Mark 6:6-30 – Sermon Manuscript

-What is your favorite story?

-Tortoise and the hare, George Washington and the cherry tree, or even the modern stories of Steve Rogers becoming Capt America, Tony Stark designing the iron man suit, or Harry Potter discovering he’s a wizard.

-We are storied creatures, we live for stories, we even use stories to make sense of our world. I started reading a book this week that talks about how the story of the Bible helps us to see and understand everything around us, and at first glance it appears to be at least contradictory, if not outright foolish!

-If anyone wants to be first they must become last, in order to find your life you need to lose it.

-The reason that we spend so much reading and studying the Bible is because it happens to be the one true story that all other stories are mere imitations of. 

-You want a self-sacrificial hero? How about a damsel in distress? You want stories that seem too good to be true? How about stories where the underdog destroys the champion? It’s all in here! So if we want to learn the true story that we’re a part of and how we should live in this world we need to know what the Bible says, as well as how we then become truly human by becoming more and more of what God has created us to be.

-Today we’re going to read the story of a man who devoted His whole life to serving God, and his life didn’t turn out as what we would describe as a success, at least in worldly terms. Yet this guy is described by Jesus as having no one greater than him! That is HIGH praise! So let’s read this passage and see how we need to reframe some of our thinking to be what Jesus has called us to be.

READ/PRAY (pg. 491)

  1. Jesus’ Expanding Ministry (6-13, 30)

-Since we took a couple weeks off, we need to take some time remember what we’ve been studying! If you forgot or are new: we’re walking section by section through the Gospel of Mark! Mark is most likely the first written Gospel, recorded by John Mark who wrote down the memories of the Apostle Peter. Can easily split the book into 2 sections that center on Jesus’ authority: the first 8 chapters are Jesus demonstrating His authority through teaching and evidenced by miracles which culminates in Jesus asking Peter: who do you say that I am? Peter gets it, but he doesn’t get it, because Mark says that right after this confession he confronts Jesus about His upcoming death. Jesus then changes the focus of His ministry toward His upcoming death on the cross and begins moving closer and closer to Jerusalem.

-A few themes to remember:

-Jesus primary ministry/mission is preaching. The healings and exorcisms are just examples of his authority. This is an important note for us today as well! Just as Jesus’ primary focus was on preaching, so our primary focus should be on preaching the good news of what Jesus has done, and then out of that comes acts of love and service towards others. We cannot and should not separate these 2 things that God has meant to keep together.

-Getting a little closer to our passage, we saw multiple healings over a short period of time (storm, healing a possessed man, woman bleeding, and Jairus’ daughter) These healings were meant to serve as living parables, demonstrations of what Jesus’ message leads to: flourishing as a human.

-Finally, the first few verses of chpt. 6 recount Jesus’ rejection at His hometown of Nazareth, which causes His ministry to continue spreading further beyond the borders of Galilee, which means He’s going to need some help! We pick it up in vs. 6 where after marveling at the people’s unbelief, He goes out from there to continue going about His primary ministry: teaching.

-Jesus’ plan to carry out His mission and ministry is to use His followers. It says He called “the twelve.” To understand this reference, we need to look back to Mark 3:14“And he appointed twelve (whom he also named apostles)” There are some things to note about how Jesus sends them out:

-2 by 2: 

-Support (doing manual labor becomes infinitely easier when you have someone else doing it with you), 

-accountability (it’s easy to give up if you’re by yourself Bonhoeffer: “The Christ in his own heart is weaker than the Christ in the word of his brother; his own heart is uncertain, his brother’s is sure.”), 

-remember/emphasize different things. (Time at the pastor’s party talking to a new person when I ran out of questions, and Cara just kept going!) This is where we need each other, a body to actually function as God has intended us to.

-What else did He give His disciples? Authority. The same authority that He had was bestowed on His disciples. Once again, remember that the primary focus of Jesus’ ministry is teaching, but the reason that teaching is trustworthy is because it’s backed up by actions, which the disciples are given the authority to do. 

-Then we come to a bit of weird section of instructions for the disciples, as well as the question of how much this idea should remain true today. What are they supposed to take with them? Nothing except a staff, and make sure they have sandals, and just the clothes on their back. In other words, as they pursue teaching like their teacher, they should be marked by simplicity.

-I’ve been contemplating this idea since last summer, when I read a book titled ‘The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry’ (and have since loaned it out to a handful of you, AND there’s a Right Now study on it) The author talked about 4 spiritual practices we need to recover: Silence and solitude, sabbath, simplicity, slowing. But the one that stood out to me was simplicity. How do you process Jesus’ command “it is more blessed to give than to receive.” Another way of translating “blessed” is “happy,” but a supernatural crazy happiness. There’s a lot that could be said about this idea, which I don’t have time to go much further in today, so if you’re interested watch for tomorrow’s Sermon Scraps (if you haven’t signed up, you can find it on our YouTube page)

-A second component to this simplicity is that they were to be reliant on others hospitality.

 -We need to be hospitable! Tertullian (African writing in the 2nd cent.): “We do not hesitate to share our earthly goods with one another. All things are common among us but our wives.” The kind of person Jesus is looking for to follow Him is someone who is hospitable, it is actually commanded in the Bible for all those who follow Jesus! Do you open your home to others? I remember growing up anytime we had people over it was a whole big affair! Every room was cleaned from top to bottom, shelves were dusted, toys were put in their “proper” place (which apparently wasn’t the floor). The meal prepared took hours, that’s not bad, but that’s also not what hospitality is. Hospitality is welcoming people in who may never invite you back over! Get some Papa Murphys pizza, eat some leftovers! The important part is the time together, not what you’re eating. 

-The second thing Jesus tells His disciples is to not keep looking for the best place. The temptation would be to find whomever will bring you in, then as you start to minister, find better accommodations. Jesus is telling His disciples they can’t live this way, instead they’re supposed to be content! Paul even picks up this idea in 1 Tim. 6:8 “If we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.” Once again, this idea of simplicity is brought up here as a virtue for the Christ-follower. 

-Some of this was compared to other teachers and philosophers of the day. While teaching about supposed virtue, they would try to make money and get recognition from others instead of looking to serve. Unfortunately, this is also true in ministry today! Pastors using a church to prop themselves up, or serving a church for a season until they can move to a bigger or more well-known church. It seems far too many people care far more about worldly recognition than recognition in God’s kingdom.

-The last thing Jesus tells them is the way they identify an unrepentant community: shake the dust off their feet, that’s all we have to do! It’s both incredibly easy, but also serves as a reminder that the sword isn’t the oversight of the church. We fight not against flesh and blood, but against the spiritual realms, which means we use different weapons than the world! This is another reason Jesus’ disciples were so disappointed when He died – He didn’t come in power, He came to be a victim of the power.

-With all that said, they are now ready to go on their first teaching journey, and they begin by preaching what Jesus has preached (repentance) And, to validate their teaching, they were able to perform exorcisms and heal the sick.

-This is preparing the disciples for a lifetime of ministry where they’re doing exactly what they did here. One thing to note, that is both descriptive of them, and true of people I’ve seen in ministry: you’re never completely ready! As we work at helping people take 1 step closer to Jesus, we need to provide opportunities for them to fail.

-The first time I led a song at church I was 13 years old, I was too embarrassed to use a mic (so no one could sing along) and I only knew 3 guitar chords! Things have progressed a little bit for me since then. I preached my first sermon when I was 19. I timed it before I went up front and it was supposed to be 30 minutes. I talked so fast I got it done in 20 (and you think I talk fast today!). It takes time and practice to grow in what God has called us to, the key is to continue doing it!

-This is discipleship! Using your gifts, preaching the gospel to others, and adorning the faith we believe with our good works (Titus 2:10) What does it look like here:

1-Bring someone along, show them what it looks like to minister to others, then encourage them to do it with you watching, and eventually by themselves, then keep going (2 by 2 seen in 2 Tim. 2:2)

2-Just as the disciples have Jesus’ authority, so do we (Rom. 8:11) The same power (Holy Spirit) that raised Jesus from the dead is alive in you and me, so why would act timid or afraid or refuse to use our gifts?

3-As this progresses, the disciples eventually become “living letters” (2 Cor. 3:2-3) of God. Others will start to see the ways we care about God and each other and ask what’s different about us!

-Going to jump ahead a few verses to 30. We need to take time to celebrate and acknowledge the ways God is working. I am not always good at this, I have a tendency to see the problems that need to be fixed instead of giving thanks for what God has done! As you serve, as you preach, take stock and praise God for how He’s working in and through you.

-But it’s not only ever going to be positives, because sometimes following Jesus means you’ll face persecution, which is ultimately where all the disciples will end up:

  • An Example of Following Christ (14-29)

-Think of how excited the disciples would have been, coming off the high of ministry! If you ever went to camp in the summer, the “camp high” is a real thing, and these disciples were able to perform unbelievable acts of healing! Mark intentionally contrasted these 2 stories together to show what the consequences are of a life fully surrendered to Jesus.

-“King Herod heard of it” Which Herod is this? Confusing soap opera of a family! Herodian dynasty. Bold names are in the Bible

Herod the Great the Herod of the Christmas story who slaughtered all baby boys 2 and under in Bethlehem. He had 10 wives (MANY kids) need to know 3 of them:

Herod Aristobulus (fathered Agrippa 1 and Herodias, who we read about in today’s story)

Herod Phillip married his niece Herodias and became the father of Salome 

Herod Antipas – (ruled over Galilee) married his niece/sister-in-law Herodias after her divorce from his brother Herod Phillip. Brought grand-niece/niece/step-daughter Salome to come dance, met with Jesus before crucifixion. Similar to King Ahab in the OT, was far more influenced by his wife, and was frustrated that his brother got the title of “king” so he begged to have the same title, and in response got run out of office by nephew/brother-in-law: 

Herod Agrippa I (arrested Peter, killed James, eaten by worms)

-Nothing redeeming about this family! Deceptive, lying, power hungry people.

-I mentioned this Herod during Good Friday, and this is where we see Herod first wanting to get to know Jesus. Look at how people are viewing Him: 

-J the Baptist is back from the dead! This would make Jesus nothing more than a ghost, but would also explain why He has the incredible powers He has.

-Others thought He was Elijah. Some prophecies from the first century believed that just as Elijah was taken up to heaven, His return would signal the last days had arrived (2 people in the OT didn’t die: Enoch walked with God and was somehow taken straight to heaven, Elijah found his successor in Elisha, and Elisha saw a chariot of fire come down and take Elijah to be with God).

-The other option was Jesus was another prophet. This would also be miraculous because they were coming out of the 400 silent years, so Jesus’ arrival would mean that God is speaking once again!

-Herod thinks it’s the first option. Why? John’s ghost come back to haunt him.

-What’s fascinating is this story comes right on the heels of Jesus’ rejection at Nazareth, Herod got closer to the truth than they!

-Herod was intrigued by John (just like he was with Jesus as is made clear by both the Good Friday account and this story), but he also wanted to be with his conniving niece/sister-in-law/wife Herodias (really bad with names). Multiple issues with marrying your sister-in-law, not least of which it’s forbidden by the OT, so John speaks out against it.

-Herod attempts to protect John by throwing him in prison because Herod knew there was something special about John, and enjoyed hearing his message. Notice what it says about Herod listening to John: “He was greatly perplexed, and yet he heard him gladly.” 

-What was John’s message? Mark 1:4 “proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.” This causes us to ask a question for all of us: how do you respond to the preaching of God’s Word? Does it “greatly perplex” you, or does it transform you? If I didn’t believe in the power of God’s Word to transform us I would stop what I’m doing in a heartbeat! If all I have are words on a page (or screen) to your ears, then I’m wasting time, but if these words are literally the power of God for salvation (which they are) then we need to respond to what we’re hearing together! And here’s the thing: it starts with me! I spend hours reading, studying and praying about these messages, but I first and foremost have to pray that I’m transformed by the words I’m reading! Another paradox: I’m preaching to myself along with you! I need these words that I’m sharing with you because we all need to be encouraged to become more like Christ!

-Notice in vs. 19 that Herodias kept a grudge against John (one commentator quipped that she only viewed the marriage certificate as true if it was written on the back of John’s death certificate) Herod had been trying to keep John safe, but he also enjoyed his sin too much, and that sin was crouching and waiting for Herod to make a mistake. It finally came during Herod’s birthday party. Romans threw lavish parties, apparently Herod was no exception! Lots of drinking, lots of food, there was nothing held back. 

-As part of the frivolities of the birthday celebration, Herod brought his great-niece/niece/step-daughter in to dance for the crowd, and apparently made quite the impact! Both Herod and his crew seemed to have liked her moves.

-After lots of eating and drinking, Herod isn’t thinking clearly, so he vows in front of the whole group to give her anything she wants (hyperbolically) up to half the kingdom. One thing I didn’t mention earlier: Herod wasn’t the king. Herod was a tetrarch who was more like a governor. He couldn’t even give away half the kingdom if he wanted to, but he’s so drunk with power that he makes a foolish promise.

-Mom’s antagonism toward John passed down to her daughter, Salome runs back in and demands John’s head on a platter

-Herod sobered up quickly! It says he was “exceedingly sorry.” 

-We’re supposed to see a big contrast between John and Herod. John’s ministry was in the backwoods. He had nothing, he ate sparingly, yet he wasn’t afraid to proclaim the truth, even when he was brought in front of Herod, and there was something at work in Herod’s heart to see that John spoke the truth, but it stopped there. It didn’t change his heart or lead to a new way of living for Herod. Where John boldly proclaimed just the truth, Herod rashly spoke and lived to regret it.

-However, Herod liked the power and prestige that came from his position, and Mark tells us that despite regretting it, Herod immediately sent the execution order down. Herod wanted to save face instead of saving a righteous and holy man.

-Debauchery of the party culminated in the most gruesome scene yet: John’s head brought in on a platter.

-Who cares for John’s body? His disciples.

-Picture of following after Jesus, may lead to death (church history tells us 10 of the 11 disciples alive after Jesus’ resurrection faced martyrdom)

-But it’s also a picture of another holy and righteous man who would also stand in front of Herod just a couple years later. Unfortunately, Herod hadn’t changed at all, and just as John died a gruesome death, so this second man would die a gruesome death and have his body taken care of by His disciples.

-But the reality is, both of their ministries carried on after Herod’s pronouncement of death. Repentance is still available, and it comes about through the words of those same disciples: repent and believe! Because of Jesus’ death all those things that Herod was trying to hold on to don’t matter anymore! There’s peace and hope and eternal life available to anyone and everyone: so those of us who are saved have the job to proclaim that message far and wide, but realize that doing so will lead to at the minimum losing some social credibility, and at the extreme can lead to losing your life. But as I said at the beginning, that’s the only way you can find it.

Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: