That was never God’s plan for marriage, for God created marriage. Rd 6-9; 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, pedophilia – 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 6-7; 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 (remember, their hearts are hard ,too). Rd v 10; 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.

Ill.: Years ago a woman came to me about her husband. He was in a relationship with a married woman. So, I confronted him. He said, he was, and he wasn’t going to stop. I then got two other men to go with me to visit him again, as witnesses. We pleaded with him to stop. We talked to him about the consequences – about what happened to King David. He said: look, I’m leaving my wife, I’m getting a divorce, I’m going to marry this other woman. We’re both then going to ask for forgiveness.

That’s not what Grace is for!

Jesus says here and let me be very clear – divorce is granted in certain situations – those situations arise out of sinful behavior – hard hearts.

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

I think what Jesus is teaching here about remarriage in verses 10-12 must be used within the context of the whole passage and the context of Deuteronomy 24. 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 to sin!

Remember Paul’s argument: Where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more! Then should we sin more, so that Grace may abound? μὴ γένοιτο! May it never be!

So, let’s bring this to a conclusion… what do I want you to take with you when you leave this morning


  1. Divorce is Destructive and has lasting consequences. Let me show you something: Do you remember how I’ve shared with you about the Top and the Tail? What is in the next story (13-16)? Rd w/ emphasis on Child/ren. Go back to 9.36f; v42; Now, why would Mark put children in his story to bracket the passage on Divorce. 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.
  2. 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. Eph 5; Husbands love your wives as…
  3. 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.
  4. Don’t use his grace as a free pass to sin! Shall I sin all the more that grace may abound? God forbid! To quote from Dietrick Bonheoffer, “Don’t cheapen the grace of God.”

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Filed under Christian Living, Grace, Mark, Scripture

Mark 9.30-50

Title: The Picture of a True Disciple

Text: Mark 9.30-50

Introduction: Questions: What are we doing here? Stop! Maybe you’ve heard that question before, like in a Business Mtg or maybe in Bible Study. Well, it really boils down to a simple statement – something like, developing passionate followers of Christ for the Glory of God! We need something like that. I’m not suggesting that statement, but something like that – something that flows off the tongue easily and communicates a mission. Because really, what are we doing here?

Tarpley has a wonderful mission statement. It doesn’t flow and I changed it up just a little to make it easier for me to remember. The 3 G’s: Glory, Gospel, Grace.

Why am I mentioning this? Well, I think it’s time we turn our attention to getting ourselves organized. Clay, John, Robert – let’s meet and talk about this.

Now, look at the title of my message: The Picture of a True Disciple. It appears to me in this text, that Jesus was doing just that – developing passionate followers of Himself for His Father’s Glory.

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.

You might see it as:

  1. You’re the Messiah.
  2. You’re right and just so you know, this is what being the Messiah means.
  3. You’re wrong, we don’t understand this new way of thinking, and by the way, we’re excited about what this means for us!
  4. No, you’re wrong and if you want to follow me, then you won’t look like what you think I should be, but rather who I really am.

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

  1. 8.31-9.1; the 2nd in
  2. 9.30-50; and the final cycle in
  3. 10.32-45

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…

A True Disciple is one who is…

exp.: rd 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 – this is what we do: 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…

  • 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 week I read in the News of a Palestinian attack that killed one young man and injured 2 others. It was a drive-by shooting that happened last May 2nd. He was sentenced to life in prison for the death of this young Israeli student (Yehuda Guetta). Every week, it seems, Jews in Jerusalem and throughout Israel are targeted by Palestinians and other Arabs who live in Israel. These attacks are random and senseless.

App.: 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… a true disciple is one who …

  • 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; however, same word in Gk. 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 35-37; 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,

  • He isn’t jealous of others who serve in Jesus name. (38-40) rd 38-40; 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…
  • 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 old 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

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

Conclusion: This week, another pastor has resigned his position amid allegations of immorality. When I say allegations, it turns out those accusations were proven to be true. I watched a video released by the Elders of their church with the announcement to their membership. 2) Two weeks ago, 8 staff members resigned from a megachurch in Chattanooga. That pastor hasn’t resigned because he doesn’t have a leadership in place to force his resignation – so his people are quitting around him. Same accusations – adultery, immorality.)

These pastors are poor examples of what a true believer looks like. Here is the question: Either these men are believers and they’ve failed, they have rebelled against God, Or they are non-believers and are acting according to their natural inclinations.

And this is why church discipline is so vital to a church’s witness.

  1. If they are truly lost and not saved, then their souls lie in the balance. Their eternal destiny is at stake.
  2. If they’ve strayed, or fallen, and they repent and return to the Lord, the witness to the Grace of God is amazing.

Don’t miss the message: it isn’t that these sins are unforgivable. The Mercy and Grace of God is great! Take advantage of this incredible offer: forgiveness. And, how do you know someone has experienced that repentance? They get radical about turning away from those idols/things/self and turning to Jesus. Jesus is saying that we need to get radical in our repentance.

And, that radical behavioral change shows a life that is a true believer. It demonstrates outwardly what self-sacrifice truly means:

  • 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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Filed under Christian Living, Discipleship, Mark, Scripture, Sermon

Mark 9.14-19

Title: O’ Faithless Generation!

Text: Mark 9.14-29


Big Idea: The author’s aim is to place an emphasis on the need for faith in the coming days as Christ moves toward Jerusalem and the crucifixion.

We’re at the halfway point in Mark. To this point, we’ve been learning that Jesus is the Son of God. That’s the Gospel – God sent his son into this world – that’s the Christmas Story. Now, a transition has occurred. Jesus is no longer placing a focus on ministry, but rather, he’s turning this thing over to his disciples because he’s leaving. He’s headed to Jerusalem where he is going to die. Spoiler alert! It’s ok, that sounds bad, but it really is a good thing. But, without him walking with them day in and day out, they’ve got to learn to live differently. They’ve got to learn to live in faith.

Living with faith, living in faith is so very hard to do. It’s hard to explain in detail. Basically, here is what that means: God says something, and you live out your life according to His statement (be it a command or a promise or a declaration).

Ill.: The Principle of Tithing and giving.

I’ve said for years that I don’t live with regret. I’m not sure that’s an accurate statement. What I mean is, that while I wish I did not have sin and rebellion in my past, I’m glad for my sins and my failures because they remind me that I’m weak and in desperate need of a savior. Where I really failed is that I did not truly trust what God had told me. Oh, how I wish I could have lived in faith. Oh, how I wish I would have trusted God. Because this is what it all comes down to: you do what you believe. Faith is how you live. 

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 Faith…

  1. They don’t Faith.
  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:

I mentioned earlier that I don’t live with regret; however, guilt resulting from a lack of faith can eat me for lunch. Sure, no regrets, but I feel guilty for my lack of faith that led me down those paths. God says do this or do that or don’t do this or don’t do that. God says, “Trust me in this.”  And for some reason or another, I didn’t trust God like I should have.

So, moving to our story this morning: they’re coming down the mountain, after having witnessed Jesus be transfigured and they’re discussing eschatological issues related to what they’ve just seen. They understand that Jesus is the Messiah and they have expectations of what that means. And, they’re dreaming about what the future will look like, and boom: what do they not find at the bottom of the hill? They don’t find faith in the disciples. Rd v 14

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; 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 5 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 Messiah 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 upon 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 a few weeks ago.

Jesus then asks them: rd v 16-18; 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 dissension 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. Next Question: 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 Tarpley 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 something else or someone else who can accomplish the task. Faith in a chair isn’t faith until you sit in it. Faith in a plane isn’t 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 begging 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 apart 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 any way – 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.

app.: Here’s the point: God is not limited in any way – whether you believe it or not!

So, let’s bring this to a conclusion: which is my 3rd question –

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


  1. The Father: his experience verses his expectation; repeated attempts to find relief and nothing results; 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. Not understanding God’s Purpose.
  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. True faith.
  3. The Religious Leaders: their knowledge – or should I say, what they thought they knew for sure or to be true. (3. Faulty Doctrine) Maybe your struggle with faith is that you don’t really understand the reality of faith. What you think to be true isn’t true at all. Can I say, this one is the hardest! When you live your life by something you were taught, and then you find it isn’t true… man, that’ll rock your world.
  4. The Crowd: Secular; wrapped up in the world; mostly curious; onlookers – wanting to see a show, they want to be entertained or to simply see 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.

Ill.: do you remember me sharing the catchy cliché of the preacher who said, “when you can God? You Can God.” As a young preacher, I did that same thing – I came up with a catchy cliché to make my sermon better. I said, “Praise moves the heart of God. Prayer moves the hand of God.”

Man, I was so proud of that! But can I tell you that although that preaches well, and makes the speaker look impressive, bad, faulty theology is bad, faulty theology – no matter how much window dressing you put around it.

Al Mohler taught me this invaluable lesson on prayer and faith: prayer doesn’t change God – nor, get him to align with our will, but rather, prayer changes the individual – prayer changes me – 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.

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:
    1. 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!
    1. 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.
    1. 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 of your prayers. And then Rest in the power he has to accomplish anything you can think or even imagine.

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Filed under Christian Living, Mark, Scripture

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!

Really, all you need to know about that movie and if you want to see that movie or not, takes just a glimpse.

Catching just a glimpse. That’s what those moviemakers 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! What excitement it can generate!

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.

Transition: Let’s begin with this first scene…

I. A Glorious Mountaintop Experience (2-8)

exp.: v2 begins with the classic “who, what, when, where” bit of information…

  • We begin in v2 with a time reference, “and after six days”; Mark rarely makes time references like this – (the only other time is in 14.1);
  • next we find that he is only taking with him three of the disciples; remember I told you Mark loves Triads? Jesus 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 (1) a timeframe and (2) we have a list of who is in this story.

  • Next, (3) 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 have taken these disciples up that way. There is some doubt that it is 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.

And, I have to tell you that I’m glad Mark doesn’t tell us!

ill.: Do you remember King Hezekiah? The prophet Isaiah’s ministry spanned many decades and 4 kings. The last was Hezekiah. Hezekiah is the king who 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 has left for us their writings on this event; 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 eyewitnesses! 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…
    1. 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.
    1. 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?
    1. 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.”

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

  • 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 often asked about this scene: 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;

  • 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;

  • The Father speaks from within the cloud; there is some Exodus imagery and symbolism throughout this passage;
    • 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;
    • Moses was ‘transformed’; he needed to wear a veil to cover his face when in the presence of others;
    • 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.
    • Just like our experience here, A cloud enveloped the mountain in the Exodus story;
    • 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!

When you see this, you understand that the Exodus Motif or pattern was to reveal the Glory of the Lord. And that’s what you should take from this moment – Jesus in all of his glory! And just like that…

  • 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. Sometimes it is clear that Elijah is John, the Baptist. At other times, it appears that the prophecies of Elijah are fulfilled in Jesus. I suppose there might even be 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 to 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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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. Passion Predictions8.319.30f10.32ff
2. Disciples demonstrate a lack of understanding8.329.33f10.35-41
3. True Discipleship8.34-389.35ff10.42-45

Here is an outline and flow to our text this morning: We begin our study with the healing of a blind man at Bethsaida (8:22–26). We’ve now returned to Jewish territory (22). Jesus begins healing the man in private (23), but the man isn’t fully healed (24). So, Jesus continues healing the man. His sight is completely restored (25). Jesus sends him on his way but tells him not to re-enter the village – a sign to keep this miracle a secret (26).

      The Disciples then travel north with Jesus to Caesarea Philippi. (27) While on their Journey, Jesus asks them who people say Jesus is. They give various answers; however, Peter makes the famous declaration: You are the Christ! This is the home of the pagan worship of Pan (½ goat; ½ man); This is where the river Styx entered the underworld (hell); Matthew records the ‘gates of hell’.

      Something very interesting occurs here. Just after Peter makes his most famous declaration, he now commits his biggest faux pas. Jesus begins to clearly teach what the Scriptures have taught all along: that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by religious leaders, who will kill him. But, after three days, he will rise again. (31-32a). For some reason, Peter doesn’t like this negative talk from the master. So, he takes him aside and rebukes him. But, Jesus, seeing his disciples are watching, openly rebukes Peter. (32b-33).

      Jesus then calls the crowd to him and shares with them the high cost of following Christ. The Requirements of Discipleship (8:34–9:1) are listed simply as “Deny yourself, take up your cross, follow.” Then, Jesus defines this task in oxymorons:1) Save your life and lose it. Lose your life and save it; 2) Profit and gain, yet forfeit; 3) Give and return; 4) Shame vs. Glory

Basically, here is how the Scripture flows in Outline form:

  1. An Illustration of the slow progression of blindness to sight (8.22-26).
  2. An Example of Peter in the midst of his progression to perception (8.27-33).
  3. 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:

  • 8.23b: and when he had spit on his eyes and laid his hands on him, he asked him, “Do you see anything?”
  • 8.25: 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 an example of Peter’s progression.

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

exp.: I love this: it’s like a snapshot of Peter’s life at this moment… 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 back in 2014, we went to 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?”

  • 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.

Let’s stop for a second and add an application: Just because someone says the right words, doesn’t mean they understand what they’re saying. Let that resonate!

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.

This place, where they are, is the place these people believe to be the gates to the underworld. Do you see that connection?

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…

  • 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 to review: Jesus asks who they think he is. Peter appears to get 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

  • 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.

  • Jesus asks: What do you know or what can you do?
  • Someone answers: I know, or, I can…
  • Jesus basically says: 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 each one’s 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. What I mean is: 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 loose

2) Profit, gain, and forfeit;

  3) Give and return;

4) Shame and Glory

Rd v 35-38;

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 its 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.


  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.
  3. And, he calls us to be like him.

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Filed under Calling, Christian Living, Faith, Mark, Scripture, Sermon

Mark 7.31-8.26

Title: Busyness or Business

Text: Mark 7.31-8.26

Introduction: I’m so proud of you guys! You’ve been busy. Your mission team has stepped up in huge ways. (Present some of the items).

  • Our first engagement with the Labor Day BBQ here in Tarpley.
  • OCC Shoeboxes
  • Collections for Arms of Hope – Single mothers and Children’s Home
  • Collections for Helping Hands
  • Thank you cards for the LEC (Law Enforcement Community)

I wonder if sometimes you might think what you do isn’t important. I wonder if you know the value of planting seeds.

A family in Britain decided to move, but they needed to downsize. They hired a company to come in and help them sell off some items to help them downsize. Mander Auctioneers came in and gathered up the items the family wanted to get rid of and something incredible happened.

A British family won an unexpected payday when what they thought were 18th-century replicas of ancient Egyptian statuettes turned out to be the real deal. Mander Auctioneers auctioned what a Sudbury, Suffolk, family described as garden ornaments during the family’s process of thinning out their belongings prior to a move. They had purchased the statues at an auction 15 years ago for a few hundred dollars. One statue had its head reattached with cement. At first, the family and the auction house expected to get about $500 for the heavily weathered statues depicting a pair of sphinxes. “And then the auction just went crazy,” auctioneer James Mander told CNN. Apparently, several bidders had discovered the statues were bona fide treasures of ancient Egypt rather than eroded copies. The two statues sold for $265,510 plus a 24 percent buyer’s premium to an international art gallery. Experts are tracing the age of the statues, which could be thousands of years old. – “Lucrative sphinx hijincks”,, Nov 4th, 2021

App.: I’m not sure you realize the value of what you have here. So let me share with you. You are investing in so much more than diapers, paper, cards, shoe boxes, time.

When you’re in the thick of things, you can easily lose perspective. You can’t see the proverbial forest for the trees.

I want to accomplish two goals this morning:

  1. Remind you that what you do is important in the grand scheme of things. And, I want to do this by
  2. Taking a bird’s eye view of our passage to show you that pulling away from the thick of things can truly give you a proper perspective of the larger picture.

Last week, we zoomed in on a story about the Syrophoenician woman who begged Christ for some crumbs that fall from the children’s table (7.24-30). Today, we’ll look at five (5) such stories. I want to do this to show you that there is a bigger picture that these smaller pictures, when they’re all put together, make.

With that being said, here’s what I intend to do this morning:

  1. The Framework of the Text i.e., I’m going to hit all 5 stories here. I’m going to show you 5 pictures, if you will, of the hundreds of pictures that make up this one photo we call the Gospel story.
  2. A Comparison of the Texts, we’re going to see similarities in these different passages. I want to demonstrate for you that Mark was a genius in his story telling ability. I want to show you that these separate stories, ‘pictures’ really all do fit together beautifully.
  3. Theology Matters sure, there are teaching points in each small story, but I’m looking for this melodic line of the overall passage. That is what we’ll find in the Theology in Application section. Mark is playing a melodic line that gets repeated. What is that?

Transition: let’s begin with this 1st task…

I. The Framework of the Text

exp.:    This pericope is bookended by two miracles of healing (7.31-37; 8.22-26).

  • Miracles: These miracles are similar in their presentation. Take your Bible and put these passages side by side. Maybe your friend, your spouse, your sibling, whoever is sitting next to you will take one passage, say 7.31-37 and you take 8.22-26; Now that we’re set up, let’s compare the two passages. 6 Similarities:
  1. ‘They brought’ someone needing a miracle. (7.32; 8.22)
  2. ‘They begged’ Jesus to intercede. (7.32; 8.22)
  3. Jesus dealt with these needs privately. (7.33; 8.23)
  4. Both miracles were accomplished in 2 stages or two parts. (7.33-34; 8.23-25)
  5. Both miracles display the use of saliva (7.33; 8.23)
  6. Messianic Secret. Jesus encouraged them to remain silent. (7.36; 8.26)

      The middle sections continue with the theme: Jesus, the Bread of Life.

  • Jesus feeds 4,000 with bread and fish. (8.1-10) This miracle is set in two stages as well. rd v 5-6; but it doesn’t end there – look at v 7- 8a; So, we have the bread and then, the fish.

Now, before I leave this section, some people have asked if this is the same story as chapter 6 or is it a different story altogether. It’s different. I say there are so many differences, that they must be two separate accounts. But, in our 4th story, Jesus will refer to both miracles and compare them. Next,

  • The Pharisees fail to see and understand that Jesus is who he says he is, the Bread of life. (8.11-13)

exp.: in 8.11-13 the Pharisees demand a sign;

  1. Don’t mistake this for a miracle. To the Jews, Signs are indeed miraculous, but miracles aren’t necessarily signs. They’ve seen miracles. My guess is they’ve seen lots of ‘miracles’. The key for us is to see that the sign they demand of Jesus is from “Heaven” (11). They want him to do something with God stamped on it. You could read this to mean a sign up in the heavens – (you know, make it rain, make the sun stop shinning, or maybe something to do with the stars). But, I think it means a sign that demonstrates God’s approval.
  2. The word sign never means miracle in Mark (w/ the exception of the last chapter).
  3. Test is the same word as Mark 1.13; tempted; They’re doing the same thing Satan did – and they’ll fail, like Satan did. Here, I think, is Mark’s teaching – the motive of these guys is no different than that of their father, the Devil.

ill.: Ok! Think about this: Jesus could have given them a sign to rock their world. He is more than able to do so. But he doesn’t. Why? I think I understand a bit here.

I’ve been pressed by some about my vision here at Tarpley. I’ve been pressed on that before. I don’t buy into gimmicks or fads. My vision, my goal, is to have a healthy church. That’s my job as your pastor. As for ministry – I’m here to equip you, train you, provide resources for you and help you in any way I can fulfill the ministry you feel the Lord is calling you to. I don’t have visions of building buildings or doing this or that. My job is to ‘equip the saints for the work of the ministry’.

I remember sitting in an Elder’s Mtg a few years ago. Regularly, The elders are presented with ‘opportunities’ for ministry or growth or whatever. These opportunities come from within and without. There were two particular requests for us on our agenda one Thursday evening. A very short discussion about it ensued and we set it aside. Great opportunities. But, we said no. Why? I think for the same reason Jesus did here in Mark 8.12f.

When we consider what to do and what to be a part of, there are two questions we ask ourselves:

First, What is the family business? I’ve taken our constitution and outlined three G’s to help us articulate that business: The purposes of this body are declared to be:

1)  To glorify God through maintaining services both devotional and for public worship.

2)  To proclaim earnestly the gospel message and to urge its personal acceptance.

3)  To cooperate by prayer, gift, and a service in an effort to promote the cause grace of Christ throughout the world.

2nd, How’s business? Pretty good, for the most part. A struggle in others.

Each ministry can ask itself this Question and gauge its production by it. It is what we did Thursday night.

  1. What is the family business? Glorify God; Gospel proclaimed; Grace promoted. Some of you might be thinking: But we’re a church, not a business. Let me ask you, is this not our Father’s business? When Mary and Joseph sought their little son who had gone missing, they found him in the Temple. What did he tell them? “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be about my Father’s business?” That purpose drove him. So, let me ask you again: What is the family business?
  2. How’s is this request going to help our business? 2 x’s in our elders mtg we moved quickly through the requests because the answer was obvious: it doesn’t help us reach our goal. It isn’t necessarily good for business. So, the answer was obvious. No.

app.: Jesus is dialed in on his work. Their request is busyness to keep him from his Father’s business. Hence, the title of the message today: Business or Busyness. We must respond in like fashion: is this busyness or business? We’ve got to be about our Father’s business.

      4.   The disciples fail to see and understand that Jesus is the Bread of Life. (8.14-21) This is important! Don’t miss this. We’ve actually seen this before? Rd v 14-21; Don’t you get this guys? Uh, no, sir.

t.s.: Now, I’d like to move from this section, and do a comparison. You know how I said, we’ve actually seen this before? It was just after Jesus had fed the 5,000 up in 6.50-52; rd 6.50-52; That got me to thinking, we’ve seen others similar stories and activities already in Mark.

  1. A Comparison to The Previous Text
6:31–44Feeding the multitude8:1–9
6:45–56Crossing the sea and landing8:10
6.50-52Their hearts are hardened and they do not understand.8.18-21
7:1–23Conflict with the Pharisees8:11–13
7:24–30A negative discussion about bread8:14–21
7:31–36Healing (Blind & Deaf)8:22–26

app.: Through these two sections, there are similarities. Is this a coincidence? Well, Leroy Jethro Gibbs says there are no coincidences. And, that’s good advice for us as we look at these texts. Mark is up to something. I think he’s wanting to show us a bigger picture. I think he wants us to see the miracles in two stages. Jesus is doing those miracles in stages on purpose. I think he wants us also to identify that the disciples are dull both times Jesus talks about the bread. And, that there is a point he is making: Jesus is the Bread of Life.

Transition: So, we’ve looked at the Outline, the Framework. We’ve noted the comparison of this big outline to the previous section. Now, let’s look at the Theology being taught.

II. Theology Matters

exp.: So, we’ve answered the question that Mark is up to something – something larger than just story telling. But just what is he up to? 1st, Mark is wanting us to see:

  1. Christ is the fulfillment of Isaiah’s Prophecy in 35.5-6; rd Isaiah 35.1-6; there is a dual fulfillment here – the physical and the spiritual. And we see that is exactly what Mark is doing for us in this passage. The blind do see (i.e.: physically) and the deaf do hear (i.e.: physically); however, there is the spiritual side to this as well. The Pharisees are blinded and they go on in their blindness, but the disciples, though they are not perceiving, they will! Though they are not hearing – they will! And, though it is just a little at first, it will grow, it will progress and they will see and hear.

Transition: Don’t miss what Mark is doing in his presentation. Christ is indeed the Bread of Life. He is the Messiah who was promised. He is bringing healing both physically, and spiritually. Which brings me to the 2nd Theological Application…

  • Seeing is Believing; Perceiving is believing; Rd 8.17-18; the answer here is, ‘no, we don’t.’ So, how do we know they will? I think this is given to us in the physical miracles. Note: the deaf, the blind, and the bread – these miracles appear to take place in two stages.
    • Deaf: 1. He put his fingers in his ears, and 2. spit and touched his tongue.
    • Bread: 1. He distributed the bread. 2. And then, separately, he distributed the fish.
    • Blind: 1. spit on his eyes, and 2. laid his hands on him.

It is a reminder to us that we serve in a very physical manner. And we meet needs in a very physical manner. But, please don’t forget the spiritual side of what we do! Pray that God will use our service to bring himself Glory, that the Gospel will be proclaimed, and that God’s Grace will be extended to those around us.   

Transition: Which is a great segue for our 3rd Theological Application…

  • Faith is a progressive experience… think: process and progress. Do you see our miracles in the physical realm? Here is another question we must ask ourselves: Does the God of this Universe, the One who spoke our world into order and existence, Is He Insufficient in any way that he would need to conduct his miracles in stages? It isn’t like Jesus said: “Oh, you still can’t see? Well, let me do a little more… there!” In modern medicine, yes, you take your antibiotics for 10 days to three weeks. It’s a slow process. And then, if necessary, you take them for another round.

Not so with God. We’ve seen him perform miracles without even lifting a hand. He just thinks it and it is done. Remember the Syrophoenician woman? Rd 7.29: 29 And he said to her, “For this statement you may go your way; the demon has left your daughter.” Perfect tense – a state of being because of a past action! She’s already free from the Demon. The answer to this question is “no”. Jesus is not insufficient in any way! And yet, Jesus repeats this 2-stage process again and again, and again. Listen to Mark Strauss, professor of NT at Bethel Seminary in San Diego. In his commentary on Mark he writes: The two stages of these miracles represent the disciples’ gradual progression toward spiritual understanding. Faith is a progressive experience. The gradual healing of the blind man illustrates the gradual progress of faith in the life of the disciples. Though they have begun their journey by choosing to follow Jesus, they have much to learn. There is a long and challenging road ahead, and it will be full of fits and starts.

  • These sections of Scripture are in two different geographical locations and to two different groups of people. 1. The Jews. and 2. The Gentiles. Mark is reminding us that the Gospel is universal in nature. Yes, it is focused up on the Jews in the beginning, but shortly, the gospel will spread to the World.


            So, where do we go from here? Well, 1st, if you’ve never surrendered your life to Christ – let today be that day. Is it possible your heart has been hardened to Christ? You’ve demanded signs or your way in some venture, but Christ was focused on his mission. Have you ever thought, my friend, that Christ is more concerned for your soul than he is for your flesh? He’s more concerned about feeding your soul than he is about feeding your flesh! What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and yet loses his soul? Don’t let this moment pass you buy if you’ve never committed your life to Christ – please do so this morning.

In a moment we’ll be dismissed. We’re not going to sing 10 verses of a song and wait on you. I’m going to be out front. Stop by and ask if we can talk about something important. We can step aside and visit. We can make plans in the near future if that works better. But please, don’t just leave without getting the answers you are curious about.  

            2ndly, Maybe there is a decision you’ve made and you need to make it public. You’ve accepted Christ recently or maybe God has called you into the ministry. I’m not sure what your needs are, but I know that God does. So, you respond as He leads you this morning.

            Lastly, Happy Thanksgiving!

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Filed under Christian Living, Church Polity, Isaiah, Mark, missions, Scripture, Sermon

Mark 7.24-30

Title: Missions: The Gospel to the Gentiles

Text: Mark 7.24-30

Introduction: We’re in the midst of a sermon series on Mark: Jesus, the Bread of Life. Our focus is Missions. This section is in Mark 6.30-8.21; it is the extended ministry of Jesus, beyond the Sea of Galilee. Here in chapter 7, Jesus has rebuked the hypocrisy of the Pharisees and their clinging to the traditions of men, above even the Word of God.

I have to say, we engaged in some lively discussion Wednesday night about traditions and the Word of God. Robert commented on how the conversation seemed to make all tradition out to be wrong. But that wasn’t my intent. My goal was simply to make us aware of how many traditions we have, that they were established with good intentions; however, they may not necessarily be Biblical.

In that passage, Jesus declared all food clean. And then, he does something amazing: he gets up from there and enters into Gentile territory. Now, the Jews wouldn’t eat or fellowship with Gentiles. If someone went into the home of a Gentile, that person would become unclean. Now, that is nowhere in the Law of God, but it had simply become one of their own traditions or standards.

Listen, setting standards can be a good thing. I think you should set standards for yourself. In order to help you live a holy and godly life, set some standards. But, don’t make those the requirements for getting into heaven! That standard has already been set!

  • Let’s say you decide you’re never going to go out on Saturday nights, but instead, you’ll be home by a certain time and get ready for Sunday. There is nothing wrong with that. However, when you begin to judge others who don’t live the same way – then, you’re wrong.
  • Let’s say you decide you’re always going to look your best on Sunday mornings. You want to present your very best to God. Great. Iron your clothes, polish your shoes, Get your hair cut or whatever done on Saturday. Whatever it takes. But here is where you might mess up: when you judge the brother or sister who isn’t in their suit and tie, or in their nicest dress.

Yes, set standards to help yourself – just don’t make them the requirement for salvation! Jesus is going to step outside the standards set by the traditions of the elders…again. He just did it in 7.1-23. He’s going to do it again by going into Gentile territory. And here is where we pick up the storyline in v 24 – I’ve divided this passage into three main parts:

  1. Jesus withdraws from that region into the land of the Gentiles.
  2. A desperate mother discovers his whereabouts and petitions him to save her daughter.
  3. Jesus responds to this mother in a very uncharacteristic way.

Transition: Let’s begin with this 1st point…

I. Jesus withdraws from that region (24)

exp.: rd v 24; the fact that he didn’t want anyone to know where he was, demonstrates for me his desire to be hidden – to get away from people.

Ill.: I’m sure you remember Southwest Airlines commercials from a few years back – back before there was DVR? Want to get away? I love the one where the delivery man is headed back to his truck after dropping something off at this house. The couple who lives there is working in their garden by the driveway. He sees a basketball and decides to be l and take a shot. The couple watches as he picks up the ball and ‘air balls it’, missing the rim but shooting the ball right through the glass windows on the garage door. The couple looks at him – he looks at the couple: you want to get away?

Well, Jesus wanted to get away and so he gets up and heads northwest toward the region of Tyre and Sidon. 

Transition: It’s the last part of this verse that lets us in on the story – though he wanted to be, Jesus couldn’t be hidden! This desperate woman finds out about him and makes an appearance. So, point #1, there is this need to getaway. Point #2 –

II. A Desperate Mother Discovers His Whereabouts (25-26)

exp.: Now, we know very little about this woman, but look at what Mark does tell us:

  1. Her problem: rd v 25;
    1. A demon possessed daughter; That’s what this means; I think Mark uses this word, unclean because it fits with his theme (disciples use defiled hands). What is clean and unclean: what is unclean is the demon inside this little girl – not the girl. So, desperate is she that she comes and falls down at his feet. What humility! Surely she knows he is Jewish. Surely she knows he’s a man. Middle eastern behavior would frown upon this. Mark down this character trait: humility. Rd v 26a;
    2. A Woman, not just a woman, but a Gentile woman! And, if this were not enough, she is Syrophoenician by birth! Talk about unclean in the eyes of the Pharisees. When you read this, a certain woman should pop into your minds. It did for the Jews. Can you name a king who married a Syrophoenician woman? Can you name that evil woman?

Ill.: A few weeks ago I shared with you that the Jewish men pray daily, a prayer of thanks – that they weren’t born: Women, slaves, or Gentiles.

That’s just how poor of a view the Jews had toward Gentiles. Maybe they still do – I don’t know.

app.: for some reason, this doesn’t matter to her. She’s desperate. Her daughter needs help and she believes Jesus is the only one who can save her daughter. Now, this really comes out in the last sentence of v 26; here we see…

  • Her persistence: rd 26b; this word translated begged is really more of an interpretation, I think. You see, the word actually means asked or requested. If you translate it straight out – word for word, you lose something. In the original language here, there are two ways of describing past tense: aorist, is simple past tense (she asked); imperfect tense shows action in the past (she kept on asking); That’s the picture here: she wouldn’t leave him alone.

app.: So, there is a persistent request from a desperate mother in spite of the fact that Jesus desires to remain hidden. And, why not? What really does she have to lose? At this point, an odd thing happens…

III. Jesus responds to this mother in a very uncharacteristic way (27-29)

exp.: Jesus answers her in a way that shocks even the most hard-hearted of people. Rd v 27; this is strange or odd because Jesus uses…

  • A Strange Illustration: Jesus uses what is called the ‘Family Table’ illustration to refuse her request. Now, we could go so many places from here, but I’ll just save that for your Bible Study time. For now, I want you to just note that there is a theme in Mark about eating and eating at the table. There is the idea of fellowship, and more importantly, fellowship with Jesus. In this illustration, Jesus speaks of Children and their eating of bread. It isn’t that the dogs aren’t to be fed, but that the children are to be fed first. It isn’t odd that Jesus uses a ‘Family Dinning Experience’ as an illustration – that’s not odd. The odd part is that…
  • Jesus compares or relates exorcism to the family dining table. Now, that’s just weird. Let that sink in: “Jesus, I have a daughter who has a demon in her.” Will you cast it out of her, please? How in the world does he get to the dinner table from there? There is a very good chance that this woman has seated her child at the dinner table. She’s fed her there. She knows the order. But when Jesus speaks, she has images in her mind of her dinner table and her children.

Remember this trick: when you aren’t sure of what Jesus is doing, try to figure out the easy, obvious answers. We’ll do this in this story together. I say this because we often get this wrong. I think preachers/teachers oftentimes, and too quickly, replace characters in the story with themselves or the wrong people.

Example: Abraham and Isaac in Gen. 22.

  • Children – The Children of Israel. The OT uses this comparison repeated. I think it is safe to assume these children in this analogy are the Children of Israel; They are fed first; 1st means priority. It doesn’t mean that no one else within or outside of the family won’t eat! It’s just that the children in our illustration have priority. I’m sure you’ve experienced this, especially if you have a dog; You don’t take the food and give it to the dogs, and then whatever is left over in their bowls, give to the children; Absurd! So, 1st answer we have is priority.
    • Fed – lit.: to be satisfied, or to eat their fill; This word appears 2 other times in the Mark; both are when Jesus feeds the 5,000 and the 4,000; The beatitudes: Matt 5.“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. We see this also in the parable of Lazarus, who desired to be filled or satisfied by the crumbs that fell from the rich man’s table. At this stage, I think it is safe to say that the Gospel is what satisfies and it is to be presented to the Children of Israel first. It’s a matter of timing. This demonstrates the Priority in the Gospel; as Paul writes 3x’s to the Romans: to the Jew first, and then the Gentile. Still, pretty straight forward. Next,
    • Bread – v 27; the children’s bread; lit.: the bread of the children; here is another example of Bread being used by Mark in these three chapters (6-8); now because of our previous work on this topic, we know that the Bread is Jesus. We will probably see it each week until we reach the halfway point of Mark; in each analogy, we see that Jesus is the Bread of Life (27); To be sure, it is a lot of work to get there, and I’ll refer you to last week’s sermon to study up on the Bread of Life analogy. But, there is no doubt that Jesus is the Bread in this illustration: he is the one who fills and satisfies the soul. His priority is 1st to the Children of Israel. Here is where it get’s ugly…rd 27b
    • Dogs – that’s a harsh word. There is no way to clean that up in translation. So, before we talk about this word, can I say a word about my Savior? Again – remember, when you don’t understand something, go with what you know – what are the obvious answers.
      • He is good and merciful. He isn’t mean and hateful. So, I know right away, that he doesn’t mean what I might think it means in the 21st century; this isn’t Jesus being mean and hateful. He is perfect and no sin dwells in him. He isn’t selfish or even rude. He isn’t being ugly to her because she found him when he was trying to remain hidden.
      • 2ndly, He knows everything. He knows what I need before I even do.

ill.: I’ve seen him have someone in another county or another state write a check to cover my needs before I even know I’m going to need it. The need appears and then, so does the check, which was written last week.

This is what I know about Jesus: He knows what this woman needs! And what he says to her is what she needs to hear. It may not be what I’d say. It might not be the thing to say in western culture. But, it is what she needs to hear.

  • The word ‘dog’ or ‘dogs’ appears 9x’s in the NT; Over 40x’s in the Bible; This particular word from the Gk only appears 4 times. That caught my attention. It turns out there is another word translated dog. These two words come from the same root; however, this word here, is slightly different. It means a small dog, a housedog or even a lap dog. This would be common for Gentiles, because Jews would not have dogs. The other word is for big, wild dogs that roam freely. It is a euphemism for the immoral and/or evil people. That word isn’t this word. Jesus uses a word that she is culturally familiar with. I don’t know this, but I’m guessing that Jesus uses a word that is close to her situation – a word that she will take to heart; a word that she will understand and connect with. That changes the meaning for me. I couldn’t find a translation that made this distinction. But it is there – and that changes so much for me. Jesus isn’t using a word to describe the immoral and perverted (cf. Ps 22.16: 16 For dogs encompass me; a company of evildoers encircles me; they have pierced my hands and feet—).

So, here we have this strange confrontation. Jesus answers her repeated request with just what she needs to hear. He’s taking her somewhere in this conversation. There is something he wants to see from her. And it looks like he gets what he’s looking for in her; rd 28; I love this!

  • A Witty Response: Lord, even the little, house dogs under the table eat from the crumbs of the children.

Take a moment and check out her demeanor: We’ve already seen that she is showing humility in her posture and desperation. Now we see her wit and wisdom in her response. She could have gotten offended and walked away, leaving her daughter to continue suffering. But there is something more. And it is her faith. She wants this bread, and even if it’s just the crumbs from the bread – it is enough.

Wow! Oh, to have this kind of faith in Jesus. So great and mighty is he, that all she needs is just a crumb and it will suffice to save her daughter.

Now, you don’t see this here, but it is clearer in Matthew’s gospel: Jesus is impressed with her.

Ill.: I kind of had this experience once, where I was impressed with an answer. Kind of… Stephen was 16 years old. He hadn’t had his license for very long and he came and asked if he could drive out into the Bad Lands with his friends and build a bonfire. I didn’t even give him a chance to explain what they were doing, who was going, etc. I just shut him down by saying NO! He didn’t even hesitate. He simply said yes, sir. No sadness, No disappointment, just, simple obedience. Yes, sir. Then he turned to leave. I said, wait. Aren’t you going to debate this with me? Aren’t you going to argue with me until you get your way? He told me no. He asked and I gave my answer and that was enough. I was blown away. I asked him to tell me more about this bonfire out in the middle of nowhere. Then, I let him go.

Jesus is moved somewhat like that. So impressed with this woman’s humility and faith, that he grants her request for her daughter. Rd v 29;

  • A Timely Grant: On account of the word, depart (imperative); The demon has come out (perfect) of your daughter. Now, you don’t see this in the English translation, but the Gk verb here uses the perfect tense. The perfect tense means a current state, based on a past action: meaning, as Jesus is saying the words, the demon has already gone. The girl is no longer possessed. Rd v 30

Application: So, what will we take home with us today?

  1. Jesus knows just what you need – even if you don’t! I can’t answer for your struggles. I can’t place blame or offer any defense for what Jesus is doing in your life. But this I know: Jesus knows just what you need – even if you don’t! Can I add to that? He knows what others need, too. You might think you know best for others – no matter what your intentions are – But he still knows what is best for them. It may seem harsh. It may seem unfair, But, he really does know what is best. And, he knows what he’s doing in their life.
  2. God rewards faith and humility demonstrated in him. This Gentile woman is a remarkable model of faith. Knowing God can do something and living your life in response to that knowledge are two different things altogether! It is one thing to say something, but another to live it out. Think of the woman from Zarephath in 1 Kings 17: You have a jar with a little flour left and a jar with a little oil left. But, to make a loaf of bread for your guest and feed him first means so much more than simply acknowledging with your mind and mouth who that person is.
  3. Salvation has now become accessible to all. (He declared all foods clean; now, salvation)
    1. The Gospel is for the entire world. We saw this when Jesus healed the Gadarene Demoniac. Jesus healed him and sent him as an evangelist, as a missionary to the Decapolis. Now, we see it again with this Canaanite Woman.
    2. We’re reminded in 1 Kings 17 that it has always been that way. Somehow, in their Jewish minds, they had thought of themselves as better than others.
      1. God reminded them through prophets like Isaiah who said (49.6): I will make you as a light for the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth. Let us remember this: the poor, the needy, the desperate, the drug addicted, the foreigner, the sinner, this sick  – Christ died for the ungodly, to bring the ungodly to God.
      2. Listen to Galatians 3.6-9:just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”? Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.

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Filed under Mark, Scripture, Sermon

Mark 7.1-23

Title: The Traditions of Men

Text: Mark 7.1-23

Introduction: Our text this morning is Mark 7.1-23. As we left off two weeks ago, we saw Jesus ministering to the people in the region of the Gennesaret. You see that there in 6.53ff; 6.51-52 give us some context of what’s coming in the next chapter and beyond. 51 And he got into the boat with them, and the wind ceased. And they were utterly astounded, 52 for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened. It just doesn’t seem to fit, does it? They’re astounded and amazed and every time they’re ‘astounded or amazed’ this has been presented as a positive for them. cf.: 1.22, 27; 2.12; 5.20, 42

1.22 And they were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes. And in v 27: 27 And they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, “What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.”

2.12 And he rose and immediately picked up his bed and went out before them all, so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!”

5.20 And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him, and everyone marveled. And in v 42; 42 And immediately the girl got up and began walking (for she was twelve years of age), and they were immediately overcome with amazement.

It has been positive for them, that is, until now. Now we see them… utterly astounded, 52 for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened. Two negatives: not understanding and hardened hearts.

This should create some problems for us – it should cause us to question:

  1. What is it they do not understand about the loaves?
  2. What does Mark mean when he says their hearts were hardened? Are they in danger of becoming like the Pharisees?

Now, we talked about this at our WEBS, so I don’t want to rehash that here. But there is more, because, within just a few verses, the Pharisees will complain about the disciples and their distribution of this bread without participating in the ceremonial washing that the Religious leaders require.

Don’t miss this connection with the bread and 2ndly, with hard hearts. Look at v 6; – where Jesus quotes Isaiah –And he said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written,

       “‘This people honors me with their lips,

but their heart is far from me;

This section will culminate in Chapter 8.14-21; where Jesus asks them: Do you not yet understand?  The answer is no… we’re not understanding what you’re doing. There in 8.21, we find the transition to the next section in Mark’s Gospel, where Jesus will set his face toward Jerusalem and his crucifixion. He will tell the disciples all about it, but we’ll see they aren’t getting it.

Let me pause right here and pray for eyes to see and ears to hear what God is teaching us… Pray.

Lord, Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law. 19 I am a sojourner on the earth; hide not your commandments from me! Give me a heart to follow closely after your heart. I pray this prayer, not just for myself, but for those who are listening. Open the eyes of our hearts and let us see the beauty of your ways. Soften these hearts to receive your teaching and then to commit, with all of our heart, to follow you, Lord. To abandon our traditions that exalt our ways above your Word. 

With this thought of the Bread of Life and the disciples missing what Jesus is teaching, let’s look at today’s passage, 7.1-23 with the understanding that Mark’s theme is focused on the hardness of the people’s hearts toward Christ, God in their midst.

There are three separate sections to this little story of the Pharisees and their confrontation with Jesus:

  1. The Pharisees are offended and confront Jesus about his disciples’ lack of discipline when it comes to the traditions of the elders (1-5).
  2. Jesus responds to the Pharisees hypocrisy with Scripture references and examples (6-13).
  3. Jesus uses this confrontation as a teaching moment to show his disciples the principles that characterize the heart of God (14-23).

To be fair, this is a typical outline repeated in God’s Word.

  1. You and I have God’s Word – our instruction for living our lives with distinction. A life that reflects His Glory. That is our purpose. Agreed? What is the Chief end of man? To glorify God and enjoy Him forever. (Picture of Umbrella over the head)
  2. We then create boundaries to assist us in our obedience. (Picture of 2nd Umbrella)
  3. Over time, the 2nd umbrella (tradition) becomes the foundation and supersedes the 1st umbrella (the Word of God).

The perfect example: Adam & Eve; God said, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

By the time we get to Chapter 3 in Genesis, Eve has added to this command. The serpent asks her, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’ ”

So somewhere between the command of God to Adam and Eve’s confrontation with the serpent, The Word of God is superseded by the tradition.

Transition: So, let’s begin with this 1st section, and find out just what is so offensive to the Pharisees…

I. The Pharisees are offended and confront Jesus about his disciples’ lack of discipline when it comes to the traditions of the elders (1-5).

exp.: in v 1 and 2, we see why they’re offended; rd v 1-2; here we have…

  • The Offence: eating bread w/ unwashed, defiled hands. And all of God’s children said – NASTY! Yeah! Any germ-a-phobe like me is going to side with the Pharisees on this one! At first glance, you might say you agree with them. But is that really the problem? We have…
  • The Explanation: rd v 3-4; properly: Gk is unless they wash their hands with a fist. There is a certain way to wash, and the disciples aren’t doing that. When you read this, in the English, you get the idea that these guys were just eating with dirty hands. I’m with the Pharisees if that’s the case! But a closer look at the Gk tells us that their complaint wasn’t that they didn’t wash their hands; it was that they didn’t wash their hands “with a fist”. They didn’t wash their hands the way the Pharisees do! If it ain’t done like we do it… it ain’t done! So, here’s the deal: Jesus is responsible for his disciples. It might just be his fault as much as it is theirs. So, they confront Jesus about his apparent failure to teach the disciples how to wash themselves.
  • The Confrontation: rd v 5; the word translated ‘defiled’ is the word common. Common and Uncommon are words used in the Law to differentiate the clear distinction between the things of God and the things of man. Sometimes you see the words holy and unholy. This is the word they’re using here. They eat with common hands or unholy hands. When they say that the disciples are washing with unclean hands, they don’t mean they have dirt under their fingernails. Clean and Unclean, Uncommon and Common, Holy and Unholy – this is the terminology these folks would have been familiar with. You see their thought was that you had to baptize your hands before eating. And not just the hands, but also, the cups and pots and copper vessels and the dining couches and the… You get the idea.

t.s.: These disciples of Jesus aren’t practicing religious requirements like they should…”Jesus, why do you let that go on?”

II. Jesus Responds to the Pharisees’ hypocrisy with Scripture references and examples (6-13).

exp.: rd v 6; And he said to them… I wonder if there was a pause before he spoke. I wonder if he was quiet. The words Mark is using seem to me to be something you would say rather quickly and loudly. Rd v 6-7; Jesus quotes from Isaiah.

Just a side note, but Isaiah is quoted more than any other prophet in the OT.

I think two points are to be made by Jesus when quoting Isaiah.;

  1. These people were simply giving lip service to God. Their hearts were not in their worship.
  2. They had elevated their traditions to the level of the commands of God.  Or worse, above God’s commands.

He tells them straight out in v 8; You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.” We see these same two points being made in v9-13; rd 9-13; Here we see the 5th commandment and the punishment for those who do not keep it. However, Jesus blatantly accuses the religious leaders of lining their pockets, so to speak, at the expense of honoring parents. These leaders would nullify the Word of God with the hopes of gaining whatever had been dedicated.

Jesus points out two commands in the OT – the 5th commandment to honor one’s parents and the steep penalty for abusing one’s parents. In biblical times, it was a great honor and privilege, as well as responsibility to care for one’s parents in their old age. I think we’ve maybe lost that. But I’ll press that issue in a different sermon. For now, these Pharisees have nullified these commands to line their pockets. Jesus says, rd v 12: then you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or mother,

app.: talk about hardened hearts! Jesus was revealing the hearts of these Pharisees and Religious leaders. Their hearts were indeed far from God.

t.s: So, these religious leaders have gotten more than they bargained for! They’re offended and so they confront Jesus. Now, Jesus turns to the people and teaches them with a parable.

III. Jesus uses this confrontation as a teaching moment to show his disciples the principles that characterize the heart of God (14-23).

exp.: rd v 14-15; Ok, so we’ve got a problem now; How can Jesus wipe away the law in just one statement like that? Isn’t he doing the same thing he is accusing the Pharisees of doing? I mean, at least to some degree. Note: The religious leaders are ignoring the Word of God to accomplish their own agenda. And now, Jesus nullifies much of the law by deeming all foods clean! The Disciples must think this very thing because they don’t get it. They’re without understanding. Look at v 17-19; there is a principle here that is being overlooked; common, holy, clean – this is a matter of the heart. The Law taught us these things. God instituted these laws and requirements to distinguish himself as separated from them. And he did the same for them to distinguish between them (the Jews) and the Gentiles. They were distinguished, different, holy. He made them clean and so different from the unclean – the Gentiles.

Jesus is saying to them that they’ve missed it! rd. v 20-22.

app.: I read this part of the story and I wonder how many of these traits or characteristics mark the Pharisees in their actions to line their pockets and rob from the elderly who are now neglected by their own children.

This, of course, is easy to do when applying it to others. But I think the goal is really to read this and think of myself! – Apply it to me!


Ill.: Ticket for not having a plug inserted into my shotgun.


  1. There is a principle of the law and a spirit of the law.
  2. Do you or I have traditions that we have established that just aren’t supported by Scripture. Do we have to do flip/flops with the Word of God to make our case? Here’s the thing about asking this question – the answer is probably yes, but we’re so blinded to it, we just can’t see it. We make excuses for it – without even knowing.

Invitation for preparation for the Lord’s Supper.

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Filed under Mark, Scripture

Mark 6.34-56

This message can be viewed on our YouTube Channel

Title: Jesus, the Shepherd of His People

Text: Mark 6.31-56

Introduction: One of my favorite Psalms is the 95th Psalm:

95 Oh come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!

   Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!

   For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods.

   In his hand are the depths of the earth; the heights of the mountains are his also.

   The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land.

   Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!

   For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand.

Where does such praise come from? It comes from a clear understanding of who God is and who we are. When you situate yourself properly in comparison to God, who is perfect in every way – and you see you are human, desperately flawed in every way – you can’t help but praise him.

Let me ask you this morning: have you been there? Have you gained a proper perspective of where you are situated in relation to him? Wow! It is so moving! It causes us to worship – even if we remain silent with our mouths, our spirits cry out: Praise the Lord!

I think that is what happens in Mark 6.30: 30 The apostles returned to Jesus and told him all that they had done and taught. This one verse expresses what has to be an incredible time of joy – of thanksgiving. These guys go out to serve – their last experience was watching their master be rejected in Nazareth. They’ve probably now learned of John’s demise. But what they experienced! Whew! That must have been incredible! Can you imagine how it started as they caught up with each other – as each pair started talking about what God did! Would you believe… You’re not going to believe this, but… “Wow”, repeated over and over. What a joy, what excitement is stirred when you celebrate the glory of God – when you’re overcome with the glory and majesty and goodness of God. They’ve got to be tired but still filled with such joy – such contentment.

Then, Jesus calls them away to rest. Verse 31 tells us, they’ve been so busy, they’ve not even been able to eat.

As we look at what then happens in 6.30-56, here is the flow of the passage:

  • In v. 30-33, Jesus receives his disciples back from their missionary journey. He then takes them away to retreat from ministry for some rest, renewal and refreshment.
  • In v. 34-44, Jesus feeds the 5,000 men and their families with just 5 loaves of bread and two fish. They’ve gone to a desolate place to get away the people and rest, but the people follow. Jesus, filled with compassion, shepherds these sheep without a shepherd (34). As the hour gets late, the disciples tell Jesus to send the people away so they can get something to eat. But, Jesus tasks his disciples with feeding them; but they don’t really see how that can be done. Then Jesus performs the miracle.
  • In v 45-52, Jesus sends the disciples away; he puts his men on a boat and tells them to go ahead of him to Bethsaida; early that next morning, Jesus comes walking on the water. Another miracle
  • In v 52-56, Mark gives us a summary of Christ’s ministry as he shepherds so many people across the region.

So, with this movement in mind, I’ll use the following outline:

  1. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, feeds the 5,000 men
  2. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, cares for his disciples
  3. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, ministers to the people of the region

Transition: We’re in the midst of a series with a focus on Ministry and Mission. I hope it is obvious from last week and this week that our theme is Ministry; Last week we looked at the Ministries of Jesus, The Apostles, and John the Baptist. We continue with our focus this morning on Jesus, The Good Shepherd. So, let’s begin with his ministry in feeding the 5,000.

I. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, feeds the 5,000 men (34-44)

exp.: we pick up in v 34; rd 34; Sheep without a shepherd…; what does that look like?

ill.: I saw this report in World Magazine: Sleepyhead Shepherd – 1,000 sheep came wandering into this town in Spain – Huesca, Spain after their shepherd fell asleep. I guess counting sheep does make you sleepy! The report said the police actually had rounded up the entire herd before the shepherd even knew they were gone!

Jesus, the Good Shepherd, shepherds his flock in a way that is very discernable. His concern for them goes way beyond just feeding them. His 1st action when moved with compassion, because they are like sheep without a shepherd is to … what does v 34 say? Teach them. Let that sink in. When we read this story, we usually miss this gem. You see my point written out on the screen. The Compassion of Jesus leads him to feed the 5,000. But that isn’t what the Scripture says, is it? Really, if I were being accurate here, I’d have written out: The Compassion of Jesus leads him to teach the 5,000. It is only after the hour gets late and his disciples tell him to send them away in order that Jesus performs the miracle of the fish and loaves of bread.

I don’t know how to say this softly – it sounds so harsh. But, here is what is on my mind. I’m concerned about a ministry that only feeds people or only clothes people or simply meets their needs. Don’t get me wrong – that is important. People won’t listen if their stomachs are rumbling or if they’re cold. But if you feed them, and you don’t teach them – really, what good have you done.

ill.: I have been encouraging you to hone your ministry – whatever that ministry might be. Service alone isn’t the call – there must be a higher purpose in ministry. Might I encourage you to consider that in your planning? Wednesday night in our Bible Study we mentioned teaching English as a second language. How could one do more than to simply learn the English language? How about using Scripture to teach the language?

app.: We give, we go, we meet needs, but not for those purposes alone – we do it all with the purpose of telling them about Jesus, the one who sent us. The Compassion of Jesus is demonstrated in how he cares for those he sees as Sheep without a Shepherd. He began to teach them.

exp.: The disciples then see a need: rd v 35-36; I love the realness about this story. They see the need and they then tell Jesus what he needs to do! Do you ever do that? See a need and then tell Jesus what he needs to do. I wonder if we don’t hear him say to us: You do what you just told me to do! Lord, it would take 7 or 8 months’ wages to buy them bread to eat. You see that in v 37;

Then, Jesus does what only he can do. “How many loaves do you have? Go and see.” And when they had found out, they said, “Five, and two fish.” 39 Then he commanded them all to sit down in groups on the green grass. 40 So they sat down in groups, by hundreds and by fifties. 41 And taking the five loaves and the two fish he looked up to heaven and said a blessing and broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples to set before the people. And he divided the two fish among them all. 42 And they all ate and were satisfied.

app.: Here’s another application: get organized. They sat them down in groups… The Compassion of Jesus is demonstrated in how he cares for those he sees as Sheep without a Shepherd. He began to teach them. And he fed them.

One last application before we leave this story: We see something that will begin to repeat itself, and if we’re not careful, it can happen to us, too: The disciples come back from this incredible mission trip, but they quickly lose their sense of awe. They’ve done this sort of stuff when they were out on the mission field – as Jesus had sent them. They saw and did some incredible ministry! Bu now that they’re back home, they’re just casual observers.

t.s.: Father, please don’t let us lose our sense of awe and wonder at your greatness in our midst. Oh, to be more like Jesus, the Good Shepherd, who feeds the hungry and teaches them the Truth. and Oh, to be like Jesus, the Good Shepherd, who cares… as we see in v 30-34; and 45-52 – who cares for his disciples.

II. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, cares for his disciples (30-34; 45-52)

exp.: He’s tried to get them out to a desolate place where they can rest – but there is no rest for the weary. Now that this is done – and the people are satisfied, Jesus puts his disciples in a boat. He puts his men on a boat and tells them to go ahead of him to Bethsaida (rd v45; cf.:53). Now if you’ve been studying this and find a discrepancy in the gospels – I’d say you’re right. I think there is a simple explanation and this is how I see it.

We can only assume that they were to wait for Jesus who was to meet them there. And, Mark doesn’t tell us this, but Matthew and John help us out here, when Jesus didn’t show up at a certain time, they were to make their way in the other direction to Gennesaret. Well, Jesus doesn’t show up, because he’s gone up on a mountain to pray and be alone with his father (46). What must happen then is the disciples then make their way back westward, where they run into Jesus walking on the water. And I love Mark’s take here: rd 48; He meant to pass by them!

ill.: you ever been skiing? That’s me, skiing – tearin’ it up! Is there anything more excruciating to endure than skiing your heart out, only to have a senior adult woman – like in her 80’s pass you up? Hey wait, that’s not a senior adult woman – that’s Lisa. Yeah, she passes me up, too. That’s humbling. That’s when she was passing me by and stopped for a picture! Listen, I’ve been passed up by women in their 80’s; I’ve been passed up by kids who aren’t even in school yet – that were so little I don’t think they could walk, but were better skiers than me. Probably the most humbling experience for me was being passed by a blind man on skis. I’m not kidding. I’m glad we don’t have any pictures of those!

These guys in the boat – they must be having a tough time as they are fighting this headwind. Evidently, it’s easier for Jesus to walk past them, than it is for them to row their boat. Now that has to be embarrassing. Experienced fishermen can’t even row as fast on the water as Jesus can walk on by! But that isn’t their problem – no, they’re afraid because they’re thinking they’re seeing a ghost.

But Jesus, says there in v 49-50: “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” The Hebrew would be, “Take heart; I am he. Do not be afraid.” I am he translated into Hebrew is ani-hu, Say it: ani-hu; now you know some Hebrew. That’s probably, horribly said with a southern drawl. But here is the beauty. This is how God identifies himself. Moses asks, “When they ask me who sent you, who do I say you are? What is your name?” God says, tell ‘em: “I am who I am.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I am has sent me to you.’ ” 15 God also said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations.

And so it is, Isaiah 41.4

Who has performed and done this,

calling the generations from the beginning?

       I, the Lord, the first,

and with the last; I am he.

Isaiah 43.10:

10    “You are my witnesses,” declares the Lord,

“and my servant whom I have chosen,

       that you may know and believe me

and understand that I am he.

       Before me no god was formed,

nor shall there be any after me.

11    I, I am the Lord,

and besides me there is no savior.

12    I declared and saved and proclaimed,

when there was no strange god among you;

and you are my witnesses,” declares the Lord, “and I am God.

13    Also henceforth I am he;

there is none who can deliver from my hand;

I work, and who can turn it back?”

Jesus is saying – it’s ok guys, it’s me, God. ani-hu – Don’t be afraid.

Rd 51a;

app.: Jesus is concerned for his disciples as he desires to teach them more about how to function without him. You see this as he teaches them about the loaves and the fish and this comes out in 51b-52; rd 51b-52; Ok. That verse just doesn’t seem to fit. Does it? But I think Mark is just saying that these guys didn’t get that moment and they didn’t get the loaves and the fish and they’re just not getting it – their hearts are becoming harder toward what Christ is doing.

Christ isn’t just meeting needs! He’s teaching them about who he is! We miss so very much when all we do is give people stuff and wow them with our talent! Our eloquence! Our money! Our facilities!

Don’t lose the wow factor of who Christ is – don’t focus on what he does, focus on who he is!

t.s: Finally, #3

III. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, ministers to the people of the region (53-56)

exp.: rd v 53-56; the Good Shepherd, Jesus – he loves, he cares, he has compassion and tenderness toward those who are lost – like sheep without a shepherd.

app.: His compassion extends throughout the region as many come seeking his help and healing.

It isn’t like they didn’t have religious leaders. To put it in modern-day terms – it ain’t like there’s not a church on every corner!

Conclusion: You know, there is so much for us to learn from Jesus. We want to be like him, but too often we miss just what he’s trying to teach us. For those of you who follow Christ, I would like to encourage you to follow closely. Note:

  1. The importance of teaching the gospel to people and not just meeting their needs – although that is important, too. Tell them why you’re doing what you’re doing.
  2. And, how about the next time you see a need – how about trying to meet that need instead of telling Jesus what he needs to do to fix that need? Maybe you’ll hear him say – you take care of it!
  3. And about hard hearts…man, I worry about my own understanding of circumstances and situations. I worry that my heart might become hard to his leadership – that I won’t get what he’s doing. Maybe your prayer is like mine: Lord, teach me to Trust in you with all my heart, and to not lean on my own understanding. Help to acknowledge you in all my ways and trust that you’re making my paths straight.
  4. But listen, if you’re not a believer – a follower of Christ – then I encourage you to place your trust in him today. He is the Good Shepherd and he cares for you infinitely more than you can imagine. His compassion toward you this morning is indescribable. Won’t you trust your life to him? I’ll close with the rest of Psalm 95…     Today, if you hear his voice,

       do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah,

as on the day at Massah in the wilderness,

   when your fathers put me to the test

and put me to the proof, though they had seen my work.

10    For forty years I loathed that generation

and said, “They are a people who go astray in their heart,

and they have not known my ways.”

11    Therefore I swore in my wrath,

“They shall not enter my rest.”

Won’t you enter today… let’s pray.

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Filed under Christian Living, Evangelism, Mark, Scripture, Sermon