Sermon Manuscript – Mark 3:7-19

The Famous One

Mark 3:7-19

-Think back to your friend group from High School. What kinds of nicknames did you have? I never had anything that stuck with me (apart from “Mike the Spike” from my aunt that stopped when I was about 5)

-I love giving people nicknames! It was an especially helpful gift when I was a youth pastor, and it drove the High School students NUTS! Maddy became Maddy-line, Clay became Clayton, and I stuck with it until they graduated. But something funny happened after they graduated: every student who claimed they hated their nicknames suddenly started using them as their social media handles TO THIS DAY!

-Our friends help provide a sense of identity and purpose to our lives, yet they also have the potential to hurt us in ways we never would have thought we could be! The same was true of Jesus and his friends. 


-Before we dive into today’s text, I want to take some time to highlight some big picture ideas that we’ve already been seeing in Mark’s Gospel. I’m intentionally going through big sections so we can get through it in a timely manner, but this week’s text gives us a little breathing room and time to contemplate some of the bigger focuses Mark is bringing.

-First, remember how Mark begins, his prologue to the story: The gospel (good news) of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

-This was very intentional! Shows his whole hand before anyone else has been dealt. The reason Mark wrote this book was to tell people about Jesus, to spread the gospel message as far as he possibly could! 

-This signifies to us us that everything Mark is telling in this story is to communicate to us that specific reality: Jesus is unique among all human history. He is the Christ, the Messiah, the Anointed One. He’s the one that all the law and prophets pointed to, and the only person who perfectly obeyed them all. But He didn’t stop there, He also fulfilled every prophecy God had made, He divides human history (and the human heart!). Everyone will bow the knee to Him, either willingly or by force, and He invites us to join with Him in His mission to seek and save the lost.

-As Jesus’ ministry starts, John the Baptist prepares the way for Him, points to Him, and even sends at least 1 disciple over to Jesus! After this preparation has taken place, Jesus is commissioned by the HS to go into the wilderness to be tempted. Not a fair fight! Not equal in power or authority, but as we’ll see in today’s text, Jesus is making a new Israel. Where the first Israel (and our first parents) failed, Jesus survives temptation, time in the wilderness, and then comes back to begin His ministry

-However, His ministry doesn’t look how people expect it to! Remember the tagline I shared from ‘The Chosen’ (kinda cheesy) “Get used to different”

-Changes expectations about rituals, He heals with a word, and people can’t get enough of it!

  1. Expanding Fame (7-12)

-After the showdown between the Pharisees and Jesus, He runs away. Remember last week we saw the final of 5 confrontations between Jesus and the Pharisees. First was the forgiving of the paralytic’s sins (who was lowered into Peter’s home from 4 friends), then hanging out with “scum” like Matthew/Levi, then Jesus is confronted for not fasting on the regular, then His disciples are found picking grain as they walked through a field, and the final straw was the healing of a man with a withered hand at the synagogue on the Sabbath.

-Need to admit: this wasn’t a fair fight to begin with, but Jesus still soundly defeated them. Jesus confronts their hard hearts at each step of the discussion. He calls out their sinful thoughts, He engages their sinful questions, and then is angered over their lack of compassion toward the poor and marginalized.

-As we’ve been working through these various stories, I hope you have been thinking through who these people would be today! Part of the point of these stories is to help us be drawn to someone and repulsed by someone else. That’s really the point of every story! They’re trying to make a bigger point than just an entertaining story (at least good stories!). What ideas has Jesus turned upside down in your life? We so often want to tack Jesus onto what we already want to do instead of submitting everything we have and are to His Lordship in our life. Our aim (assuming you have put your faith in Him), is now to do everything we can to bring Him honor and glory. Part of the way we do that is by working to imitate Him. The reason we’re called “Christians” is because we’re supposed to be “little Christs” (within reason, none of us will be called to atone for the sins of the world!) But we are commissioned, sent by Him to go into all the world and make disciples of all the nations. This is the greatest adventure anyone could ever be called into! God wants to use you to accomplish an eternal mission! This isn’t just a Sunday morning affair, this is an entire life encompassing journey where God can use normal ordinary people like you and me.

-Back to the text: we are starting to see a pattern emerging for Jesus: major event happens, He isolates Himself. He’s not trying to create a following or build a big crowd, that’s not why He was sent to Earth. His aim is to accomplish His Father’s will, to seek and save the lost. Or as he said in 1:15 “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” Despite regular distractions or shifts from his primary focus, He continues to go back to His primary ministry: preaching. But He can’t do it indefinitely, He needs time to recharge and pray.

-But those crowds once again serve as a foil to Jesus’ plans, He can’t escape them!

-These crowds are coming from all over now. It’s not just Capernaum trying to get to Jesus. Look at all the various places that are listed: Galilee (been there) Judea, Jerusalem, Idumea, beyond Jordan, Tyre, and Sidon isn’t even on the map! Jesus thought it was bad after the leper, but it just got worse! Can’t hide, can’t get a moment to Himself (next week we’ll see He doesn’t even have time to eat!), the crowd keeps following Him everywhere He goes.

-What draws them to Jesus? “Heard all that he was doing” (8)

-What does that look like? So desperate to get something from Him that they’re on the verge of crushing Him. This is people who are just using Jesus to achieve their purposes. Not interested in hearing what He has to say, not interested in learning from Him, just want their interests met. 

-The crowd grows so large that He has his disciples create an escape route for Him, but even that may not be enough to get away! People can still swim, at least a little distance. 

-Remember, we’ve already seen that Jesus doesn’t get sidetracked or give into demands, but He still heals many people, such that anyone who was sick is desperate to get to Him.

-Imagine if you had a debilitating disease and had it for years. What would you do to take care of it? How desperate do you think you’d become? Think of the woman who was bleeding for 12 years (we’ll get there in a bit, in Mark 5). The Bible tells us she had been to as many Physicians as she could, to the point that she had spent every penny she had on trying to be healed, but it only got worse. As she hears about the unbelievable number of healings that were taking place because of Jesus how desperate do you think she would have been? How desperate would YOU have been? Imagine if you were struck deaf right now. What would you give to hear again? 

-Every so often there’s a new video that goes viral of something like a child  getting cochlear implantsturned on for the first time. They tug at the heart strings, don’t they? Or maybe you’ve seen similar videos where someone who was colorblind gets special glasses to see color?

-“You guys can see this everyday?” And that’s just with color! Imagine not being able to see, or hear, or walk, and in an instant you’re healed.

-The reason I share a video like that is because it’s easy to leave these stories as text on a page and forget that it’s referring to real people. If you’d been blind your whole life wouldn’t you stop at nothing to get to the healer?

-The difficulty is that everyone needs healing of some sort, but some people are better able to hide it than others. And the spiritual healing everyone needs is often viewed as less important than the physical healing. However, Scripture tells us that the angels in heaven throw a party, get more excited than this guy who saw color for the first time, whenever someone puts their faith in Jesus. 

-But sick people aren’t the only ones taking notice of Jesus. There’s a certain level of irony in vs. 10. Everyone wants something from Jesus EXCEPT the unclean spirits who just want to be left alone.

-Each story we’ve been studying serves to validate Mark’s first verse and is meant to force the reader to answer the question: who is Jesus? The evil spirits already know the answer to that, but they hate it! People have ideas about who Jesus is, but he keeps subverting their expectations, turning them on their head! People are hoping, they’d been anxiously waiting, but is this really Him? The demons don’t question it, but they’re upset about it!

-Why does he continue to silence them? Remember Jesus’ primary mission is to preach, and everything else serves to validate the preaching. It’s not the right time for His glory and identity to be revealed. Not that it’s stopping the news from traveling (once again, a bit of irony here). His fame keeps spreading, there’s nothing He can do to stop it! Which leads Him to this repeated pattern of withdrawing, spending time alone. Well, not always alone, as we see in the next section:

  • Shrinking Focus (13-19)

-Mountains have a special place in God’s story.

-Abraham went up to a mountain to offer Isaac (same mountain where Solomon’s temple would eventually be built)

-Moses goes up to a mountain to meet with the Lord and establish the rules for relationship between God and His people (Exodus)

-Mark is signifying that God through Jesus is re-establishing His people here

-It’s important to note how this is taking place. All God’s work, nothing the people did “called to him those whom he desired” and 14 literally states “he made 12” Not great English (and most of this isn’t great Greek writing either) but Mark is making a point that this is Jesus’ doing, not the apostles.

-Where the first Israel failed, this new Israel will not! Where the first Israel was meant to be a light to the nations (Isa. 49:6), this new Israel will go out into all the nations. Where the first Israel was meant to be “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Ex. 19:6), this new Israel are all priests and a holy nation (1 Peter 2:9). 

-Mark makes an additional note about these 12: Jesus calls them apostles. Not used many times in the Bible, but denotes the idea that these are meant to be messengers or representatives. Which makes sense when you look at their mission:

-3 fold mission: be with, sent, preach and have authority (preach with authority like Jesus did)

-Be with: marked by time being close to Jesus. Following His ways, learning His methods, becoming a student of Him. Same call for us today! One author I’ve read states that we are to apprentice ourselves to Jesus.

-Sent. We aren’t meant to live in isolation, Jesus has commissioned us and sent us out to be His ambassadors to the world, representing and pointing to Him. This is why at the end of our service, instead of dismissing, we are sent to go out and represent Jesus to the best of our ability to the world.

-Preach and have authority: we can’t represent Jesus without preaching! “Preach the gospel at all times, and if necessary use words” doesn’t fit with what Jesus sends His disciples to do! The authority comes from all the previous things: being with, sent as his representatives, and preaching. One note – in this context it’s not preaching as referring to what I’m doing now. All of us are called to preach the gospel at all times, and it’s necessary to use words! Brothers and sisters, our words are meant to point people to God. Do yours?

-Same 12 throughout all the Gospels. Not everyone who followed Jesus during his earthly ministry (otherwise there would have been no Matthias to replace Judas)

-Simon first, Peter translation of Cephas “rock” Have you ever been given a nickname? That’s what Jesus apparently does with his friends too! Rock is a bit of a misnomer here, because we all know what happens to Peter during the rest of Jesus’ ministry! Denies Jesus 3 times, tends to be the most outspoken one, hardly tempting to call him a “rock.” But Jesus sees something the world doesn’t see in Peter, and he winds up preaching what is probably the most impactful sermon ever done. Just so happened to be his first sermon too, 3,000 people are saved because of his first sermon! It’s all downhill from there.

-James and John, brothers whose nicknames were “sons of Thunder” Either strong reaction, maybe they were big dudes, did something that when we get to heaven we can find out about that got them referred to as “sons of thunder.”

-Peter’s brother Andrew (not sure why Mark has them split up, but Peter, James, and John serve as Jesus’ “inner 3” so that may be why) 

-Don’t know much about the rest of the disciples with the exception of 3: Matthew/Levi, the second Simon and Judas Iscariot.  

-Remember what Levi/Matthew’s occupation was before Jesus called him? Tax collector. The second Simon is described as what? Zealot, actively working to overthrow the Roman rule. How do you think those 2 guys got along? I don’t think it’s a coincidence that these 2 men were brought together as part of Jesus’ reformation of the people of God. You couldn’t have 2 more politically diverging groups. And they lived and ministered together for 3+ years! 

-The church offers friendship based on alien standards. The world tries to copy the sense of comradery and depth that Christians have, but it’s built on a fault line and won’t endure the realities of the world. We in the church in America have too closely wedded politics and our faith for too long, and we need to reassess our priorities to remain faithful to the Bible. Dear friends, we need to evaluate people according to God’s standards, not political standards (I’m grateful it’s not another election year!). Politics have become many people’s religion and litmus test for orthodoxy, but it provides overly simplistic solutions to a much bigger and deeper problem. That’s why we need the gospel.

-Keller: “The gospel is this: we are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared to believe, yet at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope.” 

-Politics only vilifies one side and only commends their side. What happens if you question or doubt? You’re cast aside! Jesus not only welcomes people in, He brings on their questions and draws near when you feel furthest away. Not only that, He doesn’t allow you to continue operating by the worldly standards you used when you first came to Him. All worldly standards fall short in some way, only the gospel is strong enough to endure under the weight of reality. It takes the messiness and brokenness of people and instead of blaming others, it deals with all of it on a cross. And that cross needs to remain true of us today. Jesus says we’re supposed to take up our cross DAILY and follow Him. Do you think it’s supposed to be easy? It’s not easy, but God gives us Himself to help us work through it. But it’s not just Himself, He brings us into a community.

-One of the difficulties in our world today is finding community. The hardest transition point in my life was college to post-college. How do you make friends? And then people add expectations and desires that no group can meet! Enter: the church!

-Tweet from a number of years ago.

-One of the things I’ve learned in ministry is people tend to complain about not being “connected” to a church in August and January. What’s the lead up to those months? And then when you ask: what have you been putting into the church? Oh nothing, people are supposed to pursue me! Yes, up to a point. But if you don’t engage, if you don’t let others in, if you don’t reach out no one is going to engage with you. All relationships are 2 sided (except God towards us, we can’t contribute anything to that)

-And the church is supposed to be a supernatural community that gets along where the world can’t. Where people from different ethnic backgrounds, different generations, different economic realities can gather together because we’re a part of something much bigger than the world we live in. And Jesus has the audacity to use us as his messengers. Isn’t that crazy?

-Friends, even when we get to lists of names in the Bible, they’re important for us to slow and contemplate exactly what’s being said! Jesus intentionally modeled for us what relationships in the church are supposed to look like. They’re not easy, there will be betrayal, we’ll need to get over some of our preferences and ideals, and all of this is good because it’s a reminder that it’s not about us! We’re not supposed to come to church to BE served, we’re supposed to come to church to serve, and everything we do is meant to represent Jesus to those we rub shoulders with.

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