Title: Busyness or Business
Text: Mark 7.31-8.26
Introduction: I’m so proud of you guys! You’ve been busy. Your mission team has stepped up in huge ways. (Present some of the items).
- Our first engagement with the Labor Day BBQ here in Tarpley.
- OCC Shoeboxes
- Collections for Arms of Hope – Single mothers and Children’s Home
- Collections for Helping Hands
- Thank you cards for the LEC (Law Enforcement Community)
I wonder if sometimes you might think what you do isn’t important. I wonder if you know the value of planting seeds.
A family in Britain decided to move, but they needed to downsize. They hired a company to come in and help them sell off some items to help them downsize. Mander Auctioneers came in and gathered up the items the family wanted to get rid of and something incredible happened.
A British family won an unexpected payday when what they thought were 18th-century replicas of ancient Egyptian statuettes turned out to be the real deal. Mander Auctioneers auctioned what a Sudbury, Suffolk, family described as garden ornaments during the family’s process of thinning out their belongings prior to a move. They had purchased the statues at an auction 15 years ago for a few hundred dollars. One statue had its head reattached with cement. At first, the family and the auction house expected to get about $500 for the heavily weathered statues depicting a pair of sphinxes. “And then the auction just went crazy,” auctioneer James Mander told CNN. Apparently, several bidders had discovered the statues were bona fide treasures of ancient Egypt rather than eroded copies. The two statues sold for $265,510 plus a 24 percent buyer’s premium to an international art gallery. Experts are tracing the age of the statues, which could be thousands of years old. – “Lucrative sphinx hijincks”, Worldmag.com, Nov 4th, 2021
App.: I’m not sure you realize the value of what you have here. So let me share with you. You are investing in so much more than diapers, paper, cards, shoe boxes, time.
When you’re in the thick of things, you can easily lose perspective. You can’t see the proverbial forest for the trees.
I want to accomplish two goals this morning:
- Remind you that what you do is important in the grand scheme of things. And, I want to do this by
- Taking a bird’s eye view of our passage to show you that pulling away from the thick of things can truly give you a proper perspective of the larger picture.
Last week, we zoomed in on a story about the Syrophoenician woman who begged Christ for some crumbs that fall from the children’s table (7.24-30). Today, we’ll look at five (5) such stories. I want to do this to show you that there is a bigger picture that these smaller pictures, when they’re all put together, make.
With that being said, here’s what I intend to do this morning:
- The Framework of the Text i.e., I’m going to hit all 5 stories here. I’m going to show you 5 pictures, if you will, of the hundreds of pictures that make up this one photo we call the Gospel story.
- A Comparison of the Texts, we’re going to see similarities in these different passages. I want to demonstrate for you that Mark was a genius in his story telling ability. I want to show you that these separate stories, ‘pictures’ really all do fit together beautifully.
- Theology Matters sure, there are teaching points in each small story, but I’m looking for this melodic line of the overall passage. That is what we’ll find in the Theology in Application section. Mark is playing a melodic line that gets repeated. What is that?
Transition: let’s begin with this 1st task…
I. The Framework of the Text
exp.: This pericope is bookended by two miracles of healing (7.31-37; 8.22-26).
- Miracles: These miracles are similar in their presentation. Take your Bible and put these passages side by side. Maybe your friend, your spouse, your sibling, whoever is sitting next to you will take one passage, say 7.31-37 and you take 8.22-26; Now that we’re set up, let’s compare the two passages. 6 Similarities:
- ‘They brought’ someone needing a miracle. (7.32; 8.22)
- ‘They begged’ Jesus to intercede. (7.32; 8.22)
- Jesus dealt with these needs privately. (7.33; 8.23)
- Both miracles were accomplished in 2 stages or two parts. (7.33-34; 8.23-25)
- Both miracles display the use of saliva (7.33; 8.23)
- Messianic Secret. Jesus encouraged them to remain silent. (7.36; 8.26)
The middle sections continue with the theme: Jesus, the Bread of Life.
- Jesus feeds 4,000 with bread and fish. (8.1-10) This miracle is set in two stages as well. rd v 5-6; but it doesn’t end there – look at v 7- 8a; So, we have the bread and then, the fish.
Now, before I leave this section, some people have asked if this is the same story as chapter 6 or is it a different story altogether. It’s different. I say there are so many differences, that they must be two separate accounts. But, in our 4th story, Jesus will refer to both miracles and compare them. Next,
- The Pharisees fail to see and understand that Jesus is who he says he is, the Bread of life. (8.11-13)
exp.: in 8.11-13 the Pharisees demand a sign;
- Don’t mistake this for a miracle. To the Jews, Signs are indeed miraculous, but miracles aren’t necessarily signs. They’ve seen miracles. My guess is they’ve seen lots of ‘miracles’. The key for us is to see that the sign they demand of Jesus is from “Heaven” (11). They want him to do something with God stamped on it. You could read this to mean a sign up in the heavens – (you know, make it rain, make the sun stop shinning, or maybe something to do with the stars). But, I think it means a sign that demonstrates God’s approval.
- The word sign never means miracle in Mark (w/ the exception of the last chapter).
- Test is the same word as Mark 1.13; tempted; They’re doing the same thing Satan did – and they’ll fail, like Satan did. Here, I think, is Mark’s teaching – the motive of these guys is no different than that of their father, the Devil.
ill.: Ok! Think about this: Jesus could have given them a sign to rock their world. He is more than able to do so. But he doesn’t. Why? I think I understand a bit here.
I’ve been pressed by some about my vision here at Tarpley. I’ve been pressed on that before. I don’t buy into gimmicks or fads. My vision, my goal, is to have a healthy church. That’s my job as your pastor. As for ministry – I’m here to equip you, train you, provide resources for you and help you in any way I can fulfill the ministry you feel the Lord is calling you to. I don’t have visions of building buildings or doing this or that. My job is to ‘equip the saints for the work of the ministry’.
I remember sitting in an Elder’s Mtg a few years ago. Regularly, The elders are presented with ‘opportunities’ for ministry or growth or whatever. These opportunities come from within and without. There were two particular requests for us on our agenda one Thursday evening. A very short discussion about it ensued and we set it aside. Great opportunities. But, we said no. Why? I think for the same reason Jesus did here in Mark 8.12f.
When we consider what to do and what to be a part of, there are two questions we ask ourselves:
First, What is the family business? I’ve taken our constitution and outlined three G’s to help us articulate that business: The purposes of this body are declared to be:
1) To glorify God through maintaining services both devotional and for public worship.
2) To proclaim earnestly the gospel message and to urge its personal acceptance.
3) To cooperate by prayer, gift, and
a service in an effort to promote the cause grace of Christ throughout the world.
2nd, How’s business? Pretty good, for the most part. A struggle in others.
Each ministry can ask itself this Question and gauge its production by it. It is what we did Thursday night.
- What is the family business? Glorify God; Gospel proclaimed; Grace promoted. Some of you might be thinking: But we’re a church, not a business. Let me ask you, is this not our Father’s business? When Mary and Joseph sought their little son who had gone missing, they found him in the Temple. What did he tell them? “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be about my Father’s business?” That purpose drove him. So, let me ask you again: What is the family business?
- How’s is this request going to help our business? 2 x’s in our elders mtg we moved quickly through the requests because the answer was obvious: it doesn’t help us reach our goal. It isn’t necessarily good for business. So, the answer was obvious. No.
app.: Jesus is dialed in on his work. Their request is busyness to keep him from his Father’s business. Hence, the title of the message today: Business or Busyness. We must respond in like fashion: is this busyness or business? We’ve got to be about our Father’s business.
4. The disciples fail to see and understand that Jesus is the Bread of Life. (8.14-21) This is important! Don’t miss this. We’ve actually seen this before? Rd v 14-21; Don’t you get this guys? Uh, no, sir.
t.s.: Now, I’d like to move from this section, and do a comparison. You know how I said, we’ve actually seen this before? It was just after Jesus had fed the 5,000 up in 6.50-52; rd 6.50-52; That got me to thinking, we’ve seen others similar stories and activities already in Mark.
- A Comparison to The Previous Text
|6:31–44||Feeding the multitude||8:1–9|
|6:45–56||Crossing the sea and landing||8:10|
|6.50-52||Their hearts are hardened and they do not understand.||8.18-21|
|7:1–23||Conflict with the Pharisees||8:11–13|
|7:24–30||A negative discussion about bread||8:14–21|
|7:31–36||Healing (Blind & Deaf)||8:22–26|
app.: Through these two sections, there are similarities. Is this a coincidence? Well, Leroy Jethro Gibbs says there are no coincidences. And, that’s good advice for us as we look at these texts. Mark is up to something. I think he’s wanting to show us a bigger picture. I think he wants us to see the miracles in two stages. Jesus is doing those miracles in stages on purpose. I think he wants us also to identify that the disciples are dull both times Jesus talks about the bread. And, that there is a point he is making: Jesus is the Bread of Life.
Transition: So, we’ve looked at the Outline, the Framework. We’ve noted the comparison of this big outline to the previous section. Now, let’s look at the Theology being taught.
II. Theology Matters
exp.: So, we’ve answered the question that Mark is up to something – something larger than just story telling. But just what is he up to? 1st, Mark is wanting us to see:
- Christ is the fulfillment of Isaiah’s Prophecy in 35.5-6; rd Isaiah 35.1-6; there is a dual fulfillment here – the physical and the spiritual. And we see that is exactly what Mark is doing for us in this passage. The blind do see (i.e.: physically) and the deaf do hear (i.e.: physically); however, there is the spiritual side to this as well. The Pharisees are blinded and they go on in their blindness, but the disciples, though they are not perceiving, they will! Though they are not hearing – they will! And, though it is just a little at first, it will grow, it will progress and they will see and hear.
Transition: Don’t miss what Mark is doing in his presentation. Christ is indeed the Bread of Life. He is the Messiah who was promised. He is bringing healing both physically, and spiritually. Which brings me to the 2nd Theological Application…
- Seeing is Believing; Perceiving is believing; Rd 8.17-18; the answer here is, ‘no, we don’t.’ So, how do we know they will? I think this is given to us in the physical miracles. Note: the deaf, the blind, and the bread – these miracles appear to take place in two stages.
- Deaf: 1. He put his fingers in his ears, and 2. spit and touched his tongue.
- Bread: 1. He distributed the bread. 2. And then, separately, he distributed the fish.
- Blind: 1. spit on his eyes, and 2. laid his hands on him.
It is a reminder to us that we serve in a very physical manner. And we meet needs in a very physical manner. But, please don’t forget the spiritual side of what we do! Pray that God will use our service to bring himself Glory, that the Gospel will be proclaimed, and that God’s Grace will be extended to those around us.
Transition: Which is a great segue for our 3rd Theological Application…
- Faith is a progressive experience… think: process and progress. Do you see our miracles in the physical realm? Here is another question we must ask ourselves: Does the God of this Universe, the One who spoke our world into order and existence, Is He Insufficient in any way that he would need to conduct his miracles in stages? It isn’t like Jesus said: “Oh, you still can’t see? Well, let me do a little more… there!” In modern medicine, yes, you take your antibiotics for 10 days to three weeks. It’s a slow process. And then, if necessary, you take them for another round.
Not so with God. We’ve seen him perform miracles without even lifting a hand. He just thinks it and it is done. Remember the Syrophoenician woman? Rd 7.29: 29 And he said to her, “For this statement you may go your way; the demon has left your daughter.” Perfect tense – a state of being because of a past action! She’s already free from the Demon. The answer to this question is “no”. Jesus is not insufficient in any way! And yet, Jesus repeats this 2-stage process again and again, and again. Listen to Mark Strauss, professor of NT at Bethel Seminary in San Diego. In his commentary on Mark he writes: The two stages of these miracles represent the disciples’ gradual progression toward spiritual understanding. Faith is a progressive experience. The gradual healing of the blind man illustrates the gradual progress of faith in the life of the disciples. Though they have begun their journey by choosing to follow Jesus, they have much to learn. There is a long and challenging road ahead, and it will be full of fits and starts.
- These sections of Scripture are in two different geographical locations and to two different groups of people. 1. The Jews. and 2. The Gentiles. Mark is reminding us that the Gospel is universal in nature. Yes, it is focused up on the Jews in the beginning, but shortly, the gospel will spread to the World.
So, where do we go from here? Well, 1st, if you’ve never surrendered your life to Christ – let today be that day. Is it possible your heart has been hardened to Christ? You’ve demanded signs or your way in some venture, but Christ was focused on his mission. Have you ever thought, my friend, that Christ is more concerned for your soul than he is for your flesh? He’s more concerned about feeding your soul than he is about feeding your flesh! What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and yet loses his soul? Don’t let this moment pass you buy if you’ve never committed your life to Christ – please do so this morning.
In a moment we’ll be dismissed. We’re not going to sing 10 verses of a song and wait on you. I’m going to be out front. Stop by and ask if we can talk about something important. We can step aside and visit. We can make plans in the near future if that works better. But please, don’t just leave without getting the answers you are curious about.
2ndly, Maybe there is a decision you’ve made and you need to make it public. You’ve accepted Christ recently or maybe God has called you into the ministry. I’m not sure what your needs are, but I know that God does. So, you respond as He leads you this morning.
Lastly, Happy Thanksgiving!