December 27, 2011

The Life of Jesus Mark 1:1

This morning we begin our new series on the Life of Jesus. We will be working through a few of the stories and teaching passages in the Gospel of Mark. Mark is unique among the Gospel writers. He is most likely the first to write his Gospel. He is the only one to explicitly call his writing a Gospel.

Mark’s writing is fast paced, wastes no time, and just keeps moving. It leaves you almost breathless. In the original Greek it is almost like a young child telling a story because most sentences begin with the word “and.”

We went to the store...and...we got candy...and...we went to the car...and....we drove home...and we had cookies...and...we watched tv...and...and...and...

Jesus came...and Jesus preached...and Jesus healed...and Jesus taught...and...and...and

It is like Mark is trying to get this stuff down as quick as possible without losing anything.

This morning we are starting off our series by focusing on one simple verse. This might be mistaken as just a title for the book, but there is a lot packed into a few simple words for us this morning.

Ready. It’s really easy.

Mark 1:1, “The beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God...”

Take a look at this clip...

I love to get good news. I hate getting bad news. Getting bad news in a good way doesn’t make it any better. Mark calls Jesus Good News, but he wasn’t good news for everyone. Sometimes what is good news for one person is not good news for someone else.

Throughout his Gospel Mark wants to ask and answer one very simple question, “Who is Jesus?” How a person answered this question determined and still determines whether Jesus is good news or bad news. As you read through this Gospel you will see people constantly answering this question wrong, and for those who misunderstand or stand against Jesus...he is not Good News

Mark places this seemingly simple verse at the beginning to explain that this is the Good News about a man named Jesus who was the Messiah and who was the Son of God. For Mark this is the promised Messiah of the Old Testament who was more than just a man, and the story you are about to hear is (supposed to be) extremely good news!

Many thought Jesus a great teacher or a prophet or the return of Elijah. They wanted someone who would make them comfortable, feed them, heal their sick, but each time they tried to push Jesus into being something he wasn’t...He would slip away to another town or his teaching would make them uncomfortable and challenge them to make a change in their status quo.

The Pharisees didn’t understand who Jesus was. They viewed him a troublemaker or a demon-possessed blasphemer. He was a challenge to their religious authority, and they were jealous that people listened to Him rather than them. Jesus broke their rules and ignored their self-importance. They eventually killed him out of jealousy.

Many wanted a revolutionary that would overthrow the Roman government, but Jesus said, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s”

The government wanted someone they could control, but Jesus came as the King of a new Kingdom that will one day replace all the Kingdoms of this world.

The rich believed their wealth was a sign of God’s blessing on their righteous life...and Jesus said, “It is harder for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God...”

Jesus’ own family didn’t understand who Jesus was. They showed up at one gathering attempting to take custody of him because they thought he was crazy!

Even Jesus’ disciples didn’t understand who He was. After watching Jesus step to the front of their storm-shaken boat and calm the raging storm with just a word, they ask, “Who is this? Even the wind and waves obey him!” I’m sure they had heard Psalm 89:9, “You rule over the surging sea; when its waves mount up, you still them.” or

Psalm 107:28-31,
Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble,
   and he brought them out of their distress.
He stilled the storm to a whisper;
   the waves of the sea[b] were hushed.
They were glad when it grew calm,
   and he guided them to their desired haven.
Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love
   and his wonderful deeds for mankind. 
But they didn’t understand who Jesus was either. In fact, Mark paints the most discouraging view of Jesus’ disciples of any of the Gospels. They look like idiots; buffoons even. And each time they miss it in Mark’s Gospel it is linked to their mistaken or inadequate understanding of who Jesus is and what He is here to do.

They didn’t understand that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God...and that this is Good news.

We often don’t understand who Jesus is either. Most of our failings as disciples are linked to this same problem. Every time we miss the mark, do the wrong thing, act like an idiot as a Christian it is because we have a mistaken or inadequate understanding of who Jesus is and what He came to do. And if we don’t rightly understand who Jesus is and what He came to do...then He could be not-so-good news for us as well.

Like the crowd if we want Jesus to meet all our needs and to bring us healing and to make us comfortable in this world and for his message to be one of comfort and warmth...then we will want to forget that He calls us to be a disciples who take up a cross and follows sacrifice everything for the Kingdom of God.

If we are Like the Pharisees then we allow rules and mistaken beliefs to stand in the way of seeing what God is really doing in our world, and forget that He brings freedom and boils it all down to loving God and loving our neighbor (which includes our enemies).

If we are like the rich then we have a set of things we believe are signs of God’s blessing...and we forget that only a life completely surrendered to Him brings His blessing...and not necessarily the blessing we think.

If we are like the disciples, then we fear the storms of life and forget we serve one who can calm the storms. Or, we worry when our resources aren’t enough and forget we serve the one who turned a few small loaves and fishes into a 5 star meal for over 5,000.

We are often guilty of turning our hearts to worship lesser, jobs, our hobbies, even our families because we forget that He is the Christ, the Messiah, the Promised One of God who alone is worthy of our worship.

We could look at our failures as Disciples, and wallow in them, allowing guilt to go unchecked, abandoning all hope, or living our Christian life with an “oh well everyone sins” attitude, but then we would turn the Good News of Jesus into not-so-good news.

Christmas is our yearly reminder of the Good News because we celebrate that Jesus Christ came into this world to rescue restore our broken relationship with God...and to remind us that He will return again to set everything straight that is wrong with this world in which we live.

When Jesus started his public ministry in Mark 1:14-15 it says, “After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. ‘The time has come,’ he said. ‘The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!’”

And for us, that is where we find the Good News on a regular basis. Repentance isn’t just the admission ticket to the Kingdom of God...repentance is a way of life for us. We don’t just say it as part of our Sinner’s Prayer...we confess and repent every day of our lives because we know we are part of a broken and sinful world, and we know we are sinful and in need of God’s grace. So repentance becomes our way of life as we travel the journey of faith; regularly confessing and turning from our sins and turning back to God.

For some, repentance and confession do not seem like good news, but they are. They are both major parts of Good News because we know that when we do them...they work. What horrible news it would be to live under the weight of a repentance and confession that served no purpose or were would leave us guilty, alone, and hopeless. What bad news it would be if we had to jump through a million different hoops in order to be forgiven. But when we confess and repent...Jesus brings the Good News that His Kingdom has come near to us and we are forgiven when we turn to Him!

This morning we celebrate the Good News of Jesus! We celebrate that Jesus entered our world, and that one day He will re-enter our world and set everything right, and that is really Good News!

1 comment:

  1. This message brings a freshness to this familiar Gospel of Mark. Eric admits that just as crowd, Pharisees, disciples and others misunderstood Jesus we, today, misunderstand him as well. We get a snaphsot of Jesus and we are comfortable with it. Sometimes we are content with old snapshots when we ought to revisit and receive a refreshing look at what the Lord wants us to learn anew. I am looking forward to seeing what insights Eric will bring out in the coming weeks.