Category Archives: Mark

Mark 4.26-34

Title: A Word of Encouragement

Text: Mark 4.21-34

Introduction: Farmers have always amazed me. I must say Farmers and Ranchers. My grandpa was a farmer – a sharecropper. Mr. Wade owned the property and my grandpa would farm his land. The produce paid his rent, helped him make a living. As far as I know, my grandpa worked the land until he died at the age of 75 in 1978. Farmers are hard working people. They rise early and work all day. I suppose there might be lazy farmers out there, but I’m guessing they don’t remain farmers for very long.

Ill.: If you haven’t seen this video from Cindy, I highly recommend it!

I think it is the work ethic that amazes me. Usually there is always something to be done. When that work is done, attention is put somewhere else. Something needs tending. Something else needs repair. There are errands to run, equipment to maintain, etc. etc. etc.

The life of a farmer is hard. He must work like it all depends on him, but in the end, he must pray like everything depends on God. The farmer has no power or control over the weather. He can’t make it rain; He can’t cool off the hot summer days; he can’t stop a freeze from hitting. He works, He prays, He waits.

I think often times the Christian life compares to the life of a farmer. For sure, the life of a pastor compares. He works the soil of the soul, but he cannot produce a single convert. There are so many adversities he faces – and he has no power or control over them. We both simply work like it all depends on us and pray like it all depends on God.

We’re in Mark 4 this morning and our topic comes from the agricultural theme of planting and harvesting. Mark 4 contains three parables concerning the Kingdom of God. The three parables have the same subject of seeds but are about large harvests. In the 1st parable, this seed is the Word of God as brought by Jesus, the sower. And, when the seeds are sown, the receptive soil results with large numbers (30, 60, 100-fold). These next two parables deal with the nature of the Kingdom of God and the abundant harvest it yielded. Having covered the 1st parable already, we’ll cover the next two in this section.

A quick note about triplets: Mark seems to like them. There are three types of soil that are non-receptive and non-productive; and, there are the three results of the fertile soil. There are three parables concerning the seed. In chapter five, there are three miraculous healings. There are more, I’ll leave that for you to research and share with us on Wednesday night.

Our focal passage (4.21-34) is broken down into three parts: Part one has two sayings by Jesus, analogies, if you will (21-25) and we looked at that last week. Parts two and three contain two parables concerning the seed (4.26-34). We’ll look at these together this morning. The two parables are a continuation of what he started up in 4.1. The three parables are the seed being sown, the seed being grown and the results being shown.

In chapter 4 there are two different audiences being addressed in different locations at different times. The chapter moves between the public speaking by the sea to a huge crowd and the smaller, more intimate conversations of Christ with his disciples. By the time we get to the end of the chapter, we’re back to the larger crowd by the sea. (Note v 11, 13, 21, 24 – And he said to them. However, in v 26, it changes).

What we have when we break this passage down is a word of encouragement – an exhortation. The Light of Christ isn’t to be hidden. God himself, will bring the growth and that growth will be exponential in degree.

Transition: We looked last week at the analogies he offers his disciples in v 21 and v 24. The point being made was that… #1:

I. The Light of Christ is not to be hidden. (21-25)

Transition: So this 1st word of encouragement Jesus shares with his disciples is The Light of Christ is not to be hidden. Now Jesus moves back to the parables. Here, Jesus offers us a 2nd word of encouragement:

II. God Brings Growth to His Kingdom (26-29)

exp.: read vs. 26-29;

ill.: I’ll never forget traveling to the Shepherd’s Conference in California some years ago and hearing Dr. John MacArthur preach from this text (v26-29). Did you know that this parable is contained in no other gospel? You’ll find it only here in Mark. In the first parable, Jesus spoke of the different types of soil the seed is sown in, among, or upon. That parable taught of the different types of soils and their receptivity to the seed. Here, Christ teaches of the seed and its innate ability to germinate and develop on its own.

The teaching is straightforward and simple: The Word of God (seed) has the ability all on its own to bring about growth and success. The Word of God is powerful and effective. It can accomplish so much on its own. It is the Word that is heard and it, all on it’s own, brings about the change, the growth, and the fruit. Two Truths we learn about the Kingdom’s growth.

Truth #1: There is a mystery to this growth. Only God knows what he is doing.

app.: We’re told a man scatters seed. Then, he works; night and day, he sleeps, he rises, he works, he sleeps, he rises, he works – he goes about his daily life working the soil. The seed sprouts and grows – and the man knows not how. The man sows, he works – but what we learn here is that the results are not up to the man. There is a mystery surrounding the process. The results belong to God. And here we learn a 2nd Truth.

Truth #2: There is a certainty to this growth.

The 1st word in v 28 is the Gk word for which we get our English word automatic: αὐτομάτη. Lit.: Automatically the earth (ground) bears fruit.

Herein lies another great teaching moment: It isn’t up to you to make the seed germinate. It isn’t up to you to make it sprout. It isn’t up to you to produce a blade, a stalk, a stem, the grain. Your job is simply to sow the Word, work the soil and let the seed do what seeds do when they’ve been planted in the soil of another’s soul. And v 29 tells us that there will be a harvest: that sown seed will grow and bring about a tremendous harvest. Rd v 29;

I think there is an apocalyptic feel to this verse. V 29 sounds very much like the book of Revelation. Revelation 14.15f: 15 And another angel came out of the temple, calling with a loud voice to him who sat on the cloud, “Put in your sickle, and reap, for the hour to reap has come, for the harvest of the earth is fully ripe.” 16 So he who sat on the cloud swung his sickle across the earth, and the earth was reaped.

I must stop here and say I believe this day is close. I also believe that many who are here will experience this in our lifetime. I know, I know, I must sound foolish to many. A couple of thousand of years have past and it hasn’t happened. This year, Israel celebrated it 71st birthday! It was in May of 1948 that Israel became a nation…again. After nearly 2000 years of non-existence, Israel came home and declared her independence. I believe our time to do this work is short. And I believe it is going to get harder.

Now, Back to our story: In one sense, yes, this sounds singular. You sow the seed of God into a person’s heart. They hear and all on it’s own, by its own work, the person is saved. The seed reaps fruit. But in another sense, the kingdom of God is sown among a people – and all on it’s own it grows. It starts with a man from Nazareth. He is homeless and simple. He picks a few followers – a rag tag group of men: a zealot, a tax collector, a traitor, a kid, and some fishermen. It grows – and we don’t know how, but it will grow into something tremendous and huge.

t.s.: And that really is the lesson of this last parable in v 30-33; Our 1st Word of encouragement is: To let the Light of Christ Shine. The 2nd word of encouragement is to know w/ certainty that God will bring the growth. #3…

III. Growth of the Kingdom will be Exponentially Incomparable (30-33)

Warning: this should be our prayer – Lord, bring this growth exponentially for us! But not for… all of these wrong reasons (so our church gets bigger; so we have the finances to do what we want to do; etc.).

exp.: rd v 30; rd v 31-32; now, there are those who have said the Bible can be disclaimed at this point, the mustard seed, is not the smallest seed in the world. Let me note for you that Christ’s goal here isn’t botany. It isn’t to teach agricultural principles. Christ’s purpose here is to teach on the Kingdom and to illustrate these truths from what the people already know. Here, Christ takes a proverb that was very common to them. He takes them from where they are and what they know to where he wants them to be. That’s what every good teacher does. In their ancient sayings, in one of their own proverbs, they knew of this mustard seed and how small it was compared to the tree it would become. It was in many common gardens. It looks like shaking pepper into your hand. And yet it becomes this tree. Amazing!

I know there are questions here. I will address this issue Wednesday night. I’ll take the time to demonstrate for you why this makes sense outside of our 21st Century, western philosophy thinking. – But don’t miss the point: a very little seed produces a tremendously huge plant. – We see that for the individual. We see that for the Kingdom.

When Christ came the 1st time, he taught and preached and healed. It was small at first, but his 2nd coming will be different by far. He will come in power and glory. One day, people from every tribe, tongue, nation, people group will be gathered around the throne. Myriads upon myriads of people will be worshipping around the throne of God. How small it once was. How magnificent it will be.

Conclusion: What a great word for us today. You may be struggling today in your walk, in your faith. You’ve worked long and hard and it feels like you’re not getting anywhere. It may feel like you’ve failed even. Listen, don’t give up and don’t give in. I’m reminded of how Paul encouraged the Galatian believers:

 Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.

Therefore, let your light shine before men. Don’t hide it! God will use it to bring growth and an eventual magnificent harvest. Remember what William Carey said: Expect great things from God; attempt great things for God.

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Mark 4.21-25

Title: Expect Great Things from God; Attempt Great Things for God

Text: Mark 4.21-25

Introduction: It is William Carey who said: Expect great things from God; attempt great things for God. The father of the modern missionary movement was an amazing man. He practiced just what he preached: He expected God to do great things and he attempted to do great things for God.

I’m guessing that William Carey understood the texts we studied last week in John and the call or command to bear fruit and continue the works of Christ. He had a deep comprehension of the symbiotic relationship between obedience to Christ and love for Christ. If you love me you will…

We’re continuing our study in Mark 4 this morning. And, as we look at our text (Mark 4.21-25) we’ll see that same connection: There is something unique in the way we work as if it all depends on us, but God is the one who accomplishes the work.

Mark 4 contains three parables concerning the Kingdom of God. The three parables deal with seed in some context. In the 1st parable, this seed represents the Word of God as brought by Jesus, the sower. More specifically though, the 1st parable is about the responses to the Kingdom of God as seen in the soils. These next two parables in verses 26-34 deal with the nature of the Kingdom of God. Having covered the 1st parable already, we’ll cover the next two next week.

But something interesting happens in the midst of the parables of the seeds: Jesus gives an analogy. You might see it as two, but I think it is one and the same.

You probably see it as the illustration of the lamp and the challenge to ‘measure’ it out to others. But just how do these fit together?

Let’s look a little closer at what Mark is telling us. The beauty of this passage is seen in its original language. V 21 literally reads: The lamp does not come in order that it might be put under the basket. That is odd, isn’t it? The English has been changed in order to make sense to our minds, but it isn’t so in the Gk. A lamp doesn’t come into a room; it is brought into a room. A lamp is simply passive to the will of another.

Ill.: when I arose this morning, I had to turn on the lamp in my living room so that I could see. It didn’t notice me and then turn itself on because it was dark.

 Note, though in our text:

  • The lamp isn’t passive. The Lamp is active.
  • The lamp has a definite article.

We often run to the conclusion that this means, we’re to let our light shine before men. And that’ll preach for this morning: Go, let your light shine! But I don’t think that is what Jesus is communicating. He’s been saying to them that he is speaking in parables because… look at v 11 “To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables… and then he quotes from Isaiah.

But now he talks about a lamp set on a lampstand to give light to everyone. So, what does Jesus mean? He tells us in v 22: 22 For nothing is hidden except to be made manifest; nor is anything secret except to come to light. I think he is saying that what is hidden for the moment, will be revealed. This message of the Kingdom will be preached boldly.

There is something else here that I find interesting:

1st, the word measure in verse 24 also appears in v 21. It is the word translated basket or bushel

2nd, the word measure in v 24 actually appears 3x’s in v 24: with the measure you measure, it will be measured to you. It almost sounds negative: what goes around, comes around, Buddy! He’s not saying you reap what you sow, but rather, He who sows sparingly, reaps sparingly. He who sows abundantly reaps abundantly.

The message of the Kingdom of God – The Gospel will be clearly seen. It will be accepted and received, or it will be rejected and turned away.

Rd v 25; Be responsible with this incredible message you have.

Ill.: When I was a Youth pastor our kids had a skit they would do for whatever activity we were involved in…i.e.: youth camp, revivals, retreats, choir tour, etc. (Demonstrate the skit.)

Application – Moral: love isn’t love unless you give it away. And, if you don’t give it away, you don’t really have it. And these two analogies are teaching us that this message of light is something that isn’t to be hidden, but rather to be shared. If it isn’t shared, it isn’t really light. And, it must be shared in abundance. It matches the 1st parable. Where it isn’t sown, it isn’t grown; however, we’re commanded to go and sow, in order that we might reap 30, 60, even 100 fold! We’ll look more at the other seed parables next week.

Conclusion: Something interesting has happened over the past few weeks in our studies together in Mark and John: Jesus is going to die. He is going to leave them. He isn’t going to be with them much longer. The work is being passed to them. Parables won’t be needed soon. The disciples will be blunt and direct. This Jesus, whom you killed they will say, has risen from the dead.

You and I have inherited this mission.

Here is where William Carey connects with us because he is preaching to us: Expect great things from God: attempt great things for God. Today, we’ll have an opportunity to mingle with people from our community. They’ll be coming in from all around for the BBQ Fundraiser for TVFD. We’ve distributed 1200 tickets to the children in Bandera and Utopia. We’ll have Bounce Houses and Snow Cone machines and other activities for children. There are so many areas of service, and we need disciples to expect great things from God; and attempt great things for God. You might just exchange hellos and introductions. Or, you may have a chance to plant some seeds. Who knows what God is doing? Let’s pray.

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Mark 4.1-20: The Parable of the Sower

Title: The Parable of the Sower

Text: Mark 4.1-20; Isaiah 6.1-13

Introduction: Note – there are two chapters; bookmark them both; Mark 4.1-20; Isaiah 6.1-13

  • Mark introduced us to the subject of his book in the 1st 15 verses of chapter 1. There, we meet Jesus, the Son of God, the promised Messiah.
  • Mark then tells us that Jesus calls his first 4 disciples and of his early ministry and the great success he has. By the end of chapter one, Jesus is so popular he can’t even go into a town or village because of the crowds, but his forced out into the desolate areas.
  • In chapter two, he calls his 5th disciple, Levi, and continues his ministry. However, the opposition begins to rear its ugly head by asking questions that imply their disapproval. By chapter 3.6, these religious leaders conspire with their political enemies to destroy Jesus.
  • In Chapter three, the opposition becomes public as the religious leaders, and his family members, accuse him falsely. They say he is demon possessed and out of his right mind. His family comes to ‘seize’ him and take him away. But Jesus clarifies for us just who his family is.
  • Mark tells us at this stage that Jesus begins to teach in parables. We see this in 3.22f: 22 And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem were saying, “He is possessed by Beelzebul,” and “by the prince of demons he casts out the demons.” 23 And he called them to him and said to them in parables… Our story picks up in Mark 4.1 with the parable of the sower. Jesus is in a boat by the shore – a natural amphitheater. Rd 4.1-2.

If you look out in the crowd you see all kinds of people. I picture too many to draw. However, if you follow closely the Davidic Picture presented in 1 Samuel 22.1-2, there would be about 400 men. Double that for women and children and there are probably 800-1000 people there. But that’s just a guess and totally added in on my part.

So, you see all these people. The religious leaders are there. You can see how they stick out because of their religious garb. They stick out to me because of the look on their faces. In the crowd are the rich and the poor, young and old. They represent all in society who are in need. Money can’t buy what the rich need – so they’ve come, too. They understand the phrase: if money can fix it, it ain’t a problem. There are young men and old; children, teens, young adults, older adults, married, single… They’re all there on the shore. 1 Samuel 22.And everyone who was in distress, and everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was bitter in soul, gathered to him. And he became commander over them. And there were with him about four hundred men.

So, there is this crowd and Jesus tells them The Parable of the Sower. Mark has told us that Jesus taught the people with many parables (3.23). We get the idea that there are many more that we don’t know about. Most of you this morning could have volunteered to retell this story for us without using your bible. It is one of the most popular parables in Scripture. Maybe it is so well known because Jesus explains it for us. It is like a key to understanding all parables.

Now, Jesus isn’t just a great storyteller and he is so much more than just another great teacher. He is different than any teacher these people have ever encountered. His stories are not just lessons to amplify a particular moral or ethic. Kim Riddlebarger says: Rather, in Jesus’ parables there are two critical perspectives. On one level (the surface), Jesus speaks of the natural order of things and of daily life in terms quite familiar to the people of that age and that culture. That is why the parables are so effective as a means of communication. We can all understand and relate to what is going on in the story. But on another level (a deeper, spiritual level), Jesus speaks of God’s redemptive purposes in these same parables. Because God is the author of both nature and redemption, these two things fit very easily together. Thus when Jesus calls attention to the one (a certain man . . .), this can easily illumine the other (the kingdom of God). This is why parables are such a profound and powerful way to teach and why those who do not believe that Jesus is the Christ have trouble grasping our Lord’s deeper meaning.

I’ve divided this passage up into its natural sections:

  • The Parable of the Sower in 3-9
  • The Purpose of Parables in 10-12
  • The Explanation of this Parable in 13-20

Transition: let’s begin with a look at the parable itself… rd v 3-9;

I. The Parable of the Sower (3-9)

exp.: Let me highlight a couple of important features of this parable and this section:

  1. The parable begins and ends w/ the same wordἀκούω: Hear ye, Hear ye; Listen! And, Listen!The difference? When he says Listen! He is addressing everyone (2nd per. Pl.). And when he finishes with hear, he is speaking to individuals (3rd per. sg.). Remember this…More on this in a moment… BTW: ‘hear’ is repeated throughout this passage (vv. 3, 9, 15, 16, 18, 20, 23, 24, 33).
  2. The same Sower sows the seed. There aren’t different sowers in this story. There is only one. And, as he sows, some seed fell here, some seed fell there, here a seed, there a seed, everywhere a seed, seed.
  3. The parable is designed with two sets of three. This isn’t apparent in the English as well as it is in the Greek. This comes out in the fact that the word seed doesn’t really even appear. It is understood in the words: some, other and other. These represent the fruitless soil. What draws our attention to this is the fact that all three of these are singular, not plural. However, in v 8, the word other is plural (hence, other seeds) – which draws our attention to the 2nd set of three’s: thirtyfold, sixtyfold, a hundredfold.

app.:

  1. There is a call for all to listen, but only some can actually hear what is being said.
  2. The sower represents one person, not a group of people. You don’t apply this to you and someone else and someone else. One sower.
  3. There is only one type of soil where fruit can be produced. The other types of soil are fruitless.

t.s.: v 35, let’s us know that he is still in the boat as he is teaching the other parables. But, v 10 let’s us in on the private world of the disciples that happens at a later time. So, let’s go to the time when they were alone. Rd v 10

II. The Parable’s Purpose (10-12)

exp.: rd v 10 tells us they asked; not just the 12, but the others who are with them; this is quite interesting to me because they appear to be a part of those of whom the mystery is concealed. But, Jesus says…to you. Rd v 11; secret is μυστήριον. The secret has been revealed to you; but, not so for the outsiders. And then something very interesting happens in v 12; Jesus quotes from Isaiah 6. This is a tremendous blessing to us because this gives us context to understand Mark 4. If you’re not familiar w/ Isaiah 6, let me just tell you that it is Isaiah’s calling. He comes to the Temple after the death of the King. I suppose, he is seeking a new king to take over. But what he finds is the one true King of Israel. It is a holy vision.

Look with me in Isaiah 6. He sees God on his throne… I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said:

       “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;

       the whole earth is full of his glory!”

And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke.

Well, Isaiah is filled with woe – he is overwhelmed with his sin as he sees God in all of his…holiness: for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!” The Lord then atones for his sin by sending a seraph with tongs from the altar… And he touched my mouth and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.”

At this point, Isaiah volunteers to go to the people of Israel with a message from God. And the message is harsh. Rd Isaiah 6.8-10; Flip back to Mark; Rd v 12; 12 so that

       “they may indeed see but not perceive,

and may indeed hear but not understand,

       lest they should turn and be forgiven.”

This is harsh because in this OT text, God communicates very clearly that He is going to harden them in such a way that they will be blind to seeing and deaf to hearing what Isaiah is saying. The Israelites of the Northern Kingdom will be hardened to the message of God. Isaiah asks how long this will go on and God says until they’re destroyed.  

This is a hard passage for it doesn’t say that God knows this about them, but rather that God hardens their hearts. To be fair, Matthew and Luke soften the language. But do you remember I told you we don’t want to use those guys? I want you to feel Mark’s message. I want to get what Mark is teaching us without the filters of the other Gospels. I want us to look for Mark’s emphasis, his goal, his purpose. And Mark is pretty straight-forward here.

Do you see in v 12 the first two words are so that? In Gk this is called a ἵνα clause. It is a clause of causation. You heard that right: Mark is saying God causes the hardness of heart, the spiritual blindness, the spiritual deafness. And he is quoting Jesus here. This ἵνα clause makes this passage one of the most difficult in the NT, since Jesus is saying that he teaches in parables in order to blind the eyes of those on the outside. Many scholars jump through all kinds of linguistic hoops to soften this statement – to take away the harshness of God’s actions; to remove his sovereignty. This is a good question: why would a loving God intentionally blind the eyes of some people? In order to soften this doctrine, many say that God just allows people the right to choose not to follow or see or hear or obey. The hardness of their heart comes from their own choosing. Makes sense, doesn’t it. It becomes calloused through years of rejection. That’s great. But that isn’t what this verse says.

I wish it did! I wish we could put the blame squarely on the ones who reject the Lord. That’s so much easier to preach and teach!

But, to soften this because it makes me or you uncomfortable would be wrong. That would mean I’m going to see this verse and intentionally change a character trait described of God because I’m afraid of what you’ll think. That is why I want to be very careful here. So, I’m just going to lay this out as it is in Scripture: God is totally in charge here. He is the agent by which all things happen. He is the one creating all of the action. But that still leaves the question of why God would do this unanswered. Let me try to answer that…

I think the answer lies in understanding the context of Isaiah. You see, Isaiah 5 presents the context of a judicial and final pronouncement of coming judgment on Israel. In the story of the vineyard (5:1–7), God is presented as a farmer who has a vineyard. He loved and cared for that vineyard, but it was a fruitless vineyard. Israel, of course is the vineyard and their failure to produce fruit brings judgment from the owner. That judgment is to remove their protection. Hence, Assyria will come and destroy them. God tells Isaiah that he will go to them with this message, but he is also told that his warning to them will fall on deaf ears. They are never going to listen to him.

Jesus is quoting from Isaiah to say that his purpose for teaching in parables is to blind the eyes and make deaf the ears of those who are on the “outside” – those who are identified in chapter three as having rejected Christ. The negative function of this parable must be understood within the narrative context of Isaiah.

So, in keeping with the context of Mark and Isaiah, we see that Jesus is describing a judgment that is coming and these people’s hearts will be hardened. They will be like the Israelites who… seeing see, but never perceive and hearing hear but never understanding.  

app.: Do you remember I told you that the 1st and last word of the parable is ‘Hear’? And I told you that the 1st word hear is to the crowd, but the last word hear is to individuals? That’s where this comes into play. So, when you put this all together now, it makes more sense:

  • 1st and last word – to everyone, but only certain insiders will see and hear.
  • Insiders and outsiders, a clear delineation of the two groups.
  • A quote from Isaiah declaring this to be so.

t.s.: Now with this in mind, he explains the parable to the group.

III. The Parable Explained (13-20)

exp.: rd 13f; The Sower sows the Word of God – that’s Jesus. I think the Sower can only be Jesus in this context. In the previous chapters of Mark, he is the one who has been sowing the seed – the Word of God. And, there are various receptions to his teaching of God’s word. rd v 15; We’ve seen the work of Satan already in Mark. The Demons, who Jesus instructs to keep his identity quiet:

  • In 1.13 where he tempts Christ out in the wilderness;
  • in 3.23 where the religious leaders accuse Jesus of being one of Satan’s cohorts. I think this group is represented by the religious leaders – probably not them alone, but they are included here for sure.  

exp.: rd v 16-17; I would think that these are represented here (that is, at this place, too); these are the people who’ve come out to have a need met – to be healed or fed, and then, face persecution from the 1st group – the religious leaders; then, they fall away.

Rd v 18-19; this would be more of the same; people who come to Jesus and use him to meet a need, only to return to their life of lush when they get back to the real world and what they experienced gets chocked out.

This parable had me thinking this week: how many times have I used Jesus for my own needs? A healing; A need? How many times have I used Him selfishly – only to retreat back into the world once my selfishness had been slaked?

I’m guessing you’ve probably been taught to understand this parable with the following explanation:

  • The sower is an evangelist – you, a preacher, someone who shares Christ.
  • The Seed is the gospel
  • The different soils represent the different types of people:
    • Hard hearts represented by the heavily trodden path. It just never really takes root
    • Weak roots among the rocky soil represent people who accept Christ with words, but quickly fall away.
    • Those sown among the thorns are those who fall back with their old crowds and their faith gets chocked out.
    • The last group is the real Christian – and they produces fruit as evidence that they’ve been saved.

I think you’ll find this to be true: There are those who never accept the gospel because their hearts are hard. And, there are those who do accept Christ with their words, but quickly fall away. Others who start this journey but fall back into the world. But, I’m not so sure that is what Christ is saying to these disciples. Or, to us!

You have to be careful and not take your framework and place it over the Scripture/Teaching and draw out those things you know through experience. Are you following me, here? Every one of us has a framework and we have a tendency to place it over our text (whatever text we’re reading/studying) and draw our conclusions from there.

I think he’s telling them a parable about the current situation of Mark chapter 4, in light of chapters 1-3.

Conclusion:

app.: In light of what is being taught here, I think this would be a great way to apply this message to us:

  • As a Christian, where is our heart hardened toward the word Christ speaks to us? Examples…
  • Where do we find our lives rooted in such a shallow way that we have no depth in Christ? The boulders of this world prevent us from digging our roots down deep. Ex.: I think of when I was younger and bold and loud. I remember being a John the Baptist personality, until persecution hit. Then I ran like Peter.
  • And what about those of us who allow so many things of the world to choke out the word of God – the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things? We boldly live for Jesus until tragedy strikes – then we blame God for the trouble in our lives. The pursuit of that raise, that promotion steals our time with him.
  • Maybe we need to do some work on our hearts – removing the rocks, pulling the weeds, tilling the soil and preparing ourselves to accept the Word of God. What a great illustration, because we all know how hard it is to do that work.

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Filed under Evangelism, Isaiah, Mark, Scripture

Mark 3.7-35

Title: Two Families

Text: Mark 3.7-35

Introduction: Another resignation from a leader this week. I’m guessing many of you saw Gov. Andrew Cuomo resign from his position as Governor of New York. Romans 13.1 says, Let every person be subject to the governing authorities… which becomes harder and harder when our leaders do their best to lead us astray. In Hebrews 13.17, it says of our religious leaders: Obey your leaders and submit to them. We concluded our study the last time we met in Mark 3.6 where we see the Religious Leaders behave in a corrupt fashion. Rd 3.6 – The Pharisees went out and immediately held counsel with the Herodians against him, how to destroy him.

      We are in desperate need of leadership. We are in desperate need of good, strong, godly leaders. This morning we’ll look at the perfect leader, his success and his leadership in selecting leaders to continue his work. A clear picture will be presented of those who accept his authority and those who reject his authority; those who follow his leadership and those who reject his leadership.  

      Here is our short summary: Christ has just experienced this conspiracy by the Religious leaders to do away with him. And you and I know they will succeed in killing him. It is now time for Jesus to select his successors.

In our text today, we’ll see the Religious leaders plotting his death, and Jesus then flees to the sea (of Galilee). Undeterred, the crowds from everywhere follow him there. So great are these crowds, that Jesus has a boat ready so that he can get away from them lest they crush him. As David fled Saul, many followed him out into the desolate places. So, also many more will follow Jesus (7-12).

      Jesus leaves the seaside and goes up on a mountainside where he picks his 12 disciples. He calls those he desires and appoints 12 to the service of following him closely, preaching and having authority to cast out demons (13-19). In this listing, we meet Judas who is identified as the one who would betray Jesus. This is a reminder of the conspiracy the Pharisees and the Herodians are hatching.

      Jesus will leave there and make his way home with his new family. We see them in stark contrast to his birth family who comes to ‘seize’ him. He is evidently an embarrassment to them, for they think he has lost his mind. (20-21)

      In this passage today, Mark draws a firm line in the text to identify those who belong to Christ and those who are against him.  First, his family claims he is out of his mind. Then, the scribes claim he is demon possessed – a man with an unclean spirit. His family then makes another attempt to ‘seize’  him; standing outside, they call for him. But Jesus clarifies for us in the final verse who his family really is. (22-35)

This story can be broken down into three movements:

  1. He withdraws to the Sea of Galilee (7) where he continues to have great success in ministry.
  2. He takes his disciples up on a mountain (13) where he selects his 12 disciples to walk with him, preach his message and have authority to cast out demons.
  3. He returns home (20) I suppose to Capernaum, where his family and the religious leaders will confront him. This last section is in the form of what David Helm, pastor of Christ Church in Chicago, calls a Markan Sandwich – family/leaders/family.

Chapter three will establish two groups for us:

  1. The Insiders, those who accept Christ’s authority.
  2. The Outsiders, those who reject Christ’s authority. (3.31-32, 4.11)

For the sake of simplicity, we’ll follow the following outline:

  1. His Success in Ministry
  2. His Successors to his Ministry
  3. Public Opposition to his Ministry

Transition: Let’s take a closer look at…

I. His Success (7-12)

exp.: I think it is easy to miss where Mark is taking us when we get bogged down in any particular story; rd v 7; withdrew; Matthew 2.14; Joseph taking his family and fleeing Herod; 1 Samuel 19.10; David fleeing Saul’s missed throw of his spear. Joshua 8.15; a fleeing army; It sounds like Jesus is escaping danger. He goes to the sea; People from everywhere follow him there; So great are the crowds it describes him as possibly being crushed; rd v 9-11; Remember: this is the theme of Mark from the very beginning; “the Messianic Secret”

ill.: I want to take a moment to talk about ‘pictures’. I’ve refer to them quite often. God is so good to give us pictures, he gives us just a taste (if you will) of his character, of the Messiah, of end times, etc. He does this so that we will recognize that this is of God. Here is another great example. We can build on this Wednesday night. In the OT, we’re given snapshots of the Messiah in King David. Those flash before our minds as we read this story because of the action and the terminology we’re given. David flees Saul and many go out to him – the riff raff; 1 Samuel 22.2: And everyone who was in distress, and everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was bitter in soul, gathered to him. And he became commander over them. And there were with him about four hundred men.

app.: I’m not sure we would catch this, but those of his readers, familiar with the OT stories of David and Saul might catch this. Many more go out to Christ; many more who are in distress and debt and bitter in soul. We don’t have time to cover this one little topic of what Scholars call “Types”. But remind me, and we’ll look at this more extensively on Wednesday night.

This is important because you might sit here today and think, “How do you know Jesus is the Messiah?” Or, maybe you have a family member or a friend who asks the same question. Answer: Types.

t.s.: So, we see his tremendous success in spite of the fact that he is out and away from the towns and villages; next, we see his successors.

II. His Successors (13-19)

exp.: rd v 13; He goes up a mountain; Consider Sinai and the formation of the 12 Tribes; Think ‘types’ again; Who went up on a mountain in the OT (and received the Law)? Moses. Moses is a type of Christ. He gives a picture of the future Messiah. Certain people are called to him; I understand this to be a much larger number than just the 12; from this group, he will select the 12; The 12 then, are appointed to three functions in 14f:

  1. They might be with him – this is discipleship, pure and simple. We must get younger believers to walk with us to learn what it means to be a Christian. They ate with him, watched him pray, read the Scriptures and explain them; they observed his life.
  2. They might preach his message – κηρύσσω; Proclaimed, announced, made known; We see John the Baptist doing this in chapter one and Jesus, also. 1.14-15; 14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”
  3. Have authority to cast out demons – I equate this w/ healing and restoration. They’re going to do what he has been doing through these first couple of chapters.

app.: these men will go out in 6.7ff just as they’ve been taught.

t.s.: In this 1st section we’ve seen his followers, both the larger group and the smaller group (the 12); in this next section, we’ll see the opposition publicly malign Christ.

III. His Accusers and Their Accusations  (20-34)

exp.: This is where those opposed to him speak out against him publically; rd v 20; He goes home; lit.: a house; must be Capernaum; This is the home base, as we’ve seen, of his early ministry. **The crowd gathers so thick, that Jesus and his disciples can’t even eat – they can’t break bread together. This is due to his popularity and the great need of the people. But this is a reminder to me of all the negative information we get in this section. Check it out:

  • A Conspiracy to destroy Jesus (6)
  • Jesus flees to the desolate places in (7);
  • So thick is the crowd and so desperate for Jesus are they that he orders a boat to be nearby lest he ‘crushed’ (9)
  • Judas is identified as the betrayer in (19). Judas will join this conspiracy and play a major part in the death of Christ. This, I believe, is the first reference to his death.
  • His family claims he is out of his mind (21)
  • The Pharisees accuse him of being demon possessed (22, 30)

Here in v. 22-34, we see that famous Markan Sandwich I mentioned earlier; of accusations:

  • His Family rejects his authority; rd v 21; Lunatic
  • The Pharisees reject his authority; rd v 22; Demon possession; possessed by Beelzebub; I think of the father of lies; Liar; I read in one commentary that this is where C.S. Lewis gets his argument for Liar, Lunatic, Lord. I could find no evidence of that.

Jesus then teaches in parables; rd 23a. He calls the Pharisees to himself and tells them parables, explaining the Kingdom of God and those who are outside and those who are inside. He warns them of blasphemy of the Holy Spirit.

  • His Family comes to retrieve their member, but are publicly rejected by Jesus;

t.s.: we’ve crossed a few troublesome passages this morning: Why did Jesus tell people (or demons) who knew who he was to keep it a secret? What really is Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit and have you ever committed the unpardonable sin? In a moment, well see that Jesus was harsh to his family. Why does Jesus say these, what appear to be ‘mean’ statements? But instead of taking time to discuss these here, I will cover these questions this Wednesday night:

App.: I’ve said before and place great emphasis on this once again today: I’m not sure there is anything more important in the church than our relationships. Nothing. We’re family. We’re brothers and sisters in Christ. 1 Tim 5 Paul encouraged: Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity.

Application: So, what do I want you to take home with you today? One word: Relationships… In direct correlation to leadership. Jesus is the perfect Leader! He is developing leaders. He’s getting them ready to take things over because we’ve found out now in Mark, that the Religious Leaders want him dead and Judas will conspire with them to bring this about.

  1. It is important to connect yourself to Christ (the perfect leader) and His spiritual family. And considering that…
    • Who do you need to be near or better yet, who needs to be near you? I love this terminology of proximity. Discipleship isn’t something that happens long distance. To be clear, I know that in some situations, that is what is happening out of necessity. Ex.: Muslims coming to Christ in foreign countries. But that is the exception. Who should you be calling to yourself, with the purpose and intention of discipleship?
    • How might you be preaching this same message as Christ? I ask this question because it is what they were doing. And your message must be the same. Lisa and I were discussing a phrase in Scripture last night, that is odd to the modern ear. Ferret those troublesome phrases, passages out together and absorb the Whole Counsel of God.
    • Are there people around you who need healing? Restoration? Exodus 19.5-6 – Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you shall speak to the people of Israel.” Jesus is, in a very real way, restoring this task to the people of God. That means, that’s your task and my task. Ask again: Are there people around you who need healing? Restoration?

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Filed under Discipleship, Mark, Scripture

Stop Day: Mark 2.23-3.6

Title: Stop Day

Text: Mark 2.23-3.6

Introduction: We’re in Mark 2.23-3.6. We’re in the midst of a passage filled with Conspiracy or Conflict stories.

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

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

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

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

This morning I want to ask you a set of questions – just like that one. Hopefully, to get you to thinking. This morning, these questions will simply guide our conversation.

I.      What does it mean to Observe the Sabbath day? More importantly, what does it mean to you as a Christian?

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

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

There are 10 commandments and this commandment begins in a different manner than the others. Do’s and don’ts, shall’s and shall not’s and this one starts with Observe. I’ve heard that more is written on this commandment than the others. Not just in Exodus and Deuteronomy where these Commandments are, but in the whole of Scripture. More is written concerning the Commandment to Observe and keep the Sabbath than any of the other commandments.

When God created the heavens and the earth, he said it was good. Repeatedly! When God created man and woman, and put them together, he said it was very good. Then, on the 7th day, he rested from his work. He stopped his work and he didn’t say it was good. He didn’t even say it was very good. No, he said it was holy. Gen. 2.3; So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.

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

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

(Pause…)

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

What I find funny about myself – maybe you do about yourself – is that I’m squarely focused upon the other commandments. Pick any of the other 9 commandments and I square up, I lock down, I get serious. This commandment, for many years, didn’t feel too bad about breaking. It doesn’t seem as serious as the others. But should I be as concerned about this one to the same degree as I am about the others?

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

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

Here’s where the Pharisees have failed: they made much about the Law, when all of it is to make much about the Lord.

We’re in Mark 2.23f. Read Mk 2.23f; you might remember from last week that the Law established a policy for folks to eat from someone’s crop (Deut 23.24f). The Law also established that it was wrong to work on the Sabbath. You cannot reap a harvest on the Sabbath. These religious leaders had clarified what “Reap a Harvest” meant and they crossed the line by making wrong what God had made right. It is against the law to reap a harvest on the Sabbath, but it is never wrong to feed the hungry. The laws against working were made for people – not the other way around. In other words: there is a spirit of the law and an intent in the law.

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

That’s the spirit of the law.

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

He asked them (in a Clint Eastwood voice): “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to kill?” But they were silent. Of course they’re silent. They know the correct answer, but they’re more worried about their laws and traditions than they are the Word of God. And, they’re more worried about their laws and traditions than they are people. And he looked around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart… because they cared more for their manmade principles than people.

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

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

That is so like the legalist. The legalist doesn’t care about rest. He doesn’t care about restoration. He doesn’t really even care about the Sabbath. He only cares about the rules and how he has manufactured a way to keep the rules.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion:

Application using the commandment:

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

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

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Filed under Deuteronomy, Mark, Sabbath

Mark 2.1-3.6

Title: Q & A

Text: Mark 2.13-3.6

Introduction: For our guests, let me give a general overview of how we got to our text for today. Chapter one begins (1-15) with a declaration of who Christ is (The Son of God) and then presents the beginning of his ministry. His popularity explodes as he preaches, teaches and heals those who come to see him and eventually forces him to the desolate places because he can no longer enter into the towns and villages. And yet, the people still come out to him.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pause: I understand why preachers limit their texts to small groups of Scripture. There is way too much information to cover in such a large section for digging deep. My intention is to show you the genius, the organization and purpose behind Mark’s work. The question is: What is Mark doing in this passage. Are these stories meant to stand alone, or is he telling a larger story in them. Well, obviously, I think there is a larger story within the groups.

I’d love to just focus on 2.13-17 for 30 minutes. There are three great points:

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

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

To answer this question, I’d like to highlight a couple of actions on the part of Mark. I’ve divided each section into two main parts: Questions and Answers (Q&A)

  1. Questions
  2. Answers

Let’s begin w/ the questions.

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

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

  1. 7“Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?”
  2. 16 “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
  3. 18“Why do John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?”
  4. 24“Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath?” going through the grainfields, and as they made their way, his disciples began to pluck heads of grain.
  5. 3.2they watched Jesus, to see whether he would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse him. And then Jesus asks the question in v4.

Take note of a couple of these stories:

  • Do you notice that the three internal stories all deal with eating?

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

Consider: Have you thought about this eating and drinking with sinners? For the most part, the church has pulled away from the world and we have isolated ourselves. We’ve created cliques and clubs to keep ourselves from having to ‘fellowship’ with tax collectors and sinners. We’ve really missed our calling in this. I’m not saying go be tainted by the world. However, I am wondering how we can be salt in light if we never go to where lost people are. It’s like that old song: I’ve got to start carrying water to the desert and stop this hauling water to the sea!

Paul confronted Peter in front of all their friends because he was behaving like Jesus – eating and drinking with Gentiles. But then, when he was around his Jewish friends, he stopped and withdrew from the Gentiles. Paul basically called him a hypocrite and rebuked him publicly (Gal. 2.11ff)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Breaking the Sabbath is bad (4th Commandment). No doubt. So, we have to look closer to see if the accusation is correct. Actually, it isn’t. Jesus is leading his men to do exactly what was commanded in Deut. 23.24-25: 24 “If you go into your neighbor’s vineyard, you may eat your fill of grapes, as many as you wish, but you shall not put any in your bag. 25 If you go into your neighbor’s standing grain, you may pluck the ears with your hand, but you shall not put a sickle to your neighbor’s standing grain.

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

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

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

Here’s my fear: I wonder if as Baptists, we’re more like the Pharisees than we are Jesus and the disciples. Have we put up such strict guidelines and rules that we’re no longer effective in our witness? The only effective way as we now see it, is to invite people here with the hopes of them getting saved, when all along Mark is teaching us to go out into the fields. He is calling us to go eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners.

 …You know who these people are. They’re our neighbors and co-workers. They’re our family members who feel more judged than loved.

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

App.: Are the rules you’ve structured for your life from God’s Word or are they traditions that have simply been passed along? (Pause) Think about this: as Baptist, we couldn’t participate in three of the main festivals in the Old Testament. Not because of the Bible, but because of our traditions.

t.s.: Note 1st the questions in each smaller story. Note 2nd, the answers Jesus gives.

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

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

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

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

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

And, added to this outrageousness, for Jesus to call the unrighteous and not the righteous is offensive to the religious leaders (v 17). They would have a big problem that he isn’t submitting to them and that the people, their people are chasing after him.

Kim Riddlebarger (in reference to v17): Jesus is using the term “righteous” in a rhetorical sense–those who think themselves to be righteous and therefore unable to consider the fact that they needed to humble themselves before God, acknowledge that they are sinners, and then obey Jesus’ summons to repent and believe. In other words, Jesus is saying that he did not come to call the “self-righteous,” or those who think of themselves as better off than the sinners.

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion: I’ve been watching a lot of Jordan Peterson’s videos this week. I’m pretty much always amazed at smart people. I saw a video where Dr. Peterson spoke of the church and the problem the church has when it makes claims of Christ and to be like Christ, but then she (the church) isn’t anything like Him. So many people walking away from the faith or tainting it by getting caught in adultery or mismanagement of funds, etc.

(Pause)

I’ve been reminded that we all are sinful and prone to chase after fruitless things. I’m reminded that leaders aren’t perfect. And neither are church members. That’s why we need each other – to encourage and exhort each other every day! And our stories this morning remind us that failure isn’t just for those whose morals are loose, but for anyone who breathes and has a heartbeat – and even the most legalistic. Failure attacks the liberal and the fundamentalist, the moderate and the conservative alike.

So in light of our struggles, we must ask ourselves:

  1. Are we living by man-made traditions or Biblical mandates?
    1. Holding on to traditions over mandates is sinful and makes one no different than the Pharisee.
    1. The scary thing about traditions, is that they are so valued, one confuses it w/ commands.
  2. Are we practicing our evangelism the way Christ did and commanded of us? Or, are we adopting the latest new way to evangelize?
    1. Are we unattractive to the world because they see us as a bunch of hypocrites? Do we expect lost folks to come here to hear the gospel? There must be a way to love the people of the world and not condone sinful behavior. For me, in some instances – it is very clear what I am comfortable with and what bothers me. But, in others, I’m not sure.
  3. If Jesus came to Tarpley, would he hang out with us? Or, would we be critical of him because he’s hanging out with people – people we would never be seen with? Would we be mad at him because he didn’t come to our church?

Let’s Pray?

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Filed under Authenticity, Christian Living, Evangelism, Events, Mark, Purpose, Scripture, Sermon

Mark 2.1-11

Title: An Empty Shell

Text: Mark 2.1-12

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

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

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

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

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

I. The Setting (1-2)

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

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

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

II. The Conflict (3-7)

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

  • They couldn’t get in the door! 4 men who’ve come to bring their friend to see Jesus in hopes that he would do what they’ve been hearing about – that he would heal their friend – but they can’t get in the door; the Gk is more colorful in v 4 than the Eng. – lit.: and not being able to offer to him; same word in Mt 2.11 where the wise men offered their gifts to the child; and in 5.23 where Jesus says 23 So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. See what I mean by more colorful?

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

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

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

Show the trailer…

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

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

But that brings us to the 2nd conflict:

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

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

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

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

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

III. The Climax (8-11)

exp.: v 8 tells us that Jesus perceived their thoughts and then questioned them. This is more than just noticing someone’s eyebrows being raised. It’s more than just the look on their face. Jesus knows their thoughts. Jn 2.25; 23 Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many believed in his name when they saw the signs that he was doing. 24 But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people 25 and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man.

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

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

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

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

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

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

IV. The Resolution (12)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Can I give you an easy question to answer that might give you perspective? Do you struggle with some of the things Jesus says? Like when he says (7.27) to the Canaanite woman, it isn’t right to take the children’s bread and feed it to the dogs. Do you find yourself not liking certain passages because they make you uncomfortable?

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

Here is my take-away today:

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

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

Like to a shell dishabited,

Then might He find thee on the ocean shelf,

And say “This is not dead,”

And fill thee with Himself instead.

But thou art all replete with very thou

And hast such shrewd activity,

That when He comes He says, “This is enow

Unto itself-’twere better let it be,

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

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

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

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Filed under Mark, Scripture, Sermon

Mark 1.16-45

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

Text: Mark 1.16-45

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

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

Our Goal: We’re looking at the big picture of each section. We could pick each story and dig deep, but that isn’t our goal. I want you to see that Mark has organized himself, his story and has put it all together with purpose. I won’t do that all the way through Mark. I will from time to time focus on a small story or section.

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

His ministry begins…

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

I. The Calling of His First Four Disciples

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

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

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

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

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

I heard a pastor once joke about being a pastor. He said of his congregation: I get paid to be good. You’re good for nothing!

Well, I’m not paid to be good – I’m who I am because of the work of Christ. And it would be the same for you, as a Christian. I am not calling in to question my service of being a minister for 34 years. I’m not being critical of Robert Garland’s and his calling to the gospel ministry. I guess what I’m saying is I don’t see a difference in Scripture concerning service to the Lord. I don’t see people being saved to just go to church on Sunday. The calling to discipleship – is costly.

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

t.s.: so, these men leave their livelihood to study under this new rabbi. 2ndly, His ministry begins…

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

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

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

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

  • His Power to heal
  • His Popularity
  • His Prayer Life

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

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

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

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

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

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

  1. Discipleship is costly…
  2. The Kingdom of God comes first to his own house…

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

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

       Say to those who have an anxious heart,

“Be strong; fear not!

       Behold, your God

will come with vengeance,

       with the recompense of God.

He will come and save you.”

   Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,

and the ears of the deaf unstopped;

   then shall the lame man leap like a deer,

and the tongue of the mute sing for joy.

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

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

Ill.: UFO’s are big in the news lately. I believe in UFO’s – especially the U part of UFO – Unidentified! These are objects and they appear to be flying. The key is that just because they’re unidentified, it doesn’t mean they’re from mars or some other out of space place. Here’s the thing: why are people always looking for something bigger than themselves? They want to be a part of something larger than themselves.

I think it’s the same reason these folks were amazed at Jesus’ teaching and ministry. It was something bigger than themselves. If the only difference between us and the world is that we can’t sleep in on Sunday, something is terribly wrong! Our fellowship should be representing this… something bigger than ourselves.  

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

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

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

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

app.: No wonder he needed time alone – isolation; It’s hard to have a vibrant prayer life if so, many people keep bothering you. So, he says of this – let’s get out of here; rd v 38-39

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ladies and Gentlemen, that is a picture of substitutionary atonement. All of our sin and sickness and imperfection is placed on Jesus on the cross. All of Christ’s perfection is placed on us.

Application:

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

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

Before Christ, understanding the Bible and the message of God was rather limited. Devotion to God was determined by a set of rules: do’s and don’ts; thou shalt’s and thou shalt not’s. But just as satellite technology offers a better vantage point for weather, so Christ has given us a better understanding of who we are – and what we need. Of who he is – And what he can do for us. If that describes your life – if you’re unclean – a filthy sinner, I offer Christ to you today. Let him touch you and make you whole!

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Filed under Mark, Scripture

Mark 1.1-15

Title: The Gospel

Text: Mk 1.1-15; 15.33-38

Introduction: Thank you, Sam, for reading our text this morning; Today we begin our study in Mark. Question: Why Mark? Why not the marks of the church or some other text?

  1. Usually, I like to move to an OT book after preaching through a NT book. However, we’re in the OT on Wednesday night – and will be for a while.
  2. The Gospel. I want to focus on Jesus – His acts, His mercy, His words, His love. I think this will be good for us.
  3. With 4 Gospels, this one is the shortest, the first, most likely comes from Peter.

As a young man, Mark was my least favorite Gospel. I’ve usually run to the other three gospels when I’m looking for stories. Mt 28.18-20; Luke 23 and the thief on the Cross; John and his alternate perspective. Matthew and John were disciples. Luke had done thorough research. But Mark, Mark always seemed to me to be thrown together and condensed. There seemed to be no rhyme or reason. For me, Mark seemed chaotic compared to the other Gospels.

However, after having studied Mark for some years now, I see the beauty of Mark’s story. I see it all so much clearer. I see organization and deep thought in each section. I understand now that Mark had a purpose in mind. And, what makes it even more incredible is that Mark didn’t have Mt, Lk and Jn to lean on.

No, as a matter of fact, I see that a great debt of gratitude is owed to Mark. He learned what he recorded here from Peter. He traveled with Paul and Barnabas – both together and one on one – and learned from them. His goal and his purpose in writing this book is different than that of Matthew or Luke or even John. He was a trailblazer who saw the need to get this story down in book form for future generations because, before this book, there was only oral tradition being passed along. He saw the need and rose to the occasion.

You’re there in Mark 1.1. Let’s read that together. Rd Mk 1.1; an incomplete sentence. There is no verb! That tells us that it was probably the Title of this little book. Your title probably reads: Mark or the Gospel according to Mark. The Greek text simply reads According to Mark. That Title and the one in your Bible was added later. Verse 1 is probably Mark’s title: The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

Now, before we look at this title, let’s look at this person, Mark. It would be fun to outline for you all of the evidence pointing us toward John Mark, the helper to Barnabas and Paul. But, we just don’t have time. You’ll have to trust that for nearly 2,000 years, the church has understood John Mark to be the writer. Here is what we’re confident of:

This Mark is the same John Mark who worked with Barnabas and Paul in Acts 13. And he also worked with Peter in Rome (1 Pet 5.13; ). That’s right, that Simon Peter: the one who denied Christ three times; the one who continually put his foot in his mouth. Furthermore, there is strong evidence to suggest that John Mark got his information for this gospel from Peter and his testimony of these things. That should make it more interesting as you read about Peter in these passages.

This Gospel appears to have been written shortly after Peter’s death. Maybe Mark realized there was a deep need for such a book as he watched one of the eyewitnesses to Christ pass from this earth.

As we make our way through Mark, I want to point out to you that I want to focus just on what Mark shares. It is important that you know this. When Mark was written, there were no others with which to compare it. I want you to get that feeling. Sure, I’ll mention the other gospels and relate what you probably already know, but for the most part – we will stick to Mark’s storyline. I want to sort of pretend we don’t have the ‘extras’ in the other Gospels.

Mark was most likely writing this book for the Christians in Rome – and he’s writing from Rome, where he had been working with Peter before Peter’s death.

So, let’s break his title down:

  • The Beginning: not like John’s gospel – not that far back. Not like Genesis – that’s not his starting point. His starting point is clarified in the next couple of verses. Malachi and Isaiah talked about this Messiah’s coming. That’s his starting point. He points back to the prophets as the starting point.
  • Gospel: εὐαγγέλιον – transliterated is evangelism. εὐ – means well or good. αγγέλοs – is the word for which we get angel – or messenger. αγγέλιον means message. So we have good message or good news. Mark here is the 1st one to use this word this way. His is the 1st gospel.
  • Jesus – the gospel, the message of Jesus can be understood in two ways:
    • as the message about Jesus. Mark might be saying I’m going to tell you about him.
    • the message Jesus proclaimed. Mark might be saying I’m going to tell you what he preached. Both work here, for they are the same.
  • Christ anointed one or Messiah. Your translation could read: Jesus, the Messiah, the Son of God.
  • Son of God – I think Mark is up to something here:
    • Jesus, his earthly name, He was human.
    • Christ, the Messiah of the Jewish people, and the world. These messianic implications would go all the way back to the Davidic covenant.
    • Son of God – a theological delineation. Yes, fully human, but also – fully God. We’ll see more of that in a moment. We’ll see this is an important element that flows through this book, and is a part of the climax to the story at the end.

Mark affirms for us that this beginning was foretold of by the prophets. He mentions Isaiah here (as it is written in), but he references from both Malachi and Isaiah. Let’s look at these passages:

            Malachi 3.1 – “Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts. He clearly tells us of someone who will come proclaiming, announcing, and heralding the coming of the Lord. Mark, then quotes from Isaiah to clarify for us this: 40 Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.

   Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,

and cry to her

       that her warfare is ended,

that her iniquity is pardoned,

       that she has received from the Lord’s hand

double for all her sins.

   A voice cries:

       “In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord;

make straight in the desert a highway for our God.

   Every valley shall be lifted up,

and every mountain and hill be made low;

       the uneven ground shall become level,

and the rough places a plain.

   And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed,

and all flesh shall see it together,

for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

John is this ‘voice crying in the wilderness’; we meet him in v. 4; Jesus is the Lord, the Messiah, the Son of God mentioned here; we meet him in v 9; let’s do that; rd v 4-8; rd v 9-11;

At this stage of the introduction, I think it would be interesting to note the different witnesses proclaiming this gospel – that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. I think that is more of Mark’s focus than telling us the whole story – like we see in other gospels. Note:

  1. Mark tells us in his Title, v 1.
  2. Malachi tells us in v 2.
  3. Isaiah tells us in v 3.
  4. John tells us in v 4-8. This Messiah is mightier than I, his sandals I’m not worthy to even stoop down and tie! John is pointing us to Jesus. And then…
  5. The Trinity appears to validate this for us in v 9-11.
    • The Son comes to be baptized
    • The Spirit the heavens are torn open (the clouds don’t just part) and the Spirit descends upon Jesus as a witness
    • The Father himself testifies: You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.

This might appear to be the end of the introduction – v 1 – the son of God; v 11 – the Father proclaims him to be his son. But I think there is more here; I think that Satan and the angels also declare who he is by their actions:

  • There is Satan’s validation of who he is as he tries to test him – trying to trip him up; rd v 12-13
  • He is with the wild beasts – this is unusual; Wild beast don’t usually act this way;
  • The angels were ministering to him, giving their validation of who He is.

Listen, while no single testimony stands alone as valid in some eyes, the weight of these combined all scream at us: Behold, the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.

1.14-15 tell us that Jesus begins his ministry, even before he picks his disciples (1.16-20); rd v 14a; we won’t hear of John again in Mark, (we hear of John’s disciples in 2.18) but we won’t hear from the Baptizer again until we learn of his death in chapter 6. As John records in his gospel – this is something John the Baptist knew was coming – He must increase, but I must decrease.

And the increase of Christ’s popularity is what we see as he begins his ministry. Let’s continue – 1.14b-15; we see this word gospel again – a nice bookend to this section. Maybe this is the end of the Introduction.

This is common for Mark: bookends to sections where he is focusing on something important. Some scholars call this the top and the tail. They bring the story back to the beginning – in a way. I’ll do my best to point them out along the way. I will try, but I’ll forget from time to time.

Caveat: I know you enjoy digging deeper into a text. I do, too. I know you like to be… well, to put it in a negative term… spoon-fed. Hey, I do, too! It is so much fun, it is so enjoyable to sit at the feet of someone who has done the hard work. I know you feel the same way about WEBS. But here is the problem. If we dig down deep into one small passage, we’ll spend forever in one book.

Example: just verse 1; or just v 2-9; or just 11-13; Can you see that if we did that we would be in the book of Mark for 5-7 years? I only want to spend the next 4 months in Mark. It might take 6 months, but that isn’t the plan.

Turn to 15.33-37; Mark is making reference to the O.T. again. Here it is a reference to Psalm 22.1-18; And at his death something happens: rd 15.3838 And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. This is the 2nd time we’ve seen this word torn in Mark. Do you know it doesn’t appear at any other time in this book than the two we’ve seen? Mark uses this word torn only twice: Once when the heaven’s were being torn open and the Spirit descends upon the Messiah and here, when the curtain that separated the people from the presence of God was torn in two from top to bottom.

No man can make either one of those tears. Coincidence? I don’t think so. I think Mark’s goal here is to communicate to the reader that a way into the presence of God has been made. He came from heaven to earth and lived the perfect and sinless life, that he might make the payment of death on our behalf. His death opened a way into the holy of holies – the most holy place, that you and I might have access to God.

And if you’ve missed it somehow, look at v 39; Do you know in Mark, only one human makes this remark? The Centurion. God said it back in 1.15; Angels and Demons will declare it. But it isn’t until this moment that a person says it.

Conclusion: And this is our application – our take-aways:

Application:

  1. The message of Mark is clear: Jesus, is the Christ, the promised messiah, Son of God. That means that God has done what he has promised by restoring the fracture relationship mankind had with him. This is the Gospel message. God is holy. Our sin has separated us from Him. Nothing we could ever do can remove this sin and repair this separation. (You can’t go to church enough; You can’t give enough money; you can’t serve on enough teams, boards or committees; you can’t go on enough mission trips; you can’t do anything to repair this fracture that sin has caused.) So, God, in his infinite, perfect mercy acted on our behalf and sent his Son to repair what was broken – to restore what we could never fix – to atone for our sin. The Bible says that our sin is what separates us from God. Isa. 59.1-2; Isa. 53.6 – we all like sheep have gone astray; each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. 1 Corinthians 5.21- For our sake, God made him who knew no sin to be sin for us so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. Romans 6.23 – for the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
  2. This information is too valuable to sit on. It demands your response. The response is simple and difficult. It is absolutely free and yet demands your all. Still, there is a moment when you make that decision to surrender your life to Christ. The Bible calls this faith. God says that you deserve death because of your sin. And then he says that if you’ll trust him, that is believe what he says, he will take your sins and consider them paid for in full in the death of his son, Jesus. All of you sin is placed upon Jesus on the cross where it is atoned and paid for in full. And all of his righteousness is placed upon you.
    1. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. Eph 2.4-7
    1. He died. He was buried in a borrowed tomb. He rose from the dead three days later. His resurrection gives us hope of our future resurrection.

Invitation: Listen, if you don’t have that hope… I want to give you a chance to respond to this hope I hold out before you now. By responding in faith, you can find the forgiveness of sins you just might have been seeking.

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Filed under Christian Living, Mark, Messiah, Prophets, Scripture, Sermon

Mark 5.1-20

Title: A Proper Response

Text: Mark 5.1-20

Introduction: Thank you, Stephen for reading Scripture this morning. For Bible study this morning let me give you a couple of aids…

  1. Take Notes
  2. Write down questions you might have to help facilitate the discussion
  3. Think of OT passages that alluded to or are referenced.
  4. The goal is to go deeper.

Let’s begin: We’re in the 2nd miracle in this particular passage on the Authority of Jesus. Last week we saw how Jesus exercised his authority over the natural realm (4.35-41). Today, we’ll see his authority over the Spiritual Realm. In subsequent weeks, we’ll look at his authority over the physical realm, and even death.

            As we begin today, I’d like to offer a quick summary of what has just been read: In today’s passage, the disciples arrive on the other side of the sea with Jesus in tow. Immediately, as he is getting out of the boat, Jesus is confronted by a demon-possessed man. Mark takes time to tell the readers how dangerous this man has become (1-7). The demon identifies Jesus and Jesus then confronts the demon inside the man. It turns out that there are many demons inside this man, for the demon’s name is Legion (8-9). Added to this, it appears the demons understand their fate is sealed and they beg Jesus to not send them out of the country, but rather into a herd of pigs nearby. He grants their plea. Coming out of the man and entering into the herd, about 2,000 pigs rush down the steep hill and drown in the water below (10-13).

            At this point, the herdsmen flee back to their village where they report what has happened. The people come out to personally take in what they’ve heard. When they arrive, they find the man sitting there, clothed and in his right mind. I’m not sure why, whether from fear or anger, but they beg Jesus to leave and he obliges. As he boards the boat, the healed man begs Jesus to allow him to follow along. Jesus, however, refuses the man. And, instead of urging silence, Jesus tells the man to go home and share of the mercy of God in his life. And so he does throughout the whole region of the Decapolis (14-20).

There are certain words that stick out: beg or begged. I find that interesting. For me, this helped shape my message for this morning. Here are my three points:

  1. The Response of the Gadarene Demoniac to Jesus (1-7)
  2. The Response of Jesus to the Gadarene Demoniac (6-10)
  3. The Response of the people to Jesus (14-20)

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

I.      The Response of the Gadarene Demoniac to Jesus (1-7)

exp.: I call him the Gadarene Demoniac, because that is the way I learned it. from the KJV; rd v 2; At 1st glance, it appears this man is responding to the arrival of Jesus; however, a closer look reveals that the response is really the demons within this man; What we see here is that Satan has been at work in the life of the Gadarene Demoniac! We see this:

  • Possessed by an unclean spirit – a demon
  • Living among the dead; this isn’t really a play on words in the original language, as far as I can tell, but it is for us, isn’t it? rd v 3a;
  • Driven away by the town’s people because he was mad, and, he could not be restrained; rd 3b-4
  • Crying out and Cutting himself; v5; this is something we hear about today; people cut themselves because of the pain they’re in. It’s one of the ways they deal w/ their pain;

ill.: I came across this article this past week and it got my attention: Article in NY Times – First Rise in US Death Rate Surprises Experts. The death rate rose in 2005 because of the flu. It rose a decade before that in 1993 because of AIDS and the flu. It’s rise this past year is troublesome because… “We are not accustomed to seeing death rates increase on a national scale,” said Andrew Fenelon, a researcher at the C.D.C. who did not work on the paper. “We’ve seen increases in mortality for some groups, but it is quite rare to see it for the whole population.” And just what is the reasoning behind these deaths? The US has seen a spike in deaths in three categories:

  1. Suicide
  2. Drug Overdose
  3. Alzheimer’s

The article goes on to say that other parts of the world are actually seeing decrees in their death rates, making the US spike even more surprising.

app.: That is what Satan wants: he comes to steal, to kill and to destroy. His purpose and goal remains the same. He was being successful with this man. He seems to be accomplishing his goal in the US, too.

My guess is that this is just where this man is headed, but something happens when he meets Jesus. Look at his next response.

  • He saw, he ran, he fell down before him. This word translated fell down is sometimes translated Like in Mt 2.15; Now, whether this is the man or the demons who are in possession of this man, the response is correct. Jas 2.19

t.s.: So we see 1st, the response of the demon-possessed man. Now, look at the response of Jesus to this man…

II.     The Response of Jesus to the Gadarene Demoniac (6-13)

exp.: the very 1st thing Jesus says to the man is; rd v 8; immediately Jesus recognizes the work of the devil – so Jesus goes to work right away! Really, this is not cumbersome work for God.

  1. Legion vs. Christ; A Heavy Weight Fight like Frazier and Ali; Thousands of demons vs. Christ. But really this is No contest. No battle. Jesus doesn’t even need to break a sweat! Something to note:
    1. Each time we see their encounter in Mark, they accurately identify Christ for who he is.
    2. When they encounter him, they begin begging (10, 12). Jesus hasn’t fully stepped out of the boat yet and they’re screaming Knowing their fate is sealed… they begin to plead for mercy.
  2. Jesus asks the unclean spirit his name. Some say this is how you gain mastery over the demon. I don’t know about that. I fear if I did that, they’d say: Jesus we know, Paul we know, But who are you! This would be a great discussion for your class: Is there a difference between demon possession and mental illness. BTW: Jesus heals them both if he desires. And that is just what he does here…
  3. Christ sets the man free; however, the pigs meet a destructive fate; rd v 12-13;

ill.: This past week there was a story about a little boy who fell into the moat of the Gorilla’s cage. Mr. Maynard, who headed up the emergency response team shot and killed the Gorilla. According to him, he didn’t have a choice. Of course Social Media has got to respond and of course, they’ve condemned the actions of the Zoo. For me, it is simple: animal or child? Child! Scripture is clear on this, too. I know, the kid wasn’t supposed to be down there – he was in the Gorilla’s domain. No, not really. The Gorilla lives in our domain. We’ve been given that responsibility. Some people have condemned the parents. Well, I’m guessing those folks have never been responsible for a three year old! It is amazing how quick a kid can get away from you …

app.: Daniel Akin, president of SEBTS: the event demonstrates that God cares more for man whom He created in His image and recreates in salvation, than he does for animals which do not bear his image. Satan is a murderer of human beings, but Jesus is their Savior.

Before we leave this point, let me say a word about demons:

  1. They are real. And for that reason, they scare me.
  2. A demon can possess a person. Here we see many demons possessing one person. Some have raised the question of whether a Christian can be possessed by a demon. A great question to ask your teacher this morning!
  3. A demon can take control of a person. Here we see them speak; exercise great strength; hurt or injure the possessed and even others.
  4. Demons are spiritual beings – they are fallen angels. Their goals and purpose are the same as those of their leader, Satan: to kill, to steal and to destroy.
  5. Demons can move from one body to another. Here we see their transference from a human to animals. Jesus refers to an unclean spirit being swept out of a body and returning with others added.
  6. Demons resist Christ. In our text, it is immediate. He said come out, but they resist him. He permits them to go into the pigs.
  7. Demons have no power over Christ. All Jesus needs to do is speak. He speaks and the demons obey. Period.

app.: It appears to me in Revelation, that all things end in a moment. There is fighting, battles, killing. The enemy is doing all he can, and then, boom! It all ends. Jesus just speaks.

t.s: Finally, #3

III.    The Response of the People to Jesus (14-20)

exp.: Let’s look at these varied responses:

  1. The Herdsmen; they fled; they told; they announced or proclaimed; this story is pretty much unbelieveable. So, they gotta go see for themselves;
  2. The Townspeople; come to see; 15a; they came to see Jesus; and interestingly enough, they see the ‘demon possessed man’; This is how the text reads – present tense; but he’s not demon possessed anymore! Well, this is how the people knew him; similar in Mt – Elizabeth, the barren one, is now in her 6th month; – the one who had had the legion;
    1. Then they get to hear the story again in v 16; rd v 17; their response: fear! They beg Jesus to leave their region. And, I guess as is his practice when not wanted, he obliges them.
  3. The Man
    1. Sitting there – restrained no more – actually, he wasn’t restrained before, but it was for a lack of trying; now he is captured by the love of Christ;
    2. Clothed – no longer naked; This one surprises me, because we don’t learn from the text that he was naked – that is, until now; Now, we want to focus on Mark, and avoid the other gospels, I was curious to find that Luke does tell us that he wore no clothes in 8.27;

ill.: When I read this, I couldn’t help but think of adam and eve; Gen 3. 21 And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them. I wonder where they got these clothes? Did the disciples carry them around? Probably. Did they put together something from different sources? But this is the gospel – a changed heart is displayed externally…

  1. Right mind – I suppose this would be in opposition to living among the tombs, cutting himself and screaming.
  2. He begs Jesus to let him stay with Jesus.

ill.: This is for me, the most beautiful part of the story. Maybe because I can relate. Oh, I was never as bad off as that man, but I was bad off. I look at who I was and shudder. And now, I only want to be with him. And this is where it is different for me. Christ has ascended to be with the Father and he has poured out his Spirit into my heart. So, I’m not without him.

app.: And you don’t have to be either.

But there is more here; rd v 19-20

  1. He becomes an evangelist!

Conclusion: Ok, so I’m translating this verse… 19, and it reads this way: and he said to him, ‘Go to your house, to those who are yours… most translations insert friends. There are those who belonged to him. Now, I apply this personally – For me it is my wife, my kids, my grandkids, my mom, mother-in-law; the list goes on.

Who was it for this man? Did he have a wife at home? Children? What about his extended family? What about those who were his friends? What would that reception be like for them – when they thought he was lost forever? And what was it like for him? No longer held captive by Satan, he had been set free. What would he say? Can you imagine the tears of joy for them all?

How? How is this possible? What has happened to you?

I met a man named Jesus. Let me tell you what he has done for me?

Let’s pray…

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