Monthly Archives: April 2016

Mark 2.23-3.6

Title: Stop Day

Text: Mark 2.23-3.6


56 Thus says the Lord:

“Keep justice, and do righteousness,

for soon my salvation will come,

and my righteousness be revealed.

        Blessed is the man who does this,

and the son of man who holds it fast,

who keeps the Sabbath, not profaning it,

and keeps his hand from doing any evil.”


When David Green built his first craft store in 1972, he wanted to keep it closed on Sundays. He wanted it that way so that his families, his employees and everyone involved with his store could have the day off. He wanted to, but he didn’t. His competitor had made threats about running him out of business. So, in order to keep up with the competition, he caved in and kept his store open on Sundays. But it always bothered him.

His business thrived and so he expanded. He donated his money to charities and supported ministries, but his conscience still got the best of him. It really was good for his customers. He worked by that motto: the customer always comes first. That was until two decades into this successful business, a voice told him, “I must come first” – not the customers.

He did some research and saw that Sunday was his most profitable day. He made $100 million alone on Sundays each year. So he prayed diligently about it. Well, you know what he did. You know the story. Hobby Lobby began closing its doors on Sundays. And that is when things really took off.

David Green’s story is pretty dramatic. A couple of years ago, Forbes listed David Green in the top 100 wealthiest Billionaires in America. Your story is probably much less dramatic and doesn’t seem to compare losing $100 million of business a year: Little league or soccer, a mid-term or final exam, a research paper that is due; A spelling test? But let me ask you: what would it be like to live life six days a week, and on the 7th to shut it down? That’s right – for 24 hours during the week, you decide to shut life down. It just might be harder than you think!

What does it mean to Observe the Sabbath day? More importantly, what does it mean to you?

Is this one commandment any less important than the other 9? Deu. 5.12:

12 “ ‘Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy, as the Lord your God commanded you. 13 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 14 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter or your male servant or your female servant, or your ox or your donkey or any of your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates, that your male servant and your female servant may rest as well as you. 15 You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the Lord your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day.

There are 10 commandments and this one begins a little different than the others. Do’s and don’ts, shall’s and shall not’s and this one starts with Observe.

When God created the heavens and the earth, he said it was good. When he created man, he said it was very good. Then, on the 7th day, he rested from his work. He stopped his work and he didn’t say it was good. He didn’t even say it was very good. No, he said it was holy. Gen. 2.3;

The early Hebrews didn’t have a name for each day of the week. They simply called it one day, two day, three day, four day, five day, six day, and stop day.

So, why? What was God’s reason for creating seven days to a week and then commanding that the 7th day be kept holy? Obviously, God gave the command – but why? What was his intention? What is the principle behind the command? It isn’t just about being legalistic…it’s about God’s character. God is revealing to us a part of his character. Think about this: God worked for 6 days. He created the earth, the seas, the skies. He created the things that go into all of them: he placed the lights where he wanted and the flying things where he wanted and the creepy crawly things where he wanted. He did all that he planned in 6 wonderful days. And then, on the 7th day – not because he was tired mind you – but because he is holy – he then rested. Have you ever thought of resting as holiness?


The 1st 3 commandments – they’re all about God. The last six – they’re about our relationship. The 4th one in the middle – it really is the connection between the two. It seems to connect closely with both sides.

What I find funny about myself – maybe you do about yourself – is that I’m squarely focused upon the others. Pick any of the other 9 commandments and I with you. This one, for many years, didn’t feel to bad about breaking. But should I be as concerned about this one as I am about the others?

The Jews were! The Religious leaders were! Their problem is that they took it too far. My problem is I take it too lightly. Do you know both are just as wrong?

Deut. 4.2: “And now, O Israel, listen to the statutes and the rules that I am teaching you, and do them, that you may live, and go in and take possession of the land that the Lord, the God of your fathers, is giving you. You shall not add to the word that I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God that I command you.

Here’s where the Pharisees have failed: It may be against the law to reap a harvest on the Sabbath, but it is never wrong to feed the hungry. The laws against working were made for people – not the other way around. In other words: there is a spirit and intent in the law.

Time and again we see Jesus set people free from their burdens – that is, giving them rest from their burdens. That is the case in chapter 3.1-6; I love the drama here. Jesus enters into the synagogue and there is within, a man with a withered hand. Now, they’re watching Jesus, to see if he is going to break the Sabbath by working – that is healing. And their intention, is listed clearly in v. 2 – in order that they might accuse him. (Whistle to demonstrate the showdown). You can almost here the spurs of Jesus click as he walks across the floor. Come here he tells the man with the withered hand. In the drama I’m playing out in my mind, he sounds a little bit like Clint Eastwood. He asks them point blank: “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to kill?” Let’s pause the story right there. For some reason Mark leaves the story as it is: Matthew and Luke expound on it further. In Mt …11 He said to them, “Which one of you who has a sheep, if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not take hold of it and lift it out? 12 Of how much more value is a man than a sheep! So it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.”

That’s the spirit of the law.

The Sabbath day, in keeping its observance, was never a day intended to hurt people. It isn’t a day intended to make the hungry continue in their hunger. The hungry person doesn’t rest when they are hungry. To watch someone languish in pain isn’t holiness in action. The person in bondage doesn’t rest when they are still in bondage. Jesus is saying that you have more compassion for your animals than you do another human being. He isn’t saying don’t have compassion on your animals, but your compassion should be extended to humans, too. Let’s get back to our drama being played out like a western…

He asked them (in a Clint Eastwood voice): “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to kill?” But they were silent. And he looked around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart…

I wonder if Jesus has ever looked at me with anger, and grieved because my heart was hard toward the very things that are precious to him? I’m sure the answer to that is yes.

And he looked around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, and said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” Man this is great cinema! He’s talking to the man with the withered hand, but he’s staring down these religious leaders with hard hearts. And, He stretched it out, and his hand was restored. Instead of marveling – like this is something super cool – they get mad.

That is so like the legalist. The legalist doesn’t care about rest. He doesn’t care about restoration. He doesn’t really even care about the Sabbath. He only cares about the rules.

This brings me to another question: Just what does it mean to rest?

There is a feeling I have – a place I go in my mind – where I think: that’s what rest is. In Worland, Wyoming, in the summer months, the days are long. On one particular day, and there were many like it over the 8 years we lived there, I was laying in the grass staring up into the dark blue sky. As I lay on the ground looking up into the blue, it looked like it was snowing – big, heavy snowflakes. It wasn’t snow, though; it was cotton wood spores. I don’t know if you’ve ever laid out on a green lawn against a blue sky and just watched it snow cottonwood spores. You can YouTube it and watch. I remember just laying there with my kids. Dolly, the old lab that ran the farm was there with us. We just laid there and watched it snow cottonwood spores.

No care in the world. No hurry to get anywhere. No cellphone. No deadline. I’m sure I’ve rested. I know I did in Colorado while on Sabbatical. But that moment in my life, as a young father will stick with me – probably forever – as a moment of rest.

Can I pause for a moment and list a few points about the Sabbath made so far – maybe just a quick way of review?

  1. The 4th Commandment is in two parts:
    1. Observe the Sabbath day. You are conscientious of that day. Planning for it. That means, you set that day apart from the others. The Hebrew literally says, Be careful to observe
    2. To keep it holy. The idea of keeping is guarding, observing.
  2. The Sabbath day is holy. It is set apart. It is special, that is, compared to the others. It is a Holy day.
  3. The Sabbath day is a day of rest. Remember it is called Stop Day. Rest from your labor – a day of rest from making money, yes, but even more. It is a time also to rest your spirit, soul and mind. Free yourself from tasks undone. Don’t pick them up again until the Sabbath is over.
  4. In our text, it is a day of restoration – that is giving rest to the burdened from their burden. It is healing.
  5. In this context, then – The Sabbath is something that involves others. It can be eating together and enjoying each other’s company. It can be meeting someone else’s need – giving them rest, as it were.

So, how can someone observe the Sabbath and keep it holy in today’s context?

I say, first, to look for the reason behind the rule, the principle behind the precept. Why did God put that command before us? I’m not saying this is the only reason, but this sure makes sense: I think it helps us prioritize our lives.

  1. God takes precedent on that day. Really, he does everyday. But on this day in particular, you’re not saying it, you showing it. You show it by when you go to bed. You show it by when you get up. You demonstrate it by picking out your clothes, and shinning your shoes. You teach it to your kids by doing those things with them. Sunday dinner gets planned earlier. You put on the roast, the crock-pot, whatever. Everything you do shows that God is taking precedent on that day. You plan the day out, so that on that day – you don’t have to work through it. You plan the day out, so that God takes precedent.
  2. You get your work done, because you know you’re not going to do that work on the Sabbath. You organize and structure your workweek with the full intention of resting on the Sabbath. It helps prioritize.
  3. All week long, work has taken precedent. Your schedule, your priorities, your duties focus on work. You’ve not had time for family like you wish. But that ends. On this day, you spend more time with your family: kids, grand kids, your wife, your husband. They take priority over what has pushed them to the back. The Sabbath helps us prioritize our lives.
  4. All week long your family has taken a back seat to your job. Maybe your wife has been burdened with a task she can’t finish because something she needs is broken or it isn’t working right. So, you fix it and set her free from that burden. Your kids haven’t been able to ride their bikes. You make that right. You make the repair or you take them somewhere. You set them free, so to speak.


Application using the commandment:

  1. Be Careful. Don’t add to or take away. You can add things to the Sabbath like the Pharisees that will detract for what God intended. You can also become so lax about it, that before you know it, it ain’t holy anymore.
  2. Observe and keep it holy. Plan your week around the Sabbath. Get stuff done, so that you can rest. Make plans for those repairs or for teaching your little girl how to fish or shot a rifle. That might mean stopping by the store before hand and getting some tackle or bait or ammo. It might mean ordering the part. It might mean making plans to go to bed a little earlier. Do what needs to be done, so that you can observe the Sabbath more simply.
  3. Unburden others. Not only are you supposed to rest and be unburdened, but so also are others. Don’t burden someone else. If you go out, don’t be a burden to others. Tip in such a way that those who have to work will feel like it was nothing. Try 100%. Matter of fact – don’t be a burden to them. Some people won’t go out on Sunday for that very reason – not to be a burden to others. If you see someone in need – do what you can to meet that need. Pay for their meal. Leave their server a tip.


I’d like to read a story: Matthew Sleeth, 24/6, p. 131.

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Filed under Mark, Sabbath, Sabbatical, Scripture, Sermon

Mark 2.1-3.6

Title: Q & A

Text: Mark 2.13-3.6

Introduction: For our guests, let me give a general overview of how we got to our text for today.             Chapter one begins with a declaration of who Christ is and then presents the beginning of his ministry. His popularity explodes as he preaches, teaches and heals those who come to see him and eventually forces him to the desolate places because he can no longer enter into the towns and villages. And yet, the people still come out to him.

In Chapter two we have five conspiracy/conflict stories. We’ll look at them all today. This section reaches its climax with the religious leaders plotting Christ’s death in 3.6.

Chapter three is a set of stories that contrast Jesus’ new family of believers against his biological family that has rejected his claims. Jesus will pick his 12 disciples and his band of followers grows. His brothers, sisters and mom will come to get him – thinking he’s mad. This section will show them in direct contrast to his new family.

So, let’s look at our passage today (2.1-3.6) In our text today, we find five conspiracy/conflict stories. Here’s how they’re broken up:

The 1st conflict is in v 1-12 where the religious leaders can’t believe their ears when Jesus declares a man’s sins are forgiven him. Who does this man think he is? God? We looked closely at that passage last week and will only refer to it in passing.

The 2nd conflict begins with the calling of Levi (Matthew), a Tax Collector. His calling inclines him to celebrate and invite all of his friends, both old and new (13-17). The religious leaders are a bit disturbed that this religious man, Jesus, eats and drinks with such sinners – outcasts. Their questioning is loud enough that Jesus hears.

In the next section (18-22) the religious leaders question Jesus as to why his disciples don’t fast, while their disciples and the disciples of John fast. He then gives them three analogies to identify his presence as the fulfillment of God’s promised salvation. What he’s communicating is that his coming isn’t just something that will reform Judaism, but will radically transform it into something new. In other words, Jesus did come to put a patch on Judaism, but to bring something new!

The last two sections (23-28; 1-6) deal with the Sabbath. I want to mention them, because they are a large part of this whole section, but I plan to cover them next week. In these two stories, Jesus teaches that the Sabbath was created for the man and not vise versa. The way Jesus confronts their hard hearts only hardens them more and more and then moves them to plot for his destruction. For me, what is most interesting to note is that their actions answer his question (3.4): Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to kill?” He chooses to save a life; however, the Religious leaders will choose to take a life – and it is here that they begin to plot and plan for his destruction.

Pause: I understand why preachers limit their texts to small groups of Scripture. There is way too much information to cover in such a large section. But, that is what I’ve felt led to do. The question is: What is Mark doing in this passage. Are these stories meant to stand alone, or is he telling a larger story in them. Well, obviously, I think there is a larger story within the groups. I’d love to just focus on 2.13-17 for 30 minutes. There are three great points:

  1. The Calling of Matthew (13-14)
  2. The Celebration of this Calling (15)
  3. The Confrontation with the Religious leaders (16-17)

Added to this, each of these stories stands alone with wonderful application. But let’s pull away from them and take a bird’s eye view. Each is a destination on a map, like a town or a city. Instead of searching each city out, I’d like to look at the longer journey. So, what is Mark doing? What is he trying to communicate?

To answer this question, I’d like to highlight a couple of actions on the part of Mark. I’ve divided each section into two main parts:

  1. Questions
  2. Answers

Let’s begin w/ the questions.

I.   The Questions (7, 16, 18, 24, 3.2,4)

exp.: In each smaller story, the religious leaders are found questioning Jesus and his practices:

  1. 7“Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?”
  2. 16 “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
  3. 18“Why do John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?”
  4. 24“Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath?” going through the grainfields, and as they made their way, his disciples began to pluck heads of grain.
  5. 2they watched Jesus, to see whether he would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse him.

Do you notice that the three internal stories all deal with eating? Mark Horne, in his book, The Victory According to Mark, makes note that eating socially was an important part of Israel’s history. The people practice it because it is a practice of God. Three times in the Law, Israel was commanded to celebrate with eating and drinking. We saw that a few weeks ago in Nehemiah when the people began to mourn sorrowfully for their actions. They saw their failure to keep God’s Law; however, the leadership noted the date according to the Jewish calendar and declared a celebration because God had commanded it. And celebrate they did!

Have you thought about this eating and drinking with sinners? For the most part, the church has pulled away from the world and we have isolated ourselves. We’ve created cliques and clubs to keep ourselves from having to ‘fellowship’ with tax collectors and sinners. We’ve really missed our calling in this.

Paul confronted Peter in front of all their friends because he was behaving like Jesus – eating and drinking with Gentiles. Then, when he around his Jewish friends, he stopped and withdrew from the Gentiles. Paul basically called him a hypocrite and rebuked him publically.

Later in Paul’s ministry, he sees that the church in Corinth was getting this all mixed up, too. Paul also encourages the church at Corinth to stop eating and drinking with Christians who were living in sin, but not to stop fellowshipping with those who were lost. In 1 Cor 5.9-13

I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— 10 not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. 11 But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. 12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? 13 God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.”

app.: Somehow, we’ve got it backward through the years. The church is supposed to keep itself pure. We have an identity to protect before the world. We’re to be distinct. But in doing so, we’ve pulled away from the world – the very place we’re supposed to be salt and light. Here’s what I mean:

  • We’ll have a women’s fellowship and invite a lost woman to come…
  • We’ll have a men’s fellowship – a beast feast – a wild game cook-off and invite lost men
  • We’ll have youth fellowships – bring in a big name, cool, youthful looking guest speaker; we’ll bring in a band that appeals to the younger generation and then ask the teens to invite a lost youth with the hopes that they’ll hear the gospel and get saved.

These have become the practice. And, they can be effective. Yes, people do get saved in such programs and activities. But, nowhere do we see Jesus pulling the disciples together and saying: Hey guys, we’re going to have a large fellowship. We’re going to go fishing and catch a bunch of fish and have a big fish fry. You invite a lost friend to come along and I’ll share the gospel with them after we’ve eaten.

That story isn’t in the Bible. And if you hear Paul, he says don’t fellowship with the hypocrite – the person who claims the name of Christ and lives like hell. But instead, hang out with lost people. Don’t judge them. Win them over by your lifestyle. You be salt and light in their worlds.

Christ and his followers are eating and drinking with the lost so much, it sparks another question from the religious leaders: Why do John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast? And I love this question at the end of the chapter: why are they doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath? That is by plucking heads of grain and eating them as they walk through the field.

Breaking the Sabbath is bad. No doubt. So, we have to look closer to see if the accusation is correct. Actually, it isn’t. Jesus is leading his men to do exactly what was commanded in Deut. 23.24-25: 24 “If you go into your neighbor’s vineyard, you may eat your fill of grapes, as many as you wish, but you shall not put any in your bag. 25 If you go into your neighbor’s standing grain, you may pluck the ears with your hand, but you shall not put a sickle to your neighbor’s standing grain.

Where do these guys then get this ‘law’? Are you ready for this? They made it up. The Law states that no one is to reap a harvest on the Sabbath. The Pharisees are the ones who defined what reaping was. From what I can gather, the Mishnah has outlined 39 separate violations for reaping – and this is the infraction, to which they’re referring. They started with a desire to keep the Sabbath day holy, but somehow turned it into a long list of do’s and don’ts. And then, they become the judges for these violations.

Jesus responds to these guys by reminding them of a story. I’ll cover this story next week, but for now, let me just clarify that what Christ tells them in effect is that their laws have become…in the words of William Lane…unduly stringent and exceed the intention of the Law.

That sounds like us as Baptists. We have God’s Word, but we add so much to it that we become ineffective at reaching the lost. Instead of going out to them, we invite them here – to our purified gatherings so that they might get saved.

Here’s my fear: I wonder if as Baptists, we’re more like the Pharisees than we are Jesus and the disciples. Have we put up such strict guidelines and rules that we’re no longer effective in our witness? The only effective way is to invite people here with the hopes of them getting saved, when all along Jesus is screaming for us to go out into the fields. He is calling us to go eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners. You know who these people are. They’re our neighbors and co-workers. They’re our family members who feel more judged than loved.

In our story this morning, these guys – the Pharisees, are asking questions because Jesus isn’t following their guidelines.

App.: Are the rules you’ve structured for your life from God’s Word or are they traditions that have simply been passed along?

It’s time we acted more like Jesus and less like the Pharisees.

t.s.: Note 1st the questions. Note 2nd, the answers Jesus gives.

II.    The Responses (10, 17, 20, 25, 28)

exp.: It is also interesting to note the different titles Jesus ascribes to himself throughout chapter two:

  1. Son of Man (10),
  2. Physician (17),
  3. Bridegroom (20),
  4. David (25), and
  5. Son of Man again (28).

exp.: it would be fun to isolate each of these and do in depth research as to where these terms come from – I’d like to look at this a little deeper on Wednesday night, during our WEBS. For now, let me give a summation: Jesus is saying to these leaders, in response to their questions, that he has the authority to do these things because he is the Promised One of God.

We spoke of references to the Son of Man from Daniel last week. Jesus is clearly communicating his understanding that he is the promised Messiah of God. And, as the Messiah, he has been given the authority to heal and forgive. I’m not sure they’re getting this, but according to 3.6, I think they just might be. And for the way his family will respond in chapter 3 – they think he is out of his mind – folks must be coming to an understanding that Jesus is making this outrageous claim.

And, added to this outrageousness, for Jesus to call the unrighteous and not the righteous is offensive to the religious leaders. They would have a big problem that he isn’t submitting to them and that the people, their people are chasing after him.

Kim Riddlebarger: Jesus is using the term “righteous” in a rhetorical sense–those who think themselves to be righteous and therefore unable to consider the fact that they needed to humble themselves before God, acknowledge that they are sinners, and then obey Jesus’ summons to repent and believe. In other words, Jesus is saying that he did not come to call the “self-righteous,” or those who think of themselves as better off than the sinners.

This is precisely the point Jesus makes in Luke 18:9-14. He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: 10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ 13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

The Pharisees and scribes were mad that Jesus didn’t submit to them and they were jealous of the crowds that followed Jesus.

We’ve already discussed how eating and drinking and celebrating with sinners was what God did. It was characteristic of him in the OT. The very fact that Israel’s Messiah would sit and eat with sinners points us back to the OT and ahead to the end of the age where the marriage supper of the lamb takes place (Revelation 19:9). In a very real sense, when we take communion, we do so at his table.

His reference to being the Bridegroom is even more blatant. The presence of the Messiah is to be celebrated. When Jesus talks about patches and wineskins, he is saying that he has not come to simply patch up Judaism, but has come to usher in the Kingdom of God – a new creation.

These last two stories deal with the Sabbath. Again, I want to focus on these two passages next week as I talk about the Sabbath and the Sabbath rest. For now, let me just clarify that Jesus is declaring his authority over the Sabbath and his great displeasure with the religious leaders for making the Sabbath something God never intended it to be.

Conclusion: This past week another mega-church pastor stepped aside to deal with his sin. And I’ve been reminded that we all are sinful and prone to chase after fruitless things. I’m reminded that leaders aren’t perfect. And our stories this morning remind us that failure isn’t just for those whose morals are loose, but for anyone who breathes and has a heartbeat – even the most legalistic. Failure attacks the liberal and the fundamentalist alike.

So we must ask ourselves:

  1. Are we living by man-made traditions or Biblical mandates?
    1. Holding on to traditions over mandates is sinful and makes one no different than the Pharisee.
    2. The scary thing about traditions, is that they are so valued, one confuses it w/ commands.
  2. Are we practicing our evangelism the way Christ did and commanded of us? Or, are we adopting the latest new way to evangelize?
    1. Are we unattractive to the world because they see us as a bunch of hypocrites? We expect them to come here to hear? There must be a way to love the people of the world and not condone sinful behavior. For me, in some instances – it is very clear what I am comfortable with and what bothers me. But, in others, I’m not sure.

If Jesus came to Tyler, would he hang out with us? Or, would we be critical of him because he’s hanging out with people – people we would never be seen with? Would we be mad at him because he didn’t come to our church?

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Filed under Authenticity, Evangelism, Mark, Purpose, Scripture, Sermon

Mark 2.1-12

Title: An Empty Shell

Text: Mark 2.1-12

Introduction: Henry, thank you for reading Scripture this morning; Our story this morning is the 1st in a string of stories that reflect the religious leaders’ animosity toward Christ and his growing popularity. Let me show you how we got to chapter two.

  1. The opening section (1.1-15) gives us the witnesses to who Jesus really is:
    1. Mark
    2. Malachi
    3. Isaiah
    4. John
    5. God – The Holy Spirit, the Father: here we see the Trinity
    6. Satan, Angels
  2. Last week we looked at the 2nd set of stories which emphasizes the start of his ministry – and his popularity growing so quickly that he is forced out to the desolate places away from people. The people then go out looking for him to meet their needs. It appears to me that Mark’s aim in this 2nd section is to present Christ’s growing popularity and the authority he demonstrates through preaching, teaching, and healing – something not seen in the religious leaders.
  3. In chapter 2 and into chapter 3, we’ll see the religious leaders begin to question him about what he’s doing and by what authority he preaches and teaches and even heals. This angst within the religious leaders climaxes with their plot to destroy him in 3.6: The Pharisees went out and immediately held counsel with the Herodians against him, how to destroy him.

So, this story is the first of a few stories that involve the religious leaders and their growing resentment and animosity toward Jesus. Here’s how I’ll break it down today:

  1. The Setting: Jesus is back ‘at home’ preaching the Word (1-2)
  2. The Conflict:
    1. The Men w/ the Crowd: a paralyzed man and his four friends of faith tear through the roof to get their friend into the presence of Jesus. (3-4)
    2. The Scribes w/ their theology: Jesus rewards the faith of the man’s friends by forgiving the man his sins. The religious authorities couldn’t believe their ears and in their hearts, they accuse Jesus of blasphemy. (5-7)
  3. The Climax: Jesus, in order to demonstrate his authority to forgive sins, heals the man of his paralysis. (8-11)
  4. The Resolution: the man is healed and demonstrates it by getting up, taking up his mat and walking out the door. The people are truly amazed and God is glorified. (12)

Transition: Let’s look at each of these steps in order:

The Setting (1-2)

exp.: Jesus is back ‘at home’ preaching the Word (1-2); Capernaum: City of Nahum; the 1st HQ of the Christians; Capernaum was the nearest village to the river Jordan on the NW shores of the Sea of Galilee; Word gets out – ἀκούω; it was heard NASB; lit.: it was heard that he is in the house. Rd v 2; so they come; Boy, do they come; So thick are they, no one can get in the house. And what do we find Jesus doing? lit.: he was speaking to them the word. He’s preaching, he’s teaching.

app.: if you go back to 1.38, you’ll see that Jesus is doing exactly what he came to do: 38 And he said to them, “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out.” 39 And he went throughout all Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out demons.

t.s.: this lays a foundation – it gives us the setting for the storyline. And we see this in…

The Conflict (3-7)

exp.: actually, there are two; rd v 3; And they came – this is great story telling; who came? 4 men, carrying a paralytic. And here is the 1st conflict: rd v 4a;

  1. They couldn’t get in the door! 4 men who’ve come to bring their friend to see Jesus in hopes that he would do what they’ve been hearing about – that he would heal their friend – but they can’t get in the door; the Gk is more colorful – lit.: and not being able to offer to him; same word in Mt 2.11 where the wise men offered their gifts to the child; and in 23 where Jesus says 23 So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. See what I mean by more colorful?

exp: they need to get their friend to Jesus – Mark could have used a different word to describe being carried. They’re not just carrying their friend around – they’re bringing him to Jesus. And look what Mark says to explain their thinking; rd 4; And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, – and when they couldn’t offer him to Jesus because of the crowd… they removed the roof above him, and when they had made an opening, they let down the bed on which the paralytic lay.

ill.: can you imagine the conversation of these guys with their buddy? Do you know of someone who needs Jesus this bad? Maybe he or she isn’t suffering this kind of paralysis, but maybe a different kind of illness, need, and struggle? What lengths would you go to get them to him? Response: Man, you can’t just go and tear open the man’s roof. Oh, yeah, just watch me!

ill.: Have you seen Miracles from Heaven with Jennifer Gardner? There is a scene where she is in the hospital ER for like the 4th time and the doctor says she has acid reflux. Jennifer, this little girl’s momma just looses it! the Dr. starts walking away and She grabs him by the collar, as if to say: don’t you walk away from me. We aren’t done here! Either find what’s wrong with my little girl or go get another doctor, but the status quo isn’t going to cut it. Something is wrong with my daughter and I want answers!

Show the trailer…

App.: that is these friends! I don’t care if there’s a crowd… I don’t care if there is a roof… I’ve got to get my friend Jesus and the crowd isn’t letting us in! So off with the roof it is!

Exp.: so they lower their friend down through the roof to the feet of Jesus. Mission accomplished! Rd v 5; And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” I don’t know about you, but that wasn’t the response from Jesus I was expecting. But nonetheless, that is the healing Jesus offers. My guess is that is what the man’s needs the most. So that is what Jesus gives.

But that brings us to the 2nd conflict:

  1. The Scribes hear something that doesn’t sound quite right to them. I was going to say their conflict is with Jesus. But something just doesn’t feel right about that. If you have a problem with Jesus, then the problem is yours! So let me say that these religious leaders have a problem with their theology. Rd v 6-7; basically, they’re saying: who does this man think he is? God?

exp.: I’ve got a problem with this, too. Not the same one they do. I know he’s God. That’s Mark’s point. Look closely at v 5; he forgives this man’s sins, because of their faith. Ok – so, what is happening here is that I’m in conflict with this theology. I’m like the religious leaders here. I’m on their side.

app.: if you’re on the side of the religious leaders – your on the wrong side! Here’s another app.: Jesus ain’t never wrong! Bad English – good theology. If you’re like me, on the wrong side of the argument, then we gotta make this right. Here are a few principles I’ve learned about what Jesus says in Scripture:

  1. Jesus says what that person (or people) needs to hear. That’s important. He knows their heart. We don’t He knows their struggles, their weaknesses. We think we know what is going on – but not really. He knows what to say to hit them where they live. He says what that person needs to hear.
  2. What I think needs to happen isn’t necessarily what is best. Jesus knows what needs to happen. He sees a much larger picture than I take in. Time and again, we’re faced with what seems to be good answers and good solutions to our problems and the problems of others. God is probably up to something a lot bigger than the minor, insignificant thing in front of us.
  3. God isn’t interested in my glory as much as he is his own glory. Isaiah 48 is a beautiful passage where God tells his people that he is doing things he said he would do long ago, so that no one could say my idol did this for me. Furthermore, he says there are things going to happen soon that will blow you away. Also, so you know that it only could have come from God. Then he says this: 11 For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it, for how should my name be profaned? My glory I will not give to another. God isn’t interested in my glory as much as he is his own glory. We’ll see this when we finish up today.

t.s.: So here are these two conflicts: the men and their friend not being able to get to Jesus because of the crowd and, the religious leaders not getting their theology to align w/ what Jesus is doing. Now, we reach the climax of the story.

The Climax (8-11)

exp.: v 8 tells us that Jesus perceived their thoughts and then questioned them. This is an easy one for me.

ill.: my mother-in-law has this problem with letting others know how she feels without saying a word. It’s her eye brows. I’ve learned to read her thoughts of displeasure with me by noting the height her eyebrows reach. Let me show you what I mean. (raise my eyebrows in displeasure).

ill.: Now, my wife does this with me. I don’t know how, but she does this almost daily. She perceives my thoughts – without using my eyebrows. There is this intuitive nature about her.

app.: Can I just say that, this is not what Mark is telling us; Jn 2.25; 23 Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many believed in his name when they saw the signs that he was doing. 24 But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people 25 and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man.

app.: So, the problem is with them – not Jesus. Remember: He knows what that person needs to hear; He knows the whole story; and he’s most interested in glorifying his father, not them.

t.s.: So, he asks them a question – … – knowing just what they need to hear;

exp.: rd v 9; let me ask you – which is easier to say? My guess is that these guys couldn’t say either! Oh, they could say rise up. But, that doesn’t mean it’s gonna happen any quicker than them forgiving a man his sins and making him pure. So, to be clear, Jesus tells them; rd v 10; 10 But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”; Something incredible is happening here!

You and I know that the Son of Man is a reference to Christ. But, these guys – they see it quit differently. This would be a fun discussion question for your small groups. These scribes know that this is a reference to the Messiah – the one sent from God. As far as they’re concerned, they only see a unique, really smart fellow in front of them. But when he calls himself the Son of Man – images from the O.T. must pop up in their minds. They’re scribes, remember?

They know Psalm 80 – of course they see themselves as the Son of man in that passage. They are also familiar with Daniel 7 – The one who comes to the Ancient of Days (God, the Father) is the son of man – and he has the dominion – the authority to rule and reign and pass judgment. These guys get it. That’s why they say in v 7 – He is blaspheming. They don’t see him as having the authority to forgive sins. So, Jesus tells them like it is. V 10 again – 10 But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins” Not only am I going to show you that I have the authority to forgive sins – which no man can do. I’m also going to show you that I have the authority to heal – like no one else can do. The Climax: rd v 10b-11;

I’m sure everyone held their breath as Christ demonstrates his power over all things. Here is the result…

The Resolution (12)

exp.: the man is healed, the people are amazed and God is glorified!

t.s.: remember I told you earlier that God is interested in his glory. Christ accomplished just that.

Conclusion: Did you see this article, this past week in the National Review? Professor says: if you’re reading to your kids, you’re ‘unfairly disadvantaging’ others. That’s right. Parents, you’re being unfair and putting other kids at a disadvantage if you read to your children. Kathyrn Timpf writes in her article: At one point, Professor Adam Swift even flirted with the idea of “simply abolishing the family” as a way of “solving the social justice problem” because “there would be a more level playing field” if we did…

Um, I am continually amazed at the asinine and obtuse reactions by the left-winged nuts out there. I think well, that’s about as foolish as a person could ever be – and then someone tops it…again!

app.: I wonder if the religious leaders have the same problem this professor has… what I mean by this is: For this professor, he should see that the best way to give a kid a chance is to provide him a home, a family and nurture him, but instead, this professor wants to lower the playing field for all. Get rid of the family. Why not instead, try to find a home for every child.

I wonder if the Scribes have a similar logic. They’ve got their theology in a box. It is nice and neat. They have pre-conceived ideas about sin and its effect on people. This professor, he wants ‘what is fair’ and he has his own ideas about what that means. The Scribes, they’re not thinking from the perspective that God brings, but rather they start with themselves and move out from there. They’re not approaching the problem from the right angle.

Application: What about you…from where you sit this morning? Sure, you’re probably conservative and think the professor is nuts, but, what about the Scribes in our story? Or, are you more like the 4 men who bring their friend to Christ and are willing to think outside the box to accomplish that feat?

Can I give you an easy question to answer that might give you perspective? Do you struggle with some of the things Jesus says? Like when he says to the Canaanite woman, it isn’t right to take the children’s bread and feed it to the dogs. Do you find yourself not liking certain passages because they make you uncomfortable?

I think we all do this at some level: Peter when he told Jesus not to be so negative and talk about dying. Get behind me Satan.

Here is my take-away today:

  1. When you come to Christ – come empty handed. What I mean by this is not to come with your theology in a box. Come empty, ready to be filled. Come ready to learn. Know it alls need not apply.

Poem by Thomas Edward Brown: He was walking along the shore and found a shell. The story goes that he picked it up and put it to his ear to listen to the sound of the sea. But something frightening happened… a crab came out of the shell. This poem was born out of that experience.

“If thou could’st empty all thyself of self,

Like to a shell dishabited,

Then might He find thee on the ocean shelf,

And say “This is not dead,”

And fill thee with Himself instead.

But thou art all replete with very thou

And hast such shrewd activity,

That when He comes He says, “This is enow

Unto itself-’twere better let it be,

It is so small and full, there is no room for Me.”

When you come to Jesus – come empty, ready to be filled…

Oh, Christ – empty us of all that hinders you from filling us. And, fill us up with you. May you find us empty of ‘self’ and ready to be filled with all things considered ‘you’…

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Filed under Leadership, Mark, Purpose, Sermon

Mark 1.16-45

Title: The Work of the Master: the start of his ministry

Text: Mark 1.16-45

Introduction: we’re in Mark 1.16-45; repeat; let me begin with some context; we began last week with an introduction to Mark; in the opening section…

  1. The opening section (1.1-15) gives us the witnesses to who Jesus really is:
    1. Mark
    2. Malachi
    3. Isaiah
    4. John
    5. God – The Holy Spirit, the Father: here we see the Trinity
    6. Satan, Angels
  2. The 2nd section is the start of his ministry –his popularity grows so quickly that he is forced to the desolate places away from people. But that doesn’t matter – they go out looking for him to meet their needs. His ministry demonstrates his incredible authority: preaching, teaching, and healing – all with an authority not seen in their religious leaders.
  3. In chapter two, we’ll see the religious leaders begin to question him about what he’s doing and by what authority he preaches and teaches and even heals. This angst within the religious leaders climaxes with their plot to destroy him in 3.6: The Pharisees went out and immediately held counsel with the Herodians against him, how to destroy him.

For now, I’ve outline this long passage into 4 parts:

His ministry begins…

  1. With the calling of his first 4 disciples
  2. Through preaching, teaching, and healing w/ authority that the religious leaders don’t have
  3. And is sustained by a powerful prayer life
  4. And is so successful, he must retreat from public life.

I.     With the calling his first disciples (16-20)

exp.: The 4 men are Simon & Andrew; James & John – two sets of two brothers. Five common actions:

  1. Jesus is passing by them
  2. He sees them
  3. He calls them
  4. They left their nets (father)
  5. They followed Jesus

ill.: the closest OT parallel to this narrative is the calling of Elisha to follow Elijah. We could spend the rest of the morning doing comparisons here; however, let me just say that in 1 Kings 19, Elijah calls Elisha and Elisha leaves everything to follow him and be his disciple.

app.: May I offer an application here: to be a disciple is costly. It will call you to leave all you know to follow in obedience to Jesus. Just where that leads, I don’t know. It is different for everyone. But the call is nevertheless costly. Have you accurately counted the costs?

My problem: distinguishing between being a disciple and being called into full-time vocational service. Maybe the problem is more for me – and what I do – to be paid a wage to be your pastor. I’m not asking you to stop paying me a salary.

I am not calling in to question Lyle’s service of being a pastor for 40 years. I’m not being critical of Tracy and his calling to the gospel ministry. I guess what I’m saying is I don’t see a difference in Scripture with those called to be Christ’s disciples and the leadership. I don’t see people being saved to just go to church on Sunday. The calling to discipleship – is costly.

Can you be saved to nothing? Let’s flesh that out over the next few months as we observe the disciples we encounter. Are they called to sit around?

t.s.: so, these men, who I’m assuming don’t really know Jesus that well, leave their livelihood to study under this new rabbi. 2ndly, His ministry begins…

II.    Through teaching, preaching and healing w/ authority that the religious leaders don’t have (21-34)

exp.: location: Capernaum; In this section of growing popularity, Mark describes three miracles:

  • An exorcism in the synagogue of Capernaum (1:21–28),
  • The healing of Peter’s mother-in-law and a summary of other healings (1:29–34),
  • The healing of a man with a skin disease (1:40–45), and
  • There is a 4th story of the healing of a paralyzed man (2:1–12). But, I think this story is related to the question of authority – and by what authority Jesus does what he does.

In these episodes, Mark emphasizes not only Jesus’ power to heal, but also his growing popularity, his intimate prayer life with God that sustains the life of this man being pursued by the people.

Let’s look at these three as listed here; the episode is structured similarly to other gospel exorcisms:

  • A statement of the problem (v. 23),
  • The challenge to Jesus from the unclean spirit (v. 24),
  • The authority of Jesus through his command to “be silent and come out” (v. 25),
  • Immediate obedience by the unclean spirit (v. 26) and
  • The crowd’s response of amazement, first to the teaching, then to the exorcism (v. 27).

What is unique to Mark’s account, is the amazement of the crowd to His authority rather than the power Jesus wields through exorcism. The people are first amazed that his teaching goes way beyond that of what they’re used to hearing (v. 22). An exorcism would be attention grabbing; arresting, even. And yet, even after Jesus has cast out this unclean spirit, the people speak first about the “new teaching with authority” and only then about the exorcism (v. 27).

app.: I think Mark is placing his emphasis on the authority of Jesus to do everything he does. And the exorcism is simply validation of that authority. That’s why he can proclaim what he preaches and do what he does in accomplishing the mission he was sent to finish: the proclamation and inauguration of the kingdom of God (The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel).

2ndly, the conflict here is between Jesus and the spiritual realms of darkness. He is beating back the front line of Satan. This is where the conflict should be. But Satan, in the coming chapters, will do his best to make the authorities will feel threatened and become enraged to where they’ll plot his death. Maybe there is more here: Jesus is casting out an unclean spirit of a man in the synagogue. He is not in a brothel. He’s not in a bar. He’s at church – synagogue. His ministry begins in the religious institution.

We’re seeing two applications that hit home this morning:

  1. Discipleship is costly and I’m not seeing the overwhelming majority of the church paying a price.
  2. The Kingdom of God comes first to his own house… let the listener beware!

exp.: in v 29ff – the ministry continues in the city at Simon & Andrew’s home; His mother-in-law is healed; then ‘the whole city’ comes to the door; rd v 33; The timing: it’s the same day – only at sundown, so the Sabbath is over. Can you imagine, hearing Peter tell this story: A day in the life of Jesus. Peter and his brother and the Sons of Thunder are seeing and hearing what is going on. Peter is able to relay this eyewitness account to Mark. I love this. But Mark’s focus isn’t on Peter – nor to impress us that he worked with Peter.

app.: Mark is pointing us to the fact that Christ is fulfilling what was spoken of him from of old;         Isaiah 35.4-6

Say to those who have an anxious heart,

“Be strong; fear not!

Behold, your God

will come with vengeance,

with the recompense of God.

He will come and save you.”

        Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,

and the ears of the deaf unstopped;

        then shall the lame man leap like a deer,

and the tongue of the mute sing for joy.

Jesus is the fulfillment of this prophecy: What was destroyed by sin shall be made new: A new creation, if you will or a re-creation. Eden was lost, but now is being restored. These people see it – and it’s the closest thing to heaven they can get. They want it.

Ladies and Gentlemen, if we were offering the Garden of Eden to the lost of the world – they would be at our door. I think people want heaven – and we offer it, but when they come – they don’t find Jesus.

So, what do we offer?

t.s.: His ministry begins by calling the first 4 disciples, by teaching, preaching and healing with authority that the religious leaders have never displayed; and, 3rd, His ministry begins

III.   And is sustained through a private prayer life (35-39)

exp.: rd v 35; to be sure, this is only telling us of this moment. The passage doesn’t communicate what I’ve just said. I’m borrowing from the so many other passages in the other gospels that inform us of the fact that this isn’t the only time – indeed, it was a common practice of his. So much has been said about this; Luke 5.16; But, I think what Mark is focusing on here is what happens next; rd v 36-37;

ill.: looking is ζητέω lit.: seeking, searching; However, the word search in v 36, is only used here in the NT and in the OT Greek text, it is used to describe what Saul was doing to David. It is the word used in 1 Samuel to describe Saul’s pursuit of David; Lit.: he was hunting for David; In my Gk Lexicon it says of this word: nearly always ‘pursue’ in a hostile sense) search for eagerly, hunt for τινά someone; that’s what Saul did of David and that is the word used by Mark. We’re talking a diligent, urgent search to find him.

app.: No wonder he needed time alone – isolation; So he says of this – let’s get out of here; rd v 38-39

t.s.: And that’s what leads us to this last section in this particular passage:

IV.    And is so successful, He must retreat from public life (40-45)

exp.: Another such instance of compassion and healing takes place when a leper comes to Jesus and appeals to him for healing. Jesus, moved with pity and compassion, does just that; but warns the man to keep this to himself. He is told to tell no one, but the priest alone when going to do as the Law required for him to be declared clean. But, the man couldn’t keep it to himself. This man’s actions – talking freely and spreading the word of Jesus everywhere he went – causes Jesus to no longer be able to appear openly. Instead, he is forced into the desolate regions (45); however, the people seek his help there, too (40-45). Rd v 45b – Jesus could no longer openly enter a town, but was out in desolate places, and people were coming to him from every quarter.

ill.: don’t you just want to grab this man and say: Dude! He told you to keep your mouth shut!

app.: Scholars call this the Messianic Secret. And can you blame the guy! Dude, I didn’t recognize you! What happened – you’re skin fungus is gone! What is he going to say: I dunno. He’s got to be pretty excited!

t.s.: why? Would he be excited?

Conclusion: Because he was an outcast. He hadn’t lived with his family or near friends in…who knows how long? He hadn’t been to the Temple to worship in … well, since the same amount of time. Unclean! Unclean! are the words he’s heard since this happened to him. Maybe years!

Now, with the touch of a hand and some simple words: be clean! – this man is whole again. When was the last time he felt the touch of a human hand? When was the last time he felt a hug from his wife, his kids, his momma? Who could blame him for speaking out?

I’ll bet he sang: Since I met the blessed Savior; Since he cleansed and made me whole; I will never cease to praise him; I’ll shout it while eternity rolls. He touched me; Oh, He touched me; Oh, the joy that floods my soul. Something happened and now I know – He touched me and made me whole!

You know what strikes me about this little encounter? Everything changes for this man, and it’s good! But, things change for Jesus, too. This man’s previous life, becomes the life of the master. Look at those words again in v 45: Jesus could no longer openly enter a town, but was out in desolate places… What was the leper’s life, now become what Jesus knows. That man – he’s clean now, he can enter the Temple and worship in God’s presence. He can openly move about the city – go in and out of any village he wants. But not Jesus.

Ladies and Gentlemen, that’s what substitutionary atonement is. All of our sin and sickness and imperfection is cleansed and all of Christ’s perfection is placed on us.


NYT – Morning Briefing: The weather forecasts we rely on are themselves dependent on meteorological satellites, of which the first successful launch was April fools day, 1960 in Cape Canaveral, Fla. Tiros-1 for Television Infrared Observation Satellite, was only 42 inches wide and 19 inches tall, but it was a game-changer for meteorology in 1960. From its vantage point 400 miles up, the satellite let forecasters track wide cloud movements for the first time. And within its first 10 days aloft, it transmitted a fuzzy picture of a typhoon churning about 1,000 miles off Australia.

Before Tiros-1, weather observations had been available for only a small part of the planet, drawn from the scattered reports of balloons and surface stations. Suddenly, meteorologists possessed a world of new data, and the accuracy of their forecasts soared. Successive satellites carried increasingly advanced instruments, providing greater detail and enabling the five-day forecasts we’ve come to rely on. Of course, they contribute far more than a heads-up to grab an umbrella. Their early warnings can be credited with saving millions of lives and avoiding billions in property damage.

Before Christ, understanding the Bible and the message of God was rather limited. Devotion to God was determined by a set of rules: do’s and don’ts; thou shalt’s and thou shalt not’s. But just as satellite technology offers a better vantage point for weather, so Christ has given us a better understanding of who we are – and what we need. Of who he is – And what he can do for us.

If that describes your life – if you’re unclean – a filthy sinner, I offer Christ to you today. Let him touch you and make you whole!


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Filed under Evangelism, Mark, Purpose, Scripture, Sermon