The Foundation of Our Convictions
It’s good to be here with you this morning and share with you God’s word. I wanna invite you to Mark chapter 10 where we’re going to continue our series together on the Genius of Jesus. This summer we’re using our goal to know Jesus as he desires to make himself known in our lives.
Looking around, I just want to say as a church family, just this summer, this is backdrop, or not backdrop, I’m going to get off tangent for a second. Two weeks ago, right before I went on vacation, we took an offering for our building as a church family and just being able to do some of the improvements we’ve done this summer, knock down a house, paint our building, we’re going to add a sign. Two weeks ago was one of our lowest attendance summers.
August is a bad month to count attendance cause everybody’s on vacation and stuff. But with just a small number of people that we had here, not our normal size, I should say. It’s small relative. But, um, we had an offering that was over $6,000 just to go towards the sign. So I really appreciate what you guys are doing and the vision, desire to make Christ known, which is the centrality of where we are today in this message series. To know Jesus desires to make him known in our lives.
I’m looking around, I know school hasn’t started yet. Some people are probably still on vacation and try and get those last minute trips in before you have to start spasming about getting kids back to school and realigning your lives from all the summer chaos. I’m looking now wondering where we’re going to fit when school starts back up. So 2017, 2018 is the year of expanding our building. Okay? So thank you for your passion for the Lord. We’re going to keep looking forward to what God has for us in the future.
Today the most important thing that we can do right now is just in our hearts, worship the Lord together. One of the things that’s going to draw our attention to as we start is the centrality of where we are in Mark 8, 9 and 10. This section of scripture, we’re coming to the tail end of this portion of scripture that really transitions what Mark is about. This period of 8, 9 and 10 is all about discipleship. And Peter really drawing our attention to some significant things as followers of Jesus. Over this past week I had opportunity, I’m an avid reader and one of the books I read started talking about our longterm memory. Scientists have done studies over our longterm memory and they concluded that out of all the experiences that you have in a year, about 17 of those experiences find their way into your longterm memory. And you’re about as good as remembering one thing a month.
So say about 17 of those experiences find their way into your longterm memory. Over the course of the lifetime they estimate it’s about 3% of your life events go into the highly memorable part of your brain. Which means 97% of what you experience, you will forget. And I think there’s a good and a bad to that. The bad is, you know, your wife’s birthday, which my wife’s birthday is today. I did not forget. So you can forget things like that and asked for grace. So that’s, that’s probably not the best thing to forget. But the good of that is if your brain tried to grab hold of everything going around in your life right now in this room, just being aware of everything, your mind would just explode here in the room. It is a God given the thing that you have the ability to fixate on something that might be significant towards the moment and everything else kind of falls into the peripheral.
And so there’s, there’s a good and the bad to that. But it’s important to recognize those things that are memorable, how to hold onto them and recognize them as significant. For example, this past week while I was on vacation at the beach and you weren’t. While I was on vacation at the beach, my wife said, you know, one of the things that she loved about just being there is that this is something our kids are going to look back on and just having memory of what it was to go with mom and dad to the beach and we had some family there with us. And then just making that a memorable moment.
You as an individual in your lives, you have things that you can look back on that just mark you. Something significant, whether even good or bad, that help identify or maybe shape who you are. An experience that if you were to say to someone what are you about something that you’ve gone through that helps define who you are. In fact, I would say as as families, I think tradition becomes important for families. Now, I’m not saying every tradition, some traditions need to just disappear, but there are traditions that become important for families because traditions help define us.
For example, if you ever were married or you’re married when you entered in that marriage, you probably took something from your family that you did around the holidays and brought it into your marriage. And then your spouse is like, why are you doing that? That is not what we do at our family gatherings and holidays. And you try explaining, this is what my family has always done and this is what we’re going to do. And so you bring these, you sort of morph these two identities of families together and create your own traditions that help maybe your kids define family and holiday traditions.
And you as a young person, when you think back to growing up, things that were important. Like my wife at Thanksgiving, every year, she’s got to make broccoli casserole. I mean, for me, that is Thanksgiving. That, eat until I have to unbutton my pants and watch sports all day. You probably didn’t need to know that part, but watch football. It defines what those moments were for your life. And so tradition becomes important in that sense.
Having those memories help shape who you are and the experiences that you carry. Now, not all experiences just should define us, but experiences are important. Even when you think about the Bible. All of scripture is valuable. I don’t want to argue that. But there are some portions of the Bible that carry more weight than others. For example, you may not remember all the genealogy you find in the book of Numbers. But you might gravitate towards a certain statement that Jesus made a significant point in your life that for whatever reason, you just had to read that verse once and it impacted your life.
There’s are places in the Bible that carry more weight for us. And when I look at Mark chapter 8, 9 and 10 as it relates to followers of Jesus, I think this section for us, it should be a highly memorable moment. I get to Mark 10 and I see the way the disciples are recalling the memories of Jesus. In fact, Mark has written by John Mark, but it’s under the leadership of Peter. I think Peter is sharing these stories with Jesus that are memorable. They’re important, they don’t, they’re not every detail about Jesus’s life, but you find a Mark significant details about Jesus’s life that are intended to impact us. And I think specifically 8, 9 and 10 as followers of Jesus, they should become significant portions of scripture to our lives. Something that we try to lock into our long term memory, especially in chapter 10.
And one of the things I want to share in this section of scripture is the significance of what Jesus does as it relates to Jewish history and customs. One of the tragedies I think of church history, is how quickly antisemitism crept into the church. Anytime there is a hate, especially for a people group, it is not valuable and there are repercussions that transcend beyond just a generation. With Jewish history, I think that we are still feeling the effects of it today.
In fact, as we go through this series together, one of the words I’ve tried to harp on off and on, not to overkill it, but enough for you to see the significance is the word kesher. Now, if you’ve been with us in the series, you know what that represents. It’s this idea of string of pearls.
We’ve looked at how God has taken the thoughts of the Old Testament and carried it into the New Testament to orchestrate a big picture of what God desires to accomplish in this world. It’s as if to say, honestly this is not just to diminish other people and beliefs, but it’s just to highlight the significance of Jesus. When you try to compare Christian to other religions in the world, I don’t even know why we would even involve in that conversation simply because, not because I don’t think it’s worthwhile. It is important to talk to people about dialogue of our faith.
But when you look at Christianity, the way it’s played itself out, it is orchestrated itself intentionally. It’s not just this willy nilly put together thing. God has orchestrated this plan from beginning to end. You can see it as biblical scripture unfolds over thousands of years. The word kesher helps us to see that. The word kesher is how we look at the New Testament and how a word in the New Testament plays back all the way to the Old Testament and God’s carrying out this grand theme of redemption for all of mankind.
That centrality has really seen the identity of who Jesus is. Jesus is the point of all of it. So when you see, prophetically, Jesus declared from Genesis 3 on how specific it becomes in his life and the prophecy and how Jesus lives it out. There is nothing in life that can compare to the significance of God’s word and how it just lays itself out masterfully. And keshers help us see that. Now, the bad part is when antisemitism crept into the church, was happened fourth century, some prominent Christian leaders like Augustan, Amberson Milan and even Constantine, they taught antisemitism in the church. And that really even contained on into the Reformation. And the consequences of that were that we lost a lot of understanding and Jewish teaching as it relates to scripture.
When you separate yourself from a people group that wrote the Bible, you’re going to have a difficult time understanding the Bible in its totality when you’re forcing away the very people that had the culture and customs that bring it to life. Even today it plays a part of who we are as people. Antisemitism was a part of the church history and we have feel the effects. Thank God for historians and archeologists that uncover some of these things and get them back to the roots of Old Testament history to bring things to life more in our lives as we read God’s word.
Anytime there’s a hatred for people groups, we all suffer for that. And the consequences go beyond just the generation. I think that’s an important note just to make, if you’ve been in the news even the last couple of days, like some we get to a place of ridiculousness of as people. There’s no room in God’s people for that stuff.
In fact, when God made us Revelation 5:9, 7:9, talks about every tribe, tongue, language around his throne worshiping the Lamb. God is not colorblind. God created people groups because it expresses the beauty of who he is and his desire is to experience that love and unity among his people groups as we discover the goodness of who he is in our lives.
When Peter is writing Mark 10, I want us to discover the significance of this passage of scripture as it relates to the Jewish mentality in this area of the world. Peter began sharing with John Mark in this text lessons he learned about Jesus. But I don’t think they just shaped Peter’s identity and his longterm memory of his relationship to Jesus. I think it shaped the disciples and I think the reason he’s sharing is so that it shapes us as well.
In Mark 10, this passage of scripture starts off with a question. It’s the religious leaders asking Jesus a question. Jesus is, if you remember in this story, as we’ve looked at this together, in Mark 6, John the Baptist was killed. Jesus shortly after journeys outside of Jerusalem, he goes into Gentile areas and we talked about this together, the feeding of the 4,000, feeding of the 5,000, the walking on water, all of those stories. The purpose of those stories was to show us how Jesus didn’t come for just the Jewish people. He came for all nations, all people groups. And I don’t have time to go back and share exactly how feeding 4,000 and 5,000 demonstrates that to us. But if you want to go listen to it, you can online. So Jesus went up into this Gentile area and preaches this message and now he’s journeying back from the Gentile area and he’s heading right to Jerusalem.
And the political environment and the religious environment has changed as it relates to Jesus. People were somewhat inquisitive of Jesus, sometimes challenging Jesus, but really it turned into hatred. Politically they’re starting to turn against Christ. Religiously they are turning against Christ. Jesus is starting to find himself with just his core followers. In fact, in Mark 8, 9 and 10 that’s what we’ve seen. In Mark 8, Jesus says, who do you say that I am? He had just been abandoned by the majority of the crowd and he looks at Peter and says, who do you say that I am? Peter reminds Jesus that you’re the one that has the words of life. But he says, you are the Christ and Jesus says, you’re right, and upon this rock, I’m going to build my church. Upon the profession of who I am, your faith in me, the strength of the church is founded upon that strength I will build my church. He tells us in Matthew 16, it’s not in Mark 8, but in Matthew 16 when he builds his church, not even the gates of hell will prevail.
So there is a powerful force, a movement taking place. It’s not an organization, it’s not a building, it’s not an institution. It’s something growing, living and active in God’s people that rest in you, in me, this morning as I walk with Jesus. So Jesus in Mark 8, 9 and 10 he’s becoming intimate with his disciples and really teaching them what it means to follow him. He’s not making this complex. He’s just sharing the truth of what it means to be a follower of him. And he’s journeying, knowing that the religious environment and the political environment is turning against him and he’s going straight into Jerusalem. And it says, “Getting up he went from there to the regional Judah and beyond the Jordan crowds gathered around him again and according to his customs, he wants more, began to teach them. And some Pharisees came up to Jesus testing him,” notice that word testing him. “And began to question him whether it was lawful for a man to divorce a wife.”
Peter is sharing the story about Jesus and the way Jesus impacted him in this significant moment in the life of following after him that he wants to mark our lives and it starts in chapter 10th with a question. Now, this question to some of us may look innocent, but I want to tell you the motivation behind this question, verse two, is evil. Because the Pharisees asking this question, don’t even care about the answer. Jesus actually answers. I’ll talk a little bit about the answer that Jesus gives, but I’m going to tell you if I’m hermeneutically looking, exposing this text the way that this text is being taught, the point of this portion of scripture has nothing to do with marriage. The idea of marriage is a secondary note for what the Pharisees are trying to accomplish in this passage of scripture.
Now knowing I’m gonna talk about marriage, let me just say this, that I recognize in our lives, we’re not always perfect and we can’t control the path. And sometimes we talk about things like this there’s pain, there’s difficulty in all of that, and there needs to be grace, but we can’t understand what Jesus desires for us and live for the future in him. So what we’re going to share in this we share with grace, but in truth too.
When they’re asking this question, they’re testing him. And so they’re asking this question not with pure motives, to understand the answer to this, they don’t care about the answer. The motivation for their question is evil in it’s purpose. Let me tell you why. Jesus in journeying back from this Gentile region as he’s heading towards Jerusalem, he’s crossing the area of where Herod Antipas rains.
Now, Herod Antipas for the most part for the rest of our lives, who cares? But in this section of scripture becomes significant to understand. Because Herod Antipas is the one who just killed John the Baptist. John the Baptist was killed because he went to Herod Antipas and said, I don’t think it’s a good idea for you to marry your brother’s wife. In fact, that’s sin. And his brother’s wife got mad about it and asked for John the Baptist head to be put on a platter. And Herod Antipas delivered it. And so when these individuals are asking Jesus this question, at the very least, they’re hoping to discredit Jesus. But maybe Jesus will open his mouth enough, and what happened to John the Baptist will happen to him. Because John the Baptist, who is Jesus’ cousin just recently died and they’re asking a very emotionally prodded question in this moment.
I can tell you this has been an anomaly for me this week, but just this past week we had a friend of ours pass away who I coached as a young lady on a basketball team. My cousin who is younger than me just died in a car wreck. And I had another cousin have a problem with diabetes and he passed away. All of them under the age of 40. In one week I’ve never had so many people die. That’s an emotionally charged week to have on vacation.
Now Jesus is being asked the same question about marriage that he know led to the death of his cousin or his half cousin. I don’t know how I would handle myself in that kind of situation. They’re testing him. I think I would punch someone. I wouldn’t do that, but I know what they’re doing. Their motivation is just to draw out something in Jesus that would maybe lead to this death. Or at the very least discredit him because not only are they in the region where Herod Antipas is that that just got John the Baptist killed, Herod Antipas is even talking about, “Is this Jesus, is it John the Baptist raised from the grave?” At the same time, this question is even a debate among the religious leaders.
They are debating this because Moses permitted divorce within Israel, so they are debating this question. So at the very least, they’re going to discredit Jesus and he’s going to divide the crowds. So whether it leads to Jesus’ death, or at least to division, they’re just going to do whatever they can to throw at Jesus to diminish him so they could care less about what the answer is. That is not their motivation. But Jesus giving a stand for truth, he gives an answer. He says in verse six, he goes all the way back to Genesis, he says, but from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female. For this reason, a man shall leave his father and mother and the two shall become one flesh. So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together let no man separate. Jesus gives an answer, and I’m sure people had all kinds of opinions.
Jesus just goes to the truth. What Jesus shares for here is significant. I just want to highlight it just for a few moments just so that we have a biblical perspective ourselves. Because when it comes to sexuality in our culture, sometimes there is all sorts of different thoughts and statements. But we as believers in Christ want to follow Jesus. And so Jesus goes back to Genesis and Genesis chapter one and he uses this. He recognizes how God created us. God created us, it tells us in Genesis 1:26, 27, God made us in his image and the image of God. He made him male and female. It tells us so when God made man, he says, let us make man in our image. When God says the word man, it’s the word adom. And the word adom is not Adam, the word adom means humanity or mankind.
So when God says, I’m gonna make mankind, he’s making him in his image. Male and female, we are equal in our creation before God. We have this equality being made in God’s image, male and female, humankind. And then he says in Genesis 2:18, using adom again, it’s not good for adom, humanity, mankind to be alone. That God didn’t create us for solidarity. This idea for alone really means to work and produce in solidarity. God didn’t make us for the purpose to be alone or working produced in solidarity.
So what it says in Genesis 2:21, God calls us Adam, first man from the earth is what it says in the Hebrew text being formed from the earth. He causes Adam to fall asleep. And you’ve probably heard this story that he takes Adam’s rib and he makes woman. And guys, if you count your ribs, you got one less rib.
I’m just kidding. That’s not true. That’s not true at all. But in Genesis 2:21, he takes from man and creates woman. But what’s really being communicated there isn’t necessarily rib, the word that’s used is to selah. And what it means is from the side. And so what it’s saying is God makes humanity in his image. As he’s making humanity, he pulls from the side, male and female. And so while God makes us equal, he also makes us with gender giftedness that causes us to be unique and both compliment one another in the image of God.
So when it comes to equality, I’m all for equality. There’s beauty in equality. And I’m all for recognizing the beauty of gender giftedness as it relates to the Lord has God has made us in his image and a complementarian way towards one another. So what the text says is that God created humankind, demonstrated it was not good for humankind to be one or be alone, and then took a side or the half of humankind and created female. And so what was remaining was male. And in that two become one. So much so they complimented each other well, that the word one means you can’t tell where one ends and the other one begins.
So this is what God desires within relationship. To live and fight for that unity. And so when he’s asked this question about marriage, that’s where Jesus goes to, because in the society they’re arguing morality over this position. Is it okay to get divorced? And when it comes into sexuality, every culture, every culture has argued to some degree over what this represents within the people group. It’s important to understand where you stand. Look, but I’m going to tell you, not with hate but with love.
I’m going to bring this back to racism, I’m going to talk about sexuality for a minute. But let me just say, I said how much the church has suffered from antisemitism. We’re not ignorant as to know that racism still exists in our culture today. If you watch the news over the last couple days, you’ve seen it play itself out. And when I say how much we suffer from that here, here can be our tendency as people: we can get mad about it and I can say it doesn’t belong here. It doesn’t belong here. It doesn’t belong among God’s people. God’s about every tribe, tongue, language and nation. God created the ethnic groups to express the beauty of who he is. That is not what we’re about. But here can become the uprising within us.
You can become hateful to that response. And I refuse to do that. I don’t want this to go too far, but let me tell you something. If we could get this in our church, I don’t want to ever push this away. White supremacy, radical Islam. We see words like that and people just get angry and they get frustrated and they want to shove it away. And I know what’s done by those people is hateful. It’s demonic. It’s simple, it’s wrong. But the thing that saves them, the thing that rescues and the thing that transforms them is Jesus. And I want to share the truth of who Jesus is.
I watched Martin Martin Luther’s niece on TV today and she said this beautiful thing. She said, “My uncle led civil rights movement, but you know, his primary motive wasn’t civil rights movement. That’s just what he happened to do. His motive was the souls and the hearts of people. And God just used the civil rights movement to use him to do that.” Martin Luther was a preacher. He cared about people. That’s why he led such calm expressions in our culture when it needed to change, he stood for the truth. He absolutely stood for the truth, and he loved on people, even I would say enemies because he knew what changed hearts.
When I look at the sinfulness of the world, I hate it. I hate it. I hate seeing that crap. It’s garbage. And it’s even in my own heart. And that that says to me even more Nathaniel, just keep pushing into Jesus. Keep sharing the truth of Jesus and don’t cower at darkness and don’t hunker from it and call it bad. God has called you to storm down the gates of hell. And sometimes it looks ugly to a degree in way where you want to shove it away and you want to call it bad and you want to be nothing. But God calls me to pierce the darkness.
And as much as I hate those things, the truth is part of the reason I hate those things is because I see those things in me. And I’m becoming a proponent of it when I respond the same way that they’ve already reciprocated in their own behavior towards me. And I refuse, I refuse to let that evil live in my heart. That’s what Jesus is demonstrating in this passage. These people asking this question, the question of morality. Their motivation is evil, but Jesus is standing in truth.
The Bible tells us, listen, Jesus was accused of being a drunkard and a sinner because he pursued them as light. He hung around the darkness because his light transforms darkness. They’re asking this question of morality over the sexuality in marriage. But can I tell you it in your own culture, it’s going to be the same thing. Here’s the danger in our culture. Our culture has positioned ourselves to be God. And so what we say in our culture is what feels right to you. If you are made that way, then pursue it. But if I just said to you this morning, do you think rape is right? No. You think adultery is right, or fornication is right? None of us are free from the possibility of any sin in this world. All of us are capable as human beings because sin rests in our heart. But you would say, no, that’s not right.
Now I’d make the appeal. How do you know? Did you determine that truth? No. We recognize there’s a governing morality beyond all of us. That’s why across the world, acknowledge God or not, we’re going to say murder is wrong. Because God has put his morality within us. We recognize certain truths that as human beings, that whether we acknowledge God or not, we live our lives for a certain way. Now we know in following Jesus that God is the one who governs and determines what’s right and wrong.
So the question then becomes, why then do we use ourselves to position ourselves as the determination of what’s morally right and wrong? If it feels right to you, it may be right or wrong in God’s eyes, but that’s not where you stop the question. You don’t stop the question with yourself. You stop the question with the Lord. Is this right or wrong with God? What does God say about it?
I may feel one way. Hitler felt one way, but the way Hitler felt was not right. I’m not using the truth to determine what was right from Hitler. It’s from God. We do that with everything in our lives. I love people. I walk in truth. Jesus is doing that in this passage in a way that’s controversial to others, but he’s showing us how to take a stand. And Peter sank. You should have seen this moment, Mark. Write this down. This needs to be in the Gospels. Jesus goes into this area where people are confronting him. They’re asking this question. They could care less about his answer. Jesus stands there and he loves and he gives an answer and he responds and he stands for truth and then he goes on a little bit further. I’m going to skip down and I’m gonna share this passage.
Then it says this. They are on the road going up to Jerusalem and Jesus was walking on ahead of them. And they were amazed and those who followed were fearful. And again, he took the 12 aside and began to tell them what was going to happen. It’s like this, Jesus is going back to Jerusalem. And we already know how people perceive Jesus now. And I’m going to walk about 20 yards ahead of him, just to see if he’s all right. But if something goes down, I am out of there. Jesus is fearlessly walking into this.
Could you imagine how Peter’s articulating and saying to Mark, there’s something that Jesus did. I wasn’t getting it in my mind, but then Jesus started to unfold for me when I saw this. Jesus fearlessly, and he is fearlessly going into Jerusalem. He didn’t even look back. All of us are peaking over our shoulders, worried about what’s going to happen and Jesus is just strong, courageous, marching into Jerusalem. I couldn’t believe it. Living with no regrets. Moving forward.
Could you imagine if Jesus had looked back? There is hesitation. What would that communicate to his disciples? You look at the story as it unfolded in Mark, we’ve said this together, Jesus came declaring his kingdom, he demonstrated his kingdom, he invited us to his kingdom. And now all of a sudden this powerful King who says the gates of hell are not going to prevail looks like a chicken going into Jerusalem. But Jesus walked in confidently.
I’ve heard people say that Jesus he may not have wanted to be crucified or he had part of his life where he wrestled with it and they use a text for that and I don’t think it’s true. This is the text that’s used. In Matthew 26 Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane praying, it says, and he went a little beyond them. He fell on his face and prayed, saying, my Father, if it’s possible, let this cup pass from me. Yet, not as I will, but as you will like.
So obviously Jesus wants this to pass and he doesn’t want to go to the cross. He’s praying in the garden right before his crucifixion. That’s what I’ve heard people teach. I don’t think that is biblical. You can debate with me over this if you want, but I’m going to tell you it’s wrong. But this is a portion of scripture because we’ve lost touch with Jewish understanding that the idea of a kesher here become significant to understand what Jesus is saying. Let me just tell you why. A couple of reasons that I’ll explain this passage.
One, Jesus knew his entire life was about his death. In fact, Jesus in Matthew 26 has just finished celebrating the Passover with his disciples. The Passover started with Moses where they sacrificed the lamb. They gathered around, they sacrificed the lamb, they ate bread that was unleavened saying no sin. It was striped and pierced as Jesus will be striped and pierced with no sin, and they applied the blood of the lamb to their lives. All of that, a foreshadowing of Jesus. In fact, they even left a tea spot at the table empty, representation of the coming future promises of Jesus.
This whole thing was a picture of Jesus. Jesus’ whole life was about his death. In fact, when Jesus appeared, John the Baptist’s statement about him in John 1:29, Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Saying all of it culminates in Jesus. And John the Baptist is identifying Jesus as the ultimate Passover lamb.
In Hebrews 12, talking about the cross. I’ll say Paul, said this, fixing your eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross. Jesus’ life was about his death. Now I’m not saying Jesus like yippee, the cross. But rather the joy of what the cross produced. In our darkest moments, God has the glory to turn everything that’s bad into good for his goodness and glory. And so Jesus is looking at the cross thinking about his life producing life in us.
Jesus isn’t trying to avoid the cross. And let me tell you what he’s saying in Matthew 26. He went into Jerusalem boldly because he knew what his life was about. And when he’s saying, let this cup pass, remember he’s just partook of communion. The Passover celebration.
During the Passover celebration as they’re reading the striped and pierce bread and they are partaking of the lamb, one of the things that happens is that there is a cup that’s pasted. In the bottom of the cup there are bitter herbs. And the way Jewish custom taught it, they said you had to drink deep from the cup before you let it pass. And the bottom of that cup, that bitter herb, represented sin as a reminder of what the lamb would cover. The last person before they let the cup pass had a drink from it deep consuming the bitter herbs.
What Jesus is praying in the garden isn’t let this cup pass because I don’t want to go through it. It’s actually the exact opposite. He’s praying, God, give me the strength to drink and drink deep all that is in this cup so that this cup my pass. Jesus is looking to the Father to give him the strength to pay for the penalty of sin on the cross. Jesus goes into Jerusalem courageously. And this is marking in Peter’s longterm memory and identity has a disciple. Jesus never wavered.
Then Jesus gives this statement. This statement is kind of important, because when you read the context here in Mark 10:35, the disciples see Jesus marching boldly into Jerusalem. He’s like, man, he’s a one man army. He’s going to conquer. And they start arguing over who’s going to be greater in the kingdom. I’m going to be this powerful and I’m going to be this powerful. And then Jesus gives this statement, whoever wishes to be first among you shall be a slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.
What he’s saying in this passage is that those who are strong actually get beneath and serve. And when Jesus uses this word ransom, it really creates a picture. It’s a word, it’s a kesher word. This picture actually goes all the way back to the word for redemption in the Old Testament. In our language today we have different words for financial transactions like you have debt credit, hopefully have more credit than debt. Cashflow, receipts. We have different words for different financial transactions. In Jesus day, the same thing was true. And this word ransom was a financial transaction that was used when you would purchase a slave from the slave market.
What Jesus is saying about his life is that though he was King, he took his position, power and authority as King and he got beneath the lowest people of position in society, the slave, and he served beneath them. Which by the way is a picture of all of us. Inability to save ourselves, inability to come off the slave market. Jesus comes beneath us and serves us. And what he’s given a picture of is what the church is about.
Remember Philippians 2, we talked about months ago as a church family that had this mind in you, which is also in Christ Jesus. Though being in the form of God thought it nothing to be grasping, humbled himself, even to become a servant, even death, death on the cross. And so what it’s saying in Philippians 2, Jesus in walking into a room was always the most important person in the room. But he didn’t declare himself the most important person in the room. Rather what he did is he got beneath people to serve them.
There is light that pierced the darkness. And he’s saying to the disciples, the way that we are called to serve in this world, to push back the darkness, to storm down the gates of hell in the power of Christ is to get beneath and serve through the goodness of who Christ is.
When you look at Mark 10, which I’m not going to go through all of this, you can read it this week as maybe a devotional time, but as Jesus is demonstrating his life, the boldness of his kingdom and what it means to be a disciple with him, you see in the context of Mark 10 people just missing it over and over again. First 12 verses, you’ve already seen it. The Pharisees are rejecting Jesus trying to get him killed. There’s a rich young ruler that comes along the ass what he can do to inherit eternal life. This rich young ruler by culturally evaluation we would say is an outstanding young man. He was a ruling officer, he was a man of morals and manners. He had a spiritual interest in his life. He was the ideal young man.
Jesus still reveals something in his heart. Where he’s putting his trust financially. And Jesus even gives that statement. It’s easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than a rich man to get him to heaven, which by the way, if you ever look at that passage, there is no place in Jerusalem called a needle that a camel is supposed to go through. That doesn’t exist. It’s a made up thing. I think Jesus is literally saying it’s easier for a camel to get through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get into heaven. What he’s simply saying is, he is demonstrating what he is trusting in. The Pharisees and their religion, the rich man in his wealth, even the disciples and their power arguing in chapter 10 verse 35 to 45 I’m going to be greater in the kingdom.
Then Jesus gives a picture, an example of the one that is great in the kingdom. It tells us in chapter 10 verse 47 Jesus encounters a blind man. It says, when you heard that it was Jesus, the Nazarene, this blind man sitting and Jesus walking by him, the blind man began to cry out and say, Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me. Then Jesus said, go, your faith has made you well, immediately he regained his sight and began to follow him on the road. And just one statement, this blind man identified who Jesus was in his life. Jesus, son of David. Jesus means salvation. Son of David talking about his kingship. He sang, saving King, save me. Please Lord.
In just one statement, God demonstrates for us the paradox of Christianity. That the weak bind the strong, and the foolish confound the wise. God’s not looking for impressive people according to worldly standards. He’s looking for the people that see the simplicity of who he is and the significance of it in their lives and embrace it. Jesus, in this sense in Mark 10 and showing us discipleship, he’s teaching us that courageous discipleship is not about how powerful you are or how impressive you are to other people. Courageous discipleship in Jesus’ mind, he’s demonstrating that what it takes is clarity.
In life I think as people we lose momentum and complexity, but I think there’s power in clarity. Jesus’ statement on building the church, calling it a gate-storming hell-crushing people group all had to do with one statement. Who do you say that I am?
Being an effective disciple or leader for Christ, the thing that Jesus is highlighting for us is the clarity in our pursuit with him. It’s really a difference of understanding the position of a programmer or a designer. I think both are important. A programmer tends to get in the weeds of writing a particular programs to accomplish a task. But a designer is one that keeps the overall perspective. In your life you’re going to live out both of those scenarios and what you do. The programmer answers the question, what. What are we gonna do? But the reason you answer the question, what is, because you’ve answered the question why. Why are we even doing it?
Why defines the what. The designer keeps the idea of why in mind so the programmer can accomplish the what. And so when you look at the why in your life and you stay central to the why in your life, it helps articulate and define within your life the simplicity of how you live your life so you can define the what.
Clarity becomes important in the life of the disciples. You look at in Jesus’s life, you see the clarity for him when he’s walking into Jerusalem. The complexity of everything else around him religiously, politically. Jesus identified himself in relationship to the Father. He knows exactly why he’s being brought to this world in the flesh or why he’s coming to this world in the flesh. And even with the church, this movement, not institution, not program, this movement of people. There is power in the clarity of our identity.
When you look at the life of the apostle Paul, the apostle Paul goes through this world planting churches, seeing more people come to Christ probably than anyone before. And he says this in Philippians 3:13 he says this, Paul, you want, you want to know the secret of why I did what I did or how I did what I did? Because I never forgot the why. Philippians 3:13 this one thing I do.
So Paul said this one thing I do, forgetting what lies behind moving forward to what lies ahead and the upward calling Christ Jesus. He had the clarity of his identity in Christ. And in his long term memory, that’s what he allows to shape his identity so that he lived his life in the what, According to the why as it was central to Jesus.
I read that same book that was talking about our longterm memory, it was a book on anxiety and depression. It said this, it talked about when dealing with anxiety and depression, there’s several reasons people have it, I’m not going to give you the solution because there’s multiple reasons that we can encounter that in life. But it did talk about one of the reasons. And one of the reasons it said this, we don’t have clarity.
We don’t have clarity in who we’re supposed to be as people and so we try to please everybody. We find ourselves not pleasing anybody and ourselves unsatisfied because we never live for the purpose which we are created. And in that we find anxiety and depression. But the clarity of our identity in shaping ourselves according to what Christ says, not only gives us purpose, but it gives us courage to live in the power which God has called us.
I think this when it comes to being a disciple, Jesus shows us clarity, he shows us conviction by the Holy Spirit. Not just conviction because Hitler was convicted, convicted wrong, but he’s, he had a conviction. I’m saying conviction by the Holy Spirit, which rest in truth. And then the wisdom, the competency to live it out in the wisdom. Meaning not only do you have the truth, but you know how to articulate it in the society in a way that loves people with the truth that serves them as Jesus served us.
It creates a powerful individual. One that sees incredible things happen for the cause of Christ. And Peter shares Mark 8, 9 and 10 for us in our minds to grab ahold of these thoughts. What does it mean to be a disciple? The simplicity of the clarity of Jesus and all of the things in this world that can be complex. All of the things in this world that tries to pull your time and take your life and whatever that is, define it under the clarity of who Christ is. Shape your life in that way, the clarity and the conviction and the wisdom and the competency to just live it out. When you see that truth, don’t be afraid to embrace it. That’s what a gates stormer does.
I’ll close with this story. There was a man by the name of Elijah Lovejoy. He was a minister in Illinois and he witnessed the lynching of a slave. It struck him so deep in his heart that he quit his job as a minister and he joined the press. His motivation was to have a bigger voice to speak against the atrocities of what was happening in America. When Elijah Lovejoy chose to do that, along with that came angry mobs who continued to threaten his life up until the age of 35 when they finally took his life. In 1837 at the age of 35 a mob came to the printing press, destroyed it and killed him.
The crazy part was is that no one from the mob was ever prosecuted. In fact, one of the individuals that was responsible for murdering ended up becoming a mayor in Alton, Illinois. None of them were ever prosecuted, but the people that tried to defend Lovejoy, they were actually prosecuted for defending him. But at 35 years old, 1837 being a minister led by conviction of the Holy Spirit with wisdom in this world spoke with clarity of the truth of who Jesus was.
Now, most of us don’t know who Eliza Lovejoy is. But there was one individual who was profoundly affected by Lovejoy’s actions. That individual would become a future leader. He witnessed personally, he was friends with Elijah Lovejoy. He was younger than Elijah Lovejoy, and so Elijah Lovejoy has a big impact in his life, but he witnessed his biblical convictions. The persecution he endured and his martyrdom. That individual had just been elected to his first political position in the Illinois House of Representatives in 1834. Just over two decades later, that individual would lead us through the Civil War.
His name was Abraham Lincoln. David Hume, one of the greatest atheist was marked one time in his life running to go listen to George Whitfield preach. And the individual that saw David Hume trying to run to listen to George Whitfield preach said to him, why do you want to listen to him? You’re an atheist. His remark was, yeah, you’re right, but the things that he says, he says with such conviction. I’m not telling you that you’re going to be the next Abraham Lincoln. I’m telling you the clarity of the you live your life and the conviction you carry and the wisdom you use to demonstrate that matters.
You’re a darkness piercer. You’re a light bearer. Having the power of Christ rest in you. The same courage that rested in Jesus as he walked into Jerusalem is the same power of the Spirit that rests with us as people. And I’ve said this to you before, but when we talk about Jesus, sometimes we talk about it from a place of desperation in a sense where we say, take Jesus because you might die today. But the truth is you don’t take Jesus simply because you might die today. It’s because you have to live tomorrow. God has called you to live with boldness in this world. That’s what it means to be a disciple. And when I say boldness, I don’t say boldness that carries hate against hatred. I’m saying boldness that’s so strong that loves with the truth of God’s word in the midst of darkness that the glory of God may be made known in your life.