Mark 10:1-16

Title: Faith-filled!

Text: Mark 10.1-16

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Jesus says:

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

a. Peter rebuking Jesus.

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

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

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

That’s the cycle, and we see it in

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Trap is Set: More Context

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

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

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

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

They have missed it. 1st,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Law was given to show us our Sinfulness

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

Meanwhile, back at the ranch…

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

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

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

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

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

The Destructive Nature of Divorce

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

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

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

Faith-Filled Holidays

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

Show video…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Mark 9:30-50

Title: The Picture of a True Disciple

Text: Mark 9.30-50

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That’s the big picture…

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

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

I.     A True Disciple is one who is…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let’s pray…


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Mark 9:14-29

Title: O’ Faithless Generation!

Text: Mark 9.14-29

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Maybe he was talking about:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May the Lord answer you in the day of trouble!

May the name of the God of Jacob protect you!

    May he send you help from the sanctuary

and give you support from Zion!

    May he remember all your offerings

and regard with favor your burnt sacrifices! Selah

    May he grant you your heart’s desire

and fulfill all your plans!

    May we shout for joy over your salvation,

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

May the Lord fulfill all your petitions!

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

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

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Mark 9:2-13


Title: Just a Glimpse!

Text: Mark 9.2-13

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I.     A Glorious Mountaintop Experience (2-8)

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

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

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

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

Look at what takes place: rd v 2;

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

II.    A Deep Theological Discussion (9-13)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Isaiah 1:1-9

Title: Court is in Session

Text: Isaiah 1.1-9

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


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?


  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.


  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





Feeding the multitude






Crossing the sea and landing




6.50-52 Their hearts are hardened and they do not understand. 8.18-21


Conflict with the Pharisees






A negative discussion about bread






Healing (Blind & Deaf)




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.


            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!


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