Category Archives: Mark

Mark 14:27-50

Title: The Abused Shepherd-King

Text: Mark 14.27-50

Introduction: We’ll be here in three different texts this morning: Mark 14, Zechariah some; Psalm 118. Mark these places for convenience.

My outline this morning will follow the geographical map for these guys:

  1. As they move out to the Mt. of Olives, Jesus offers The Prediction: They will all fall away
  2. Then, Jesus & the 3 move to Gethsemane, The Garden Prayer: Alone, because the others are sleeping
  3. Finally, Jesus and the 3 move back to the Mt. O w/ the disciples and are joined by Judas and the Mob, The Prediction: It is fulfilled as they all flee!

rd v 26; I wish I knew the hymn; we can safely assume it was one of the hymns of the Hallel; at this stage of the Passover celebration they were probably at Psalm 118 – which would be sung antiphonally;  (Read it together); then the mood changes as Jesus tells them plainly in v 27;

I.     The Prediction: Fall Away (27-31)

exp.: As they walk and sing, the mood changes when Jesus the reality of this night and tomorrow hit him hard in v 27: You will all fall away, for it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.’ Now you might expect Peter to pull Jesus aside and tell him once again not to be so negative – but that didn’t work out so well the last time that happened!

This Scripture Jesus quotes is from Zechariah; Zechariah is filled with prophecies about the Messiah; we learn a lot about the Messiah from Zechariah. One characteristic in particular is Zechariah’s emphasis on the Messiah as the Temple Builder. He is like the shepherd-kings:

  • Moses, who as the shepherd-king built the 1st Tabernacle which traveled with the children of Israel.
  • David’s Son: I say ‘David’s son’ because his is the Son of David. David , the shepherd-king was not allowed to build the Temple, but instead that task was given to his son.
  • Zerubabbel: He, too is a pattern, a type of Christ; he, too is a Temple builder; he came and rebuilt Solomon’s Temple after the devastation of the exile. The sheep were scattered abroad and he served as a ‘shepherd-king’ re-building the Temple. The Word of the Lord came in Zechariah 4.6-10;

Mark seems to be very familiar with Zechariah, taking from the 2nd half of Zechariah some of his prophecies and adding them to the story for us to follow

  • The Messiah’s Character – we see this future figure filled with righteousness and yet displaying deep humility (9.9); His Reign is Universal (9.10); This unique combination of humility and sovereignty is seen in the imagery of a abused shepherd-king;
  • The Shepherd-king Pattern: When I say shepherd-king, Can you see Moses? Can you see David? Zechariah continues to build on this imagery of this shepherd-king is one who is abused; rd Zech 12.10; 13.7; the Lord speaks to the sword: Strike the shepherd;

Jesus is quoting from this text where Yahweh says to the Sword: Strike the Shepherd. This is the Lord’s doing; Isaiah: Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him. But Jesus doesn’t end with this statement: you’ll all fall away. Look at what he says next: rd v 28; I’m going to die, you’ll be scattered, but I will be raised up and we will be brought back together. And, I’ll meet you in Galilee.

But Peter doesn’t catch all of what Jesus is saying. He only hears the negative statement of their falling away.

ill.: Do you ever do that? Listen to the 1st part of what is being said, but not the whole thing? It seems that Peter has done that constantly, starting back in 8.31; here, Peter has missed it again. Jesus is going to die and rise again. If Peter dies defending Jesus, he’ll miss that part!

app.: Well, Jesus leaves the sound of their voices resonating in the air. Me, too!

t.s.: So, they arrive at the wherever it is they’re staying at Gethsemane.

II.    The Garden: Gethsemane (32-42)

exp.: rd v 32; this word ‘sit’ has different meanings and from the situation at the end of this passage, it seems to mean ‘set up’ here. This word is used in the OT by God to tell David that he will set a descendant of his on the throne. So, these guys set up camp – maybe it already kind of was. Rd 33a; Jesus then takes the three others with him: Peter, James and John.

Think about these three:

  • Peter has just declared that he would never abandon Christ. He will go to prison or even fight to the death for him. Keep that in mind.
  • These other two were the ones that asked him previously that one of them might sit on his right and the other on his left. They declared that they were able to be baptized with the baptism of Jesus and drink from the cup that he will drink from. They said so ignorantly. ‘Cup’ often times has the idea of wrath with it. It is ‘poured’ out. They just don’t get it.

And here they have an opportunity to step up. For what they don’t see – and honestly, what I’m not sure we grasp – is Christ’s moment of…. Fear? Uncertainty?

I know, you’re like: what a minute Fred! This is God in the flesh. He ain’t scarit of nuthin’!

Bear with me….

Rd v 33b-34; note those three words:

  • Distressed
  • Troubled
  • Sorrowful (even unto death)

So in this state of distress, trouble and sorrow (even unto death!) he ask the three to remain here and watch. The idea is to stay awake and be alert.

Then, what does Jesus do? He walks a little distance away and cries out to the Father. Rd v 36; “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”

Here is Jesus acknowledging that all things are possible. And here’s his request: Remove this cup from me.

This is big, for a couple of reasons:

  1. Chiasm: the structure of this passage…
  2. The Prediction: Fall Away (27-28)
  3. Reply: Peter’s Denial (29-31)
  4. Disciples: Sit here (32)
  5. The Three: Watch and Pray (33-34)
  6. Climax: Distress, Troubled, and Sorrowful (33-36)
  7. The Three: Sleeping times 3
  8. Disciples: joined with Judas and the Mob
  9. Response: Peter’s Defense
  10. The Prediction: Fulfilled

 

So, with this information, let’s take a deeper look at this passage. If, this is correct – Mark’s focus then would be this moment – Christ’s suffering emotionally, spiritually.

  1. This is so… Un-Christ-like. Mark has presented to us someone who is unflappable in the Messiah. The Religious Leaders have tried to trip him up many times. Through all of the healings, feedings, struggles, storms – never once does the Messiah show weakness. But take his reaction to this now and compare it with many who’ve died for the faith.

Ill.: I am always amazed at the strength and courage of martyrs for Christ. Consider seven brothers and their mother, who praise God and mock the arrogance of Antiochus the king even as they are one by one gruesomely tortured and executed. After six have died, the youngest refuses to recant and even taunts the king:

But you, unholy wretch, you most defiled of all mortals, do not be elated in vain and puffed up by uncertain hopes, when you raise your hand against the children of heaven. You have not yet escaped the judgment of the almighty, all-seeing God. For our brothers after enduring a brief suffering have drunk of ever-flowing life, under God’s covenant; but you, by the judgment of God, will receive just punishment for your arrogance (Strauss, p. 637).

Or consider Polycarp, bishop of Smyrna, when brought before a magistrate and told he would be burned at the stake if he did not recant. Tim Keller records it this way:

The magistrate said in effect, “I will give you one more chance: You can reject Christianity, you can recant, and avoid execution.” Some witnesses wrote down Polycarp’s reply: “The fire you threaten burns but an hour and is quenched after a little….You do not know the fire of the coming judgment….But why do you delay? Come, do what you will.

Keller, in his book on Mark, also tells of Nicholas Ridley and Hugh Latimer, who were burned at the stake for their faith in Oxford in 1555. They were tied side by side, and when the fire was lit, it is said that Latimer said to Ridley: Be of good comfort Master Ridley, and play the man: we shall this day light such a candle by God’s grace in England, as I trust shall never be put out (Keller, p. 191).

But Christ is struggling in this moment. You know the story already, don’t you? He returns and pleads with them to stay awake and pray. Do they? No, these men who in their arrogance tried to instruct Christ – whimp out.

app.: Isn’t that so like most of us as humans? We speak boldly of a faith in Christ and if called on to die, we’d march right up to the stake and volunteer our hands to be tied. Die for Christ? Yes, and we’d sing praises to God as we burned at the stake. But ask us to watch and pray for one hour and what is our response?

We are whimps when it comes to praying. You and I are not willing to give up sleep.

As a church, I hear you say – we should be praying – we need a time of prayer about this matter. We have one: every Wednesday night.

So what is it about this struggle that is different than these Martyrs? Well, Christ isn’t being martyred. He is going through something quite different. He is about to bear the sins of humanity. He is standing on a precipice which overlooks the flames of hell. He is standing before the open gates of hell and he feels the rush of heat blow past his soul. He is about to bear the penalty for your sin and my sin.

t.s.: The wages of sin is death…but the free gift of eternal life would not be a possibility today if he hadn’t paid this price. He returns a third time to find them sleeping in v 41, but it is too late to prepare in prayer now – rd v 42:  Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand.”

III.   The Prediction: Fulfilled (43-50)

exp.: display the chiasm; Jesus returns to the place where he left the disciples earlier in time to meet up with Judas and a mob that has come to arrest him. Judas betrays Jesus with a greeting and a kiss. They lay hands on Jesus and Peter decides now to act in defense. He cuts off the ear of Malchus, but Jesus stops it all. Rd v 48-49; and the prophecy comes true in v 50 – they all left him and fled. So quick to get away, one young man who had stripped down to his towel, probably cleaning himself up for the night, when someone grabbed him….rd 51-52;

t.s.: And the prophecy is fulfilled.

Conclusion: I wouldn’t say that Christ was depressed in our story. But, he sure was hurting, struggling with all that he was going through.

Application: Christ was distressed and troubled as his soul became very sorrowful, even unto death. While at his lowest point, entering into the suffering and persecution he would face, all of his friends – and enemies, would abandon him. Even the Father would turn his back on him as he carried the sins of the world on his shoulders (Ps 22). That is why he cried out, “My God, My God why have you forsaken me” while hanging on the cross. He endured this suffering and death alone.

Therefore, in light of this:

  1. When we endure the hardest of times, there is one who understands far better than we know! Tim Keller writes: “there’s a gap between the desires of your heart and the circumstances of your life, and the bigger the gap, the greater the suffering.” I think the trick then is to close the gap between our desires and our circumstances. I know that’s not easy. I’m not saying it is. Maybe I’m saying just try to be more realistic and genuine in where you are. And Remember, The writer of Hebrews reminds us that God has promised us that he will never leave or forsake us. Let us then hold on to the promise of God.
  2. Let us be cautious and not so glib in our commitment to Christ. Sure, we stand and say, I’ll not abandon you, I’ll go to prison for you, I’ll even die for you! But, what are we like when he asks us to watch and pray for just one hour with him? Is the commitment of your displayed mostly in your activity with others? Or, can you honestly say you fight and defend the faith on your knees before the Father in prayer.
  3. Let us be cautious when we handle the Word of God – not to take part or even some, but the whole counsel of God. Peter heard the part about Jesus going to die, but he missed the wonderful part about their planned reunion.
  4. As you consider Christ facing Hell in all of its horror and terror, do you know that without Christ, that penalty is still yours? Won’t you trust him this morning as your Passover Lamb?
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Mark 14:12-26

Title: Celebrate and Remember!

Text: Mark 14.12-26

Introduction: Can you remember special Christmas mornings growing up? Maybe you’ve got some memories as an adult with your own kids. Maybe some of those special memories go back to when you were a kid. I grew up opening presents on Christmas Eve. Christmas morning was reserved for presents from Santa Clause. Others grew up opening just one present on Christmas Eve and then diving in early Christmas morning for all of the rest of the present.

Christmas is special for us all in some way. Traditions have been established and you love them. I love the way the Baker’s open a present on Christmas Eve and it is a new set of PJ’s! They wear them that night and avoid the world the next day – staying in their pajamas all day long Christmas day. That’s sweet!

Hopefully, as I’ve just mentioned Christmas and Christmas Traditions, you’ve been taken back to a time or place and your heart rejoices at what you remember – and who you remember.

Our topic today is that way for many Jewish people who celebrate the Passover. It is a very special holiday – holy day. For them, it was the very 1st one established by God. To understand it, we’d have to go back to Exodus 12 and see what they did and when they did it. In many ways, the Passover celebration is no different today for our Jewish friends and Messianic Jewish brothers than it was for Jesus and his disciples.

Sure, there are some differences, but as to the basics – those traditions have been around for … well, thousands of years!

Rd Mark 14.12; what is Mark talking about? Let’s turn to Exodus 12 and see if we can gain some insight into their celebration;

You know the story: Abrham; Isaac; Jacob; 12 sons; Egypt; 400 years and enslaved; God has yet to reveal who he is to them; Moses; to lead them out of slavery and Egypt to freedom and to become a nation – a people; There have been 9 plagues – all a part of what God has been doing to show the people his power. Now, the time to lead them out has arrived – and it will come when the 10th plague hits – the death of the 1st born.

We pick up in v 1 of Exodus 12 where we see God establishing the Institution of The Passover.

I.     The Passover: An Established Institution (12-16)

exp.: rd Ex 12.1-2; Wow! A new beginning! You have right here the establishment of a new calendar! According to the Jewish Calendar, it is the year 5777!

So the calendar is created, and what is a calendar without holidays? Rd v 3-6; So dates are given: the 10th and the 14th; get a lamb; kill the lamb; rd 7; sacrifice this lamb and take its blood and put it on the doorposts and the lintel. Rd v 8-10; Roasted Lamb; unleavened bread and bitter herbs; rd v 11; So there you have it: the Lord’s Passover; 12-13;

So, this Passover is to be:

  • Celebrated: starting in v 14, we learn that this is also to be
  • Commemorated: rd v 14-15; This is a fun time for the family as the women clean the house from top to bottom to ensure that no leaven is found in the house. However, the wife will usually leave a small bit on the counter. The father walks through the house and finds the leaven on the counter and sweeps it away into the dustpan. A reminder to the children of what they’re doing. Rd v 16-17; So this week long celebration is instituted here, as a part of the Passover Celebration basically going from the 10th-21st.

app.: So, this is what is going on with Jesus and his disciples. In Mk 14.12 they basically say to Jesus: its time for the Passover Celebration. Tell us what to do to get it all ready. Rd 13-16;

  • A man carrying a jar (13): that’s pretty unusual.
  • Wherever he enters, say to the Master of the house (14). Now, 1st off, it is a holiday, Jesus could have very easily have made plans with a follower for this occasion. This could be supernatural, and I think it has supernatural flavors about it. The point here is that a place is already prepared for these men to set up shop for the night. There are still chores to be done, food to be purchased, wine to be bought.

They prepared the Passover (16). This celebration commanded by God was about to be kept and commemorated.

t.s.: And v 17 tells us he came with the rest of the disciples to celebrate. Which brings us to the 2nd part of our passage this morning:

II.    Passover: An Event to be Remembered (17-21)

exp.: rd 18a; While they are eating; Jesus would be the one presiding over the celebration. It would be during this festive time while eating this wonderful meal that the mood in the room changed: rd v 18-19; from v 10-11, we know this is Judas;

app.: Something incredible takes place here. There has been all of this symbolism during the course of the meal. And all of it has been purposeful. As we read in Mark, we get the sense that Judas is dismissed to go work his evil in v20-21.

t.s.: But Jesus, the presenter, then ties the Passover Celebration together with a new institution to be recognized and remembered by those who believe. And, he gives to us, his followers…

III.   The Lord’s Supper: An Institution to Celebrate and Commemorate (22-26)

exp.: As they were eating, he took the bread and he broke it and he blessed it and he gave it to his disciples. This he said, is my body. In the Aramaic, there would be no verb. We supply it here so that it makes sense grammatically. But to the eyes and ears, Jesus would have taken the Unleavened Bread and tore it down the middle and said: this…my body.

The Passover Meal was consumed. It was a Lamb that had been sacrificed on their behalf. They knew that God had said when the 10th plague came upon Egypt: The firstborn of every household will die tonight; however, if you’ll trust me, do this: sacrifice a lamb which shall die in your place. Put the blood on the door as a sign of this faith. And your actions demonstrating that faith in me will save that life.

Jesus says: this is my body which is broken for you. Like the Passover Lamb, you place your faith in me with your actions and my death will save you.

Rd v 23-24; There are 4 cups of wine that are used during the Seder dinner. Each cup represents 4 promises God made to his people:

  1. For rescuing them from Egypt,
  2. For freeing them from slavery,
  3. For redeeming them by his awesome power, and
  4. For a new relationship with Him.

Now, I’m no expert in the Seder dinner, but from what I’ve read, the third glass of wine is the glass Jesus would be holding when he came to this part of our passage. I’m standing here wondering what it would be like for these guys who know what is supposed to be said and done. They’ve heard this many times over and yet, they must be caught off guard as Jesus leaves the script with which they’re so familiar.

“This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. The shedding of his blood is what will redeem them by his awesome power. And then, Jesus says something very interesting: 25 Truly, I say to you, I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”

I’m reminded of the guys in Acts 23 who wanted Paul dead. More than 40 men said something like what Jesus said here in reference to destroying Paul. They said they would eat no food until Paul was dead. Well, they had to break their vow or die! And that’s the point. A vow like this is like saying: I’m going to get this done if it’s the last thing I do. Or something like: Even if it kills me, I’m going to….

Jesus is telling them here that he will give himself to die. He is going to become our Passover Lamb. His body will be beaten and whipped to shreds. His blood will be poured out as a payment for our sins.

Therefore, the one who looks to this Lamb for salvation, a new exodus will come, a new Passover will occur. And from this moment forward, he will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until it is accomplished.

t.s.: Maybe that is why he said on the cross when he was done: It is finished.

Conclusion: When we lived in Wyoming we heard a lot about the Yellowstone fire of 1988. Ashes from that fire fell down and covered our little town. Cars, houses, streets… all covered in ash.

It is interesting how life comes from death. When a tree dies, seed is spawned and there is rebirth. You can survey a hillside of ashes just a couple of months after a devastating fire and see the seedlings of many trees rising up out of the ashes.

Tim Keller tells the story of how he read in National Geographic years ago of just such life coming out of the ashes. It seems that there were some Park Rangers tasked with surveying the damage. And as they made their way up a hill, they came to the charred remains of a bird, sitting there perfectly still. The sight of this bird bothered the ranger – it seemed so eerie and out of place. So, he grabbed a stick and pushed the dead bird over – when to his surprise, three tiny chicks came out from under the shadow of her wings.

She could have flown away, but instead faced the hell that burned around her and sheltered her chicks from raging fire.

We’re going to participate in observing the Lord’s Supper and remembering Christ’s great sacrifice. If you’ve never trusted in the saving work of Christ, I want to give you a chance to do that this morning. Your prayer should be something like Psalm 57.1: Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, for in you my soul takes refuge; in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge, till the storms of destruction pass by.

Let’s pray.

You don’t have to be a member of Calvary, but you do have to be a member of the body of Christ! Also, I’d like to warn you not to enter into this time lightly. If there is any sin or rebellion or animosity you have toward a brother, please abstain from taking this morning.

Observance of the Lord’s Supper

 

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Mark 14:1-11

Title: What do you seek?

Text: Mark 14.1-11

Introduction: Our story is bookended with a typical Markan Sandwich. Two separate stories with a common theme that bookend another story which is related to them. Here, the bookends deal with the desire of the Religious Leadership to arrest and kill Jesus and a disciple who is tired of how things are going and is ready to hand him over to his enemies for the right price. The middle story – our focus, is the story of how a woman comes and anoints Jesus’ body for burial.

The religious leadership wants him dead; he says this woman’s actions are to anoint his body for burial; Judas is ready to make that happen by betraying him into their hands.

 

To tell this story, I’ve outlined this message in three scenes:

  1. An Evil Plot
  2. An Extravagant Gift
  3. An Embittered Betrayal

I.     Scene 1: An Evil Plot (1-2)

exp.: The 1st item on Mark’s agenda is to give us a time reference. Mark doesn’t do this too often in his book;

 

Have you ever wondered why Easter is different each year? Like, why isn’t it the 3rd Sunday in April or whatever? – Well, from what I understand, Easter is set to coincide with the Jewish Passover. Passover is at the 1st full moon after the Vernal Equinox – which marks Spring. V 1 tells us it was just before Passover (Exodus 12) and the Feast of Unleavened Bread.

This is important because the crowds have swelled in Jerusalem way beyond their normal numbers. 2nd, some of our theology is informed by this event. Paul helps us here by telling us that Jesus is our Passover Lamb. So, the timing here is important. Mark wants us to know what time it is.

V1 continues to tell us that the religious leaders were seeking… “Were seeking” is an imperfect verb – which indicates a repeated action in the past; Mark has told us of three such incidents in the past (3.6; 11.18; 12.12); their goal was two fold

  1. to ‘arrest’ him by stealth
  2. to ‘kill’ him.: in deceit to arrest and kill him. The word deceit means to bait or to lure.

The reason they chose not to do this at this particular time is given in v2: because they didn’t want to upset the crowds of people gathered for the Passover; they feared the people who loved Jesus and saw him as a man of God.

t.s.: So, be clear here: this is their goal and has been for some time; however, they’re not going to do this dastardly deed at this time. Nonetheless, life is continuing on as normal. There is so much going on and these guys are busy during this time of Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. There are services to be conducted. People, people, people are everywhere. And though these guys are making plans and think they’ll act on their own accord when the timing is right, God has other plans.

Transition: You might see this next part of the story as a “meanwhile, back at the ranch” kind of scenario. Let’s pick up there in v 3… I call this section…

II.    Scene 2: A Extravagant Gift (3-9)

exp.: Mean while; at the house of Simon the Leper; truth is, we don’t know who Simon is. There is a lot of speculation, but no one today really knows. Some say he is Mary, Martha and Lazarus’ father. Others say he was a leper whom Jesus healed. Truth is…we just don’t know. I’m guessing that Mark’s readers know who he was. But for us, it doesn’t really matter.

So, Jesus is at this man’s house when in walks a woman. The other Gospels which tell this story, tell us that she was a woman of ill repute. A prostitute, maybe? We don’t really know her sinful behavior. My guess is that we don’t really need to know.

I think this is wonderful. Let’s talk about you for a moment, because I don’t want to talk about me. I’d rather talk about you. Sinner. My guess is that you’re a sinner like her. Maybe your sin is different than her’s, but it is still embarrassing and nasty just the same.

Maybe that’s why Mark doesn’t tell us, because it really doesn’t matter.

So, Jesus is reclining at the dinner table (3) when she comes up to him and breaks an alabaster flask of perfume – a very costly perfume (5). As this is taking place, Jesus looks at her. But, he sees something totally different than these guys in the same room with see.

You know the funny thing about us as humans is that we often times only see the physical. Too often we’re pinned into a scenario that overtakes us in the physical realm. Physically, this should be upsetting:

  1. She is a woman. That’s a big no-no.
  2. She is a ‘sinful’ woman. Jesus, a man of God shouldn’t be consorting with such people.

Ill.: One morning, while on my way to class at UMHB – an 8 am class – I was singing a song I had been working on. I loved the chorus and was working on getting it right. When all of the sudden, this woman jumped out in front of my vehicle. I slammed on the brakes to keep from hitting her. She, begged me to help her. Her face was bleeding and bruised. Someone had beaten her severely. Her clothes were nice, but tattered from the fray.

I let her in and drove away. As we talked, I found out her pimp had beat her up. I’d love to tell the whole story to you this morning, but for now, let me just say I was so afraid. Not of her pimp! But, I was afraid of the Christians who knew me that they might see me driving around so early in the morning with a prostitute in my car!

You’re probably not thinking bad of me, because I’m telling you the story. But, would most of you not judge me if you had seen me? First, have you ever noticed that women of the night dress differently than most of the women who go to church here? 2ndly, she was not a white woman – She was African-American – a black American female.

Yes, I wanted to help her – and I did. Lisa and I were dirt poor, and we didn’t have money. But I tell you this story not because I’m proud, but because I look back on that time and wish I wouldn’t have been so worried about the Christians I might have been seen by – But instead, I would have had all of my attention on her and her needs.

App.: you see, you and I, we just can’t get past the physical aspects of our lives.

  1. The flask she has is a very expensive heirloom. It would be something that took years to make – probably passed down from family and would have possibly been her dowry…that is, if she were to marry.
  2. Its value would have been in the range of what a normal person makes in a year: a year’s wages. Let that sink in! Identify how much you make in a year. Apply that figure to this flask!
  3. It’s broken and spilled out on Christ.

These guys are thinking: What a waste! A year’s wages!

And they scold her! You see that in v 5;

Yep…I say funny… I don’t mean ‘ha-ha’ funny, but rather ironic. You and I would probably do the same, because you and I are trapped in cultural and social dimensions that we filter our experiences through. But not Jesus!

Man, to be able to see what’s going on in the spiritual realm; to not get trapped in the physical all the time. Rd v 6; And then Jesus gets to the heart of the matter; rd v 7; wow! They don’t know this, but the reader has a little insight from v. 1-2 and v 10-11; Jesus has but a couple of days left. Then, he’ll be gone. Rd v 8; burial! This must be so confusing for those listening in. And then, Jesus let’s us in on a little more… rd v 9; whenever the Gospel is proclaimed!

ill.: the word Gospel means good news. Good news. Everything we’ve been reading about is good news. The deceit of the religious leaders: good news. The frustration of disciples at the extravagant waste of this sinful woman: good news. Burial means death: also, good news.

app.: That’s the advantage of seeing into the spiritual realm!

t.s.: Well, we know from other gospels that Judas is the one who was most upset. And, from our story, his frustration spills over into life and he acts. Unable to see that God is at work here, he takes matters into his own hands. And, I call this…

III.   Scene 3: An Embittered Betrayal (10-11)

exp.: rd v 10; lit.: give over; The context tells us that frustration takes over from the waste of this extravagant gift. Judas has had enough. What we learn in the other Gospels is that he’s chairman of the finance committee! For three years he has walked with Jesus and there is no sign that Jesus intends to be the Messiah that Judas has been expecting. So, for a small sum (isn’t it odd that it all comes down to finances again), Judas agrees to betray his friend.

Transition: So the stage is set. Jesus is being set up. In this story, a sinister group of religious leaders delay plans to capture and kill Jesus. They don’t want to act on their desire to arrest and kill Jesus in front of the people.

You see, they think they’re laying out plans to do away with Jesus. I sincerely believe they think they’re doing God’s will. Little do they understand, that they really are pawns being moved by the mighty hand of God. And though they think they’ll wait – God has other plans.

Then, there is this Sinful Woman who makes her way onto the scene of a dinner party. Man, oh man, she is out of place. Women aren’t supposed to be mixing it up with men. She, however, thinks she is showing a display of her gratitude for Jesus. In her heart of hearts, that is what she is up to…but Jesus let’s us in on what God is doing. She’s anointing his body for burial. She is exercising her will, but accomplishing God’s will.

Judas thinks he is … well, I don’t really know what is going on in the head of Judas! He’s obviously frustrated at how things have turned out. He’s follow Christ for three years with the hopes that this really is the Messiah of God. So, he takes matters into his own hands – so he thinks. If you think about it, he is accomplishing the will of God, too – unbeknownst to him.

Conclusion: You see, in all of this, God is working out his plan…his perfect plan. And he’s using all of these people in his play…His Story.

As I look at this story with all of these people acting on their own accord, thinking they’re doing something according to their own plans, I realize that in all of their ‘doing’ they really have no idea what God is up to or that God is even up to something.

Application: I’d like to close with some questions for reflection:

  1. Do you know that God is up to something in your life? I have no idea what some of you are enduring right now. But can I encourage you to not see your life through the physical realm (like these guys did), but instead, to trust that God is at work in the Spiritual Realm just out of sight. My guess is that God is up to something absolutely incredible in your life that will bring Glory and Honor to himself through your circumstances. I think of Henry Blackabee’s Words: Don’t just do something, stand there!
    1. Why? Because you don’t want to work against God. 1st of all, you’ll fail! 2nd, I’m sure you want to be on the right side.
  2. Do you worry too much about what others think or about what others do – and not enough about what God thinks or what God is doing?
    1. The Chief Priests and Scribes worried about what the people thought.
    2. The Disciples worried too much about this woman’s wastefulness.
    3. Jesus doesn’t appear to be worried about any of it.
  3. What are you searching for? Our story is bookended with this one word: They were seeking and he was So, let me ask you again? What are you searching for?
    1. For the religious leaders, they were seeking to save their power over the people.
    2. For those listed in v 3-9, they were seeking financial gain, upset over this lavish waste poured out on Christ.
    3. Is it money or is it power, or is it more like what Judas appears to be going through? Can I encourage you to focus in on this ‘sinful’ woman? She is seeking to be with Christ. She takes what would be considered her future and destroys it – pouring it out on Christ.
    4. So, I’ll ask you one more time. Think deeply now: What are you searching for?

 

Let’s pray:

 

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Mark 13

Title: Lord, When?

Text: Mark 13

 

Introduction: Temple Destruction; Mount of Olives; When and What

 

I.     A Comparison of Mark 13 and Revelation 6&7

Mark   Revelation Seals: Open; Come; colored horse; job
13.5,6 1.      I am he; lead astray 6.1-2 1.      Crown, Conquer, Conquering
13.7,8 2.      Wars, rumor of wars; nation against nation, kingdom, etc. 6.3,4 2.      Take peace; slay one another; sword
13.8b 3.      Earthquakes, famine, 6.5,6 3.      Scales, food expensive
13.8c 4.      These are the birth pains 6.7-8 4.      Death; by sword; Pestilence; famine; wild beasts
v9-13 5.      Persecution arising from their witness and the Gospel 6.9-11 5.      Martyrs are slain for the Word of God and their Witness
14-23 6.      Great Tribulation 6.12-17 6.      Great Tribulation
24-27 7.      The Return of the Son of Man 7.1-14 7.      In heaven, these coming out of the Great Tribulation
28-31 8.      The Parable of the Fig Tree and its Lesson    
32-33 9.      Keep Alert; Keep Awake    
34-37 10.  The Parable of the Journeying Master: Keep Alert; Awake    

 

II.    A Caution against End Times Predictions (13.5, 32)

exp.: rd v5-6, 32; I find it interesting that some non-signs are: earthquakes, famines, wars, false messiahs, persecution. These things will happen leading up to the end, but they are not the end! The 1st thing Jesus does in Chapter 13 is to say you’ll see these things, but don’t be alarmed. This is not the end!

ill.: Rd v 5; Caution:

  1. William Miller, October 22nd, 1844
  2. Harold Camping, May 21st, 2011 And again, October 21st, 2011

Rd v 6; David Koresh; Jim Jones

ill.: There is a really big push for the stars and planets aligning in September 17th-23rd, 2017. It starts with a major Solar Eclipse on the 21st of August 2017. Folks in WY will be able to see it get totally dark!

app.: But if I give you these dates, what do you know?

t.s.: We don’t know the day nor the hour; rd v32;

III.   A Call for Watchfulness (13.28-37)

exp.: with two lessons: The Lesson we learn from the fig tree And, the Man going on a journey.  I think this is a call for seeing the signs of the times. Verse 30 is a tough verse for many. Rd v 30;

There are quite a few scholars who hold to Mark 13’s teachings to be all within that particular generations events. There were wars and famine and earthquakes in that generation. They were persecuted and turned over to councils and governors and kings to witness for Christ. Many were betrayed by family. They would understand the abomination of desolation to have occurred in 70 AD at the fall of Jerusalem and Judah. Pompei was in 70 AD. They saw Christ on the clouds in his ascension to the father. What a display of power and authority. I think many who are what we call Amillenial would say that generation saw the Kingdom ushered in and the church age is the reign of Christ. Pre-millenialist would say no. That is a literal 1,000 year reign yet to happen.

Personally, the outline I gave to you from Revelation is what I believe is happening here – is what Jesus is teaching here of the end times.

ill.: If you wonder if I’m A-millennial or Pre-millennial, it would depend on what time of the day or even what day it is! I go back and forth regularly. An A-millenialist will argue with me and I’ll be, oh, yeah. I can see that. And a pre-millenialist will defend his view and I’ll be like, Oh, Yeah, I can really see that!

app.: What does bother me is those people who get mad and act like you’re going to hell buddy if you don’t believe like me! Stay away from those people. Here’s my final word. I reserve the right to chose when I’m in the air. Until then, I guess I’ll just keep vacillating between the two. Besides, I’m guessing both groups will be in heaven!

t.s.: So, what will we take home with us, today?

Conclusion: As I stand here today thinking of what I hope you’ll take with you as you walk away from these facilities today, I want you to know the following:

Application:

  1. People get ready! Jesus is coming! Soon we’ll be going home.
    1. If you’ve never surrendered you life to Christ, I urge you to do that right now. You have no idea if your life will end or if Jesus will return. Either way, when that happens, it will be too late! So, get that right today.
  2. Here’s what you can be sure of: Christ will return victorious. And for those of you who think I’m standing here a fool. That’s ok. Christ will come and vindicate his people. And I don’t look at that like: ha-ha, I told you. It breaks my heart to think of those who will miss out because of pride or selfishness. The Scripture teaches that one day – every knee will bow before him and confess that he is Lord. Why not do that in victory? I’m pleading with you not to do that in defeat – for then, it will be too late.
  3. Brothers and Sisters in Christ. Let’s not grow weary in well-doing. Oh, I know you’re tired. I know the time seems to get long. Hang in there, my friend. The joy that waits you is beyond what words can possibly describe.

 

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Mark 11:38-44

Title: Israel: a place where God is still at work

Text: Mark 11.38-44

Introduction: Let’s begin with the transition passage of 13.1-2 the end of our passage this morning and the beginning of next weeks message. Rd 13.1-2.

I remember standing on the Mount of Olives last year looking out over the Temple Mount. The Temple itself is no longer there. As Jesus prophesied, the Temple was torn down and the mount leveled – the stones themselves thrown down. In its place the Islamic community has placed a mosque, the Dome of the Rock and other buildings.

Just below the mount, we were taken to an area where folks would make their way toward the entrance to the Temple. Shops and stores outlined the way in – and you can see their remains. The street below has massive divots; I guess that is what you’d call them. These divots were made when the huge stones where pushed over the side of the Temple Mount. (See pictures).

This little passage is a transition from the theme of the Temple – which we’ve been studying in Mark since the New Year – to a look at the eschatological teachings of Mark. Starting next week we’ll begin looking at the end times through the monocle of Mark’s gospel.

Now, let’s go back to the start of our passage Mark 12.35-37

In 35-37, we find the 6th of six controversy stories. Each controversy story is building upon the questioning of the authority of Jesus (why he taught what he taught and did what he did). Jesus has cleansed the temple, running out the moneychangers and declaring its end. He cursed the fig tree for its failure to produce fruit as a symbol of the curse upon this temple and its leadership. It was to be taken away from these leaders and it would be destroyed. He would become the New Temple – the chief cornerstone.

This story differs from the other five because Jesus asks the religious leaders a question they can’t answer. In the first controversy story, Jesus asked them a question, too. The difference here is in the fact that they could answer the first question – they just chose not to do so because they feared the people. Here, they can’t answer because they have no idea what the answer is.

You and I know the answer. We’ve got the benefit of 2,000 years of church history to help us. Rd 12.35-37

Mark knows and he’s teaching us this truth: that

I.     The Son of David is the Son of God (35-37)

ill.: this past week during my morning readings, I was reading in 1 Kings 5.5 where Solomon says: And so I intend to build a house for the name of the Lord my God, as the Lord said to David my father, ‘Your son, whom I will set on your throne in your place, shall build the house for my name.’ Solomon is quoting from 2 Samuel 7.13. I’m sure he understood God’s promise to be for him and his responsibility to build God’s house – the 1st Temple. Which was true and which he did. However, the prophecy was not for him alone. Going back to 2 Samuel, there is the promise of this throne standing forever and the Son of David – not Solomon, but Jesus would be the one who would be a Temple. Ephesians teaches us that ‘we are that temple’. We’re the Body of Christ. We’re the Temple of Christ.

exp.: In John 2.19 John records a conversation between Jesus and the religious leaders: 19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” Mark 14.58 records the false testimony about him: 58 “We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and in three days I will build another, not made with hands.’ ”

In our text, Jesus quotes David; rd 12.36; The religious leaders know this passage in Psalm 110.1. They understand it to be Solomon that David is talking about, but they also know that this is a prophecy of the Messiah. Jesus then asks them; rd v 37. That’s a great question. You and I are in a very unique place in history where this makes perfect sense to us. We know this is Jesus. These guys didn’t know what we know. Listen to Strauss in his Exegetical Commentary of Mark: Jesus’ Davidic descent is deeply rooted in the tradition and has been positively affirmed in Mark by Bartimaeus’s cry (10:47–48) and, by implication, at Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem (11:10). The point must therefore be that the Messiah is more than simply a new David or heir to the Davidic throne, (which was) the traditional (scribal) expectations for the Messiah. Jesus is saying that this Messiah is more than a descendant of David. Mark is continuing to build upon his thesis that Jesus is the Son of God. Matthew takes Mark’s story and let’s us in on what he must have been thinking. Read Matthew 22.41-46; “Whose son is he?” He is God’s Son – The messiah is a descendant of David, but he is also uniquely the Son of God.

exp.: That has been Mark’s focus throughout his whole Gospel. Mark 1.1: The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. and again in 1.11: 11 And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” The demons and the unclean spirits declare it in 3.11: You are the Son of God. And again in 5.7. In 9.7 upon the mount of transfiguration God declares again: “This is my beloved Son; listen to him.” Jesus has implied in 12.6 when he teaches them through the parable of the vineyard when the vineyard owner says: He had still one other, a beloved son. Finally he sent him to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ But those tenants said to one another, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’ At the very end of the gospel in 15.39 when Jesus dies on the cross: 39 And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!”

app.: Sure, he’s David’s son, but he is so much more. The Son of David is a Messianic title. But he isn’t just a descendant of David. He is God in the flesh. This is an important tenant of our faith. Jesus was indeed fully human, born of a woman. He lived and died as a human. But Mark wants us to see that Jesus is so much more than mere flesh and blood. His purpose in writing this book is to communicate to us that Jesus is fully divine – God, come in the flesh: 100% fully human and 100% fully divine.

t.s.: The Son of David is the Son of God. Therefore,

II.    The Son of God has the authority to remove the religious leaders because they have abused their authority. (38-44)

exp.: watch out; as in a warning; the word translated in the ESV as like is the word for want or wish. It describes their inner thoughts and inclinations. It exposes their intensions. The external part, yes – it all looks good. But Jesus knows their internal workings. He knows the thoughts and intensions of the heart. Rd v 40;

Now something interesting happens. As we’ve seen from the Master before, he is so good at using visuals to teach (like the fig tree). So, He takes his disciples to a place across from the treasury where people are coming in and giving their contributions.

Rd v 41; I’ve heard it taught that some of the wealthier people would arrange for their offerings to be made. There would be a large production made of it, with trumpet blasts and an entourage to escort them to the moneybox. I couldn’t find any evidence of that and even if that was the case periodically, there is no proof that such a show was being put on here.

The Mishnah teaches that there were 13 such offering boxes set up in the Temple area. So Jesus is sitting across from one such place. rd v 42-44; This verse has been used so many times as proof of the call to give sacrificially. But I don’t think that is what Jesus is doing here at all.

The context of the passage is all about The Temple and the Authority of Christ and the irresponsibility of the religious leaders abusing their power. Note the widows are mentioned in v 40; I think that’s our connection.

app.: You see, here is this poor widow. She brings two small coins that equal a penny to the moneybox. She could have used that money. This is just wrong! The religious leaders should have given that woman back her coins and more with it. They should have been looking out for this widow. Instead, they’re living the life high and using religion to justify it. They’ve been abusing their position of authority for way too long. We don’t have time to look through the minor prophets’ writings; however, time and again, God warned these leaders to quit killing and eating his sheep. They were supposed to care for the sheep. rd v 44; She has nothing now. That’s their abuse.

app.: shame on us as leaders for ever guilting the poor into giving their last dime for our projects. How many grand and majestic edifices tower across the United States as monuments to the work of men and yet, having been built by fleecing the poor. It’s easy for me to look at preachers and evangelists on radio and television who have built empires at the expense of the poor. These men and women own multiple mansions and massive amounts of property; and the nicest jets!

Some of you from time to time ask me about preachers on TV. Chances are, if they’re on TV, I have a pretty dim view of them. One such preacher is Creflo Dollar. I’ve made it a policy not to criticize preachers. That’s not my job; however, it is my job to warn you of shysters who would love to steal your money for their gain.

Ill.: He has long been criticized for living a lavish lifestyle; he owns two Rolls-Royces, a private jet and has raised another $65 Million to purchase another jet, and real estate such as a million-dollar home in Atlanta, a $2.5 million home in Demarest, New Jersey, and a $2.5 million home in Manhattan, which he sold for $3.75 million in 2012.

As I think of men like Creflo, I’m reminded of v 40b; They will receive the greater condemnation.

I told you I don’t like to criticize other preachers. I don’t want to. But you need to beware of men and women on TV asking for your money.

But I don’t get off scot free! I’ve got to take a serious inventory of my intensions and motives. It’s the religious leaders Jesus is talking to here. That’s me. I know that.

t.s.: in 13.1 they are leaving the temple proper when one of the disciples notes the beauty and grandeur of this magnificent structure. He’s looking at the physical plant, but Jesus wants him to see into the future.

III.   A Glimpse of what is to come (13.1-2)

exp.: I don’t know if they’ve missed what’s been going on or just what has led to this moment. But Jesus tells them plainly what is going to happen here. rd v2; They leave and cross the valley to the Mount of Olives. There Jesus and these two sets of two brothers approach him and ask for more details about the end times.

We’ll look at these teachings of Jesus next week.

Conclusion: So, what do we take home with us today?

Application:

  1. We have to be careful about the context of Scriptures when reading. In the last few weeks we’ve come across some popular Scriptures that are often taken out of context.
    1. 24: asking God for whatever you want
    2. 41-44: Sacrificial giving

Scripture taken out of context can be used in any selfish way you want. But that is a very scary thing. I’ll refer you back to 12.40b – they will receive a great condemnation

  1. The theology of Mark teaches us that Jesus is Lord. It’s what we confess when we are saved: Romans 10.9-10; there are many who understand Christ was a good teacher and that he lived a good life. But don’t think that is all. Mark wants us to come to terms as the Centurion did: Truly, this was the Son of God.
  2. The theology of Mark teaches us that Jesus is still in charge – just as he was then. I’ve wondered why the Prime Minister of Israel gave the Temple Mount back to the Arab world after capturing it in the Six-Day War. Israel repelled a surprise attack and was victorious causing great humiliation for the Egyptian and Syrian leaders. Many of them resigned their posts in humiliation. But then, in a strange turn of events, to bring peace between the people – the Israeli Prime Minister gave the Temple Mount back to the Muslims! Israel had been unable to return to the Temple Mount for 2,000 years. Now they marched right on in and then, just gave it back! There must have been tremendous excitement and another tremendous let down. But, here’s what I do know. God is working his plan to perfection. He knows what he is doing.
  3. I’m just curious, but is there a group of people who would like to go to Israel with me? It’s an odd invitation, but I’d love to return and spend a little more time in certain places. If you’d like to plan a trip with me, let’s talk. I think it would be fun to plan a trip to see the places we read about in Scripture.

Let’s pray:

Invitation.

 

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Mark 12:13-37

Title: Not far, but still too far

Text: Mark 12.13-37

Introduction: we are in the midst of a sermon series on the authority of Christ. The larger series begins in chapter 11 and concludes at the end of mark and it deals with the last week – The Passion Week –of Christ. Our story begins for us in 11.1 where Jesus enters Jerusalem triumphantly on the colt of a donkey. This is a picture of the Messiah seen in the OT. If the series is about the Authority of Christ, then the temple is the theme throughout chapter 11 and it is the place where the confrontation between Jesus and the religious leaders begins. It is here at the end of chapter 11 Jesus is confronted by the religious leaders as to what he’s been doing and why he’s been doing it. Who does he think he is? They want to know what authority he thinks he has and by whose authority he does what he does.

In Chapter 12 Jesus explains his authority in a parable, the parable of the tenants. This parable clarifies to the religious leaders that Jesus is telling them that they have been irresponsible with the authority granted them by God and that authority is now being taken away. Furthermore, not only is their authority being taken away, but Jesus is the authority of a new temple that is being built. And, Ephesians teaches us that we as believers are the new temple being built in Christ. And by the way, Jesus is the authority at that moment – they just reject him.

Beginning in 11.27 we read 6 controversy stories. The 1st two were covered last week. We’ll cover the next 4 today. And that’s a stretch, because the last one I will tie in next week with a message on the abuse of power by the religious leaders. We’ll spend more time on that passage next week, but it is included in today’s sermon.

These next four controversy stories

  • Tribute and Taxes
  • Marriage and the Resurrection
  • The Great Commandment, and
  • A Riddle: is David’s son the Son of David?

These 4 stories all deal with the religious leaders confronting Christ. The 1st two here are produced out of evil intent. They want to trip him up, so to speak. The 3rd appears to be more off the cuff or spontaneous and out of curiosity. This 3rd passage shows us that not all of the religious leaders were hostile to Jesus. In the 4th story, Jesus takes the initiative and asks them a question – a riddle really. It appears to stump them for they can’t answer him.

Transition: So let’s work our way through each story. 1st, making note about the oddities and contradictions in each one. Then, we’ll tie it all together at the end and presents some application for us today. 1st we begin with

I.     Tribute and Taxes (13-17)

exp.: rd v 13; the context of they is found in v 27; they sent them (Pharisees and Herodians) in order to trap him; them are two groups: the Pharisees and the Herodians; that’s weird! Note the oddity here:

  1. These two groups were on opposite sides of the political spectrum. The Herodians, named after Herod the Great, were huge supporters of the government. The Pharisees hated the interference of the government.
  2. 2ndly, notice their flattery; rd v 14; this may be true, but it isn’t what appeals to these guys! This flattery is extremely odd when you consider 3.6; they want to destroy him and they’re willing to come together, set aside their differences to defeat a common enemy. They hate him, but butter him up with flattery. It is a good thing that he isn’t moved by their flattery! Rd v 15a; he saw through their façade! Q.: why is this hypocrisy?
    1. Well, 1st because they just said he isn’t moved by these things, but we’re going to do just that! That’s talking out of both sides of your face.
    2. 2ndly, Rd 15b; one of them pulls out a denarius and hands it to him. Now, if they are so against the monetary system, isn’t it hypocritical to use it for their own personal gain. That they would even have one in their possession is hypocritical. They condemn these coins because they have an image on them; namely, Caesar. And yet, these Jewish leaders will use the very thing they condemn because it benefits them. You see that in v41-44;

exp.: and his answer is in line with the wisdom of Solomon. Render: it basically means to give back to Caesar what is his and to God that which is God’s.

app.: That’s is so insightful! With one answer he appeased both groups. They thought he would pick a side and alienate either the people or the government. V17 says they marveled at him!

t.s.: my guess is it is pretty hard to impress these guys. Nevertheless, they are. So group two steps up ready to pounce and trip him up with a question about

II.    Marriage and the Resurrection. (18-27)

exp.: rd v 18; Mark is informing his Gentile readers who wouldn’t necessarily know the philosophy and theology of Sadducees just what the contradiction or oddity about this confrontation would be. He tells us straight out: these guys don’t believe in resurrection from the dead. In Acts 23.8, Luke tells us a little bit more about these guys. For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, nor angel, nor spirit, but the Pharisees acknowledge them all. They didn’t believe in these things because these were all apart of the afterlife, which they didn’t believe in.

  1. They understood Sheol to be the grave. And that was that. No afterlife. Annihilation.
  2. They only accepted the Pentateuch as Scripture. That’s what makes v 19 interesting – it comes from what they hold to: the teachings of Moses. They have no problem in their doctrine with v 19-22.

So, they didn’t believe in the resurrection. But look at what they say in v 23;

Do you see what they’re doing? They’re making fun of that doctrine – the resurrection. How silly they think it is and to prove it, they use what they do believe to make silly what they don’t believe.

Jesus answer: rd v 24; be careful now, your ignorance is showing! With the previous two groups Jesus answered in a very clever way. With these guys, he shoots straight. “You’re wrong and here’s why: You don’t know Scripture and you don’t know the power of God!” In v 26 he uses the Pentateuch, their Bible to refute them. He didn’t say I was the God of these men, but I am… meaning, present tense – they’re alive with me now. In v 24 he said they were wrong. In v 27 he says they are greatly wrong!

  1. You’re wrong because there is a resurrection.
  2. You’re wrong because there is no marriage – we’ll be like angels in the resurrection and they don’t marry!
  3. This is so cool, because Jesus affirms for us the existence of angels! – Of which they don’t believe! Psalm 91 says God commands his angels concerning the protection of his people. Jesus refers to them in Matthew 18.10 as guardians over children.

t.s.: having put these previous groups in their place, Mark notes a scribe who is taking this all in and is impressed with Jesus and his answers. He very boldly steps up and asks Jesus about

III.   The Greatest Commandment (28-34)

exp.: in v28 it reads lit.: Which commandment is the first of all? That means the first in priority. Jesus actually gives him two – and in order: The Shema, in Deuteronomy 6.4; and Leviticus 19.8; If you think about it, these two commandments sum up the 10 commandments. The 1st 4 deal with loving God and putting him in his rightful place in your life and the next 6 deal with your parents and your neighbors. This man’s heart appears to be in the right place and his intentions non-threatening. He’s probably a good man. My guess is that he lives this teaching out in his own life. You see that in how he responds to the answer Jesus gives; rd v 32-33;

But Jesus isn’t impressed with this man’s encouraging words; rd v 34;

ill.: this story mirrors the story of the rich young ruler found in Mark 10.17-22; good – Jesus is making a point here that his goodness isn’t enough; and in our story this morning, Jesus tells the scribe that he’s close, Oh, so close – but close isn’t going to cut it. Being close doesn’t get you into heaven.

t.s.: that fact is illustrated in this last controversy story:

IV.  Is the Son of David David’s son? (35-37)

exp.: rd v35-37; Jesus is clarifying for them that the Messiah is not going to be like they’ve expected. He will be different. This is important because he isn’t going to be like the Pharisees, the Herodians, the Sadducees or the Scribes. In 38 and following he then warns everyone there not to be like them at all because the Messiah won’t be like them.

t.s.: in the sermon on the mount Jesus warns that if your righteousness doesn’t exceed that of the Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven

Conclusion: his point is simply this: being good isn’t enough – you have to be perfect, and perfection isn’t something we can achieve on our own. You see, you and I are imperfect, filled with imperfections. The Bible calls this sin. Romans 3.10 says that there is none righteous, no not one. And it goes on to say in 3.23 that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. You see, the glory of God is his perfection. No sin, No blemish, No failure, No mistakes, No wrongs. Perfect.

A lot of folks think that getting in to heaven is possible by simply being good – like the rich young ruler or the scribe in our story today. If you ask them: if you were standing at Heaven’s Gate and God said to you why should I let you into my heaven. Their answer would probably be, “Because I’m a pretty good person.” “I’ve obeyed the 10 Commandments–all of these I have kept since I was young.”

However, scripture is very clear: for by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, Not a result of works, so that no one may boast. There are two parts to this I’d like to focus on: 1st, grace is something that is received – not achieved! You cannot work hard enough to gain it, you cannot achieve some position to gain it; you are absolutely powerless on your own to receive this salvation. However, the Bible says that this salvation is the free gift of God. It is something you receive – that’s Grace.

Faith is something you do. A lot of folks think that faith is simply mental assent– Meaning you simply Believe something in your mind. However, Faith requires action. Let me illustrate it this way: if you jumped out of an airplane wearing a parachute, just because you had that parachute strapped to your back, it doesn’t mean you would land safely. No, each parachute has a ripcord. And the parachute will not deploy unless you pulled that ripcord. That’s what faith is: it is when you act. When you surrender your heart to Christ.

Romans 10.9-10 illustrates this so beautifully: because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. There are two parts: internal and external.

Application:

  1. While on earth, we have a great responsibility to live within the rules established by our government. I think that is true as long as they don’t conflict with the rules and laws God has set for us. As for taxes and tithes… keep that in mind. This world belongs to them, but I have to live here. That is there road out there. If I want to drive on it, I’ve got to get a license, register my car, carry insurance, pay taxes to fix their road, etc. But as for the things of God – don’t get so wrapped up in this world that you don’t render unto God the things that are God’s.
  2. Scripture is our authority and guide. We can’t be like the Sadducees and limit our theology only to the parts that we understand or that we can live by. We must abide by the whole counsel of God. It is the standard for our faith.
  3. Don’t trust in your own goodness to save you. Put your faith in the work of Christ, who died on the cross of Calvary to pay the penalty for your and my sin.

If you’ve never committed your life to Christ, I want to give the chance to do that right now.

 

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Mark 11:27-12:12

Title: Governed by Fear

Text: Mark 11.27-12.12

Introduction: We’ll be in two texts this morning, so, keep your marker here in Mark 11.27 and use another marker to bookmark Psalm 118. We will look at other passages, too, but these two (Mark 11-12; Psalm 118; Isaiah 5) we will turn to.

In the passages before our text this morning, Jesus has ridden triumphantly into Jerusalem as the people shout out a phrase found in Psalm 118; you see it there in Mark 11.9-10; Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! 10 Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!” As we covered a couple of weeks ago, this is huge! They’re acknowledging him to be the Savior, the promised Messiah, the King who is to come in the line of David. Turn with me to Psalm 118.25-26 and read the reference to their shouting.

The other gospels record the religious leaders consternation over this event. Jesus then enters the temple and surveys the grounds; all very anticlimactic. The next day Jesus curses a fruitless fig tree as an analogy of Israel and her fruitlessness. He then takes action by cleansing the temple of the moneychangers and teaching the people the purpose behind his actions. The Jews were supposed to be fruit bearing – they were supposed to be a light to the Gentiles, showing them God. Hence, he runs them out of the temple because they’ve made it into something that never was God’s design. The next morning, when Peter sees the withered fig tree, Jesus teaches them about what has happened and how they should pray concerning the temple. They should pray in faith because of God’s faithfulness. Peter astonishingly notes the withered fig tree and Jesus gives the glory to his father.

Following these events, Jesus enters triumphantly on Sunday. He surveys the temple that evening and heads back out of town. On Monday he cures the fig tree and passes judgment on the temple and their leaders. On Tuesday Peter notices the withered fig tree and Jesus stops and teaches his disciples about prayer and forgiveness with a focus on the faithfulness of God. They continue into Jerusalem to the temple where the religious leaders are waiting for him.

Right a way we see there is: A Problem.

I.     A Problem (27-33)

exp.: rd v 27-28; It appears the chief priests and religious leaders have been waiting for Jesus to returned to the temple. They immediately confront him as they see him walking in the Temple area with two questions concerning his authority and his right to do what he had been doing (cleansing the temple; teaching about Isaiah’s prophecy). Jesus could have very easily said “from heaven.” But, he doesn’t. Instead, he positions himself as the teacher and they the students. He responds to their question by asking them a question in return. This is a form of teaching the rabbi’s used in that day. This question, I think, contains the answer they’re looking for. Rd v 30;

ill.: When I was a kid, my dad would teach me like this sometimes. I’d ask a question and he’d respond with a question. I’d answer his question and he would say, “Well, there you go. You have your answer.” And my answer to his question was the answer to my question. Like, I already knew the answer; he would just guide me to it. I had a mentor as a young man named Gary Patton. I remember Gary doing the same thing.

app.: Jesus doesn’t give these guys a question they cannot answer. No, he gives them a question they refuse to answer. Their refusal shows their rejection of him. The answer they’re looking for is in the correct answer to the question Jesus asks. His authority is from Heaven – the very throne of God! But, these guys wimp out. So, Jesus leaves them hanging and tells them he isn’t going to answer their question either.

t.s.: And then, in a subtle way, Jesus begins speaking to them in parables.

II.    A Parable (27-30)

exp.: rd v 1; Now these religious leaders go to Isaiah 5 in their minds. They know that story well, I’m sure. Let’s read it together so that you might understand what is going through their minds; turn to Isaiah 5.

This story is a little different, but the parallels are obvious to them. see v 12; The story in Isaiah presents a master who creates a vineyard. He does everything necessary to provide for and protect it. He cares for it greatly. The problem is that the vineyard only produces wild grapes; nothing of value. In the story Jesus tells, it begins much the same way: there is a master who creates a vineyard. He does everything necessary to provide for and protect it. He cares for it greatly. But then this story takes a turn; this story is about those who’ve been left in charge of the vineyard. The tenants refuse to give the master his fruit. The master sends servants who the tenants reject. They beat them and mistreat them, and some they even kill.

The religious leaders know this story well. It is their story. Prophets were sent by God to Israel, but they were beaten and mistreated, and even killed. Now, the Master has sent his own Son, but him they will treat the same. He will be rejected, beaten and shamefully mistreated. He will suffer cruel punishment by those he has come to save. And they will kill him to keep what they see is theirs.

Rd v 8-9;

app.: now this alone should upset them; but look at what Jesus does next; he quotes from Scripture to give context to his parable.

t.s.: let’s look at that passage as quoted in v 10-11

III.   A Passage (31-34)

exp.: Rd v 10a; Have you not read; the meaning here is more like: Surely you have read but never understood! And he quotes Psalm 118.22-23 pretty much verbatim; rd 118.22-28. Here is a prophecy of the coming King – God’s Messiah. Seeing the temple is the context of this entire passage, Jesus must be saying that although they are casting him aside, he will replace the old temple and become the cornerstone of a new temple.

app.: He must be saying that He is the ‘someone else’ the vineyard will be given to! And they are the one’s losing out! They observed it in the Temple, when he cleansed it. They’ve heard it in the parable being taught to them. Now they’re being given context. Jesus is the stone they’ve rejected and tossed to the side. Their rejection will be complete when they kill him. But what they cannot realize, even though Jesus has just told them, is that he will rise again and become the cornerstone to this new temple.

t.s.: You and I know this story, I’m guessing. At the very least you’re vaguely familiar with it. As I read through it again in preparation for this morning’s message I asked myself why…why did these guys behave like this? What is it about them that caused them to respond like this? I believe the answer is in v 12, as well as 11.18 and 11.32. rd 11.18; 32, 12.12; they let fear drive what they do and don’t do.

IV.  Addendum: Fear (11.18; 32, 12.12)

exp.: This isn’t really one of the three points this morning, but really more of an addendum. What is it about fear that drives people?

  • Fear of failure
  • Fear of losing
  • Losing money
  • Position, prestige, or power.

I think when it comes down to it this idea of authority is a sub-theme or topic running through this passage. Obviously, the temple is our context. And, within this context we have the question of who is in charge. That’s why they confront him. They’re upset in 11.18 because of his actions in the temple, but they don’t approach him. They’re afraid of him. They wait until the morrow and approach him as he enters the Temple. They ask Jesus a straight forward question, but he turns the tables on them by asking them a question. They don’t answer him publicly though, because of their fear of the people. And here again, their fear directs their actions. They’ll finally come at night in a few days to do their dastardly deed. By approaching him, their statement is: We’re in charge here and you don’t have the right to do what you’re doing! But Jesus lays it out for them very clearly: You think you’re in charge, but you have failed time and again. I’m in charge. And I’m about to do some miraculous things!

Conclusion: throughout the rest Chapter 12 the religious leadership will do what they can to trip Jesus up. They will test him and quiz him and he will show them to be the frauds they are. And fear will rule them as will be demonstrated through their actions.

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

  1. The Grace and Great Patience of the Father. How great the Father love for us; how vast beyond all measure. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. 2 Pet. 3.9
  2. The Responsibility to Fruitfulness. We have all been harsh judges of Israel and their failure. We’ve stood in judgment against Israel’s leaders. Yet, are we any different? I want to put a plug in for tonight’s evangelism training. It is from 5-7pm. We won’t go visiting tonight; it is only the orientation. Our 2nd cycle of training will start March 19th and go through the end of April. My dream is that everyone here would be able to stand up and articulate the Gospel to someone else.

Ill.: John Meador told the story of his staff, some 70 folks going to some evangelism training for a Metroplex-wide event. The teacher had come to show them how to share their faith and to clearly communicate the gospel. He asked them if there was any among the 70 who felt a fear of sharing the Gospel. None raised their hands. Silence. He was surprised. He asked again. No one raised a hand. He was like: You mean to tell me that no one here is afraid to tell someone else the Gospel if they needed to hear it? One lady raised her hand. He was like thank you…you’re afraid that you won’t be able to articulate the Gospel to a lost person. She said, “No, I just felt sorry for you.” A leader stood up and told the teacher there that the pastor had made sure everyone there was able to communicate the Gospel.

App.: Wow. What a great example for the rest of us pastors. If I were to ask you now: What are the four components of the Gospel message? Would any of you stand boldly and tell me? Well, if you’re curious, I’ll be sharing them on Sunday nights. If you’ve not signed up, see me after the service so I’ll know you’re planning to be there.

  1. Christ is vindicated as the Son of God and the new temple. This passage reminds us that Christ is vindicated through his suffering and resurrection! He is cast aside by these builders, but now has become the cornerstone – chosen by the Father for the New Temple. Eph 2.21f teaches us that we, the believers, are this new temple. 19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. 22 In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.
  2. Judgment awaits those who reject Christ. While Application point #1 is true, that patience will one day run out. And, for those who’ve rejected Christ, judgment awaits. I urge you today, if you’ve never received Christ as Lord, let today be the day.

Here’s the Gospel story in a nutshell. Let me illustrate it this way.

God’s Character

Offense of Sin

Sufficiency of Christ

Personal Response

Eternal Urgency

Life Transformation

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Mark 11:11-25

Title: Nothing But Leaves

Text: Mark 11.11-25

Introduction: In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. At the time, he created all that was. Within his creation, he created a garden. He created a man and a woman and a placed them in the garden to tend it. He loved them and provided for them. The relationship they had with him was perfect. The fellowship they enjoyed in this relationship was perfect.

You know the story: He gave them one stipulation concerning the fruit produced from the garden. All was there to enjoy except the fruit from one tree. Well, they failed. Innocence was lost and fig leaves were sown together to cover their nakedness and shame. God came calling in the evening, but they had hidden themselves. Their former glory was gone. They stood there before God covered in shame and nothing but leaves.

Transition: In Mark 11.11-25 we find another story of innocence lost. As Adam and Eve had rebelled against God, so had Israel. Both he considered his children; Both he loved and provided and cared for; and both ended up in the same condition.

The flow of the story is quite natural, yet hard to understand. There are three stories in a row that are filled with controversy. Some folks would want you to think that the first story is about Jesus losing his cool and taking it out on a poor tree. The 2nd story follows suit and we find an upset Jesus throwing tables around and running people off from the temple. Finally, we see him telling the people that if they would just have faith in God, they would receive “whatever you ask in prayer”. Simply, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. Wah-lah!

Nothing could be further from the truth! And because of this false doctrine, so many have missed what is being taught here.

For example: I found this in Strauss’ Exegetical Commentary of the NT on Mark: Bertrand Russell, in his essay “Why I Am Not a Christian,” singled out this passage for criticism: “This is a very curious story, because it was not the right time of year for figs, and you really could not blame the tree. I cannot myself feel that either in the matter of wisdom or in the matter of virtue Christ stands quite as high as some other people known to history.”

So, how can we begin to understand what is being taught here? Well, 1st, let us begin with looking for a common thread that runs through the greater story line. I believe that common thread is the temple. We see it in v 11, 15, 23, and 27. So the key to this passage is the temple. If we will not isolate each story, but rather view them as one narrative, we will find some context to help us better understand Mark’s goal here.

So, let’s put our theory to the test. Just because a word is popular or appears multiple times in the text doesn’t necessarily mean that it is the focus or the theme. We have a fig tree in this 1st section. Have we ever seen a fig tree or figs in general used in a story or a parable or an analogy in other places in Scripture? The answer is simply: yes. And when we do, we understand it to represent Israel.

So with this in mind, let’s outline this as point #1:

I.     Jesus makes an example out of the fruitless fig tree. (11-14)

exp.: He simply uses it as an example of Israel. Let’s not look at this through our 21st Century lenses, but rather, try to see and understand as they would.

  1. The culture: the fig tree had two seasons; an early and a late; the late season was harvest. The figs were ripe and plump at that time. The early season was in the spring. The figs were not as plump and ripe, but did produce a blossom that was edible and sweet. Isaiah refers to this in 28.4: The proud crown of the drunkards of Ephraim will be trodden underfoot; 4 and the fading flower of its glorious beauty, which is on the head of the rich valley, will be like a first-ripe fig before the summer: when someone sees it, he swallows it as soon as it is in his hand.: Hosea 9.10; Micah 7.1; Nahum 3.12;
  2. The language: in Gk, there is no right order to the words. You identify the subject and verb by their endings and prefixes. The most important word in the sentence is usually the first word. When translating this sentence, I think it is best understood with a simple relocation of words. Look at v 13: 13 And seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to see if he could find anything on it, for it was not the season for figs. When he came to it, he found nothing but leaves. Here is a tree that shouldn’t have leaves because it is too early in the season; however, it does! And this tree, in producing big beautiful leaves, has no fruit; when at this time, there should be these big green leaves, green blossoms along with the leaves.
  3. The analogy: The fig tree is analogous of the Israel, it’s Temple and it’s leadership; this will become apparent as the story plays out. For now, see it this way: Jesus sees a tree that should have some fruit. He gets there and sees this big, beautiful tree, but no fruit. And he thinks to himself: Man, that is so like Israel! This big tree becomes teeny, tine when seen in the shadow of the great temple next to it. And that’s where we want to place our focus.
  4. The curse: You might call this foreshadowing. His curse is passing judgment up on Israel. Again, this will become clearer as we make our way through the story.

t.s.: The disciples don’t know this yet. They are witnesses to what has just happened, but they don’t see the bigger picture yet.

II.    The Cleansing of the Temple isn’t really a cleansing at all. It is instead a warning of the coming Judgment (15-19)

exp.: rd v 17; there are two main OT passages Jesus is drawing from in this verse; Isaiah 56.6-8 and Jeremiah 7.1-15; Claudia, in Easyworship there is a place to bring up these Scriptures. Isaiah 56.6-8

“And the foreigners who join themselves to the Lord,

to minister to him, to love the name of the Lord,

and to be his servants,

everyone who keeps the Sabbath and does not profane it,

and holds fast my covenant—

these I will bring to my holy mountain,

and make them joyful in my house of prayer;

their burnt offerings and their sacrifices

will be accepted on my altar;

for my house shall be called a house of prayer

for all peoples.”

The Lord God,

who gathers the outcasts of Israel, declares,

“I will gather yet others to him

besides those already gathered.”

  1. Jesus is passing judgment against Israel for their lack of evangelism toward the Gentiles.

Prior to this event, the market for Temple activities was on the Mount of Olives. As recently as 30 AD, which is the year some say Christ died, the religious leaders moved the market into the Court of Gentiles. Gentiles could convert to Judaism, but they could never enter the Temple. Jewish women could go further into the Court of Women. Jewish men could go even further into the Court of Men. Only the priest could enter in the Court of the Priests where all of the activity was. The men could see and the women could struggle to see, but Gentiles stayed outside. And that was never God’s plan. Cf.: Numbers 15.14-16; Leviticus 22.18-25; here is what is so amazing about this: The Jews never did this and they found themselves scattered to the nations in Exile. Then, after the return of the exile, there was an international witness for them to tell of God’s great mercy. And Jesus is telling them that they failed in this, too.

  1. Jesus is passing judgment against Israel for thinking that they were saved simply because they were Jews.

Turn to Jeremiah 7.1-14; Jesus, by making reference to this passage, is clearly telling us what he is doing. By casting them out, just as Jeremiah said he would, Jesus is identifying who he is as Messiah and passing judgment on Israel for her failure. Her failure is that her religion became her focus and identity.

Here is Mark’s point: We find that the fig tree becomes analogous to the Temple in that: The temple was no longer functioning as God had intended by being a house of prayer for all nations; in other words, it was this big, beautiful tree filled with leaves, but produced no fruit;

Application for us: Warning: there is more to this ‘religion’ thing than just form and function! The prime motive in this place called the temple is the glory of God. It is the difference between a heart that has a passion for God and a people who gather to honor God only with their lips and they want a big, beautiful, comfortable place to do it.

t.s.: the fig tree is an analogy of Israel and her failure and the curse Jesus places on it is the judgment of God against her for her failure.

III.   What were they to do about Israel’s failure and the judgment of God upon her? Jesus Calls them to Faith, Prayer and Forgiveness (20-25)

exp.: My first thought is of the misuse of this passage and others like it. Many preachers take v 24 and isolate it from the context. 24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. A false teaching presents a false hope and leaves people believing God is either not there at all or he is aloof and uncaring. So how do we frame our context? To begin with, I want to point you to one word that really helps us narrow our focus in on the context: it is the demonstrative pronoun found in v 23: this.

  1. This mountain: The temple mount; so, the prayer requests presented to God should deal with the temple in particular. This will be huge for the men standing there. Within another 30-40 years, this temple will be destroyed. Jesus is telling them how to pray.
  2. Have faith in God. in v 22; a literal understanding of this would be: you have the faithfulness of God. In other words, it isn’t your faith that accomplishes this, but it is God’s faithfulness to fulfill all that he has planned. Yes, we must have faith and many times we’re commanded to do so. But I think what Jesus is saying here is that the agent of faith is God. It isn’t us. He is faithful. And from that, we’re commanded to trust him. Read it this way: Wow! Check this out Jesus! The tree you cursed yesterday is withered down to the root! How can this be? Jesus then replies: you have the faithfulness of God. Really, when you think about it – that is the only explanation we need. That is why we pray according to the will of God. Not my will be done, but your will be done. That’s why you don’t pray whatever you want and it’ll be done for you.

app.: Your prayer life will be dramatically improved and become all the more powerful if you’ll add context to your prayers. Stop praying for God to feed your flesh here on earth and begin praying for God’s will to be accomplished in your life.

In our story this morning, the temple had become an object for the people. It no longer brought glory to God. Ladies and gentlemen, people don’t look at your facilities and stand in awe of God. They look at your facilities and stand in awe of your facilities.

Reflection: I wonder how many people passed that same fig tree and wondered aloud at the beautiful leaves on that tree. I’m guessing there were more people who saw the tree and thought of some small piece of fruit to enjoy – only to be disappointed to not find any.

ill.: I love trees. They bring so much beauty to a place. But in the time of Jesus, trees were not simply used for aesthetics; they served a purpose. Trees produced fruit, which was used by the people. No fruit, no purpose. If there was no fruit it was taking up the space of a tree that could produce fruit. Cut it down and put in a fruit-producing tree. Jesus even uses this exact explanation as a parable in Luke 13.

app.: So, let me land this plane: the temple had become a fruitless, leafy tree! And Jesus is passing judgment against Israel because of it.

t.s.: This is the stuff of nightmares (i.e.: being covered in beautiful leaves and producing no fruit).

Conclusion: So, how does this apply to us?

As a church and as believers we’ve been called to produce fruit:

  1. In keeping with repentance.
  2. The fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
  3. The fruit of other believers: How are you doing in this? As for me, not so good. I’m assuming by the state of our baptismal, that your attempts at producing the fruit of other believers is not so good either. Either one, you’re not attempting or, two, your attempts are failing. I hope to change that. (Invitation to CWT; we’ll meet every Sunday night for six weeks in 2 cycles). Sunday nights from 5-7 pm. Would you pray about joining us.

 

  1. We must be regularly producing fruit.
  2. In this pursuit, our focus must be the Glory of God. Paul David Tripp: If in your heart you have abandoned God’s glory, then with your life you will always forsake his plan. If this place is anything more than just a place we meet for worship and discipleship…then we’d better sell it and move out!
    1. Our focus and identity must never be found in this facility. Who we are and what we do must be found in Christ and Christ alone! This place is just where we meet.
    2. I don’t think buying and selling is inherently wrong. Their practice of buying and selling animals was set up by God, but they perverted it! The Temple had become a place of commerce and not a place of worship. But if this place becomes the end in itself, and not a launching pad for evangelism, then we are in danger of becoming a big, beautiful, leafy, but fruitless tree.

Pray: Oh, God…make us fruitful. Give us souls. I’ve prayed before for 100 souls here. In 2017, give us 100 souls. Oh, God, forgive me for that… Forgive me for limiting you to only 100 souls. Oh Holy Father, will you start with just one… give me one soul to count as fruit. Let us as Calvary see that 1st piece of fruit on the vine. Please, I beg you, don’t let us be like that fig tree. We don’t Jesus to talk to us like he did that tree.

 

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Mark 11:1-11

Title: The Bigger Picture

Text: Mark 11.1-11

Introduction: It has been a while since we last looked at Mark, so let me begin with a little reminder of our outline. Mark is set up in three movements. Chapter 11, verse 1 begins the 3rd movement. In part one, the early ministry of Christ was covered (1.1-8.21). From 8.22 to now the topic has focused in on Christ making his way to Jerusalem. He has been very forthright with his disciples in these chapters about his purpose and intent. Listen to 10.33-34 – “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death and deliver him over to the Gentiles. 34 And they will mock him and spit on him, and flog him and kill him. And after three days he will rise.” Here in Chapter 11 Jesus arrives at Jerusalem. Verse 1 begins, Now when they drew near to Jerusalem, to Bethphage and Bethany, at the Mount of Olives…so Jesus has arrived.

I think back to the experience of the transfiguration on the mountain with his three closest disciples. He spoke with Elijah and Moses. We don’t know what was said, but it got the job done. That picture, of Christ up there on the mountain with those two superheroes of the faith, shows us God’s Son – beloved of the Father and worthy of our obedience. “This is my beloved Son; listen to him.” He is the promised one – the Messiah of God. Peter even recognized and confessed it.

And now, after walking up that long hill from Jericho to Jerusalem, Jesus has only days to live. In less than a week, he will be dead. He will be crucified on a cross and the dreams of the disciples and those who followed him will be crushed. Peter will weep over his failure. The disciples will scatter like fish at the site of a shark. Jesus will be hung between two thieves and breathe his last. Two secret admirers will come and take his body. They will hastily prepare it for burial and they will bury his body in one of their tombs.

Surely this isn’t on their minds. But, it must be on his. This section is called the Messiah’s Suffering. Mainly, because he won’t just die for the sins of man – He will be punished and suffer greatly in our stead. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God…

This passage is another miraculous event and it is just another day. It begins with

  1. Instructions for some of the unnamed disciples as they prepare to enter Jerusalem. It moves to …
  2. The Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem with a parade of admirers and those hopeful that the King has now arrived.
  3. And it will conclude a very anti-climactic scene: Jesus, walking around the Temple grounds and it being basically empty, because the hour was late and the crowds had dissipated. This anti-climactic scene will be the calm before the storm.

Let’s look a little closer to these three parts of the opening scene – 1st at

I.     The Instructions (1-6)

exp.: this 1st phrase tells us that he has arrived; remember, he’s been on the way to Jerusalem for some time. The phrase has been used as a reminder of the task at hand. Rd v 1b; Jesus sent; the Gk word for which we get Apostle; they were commissioned with a task; rd v 2;

  • Enter into a specific village – probably Bethphage or Bethany, but it doesn’t really matter;
  • At that entrance, there is a specific foal; this word is generally used with horses; however, it was common to use that title for donkeys and other animals. It is the same in English. We use words for certain animals interchangeably. We know this is the foal of a donkey because the other gospels are specific in their terminology. But there is more: Mark doesn’t say this, but his readers in the 1st century know some things we don’t. More on that in a moment. Notice the specifics from the Messiah here – not just a colt, but one that has never been ridden – on which no man has ever sat. More on that in a moment.
  • Untie it
  • Bring it

Now, that would have been pretty cool if that were all that happened. Jesus would have told them this. They would have found it that way. Period. But there is more. Rd v 3;

  • See that 1st word if? Often times in English, if is used to show potential or that something is possible (If it rains, you might want to have your umbrella with you). However, this is a bit different. This word in the original language shows us that something is probably going to happen – not that it might, but rather you should expect it. In other words, you should expect someone to ask you what you’re doing. Simply tell them: ‘The Lord has need of it and will send it back here immediately.’ ”

The question often arises, who is ‘Lord? in this sentence: God, Jesus or the owner? Lord, can also mean master or sir. Well, Luke clues us in that the person here who speaks is indeed the owner – so it is’t them. It must be in reference to the Lord, Jesus.

Rd v 4; No surprises here; rd v 5-6; again, no surprises; things go as Jesus told them.

app.: So the guys complete the mission they’re sent on and they bring the colt back to their Master.

t.s.: He is now going to ride this beast of burden (little fellow as he is) into the city; This scene is most famously called:

II.    The Triumphal Entry (7-10)

exp.: rd v 7-10; Why did they do this? Why this reaction? Well, for Mark’s readers, they recognize something amazing is happening! Note the allusions to Christ’s Kingship.

  • This is the fulfillment of the promise, the prophecy in Zechariah. Zechariah 9.9 – Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. They’ve been watching and waiting for this moment. Mark wants us, his readers to identify that this man on this donkey is indeed the promised Messiah of God.
  • 2ndly, we saw it in relation to Solomon. When it looked like an older brother was trying to make himself king, David ordered Solomon to be taken and anointed as King and to ride his mule with people shouting praise. That of course, was before the prophecy in Zechariah, but it casts a light – so to speak – upon our story and gives us flavor for what this King of Israel will do. Solomon is the son of David. Jesus is the Son of David. The anointing, by the way, will come in 14.3.
  • There is another allusion here from the OT. Maybe. I’m not sure, but it looks that way. Genesis. 49.9:

                     9         Judah is a lion’s cub;

from the prey, my son, you have gone up.

                        He stooped down; he crouched as a lion

and as a lioness; who dares rouse him?

                10      The scepter shall not depart from Judah,

nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet,

                        until tribute comes to him;

and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.

                11      Binding his foal to the vine

and his donkey’s colt to the choice vine,

                        he has washed his garments in wine

and his vesture in the blood of grapes.

  • One more: there is an ancient practice known as angaria (an-gar-ee-uh). This is the power a king has to take from his people what he needs, when he needs it. Samuel warned the people of Israel when they asked for a king: 10 So Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking for a king from him. 11 He said, “These will be the ways of the king who will reign over you: he will take your sons and appoint them to his chariots and to be his horsemen and to run before his chariots. 12 And he will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and some to plow his ground and to reap his harvest, and to make his implements of war and the equipment of his chariots. 13 He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. 14 He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive orchards and give them to his servants. 15 He will take the tenth of your grain and of your vineyards and give it to his officers and to his servants. 16 He will take your male servants and female servants and the best of your young men and your donkeys, and put them to his work. 17 He will take the tenth of your flocks, and you shall be his slaves.” Is this an allusion to Christ’s Kingly Authority? I don’t know for sure, but it is something to think of.

app.: Here’s where I’m going with this: Mark wants us to see that Christ is the promised, coming King. There is no need for the Messianic Secret anymore. The secret is out. He da man! Not only do Mark’s readers discern this, but the people in the story do, too. Throwing out their palm branches and their coats – giving Jesus the red carpet treatment – celebrating Christ coming – the King has arrived! No wonder the religious leaders get so upset with Jesus.

exp.: What a day it was! The people gather and create this – parade, this fanfare for the one they think is coming into Jerusalem to be King. He is, but not like they’re expecting.

I wonder what it was it was like for the disciples as they walked along the parade route with Jesus on the colt. The Scripture says that there were people in front of him and people behind him. rd v 9a; I wonder how the disciples are taking this all in as the people shout (rd v 9b-10); Hosanna! Translated it reads Save, we pray! Truer words were never spoken! He saves! By this time in history, Hosanna had become a common shout of praise. But the rest of this verse cries out that they knew! Here is the Son of David…echoing Blind Bartimaeus’ cry at the end of chapter 10.

Transition: Things have gone as planned – just as Jesus and the prophets have foretold. But look what happens in v 11; I call this part:

III.   The Calm Before the Storm (11)

exp.: rd v 11; what? All that and he just walks around looking at the Temple area like some tourist? What did he come to do? Wasn’t he supposed to start…doing something? The other Gospels jump right into the questioning by the religious leaders and throwing out the moneychangers. There is the turning over of the tables and making a whip and cracking it like Indiana Jones. No! None of that! He just walks around, taking it all in. The implication here is that it is late and the people have all retreated to their homes and places of lodging.

ill.: Most people come here to church and there are folks here. It is rare that they come and find this place empty. It is odd, when we’ve been in this place and so much has been going on, and everyone leaves. There is only silence and presence of items demonstrating that people were here and now they’re not. It is quiet; peaceful, yet lonely. No, Jesus isn’t some spectator or tourist. He’s been here before. No, this is a special moment.

ill.: If Jesus had walked the 18 or so miles uphill to Jerusalem from Jericho, the hour would indeed be late. J.T France, as quoted in the Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament of Mark: What happens in the morning will not be a spontaneous act of outrage, but a planned demonstration.

app.: it is quiet, but it is the calm before the storm. I picture the unkept and untidy rooms and halls of a place that had just hours before been packed with people and activity. There is nothing left except the wind that blows gently and turns over some unwanted, discarded trash. Maybe there is a Levite or two finishing up their cleaning and preparation for the morrow. But in this place, there is silence. I assume it is a time of contemplation and thought.

t.s.: This short passage is so like life.

Conclusion: We walk with the Master and he summons us to his service. He knows all about what we’re doing and what he is doing through us – even if we don’t see it. In the midst of our service there is so much uncertainty – so much we know nothing about. And yet, we serve. We give. Unknown to us is the big story – the bigger picture. There are times of work – times of celebration – and times of calm, peaceful existence. And through it all, God is at work. In our story here, God is bringing the work of Salvation to a close. In just a few days Jesus will say: it is finished. He will exhale and surrender his body to death.

Application: I’m not sure where you are at this point in life. For GLYW folks, the day is probably just a moment to breathe. Last night you probably experienced the lull of the crowd dissipating into the night and the remnants of the papers and trash left behind. Maybe you’re in awe of what God has done. Maybe, this morning, there are folks here who are in work mode – you’re deeply involved in a ministry task. Maybe you’re by chance, celebrating success. The crowds have been cheering and life appears to be absolutely wonderful.

Wherever you are, don’t miss what Mark is teaching us. The place you find yourself is but a dot on the line of time. There is a bigger story line unfolding just out of sight. God is at work bringing Glory to Himself.

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Mark 10:46-52

Title: The Son of David

Text: Mark 10.46-52

Introduction: We’ve reached the end of this section in Mark. We’ll hear a wonderful story this morning and that will bring the ministry movements of Jesus to an end. Chapter 11.1 and following will bring us to the Triumphal Entry and the passion week of Jesus.

Really the timing is perfect. I didn’t plan it this way. I’m grateful God interceded and worked it this way. Next week we’ll enter the Holiday season. So the break is perfect. With the New Year, we’ll pick up the passion week. Maybe. I’m leaning that way, but have some other ideas, too!

Today we’re in Mark 10.46-52. In 10 chapters, Mark has shared with us very little of the three years Christ has walked with his disciples. That’s right: 10 chapters, 3 years. Mark has been intentional. He has written with purpose and direction. Do you remember the melodic line of Mark? 1.1; 1.11; 3.11; 5.7; 8.31; 9.7; 10.45; 15.39

Jesus is the Son of God. He is the Messiah. He is the fulfillment of all OT prophecy. Mark will bring us back to this again in today’s story. I’ve outlined it this way for continuity and flow:

  1. The Setting
  2. The Conflict
  3. The Climax
  4. The Resolution

Transition: So, let’s open up the story in v 46 where Mark presents the Setting.

I.     The Setting: Who, What, When, Where (46)

exp.: rd 46a; 46 And they came to Jericho. Matthew and Luke tell us so much more that happened around here. What comes to mind for me is Zacchaeus – the wee, little man, who climbed up in a sycamore tree. Matthew also tells us that there were two blind men. Here, Mark only tells us of one; rd 46b; Why this little discrepancy? Well, I don’t think it’s a big deal. My guess is that Bartimaeus, or his father Timaeus, became prominent figures in the early church. Mark would have used his name because the early church would have identified them. He does so with Rufus and Alexander.

I think this is good for us. Usually, we just hear of a blind man, or a leper, or a demon possessed man; however, these are real people with real names. If we never saw Mark and only had read Matthew and Luke, we wouldn’t look at this blind man as closely as we do. But this is a reminder that these people are real people – real parents, with real struggles.

We don’t see the other blind man here, but we know of him from the other gospel. What was his name? Who were his parents? What is his story?

We need to remember that when we reach out to help people – they’re real people. Don’t dehumanize them. Don’t belittle them. God is choosing to use you and me to minister into their lives.

app.: As the setting here unfolds we learn the who, what, when, and where of the story.

  • Who: Jesus, his disciples, a large crowd, a blind beggar named Bartimaeus.
  • What: Jesus is passing by with this large crowd and there is a blind beggar sitting just off the road.
  • When & Where: As Jesus is leaving Jericho. Only the cross is now before him. He’ll walk up that long hill – 15 miles or so – and face the cross.

t.s.: that is the setting. Mark will outline for us now the conflict of the story…

II.    The Conflict: Bartimaeus can’t reach Jesus (47-50)

exp.: rd v 47; What’s all this commotion? He wouldn’t know, he can’t see. Someone tells him it is Jesus, of Nazareth. Or, maybe he just hears it come from the mouth of someone near.

Freeze.

By his reaction, he knows this moment is fleeting. He knows what Jesus can do – but he hadn’t even imagined that he would be in Jesus’ presence. Or maybe he had dreamed, but never thought it possible. Fantasy, yes, but reality… no. He must have heard the stories – the ones we’ve covered in Mark 1-10. He must have heard the stories that fulfill Isaiah 35.5-6: 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.

(Go through Mark mentioning the stories): He must have heard and He must have believed what he had heard.

Can you imagine the adrenalin rush – the panic not to let this moment pass! He’s been sitting by the road that leads in and out of town. He would hear someone coming by and ask… beg for some help. Suddenly, a large, energetic crowd passes outside the walls and spills into this area where he is sitting. The crowd is noisy. What’s going on? It’s Jesus…of Nazareth! He would have to scream it loud enough to be heard! Kyrie Eleison! A cry of the Psalms: Lord, have mercy on me! Here he cries out “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

So, here’s the conflict:

  • The Crowd Separates – he can’t jump up and run over to Jesus – he doesn’t really know where Jesus is within the crowd. He can only cry out. Now, this isn’t on purpose. They’re not trying to be mean to him. These are just the circumstances in which he finds himself. He can’t jump up and walk along with the crowd. He’s blind. So, this 1st Conflict is the crowd separates him from Christ.

Let’s continue reading in v 48: and the crowd, moved with compassion helped the man up and brought him to Jesus. Is that what it says? No! What did they do? rd v 48: they rebuked him and told him to be silent! Here is the 2nd Conflict…

  • The Crowd Silences – This is on purpose. They rebuke him and tell him to be silent. Why? I don’t know.

I wonder if this is because there is this beggar on the side of the road. Passing on the road there is the coolest, most popular person in the entire Holy Land. A blind beggar on the side of the road…well, that’s a nuisance. An eyesore. An embarrassment. He’s just sitting there on the side of the road with his cloak across his lap and on the road, so people can put their money in it. I don’t know this, this is just how I’m picturing it.

And they want to silence him. But he isn’t deterred. rd v48b; “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Jesus must hear him. rd v 49a; now why? What was it about the cry that got his attention? I think it was the phrase: Son of David. We’ve not seen this anywhere else in Mark – at least not to this point. We’ll see again in chapter 11.10 at the Triumphal Entry. And, Jesus will bring it up when he stumps the Religious Leaders in 12.35 – during the passion week leading up to the time they kill him. But up to this point – Mark hasn’t used this title.

It is a special title referring to the Messiah. That is the point Jesus makes in 12.35. The Messiah. The Messiah would come and do some very special things. Like what I referred to in Isaiah 35.5-6: 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. But most people are thinking of these statements – they’re thinking of the military ruler who will sit on a throne.

Ill.: I’ve just begun reading a book on prayer. It interested me because this book deals with prayer in the Bible. Right now I’m in the Pentateuch and prayer in the 1st 5 books isn’t praise or worship or really even intercession, but ‘calling upon the name of Yahweh’. Prayer changes in the NT to calling upon the name of Jesus. There is a connection here from Yahweh, the Father to Jesus, the Son. Different, Distinct and yet, the same.

From the beginning, Yahweh has promised to correct what was made wrong in the Fall. Creation – chapter 1; Man – chapter 2; the Fall Chapter 3 – and in the Fall, God promises restoration. As Scripture plays out, we begin to understand this One who will come and make things right will be the Messiah. He will be like his earthly father – that is from his line, his lineage – King David.

My guess is that as Jesus leaves Jericho and begins his first steps up that long incline, those who are thinking of what it will be like at the top of that hill, know nothing of what it will be like – what Jesus knows is going to happen.

Son of David! That’s different. Rd 49a again through 49b: 49 And Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart. Get up; he is calling you.”

I’m guessing the sound of the crowd died down a bit as they come to a stop and Jesus asks for Bartimaeus.

Look at his response: rd v 50

I don’t know if he used his cloak to collect money. I don’t know if there was even any money in the cloak. But whatever, it didn’t matter. He cast it aside! The only other time this word is used in the NT is in Hebrews 10.35: 35 Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. You have a picture of someone discarding or casting aside something that is valuable.

app.: But not anymore! Now the only thing that matters is getting to Jesus. There are so many things we have in out lives – that we think we need – until we come to Jesus. And if you’re not a Christian, you won’t get this… But when Jesus calls us, those things lose their value – and they don’t really matter that much anymore.

t.s.: Well, that’s the Conflict – now let’s look at the Climax of the story…

III.   The Climax: Jesus heals Bart (51-52a)

exp.:  rd v 51a; interesting – this is exactly what he just asked the Sons of Thunder. Their problem was they were asking for prestige and power and position. He isn’t asking anything of the sort. Rd 51b; He just wants to see again. That’s the word used here, to inform us that he wasn’t born this way. Maybe he has cataracts…or, who knows. I only know from this word here that he lost his sight at one point and he wants Jesus to restore it. Rd 52a; And just like that…Jesus heals him. No spittle. No “wash in the pool”. Jesus didn’t put his thumbs over his eyes. He just spoke. And really, it appears that he healed him even before he spoke! Go your way; your faith has made you well.

t.s.: Well, the Resolution is short and sweet…

IV.  The Resolution: Bart is healed and follows Christ (51-52a)

exp.: rd 52b; immediately, his sight is recovered and he follows Christ.

ill.: isn’t that what real discipleship is?

For by grace you have been saved through faith

  • Grace – unmerited favor. A gift. Not achieved; Not earned; Not warranted. Just freely given.
  • Faith – that element of action on the part of the one who believes. With your mind and with your soul and with your whole heart you know… you just know… and so you act. That’s faith.

And this is not your own doing; it is a gift of God; not by works, so that no man may boast.

t.s.: It is amazing to me how these two work together (Grace and Faith).

Application: So, what will we take home with us today? What have we learned from our lesson?

  1. God calls us to love real people with mercy and compassion. I love that Mark tells us his name, Bartimaeus. And, that he tells us his daddy’s name. This makes him real for us. He is someone; not to be cast aside or seen as an embarrassment. Remember that: people in need are just that – real people, with real needs. Maybe Christ is bringing that person into your life for a reason. Maybe Christ wants you to stop what your doing – even though it might be really important – and display some mercy and compassion toward that person. I think this takes insight and discernment. Pray for it.
  2. Jesus is the Messiah of God. I find it interesting that this Blind beggar could see who Jesus really was…Son of David. And yet, many others who had sight were blinded to who he really was. I’m thinking of the rich young ruler and even at how the disciples have been lately – dull. Maybe that is a goal of Mark’s here – to contrast these people and show us that Jesus is the promised Messiah – the Son of David.
  3. True discipleship is characterized by persistent faith.
    1. Think of the men who had to dig through a roof to get to Jesus;
    2. Think of the woman who fought through a crowd to touch the hem of his garment.
    3. Think of Jairus must continue to believe Christ, even after his friends have come and reported to him that she was gone – no need to trouble the master any longer;
    4. Think of the father concerned for his son who cries out – help me in my unbelief;
    5. Think of a blind man who cried out at the top of his lungs, even when he had been repeatedly rebuked and silenced by the crowd.

 

Invitation: to respond to this grace through your faith

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