Isaiah 1:1-9

Title: Court is in Session

Text: Isaiah 1.1-9

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

Introduction:

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

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

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

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

Transition: let’s begin 1st with …

  1. The Vision (1)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  1. Of Isaiah (1)

exp.: Who was Isaiah?

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

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

  1. Concerning Judah and Jerusalem (1)

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

  1. In the days…of the kings (1)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I.      The Arraignment: SIN (2-9)

exp.: I love the way he sets this up

The Summons: “Hear, ye, Hear, Ye!”

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

for the Lord has spoken:

The Charge: Sin and Rebellion

“Children have I reared and brought up,

but they have rebelled against me.

 

The Charge Illustrated:

    The ox knows its owner,

and the donkey its master’s crib,

but Israel does not know,

my people do not understand.”

 

The Charge Repeated: Sin and Rebellion

    Ah, sinful nation,

a people laden with iniquity,

offspring of evildoers,

children who deal corruptly!

They have forsaken the Lord,

they have despised the Holy One of Israel,

they are utterly estranged.

 

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

    Why will you still be struck down?

Why will you continue to rebel?

The whole head is sick,

and the whole heart faint.

    From the sole of the foot even to the head,

there is no soundness in it,

but bruises and sores

and raw wounds;

they are not pressed out or bound up

or softened with oil.

    Your country lies desolate;

your cities are burned with fire;

in your very presence

foreigners devour your land;

it is desolate, as overthrown by foreigners.

    And the daughter of Zion is left

like a booth in a vineyard,

like a lodge in a cucumber field,

like a besieged city.

 

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

    If the Lord of hosts

had not left us a few survivors,

we should have been like Sodom,

and become like Gomorrah.

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

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

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

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

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

app.: and so the charges are presented…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

or his ear dull, that it cannot hear;

    but your iniquities have made a separation

between you and your God,

       and your sins have hidden his face from you

so that he does not hear.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Application:

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

                      O Lord, our Lord,

how majestic is your name in all the earth!

                        You have set your glory above the heavens.

                      Out of the mouth of babies and infants,

                        you have established strength because of your foes,

to still the enemy and the avenger.

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

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

                      what is man that you are mindful of him,

and the son of man that you care for him?

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

and crowned him with glory and honor.

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

you have put all things under his feet,

                      all sheep and oxen,

and also the beasts of the field,

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

whatever passes along the paths of the seas.

                      O Lord, our Lord,

how majestic is your name in all the earth!

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

 

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Mark 8:22 – 9:1

Title: Discipleship Defined

Text: 8.22-9.1

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

Cycle of Events:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

III.    The Reality of Discipleship (8.34-9.1)

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

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

1) Save and lose

2) Profit, gain, and forfeit;

 3) Give and return;

4) Shame and Glory

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Application:

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

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

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Mark 7:31 – 8:26

Title: Busyness or Business

Text: Mark 7.31-8.26

Introduction: The Back Story of the NYTimes Daily Briefing on Friday reads:

Fifteen major league baseball games will be contested tonight, in 15 North American cities. With just over a month of the regular season remaining, about a dozen teams are jockeying for position in the standings. Fans can follow every move from anywhere there’s a cell phone signal, with stats, push notifications and high-definition broadcasts.

Things were different 77 years ago today, when M.L.B. televised its first game. Two games, actually, with the Brooklyn Dodgers hosting the Cincinnati Reds in a split doubleheader. (The Reds won, then the Dodgers.) The first broadcast of a collegiate baseball game had happened already, in May, as Columbia played Princeton. All the signals were sent from the tower at the Empire State Building. As the Times dispatch that day in 1939 reported — under the subhead “Major League Baseball Makes Its Radio Camera Debut”: “Over the video-sound channels of the station, television-set owners as far away as fifty miles viewed the action and heard the roar of the crowd, according to the National Broadcasting Company.”

HD this was not: “At times it was possible to catch a fleeting glimpse of the ball,” the article noted, “as it sped from the pitcher’s hand toward home plate.”

I can almost picture in my mind the static-like, black and white, picture. If the shot was from too far away, you’d not be able to make out the ball coming from the pitcher hand. Nor, would you be able to follow a hit ball with any real accuracy.

When watching a baseball game, you like the cameras to switch around. You like to be pulled out and back so you can see that the outfield is shifted in one direction or the other. Or maybe the team is floating the shortstop so far back he looks like the roaming position in a softball game. At other times you like to zoom in real close so you can see the signals of the catcher or see the intensity of the batter’s face. That’s the thing about being there that is so cool. You do all of that naturally with your own eyes. Some of you probably remember when TV was in black and white and you couldn’t get a good picture – you couldn’t make out the ball sometimes, especially when the picture was from far away. This story resonates with me because we got our first color TV when I was in the 4th grade. Then, in about a year’s time, we moved to Europe where AFRTS was still only available in B&W. I was in the 8th grade when Color Television became a regular thing in our home.

Well, sometimes you want a wide-angle look. Sometimes you want to see the entire field of play. So much of my preaching is done in digging deep into a text. I like zooming in close and placing my focus upon specific items. I like to take a few verses and zoom in. That’s more my style. I’ve explained in this series, that I’ve wanted to take the Gospel of Mark at a much faster pace. My desire is to cover more ground. Sure, I’ll slow down and take one small section at certain times. I did that last week. However, this morning I’d like to pull away once again – to fly over Mark at about 15,000 ft to gain a better understanding of what he’s been doing. I think when we’re done this morning, it’ll make more sense to you.

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

  1. An Outline of the Texte., I’m going to hit all 5 stories here.
  2. A Comparison of the Texts, we’re going to see similarities in other passages.
  3. The Theology in Application sure, there are teaching points in each small story, but I’m looking for the melodic line of the overall passage. That is what we’ll find in the Theology in Application section.

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

I.      An Outline of the Text

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

  1. 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. This is something you could talk about in your Bible study groups. What differences are there between these two? I say there are so many differences, that they must be two separate accounts. Next,

  1. 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 are 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. To be sure, 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.

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

  1. What is the family business? Developing passionate followers of Christ.
  2. 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? Developing passionate followers of Christ. 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. We must respond in like fashion: is this busyness or business? We’ve got to be about our Father’s business.

  1. 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 16-21; 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.

 

II.     A Comparison of The Previous Text

exp.:

 

6:31–44

 

Feeding the multitude

 

8:1–9

 

6:45–56

 

Crossing the sea and landing

 

8:10

 

6.50-52 Their hearts are hardened and they do not understand. 8.18-21
7:1–23

 

Conflict with the Pharisees

 

8:11–13

 

7:24–30

 

A negative discussion about bread

 

8:14–21

 

7:31–36

 

Healing (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, We’ve noted the comparison of this big outline to the previous section. Now, let’s look at the Theology being taught.

III.    Theology in Application

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. In Christ we are seeing 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: Which brings me to the 2nd Theological Application…

  1. 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.

a.   Deaf: 1. He put his fingers in his ears, spit and touched his tongue. 2. He                                      looked up into heaven, sighed and spoke.

b.   Bread: 1. He distributed the bread. 2. And then, separately, he distributed the                            fish.

c.   Blind: 1. spit on his eyes, and laid his hands on him. But people looked like                                trees moving around. 2. So, He laid his hands on his eyes again.

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

  1. 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.

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”. And yet, Jesus repeats this 2-stage process 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.

  1. These sections of Scripture are in two different geographical locations and to two different groups of people. 1. The Jews. and 2. The Gentiles. I think 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.

Conclusion:

            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. 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.

2ndly, Maybe today you’re just filled with questions and you want to talk with someone. I’m going to ask some men to come down to the front and just sit on the front row. You can come and pray at the altar, or you can ask one of them to pray with you. You can ask them questions.

3rdly, 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.

 

 

 

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Filed under Mark, Mission Statement, Purpose, Sermon, Sermons, Uncategorized

Mark 7:24-30

Title: The Gospel to the Gentiles: Part 1

Text: Mark 7.24-30

Introduction: We’re in the midst of a sermon series on Mark: Jesus, the Bread of Life. 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. 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 you clothes, polish your shoes, Get your hair cut or 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? You 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 cool 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.  Now, a great question to ask for discussion later would be: why? Why did Jesus need to be hidden or want to be hidden? Maybe he was tired and needed rest? Maybe he wanted to demonstrate further about what is truly clean and unclean?

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 momma finds out about him and makes an appearance. So, point #1, there is this need to get away. 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. 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 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. Can you name a king who married a Syrophoenician woman? Can you name that evil woman?

Ill.: I read somewhere 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…

  1. 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?

Remember this trick: when you aren’t sure of what Jesus is doing, try to figure out the easy, obvious answers.

  • Children – The Children of Israel. The OT uses this comparison repeated. I think it is safe to assume these children in his 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. So, 1st answer we have is
  • 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; 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 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. 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. He’s caught off guard by this woman’s wise and witty response. 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!
    1. 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.
    1. Yes, there is a priority to the Gospel. That hasn’t changed. Israel still is God’s chosen people and I am opposed to how our government is now treating Israel. The blessings of Genesis 12 remain as true today as they did when God spoke them to Abraham. With that being said, we also know that the Gospel is universal in scope.
    2. 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.
      1. 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.
      2. 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 single mom, the foreigner, the sinner – Christ died for the ungodly, to bring the ungodly to God.
  • 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 Discipleship, Evangelism, Israel, Mark, missions, Scripture

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 last week, 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, 26; 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 a 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?

When I hear of hardened hearts, I think of Pharaoh. There were amazing miracles going on before his very eyes and he didn’t understand. His heart was hardened and it led to the exodus. Could this be an allusion to the Exodus? And if so, what is Jesus trying to teach them – or Mark trying to teach us?

But there is more here: pull back from this sentence and look for common themes with me. There in v 52 we see that they didn’t understand about miracle the loaves of bread. Well, that’s a reference to the miracle of the feeding of the 5,000. Out of curiosity, I searched for bread in Mark. It appears 16x’s in these three chapters (6-8) and it appears only 3x’s in the rest of the book. That’s significant. Why? I think I know and it is something we should take note of: Mark wants us to see this theme of bread – Because Jesus is the Bread of Life.

Now before you say, What? Let me show you what I mean: The 3 references to bread outside of these three chapters (6-8) are in 2.26; 3.20; and 14.22. 3.20 is a reference to the fact that they were so pressed by the people that they couldn’t even sit down and eat bread. 2.26 is in reference to the show bread given to the Lord and reserved for the priest that David ate with his friends. And 14.22 is in reference to the Lord’s Supper. This is my body, which is broken for you.

In the other Gospels the writers are blatant and blunt. I am the bread of Life. But, not with Mark. I think he is saying the same thing, but he is much more subtle at it. It’s like a pearl that’s hidden in a field and we’ve got to search it out.

Walk with me through chapters 6-8 and find the references to Bread; Gk: 6.8, 37, 38, 41, 44, 52; 7.2, 5, 27; 8.4, 5, 6, 14, 16, 17, 19.

But there is more with this… not just the theme of the bread, but the hardening of their hearts, the darkening of their understanding. Mark is especially hard on the Disciples – and remember, he’s written this Gospel from Peter’s stories.

…but their hearts were hardened. We see this back up in 3.5: And he looked around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, and said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was restored. And v 6 says they went out (the Pharisees) and plotted how to destroy him. That’s where the hardness of their hearts led – to his death.

We see it again in the passage we’re looking at today – 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. Here in 8.21, marks 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.

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; There 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).

Transition: let’s begin with this 1st section, the offended 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 offend; 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 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 This is the word they’re using here. They eat with common hands or unholy hands. When they say that the disciples are eating bread with unclean hands, they don’t mean they have dirt under their fingernails. Clean and Unclean, Uncommon and Comman, 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 6a; And he said to them… I wonder if there was a pause before he spoke. I wonder if he was quiet first. The words he 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 here: Isaiah is quoted more than any other prophet in the OT. Furthermore, we’ll be studying Isaiah in the Fall at WEBS.

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’ll 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.

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

Before we leave this section, I’d like to show you something. From where, specifically, is Jesus quoting? Isaiah 29.13; read Isaiah 29.13-16a;

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? The Disciples must think so 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 20-23;

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 myself!

Conclusion:

Ill.: Ticket for not having a plug in my shotgun.

app.: The Truth is: We’re all lawbreakers. And we all need someone to intercede for us. That’s what Jesus did. The penalty for our sin is death – and he paid that debt for us when he died on the cross. Some people trust in their traditions to save them. Jesus is teaching us here that that can never happen.

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Romans 1.16-17

Title: From Faith for Faith

Text: Romans 1.16-17

Introduction: (Read) 16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”

In these two verses, the Gospel’s objective is presented in a couple of sentences. The Gospel is God’s power at work bringing salvation to all who puts their faith in Him. Believe what God has done and you’ll be saved. Trust him, that he has done all that he has done through Christ and you’ll have salvation. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you’ve done. These verses teach us that the only way to attain salvation is to be perfectly righteous. Now, on your own, that is impossible. The Law has demonstrated this for us. We’re all sinners and we can’t obey the Law perfectly. But now, the righteousness of God is revealed to us: how do you become righteous in the eyes of God? By believing the Gospel!

The Gospel is the story of Jesus Christ. The Gospel is basically summed up in 1 Cor 15.3-4: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures – as had been foretold in the Old Testament.

Now, with that in mind, let us look at our passage for today a little closer – read it with me: 16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”

Transition: Within this passage we see The Gospel’s Power, The Gospel’s Provision and The Gospel’s Proof. Let’s begin with the first point…

I.     The Gospel’s Power (16)

exp.: The Gospel is God’s power displayed in people’s lives: God’s power saving those who believe; The Gospel’s power is demonstrated through the salvation of people. Paul says here that he isn’t ashamed of the Gospel, because it (The Gospel) is the power of God for salvation – for everyone who believes. There is no power outside of God’s that can bring you salvation. None. You can’t buy it with your money; you can’t earn it with your good works; you can’t steal it; you can’t get lucky somehow on you own; you can’t get there through someone else’s work or charm. Our very best – the most righteous we can be on our own is as filthy rags before God. But, the Gospel is God’s power at work in the lives of people – saving us from our sins. You see that in this rest of this sentence: to everyone who believes. As I stated previously: Believe what God has done and you’ll be saved. Trust that he has placed your sin upon Christ who died for you. Trust him that he has placed all of Christ’s righteousness on you. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you’ve done. Place your trust in him and you are saved.

t.s.: that’s the Gospel’s power – saving you through faith. 2nd,

II.   The Gospel’s Provision: (17)

exp.: Righteousness through forgiveness: The passage reads: For in it (i.e.: the Gospel) the righteousness of God is revealed… what that means is that God makes us righteous – that is, His righteousness is credited to us. You see, we’re sinners. We’re conceived in our momma’s wombs that way. And the only way to have a relationship with God is that we must be righteous – we must be forgiven of the sins that separate us from God. A couple of chapters from here, in 3.21-22, Paul explains more about this righteousness. 21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. You see, what Paul is saying to us is that this righteousness could only be attained through the perfect obedience to the Law. But what the Law did, was show us that we can’t be perfect – we can’t obey the Law perfectly. So, God made a way – apart from the Law – through the Gospel, we can have this righteousness poured out on us. See v 22: The righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe.

t.s: That’s the Gospel’s Provision – making you righteous in God’s eyes – if you’ll trust and believe Him. Finally, we see the Gospel’s Proof through a life lived in faith.

III.    The Gospel’s Proof: (17)

exp.: the Gospel’s proof in a person’s life is simply this: The Righteous Shall Live by Faith. What I love about this quote is that it is from the Old Testament. When NT writers quote OT passages it gives us insight into what those passages mean and what that NT writer was trying to communicate. With Habakkuk’s help, which by the way, he’s quoting God there, we understand that Paul is communicating to us that our lives reflect the decision and commitment we’ve made. A righteous life demonstrates that someone has found the forgiveness of God and is now living according to God’s plan.

ill.: It’s like this – you say, God, I’m tired of living my life the way I want. I’ve made a mess of things. I want to live this life the way you’ve designed. I want to live life according to your plan. Please forgive me of my sins, come into my life and change me.

app.: it’s really that simple. The Gospel is the power of God at work in your life, bring you forgiveness and making you righteous, calling you to live your new life in righteousness – demonstrating your new commitment.

Conclusion: So, what do we do about this?

–  Peter said to repent and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you’ll be saved. This is Wonderful news. The best response you can make is take advantage of this moment and give your life to Christ. I don’t care how old you, where you’re from, or what you’ve done. If you’ve never accepted Christ, let today be the day. The greatest gift you can give your kids is to give them the assurance that they’re momma or daddy is saved.

The Gospel is God’s power for Salvation to everyone who believes.

  • God can save you
  • If you believe (have faith, trust) that what he says to you is true.
  1. You’re a sinner.
  2. The punishment of your sin is death (eternal death).
  3. Jesus paid your penalty when he died on the cross.
  4. Place your faith (trust, belief) in Christ and all of your sin is placed on him and all of his righteousness is placed on you.
    • Then you will be saved.

– Share this good news with others. There are so many out there who don’t know Christ. They’ve never experienced this forgiveness I’m talking about. I was out jogging Friday with Elizabeth. We met a man who took a moment to engage us in conversation and ask me personally if I’ve come to know Christ as Lord and Savior. That was cool. No too many people beat me to the draw, but this man did. I’d like to challenge you to do the same: share this good news with others.

– Live by faith. That’s what the righteous do. The best testimony is the one where a person’s words match his life. Trust Christ – especially when life is hard. Trust that He knows what he’s doing.

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Filed under 1 Corinthians, Evangelism, Faith, Faithfulness, Hebrews, Romans, Scripture, Sermon

Mark 6.1-6

Title: How Do You See Jesus?

Text: Mark 6.1-6

Introduction:             This passage concludes with the 2nd cycle of Jesus’ Galilean ministry. If you’ve been following through Mark geographically, you’ve noticed that Mark stays in the Galilean region. We know he’s been in the area of Jerusalem before. The other gospels give us more on this, but not Mark. For instance, Jesus was baptized in the Jordan, not too far from Jericho, where the Israelites crossed the Jordan as they came up out of Egypt. More than that, we know of his confrontation with the religious leaders. Mark, however, moves us directly to the region of the Sea of Galilee for his ministry setting in the beginning of his Gospel. The first cycle, the ‘early Galilean ministry’ concludes in 3.6 with the conspiracy of the religious leaders plot to destroy Jesus. That desire of theirs hasn’t died. Their unbelief and rejection of Christ sets a tone that is weaved in and out of Mark’s gospel. This 2nd cycle listed as his ‘later Galilean ministry’ is concluded with the rejection and unbelief of his own people – the people of Nazareth.

  1. The early Galilean ministry (1.16-3.6)
    1. The 1st Disciples are called
    2. They appear to be the true followers as the religious leaders and his own family reject him – even believe he is out of his mind.
    3. Concludes with Christ being rejected by the religious leaders and their plot with the Herodians to destroy Christ.
  2. The later Galilean ministry (3.7-6.6)
    1. Then, the apostles are selected and called to follow.
    2. But something interesting happens as we make our way through chapter six. His disciples find themselves in a state of disbelief and find their hearts hardened toward the work of Christ.
    3. Concludes with Christ being rejected by his own – the people of Nazareth.
  3. The Expansion of His Ministry (6.7-8.20)
    1. Jesus then commissions his apostles and sends them out to fulfill his ministry purpose through them.
    2. Concludes with his disciples still dull to all that he’s been trying to teach them.
  4. Marks cyclical pattern is evidence of his hard work in writing this Gospel. For the student, this is truly an amazing and wonderful study. We see other patterns:
    1. His work among Gentiles, especially women.
    2. He walks on water more than once
    3. He feeds the 5,000 in one cycle and feeds 4,000 in another.
    4. His work with his disciples – teaching them, sending them out, their state of disbelief.

I’m hoping you’ll see this information as fodder for your personal and group study. This is a great question and task for your classes to dig into. Ask yourselves: Did Mark organize his thoughts or did he simply write out a story?

Today’s focus for us, is to outline chapter six and then, to spend the rest of our time in this final section of the later Galilean ministry – his rejection at Nazareth (6.1-6).

The passage is bookended by the opposing storylines of rejection and reception. Christ is first rejected by his own – the people of Nazareth. At the end of the chapter, He is received by the people of Gennesaret, who run to him and seek even the touching of the fringe of his garment.

The 2nd part, and similar in form, is the sending out of the apostles or the commissioning of the apostles. In verses7-13, Jesus commissions his disciples (Apostles) with the task of preaching his gospel, casting out demons and anointing many with oil that they might be healed. In this experience, they are successful in their quest as they live out their faith and calling. And yet, bookended with this story, on the other end of the chapter, Jesus again sends his disciples. This time he sends them ahead to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. At this point Jesus walks out on the water to them. This section ends as they are utterly astounded at what they’ve witnessed, they don’t understand the loaves (i.e.: the feeding of the five thousand) and their hearts are hardened. They are in danger of becoming just like those who’ve rejected Christ.

 The two middle sections of chapter 6 are two long stories about John the Baptist and the feeding of the 5,000.

In the previous chapter, 5, we observed Christ’s authority over everything. Mark presents these miracles where he demonstrates Christ’s authority over the physical, the spiritual and the natural. And with all of this power (speaking to the wind and the waves; casting out legions of demons – and sending them into 2,000 pigs; healing a woman who has suffered for 12 years, spending every penny she’s had on doctors and to no avail; and raising the 12 year old daughter of Jairus from the dead), with all of that power demonstrated, we now find his own people reject him. In their disbelief, He is left amazed and astounded.

In our discussions during Bible Study, something we’ve not touched on is what the people were raised and healed to… there is the thread of the relationships – after the resurrections or the healings, you see a table and eating together; you see service in the preparation of a meal. But, you won’t see that here in Nazareth. We watch Christ walk away from those who reject him, actually marveling at their lack of faith.

This cycle ends without the fellowship. There is no table; there is no dinner; there is no fellowship. Only sadness.

I think this comes because of one overarching reason – and it is a lesson for us today: they can’t get passed what they think they know.

Are you familiar with the phrase: familiarity breeds contempt? I googled this phrase looking for a place of origin. Who said if first? On the free dictionary site, it gave an explanation of this phrase: people do not respect someone they know well enough to know their faults. Well, Jesus had no faults, but because they think they know him so well, they’ll find they don’t know him at all.

Transition: With that application in mind, I’d like to begin with one simple question this morning:

I.      How do you see Jesus? (1-6)

exp.: we’ve been flying at about 30,000 feet through Mark this morning; I’d like to fly lower and get a closer look. rd v 1; so, he leaves from say, maybe Capernaum and heads some 20 miles or so up the mountain range to his hometown of Nazareth.

  1. I’m reminded of John 1, where Philip found Nathanael and told him that they had found the Messiah, the one Moses had told them about in the Law – Jesus, of Nazareth. Nathanael is like: Nazareth! Can anything good come out of Nazareth? So, as the disciples head that way, I wonder what contempt they hold for that town.
  2. 2nd, this ain’t an easy walk! Show pic; 1,200 ft above sea level; SOG is 700 ft below sea level; in our passage it’s like: Oh, he just came to his hometown. Yeah, I’m sure with their activity everyday, this was typical; however, it ain’t an easy walk! And, it’s some 20 miles!

IMG_6296

So, Jesus does what just what Jesus does wherever he goes when he gets there. He begins in the Synagogue on a Sabbath and he teaches. And just how do these people respond? Rd 2a;

  1. These people are amazed! Astonished! With Luke you get the clear picture that they love him at 1st. They’re proud, because he a hometown boy, grown up and done good. But let me say this English word really lacks the punch the Gk word hits us with. This word is derived from the idea that whatever you’ve experienced, it feels like you’ve been blind-sided. Stricken. You’ve been hit. Punched in the gut. I think of the way we say: knocked for a loop. The idea to strike someone is in this compound word. At first, we don’t know if this is good or if this is bad – if this is positive or negative. But we quickly find out they’re having trouble with what he teaches.
  2. They ask a series of questions:
    1. Where did this man get these things? That is a literal translation: I think the idea is more like: how does this man have the ability to do the things he’s doing? And this comes out in their next two questions.
    2. What is the wisdom given to him? He is so wise – that’s evident. Where did he get this wisdom?
    3. How are such mighty works done by his hands? What Power! Where does this power come from? The Gospel of Luke and his 2nd book Acts, places great emphasis on the power of God at work through Christ. So, they’re seeing these things – But, they’ve got real problems with it because… look at the next few questions…
    4. Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?” They know him. They know him as the young man who learned the skill of carpentry from either his father, or from a tradesman (meaning, we don’t know if Joseph was a carpenter and we don’t know when he died.) And, they know his family: his momma, his brothers, his sisters. They know where he was raised. They’re not demeaning him because he works with his hands. The people are not saying, “He’s nothing but a common laborer,” but rather, “He’s no better than anyone of us.” We know him to be just like us. The way he is teaching and the power he demonstrates through healing – amazing as they are – he didn’t get those things there in Nazareth. And they just can’t get past what they think they know…

ill.: There is a story about a man who came into the little Baptist Church, but he couldn’t keep his enthusiasm to himself. As the preacher preached, the man found himself shouting amen and Praise the Lord. One of the well-intentioned deacons felt it was his responsibility to let that man know he was in a Baptist Church and not a Pentecostal one. So, he simply got out of his seat slipped around the back of the seats and whispered to the man to keep it down.

The man did at first, but so excited at the preaching of God’s Word was he, that he found himself shouting Hallelujah. The deacon rushed back there to settle the man down again before things got out of hand.

But, it wasn’t anytime at all before the man was actually standing, shouting all of the above and clapping his hands. That Deacon jumped up and ran back there to that man. What is the matter with you? Haven’t I asked you politely to keep it down?

Yes, responded the man, but I just get so excited and so filled with the Holy Spirit that I can’t help but shout.

The Deacon looked sternly at the man and said, Well, I don’t know where you got it from but you didn’t get it here! So keep it down.

Well, the preaching of Jesus is filled with the Spirit of God. There is authority and power and wisdom displayed in ways they have never seen before. But, it doesn’t match what they think they know about Jesus. So, what is their conclusion? Just how do they see Jesus?

  1. And here is their ultimate response at the end of v3: They’re offended! This is the Gk word for which we get our English word We might envision these people listening and and becoming more and more offended with each part of the lesson – so much so that they would cry out: Scandalous!

There’s something else. We have so much more in Luke. I’d like to share this story from Luke’s perspective. He tells us of a trip to Nazareth. In his story, we have the text Jesus taught from: Isaiah. With Luke, the story goes from their elation of their Jesus – the awesome preacher-teacher – to their frustration with that Jesus. Mark leaves us with, Oh, well – Jesus wasn’t welcome. Luke says: they wanted to kill him.

app.: This application should hit home hard and fast. There are only two ways to see this:

  1. You hear the teaching of Jesus and your offended. Or…
  2. You hear the teaching of Jesus and your convicted.

t.s.: so let me frank with you: which one of these answers clearly applies to you: conviction or offense.

exp.: You see, you can experience miracles, and you can feel the power of his healing hand, but it isn’t enough. You can hear the wisdom in his teaching and you can be astonished and amazed, but it isn’t enough. You can hear him speak peace to the wind and the waves. You can see him cast out demons. You can touch the finge of his garment and even feel the touch of his healing hand. But, unless the power of his Holy Spirit convicts you of your sin, and draws you into a relationship with him, you’re not going to respond the way you should. Instead, you will scream scandalous!

In today’s world, I think people find Jesus attractive in some ways. He’s smart, he’s kind, he’s caring. Look at what he does for the Gadarene Demoniac; look at his response to the wind and the waves; look at his care for the woman stricken with this blood disease for 12 years. And, look at how he cares tenderly for Jairus’ 12-year-old daughter. That’s the sweet Jesus we want.

We love to hear him say, you’re sins are forgiven, but we won’t tolerate – go and sin no more. We adore the Jesus who sits the child upon his lap, but we abhor the Jesus who condemns sinful, harmful behavior.

So, how do you see Jesus? What response does he illicit from you? Are you offended or convicted. (Pause)

Conclusion: When I was in Cotulla, I thought it would be good to teach who Jesus was. As an informal survey, I asked the teens questions about Jesus. We went over these questions one by one, out loud. One simple question was about his nationality – his ethnicity. After some quick, wrong guesses, I said Jesus was Jewish. I’m not making this up, but a girl, a sophomore in age, responded in disgust: Oh my God, we worship a Jew!

Scandalous, isn’t it.

  • Born of a virgin – Scandalous.
  • Crucified on a cross – Scandalous.
  • Buried in a borrowed tomb and raised from the dead three days later – Scandalous
  • A Jewish Carpenter crucified for my sins – Scandalous!

If you’re offended at Jesus and his teaching – well, there are many who’ve felt the same way. Some choose simply to ignore these harder teachings. Look at the people of Nazareth – it was all too much for them to take in. They couldn’t get past what they thought they knew.

But, if you’re convicted of your sin this morning – if the teachings of Jesus cut you down to the core of your soul, let me offer you forgiveness this morning through Christ. There is no reason to wait a second longer – stand right now, right where you are and say, I need that forgiveness. I’ll pair you up with someone who will walk through the Scriptures and explain to you how you can know that you’re forgiven and have the promise of heaven.

Let’s take a quick moment and notice those who missed him:

  • Those who knew him best – missed him.
  • Those who knew his family – missed him.
  • Those who lived close to where he lived – missed him.
  • Those who were of the same nationality – missed him.
  • Those who were common everyday folk, just like him – missed him.

Rd v 4-5; And Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor, except in his hometown and among his relatives and in his own household.” And he could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them.

We often times will wonder at how Jesus is viewed by others. But have you ever considered how Jesus might be looking at you? Rd v 6a: And he marveled because of their unbelief. Wow… what more could be done for these people? You know what, I don’t think it even matters – they still won’t believe.

And then, what does 6b say: he went into counseling because the rejection hurt him too much. Is that what it says?

And Jesus quit the ministry because it just hurt too much that people rejected him. … He never told another soul…

And he went about among the villages teaching. I love this little sentence. Rejection doesn’t mean it is all over.

There is still work to do. Yes, Christ was not received by his own. He came to his own, but his own received him not. Invitation: I want to give you a chance to receive Christ this morning…

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Mark 6.30-56

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 He is and who we are. When you situate yourself properly in comparison of God, who is perfect in everyway – and you see you are human, desperately flawed in everyway – 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 jThe apostles returned to Jesus and told him all that they had done and taught. This one verse 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… Man, they’re tired, but still filled with such joy – such contentment.

Jesus calls them away to rest. So busy, they’ve not even been able to eat. (31)

AS you look at 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: let’s begin with the feeding of the 5,000.

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

exp.: we pick up in v 34; rd 34; His concern goes way beyond just feeding them. His 1st action when moved with compassion, because they are like sheep without a shepherd is to 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 that Jesus performs the miracle.

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 served on the Ministerial Alliance in Worland. We did many fine things together – ministry for the community. One of our jobs was feeding the poor at thanksgiving. What we did was to put these baskets together of Turkey, ham, all the trimmings and deserts, so that families would have Thanksgiving dinner. One of our pastors asked if his church could put in New Testaments. He said their congregation would buy them so that it would add no cost to the Association. You’d have thought he wanted to put in pornographic novels! There was this huge outcry. And it wasn’t about the version. There was this sharp disagreement – no Bibles. Most of us were dumbfounded, trying to understand what was wrong with putting in the Scriptures. After much discussion, here’s what I figured out. A few of the pastors were afraid some of their people might get saved. Now, that’s a simplified statement to say that it was offensive to these pastors to see their people, people who were members of their churches, repenting of their sins and making a commitment to follow Jesus. These pastors prevented the rest of us from adding anything other than food. An alternative was suggested – The Jesus video, but not even the Jesus video was allowed. The reason: nothing is more offensive to these pastors than one of their own members getting saved! Let that sink in. Believe it or not, I get it. What does it say of me – a pastor – if one of my people gets saved outside of my congregation? My ego takes a hit! This one pastor, in the heat of discussion said to the rest of us: So we send them food, we feed them. What are fattening them up for – if only to send them to hell!

app.: No, we must teach them. We give, we go, we meet needs, but not for those purposes alone – No, we must tell 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.

ill.: I saw this report in World Magazine: Sleepyhead Shepherd – 1,000 sheep came wondering in to 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!

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. 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.: 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.

We see something that will begin to repeat itself: The disciples come back from this awesome mission trip, but 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. Now, they’re just casual observers.

t.s.: Oh, to be more like Jesus, the Good Shepherd, who feeds the hungry and teaches them 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 (45). 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. What must happen then is the disciples then make their way back westward, where the 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 my 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. Now that has to be embarrassing. Experienced fishermen can’t even row as fast on 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 draw. 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.

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.

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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SENT Conference: David & Goliath

Title: Becoming something greater than yourself!

Text: 1 Samuel 17

CIT: God’s faithfulness to David gave him the faith to stand, fight and defeat Goliath.

CIS: We can place our faith in Christ because he has conquered sin and death.

Introduction: Today’s story is a story you’re probably pretty familiar with. I’m guessing you’ve heard this story dozens and dozens of times. The story is about a kid and a giant. The kid’s name is David. The Giant – Goliath. The story is located in 1 Samuel 17; Turn there with me.

Most days I receive a NYTimes briefing. The idea is that I’ll find stories I wish to follow up on and read them. It works, by the way. At the conclusion of each briefing there is a Back Story. The following story was taken from the briefing.

Cracker Jack… The 87th Major League Baseball All-Star Game was played this week in San Diego. It was nice to see the American League win. I’m hoping it pays dividends when the Texas Rangers make it to the World Series – that is if they can bounce back for their last 13 ugly games. The All-Star game is a fine summer tradition, but here’s one that goes back even further: Eating Cracker Jack at the ballpark. The gooey treat’s origins go back to 1872, when F. W. Rueckheim, a German immigrant, began selling candy and popcorn in Chicago. By the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago, Rueckheim and his brother, Louis, created a confection of molasses, peanuts and popcorn that millions of fairgoers gobbled up.

They perfected their recipe by 1896 when — legend has it — a salesman tasted a sample and shouted, “That’s crackerjack!” If you google Cracker Jack online, you’ll find the definition: exceptionally good; an exceptionally good person or thing. Translation for this man: it was fantastic. A name and a brand (it’s singular, not plural) were born, and the brothers began packaging and advertising the concoction.

Just to add to the story, the company first issued coupons in the boxes that could be redeemed for household items at a store in Chicago. It switched to “A Prize in Every Box” in 1912. The prizes went digital this spring, after billions of trinkets were distributed.

But I think the coolest part of the story is that Cracker Jack’s timelessness is wrapped up in one of the best-known songs in history:

Take me out to the ball game,

Take me out with the crowd.

Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack,

I don’t care if I never get back,

Let me root, root, root for the home team,

If they don’t win it’s a shame.

For it’s one, two, three strikes, you’re out,

At the old ball game.

Now, that’s pretty cool for Frito-Lay, who owns Cracker Jack. There aren’t too many mlb games where that song isn’t heard. That’s free publicity for Cracker Jack. No wonder they’ve been around so long! Now, Cracker Jack is a small thing compared with major league baseball. A really small thing! How cool it must be for them to be a part of something so much larger.

As we look at 1 Samuel 17 and review the story of David and Goliath, I’m hoping you’ll desire to be a part of something so much larger than yourself.

Dr. Viktor Frankl is credited with saying: He who has a why can bear any how. I think what he meant by that statement is that purpose can give someone meaning. A purpose to life can empower someone to face the most difficult of circumstances.

Now, just how do these come together: purpose & meaning? Being a part of something so much greater than your self? We don’t have time read all of the verses in 1 Samuel 17, so with your permission, I’d like to present an outline of the story. It moves as follows:

  1. In v. 1-11, we meet the Philistines. They are Israel’s enemy.
  2. In v. 12-18 we meet David and his family and find out a little of what they do. They are some of the main players in this story.
  3. In v. 19-30, David is tasked by his father with the job of taking food to his brothers at the front where battle lines have been drawn up between the two armies. He is then to return and give a report to his father. So David takes supplies to them. It is here at the front David learns of Goliath, the fear the Israelite men have toward Goliath and the reward for the man who would face and defeat him. David said, “I’ll do it. I’ll take him on.”
  4. Here then, is where we pick up the story (31-50). I’ve entitled this section:

 

I.      David’s Faith: David Intercedes for the Fearful Israelites (31-50)

We note first His Confidence. Rd v 31-32

  • His Confidence: Now where does someone get such confidence? If you break this word down into two parts, you’ve got con – which means “with” and fide, which means “faith”; most literally then it means to have full faith and trust with… someone, something. For David, He tells us clearly where his faith is: rd v 37; 37 And David said, “The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” And Saul said to David, “Go, and the Lord be with you!” – Saul doesn’t say: Go and your faith be with you. Or go in this confidence you have. He says: Go, and the Lord (all caps) be with you. David’s confidence was in the LORD and only in him. Now, why? Why was this so? He tells us in this same verse: “The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear; David says: Saul, come here, check this out. Let me show you my game room. Do you know what a game room is? For a hunter, it is the place he displays his trophies.

Ill.: Down south of Austin, my in-laws have a ranch. My father-in-law built a cabin on that ranch. In the cabin is a trophy wall mount of an elk I shot in the Big Horn Mountains of Wyoming. Hunters love to tell stories of their trophies. I love to tell the story of how I shot that elk. What it was like field dressing the huge animal. Getting it down the mountain. It was the experience of a lifetime. I love it when someone sees it hanging over the fireplace and asks, “who shot that?” They always want to know more.

App.: David is like: Saul, let me show you my game room. See that lion? That lion came and took a lamb from the flock, 35 I went after him and struck him and delivered it out of his mouth. And when he rose up against me, I caught him by his beard and struck him down and killed him.

Come over here. See that bear? That bear came into camp all hungry and grumpy. He tried to have his way by getting a free meal, but I struck him down. Now, he’s just that sweet throw rug.

Confidence comes in the Lord and in his work in and through you. How are you able to stand? Because I’ve been here before. This ain’t my first rodeo!

T.S.: So, note 1st his confidence in the Lord and what the Lord has done through David. 2ndly, we notice his …

  • His Strategy:

Rd v 38; Saul is thinking to himself that this kid is in deep trouble. Who has better armor than the King? So, let’s get him geared up! Rd v 39; Here is an application that I’m not sure we can teach. David senses that this isn’t going to work. This is called discernment. This armor has served the king well. It is probably the best armor in the kingdom. But, David knows this isn’t for him. Discernment is a gift from the Lord. But I think there is a great application for us here: Go with what you know! That’s what David does; rd v 40;

Transition: So, David gears up and makes his way toward Goliath. This is the third point:

  • His Actions:
  1. You might expect Goliath to laugh, but he doesn’t. Read 41-44; Goliath disdains David and defies God by putting his trust in his gods and in his weapons.; David recognizes his failure and points it out; rd v 45; what a sharp contrast; Goliath in his ‘things’ – even his gods are things;
  2. David, however, puts his faith in God alone for God’s glory alone; rd 46-47; Goliath makes his move toward David, and David doesn’t hesitate; rd v 48;
  3. David runs to the battle line. Rd 49a;

Ill.: I love to run; I carry a ‘fanny pack’; it’s not really that, but it is similar; It has a water carrier and bottle and it has a pouch for my phone and keys; I can carry money. Can I just say it aint easy to run and put your hand into your pouch. 2nd, From time to time, I take off my shirt and swing it around to get rid of some pesky flies that are trying to land on me. I sling it around and around, taking out any bees, wasps, or giant flies that are trying to land on my. I’m thinking that David had done this before. Only because I know this isn’t easy.

  1. But, David hits Goliath with the perfect shot. (49-50) Keep reading; rd v 51;
  2. David took his own sword and cut off the giant’s head. He said he was going to do that when he didn’t even have a sword (cf.: v 46). When the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they fled. I have a vivid imagination: I picture the people, especially the Philistines screaming at the top of the lungs: Kill that kid! Hah! Rip his head off! Teach him a lesson! Then, puff, just like that, it is over and their champion lies on the ground. I’ll bet it got quiet real quick like. David runs and stands over the giant – taking his sword and cutting off his head. The roar of the Israelites rises quickly as David picks up the Giant’s head by the hair and shows his people! The Philistines, though, their jaws drop – their eyes just about pop out with disbelief. And then they take off running! When the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they fled.

Transition: Well, you know the rest of the story. It’s the conclusion to the story: The Collapse of the Philistine Army (51-53)

Conclusion: V. The Collapse of the Philistine Army (51-53)

  1. Israel’s Pursuit of the Philistines (51-52)
  2. Israel Plunders the Philistines (53)
  3. Post Remarks: David’s Victory with the Giant’s head in his hands. (54-58)

Transition: So Fred, how does this apply to missions? I’ve come here to learn about missions!

Yesterday, I stopped in to see a friend. 8 years ago, he and his wife sold everything to return home to missionaries to his family for one year. That was a big deal because he from Austria. Their goal was to spend the year with family, live the Christian life and share Christ with the people they love.

While they were there they searched hard for a church. They found a house church and became a part of it. It wasn’t easy. They made friends, they found jobs – his wife learned the language. But after a year they returned to Tyler and started their lives back up. As far as they could tell, they had made some friends in a house church, but none in his family came to Christ.

Since returning they’ve had two beautiful little girls. The youngest has yet to return to the homeland to meet family. A few weeks ago, my friend got a phone call that his father came home from work and fell over dead. No warning. No sickness. No nothing.

What hurts so bad is that my friend has tickets to return to Austria next week. He had planned a 2 week vacation with the sole purpose that his daddy might see his little girl face to face. They called the airline and tried to get things changed, but the airline would only do it for fee – a fee too large for my friend and his family to pay.

So he bought a ticket home for himself. That’s why I stopped in to see him. Losing your dad at 62 is hard. Losing your dad at any age is hard. I wanted to know how he was doing. Well, it’s been hard. His parents were divorced years ago. There is a will from the 80’s. Other people are a part of the family now. It goes on and on and if you’ve ever dealt with that stuff you know the struggle.

But in this process, He was able to sit down with his mom for a long visit. As he talked she told him he sounded like this guy she met who works with her. Some months ago she started selling Tupperware and met a young man in their group who is a Christian. It just so happens that this man was a friend of my friend. They met in a house church 8 years ago. He told his mom why they sound so much alike – why they sound so positive, even in hard times – He told his mom about Christ. And after presenting the gospel to her – 8 years after living there and not seeing any fruit from his labor, she prayed with him to receive Christ.

Transition: Becoming a part of something so much larger than yourself isn’t quick and easy. It isn’t something you can script. It means surrendering yourself to God’s will, even when you don’t understand it. So let me offer a couple of take-a-ways…

Application:

  1. The author wants to demonstrate the Glory of God over Israel’s enemies by taking what seems like certain defeat and bringing about his victory through the young man, David. Listen up, Missions in your church and in your life is much the same: God wants to demonstrate his glory through you. If the task looks too big for you, it probably is, but it isn’t for God! Your mission endeavor isn’t so much about you and your church. No, not really – It’s about God’s Glory. I feel confident in saying that God’s more concerned about His glory than just about anything else.
  2. Let your faith develop by trusting God in the small matters. Begin your mission work around your house, around your city. David did what he did and he did it the way he knew how because of his success in the smaller things. Grow from where you are. As God builds and strengthens your faith, move out from there. Start with what you know. God will teach you more as he grows you.
  3. We’ve got to stop thinking of the Gospel as transforming lives only through perfect vessels. God uses the weak to confound the wise. Saul’s armor was probably the best in the land, but it wasn’t what David needed nor what God was going to use. Here’s another application that fits with this idea: The sins of our past can be testimonies to the grace and forgiveness of God. That was my friend’s message to his mother. Sinners need to know they can be forgiven. We may not be the best speaker, we may not be the prettiest or the sharpest. But, if we’re a tool in the hands of God, watch out! 2 Corinthians 12.10: 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
  4. We can trust God to bring about victory in our mission through Christ who has come to redeem us from our enemy. God accomplished this by sending his Son to die a criminal’s death on a cross – a symbol of weakness. If you’ve never experienced the grace and compassion of God, I offer that Grace and compassion to you right now. Today is the day of Salvation. Today is the day of forgiveness. We’re going to dismiss shortly, but if you want to accept Christ this morning – come find me. I’d like to tell you how.
  5. You can be a part of something larger than you. You can become Cracker Jack missionary. Once you realize that God is working through you to Glorify himself – it becomes so much easier. You’re not worried about you. You’re not worried about your church. Your concern for God’s glory gives you the why – and you can face any how!

 

Let’s pray

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Mark 6.1-34

Title: What does it mean to follow Christ?

Text: Mark 6.1-34

What does it mean to follow Christ? “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 35 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. 36 For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? 37 For what can a man give in return for his soul? 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.”

Is the call of God different for everyone? Is the call different for anyone? What does Christ mean here: “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.

Most of us read the passage and we identify these remarks as being for someone else: someone who is called to a special ministry. We don’t normally associate these words with becoming a Christian. Do you agree?

Oh wait! We do – like when we witness to someone. But once someone becomes a Christian, we don’t think it really applies anymore. Do we?

Do we? Really?

This morning we’ll take a look at some different ‘ministries’ in Mark. These stories are similar and yet, very different.

  1. We have Jesus – the ultimate authority on ministry – and the rejection of those who knew him as he tried to minister to them.
  2. We’ll look at his disciples who go and expand his ministry.
  3. And we’ll look at John. John demonstrates for us someone who was called and suffered for his ministry.
  4. Finally, we’ll look back at the report of the disciples and the attempt for rest after ministry.

Transition: let’s begin with a quick review of last week’s message.

I.      The Ministry of Jesus (1-6)

exp.: We don’t need to repeat this message, but I wanted to include it here because it seems to clearly fit the emphasis of the cost of discipleship. Even Christ was rejected when he did ministry.

  • The Pharisees rejected him earlier (3.1-6).
  • His family rejected him, too (later in ch. 3).
  • His hometown rejected him, as well.

Isaiah said of him: He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

app.: The summary of his ministry there is found in v 5: And he could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them. And, in this we find a warning: no student is above his teacher, no servant above his master. We must remember this as we move into v7.

t.s.: with this experience of rejection fresh in the minds of his disciples, Jesus sends them out…

II.     The Ministry of the Apostles (7-13)

exp.: rd v 7;

  • He summons: called them to him (προσκαλέω; Summoned them, called them to himself)
  • He sends: began to send them out two by two; to send is the Gk word for which we get apostle: it means commissioned or sent with a mission. And this mission comes out in giving them authority.
  • He gave them authority over unclean spirits; You’ll see them exercise this authority when we get down to v 13.
  • He charged them to trust God for their provision: their orders; rd v 8-9;
    • Basic necessities – food, clothes, money.
    • Basic etiquette rd v 10;
    • Knowing when it’s time to go; rd 11

app.: They did what Jesus sent them to do; rd v 12-13; this was the purpose all along: Mk 3.14-15 – 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.

t.s: Now these twelve have gone out by the authority of Jesus. We come to this interlude and we hear of another ministry.

III.   The Ministry of John (14-29)

exp.: i.e.: John the Baptizer; This story of John is born out of a need for explanation. Herod is questioning who Jesus might be. Maybe this arises from the Apostle’s who’ve been commissioned by Jesus through his authority. Who is this Jesus? Maybe they are asked by what authority they do these things. Their answer of course would be: Jesus. Herod seems to be thinking something similar: Who is this Jesus? Herod thinks he could be John, the baptizer whom he had put to death earlier. This would not make sense to the reader because nothing has been said about John since chapter one. So, Mark educates us with his story:

Now listen carefully, I’m going to make this simple: Verse 16 says Herod had John beheaded. Herod didn’t really want to kill him. He did it at the request of Salome – But she probably didn’t want it either. You see, it was really her mother, Herodias, who was Philip’s wife. Well, she was his wife, but now she was Philip’s brother’s wife. Evidently there was some shady stuff going on there. So, The reason is because his step-daughter, Salome, the daughter of Herodias, his new wife, or she was his niece because she was the daughter of his half brother Philip who was at one time married to Herodias, or maybe we should say Salome was his grandniece because Herodias, his wife, was also his half brother Aristobolus’s daughter. Anyway, that lady, she’s the one who had asked for John’s head on a platter. Clear?

Listen, this is a tangled web of men named Herod. These guys all were all related to each other by their father. Their actions were sinful and John’s call was to call them to repentance. John does just what Jesus has called others to do…he calls Herod and Herodias to repent of their sinful behavior. People don’t like that. People don’t like to have their sin called out.

  • If you are meeting up with a woman who isn’t your wife – that’s adultery!
  • If this person you’re hooking up with is of the same gender – that’s Homosexuality and according to Scripture, it is sinful behavior!
  • If you were born with a certain genitalia, then you’re a man. If not, you’re a woman. If you have trouble with this, get some help. Pretending to be something you’re not is sinful and harmful.
  • If you feel like you are a cat or a dog – that’s not natural. You need help.

When you call people to repentance, it is offensive. People don’t want to repent. Ok, John is standing under their balcony calling them to repent. I’m assuming others can hear this preaching of repentance. If someone is in sin and doesn’t want to repent, he or she will get angry and defensive. That’s exactly what happens to Herodias. And we’re just like she is: We all want others to embrace us in our sin. Tell us it is ok, so we can keep doing it.

John will die because he refuses to back down from the calling of his ministry. He gives us a foretaste of what Jesus will endure because he will not back down from his ministry.

Before we leave John, I’d like to look at some parallels between Jesus and John. In these 1st three points we have the ministries of Jesus, the disciples, and John. John, however, isn’t to be compared with the disciples, but rather with Jesus.

ill.: There are many parallels between Jesus and John.

John is not just a model “follower” of Jesus. He’s different than the disciples who go in Christ’s authority. These are baby steps for the disciples. In a couple of years, the mantle will be laid upon them and they’ll go pro. But, for now, they still have training wheels on. John is in the Big Leagues. Listen to Craig Blomberg, how he parallels the ministry of John w/ Jesus’: John is the forerunner of the Messiah, and his death serves as a foreshadowing and preview of Jesus’ arrest and crucifixion. Both Jesus and John are arrested for challenging the powers that be. Both are put to death by self-seeking rulers who know their victims are innocent but vacillate under pressure and choose expediency over justice. The bodies of both are taken and buried by sympathetic followers. After John’s death, rumors arise that he has risen from the dead. But Jesus actually does rise from the dead!

These implicit parallels between John and Jesus in Mark find similar expression in the other gospels. In Luke, for example, the births of Jesus and John are paralleled, heralded by angelic announcements and miraculous conceptions (Luke 1). Yet in this parallelism, Jesus is shown to be the superior. John’s birth to a barren woman is a miracle (like similar births in the OT), but Jesus’ birth to a virgin is unprecedented. While John is “prophet of the Most High” (Luke 1:76; cf. 1:17), Jesus is the “Son of the Most High” (1:32). John’s role is to prepare the way for the Lord (1:17, 76); Jesus is that Lord—the Savior, who is Messiah and Lord (2:11; cf. 1:43).

This theme is carried forward in John’s public ministry. John says that the one who will come after him is so much greater than he that John is not worthy to unlatch his sandals. While John baptizes with water, Jesus will baptize with the Holy Spirit (1:7–8). Jesus must increase, while John must decrease (John 3:3). Here we find the true essence of discipleship. It is following Christ’s model, but always in service to him. It is a willingness to give up one’s life, not for our own glory, but for the glory of Christ.

app.: that’s what we se in v 27ff; rd 27-29; as we read v 27-29 we are saddened. Jesus was, too. In each of the Gospels Jesus seeks to get away after the story of John is told. It isn’t as clear in Mark as it is in Matthew and Luke and John.

t.s: But even then, as Jesus tries to get his disciples the rest and refreshing they need, even as he tries to get the rest and refreshing he needs…they keep coming.

IV.    The Call to Ministry Persists (30-34)

exp.: Read v 30-34; His compassion compels him to care for their needs.

app.: Sometimes as a servant, you’re pushed. Maybe I should say often times. You may want to get away, but you can’t. The calendar won’t cooperate. People have things for you to do. They need you. This doesn’t diminish the need for rest and refreshment, but it might need to wait. My guess is the Christ is teaching his disciples of this important part of ministry: retreat, refresh, and repair.

So, what are the applications for us? I have chosen four.

Application:

  1. Summons to Ministry: this is different for each one called. No one is called to sit on the sidelines. If you are a believer, then you’re called to be a witness for Christ. But, your call is different. You must seek out God’s will for your life and follow in obedience. You can’t live out someone else’s call. And, BTW: you can’t just go…you must be sent out in his You don’t just think to yourself: ah, I want to see the world. You must be summoned by Christ and sent out in his authority.
  2. Service in Ministry: Each of us is called to different types of service. No one is called to exactly the same thing. I think of even my wife, whose calling is very similar to mine; however, it differs greatly. As for you, I can’t tell you what that is. I think you discover your area of service by trial and error. You sense a desire to serve here or there and you follow that passion. God opens and closes doors. Consider your unique position. Retired individuals have more time – not being held down by a job. Young people have energy, stamina and health on their side. And, BTW: don’t consider your area of service based on money or supplies. You don’t just think: well, I don’t have the money so I guess I can’t go. The charge is the same: don’t worry about food, clothes or money. God will provide for you as he sees fit. I can’t say this is always the case, but I see God wants you to learn to trust him to provide for you in miraculous ways. That is how you learn to trust him in the ministry.
  3. Sacrifice in Ministry: You can’t surrender to ministry without offering a sacrifice at some level. Some, however, give more than others. John demonstrates for us a willingness to remain faithful to his calling. The spiritual gift of Martyrdom is a one-time gift. The call of God on your life might mean leaving the place you live and work. It might mean leaving your family and friends. The call of God on your life means you must sacrifice your desires and follow His. It might mean being educated. It might mean changing professions. I don’t know what God has in store for you. But, I know from experience: your life is no longer your own. You are bought at a price. You now belong to him – and what he says for your life – that is what you must now do.
  4. Success in Ministry: I hate that we (and I include myself in this) judge people in their ministry as successful or as a failure. We see larger churches, bigger youth ministries, larger and more dynamic worship programs and we measure all others by that standard. I wonder how many ministries we would label as success and try to emulate, when Christ would label that ministry a failure. Was John’s ministry a success? How so? His final place of ministry was a prison cell and from there, he was beheaded. How do you measure success? Is the pastor who works in a small church his whole life unsuccessful? What if he remains bi-vocational his whole ministry? Ultimately, success is measured through obedience.

What is your ministry? What has God called you to do? What does it mean to follow Christ?

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