Mark 3:20-35 Sermon Manuscript

PLEASE NOTE: these are the notes I use to preach from, if you would like to hear them in context, please watch our YouTube video.

-One of Cara’s and my favorite genre of movie to watch is sports movies. Generally leave you inspired, feeling like you can take over the world! One of the best is Remember the Titans. It follows a football team from a recently unsegregated school in Virginia. While tensions are high at the beginning and racial biases are repeatedly brought to the forefront, by the end of the season the guys are all best friends. One of the pivotal scenes in the movie is when one of the white players gets in a pretty serious car accident. His best friend from the team (who happens to be black) comes to visit him. As he walks into the room, the nurse says: “Only kins allowed in here” The player lying on the bed says: “Alice, are you blind? Don’t you see the family resemblance? That’s my brother.”

-In today’s text, we’re going to look at what it means to be family. You may have heard the church referred to as “the family of God,” but what is that? Why would we want to be a part of family that’s as broken and messed up as the church?


  1. Family Opposition, Part 1 (20-21)

-Last week we saw Jesus call the 12 disciples/apostles. He’s constituting a new Israel, a new people of God to represent Him to the world. Remember that they’re represented by: time with, sent by Him, and preaching with authority to fight against the devil. 

-Those are the markers of faithful ministry even down to today. We’re supposed to be marked by time with Jesus, if we’re a disciple we have been sent by Jesus, and our role as being sent is to preach/share the gospel message far and wide! (we’ll look at that idea in more detail next week)

-But what do you think happens if someone misses what it means to follow after God? We’ve seen increasing opposition to Jesus’ ministry throughout the Gospel, but it takes a unique turn in today’s passage, as you should have heard as we read it, because who adds to the opposition today? Let’s look and see:

-Home: back to Capernaum at Peter’s house.

 -Last week Jesus went up to the mountains to get away from the crowds and began his specific ministry to the 12 disciples. Lots of options for where those mountains could have been, Capernaum is basically in the middle of a mountainous region (think more CO than MN)

-I said this a few weeks ago, but keep in mind that Jesus’ early ministry is VERY localized! He hasn’t gone too far outside of Capernaum yet, but the surrounding areas keep flocking to Him, as we see by the return of the character:

-The crowd: once again, getting in Jesus’ way. The crowd keeps showing up again and again and keeps interfering with Jesus’ ministry. A couple notes on this:

-Size does not equal success. Size can be measured a few different ways: ABCs (adults, buildings, cash), today it can by YouTube views (or Insta likes, depending on your social of choice). People I’ve talked to today have tried building a “platform” to expand their following, I talked to some friends at a recent conference who were complaining about someone wanting to plug their book to them (and then someone at the conference told me he wanted to send me his new book!). 

-But there’s also a flip side to this that is just as much a problem in the church: viewing decline as the biggest pursuit because you’re being “persecuted.” Or you see it with someone being antagonistic on the socials actively looking to stir up division. Both of these are over emphasizing numbers and missing what Jesus has actually called us to: faithfulness & fruitfulness (are you a little fruity?) 

-Faithful to the faith once for all delivered to the saints, fruitful in having an eternal impact on those around you. Once again, we have this point of tension that we need to be comfortable in! Speaking the truth in love is hard! 

-This crowd, as we’ve seen multiple times so far want something from Jesus. They’ve seen the miracles, they’ve witnessed the exorcisms, maybe some people are just around for the show! They’ve heard Jesus best the smartest people of the day and they’re hoping for another showdown. But it forces us to ask the question: what do you want from Jesus? Do you just come for the show? Are you expecting Him to magically fix all your problems and you’ll stick around until those are solved? Or do you want Jesus and nothing else? Think of the old spiritual ‘Give Me Jesus’ that said “You can have all this world, but give me Jesus.” And to be honest, Jesus won’t stop pushing at you until He’s all you have left! 

-Fame continues to spread, even those in Nazareth are hearing about what Jesus has been doing, which includes His family.

-“seize him” is overly passive, better translation would be “arrest” or “coerce”, one translation put “restrain him.” This wasn’t a friendly visit! 

-What were they saying about Jesus? Out of his mind! But then Mark moves quickly on, leaving us hanging: 

-Markan sandwich, connects another story to it. Throughout this book, Mark will begin one story, stick a different story in the middle of it that is connected thematically, then return to the original story, so we’ll take a look at a similar idea from a different perspective. Not only was His family opposed to Him:

  • Legal Opposition (22-30)

-Scribes from Jerusalem

-Up until this point he would have been a bit of a local nuisance, but as His fame spreads, the news eventually gets to the main office in Jerusalem. This would signify that the highest people would have started seeing it as a legitimate threat to their authority. So not only were regular people coming all the way from Jerusalem, now the authorities are getting involved!

-They’ve seen Jesus’ miracles, the exorcisms, the healings (or at the very least word has reached them) and have come up with a solution: possessed by Beelzebul. No one’s sure where this name came from, could have been a way of referring to the prince of demons (which connects it to the rest of the phrase). A literal translation is the “prince of dung.” Not a kind way of referring to Jesus!

-Once again, Jesus knows exactly what’s going on so He invites them in and welcomes the conversation. 

-I think this is one of those areas we would do well to take note of! Is Jesus too scared to bring up or talk about any issue? Not that I’ve found yet, and I’ve been reading the Bible through for a while at this point! Why do we have a tendency to act like some topics are off limits for the church to talk about? If we believe Jesus is THE way THE truth and THE life, that means that He is the source of all truth, meaning no topic is too taboo, no issue is disconnected, and nothing is too trivial to address and bring it back to the ultimate source of that truth. 

-When I was growing up that issue was sex. As long as it wasn’t brought up kids wouldn’t find out about it, or as long as our kids were sheltered enough they wouldn’t have to deal with certain sins. Hate to break it to you, but I first learned about sex in the church with other kids my age! Whether or not we wanted to admit it, kids were going to be kids and talk about it! Today we’ve got more things we’re not supposed to talk about: race issues (better: ethnic issues), money, and politics. Once again, let me ask: do you think Jesus had any problem talking about any of those issues? In just a couple chapters, Jesus is going to break all sorts of ethnic barriers down and begin ministering to Gentiles. He talks about money more than He talks about heaven, and as I mentioned last week, He intentionally chose 2 of His 12 disciples from the polar opposite ends of the political spectrum (imagine the conversations/debates they had as they walked everywhere!) 

-So if Jesus is willing to engage any and every topic imaginable, what do you think His disciples should be willing to do? Probably engage every issue that comes our way! The reality is: if we’re careful and pay attention to what issue is being address, we’ll find some way it connects to the truth, and use that as a bridge to point someone to Jesus. It’s not hard, it just takes a little bit of intentionality and paying careful attention to what someone is saying! 

-Now, Jesus was a master of this! He knew how to provide the solutions that no one else was anticipating, and how to get to the underlying issues that were actually going on. Which means, the scribes should have brought their A-game to interact with Him! Instead, they just picked 1 dumb argument (as we’ll see) and stuck with it! Made the most sense to them, but didn’t actually make a lick of sense!

-What are parables? We often think of them as connected to the Sermon on the Mount, or short stories that drive home a point, but the original word contains a much wider range of interpretations, from stories, to pithy sayings, to riddles or even illustrations! Almost anything to make a point.

-Jesus basically tells 3 stories, 1 that communicates the absurdity of the logic, the second that communicates what Jesus is ACTUALLY doing, and then lands on what the scribes are doing, which is important to understand what is being said about the unforgivable sin!

-First stories connect to the absurdity of what the scribes are saying. Those who are demon possessed are out of their minds! No control, lashing out at others, and when Jesus comes, He brings compassion, self-control, understanding, and holistic healing. Satan comes to kill, steal, and destroy. He’s the ultimate author or leprosy, of a man having a lame hand, of a cripple being unable to walk! Why in the world would Satan fight against himself? It’s a terrible argument! It’s the same thing with a kingdom divided against itself, and a house, and then again back to Satan. I’ve seen this happen before with sports! Think of the iconic play where Chris Webber is playing for Michigan in the national championship against North Carolina. With seconds left, he called a timeout when the team was out of timeouts, leading to him receiving a technical foul and giving the other team 2 free throws. Or other times where someone completely forgot which basket they were supposed to be shooting at and shoot in the wrong hoop and score for the other team. They’re only hurting themselves, and that’s the exact point Jesus is making in this section! If Jesus is really the “prince of demons” wouldn’t He just be fighting against Himself? It’s a terrible argument! Now I don’t have time to dig into this today, but there are all sorts of examples of this in the world around us today! People using terrible logic to try to argue against Christianity, I’ll be talking about some of them in Sermon Scraps tomorrow, but I’d also be interested in some of the reasons you’ve heard! Email me if you think of some!

-The second story is about a strong man (27). Spent a whole week studying this verse in college! Who is the strong man? Why does he need to be bound up? In context, the strong man is Satan, and Jesus coming to earth has bound Satan for this season. So instead of Satan fighting against Satan, Jesus is the stronger man who came to earth to bind Satan for a season by bringing healings, exorcisms and preaching the good news of the kingdom of heaven. That’s what Jesus is accomplishing through His ministry! He’s not in cahoots with Satan, He’s actively fighting against Him! 

-This brings us to the final story, and a passage that has brought no small amount of debate over the centuries: the unpardonable or unforgiveable sin. Jesus even says every other sin will be forgive EXCEPT this one. And why is it worse to blaspheme the HS than Jesus?

-First time we’ve seen Jesus begin a statement with the word “Truly” (lit. Amen) This word is used all over the OT to give validity to what was said, but it’s always at the end of a statement. Jesus beginning a phrase with it signifies that Jesus is speaking with His own authority, and can almost be thought of as saying “Thus says the Lord” 

-As for the unforgiveable sin, notice that Mark adds a descriptive piece in vs. 30. This tells us that this unforgiveable sin is connected to seeing Jesus’ works (which are done by the HS, remember we saw Jesus submit Himself to the Spirit right after His baptism), and attributing them to the devil. One author summarized it by saying “It is deliberately repudiating the truth about Jesus.” (Andy Naselli

-What about someone who is antagonizing over whether that inadvertently said something that they’re convinced was this sin? I’ve talked to multiple people in my time in ministry who have worried about this! Yet here’s the reality: if you are at all worried you have committed this sin, I can almost guarantee you haven’t committed it. Those who have committed this sin don’t care. They remain callous and hard hearted toward the works of the Lord. So instead of living in fear of future condemnation, we need to remember that there is NO condemnation for anyone who is in Christ Jesus. So: do you trust Jesus today? And do you trust Him today more than you did yesterday? Great! You haven’t committed this sin!

Yet at the same time, we would do well to view this as a warning: keep short accounts. Keep living a life of repentance and keep in step with the Spirit. 

-As for why it’s worse to blaspheme the HS and not the Father or the Son, I think John Piper has a helpful summary:

-The Holy Spirit is the one who softens our hearts, who awakens our hearts to the realities of the gospel message, and if we refuse to acknowledge Him, we will be condemned.

-Jesus doesn’t say these scribes have committed it, but He’s warning them of the implications of what they’re saying! Be careful of what you say and who you’re accusing of being in league with the devil!

-All that just served to signify the opposition Jesus faces, because then Mark shifts right back to where we cut in vs. 21:

  • Family Opposition, Part 2 (31-35)

-Jesus dealt with the opposition of the scribes, no surprise there, the family tension is much more difficult and acute.

-Notice who’s described here: mother and brothers. Think back to December where we studied Jesus’ birth. How long would it take you to forget the arrival of the angels, the miraculous inception, the crazy shepherds showing up, the Magi from the East? How long does it take you to forget what God has done in your life? 

-Not just Mary, Jesus’ brothers come too! (anti-Catholic idea of perpetual virginity of Mary) Jesus had at least 4 brothers, and an unknown number of sisters (Mark 6:3). Now, I don’t know about you, but I would have struggled with my brother claiming to be God! On top of that, imagine what growing up with Him would have been like!

-Once again, the crowd is playing a role: this time they serve as a buffer between Jesus and His biological family. Just as the crowd wanted something from Him, His family isn’t trying to figure out Jesus’ ultimate aim, they’re trying to save face. Remember, we saw at the beginning of the chapter that Jesus didn’t even have time to eat, the crowd was so thick. So the word would have started in the back, slowly traveled person by person until they reach Jesus, who once again would have been doing what He’d been sent to earth to do: preach! 

-Not completely dismissing of family, but redirects the conversation. This would have been completely unthinkable in the 1st century context! We’re so individualized here today that we can’t fathom this, but in this time family was EVERYTHING. We saw in chapter 6 that people knew His whole family! The Jews were especially conscientious of family lineage. And Jesus wants to take that good idea, and put a new spin on it.

-Just as He was creating a new Israel with the 12 apostles, now He’s creating a new lineage, a new genealogy defined by a spiritual reality instead of a physical reality. God’s family is no longer comprised of ethnic distinctions, but spiritual distinctions, that’s what God wanted at the beginning anyway! Transformed lives, not just external obedience! 

-I shared at the beginning an illustration from Remember the Titans: Jesus is telling us here that our primary allegiances today need to change! If we’re a part of God’s family, our allegiance is to our brothers and sister in the church. Honestly, I don’t know how people survive without the church! We had people come help us clean our house when we moved in, paint every wall, replace toilets, flooring. Even this past week: our van died and next thing I know, Eric Zaske is offering one of his vehicles for me to use and Chris and Ian Wolfgram came over to help me replace the starter on the van!

-Those are small things, but they mean the world to me! But think about what it means that we’re a part of God’s family:

-What religion would allow you to approach God (creator and sustainer of everything that exists) as a family member? Keller tweet. Do you know that Jesus is your perfect Heavenly Father who cares more about you than you could ever realize? That nothing is too trivial to ask, and nothing is left out of His oversight?

-The reality is: we’re all a part of a family, the question is which family are you a part of? The scribes today demonstrated that they’re a part of the wrong family, and joining the right family is so simply a child can do it. Yet it takes a choice, so the question in front of us all today is: do you want to be a part of God’s family? It’s easy! As we saw in today’s text, it’s whoever does the will of God. So repent of your sin, believe in Jesus and you will be saved! 

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.

Mark 2:18-3:6 – Sermon Manuscript

PLEASE NOTE: these are the notes I use to preach from, if you would like to hear them in context, please watch our YouTube video.

-Slacklining, walking across a flat webbing tied between two anchors (usually trees) Micah informed me it started as a way to help rock climbers with their balance and core strength! But now people have taken it to a whole new level!

-The only way slacklining works is if you have tension in the webbing. If it’s too loose it won’t work, if it’s too tight you don’t have any fun! 

-We as Christians are called to live a life of tension. We’re living between Jesus’ 2 comings, we’re in the world but not of the world. We’re going to see today some of what that looks like in the life of a believer.


-We’re smack dab in the middle of 5 showdowns between Jesus and the religious leaders of his day.

-Last week we saw that Jesus forgave sins and hung out with “scum” (NLT)

-Scum according to whom? Pharisees were seeking holiness isn’t that a good aim? That’s literally what the Lord commands of us (“Be holy as I am holy.” 1 Peter 1:16Lev. 11:44)

-The tension is when the pursuit of holiness focuses on the small issues, but ignores the bigger issues.

-The law was meant to lead to flourishing. It wasn’t in place to force people to be miserable rule followers, it was in place to help people act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly (Micah 6:8). But the prophets looked forward to a time when the law of God would be written on our hearts instead of stone tablets. God’s desire is our hearts, not mere external obedience or mentally thinking correctly. God wants to redeem all those things, even our desires. Have you ever thought about that? Through the Holy Spirit, God can change even our deepest longings! Which is exactly what He’s trying to do. That’s what the Pharisees (and let’s be honest, many of us) keep missing today. 

-So many people today are driven by their desires, or what they claim are their desires, but the difficulty is those desire keep changing, don’t they? If you become addicted to food it slowly takes more and morI e food to feel full. If you become addicted to power it slowly requires more power to feel adequate. If you become addicted to stuff you’re constantly looking for the next thing to buy to ensure you’re feeling satisfied. If you become addicted to recognition you’ll do anything to ensure people still like you.

-The reality is nothing this world offers us will satisfy. There’s no relationship that will fix you, but Jesus provides a new way. The difficulty is that the Bible doesn’t always provide us clear cut answers, instead in many cases we’re forced to live in a tension between 2 seemingly contradictory poles. Think of men/women relationships and what the Bible says: do not lust, treat each other as family. Yet that’s a theme of Scripture: life in tension, isn’t it? 

-If you want to find your life you must lose it. 

-Whoever wants to be first must be last. 

-True leadership is service. 

-It doesn’t make any sense from a purely human perspective, which is part of the reason I find Christianity so compelling!

-As we work through today’s text, be thinking about what ideas Jesus has challenged or needs to challenge in your own life! Because I can guarantee if He hasn’t challenged or pushed you in some area, you haven’t paid close enough attention to His demands!

  1. Over Fasting (18-22)

-What is fasting and what is it’s purpose?

-1st of the spiritual disciplines listed in this section, and something that I think we need more understanding and awareness of today. Had the privilege of studying some of these things in more detail at college and seminary, but it’s a whole lot harder to implement these ideas than it is to study them! Fasting (at least in the 1st century) was abstaining from food and drink for a set period of time. One fast was demanded of all Jews once a year, but in order to prove their piety and obedience, the Pharisees fasted 2 a week (Monday and Thursday). 

-It seems that John’s disciples followed a similar pattern, but remember John’s role: he came to prepare the way for someone far greater than Him! So fasting is part of the preparation for Jesus’ coming! 

-Why do other disciples fast, but Jesus’ don’t? Are they less obedient? Are they more hungry than other disciples? 

-Jesus compares the current state of affairs to a wedding! Think of the joyful celebration that a wedding entails! 2 families become one, good food, good conversation, mediocre dancing. 

-Weddings today can’t hold a candle to weddings in the 1st cent. They were a week-long affair where people descended upon the house with the expectation that a great party would be taking place! And the family getting married had to provide the food for the feast. This is where Jesus’ first miracle recording in John is so significant! Does anyone remember what it is? Water into wine during a wedding. It would have been unthinkable and completely embarrassing to have run out of wine for the guests at the wedding, so Jesus’ first miracle shows that He brings joy instead of mourning, plenty instead of lacking.

-This doesn’t mean there’s no place for fasting, look at vs. 20:

-Once again we find ourselves in a point of tension. The fact that we are no longer dead in our sin should lead us to feasting and rejoicing! But the fact that Jesus hasn’t yet returned should lead us to fasting and pleading for His return. It’s not either/or, it’s both/and. We should take time to feast and praise God for His provision for us, but we should also take time to fast and plead with God for the realignment of our desires and the ability to continue fighting against our sin.

-Jesus talks about this tension with 2 examples: clothing and wine

-As clothing is worn, it changes, doesn’t it? Stretches in new ways, I continue finding snot rubbed on my clothes from my kids! Maybe like me, you’ve had clothes shrink in the wash that would only fit a child! Imagine that shirt has a hole in it that you’ve patched. What would happen if you had patched that hole with a different kind of cloth? Not a pretty site! Pretty much only useful as a rag, it’s completely nonsensical!  

-In a similar way, think of someone making a wonderful wine. In the 1st cent. Brewers would use the skin from animals (usually a goat) to store the wine in, because as alcohol is made, the fermentation process gives off gas that needs some place to go! If the unfermented wine was placed in a brittle, old skin it would continue expanding until the skin breaks, ruining the wine AND the wineskin. Once again, it’s a nonsensical idea! 

-Jesus is making a point here: His arrival means things are completely different. You can’t continue operating under and old mindset or way of living. Think of it like a software update! God’s rules are the same, the goal is still the same, but there’s a completely new way of going about that goal.  

-Jesus ushers in something new, how do we ensure we’re not trying to force God’s plan into our own rules? How do we ensure that we’re not trying to force God’s work into old wineskins that can’t contain what He’s doing?

-Churches are notorious for this! I grew up during the bloody battles now known as the “worship wars” 

-It’s so easy for us to assume our way is the best, or act as if everyone else must be just like us in order to be a Christian, but we forget where we used to be. The older I get, the more grateful I become for people who put up with my dumb tendencies when I was younger. But that also means that in 15 years, I’ll probably look back at myself today and think of how dumb I am now!

-It’s also easy to look back with rose colored glasses and ignore the difficulties and realities of growing up in the church. I’ve been reading a new book about the life of Timothy Keller (pastor in NYC) who attended college/Seminary in the late 60s/early 70s and the culture wasn’t exactly conducive to Christian virtue AT ALL! Free love movement, hippy ideals, protesting of the Vietnam war, Watergate scandal. Today really doesn’t look so bad when you read about some of what was going on back then!

-Just as people needed Jesus to redirect and refocus their aim, so each culture we live in, we need to allow Jesus to redirect and refocus our aim. 

-Maybe you’ve been hearing/seeing videos of what’s been going on in Asbury over the past week and wondered about it. When you look at the Pharisees in the 1st cent. and us today not much has changed! It’s far easier to sit in judgment than it is to allow the Spirit to blow where He wishes and follow where He leads!

-But this isn’t the only religious practice Jesus challenges!

  • Over the Sabbath (23-3:6)

-Sabbath was ritualistically observed by the Jews, Friday sundown to Saturday sundown (saw this in chpt. 1 when everyone waited until sundown to bring their sick to Jesus)

-Sabbath has a long history with God’s people, literally one of the ten commandments! Lots of debate throughout history as to whether it’s still binding on Christians today. I’ve even argued with people about the extent of Sabbath observance (which came about because a friend did a sermon series he titled “The Forgotten Commandment” which assumes it’s still binding). How do we interpret the Sabbath observance on this side of the cross when Jesus tells us the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath, when Paul tells us in Rom. 14:5 “One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.” Or the author of Hebrews tells us “So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his.” Through all this we see that even Sabbath is meant to point us to Jesus! We now can rest because of His work finishing the work we could never have completed on our own anyway.

-I’ve wrestled over the years through this idea, and will continue to wrestle into the future I’m sure! But one quote I found that I think is helpful says:

-“If we violate his normative structure, there will be consequences that spiral through all dimensions of life.” (Dan Allender Sabbath

-It’s normative, not mandated. This means it’s foolish to act as if we’re God and need no breaks. Have you ever read about the French Republican calendar? Late 1700s France tried to change the week to a 10 day week instead of 7 attempting to de-christianize even time! Do you know what happened? Injuries, exhaustion, illness saw a sharp increase, and even work animals died at a much higher rate than before. After 12 years of failure, they went back to the 7-day week. It’s almost as if that’s baked into the created order! 

-Let’s work through this text to see what Jesus says about this practice, and then think about what that means for us today.

  1. Provision (23-28)

-Allowed to eat on the Sabbath, even plucking grain, the disciples are only disobeying the manmade additions to the rules.

-They were so concerned with holiness they had determined exactly what counted as “work.” That’s why if you’re in a largely Jewish area today if you try to use an elevator on Saturdays you’ll be waiting for a while! They stop at each floor because it’s considered work to push the elevator button. In Jesus’ day you couldn’t pluck heads of grain because they counted as harvesting. You also were allowed to take up to 1,999 steps, but that 2,000th step put you over the limit into work! Can you imagine how much work it would have taken to keep track of all these rules on your day of “rest”?

-Jesus goes on to point out that even David, the greatest king in all of Israel’s history, didn’t obey the laws! The bread was saved especially for the Priests and the Levites! Jesus here is pointing out the reality that there’s a difference between the letter and the spirit of the law.

-Think of Jesus’ answers the question: what is the greatest commandment? This would have been a common debate at the time! When we’re faced with a choice between obedience to 1 law or another, which do we pick? Do you remember Jesus’ answer? Love God supremely, and others sacrificially. That’s the sum of the law! And I’ve heard some people argue that by obeying the first, you’ll naturally live out the second! If that’s the summary of the law, how are the Pharisees acting here? They’re 0 for 2: not loving God supremely OR others sacrificially! So in their appeal to the OT, Jesus’ ups them with another OT story:

-If David can eat sacred bread, can’t David’s greater Son eat on the Sabbath? Isn’t a 1 for 1 correlation, David wasn’t eating on the Sabbath, but he was disobeying a rule! 

-Then Jesus makes quite a statement about the Sabbath and Himself: Sabbath isn’t meant to be an onerous chore, it was created to help people orient their lives around God, serving, worshipping, and loving Him. And even that is meant to bring Him glory, so Sabbath is meant to be used in worship of Him. And Jesus doubles down on this in the next story:

  • Doing good (3:1-6)

-Synagogue (his home base for ministry, Saturday meeting)

-“they watched” They is referring to the Pharisees again. Some translations have “watched closely” to signify that they were actively looking for ways to judge Him and hold Him in contempt. But notice that they don’t doubt whether or not Jesus is able to heal this man. They’ve seen or heard enough miracles at this point to know exactly how Jesus operates, his MO has become pretty clear! So Jesus goes right for the heart of the issue:

-“Come here” literally “Stand up into the middle” Everyone would see! Nothing hiding, no tricks, no questions, and no doubts. 

 -Then He turns his attention to the Pharisees and asks them a question: Which is the more important law: doing good, or hurting someone?

The Mishhah (written down oral tradition) says that “whenever there is doubt whether life is in danger this overrides the Sabbath” We’re back to Jesus’ summary once again: love God and love others! Loving ALWAYS takes precedent over ritualistic obedience (defining love correctly)

-What’s their response? They know the right thing to say! They don’t think of a response this time, they know Jesus will know their thoughts. They don’t try to answer back because they know he’ll spin it right back around to them. They remain silent. 

-Why was Jesus angry? We saw him angry in the healing of the leper too. Jesus’ anger isn’t directed toward sinners, but toward those who think they’re in the right standing. He wants people to see what He sees and wants them to live life to the fullest extent possible, but they refuse. 

-How did Jesus heal the man? Did Jesus do any work? All he did was talk, which was supposed to take place on the Sabbath! There’s no work done! But that’s not how the Pharisees see it. This is the 5th instance they’ve seen blasphemy taking place, this is their last straw, it’s time to get down to business!

-Pharisees choose strange bedfellows. The Herodians were pro-Roman occupation. Yet in their anger, they’ll look for anyone to partner with! 

-The irony of Jesus’ question in vs. 4 toward them: they start working on Sabbath to kill Jesus.

-Jesus wants us to live life to the fullest extent we can, which means we must submit every area of our lives to His oversight. 

-The rules are put in place to help us understand how we can love God and love others. It’s once again a tension because God has designed the entire world, and individually, each one of us! So if we want to live this full life, it means we must die to ourselves, take up our cross daily, and follow after Him. It means we’re going to live lives that look RADICALLY different from the people around us, but in the end it’s the only way to find true life.

-We must live in this tension point between seeing and believing, between Jesus’ first and second comings, between the flesh and the Spirit. It’s hard, it takes practice, it takes other’s helping you to see, but it leads to life to the full!

Mark 2:1-17 – Sermon Manuscript

PLEASE NOTE: these are the notes I use to preach from, if you would like to hear them in context, please watch our YouTube video.

-One of my favorite TV shows has a character who is obsessed with being the healthiest human being possible. He has a quote where he says “Scientists believe that the first human being who will live 150 years has already been born. I believe that I am that human being.” 

-I don’t know anyone that doesn’t want to be healthy. But what does that look like? How would we pursue it? And how do we ensure that we’re healthy holistically?  

-I listened to a fascinating podcast this weekend that was talking about the unbelievable technological changes that have taken place over the past century. If my great grandparents were able to see our world today they would assume we must be the most grateful people in the world! We can access the world’s info at our fingertips, yet there are more suicides in our country today than ever before. It’s not enough to just have physical health, there’s some deeper angst that people have that can only be healed by coming to Jesus. That’s exactly what we’ll see in today’s text!


  1. Jesus Brings Physical Healing (1-12)

-Remember last week we saw the healing of the leper, and Jesus exchanging places with him so that Jesus had to go out into the desolate places instead of traveling openly among the people. After a bit, he snuck back into town to come home, and pretty soon the whole town knew about it. 

-Most likely the same place we saw last week, Peter’s house that Jesus stayed at while he was in Capernaum. 

-As soon as the word started to travel, people came running to see what Jesus was going to do this time. Last week Mark described it as the whole town coming to be healed, this week it sounds like the whole town has tried to force their way into Peter’s home. 

-If you’ve ever participated in Black Friday shopping (before they went fully online), or attended a concert, you know what this feels like. Everyone is crammed in together, no room to move, feel like you’re being slowly suffocated, but it’s worth it to get access to the thing you’ve most been wanting, and Jesus is the best show these people have ever seen! 

-If that feels flippant to you (and it should!) that is the way the people are treating Jesus here. Everyone wants something from Jesus, the question is what? They’d all seen the demon possessed man healed, they’d seen the leper suddenly have clear skin, what do you think Jesus is going to do next? Yet what does Jesus do, once again?

-“He was preaching the word to them.” Instead of immediately giving in to their wants, He has a specific aim and focus to his life and ministry. Healing (at least physically) isn’t his primary aim, it only serves to enforce his teachings. In the midst of the teaching, there’s a desperate group of friends who want to get to Jesus. 

-However, as had been stated by Mark up to this point, just as when Jesus was born, there was no room for them in the inn. 

-The crowd serves a specific purpose throughout Mark’s Gospel, they’re often in the way of people getting to Jesus, they often are neutral in their response to Jesus, and there’s also a unique interplay between the crowd and the home. In the Greek, those 2 words are very similar to each other: ochlos vs. oikos. In this passage the ochlos has invaded the oikos. The crowd doesn’t get the inside look at Jesus’ ministry, those in the home do.

-So these 4 friends of the paralytic decide they need to be a part of the inside group. They knew this was their chance! Their lame friend could finally get up and walk and run and play with them! They knew Jesus was both able and willing if only they could get to him.

-If only they had tried what the leper would have had to say last week shouting UNCLEAN then watch the people part in front of them (Or what you should NEVER do in a crowded room, yell FIRE!)

-Instead of pushing or force their way through, they take a slightly less conventional approach: Upstairs!

-Houses in the first century, 2nd level was like a deck for us today. Didn’t have A/C, so they’d sleep under the stars. Many times, covered with mud, which in the summer would grow grass! These men are performing an excavation to get to Jesus!

-Think of what it would have been like to have been in the house. You’re listening to Jesus when suddenly you hear the grunting and digging taking place in the ceiling.  You’d clean out your ears to make sure you weren’t hearing things, when a piece of dirt falls to the floor. Now you KNOW you’re not crazy. Everyone’s eyes are looking up at that spot as a hole appears, that hole gets bigger and bigger and you see 4 faces peering down into the hole, then you hear more grunting and heaving as a paralyzed man is lowered down in front of Jesus. There’s NO WAY Farmers Insurance had seen a claim like this before! And you KNOW they won’t cover it!

-But this act of desperation amazingly works! The friends got their paralyzed friend to the feet of Jesus, the rest is in his hands! All it would take is a word and their friend would walk! But instead:

-Son (child) your sins are forgiven. How do you think the man responded to this? Or his friends? All that work, outsmarting the crows, and he forgives his sins? Thanks, but we were hoping for something else.

-Then Mark shifts the focus from the paralytic and his friends to some specific people in the crowd: the scribes. Remember them from last week? The people who couldn’t teach like Jesus! Luke’s account of this story tells us that Pharisees were with them.

-The scribes and the Pharisees would have been threatened by Jesus’ growing fame. They’re used to being consulted on every issue, they’re supposed to be the experts of the law and how to be obedient to the law, but people are chasing after this new teacher. But this doesn’t change Jesus’ approach to his ministry. Jesus would have seen the scribes and the Pharisees in the crowd, he would have known they were there to ensure everything was as it was supposed to be. And how do you think they would respond?

-BLASPHEMY! Who do you think you are??

-I like to think they were in their “holy huddle” off in the corner whispering to each other, making sure everyone say their judging and disapproving glances

-And Jesus calls the out in front of everyone. No hiding from him!  Even their thoughts are exposed to the one who knows everything! Literally nothing is hidden from the sight of God. Just thinking something is enough for Jesus to address it.

-(9) Here is one of the places I wish Mark was a little more clear, which is easier? I’ve read scholars arguing for both sides of this. We all know it’s easier to SAY “your sins are forgiven” because there’s no empirical evidence to back that up. But it’s WAY easier to tell someone to get up and walk than it is to actually forgive someone’s sins. I think that Jesus’ point here is to remind the “experts” that he’s able and willing to do both. Last week we read the story of the healing of a leper, this week we’re reading that the healings are the easy part, the forgiveness is the hard part.

-In both of these instances, it’s a whole lot easier to talk the talk than it is to walk the walk (literally in this case)

-Priests, unable to actually heal a leper so they stay as far away from them as they can, and what does Jesus do? He brings him near.

-Priests, unable to forgive sins, they even say that only God can do it, so what does Jesus do? Forgives the man’s sins!

-Priests, unable to heal a paralytic, so what will Jesus do now?

-If you think about this, isn’t this the same message we’re bombarded with every day? Here’s how to live your best life now, this will make you happy, just think positively and everything will be ok!

-All of those are empty promises! They have all the will but NONE of the ability. As many cars as Oprah wants to give away, at some point even that car that was once brand new will break down.

-The only person alive who is able to back up everything he says with perfect action is Jesus.

-Do you remember the primary difference between Jesus’ teaching and the teaching of the scribes? Authority. Jesus picks up that idea again in this healing to show exactly what is taking place in His ministry. Regardless of what Jesus says, unless something changes he can’t be trusted, right? If this man is healed, then it means his sins have been forgiven, AND that Jesus’ has completely authority. 

-Jesus then turns his attention back to the paralytic and utters a brief command: rise, grab your bed, and go home. 

-How long did it take for the man to be healed? IMMEDIATELY! I don’t think it’s Mark’s overuse here, I think it’s pointing out the reality of what has happened. There’s no waiting, no questioning, no uncertainty, as soon as Jesus speaks it happens. And everyone saw it!

-You can kind of think of this as a Wild West shootout. On 1 side you have Jesus who’s claiming He can forgive sins, on the other side you have the scribes/Pharisees who are there to keep an eye on everything, and who emerges victorious? Jesus. Which is easier for Jesus? Yes. The man who created the universe has the authority to forgive sins AND to heal a paralytic. 

-Think of how the people responded in this story: amazement and glorifying God. 

-When God works, the proper response is to worship and glorify Him. Micah and I had the privilege of attending the EFCA Theology Conference this past week, speaking with someone with a PhD in NT who said all the mental knowledge of God MUST drive him to worship and glorification, what God has designed feels like it must be fake, it’s way too good to be true. Sins forgiven, lepers cleansed, paralytics walking and leaping and praising God!

-One of my professors from seminary calls miracles “living parables” pointing to a greater reality than just the miracle, what’s the bigger reality here? Who’s really paralyzed? 

-Those who should have seen it, who should have been preparing the way for the Messiah, who should have fallen at his feet and worshipped him, the priests and experts in the law, were the ones who were paralyzed. Their “faith” had crippled them.

  • Jesus Brings Spiritual Healing (13-17)

-Just as the healing took place for the paralytic, Jesus isn’t done bringing healing into people’s lives, and potentially trying to escape the crowds again (or to give Peter’s wife a break from the crowd!), He goes out to the sea. But who follows him (again!) and what continues? Teaching. 

-In his journey, he stumbles across Levi/Matthew who happened to be a tax collector. Tax collectors were despised by the Jewish people, I struggled trying to communicate how terribly they were viewed because tax collectors bowed the knee to Rome (political betrayal), grew wealthy off God’s chosen people (financial betrayal), and were excommunicated from the synagogue (religious betrayal). Additionally, the disgrace towards this person was also heaped on the man’s family. 

-Benedict Arnold can’t hold a candle to a tax collector! No upstanding Jew would pursue this vocation! They had to abandon everything they had been trained to hold dear. 

-When it says tax booth, don’t think of it like a CPA firm, think of it more like one of those terrible toll booths in IL. As people would pass by him, he would get to determine their taxes, and the way tax collectors would get paid anything was by adding to the required taxes. Since Jesus is in Capernaum again, Peter, Andrew, James and John all would have known Levi. And how does Jesus treat him? The same way the faithful Jews were treated, calls him to follow him. This might be the only instance where Mark missed one of his immediately!

-How does Levi respond? He’s so excited he throws a party and invites all his friends! 

-Reclining at table is a weird phrase to our ears! Remember we can’t project our 21st century ideas onto this text. Reclining was the way people feasted together. Think of it like relaxing over a gourmet meal today. Levi was most likely very wealthy, with a large house and hung out with the other social outcasts of the day. But Mark makes a very interesting note about these people: there were many who followed him.

-At this time, meals were meant to be spent with people in a similar social standing to you. So Jews wouldn’t be caught dead joining a feast with the social outcasts. On top of that, these gatherings would have been in the courtyards of the homes, which would have been visible to those passing by, there was no hiding what was going on at your house. Couldn’t drive into your garage, close the garage door and never see your neighbors!

-The scribes (same as the ones that were called out during the story of the paralytic) caught wind of what was happening at Levi’s house and came down to see if it was true. They’d just seen him heal a paralytic (and read their minds) and they’re convinced that something isn’t adding up. So they decide to ask Jesus’ disciples a question about this: “Why does he eat with such scum?” NLT

-They had learned their lesson this time! Instead of merely thinking these thoughts, they say them out loud! Their judgment was noted, how do you think Jesus will respond?

-The first part of this is a well-known and used proverb at the time: healthy people don’t need a doctor. It’s the sick who need help! Jesus is referring to the spiritual realities that the scribes are continuing to miss, but I think this idea has continued down to today too.

-The scribes, and thus the rest of the Jews viewed sin like a contagious disease. We don’t associate with “tax collectors and sinners” because we might catch whatever it is they have. The problem with that idea is we’re all born with a sin nature that can only be dealt with through faith in Jesus Christ. Jesus came to bring complete healing, but our perception of healing is too temporary, Jesus wants eternal healing! Jesus came to be the perfect physician and provide the only antidote to the sin problem that the entire cosmos has been struggling through since Genesis 3.

-Let’s think about a necessary implication of this. Both last week and today we’ve seen people who were outcasts. The leper was physically separated from people, and the tax collectors were the socially separated from people. Does Jesus allow those man-made separations to define his ministry? No! And neither should we! 

-I’ve heard people describe the church as judgmental, and unfortunately some of that is earned. The natural tendency of any group of people is to create strict rules about those who are “in” and those who are “out.” You see this in social clubs, in politics, business, religion. But Jesus doesn’t play by those rules. Since someone much smarter than I brought it up in our NCC devotional this week I’ll piggyback off him and quote from The Chosen: “get used to different.”

-Friends, this is where the rubber meets the road: we cannot assume that everyone who walks through our doors has their life put together, or knows who Jesus is, and we need to reach out to them and welcome them in, just like Jesus did. But we can’t just stop there, we also need to go out to them and invite them to join us! You’re not going to “catch” their sin, you already have your own sin problems, work on yours and pursue holiness, and join others to come with you in pursuing Christ together.

-Trevin Wax in an article

“The problem for Christian parents isn’t in the desire to shelter children; it’s in the warped perspective that such sheltering can foster.

We begin to believe that sin and rebellion is a problem outside of our home, not inside.

We start thinking our kids are basically good and in need of moral direction, rather than recognizing that our kids are basically bad and in need of heart transformation.

We communicate to our kids that it’s “us” (good) versus “them” (bad) rather than helping them see our family’s role as one of service (“us” for “them”).

Then, when evil shows up on the inside of our home, we diminish its significance or hide it rather than bring it out in the open.

The reason we shelter our kids shouldn’t simply be that there’s evil outside, but also that there’s evil inside. The line of good and evil runs through every human heart, as Solzhenitsyn once said. No one is immune to temptation. No child is a tabula rasa. We’re born in sin and, apart from the grace of Christ, we’ll die in sin. That’s why we need a Savior who rescues us, not a shelter that protects us.”

-“The church is not a museum for saints but a hospital for sinners.” This isn’t a place for you to come show off your holiness, this is a place to be reminded how much you need Jesus’ grace to cover your sin. In salvation, no one is a worse sinner than the other, and Jesus’ death is sufficient to cover every sin any person has ever committed.

-Where are you at in this story? Are you like the tax collector who needs to be called to trust in God and turn away from your eventual destruction? Are you like the scribes who are sitting in judgment instead of sharing the good news of the gospel with even “sinners” around you? Or maybe you’re like the crowd and just here for the spectacle. Wherever you’re at, you need Jesus to bring holistic healing int your life! It may not come on this side of heaven, but it will come! Put your hope and trust in him, just like the 4 friends. 

Mark 1:21-45 – Sermon Manuscript

PLEASE NOTE: these are the notes I use to preach from, if you would like to hear them in context, please watch our YouTube video.

-Last week, we looked at the beginning of Jesus ministry as Mark sets a very brief stage for Jesus’ entrance. We started with a statement of who Jesus is (Son of God), moved quickly to John the Baptizer, then Jesus enters the scene and remains the focal point of the rest of Mark’s book. Jesus is baptized by John in the Jordan River, is driven by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tested, emerges refusing to give into the temptation, and begins His ministry by calling 4 disciples to follow Him: Peter and Andrew, James and John. 

-This week, we’ll see what it looks like when someone is completely dedicated to one aim. Have you ever met anyone with a drive like that? They are obsessed with that one goal, and nothing else matters. I had a friend like that in high school who was obsessed with basketball. Nothing else mattered except that. The rest of us would try to hang out and he wouldn’t until he got his shots in for the day. Even during other sports, he was still getting his shots in! He was so dedicated to basketball, that during the football season he got a stress fracture in his back from shooting too much! He was allowed to keep playing football, but not basketball, it almost killed him!

-Jesus was similar. He wouldn’t let anything distract Him from His one aim and goal in his earthly ministry. But what do you think that goal was?

-This is an important question for us to ask! We are supposed to continue Jesus’ ministry today! There’s a tendency for people to take things that are implications of Jesus’ ministry and try to move them into the center, which leads to an imbalance in how we’re living out and demonstrating the Christian faith. There are things that come out of Jesus’ primary ministry, but He always comes back to that which should be the most important. Let’s read the text and see what Jesus says is the primary purpose to His ministry.


-As soon as Jesus calls his disciples, He brings them straight into ministry. There’s no waiting period! Friends, as soon as you’re saved, God brings you in to His eternal plan to draw others to Himself. The minute you’re saved (brought from spiritual death to spiritual life) is the minute you’re given a job to do: to become a fisher of men. But how did Jesus demonstrate that? 2 things come out in today’s text: teaching and healing.

  1. Teaching (21-28)

-A majority of Jesus’ ministry takes place around or near the Sea of Galilee. 70 miles north of Jerusalem, about 13 miles away from His hometown of Nazareth. Freshwater lake over 600’ below sea level. 13 miles long, 8 miles wide

-Today’s text focuses on the ministry in Capernaum, which served as Jesus’ homebase during his ministry. It was also the home of Simon/Peter and Andrew. In fact, archaeologists believe they have uncovered Peter’s home, just steps away from the 1st century synagogue. This may be the exact place where Jesus stayed when He was in Capernaum, yet another evidence of the validity of what we’re reading here today!

-Capernaum was also the “big city” of its area, gathering place from many of the surrounding cities.

-What’s the first things Jesus does? Jumps in to teach

-Scribe doesn’t quite convey their position, “teacher of the law” or “religious authority.” Essentially they served as pastors, judges, and teachers all rolled up into 1 position.

-Look at the difference between the way they taught instead of the way Jesus taught. Jesus taught as one with authority. The scribes were only subservient to other people’s authority, so they would quote from other people to build their arguments. Apparently Jesus didn’t do that! And he didn’t need to, He was with Moses as the Law was written, He doesn’t need to appeal to anyone else!

-But someone was there who shouldn’t have been! A man with an unclean spirit, someone who is possessed by a demon comes into the synagogue to try to get rid of Jesus.

-Notice what the unclean spirit calls him the first time: Jesus of Nazareth. Contrast that with how Mark introduces us to Jesus twice already! vs. (the Christ, the Son of God), 11 (Beloved Son with whom God is well pleased). 

-Also follows spiritual ideas prevalent at the time: to use someone’s name invoked some spiritual power over them. We’ve uncovered some Jewish exorcism material that started by finding the demons name to demonstrate who the authority in this situation is. Jesus wasn’t the only person in the 1st century performing exorcisms, but He had the best batting average!

-But after first trying to demean Jesus, this spirit then admits who Jesus really is “The Holy One of God” Everyone in the world at some point will admit who Jesus really is! Even the demons will bow the knee to Jesus when He returns and fixes this broken world.

-How does Jesus deal with the situation? No incantation, no chants, or magic potions. He speaks. That’s all he needs to do! God’s words carry power and are effective. The same voice that created the world out of nothing can bring healing to the broken. 

-People don’t have a category for this. But notice what is emphasized: the teaching! The primary focus people have isn’t on the exorcism, instead it’s on the teaching. The healing is only done to validate Jesus’ teaching. Then it’s out of the teaching that comes the healing. And because of Jesus can both walk the walk and talk the talk His fame spreads quickly

  • Healing (29-34)

-But Jesus (at least in Mark’s Gospel) doesn’t stay in 1 place for too long! Immediately goes to Simon and Andrew’s house. House was most likely pretty close to the synagogue (remember that house they had uncovered? That was less than 100’ away from the synagogue. Someone in their home is sick

-Really briefly want to point something out here. How does one get a mother-in-law? You can’t even argue for an alternative translation of this word, no other interpretive options. Paul even brings up the fact that Peter is married in 1 Cor. 9:5. This points to the wide variety of backgrounds Jesus called as His first disciples. The fact that Peter was married meant He was willing to give up quite a bit to follow after Jesus!

-Fever was thought to be its own unique sickness, unlike us today who view it as a symptom of something else. We also see in Deut. 28:22 that a fever was viewed as divine punishment. And how does Jesus heal her?

-Takes her hand and lifts her up. No words even needed! No magical incantations, no potions, just pulls her up and she’s healthy. The word translated “left her” isn’t quite strong enough, it has more force in the Greek, more like it was forced away from her.

-Serving doesn’t denote a lower position or status, signifies how effective her healing was, she goes from being divinely chastised, to serving the Savior!

-“That evening” Sabbath was done, observed Friday at sundown to Saturday at sundown. 

-“All” could be a slight exaggeration (just as when you’re telling a story) or it could be literally everyone in the town who was sick was brought, just as in vs. 33 says the “whole city” (approximately 1,500 people at this time)

-“sick OR oppressed by demons” I’ve read all sorts of arguments that people in the 1st century just didn’t understand sickness the way we do today, they weren’t dumb! There is a difference between being sick and being affected by demonic powers. We often miss this today! It is tricky because it’s not always demonic forces. We are complex beings, mind, body, soul. Micah talked about the in detail last month, and we can’t just pick and choose one that we want to work on, they all interplay with each other. Carson (one of the best NT scholars in the world) says:        Don’t forget that Jesus is fully human. We have a tendency to read the NT accounts and just dismiss it as “well He’s God” which is true! But He’s also a human, just like you and me. 

-“Healed many” doesn’t mean some were left out, just that there was a LOT of healing taking place!

-Why can’t the demons speak? They prematurely knew him. Demons have better theology than we do because they see the spiritual realities that we often neglect or ignore around us. We’re only 34 verses into this book and we’re already seeing how important Jesus’ identity is! Remember, I shared that’s a theme throughout this book that the disciples constantly miss, so far the only ones who know Jesus’ real identity are the demons, and by silencing them He’s allowed to continue about His primary ministry, which we’ll see in the next section.

  • Teaching (35-39)

-After a long night of healing (have you ever thought of how exhausting that would have been to Jesus?) Jesus gets up early to pray.

-Descriptive, not necessarily prescriptive, the prescriptive reality is you should be spending time praying, talking with God. Create space somehow and some way to commune with Him.

-Sometimes it means sacrificing something good to focus on what God has actually called you to (a friend giving up fantasy football)

-“searched for him” is much more hostile: to pursue relentlessly or another stated “an attempt to determine and control rather than to submit and follow.” Once again we’re seeing the worst of the disciples! They have in their minds what the Messiah should look like, but Jesus doesn’t fit that mold.

-Jesus practices “subversive fulfillment.” Jesus subverts everyone’s expectations, twists them on their heads to cause people to reevaluate everything they think they know. But He doesn’t stop there, He goes on and provides an even better solution than the one people come up with on their own! So He practices subversive fulfillment. (subverts in that it confronts, unpicks, and overthrows the world’s stories” and “fulfils in that it connects and is shown to be worthy of our hopes and desires.”

-So often people think they know what they want, but they’re not even aware of the bigger realities taking place around them. Which is why Jesus tells so many people to be quiet, it’s not the right time or place, nor do they really know what they’re saying. It’s disconnected from reality. The way that Jesus demonstrates that He is what all these demons are saying is when He’s resurrected from the grave. We know it’s coming! His disciples don’t, they’re thinking Jesus has come to overthrow the Romans and establish Israel as THE nation on earth, but they’re thinking far too small.

-Jesus doesn’t let his newfound fame distract Him from His mission: to preach.

-Early disciples, and the crowds, thought Jesus’ primary ministry was healing and exorcising demons, and I think we see Jesus’ ministry similarly today! We see all these miraculous stories and think that’s the reason Jesus came, but notice how Jesus defines His ministry. 

-We today unfortunately separate these 2 realities: preaching and care for physical needs. We need both, but 1 has eternal significance. And this is what makes the church unique. The church has 1 thing that makes her different from any and every other organization: making and maturing disciples. The application or implementation of maturing leads to care for the poor and marginalized, but we cannot replace the primary focus with the implementation, otherwise our views will become distorted. 

-Massive differences in the way generations view evangelism. My generation is all social action, possibly in response to a previous generation that only emphasized preaching.

-Also a difference between what we as a church are called to do, and what we as individuals are called to do. Go and seek the welfare of our city! Invest deeply in your areas of influence, we pray that you will be successful in those pursuits! But not everyone has the same gifting or calling as you. That’s why we’re called a body throughout the NT, each part specializing in one area to help all of us function better together.

-“Preaching in their synagogues.” Wasn’t a rogue preacher, he was contextualized and intentional even in the places he preached. Example of why we need the church.

  • Healing (40-45)

-The last example of healing centers on an unclean person.

-Josephus, a 1st century Jewish historian recorded that lepers were regarded as walking corpses. They were just as unclean as a corpse, relegated to a life outside any community or other people. Had to dress and sackcloth, wear scraps as clothes, and walk around yelling “Unclean!” anywhere they’d go.

-As this man would have approached Jesus, it would have been like a tidal wave of people actively trying to run away from him. Think of the desperation this man felt as he disregarded all social norms and expectations and threw himself in front of Jesus. 

-“If you WILL, you CAN” It’s not a question of ability, it’s a question of desire

-Some debate about the word “pity” as some manuscripts have the word “anger” 

-Same word Paul uses on Eph. 4:26 “Be angry and do not sin.” Our anger tends to lead us to really bad places, Jesus’ anger is redemptive and restorative. Think of how frustrating it would have been to be Jesus, knowing how the world is supposed to be: a world without sin, without death, without sickness. Do you think he ever got angry at the state of the world?

-Touching was a BIG no-no. Leprosy was highly contagious, anyone who was touched immediately became unclean. But that’s not how it works with Jesus. 

-Think of it like this: what’s the best way to get rid of darkness. Light! How effective is the dark at defeating the light? Not a fair competition! That’s how any sickness or darkness is when held up to the light of the world. It’s gone! Instead of Jesus becoming unclean, the sickness is consumed in the cleanliness of the one, holy, perfect one. 

-Dear friends, this is true of all of us too. What’s that one secret sin you have, or issue you’re too ashamed and embarrassed to admit? One of the most difficult things to do is to admit we need help, to admit that we need cleansing so we don’t actually give all our needs to Jesus. Yet that’s exactly what He invites us to do. 

-Notice where Jesus ends up in vs. 45. He and the leper have exchanged places, which is what Jesus’ death on the cross has done for all of us. Don’t run away from Him, run towards Him. 

-And how do you run towards Him today? By embracing all the things He taught us. There’s an interplay between the teaching and the healing. We need the teaching to transform us, to conform us into His image. That’s why when Jesus commissioned His disciples (including us) He commanded to “teach everything He had commanded.” We now get to join with Jesus in bring teaching and healing to those we interact with, but that must begin with all of you.

-How would you summarize the primary point of Jesus’ ministry today? It begins with teaching, then works its’ way out into a transformed life. Will you listen to His teaching, and then be transformed, or will you continue to look away and try looking to the wrong solutions that Jesus wants to both subvert and fulfill? Wherever you’re at on that scale, you’re welcome here! We believe God created us as a church to demonstrate what subversive fulfilment looks like, seeking and saving the lost, being a unique people, loving and caring for each other.

Mark 1:1-20 – Sermon Manuscript

PLEASE NOTE: these are the notes I use to preach from, if you would like to hear them in context, please watch our YouTube video.

-After 2.5 years together, it’s time to walk through one of the Gospel accounts! Mark, more than any other Gospel emphasizes the implications of Jesus’ call to follow Him.

-Also turns people’s expectation of the role of the Messiah (Christ) on their head. They expected a warrior king and got a suffering servant, which also has some strong implications for us today. As I look at our cultural landscape, we as Christians have become overly accustomed to recognition and prestige, but how do we respond when we’re marginalized and ostracized from those who have power today? Mark will encourage us to remain faithful.

-One of the unique characteristics of Mark’s Gospel is how quickly things move. Where John elaborates and expands on robust theology and implications of Jesus’ message, Mark keeps things brief and succinct quickly moving from one scene to the next. 

-One thing to note about writing in the 1st century is they had very different approaches than we do today, which if you think about it makes sense, right? Who here had to read Romeo & Juliet in school?

-“But, soft! what light through yonder window breaks? It is the east, and Juliet is the sun. Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon, Who is already sick and pale with grief, That thou her maid art far more fair than she. It is my lady, O, it is my love! O, that she knew she were! She speaks, yet she says nothing: what of that?” Today: she’s lit. 

-Don’t impose our 21st century ideas onto a 1st century book! We think linearly and subsequently, but that’s not how the Gospel writers are to be interpreted. Instead of writing chronologically they wrote thematically and theologically. They’re trying to communicate truths about who God is as they write. Additionally, Mark uses a lot of repetition as this book was meant to be read aloud so he’s trying to help people be able to easily remember the story.

-With that in mind, who wrote this Gospel? Why do we call it “Mark”? 

-As these 4 Gospels started being spread to the early church, they very early on were labeled “The Gospel according to ____” The earliest manuscripts we have of Mark are labeled with that name on them. So who was Mark?

-The earliest church tradition points to the person named John Mark who traveled with Peter and Paul during the spread of the church. 

-He’s first mentioned in Acts 12:12, (Peter getting out of prison from an angel) which may mean he was someone who was financially well off. The early church met in homes that could accommodate large groups, it seems that John Mark’s mother’s home was one of those homes! 

-One of the most well-known aspects of John Mark is the relational split he had with Paul, causing Paul and Barnabas to go their separate ways. Thankfully, at some point in the future Paul and John Mark were reconciled and Paul eventually asks Timothy to bring John Mark with him to visit because he’s “very useful to me.” 

-One other line of evidence pointing to Mark’s authorship comes from an early Church Father Eusebius, who quotes from another Church Father names Papias who was discipled by the Apostle John (who wrote the Gospel according to John, 1-3 John, and Revelation) Papias lived from 60-130 AD and wrote books that have been lost, but are quoted from in other Church Fathers. So Eusebius quotes one of these books from Papias who said:

-While it’s not chronological, there is a broad overview to Mark’s letter (and like any biblical idea, there’s debate and discussion about how best to outline this book!)

-It seems that Mark thought of this book like a good screenwriter as a story in 3 parts categorized by location: beginning in Galilee, turning to Jerusalem (which hinges on Peter’s confession of Jesus as the Christ), and finally Jesus’ ministry in Jerusalem which culminates in His death and resurrection.

-Part of the reason I think this is a good outline is because it follows Peter’s summary of Jesus’ life in Acts 10

-Since Mark was Peter’s disciple, it would make sense that Mark would catalogue the story of Jesus in a similar order.

-3 keys to understanding the book/emphasis:

-Lots of debate about how to categorize the Gospels. Biography? Theology? Best summary: extended passion narrative. Mark flies through the preliminary stuff and then the last week of Jesus’ life takes up half the book!

-First: Who is Jesus?

-The most important question for anyone who has ever lived. Mark is bookended with this theme. Look at the first verse, and then at the very end a Roman guard utters the same phrase.

-A subset of this question is: because Jesus is the Christ, why did he suffer? Most likely written during an intense persecution from Nero, therefore it serves as a reminder that Jesus suffered too. This leads us to:

-Second: What does it mean to follow Him?

-AKA what does it mean to be a disciple? Just as Jesus was the suffering servant, in order to follow Him means we too will face suffering and persecution.

-But we also see a wide variety of responses to Jesus, and surprisingly the ones who get it aren’t his disciples. The book ends by describing the disciples as afraid and trembling. An appropriate response to a resurrected Savior! But it intentionally leaves the story unresolved, forcing the hearer to ask how will I respond to this good news?

-Third: Immediately. Count how many times Mark says it! I counted 4 in just today’s text! Like someone who tells a rambling story that you’re just waiting for them to pause so you can interject, but they won’t! “and then…”


  1. The Preparation (1-8)

-This first verse is loaded with massive implications, and also requires our careful attention to understand what Mark is drawing our attention to, as well as how it sets up the theme of the rest of the book. Let’s start at the beginning, which appropriately enough is the same place Mark begins!

-Mark doesn’t begin in the same place as John’s Gospel, Mark would rather dispense with the pleasantries and get directly into the important stuff! But this also is a reminder that God is doing something new in human history here. Just as in the beginning of the world God was working, here in the beginning of the salvation of the world, God is starting a new beginning.

-This beginning is about the gospel, literally the good news. Because this was written to a Roman audience that would have perked up their ears.

-Think of hearing someone walk by you shouting “Extra, extra, read all about it!” You’d think there was some major world event that was taking place. In many cases, the good news was related to a victory in battle. The Roman Christians would have then been waiting to see how this victory took place, but Mark would go on to subvert their expectations and reveal that the victory only comes about through suffering

-Jesus is his first name, Christ isn’t his last name. Christ is the title “Anointed One” or “Messiah” the one who God has promised all the way back in Gen. 3. The serpent crusher who would redeem the world and provide a way to be brought back to God.

-Not only is He the Messiah, He’s also the Son of God.

-No one would have expected God Himself to come to earth and redeem a wicked humanity, but that’s exactly how God accomplished redemption. In order to have us brought back to God, we need a redeemer who is both God and man. Therefore God sent His one and only Son into the world.

-This phrasing became somewhat of a motto for the early church, and one of the ways they determined who was a believer and who was not was using a little symbol that looked like this. Now, there’s LOTS in the Gospels about fish (the primary meat of the day), Jesus’ first disciples were fishermen, Jesus divides the loaves and fishes, but do you know what this symbol is called? Icthus: Jesus (iyasou), Christ (Christou), God’s (theou) Son (uios), Savior (sotar)

-Unlike the other Gospels, Mark spends no time on the miraculous conception or Jesus’ genealogy. Instead this story begins with a prophecy.

-His Roman audience wouldn’t have cared who His Jewish ancestry was. For the Jews, ancestry mattered GREATLY (just read Galatians!), the Romans wouldn’t have cared. Just like we in America today is largely comprised of “mutts,” the Romans were comprised of people from all over the known world who were Roman first and foremost.

-But having a prophet speak an oracle would have mattered greatly to the Romans, especially if that oracle turned out to be true.

-This prophecy quotes from a few different OT passages. Malachi 3:1Isaiah 40:3

-Malachi is a prophecy of judgment coming. God will judge the world, but not the way the Jews thought! And first was the coming of grace to provide salvation from the coming judgment. 

-Then in Isaiah the prophecy addresses the coming of a shepherd-like God who will care for His sheep. There is overlap between these 2 texts that both show the precursor to the Messiah, the one who will prepare the way for Him. Who is that?

-John appeared (once again, no build up, no explanation of the family connection going on here) just skip all the preliminary information about him and jump to this prophet. John came doing 2 things: baptizing and proclaiming. 

-Wilderness often serves as a place where people met God. Think of Moses and the burning bush, Elijah fleeing from Ahab, David fleeing from Saul, even in the NT after Paul is converted he goes to the wilderness for 2 years! Hold on to that thought

-He also proclaims that this baptism is connected to repentance for the forgiveness of sins. Repentance refers to a change of direction/orientation. Like when you turn down a dead-end street assuming it connected through.

-This ministry model (wilderness, baptism, proclaiming) was effective! “All the country” was coming, even those in the capital city of Jerusalem were being drawn to him! 

-This is meant to be in contrast to the positions of power at the time. Living in opulence in the city. Remember what I talked about during Christmas where in Luke’s account, we read of Zechariah who came from the right lineage, was in the right profession, married to a woman who was in the right lineage, and was serving in Jerusalem. But he’s not the Messiah, and neither is John! 

– The description of John’s and his lifestyle is intentional! The 1st century Jewish audience would have picked up on this reference to camel’s hear and a leather belt.

-In 2 Kings 1:7-8 it describes a man who “wore a garment of hair, with a belt of leather about his waist.” Then the text says “It is Elijah.”

-This was such a well-known image in the day, it would be like me showing this picture and asking you to guess who it represents.

-Notice that Elijah 2.0 recognizes what his role is. He’s (as Isaiah prophesied) preparing the way for someone even mightier than him! Which is where Jesus intersects with this new prophet.

  • The Commission (9-13)

-Remember, all this is referring to real events that happened in a real place within real human history. John’s ministry was meant to get people ready to hear Jesus’ message.

-Apart from vs. (title), this is the first instance of Jesus being mentioned. Once again, scarce on the details of this event, almost in passing mentions that Jesus was one of the people baptized by John. But even that isn’t the point, the point is vs. 10-11.

-In the midst of Jesus’ baptism, heaven is torn open and the Spirit descends on Him. A couple things to note:

-This is a fulfillment of Isa. 64:1 “Oh that you would rend the heavens and come down.” Well guess what? He did! The request Isaiah asks has been granted in God made flesh. 

-But let’s also think about the way the Spirit works through the OT. He comes down on people for a specific time and for a specific purpose, and then leaves. Not so with Jesus. Instead of leaving Jesus, after Jesus dies the Spirit is sent to live in the lives of Jesus’ followers, and once again He will never leave them.

-Finally, the Father speaks out about His one and only Son and quotes from 2 other prophecies from the OT: Psalm 2:7 and Isa. 42:1

Psalm 2:7 “The Lord said to me ‘You are my Son; today I have begotten you.”

Isa. 42:1 “Behold, my servant whom I uphold, my chosen in whom my soul delights; I have put my Spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations.”

-All 3 person of the Trinity, eternally existing in perfect union with each other are present in Jesus’ ministry. Church, don’t miss this reality, our faith is inherently Trinitarian! The Father plans salvation, the Son accomplishes salvation, the Spirit fulfills that salvation.

-Now notice who Jesus submits Himself to in His incarnation. He submits Himself to the Father by being sent, but now He submits Himself to the Spirit in vs. 12

-Season of prayer and preparation before He begins His ministry. How many times do we miss things because we don’t take enough time to pray and prepare, much less to submit ourselves to the Spirit?

-Wilderness – place of the wild animals, not a safe place, dangerous, where God must sustain, otherwise death is immanent. 

-This time in the wilderness also serves to signify that Jesus is a new Israel. Just as Israel wandered in the wilderness for 40 years, so Jesus wanders in the wilderness for 40 days. Micah has preached an entire message on the temptation of Christ, go listen to that for more detail! But where Israel was found unworthy, Jesus is found worthy and moves to begin his ministry (after being ministered to by the angels)

-Jesus has been affirmed by His Father, tested in the wilderness (and unlike every person to go before, Adam & Eve, Israel) He remained faithful and refused to give in to the temptation, He has submitted Himself to the guidance of the Spirit, and only after that is it time to begin His ministry.

  • The Initiation (14-20) 

-Waiting for John’s ministry to finish before starting His own. The time of preparation is done, the “kingdom of God is at hand.” 

-Look at the difference between Jesus’ proclamation and John’s proclamation. One is just pointing to someone else, the other is saying I’m here!

-Kingdom of God is inaugurated by a person. Contrary to the way many people would assume it should be, instead of a place it’s a person. 

-“Believe in the gospel” Believe in the good news? That’s different! Just as the kingdom of God is inaugurate by a person, so the gospel is the message of a person. Who are the first people to believe in this good news?

-2 sets of brothers, both fishermen

-Invitation to follow unlike most Rabbis at the time. Generally, the pupil would look at the available Rabbis and choose one, asking to become an apprentice. Jesus doesn’t leave it up to them, instead He pursues them.

-Following (Discipleship) is a call to follow, which demands/expects immediate obedience.

-As we close today, have you taken that step of obedience? Have you decided to follow Jesus and become a fisher of others? And if you have, are you submissive to the Spirit’s role in your life?

Foolish Generosity – Sermon Manuscript

-Micah did a great job over the past couple weeks with some very difficult topics

-As both he and I mentioned last week, the issues that he brought up cover a HUGE area, of which he covered a tiny little portion, which means there are things that were left out, intentionally. In Sermon Scraps he listed a few resources that were helpful for him if you want to study transgenderism further.

-I had a couple people grab me last week and call me a coward, so I thought we should deal with that issue head on this week! Micah volunteered to preach both of these messages, and if you couldn’t tell, mental health and gender issues are both topics he’s very passionate about and much more studied than I am. I consider it a privilege to have him on staff to help me think through these topics in a healthy and helpful way, and I hope you think similarly!

-But just to prove that I don’t give Micah all the difficult topics, I started thinking through what other issues are we facing today that are tricky to navigate or talk about. Since Micah talked about gender/sexuality, that leaves either money or politics as the things we’re not supposed to talk about. I’ll save politics for next year, so today we’re going to talk about money.

-As I was thinking about money this week, it struck me that from my perspective, money has become the issue we’re not supposed to talk about, at least in the church. When I was growing up, we weren’t supposed to talk about sex, but now it seems that money is the taboo topic in the church, and because it’s the taboo topic, many of us don’t have a good idea of how to engage or talk about it.

-I was thinking about some of this as we were preparing this sermon series, many of these topics are things we don’t hear about in church, but there the issues we most need to hear! If we don’t talk about it in the church then all we’ll have is ungodly and unbiblical answers to the questions we, or our friends and neighbors, are asking.

-As I read through the Gospels, it strikes me that nothing is too sacred or taboo for Jesus to talk about. Similarly, I think we far too often segment our lives in such a way that Jesus doesn’t transform everything, instead He’s relegated to a little “Sunday morning box” that only comes out to play Sunday, then we stick Him back in the box and live however we want the rest of the week. Unfortunately, that’s not what Jesus calls us to – He calls us to die, and that call is required for every little tiny part of our life, not just what we think of as the big stuff.

-I hadn’t made this connection until this week, but throughout the Gospels, Jesus connects sanctification (growth in holiness/godliness) to the way someone spends their money. Think of Matt. 6:21 “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Or one of my kid’s favorite stories Zacchaeus in Luke 19. What is the mark that salvation has come to Zacchaeus? Is it because he prayed the sinner’s prayer, or walked down the front to an altar call? No! He gives half of his goods to the poor, and restores everyone he’s defrauded 4-fold. He moves his treasure from earth to heaven!

-As we walk through this, I was highly influenced by a little book called The Treasure Principle by Randy Alcorn. (in the library)

-Let’s read together first, pray, and then dig in. LOTS of texts to get through!

READ/PRAY (1 Tim. 6:6-19)

-I’m intentionally doing this sermon right now! We aren’t behind budget (THANK YOU!), we don’t have any major building projects right now (but as you heard this morning, we will have some big expenses coming up soon).

-Just as Micah had all sorts of caveats as he started, so I want to share with you that I hear all the comments: pastors only care about money, pastors are just trying to increase their salary, we talk about money all the time now. My salary is set! I’m not looking for a raise! I think it’s important to talk about this because Jesus talked about money more than heaven and hell combined. And I want to talk about this because I care about you and want you to experience life to the full (being obedient to God). 

-Categorized this idea into 3 questions: what is a tithe, how do you measure your growth in godliness, and where is your treasure?

-Micah: our culture has flipped gender and finances around, we act as if finances are stable and won’t change and gender is fluid, but the opposite is true. There are all sorts of stories about people who put their hope in money being disappointed at the end of their lives, one that I read in The Treasure Principle about John D. Rockefeller who at his peak controlled 2% of American GDP. His accountant was asked how much money he left behind when he died. The answer: all of it!

  1. What is a “tithe”?

-Generally when churches talk about money, they talk about what is known as a tithe. But what is that? Why don’t we just call it a giving?

-Giving appears very, very early in the Bible. After Adam & Eve are banished from Eden, Moses tells us the story of Cain and Abel’s offerings. Gen. 4:3-7. We read that one offering is accepted and the other is not. All sorts of debate about why that is, does God only accept blood? Is Cain’s not the best, aka the “firstborn”? Lots of debate and conjecture, what I want you to notice is the giving reveals the heart of the person. Can’t distinguish the gift from the giver. 

-First time the word “tithe” appears in the Bible is in everyone’s favorite book, Lev. 27:30. It’s literally just 1/10th, that’s all it means. So anytime you come across it in the Bible, just mentally replace it with one-tenth. Here we see the tithe is God’s idea. This was put in place by God to provide for His work among the people. Now, when you really think about it, how much of this is the Lord’s? Yeah, all of it! He doesn’t need us to give Him anything, He literally created it all! This is where we see that the idea of a tithe isn’t for God, as if He needed anything from us, instead tithing is a way for us to be reminded that we’re merely stewards tasked by God with managing His resources. 

-As you know, most of the OT follows the story of God’s people obeying, then disobeying leading to punishment, then being reminded of the truth they’re supposed to be living by, repenting and renewing their commitment to the Lord. In one of the periods of reform for God’s people, King Hezekiah leads the people to cut down all their idols and reestablishes the temple worship, meaning the people needed to start giving! Look at how the people responded in 2 Chron. 31:5. Later on the text says they had to go through “heaps” of the tithes the people gave to God’s work. That’s a good description of what God has provided to us: heaps of gifts! This leads us right into the next text:

-Prov. 3:9-10 here’s where this gets a little uncomfortable for us in the conservative theological stream. Isn’t this just prosperity gospel? Are we just giving to get something from God as if we can manipulate or coerce Him into fulfilling our wants/desires? Hold on to that thought, we’ll flesh it out more fully later, but this text seems to be telling us that if we are faithful in giving the “firstfruits” or the best to the Lord, He will bless us in return. But what happens if we don’t give God our best?

-Mal. 3:8-10 This seems to double down on what we saw in Proverbs! If we don’t give to God we’ll be cursed! So we have 2 options: give our tithes if we want to be blessed, or hold back our tithes if we want to be cursed. 

-There are only 2 places in the NT where tithing is discussed, leading some to argue that tithing it no longer a required practice for new covenant Christians (us), which means I just wasted 15 min of your time by talking about it! I’m going to reverse the order of these from your notes and start with Hebrews before going to Matthew.

Heb. 7:1-10 It’s a little confusing because the author is making a really big deal out of someone that Scripture doesn’t give us a lot of information about! We learn more information about Melchizedek here than we do in the OT. Once again we see that blessing comes from God because of the giving. Look at vs. 7. This is another way of saying God doesn’t need us to give Him anything, it’s already His, but by responding to His invitation by faith and reminding and demonstrating that we acknowledge His Lordship, it leads to God’s blessing of us.

-Finally, let’s look at the 1 thing Jesus said about tithing: Matt. 23:23-24. The religious leaders are called out because they’re being faithful in tithing, but forgetting to act with justice, mercy, and faithfulness. Does Jesus say they shouldn’t be tithing? No! Actually, when Jesus talks about OT ideas, He makes them even more difficult, doesn’t He? “You’ve heard it said you shall not murder, but I tell you…”

-No verse that says “all Christians must give a tithe” what you’ll find is that we’re supposed to give: generously, joyfully, and view giving as a gift.

-Have you ever thought about why God brings people from different socioeconomic backgrounds together? Even his early disciples were comprised of rich AND poor (tax collector and blue collar). I remember a few years ago stumbling across Luke 8 and feeling dumb for not noticing it before. How did Jesus survive during His ministry? People provided for Him and His disciples as they went about their ministry. 

-Friends, giving isn’t a 21st century idea. Giving isn’t done to pad the pocket of the church or the pastors. Giving is done because it’s a reminder that every good and perfect gift is from above, from a good Father in heaven who has given first to us. Then He allows us to join with Him and His body to demonstrate that His kingdom isn’t of this world. We’re not trying to build a holy huddle, but we are trying to take care of each other. 

  • How do you measure your growth in godliness?

-We talked about discipleship being your whole life the past couple months. But did you know that also includes your money? In fact, one of the best ways to determine how much you’ve grown in your godliness is by how much you’re willing to live without for the sake of your brother or sister. Why is it that we act like it’s nobody’s business what we make as well as how much we give away? If Jesus is so willing to talk about money, and money is one of the ways we determine how much we’re growing, shouldn’t we ask for help, accountability, and support with money just like other areas God is making us more holy?

-Let’s look at a few passages that talk about this, first: Matt. 6:19-21. When I first graduated from college, I got a job as a contractor in the Cities teaching new hire nurses how to use healthcare software (good use of my Bible degree). The owner of the company was very wealthy, and would regularly give me financial advice (invest in gold, start your retirement account yesterday, stuff like that). That’s not terrible advice! And taking care of your family is required for those who are believers (1 Tim. 5:8), but the goal isn’t to become materially wealthy on earth because you can’t take it with you. Notice some of the phrasing here: “lay up for yourselves.” Don’t be selfish with your money on earth because it doesn’t last, and here’s where God subverts our thinking, if we want to be wealthy for eternity, pay more attention to what kind of wealth you’re storing up for eternity! And as I mentioned about discipleship earlier, your pocketbook reveals where your heart is, or where you’re placing your ultimate hope and focus. This is a similar idea that Jesus brings up in our next passage:

-Luke 16:10-13. As your kids grow up, you get to slowly increase their responsibilities. If they prove themselves incapable of handling one step of their growth you don’t skip that step and move on to the next one, you take time to work with them on the current issue so they’re ready to handle even bigger issues as they get older. This passage tells us that’s how God is with our finances. The way we handle God’s earthly possessions is a good test of how we’ll handle God’s eternal possessions. 

-Here’s the crazy thing about this passage: Luke uses an Aramaic word in here to communicate a bigger truth about money than many of us are generally aware of, and he uses it twice in this section, vs. 11 and 13, first translated as “unrighteous wealth” and then “money.” That word is “Mammon” Often the NT writers would keep the Aramaic for names (NT written in Greek), this led the early church fathers to comment that Mammon is referring to a demonic power that seeks to use earthly possessions for power, comfort, and privilege leading to us putting our ultimate hope in Mammon, not God. And think about it: don’t many of us tend to view money through that lens? Money is what we think will guarantee comfort and ease, but what if it all disappears? Money (mammon) is a great tool and a terrible god. But with that in mind, what Jesus says here makes a lot more sense: You cannot serve God and Mammon (false god). 

-This is another way of saying money has a tendency to become an idol. We look to money (Mammon) as our sense of worth, of satisfaction, security and comfort. Those are all good things, but the only way those will ever really be solved is by God!

-One last passage for this section is the reason some of us in this room make more money than others: Rom. 12:3-8. We’ve looked at this passage before in looking at the way we all need to be using our gifts to serve each other and to function as a healthy body, but let’s pay careful attention to the list of gifts here. 

-Included are things we often think of in connection to church ministry: prophecy, service, teaching, but then what else is included in here? The one who’s gifted with contributing, or giving. Friends, the reason some people are gifted with making money is so that we can live out Acts 4:34 “there was not a needy person among them.” God knows exactly what each body needs and ensures that each body can function and be healthy., which includes giving generously. This is why, when we have a financial need we share it with you! Some of you are gifted with giving, so we’re trying to make you aware of a need. Just like we will ask for help with loving and teaching kids or joining in prayer, giving is a gift from God that we need people to be faithful in.

-This leads us to the last question:

  • Where is your treasure?

-ROI, I’m not a money guy, I know there’s some people that love spreadsheets and data, give me words! Lots and lots of words and I’m in my happy place! But let’s look at the return on investment we get by stewarding our money in a generous way.

Matt. 19:29. I’ve been told that by investing in the stock market, I can expect at least a 3% return, if you knew that you were guaranteed a 100% return, would you take it? How much of your wealth would you put in to a 100% return? Would you sell everything you had in order to put your money in this account? I would! And that’s what God offers us (in fact there’s a parable like this about a man finding an incalculable treasure in a field). Not only do we get eternal life, we also get a hundredfold return on our investment. I don’t know about you, but I would go all in on a return like that!

-Why else do we invest our money in different ways than the world? 1 Cor. 9:24-25. We’re supposed to view our lives like an athlete. I’ve been working hard on this post-athlete body for a few years now, but back in the day I was athletic! In fact, I got a prize my Senior year that I still have. But do you know where this prize is going to end up? With all the other stuff I collect throughout my life: dumpster. This has sentimental value for me, but no one else. Unlike this “perishable wreath,” I’d rather put my time and energy into my hundredfold return. 

-We have just a few more passages to look at, and these passages are more immediately applicable to us today. The norm throughout human history is that most of the world is poor, and a very small group of people is incredibly wealthy. That has changed over the previous 100ish years where there are way more wealthy people today than ever before in human history. But that means we are the wealthy ones compared to the rest of the world.

-2 Cor. 8:1-7. One of the reasons Paul went on one of his missionary journeys was to collect money for the church in Jerusalem who was experiencing persecution. This was an incredibly poor church, nothing to give, but how do they respond to a need? In their extreme poverty, they “overflowed in a wealth of generosity.”

-Isn’t it amazing how Mammon can blind us to our wealth? If any of you, like me, have had the privilege of going on mission’s trips to other parts of the world you’ve seen this happen. Those who have nothing pull out all the stops to share the best of the best with their visitors. We need those reminders regularly so we don’t become blind to the way Mammon was so influenced our lives. 

-Just as we pursue growth in other areas of our life (faith, speech, knowledge) we should also pursue growth in being foolishly generous with our money. Remember: it’s not ours, we’re mere stewards entrusted with it for a small season of time, and it serves as a test of how well we’ll handle things of eternal value. 

-Paul continues this line of thought in the next chapter. 2 Cor. 9:6-15. How big do you want your storehouse to be in heaven? If your stingy in your generosity here, God will be stingy in His reward of you in heaven.

-What is this “not reluctantly” if we’re supposed to tithe? Dear friends, unlike the OT, I can’t demand you do anything! But I do want what’s best for you, and because what’s best for you is what God has commanded, why would you sow sparingly when you’re guaranteed the best ROI you’ll ever find?

-Paul says this in vs. 11-12 too. In your generosity God will support you. I was listening to a podcast on the idea of Mammon yesterday with Andy Crouch, an author. He said they have decided as a family, to not just tithe on their regular income, but twice in the past decade they have liquated 10% of their entire assets and given it away. He said it hurts! But the joy and thanksgiving that comes out of that is worth far more than the money they’ve given away. Jesus quoted in Acts 20:35 “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

-And pay careful attention to the last verse here. Paul has been encouraging the Corinthians to give generously, but then who does he thank for this generosity? Not the church! He thanks God. Have you ever thought of God using, gifting, and equipping you to be ridiculously foolishly generous with the resources He’s given you?

-Paul summarizes everything we’ve been talking about in this message in another text, and our last text for the day! 1 Timothy 6:6-19. 

-He begins with a good reminder: do you want great gain? The key is godliness + contentment. This from the guy who learned the secret to being content in everything! It’s not being content with stuff, you can’t take it with you. 

-This idea continues with a verse I’m sure many of you have heard before: the love of money! But pay careful attention to the words here! Money is not THE root of all evil, it is A root of all KINDS of evil. Money itself isn’t evil. Money becoming Mammon, or your god, is where money can become evil. Putting money above everything else is how you can end up wandering away from the faith.

-As if that’s not enough, there’s this last exhortation to us. Remember, we’re the rich in this present age! We have food and cars. We had some delicious donuts as a snack this morning. That’s not wrong, but we need to make sure that we’re careful and faithful stewards! So let’s read this last verses carefully. 

-Don’t be haughty, full of yourself, expecting special treatment because you have money. Riches will fail you either here or in heaven. Instead, put your hope, trust, and confidence in God who does richly provide us with everything (and often it’s through each other!)

-Additionally, we should do good, be rich in good works (be kind, considerate, look for ways to help and serve others), do all of this generously, and be ready to come alongside and share. That’s how you make deposits into your heavenly retirement account! And don’t stop doing it! It’s going to be much better for you to spend your money on bring foolishly generous with your money now because you don’t know how long it’s going to last.

-If someone got a hold of you bank statement, or credit card account, would you be proud or embarrassed about how you’re spending your money?

What’s the Big Deal About the Bible? – Sermon Manuscript

PLEASE NOTE: these are the notes I use to preach from, if you would like to hear them in context, please watch our YouTube video.

-Can anyone finish this phrase: “We the people of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect ______.” Where does that come from?

-Constitution of the USA. One of the most well-known documents, something many of us had to study in school or potentially even memorize. Serves as the written foundation of our country even down to today.

-Did you know that England has no such document? Closest they come is the Magna Carta, enacted in 1215 to prevent the King from tyrannical rule.

-For the past 800 years England has been forced to change, adapt, and tweak their governmental structure, but instead of writing them down in a formal document they rely on an abstract understanding of rules and laws that have evolved over a long period of time. Makes it slightly easier to make changes, but who’s to say the changes are in the positive or negative direction? How do they know which direction they’re moving?

-Just as it helps the USA to have a written constitution by which all subsequent laws are based or judged (then amended as necessary), we need to have some standard by which we can measure our spiritual selves, as well as provide an understanding of where the world around us is moving. 

-That’s where the Bible comes into play for those of us who believers today (but thankfully it doesn’t need amendments, nor will it ever be changed!)

-I love the way our SOF summarizes what we believe about the Bible. 

READ/PRAY (2 Tim. 3:14-4:4)

-As we think through the importance and significance of the Bible today, I want to remind us that Christianity isn’t unique in having a sacred text that we look to for our highest source of authority. I feel like the Bible gets the most scrutiny, but we need to remember that:

-Every major world religion has some sort of sacred text used to define how one is obedient to a deity or way of living. Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Judaism (that covers 78% of the world, the other are “unaffiliated”/“irreligious” or “folk religion”) 

-Islam has the Koran (Muhammed was visited by an Gabriel and told to write words down that were the fulfillment of all of god’s previous revelations) No one else to back up his claims, as well as debate about the originals said

-Hindus have “The Vedas” (meaning knowledge) which contain hymns, incantations, and rituals that were spoken to an ancient seer. Doesn’t really speak much to the real world, can’t test it against what happens around us (although looking at the Indian caste system I would hate to be forced to adopt that way of living!)

-Buddhists have memories of the saying of the Buddha, as well as rules for monastic life and philosophical texts. People today are questioning if “the Buddha” ever lived!

-Jews have the same Bible we have, but without the NT. Remember, I made a big deal at Christmas Eve about the 400 years of silence, Jews have been waiting for 2,400 years! 

-“unaffiliated” have (I would argue) a different trinity than we do: “science,”  “social philosophy” and, themselves. They believe “science” can provide answers to everything, that “social philosophy” can bring true and lasting meaning to a person’s life, and that they are their highest source of authority. Often read history through a modern-day lens and view culture as a long march toward “progress.”

-All that to say, Christianity isn’t unique in having a sacred text that we look to as our source of ultimate authority. Everyone has something or someone that they use as their source of authority

-It would make sense why people would then push back against the Bible in a culture that values expressing my wants and desires as a higher priority than anything else. “That’s just your opinion” or “I need to share MY truth.” Into that culture, we stand here holding a book written (at least) 1,933 years ago and claim that this is unlike any other writing out there, and needs to serve as the authority for everyone and everything. And we do it unapologetically! Let’s see why:

  1. The Bible is God’s Very Word (2 Timothy 3:14-15)

-There’s a lot in just these few verses of 2 Timothy for us to unpack BRIEFLY! Because we’ve got lots of other things to cover.

-There is something wonderful about being able to look back and remember things fondly from your childhood. Favorite movies, favorite foods, favorite vacations. For those of you who grew up in the church, you have a beautiful foundation that you’re building on that you should not let go to waste! 

-And for those who aren’t yet adults here, this is why your parents will bring you here on Sunday mornings, even when it’s hard to wake up and get out of bed, God is working here even when you don’t want to pay attention, because His Word is being shared! We’ll see this at the end, so wait for it, but one of the truths we believe about the Bible is that it is effective. Anytime God’s Word is spoken or read, it is doing something.

-This is what we saw in the discipleship series. The content of discipleship is God’s Word because it always accomplishes what God wants it to accomplish. This is why we need to know enough about God’s Word to speak into every situation we find ourselves. Trust it and rely on it.

-“All Scripture is God-breathed”

– Θεόπνευστος “the Holy Spirit superintended the biblical authors as they composed their writings, the Word of God.” Gregg Allison

-This doesn’t mean that the authors had some out of body experience, then woke up and suddenly the text was in front of them, instead God used a wide variety of people, a wide variety of situations, and a wide variety of writing styles to record His revelation and His will for the world.

Heb. 1:1-2. Think of all the ways the Bible was written.

Gen. 1 says “In the beginning” before anything or anyone was created. Who was there to give the eyewitness account of creation? God was. Tradition helps us understand that Moses wrote the first 5 books, Moses had many conversations with God on a mountain over a period of 40 days.

Ex. 34:27, Jer. 30:2 – God commands people to write things down

Ex. 31:18 – God literally writes things

Jeremiah 1:1-2 – God speaks to people

John 14:26 – Spirit assisted memories 

Luke 1:1-4, 1 Kings – people do historical research

-Today we have the fulfilment of all the things God was talking about and planning throughout the Bible, Jesus! Jesus is the centering point around which the whole Bible points. The OT points forward to Jesus, the NT points back to Jesus and talks about the implications of His first coming and how to live in light of His second coming.

-What is considered “Scripture”?

-39 books in the OT, starting at the very beginning, recounting the history of God’s people as well as pointing to how true lasting deliverance was going to come about. It began with God telling Moses to write down the law, and continued down until about 475 BC, where God continued telling people to write things down, but this is when the last prophecy was given. The OT has remained the same since then.  

-God’s speaking changed in the NT when Jesus came! Then there was new writings to explain how Jesus fulfilled all of God’s promises and what it means to be a follower of God today. The litmus test for the books of the NT were books written or authorized by an apostle. Look at the universal recognition of these books.

-What about the Apocrypha (RCC)?

-Jesus and His followers quote from the OT regularly, but never from the Apocrypha as God speaking. Jerome, who added the books into his Latin translation of the Bible described them as “books of the church” but not divine. In fact, the RCC didn’t recognize them as Scriptures until the Council of Trent in 1546 (anyone remember when the Reformation started)

-Tradition vs. tradition. One of the reasons we trust the Bible we have is true is because of the 2000 years of tradition that accompany it. Tradition isn’t the same level as the Bible (unlike RCC), but it provides guardrails or guides to help us ensure we’re staying on the right path.

-Ensures we’re not participating in “chronological snobbery.” The world isn’t always getting better all the time. If you go to Rome you’ll see 2,000 year old roads that are still used! I don’t think roads in MN last more than 2,000 minutes!

-Because the Bible is God’s very word, and we can trust the Bible that we have in our hands, it also means:

  • The Bible is Truthful (John 17:17)

-Because it’s God’s very words, we need to know some things about God to understand how it is truthful. Num. 23:19, Heb. 6:18

-Our first point was this is God’s very word. All of it is what God wanted us to have, it contains everything we need for growth in godliness and understanding who God is and how He’s worked throughout human history. But because it’s God’s very Word, what comes out from God is truthful because God cannot lie. 

-Need to do some logic, if God cannot lie, what does that mean about every word he says? Not going to lie, which means it will be truthful! Which is exactly what we saw from Jesus in John 17.

-This has 2 components to it: truthfulness means it describes reality, but it also means that the Bible will truly accomplish what God intends it to do.

-These are known as the doctrines of inerrancy and infallibility, you’ll often hear me say those things when I pray on Sunday mornings! Means not liable to error and not liable to failure. (Isa. 55)

-There has been some debate/discussion about these issues today. I first started becoming passionate/concerned about these doctrines when I had a friend who said he didn’t believe everything Paul said was true. And again when another friend said he didn’t believe Jonah contained a factual account of real events.

-This is why both of these words are important! They aren’t stuck in academy, they have implications for you and I today! Let’s think about this again (put on your thinking caps with me!) If the Bible has things that aren’t true, what would that do to our faith? How would we know which parts are true and which are false? Not only that, what would that say about God? Or if the Bible was ineffective in accomplishing what we saw in 2 Tim. 3, that we could never be “complete” we would always be needing looking for something else.

-Some of you may be thinking this sounds like “circular reasoning” just using the Bible to make claims about itself.

-While that’s true in one sense, that doesn’t make it wrong! If the Bible is the highest source of truth, then it needs to be the measuring stick we use for everything else, otherwise whatever else we’re using becomes the higher authority (usually it ends up being my own reasoning, which isn’t the best source of truth!) 

-But it’s not just the Bible we appeal to in order to validate it as true:

-What other book is as tested and proven as the Bible? 

-Think of The Book of Mormon (which LDS use as their inspired text). There are all sorts of historical claims in the book (like Jesus resurrected and then came to the USA, no evidence for it). Honestly, when you dig into some of the claims of other world religions it becomes laughable! Do you know how demeaning LDS is to women? When a Mormon couple marries, man taken behind curtain and given a secret name for his wife that only he knows so that when he’s in heaven he can decide if he wants to call out his wife’s name to have her join him. 

-Or think of Buddhism, which says everything is an illusion and nothing matters. What do you think would happen if you were stole all their money? Would they let you get away with it or would they cry for justice? But if nothing matters, why shouldn’t I do anything I want to achieve my own sense of happiness?

-What I’ve found in talking to people from other faiths is there’s a tendency to make yourself the center of the world, then look for the best idea that will allow that to continue. However, God doesn’t let you get away with that, instead He says you need to die to yourself if you really want to live!

-Unlike that, the Bible has yet to be proven false by any archaeological find. Just this past year, they believe they uncovered the home of the apostle Peter, and uncovered curses from Mount Ebal that says “cursed by the God YHW” dated from 1200-1400 BC. I’ve shared before the little piece of pottery that says “bayt David” in Hebrew, validating the existence of King David.

-The longer we go the more historical and textual evidence we have for the Bible being corresponding to reality. And if the Bible truly describes the world around us, shouldn’t we also trust it for the things it describes that we can’t see?

-Because the Bible is true, it also means that it is:

  • The Bible is Necessary (Psalm 19:7-11)

-Let’s looks briefly at Psalm 19, I say briefly because I preached a whole sermon on this last summer! Look at all the words used to describe the Bible, as well as the implications for following them.

-law, testimony, precepts, commandment, fear, rules

-reviving, wisdom, rejoicing, enlightening, enduring, righteous, great reward

-If you want a full, content, blessed life, live how God has commanded us.

-Let’s see what else God through Paul says Scripture does in the same place we started today, 2 Timothy:

-teaching, reproof, correction, training in righteousness. Doesn’t this sound similar to what we saw in Psalm 19? It’s almost as if there’s 1 main point behind this whole book! 1 Divine Author speaking the same message through dozens of people over thousands of years.

-Look where it finds its fulfilment: Leads to being complete (accomplishing God’s intent, infallible). 

-But notice where Paul also goes after this:

-Preach the Word! Use it to: reprove, rebuke, and exhort with complete patience and teaching.

-It’s hard in the church, because many people today are described in vs. 3. You can hear exactly what you want to hear 6.5 days of the week! Your social media feeds will cater to your specific preferences, you can even listen to your favorite preacher from the comfort of your living. However, that doesn’t allow us to live in community with others, and when we gather together we’re supposed to be challenged, stretched, pushed outside our comfort zones because we’re coming face to face with the living God as He’s revealed Himself to us!

-So, if you want to know how you can become a complete person:

-Begins by trusting in God as your Savior and Lord. But that’s just the first step. We saw in our last series that God’s command is to make disciples BY teaching people to observe everything God commanded.

-Requires regular studying of God’s Word. One of my favorite parts of preaching is that I get to spend intentional time each week digging into God’s Word pretty deeply, and it transforms me! You will NEVER become an expert on this book. You can spend a lifetime studying, restudying but you’ll never have the whole thing down.

-Let me encourage you, with it being the start of a new year, how can you take 1 step closer to Christ in your reading/studying of the Bible?

-Maybe you can start by reading 1 verse a day! Grow from there, but that’s a great starting place. 

-Maybe you need an intentional plan to help you read through it, I printed off a number of copies of my favorite plan (5 Day Plan)

-Maybe you need to start studying it! Get a good study Bible (NIV, ESV) and read through the notes as well as the Bible

-Maybe your next step is memorizing and meditating (Psalm 119:11 “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you”). The OSB memorizes a new passage each month, if you want to know the verse we’re memorizing that month let me know! 

-Find some way of growing 1 step closer to Christ through His Word this year, whatever it is! Share it with others who can encourage you and help you grow in that, and let the Bible begin to transform you and make you more like Jesus!

Christmas Makes Us…

PLEASE NOTE: these are the notes I use to preach from, if you would like to hear them in context, please watch our YouTube video.

1 John 1:1-4

-What is your favorite Christmas tradition?

-25 years ago I accidently created what has become my parents favorite tradition because I was too creative for my own good. I found a puppet book at church and created an entire Christmas story play with script, backgrounds, and puppets and forced my sister to do the puppet show with me. 

-The problem was I didn’t expect to be forced by my parents to do it into my 30s, nor did I expect to have in-laws roped into the festivities. 

-For about the last 15 of those 25 years I’ve tried unsuccessfully getting out of it, but this year is finally the year. I have produced enough progeny that I get to watch the play I foolishly made a quarter century ago.

-That’s my least favorite, my favorite has become lighting the candles on Christmas Eve.

-We’re not the first generation of Christians to spend time contemplating what Christmas (Jesus’ first coming) does to us. John, described in his Gospel account as the disciples “whom Jesus loved,” also contemplated the implications of the incarnation (try saying that 5 times fast!) in his first Epistle.


  1. Christmas Makes Us Remember (1, 3)

-John is encouraging his readers to think back to what’s really real. This letter was written (as most NT are) to correct an issue, people thinking and believing something untrue about how God has revealed Himself to be. In this case, John is writing because there’s a group of people who didn’t believe Jesus was really God.

-Does that sound like a familiar argument you may have heard before? So many people act as if they’ve uncovered some novel or new idea that no one has thought of before, especially in regards to Jesus. I was recently listening to a podcast that was arguing that modern day atheists are just a repackaged form of Epicurians. I don’t have time to go further on that, so I’ll let you do your own research and thinking on that if you want, but I think it’s an insightful idea! There’s nothing new under the sun, but people will try to come up with new or clever ways of saying the same old thing! I’d rather stick with the true original, God created everything!

-Which is also where John begins. “That which was from the beginning.”

-Do you remember how he begins his Gospel account? “In the beginning was the Word…” This story that we celebrate each year should bring our minds back to the very beginning, before the world was formed, before anyone walked the face of the earth God was. God created everything and it was very good, for 1 page! We know the story of Genesis 3 where sin enters the world, and as Romans reminds us death through sin.

-Some of those realities are the reason Christmas may be difficult for you. Because of sin, because of fractured relationships, because of death Christmas isn’t full of “good cheer.” I know some people in our body have lost loved ones this past year, and Christmas can be difficult when someone who’s supposed to be there isn’t. It’s a reminder that this side of heaven isn’t the way things are supposed to be. We all have a longing for what the Bible calls “shalom,” everything being at peace. That’s far more than the absence of conflict, it’s everything being in its’ proper place. Relationally, in the world, even your tools always being in the right spot!

-John goes on to say that the way we can have that shalom, peace, is because of what they saw with their own 2 eyes.

-Remember, there were people in this congregation who didn’t believe Jesus was truly God. But unlike John, these people weren’t there.

-Think of some significant events in history, the biggest one in my life was 9/11. I wasn’t there, but I watched the news as the planes flew into the WTC. One of my favorite pastors is Timothy Keller who served in NYC for a majority of his ministry. He lived and served in NYC when this event was happening, he saw it. Whose story do you think would be more accurate, his or mine? Similarly here, John saw, touched, heard, and it wasn’t just John, WE, other disciples were there too! There’s a whole group of people you can talk to about what happened!

-Christmas makes us look back, seeing how God has worked in human history, how He sent His one and only Son into the world, which leads us to this second Christmas makes us do:

  • Christmas Makes Us Proclaim (2)

-Christmas is the news that changes everything! Christmas is the reason we can and should proclaim about the realities of what Jesus has done! We’ve spent quite a bit of time over the past few weeks looking at this! 

-We’re caught up in something far bigger than ourselves, we’re caught up in God’s work of reconciling the world back to Himself. John describes this as “eternal life,” and when we read eternal life we have a tendency to only think about life after our time on earth is done, but when the Bible talks about eternal life it talks about something that starts now, the moment when you’re brought from death into life and put your faith , your hope, your trust, your confidence in Jesus’ work on the cross on your behalf.

-But it’s not enough for you to keep that news to yourself, part of being a Christian means sharing the with everyone else what’s really happening in the world around us. It’s so easy to get distracted or caught up in what Jesus describes as “the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches.” Those things seem to matter a lot, don’t they? We need to eat, have a house, have a full life. The problem is all those things are wonderful gifts, but if those gifts become the end itself you can’t really enjoy them.

-Think of your favorite food. Mine is a perfectly cooked steak. If steak becomes your entire focus it starts to lose it’s specialness. Even the best steak in the world is only meant to serve as a small taste of the perfect gifts God has given us. When you’re able to use God’s good gifts without excess or as an end in themselves you’re able to live in a way that demonstrates to the world what God does to you, and how He lets you live life to the fullest!

-But this also should make us question: what is it we’re proclaiming? You naturally share the things that you’re most passionate about and most enjoy. 

-I love coffee, reading, and basketball, but my love for those is miniscule compared to the love of my wife, kids, and that’s even less than my love of the Lord! In conversations with people I’m going to be looking for opportunities to talk about the things I love. Cara has even asked me after we’ve spent time with people why I kept bringing some of these things up. I care greatly about people finding and knowing more about the God! And so should you! Anyone who is now in Christ needs to work out best to proclaim the truths about what God has done in you, and how He loves others. John talks about it, and so should we.

-Christmas makes us look back and remember, Christmas makes us proclaim the truths of what Jesus has done, but we don’t do it alone:

  • Christmas Makes Us Relational (3b)

-One of the things we saw last night is that Jesus’ arrival brings peace. The normal state of affairs in the world and in relationships is conflict and turmoil. It’s difficult to be in relationship with others because it means being hurt regularly, and being willing to forgive. On top of that, it also means you’ll hurt someone else regularly, someone that you love. In order to have a real lasting relationship it requires regular repentance and forgiveness. 

-But notice as well that John talks about fellowship connected to the proclamation.

-As we preach the gospel, it allows and finds its’ fulfilment in fellowship. True, lasting open relationship is now possible because of God’s perfect plan coming to fruition. 

-This also means there’s more to fellowship than enjoyment of the same things. Those who denied the reality of the incarnation were breaking fellowship with the believers. This tells us that we can’t have true fellowship with those who deny orthodoxy. This isn’t something that people like to talk about or admit today, but it’s not a new issue. True, lasting fellowship isn’t possible with those who have abandoned Scriptures clear commands and teachings. They need to be brought back into last fellowship with God and others, but it’s only possible by proclaiming/believing the right things. 

-That’s what John goes on to say here, fellowship horizontally is dependent on fellowship vertically. How can you have fellowship with God? By believing in His Son and then living in light of His coming.

-When our relationship with God is right, it is made visible by our relationships with other believers.

-This also shows us the importance of being a part of a local expression of fellowship. When God saves us He makes us a part of a huge family that is made visible by local churches, local expressions of fellowship where we can demonstrate and live out all the requirements of being in relationship with one another (look up the “one anothers” of the NT if you don’t know what I’m talking about!) Summarized as “love one another.” 

-We’ve seen: remember, proclaim, relational, but when those 3 things are true it will lead to the fourth things Christmas makes us:

  • Christmas Makes Us Joyful (4)

-Joy is different than happiness. Happiness is a fleeting feeling that can change in seconds. Joy is a conscious decision that is far more lasting than a fleeting feeling. Remember how John has through this whole section been talking about the implication of the incarnation, or what happens because of salvation. The final marker of salvation in the believer is that they are a joy-filled person. 

-Paul commands believers to be joyful always in 1 Thess. 5, and he is someone who manifested that perfectly. Paul is the guy who had learned the secret to being content in all circumstances. He learned how to be joyful when he had plenty, when he didn’t have enough to eat. He learned how to be joyful when he was mocked and belittled, or when he had an audience with people in high standing. When Christ is in us, we can choose to keep our eyes on what God’s doing and how He’s continuing to work in you. 

-When God saves you, the culmination of that is joy. But notice the pronoun connected to the joy: OUR. It takes a community to be joyful. You can’t do this on your own, nor does God want you to do it on your own. It takes others to help you express your joy. I heard a quote last week that I really like. It’s a Swedish proverb that says, “Shared joy is double joy; shared sorrow is half sorrow.”

-Isn’t that true? When you’re celebrating you want others to join with you in that celebration. And when you’re struggling you need others to help encourage you to not give up. It’s another way of saying what Paul reminded us of in Rom. 12: “Weep with those who weep, and rejoice with those who rejoice.” By fellowshipping together, we can have that fulfilled joy. 

-All of this is a description of what is true because of the gospel message, author Trevin Wax wrote an article a few years back where he said it this way:

Trevin Wax: “If you excise the gospel community from your thinking about the gospel announcement, you gut the gospel of its purpose. Though the church is not the subject of the gospel announcement (Christ alone is the subject, of course), the church is a necessary object. Christ’s death has a purpose: to save sinners and incorporate them into a community that reflects His glory. . . . I fear that most evangelicals see the church as ‘just an implication of the gospel’ instead of thinking, This is the whole point of the good news—God forming a people for His glory and the good of the world.”

-Christmas changes everything, and causes us to respond by remembering, proclaiming, relating, and being joyful. 

Formally & Informally – Sermon Manuscript

PLEASE NOTE: these are the notes I use to preach from, if you would like to hear them in context, please watch our YouTube video.

-We’ve covered a lot of ground in this series! Basically, what I’ve tried to do is look at the topic of discipleship from a wide variety of angles.

-Your perspective on things can be deceiving! Remember the gorilla we saw (or maybe missed!) a couple weeks ago? 

-Today I’ve got a different picture to show you to demonstrate just how much your perspective changes things. At first glance it appears that dear Prince William is upset with someone, doesn’t it? What do you think he’s trying to communicate? But wait until your perspective changes, what do you think he’s trying to communicate now?

-Perspective matters! How we view discipleship matters. A good summary has been seen by the 4 Ps we’ve mentioned regularly.

-Summary of the previous weeks:

-Defining Disciple (learner): a redeemed sinner learning Christ by increasing worship of God through every area of your life. 

-The Content of Discipleship: God’s Word spoken in a wide variety of ways and contexts, because God’s Word is always applicable. (the way we move up the arrow is by God’s Word) Need to inwardly digest the Bible more, met people with digestive issues, why do so many Christians today have spiritual digestive issues that go undiagnosed or ignored?

-Imitate Me: God has given us a body of people who all have different strengths and weaknesses, but there will always be someone who is more mature than you in some area that you would do well to spend time with and learn how to imitate them. You become like the people you spend time with. SG a good place to do this! (We look back at people further down the arrow to invite them to imitate us)

-The Assembly: Micah reminded us last week that the gathering is integral to the life of a disciple. God literally baked this idea into the created order, and we need to gather because everything around us disciples us one way, but God’s ways are often the opposite of our worldly training so we need to be retrained and have the compasses of our hearts re-magnetized to true north. Sundays serve as the tuning fork for the rest of our weekly discipleship.

-I was reading an article this week that had a line that stood out to me that I thought was helpful in thinking of what Micah preached on: “The audience for worship is God, not us.” Sunday morning is a beautiful reminder that we exist for someone else, not for ourselves. This is part of the reason I think it’s important that we meet on Christmas Day (debate every time it falls on Sunday)

-This week, we’ll be looking at how we put all these various pieces together and pursuing holistic discipleship in every facet of our lives, or being intentional to disciple others one step closer to Christ informally and formally.

-I think Paul summarizes this idea really well in Phil. 4:8-9. Growing as a disciple (learner) of Jesus is learning how to take every thought captive to Christ (2 Cor. 10:5), which is focusing on this list of truths (even toward other people). The most difficult thing to disciple is your thought life. Think about it: who is your biggest critic? Who lies to you more than anyone else? We’re coming up to the time of year where we all make big bold commitments that we know we won’t follow through (they’re called New Year’s Resolutions). If you’ve ever had a gym membership you know it’s packed full in January, but usually by about mid-February there’s plenty of room again!

-One more thing before we read, remember what we are caught up in. The greatest story ever told!

-“Storytelling has been central to Christianity from the beginning, because the Gospel is not a body of teaching, but an account of something done.” Colin Morris. That’s literally why Christmas is such a big deal! The eternal unchangeable God entered into time and space to redeem the whole creation. That’s an historical fact that should cause us to ask a question Jesus asked His disciples: who do you say that I am?

-EFCA SOF: “God has graciously purposed from eternity to redeem a people for Himself and to make all things new for His own glory.”

READ/PRAY (Deut. 6) 

  1. Formally: Right Theology (4-5)

-Notice where Moses’ announcement begins: with a statement of theology.

-Have a tendency today to view this as an academic pursuit instead of the core of discipleship. It’s just talking about God, which everyone does. The centering point that we’re gathering around together is the Bible, God’s inspired and authoritative Word because that’s the measuring stick that we’re commanded to use in our lives. We will only grow more mature as a disciple as we grow in understanding and application of God’s Word in our lives. If God has told us something, we need to obey. 

-This is why we spent a whole Sunday working on the content of discipleship: if we don’t, we won’t be learning the right things.

-There’s 2 ways to interpret this phrase here, hard to translate because there’s no verb. “The Lord our God the Lord one” could be a statement of identity (who God is) or could be basically a catechism statement: The Lord OUR God” 

-All theology is practical or applicable. Theology isn’t just an endeavor for the your minds, remember what I’ve shared before, it’s meant to make the 18” move from your head to your heart.

-Moses knows this: no transition, he goes straight into “love the Lord your God with everything” Because God is one it means something in all our lives, and Moses immediately jumps to the application of God being one! The last word there is an interesting one, literally could translate it as “muchness” or “abundance.” Just a way of saying everything. Then in the NT Jesus doubled down on this statement!

-This is where we see that we’re supposed to worship God with every single thing we do. What’s left out of “muchness”? Nothing! Moses is reminding God’s people that God’s people must represent Him to the world. Church: we have a job to do!

-That’s just the first application!

  • Informally: Right Living (6-9)

-How do we know how to obey God? What is the method God uses to help people move up the arrow? We need to soak and saturate our lives with His commands/words. We saw that when we looked at the content of discipleship.

-Did you know that boundaries, fences actually help instill a sense of security and protection in people? A study done in 2006 compared the activity of children who were taken to a playground with fences vs. a playground with no fence. Those children who had a fence used every available square inch to explore. The children without a fence stuck really close to the teacher to ensure they didn’t stray too far away. 

-The Bible (rules, stipulations, commands) are meant to allow us to experience freedom in Christ instead of living in fear. Think of how difficult it is to keep up with the moral relativism around us today! How do you know if something you say today won’t get you cancelled in the next 5 years? Friends, God has given us a spirit not of fear, but of freedom! All our sins past, present, and future have been atoned for, they’ve been dealt with, they’ve been cast as far as the East is from the West. Can you measure that? 

-Look where these verses begin: words. Remember, it’s not enough to just have a head knowledge about God, it needs to trickle itself down into the very center of your being and drive, your heart. The only hope we have of maturing as disciples is by letting the truths of God’s Word permeate into your heart, the very center of your being, “on your heart.”

-What is it that drives you? What we just saw in the previous 2 verses is for those of use who are in Christ, the driving force behind everything we do should be loving God perfectly, with all our “muchness.” That is literally the whole point of discipleship: learning to love God more correctly. 

-These commands, these rules are so important, God’s people are commanded to teach them, but not just teach, there’s an adverb here: diligently. I was listening to a podcast recently from a pastor who said: if anyone talks to me for more than 5 minutes, they’re quickly going to learn 2 things about me: I love Jesus, and I love my wife. We talk about the things that we’re most passionate about! Which is where Moses goes next:

-Describes how you diligently teach: talk. Once again, this is Moses assuming that God’s people know enough about God’s rules and commands that they’re able to talk about them diligently. 

-Church: don’t miss this! I keep saying it, but I want to point it out as we walk through all the places Moses says we’re to talk about God’s words. Everything we’ve looked at over the past 5 weeks is only possible if we ourselves are studying God’s Word and are then able to apply it to every context we find ourselves in. This gathering isn’t sufficient for you to let God’s Word soak into you deeply!

-The other thing I want you to be aware of is Moses’ overall point in what he lists here. He’s not limiting the teaching to these 8 areas, instead he’s using a literary device common to Hebrew known as Merism. Example: I searched high and low, meaning I searched everywhere (yet I’ve discovered that there’s something called “husband eyes” that still miss things!). Moses is using 2 examples to cover every aspect of life, yet I think these examples are still worth looking at, as a way of encouraging us to bring God’s Word to bear in our whole lives. 

Sit in your house: what things do you talk about when you’re at home? Vikings historic comeback win yesterday? Weather? Stocks? How long would someone need to talk to you before Jesus comes up? How do you create opportunities in your home to talk about what God is doing in your lives? Once again, this assumes that you know enough of God’s Word to talk about it, but when you’re home, inviting others in, how do you love God with your “muchness” in the home? This idea will come up again, so just wait a minute.

walk by the way: Not enough to talk about God when you’re in the house, there needs to be a PDA: public display of affection that’s geared towards God! Maybe today it should say “drive by the way” How can you drive in a way that shows you love God with your everything? 

-This is one of those areas that I worry we may be neglecting today, our culture has trained us that religion is something private that we leave at home, but for anyone in Christ, we’re supposed to have every area of our lives transformed. Even the act of going for a walk is supposed to be different because Christ is in us. One of the things I try to do when our family goes on walks is look people in the eye and say “hi” it’s an easy way to treat them as another person who carries the image of God. 

-Moses begins with your daily life: home and outside the home, what about with respect to time? 

lie down. What’s the last thing in your mind as you go off to sleep? “Vikings played an amazing second half today” Or maybe what is your nightly routine as you go to bed? What does it mean to love God with your everything at the end of the day? One of the ways Cara and I have built this idea into our daily lives is asking “what are you thankful for today” as we’re getting into bed. It’s an easy to way to reorient our minds to giving thanks to God even when it’s been a terrible day! I’ll be honest, sometimes the only thing I’m thankful for is the bed!

rise. Similarly what’s the first thing you think of when you wake up (other than: do I HAVE to get up?)? Maybe you roll over and check Twitter, the news, or the stock market. What would it look like for you to begin your day loving God with your everything? Maybe it’s thanking God that “his mercies are new every morning.” Maybe it’s giving thanks for God’s sustaining you through the night and that even when we need to sleep, God doesn’t ever get tired. Whatever it is, find some way to begin your day with God at the forefront of your mind. 

-But it’s not just you individually or as a family working through these things, because God gives you to other reminders to keep Him first. So, to ensure you don’t forget them:

Sign on your hand. How often do you use your hand during the day? How do you think your hand could be used to remind you to keep God first? Maybe it’s changing what your hands do on social media. Maybe it’s working harder at your job because it’s a gift from God to be able to work and do what you do.

Frontlets between your eyes. If any of you (like me) need glasses, you know how hard it is to see without your lenses. What would your life look like if you viewed everything through the lens of the God’s Word? What would it mean to view everything you see as God sees it?

Doorpost of your house your house should be different than those who aren’t following Christ. Once again, I have to ask, do you think this is true of you and your family? Are you just chasing the same American dream as your neighbors or can people tell something different about you in how you live and operate in your home? 

-Doesn’t necessarily mean putting a Bible verse on your door, but that may not be a bad idea either! Better than anything else you could read as you walk out of your house!

-What does it mean to be a Christian in the home? Training children, walking with the Lord. Living a life of repentance, prioritizing God over other good things. There needs to be something different about us. I think sometimes we’re guilty of slapping a “Christian” label on something and then continuing to pursue whatever we want instead of understanding the God is seeking to transform you from the inside out.

Gates: We often think about this in terms of our own private houses, but at this time period houses didn’t have gates around them, the gates was referring to the public square, so even in the public square, God’s people were to keep God at the forefront of their minds and act differently than those who didn’t follow the one true God. So for you today: do people at your work, in your interactions at the grocery store, can people see you follow God? What do you think it would look like for you to bring God into all these interactions?

-The summary: nothing is left out! God’s people need to bring God’s commands to fruition in every area of their lives, and we need to encourage each other to love God with our “muchness” and love others as we love ourselves.

-This idea is summarized in a similar way in a NT Epistle, and it’s where I’ve stolen some language when I talk about discipleship:

1 Tim. 4:16 (NIV) “Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.”

-Anyone who has had a failing in ministry has failed in 1 of these 2 areas. Not mutually exclusive, these should be growing together, symmetrically. Think of a train. In order for a train to move forward it needs 2 rails, otherwise disaster strikes! Similarly for our growth as a disciple, we need to grow in both life and doctrine to pursue maturity. 

-How am I hoping we flesh this out in our context? Classes and small groups. Classes are a great environment to learn doctrine, to grow in knowledge of God. Small groups are great environments for living out the truths you’re learning, and accountability to apply those truths on a regular basis. If you ever want a book to read, please come talk to me! I love reading!

  • Perseverance, Step by Step (10-25)

-Remember that Israel here on the verge of entering the Promised Land, the place they’d been waiting years to enter. Living in the desert, eating nothing but manna and quail for 40 years, yet what does God remind His people to do as they look forward to that day? Not forget him! Look at all the things God’s going to provide for them: great cities, houses, cisterns, vineyards, olives trees.

-Dear saints, we have been blessed beyond measure! Christmas is a great time to think about this, Paul reminds us in 1 Cor. 4:7 “what do you have that you did not receive?” Everything we have is a gift from God because God sent His Son to Earth to adopt us and make us His children, and then send us on a life of learning (discipleship).

-Moses goes on to say that the reason parents need to know and understand these truths is so that they can answer when your children ask you questions about your faith. How do you answer that question? (20) “Mom, dad: why do we obey God’s rules? Why are we different from my friends? Why do we have to wake up early on the weekend and go to church? Why do we spend our money differently?” 

-First of all, this assumes that you’re living differently. As I’ve said before, I sometimes worry that we’re not!

-I’ve had numerous conversations with some of you here about some of these issues. Why are kids leaving the faith? What hope is there of the church enduring? I listened to a podcast this past week that got my wheels turning on the need for us to live differently. Let me share some thoughts:

-We’re at a unique day in our culture where many of our assumptions are being challenged. One scholar has quipped that the job of apologetics today is not explaining the church to the world, the job of apologetics is explaining the world to the church. Why does it seem like our culture is getting crazier each day? The book of Judges summarizes this well: everyone did what was right in their own eyes. No accountability, no oversight, we live in the day of expressive individualism (def.) Yet the whole point of our faith is to be conformed into someone else’s image, not our own.

-Dear friends, we need each other to help each other grow in life and doctrine. We need each other to make disciples and to help each other mature as disciples. Every single person here is here for a reason and has some area where they can help those around them mature as a disciple. And as parents have questions, they need older people to help encourage them to persevere in their parenting and chasing after God. 

-Defining Disciple (learner): a redeemed sinner learning Christ by increasing worship of God through every area of your life.

-Newbigin quote. The only way of interpreting the gospel. 

-The gospel message isn’t just a mental idea that we check the box with and move on. The gospel leads us to a community of people who will disciple us so that we can in turn disciple others. We need to love each other enough to call out the sins we see in each other, and look for ways to share the gospel in word and in deed until, encouraging people to take one step close to Christ. We’re on an eternal journey of learning Christ more fully, so let’s start today.

-As we wrap up this series, 1 question for you. Where are you at on this arrow? What do you need to do to be or become a better learner? And who do you need to call to imitate you as you’re imitating Christ?