Luke 24:36-49 – Sermon Manuscript

-Do you remember when you used to get excited about things?

-Christmas was a magical time, I’ll be honest, one of my favorite parts of moving back to MN was the Menards Wonderland experience (but I’m pretty sure it used to be bigger, in my mind when I was growing up they converted the whole store). Counted down the days to open presents, hoping your parents had been listening for the hints you’d been dropping all year. 

-Birthdays were celebrated instead of dreaded. Anyone else remember having “themed” birthday parties? Best one I had was a backwards birthday party. Wore clothes backwards, everyone got thank you gifts when they arrived, I opened presents at the beginning (which is why I wanted to do a backwards party to begin with) AND we all ate the cake before the food! 

-Or remember when you had this thing called “summer” that wasn’t just referring to the season, where you had no responsibilities for 3 months straight! Now summer just means you sweat when you walk outside instead of freeze (Assuming you can get outside to see the weather around work!)

-Then you had dreams about what your first job was going to look like, and be (and then after about 3 days working at McDonalds you realize you learned what you DON’T want to do for the rest of your life!)

-Or maybe it was getting your driver’s license, but then as soon as you got it you become all your friend’s means of getting around.

-College! But then you graduate and realize you actually do have to pay back all those loans you took out that didn’t seem like such a big deal when you were 19, and here we are STILL paying for that education that you finished a decade ago!

-The world trains us to become cynics, to not hope too much in an attempt to preserve what little happiness we have left in our lives.

-We look at children and smile at their youthful excitement, but think to ourselves “someday they’ll grow out of it.” Even this week, you would have thought my kids were getting to meet Dude Perfect in person by the way they were excited about donuts! And me, well I’ve had donuts many times now! (FYI – they’re from Hy-Vee, talk about breaking all my expectations!)

-One of the craziest things about the resurrection is it breaks every expectation we’re trained to believe in. It’s a story that literally seems too good to be true! But the craziest thing about it all is that it is!

-Tolkien summarized this feeling incredibly well at the end ROTK. (gotta spoil the movie, but it’s been out for 20 years, and the book has been out for 68 years, so it’s on you at this point). After the ring has been destroyed, Sam and Frodo are saved by some Eagles. When Sam finally wakes up, the first person he sees is Gandalf, and exclaims: “Gandalf! I thought you were dead! But then I thought I was dead myself. Is everything sad going to come untrue?”

-We’re going to focus on that idea today: the reality that everything sad is going to come untrue, and that’s only true because of the resurrection. Peace, paradox, proclaim


  1. Peace (36-39)

-“Talking about these things” What were they talking about?

-Friday we took a look at the previous chapter where we saw the mock trial of Jesus, culminating in His death and burial. Luke 23 ends by saying the women prepared spices and ointment to anoint Jesus’ body (a way of giving honor) Did nothing on the Sabbath (this was a day of rest for the Jewish people every week, no work was allowed), Luke 24 picks it up on Sunday morning

-Women go to the tomb to place the spices, but the body’s gone! They weren’t confused (it was a well-known tomb), they were grieving, but they weren’t crazy. They knew exactly where the body was supposed to be, but it wasn’t there. 

-Thankfully, there are 2 angels nearby to tell them what’s happened, asking these women (one of my favorite questions) “Why do you seek the living among the dead?” That’s ironic isn’t it? They’d seen Jesus just days earlier beaten to a bloody pulp, then hung up on a cross and watched Him breathe His last. Luke also mentions who these women are: Mary Magdalene, Joanna (wife of Herod’s household manager, the same Herod who interrogated Jesus on Friday), and his mother. At least 2 of those women had a vested interest in knowing where the body was! They run back to the rest of the disciples to tell them and:

-No one else believed them. Would you? What happens to someone who’s dead? They stay dead! 

-Women in the 1st cent. weren’t viewed as reliable witnesses, yet that’s who Jesus chose to first reveal Himself to (which remember included His mom). If this was a fairy tale, Luke would have had men being the first people to find Jesus.

-Luke goes on from there (same day) to tell another account of Cleopas and another disciple who left Jerusalem to head to Emmaus, when along came Jesus.

-Jesus asks them “what’s the latest news”? And they look at Him like He’s crazy “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there?” 

-Do you think Jesus told them “You know, I’ve been a little busy this weekend” or “Haven’t been around here for a little while”

-Then takes them on what would probably be the greatest Bible study ever. Taught them how to interpret the whole OT in light of Jesus.

-After their journey, they invite Him to have dinner with them, and suddenly He disappears and they realize who it was! So they sprint back to Jerusalem to tell everyone else. And after they arrived, they began talking with everyone else about what was going on. 

-At this point, 5 people had seen Jesus (Matthew 28 tells us that Jesus appeared at the tomb), the 2 disciples on the road, these eyewitness accounts are starting to grow!

-Suddenly, just as they were talking about Him, Jesus Himself appears. John’s Gospel tells us the doors were locked.

-First thing He says to His disciples is: peace. Think of the significance of that word. They had been anticipating peace, but peace due to the overthrowing of the Romans, not an eternal peace won by an atoning death! 

-What would any normal, sane human being think about this situation? A ghost!  Everyone has heard a good ghost story! Stanley Hotel in Estes Park.

-Look at vs. 37 startled, frightened, thought they were seeing a ghost. What is one of the common stories made about the resurrection? That it was just a spiritual resurrection, surely Jesus didn’t actually come back from the dead! They literally think their sense are deceiving them (at least eyes and ears)

-Since Jesus knows everything (including thoughts, as we’ve seen in Mark), he asks them what’s wrong? Why would they remain troubled, and why do they have doubts? Can’t they see that it’s the person they’d followed for years?

-He invites them to come and touch Him. Confirm with all their senses that He is back, just like He promised. 

-This is important: Jesus meets the disciples where they are. He could have told them “Just have faith! Why don’t you believe?” Instead He invites the doubting, He accepts their skepticism, and He breaks all their expectations. 

-Their skepticism about the way the world works has just started to be turned on its’ head, but that’s just the beginning!

  • Paradox (40-43) Christianity is full of paradoxes 

-Not only does Jesus invite their questions and answer their doubt, He shows that it’s really Him by showing His nail scarred hands and feet. 

-Once again, in John’s account we have a little more info, doubting Thomas is encouraged to come and touch the scars. Jesus still has the marks of death on Him. Can you imagine seeing Jesus with his scars stand in front of you?

-But then we get to a weird phrase that I think bears some contemplation for us today in vs. 41 “While they still disbelieved for joy and were marveling.” Other translations word it slightly differently. I like the way the Message summarizes it: it seemed too good to be true. 

-Part of the reason people doubt Christianity is because it does seem too good to be true, doesn’t it? Perfect world, relational unity, brokenness fixed, sadness coming untrue. One of the biggest obstacle to belief: the fear of too good to be true. Why would we continue to get our hopes up when we know they’re just going to be broken again?

-We’re all trained to be cynics throughout our life. The older we get the more calloused we become, our joy becomes tainted and broken. Just like the disciples, we keep lowering our expectations so that we can try to hold on to what little joy we have left.

-I remember growing up dreaming of visiting a place called “Disney.” The commercials I saw of Tinkerbelle flying around, getting to meet Mickey. And then I finally went! And it was magical, until I had to stand in line for an hour! (And then it got worse after being there as an adult with crabby kids who didn’t nap, it’s FAR less magical than the ads would lead you to believe)

-Or if you’re married, think of all the dreams you had of how your spouse would (to quote Jerry Maguire) complete you, but then 5 days in you have your first fight. Or you find out after you get married, that after decades of not snoring, the moment you got married your spouse caused you to become a snorer. 

-Life at some point seems to become more about managing expectations than it does about living a joy filled life, and the older you get the lower those expectations are. 

-As I’ve heard it summarized, life is hard, and then you die! And I think this is especially true today! Deaths of despair are on the rise (suicide, drugs, alcohol liver disease), the age expectancy of an American has decreased over the past couple years for the first time in decades. Isn’t being joyful a childish thing reserved for either the ignorant or uninformed?

-What if I told you not only is it possible to be joyful, but that’s what Jesus actually wants us to be marked by? But here’s the thing: it’s not by refusing to get hopeful or becoming cynical, it’s only by believing. Unlike the disciples, at least in this part of the story, we can believe! And once we believe, we have every reason to be joyful!

-This is where, as someone grows in their faith, there should be an increase of joy in their lives, a grumpy Christian shouldn’t exist!

-One of the best examples of this is the last person the Risen Lord appeared to (who said he was one “untimely born”) the apostle Paul.

-Long before everyone knew what “tebowing” was, Paul wrote that he can do all things through Christ who strengthens him. Wasn’t referring to football! 

-Joy comes because we know Christ is working in us. Joy comes by knowing how to be content in any and every circumstance. Look at how Paul begins this section: “I REJOICED” (had joy) If Christ is raised from the dead (and He is), then we can rejoice all the time!

-Paul even takes this a step further in another letter that he wrote called 1 Thess. Where he commands believers to “rejoice always.” Doesn’t mean to bury your feelings, to pretend like everything is ok, instead he’s recognizing that whatever is going on around you, God is still at work.

-That’s where in the midst of a school shooting in Nashville, the parents of a child who’s now in the arms of Jesus can say “death doesn’t have the final word.” This is where Christians who are gunned down during a worship service can forgive the shooter. We have a supernatural joy that doesn’t need to change based on our circumstances.

-But Jesus doesn’t stop at the disciple’s disbelief, or asking if it’s too good to be true, He continues to draw near to them.

-This is where we need to remember that faith isn’t an abstract concept where we’re asked to believe in something without proof. Do you see all the evidences Jesus gives of His resurrection throughout this section? Contrary to popular opinion, faith isn’t in a feeling, faith is placed in facts and empirical evidence. Our faith is as certain as the tomb is empty. 

-Before the disciples have faith, while they’re still disbelieving, Jesus moves toward them relationally, and asks if they can share a meal together.

-How many of your greatest memories involve good food and good friends where you lose track of time? We had the opportunity this week to share a small meal together on Thursday! And one of the best pieces of advice I’ve gotten is if you need to have a difficult conversation with someone, do it over food because it’s really hard to stay angry with someone when you’re eating!

-What’s the last good memory the disciples had with Jesus? The last supper. Do you think maybe Jesus is redeeming their memories and helping them move to belief and joy?

-We see the same response many of us have to the news of Jesus’ resurrection: disbelieving for joy, or surely this is too good to be true. You’re right, it is. But this is just a tiny picture of how good things could actually be! The story is just starting

  • Proclaim (44-49)

-After dinner, Jesus goes back to remind them of everything He’d been saying up until His death, but they hadn’t been able to understand it yet. They’re basically like teenagers who are at that stage where their parents don’t understand ANYTHING, but Jesus is helping them get to the point where they can understand and comprehend what He was saying (like your 20s when you start to realize that maybe your parents know a little more than you gave them credit for)

-But it wasn’t just Jesus who was saying these things, they were written about in the Law of Moses, Prophets, Psalms – summary of the OT

-“Opened their minds” doesn’t mean they’re dumb, but now they can see and understand everything Jesus had been saying. Think of reading a mystery (Sherlock Holmes), you miss all these clues at the beginning but then when you see the whole picture, it all makes sense.

-St. Anselm (11th Cent. Theologian) “faith seeking understanding” Faith isn’t different from understanding, nor is understanding meant to be independent from faith, they work together and center on the risen Jesus. Also said “I believe in order to understand.” Jesus is helping the disciples learn how to interpret everything around them. Since God’s Word is true, everything it says can be believed, and will help us to make sense of the world we find ourselves living.

-Then, in order to emphasize exactly what He means, Jesus says (46ff.) There are 3 words that are emphasized in what Jesus says (how we bold or underline today) suffer, rise, proclaim. That’s a great summary of the gospel, isn’t it? Jesus was prophesied about that He would need to suffer, then rise from the dead, and that message of good news needs to be proclaimed worldwide! 

-This becomes the gospel message that disciples share as soon as the resurrection takes place. Peter’s first sermon centers on this 3-fold idea! And it’s the same message that we should be proclaiming every chance we get today. Just like the disciples are eyewitnesses to these events, we have a transformed life that we can proclaim to others about how God transforms us.

-Jesus then says He will send the promise of His Father.

-Think of the change these disciples experienced. Let’s just take Peter, who is too embarrassed about being outted during Jesus’ trial that he backs down to a little girl. Weeks later, he stands up in front of thousands and preaches this exact message!  (suffer, rise, repent)

-Do you want reason to believe? Even a Jewish theologian believes the resurrection happened! This ragtag group of disciples overnight go from hiding behind a locked door, to screaming in the middle of Jerusalem that Jesus was resurrected. They go from disbelieving to try to hold on to what little joy they had, to being the most joy filled people on the face of the earth.

-After Peter has proclaimed the peace that come through Jesus in Acts 2, the crowd asks him how they should respond. Do you know what He says? “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” That’s part of the paradox of Christianity: all you need to is repent and believe. When you do that it leads to:

-And here’s the crazy thing: guess where Luke’s account ends: with the disciples worshipping Jesus, and being full of “great joy.” 

-How does Easter change your expectations, or maybe I should ask DOES Easter change your expectations? What we should be marked by is joy! Jesus is alive! What can this world do to me!? We have something to look forward to forever: life in perfect union between God and us! Therefore, we will rejoice always!

Matthew 21:1-22 – Sermon Manscript

-Have you ever met someone whose looks deceived you? Or had a friend who went on to be incredible successful, beating all the expectations you had for them? Or the friend who was successful, but then never really made anything of themselves? 

-I heard a story about a man whose life was marked by regular and repeated failures (that I’m sure you know!) 

-He tried out for a career in state legislature and lost, then pivoted and tried to start his own business which failed the next year. 2 years later he finally got that state legislature position (but then had a nervous breakdown 2 years after that!) Tried moving up in his political aspirations and tried to become state speaker (which he lost). Finally found his calling in practicing law, but then tried to continue with his political goals where he was defeated for Congress in his first run. Finally got elected, only to lose reelection 2 years later! After that he tried running for US Senate (and lost), then joined onto someone else’s ticket as VP (and lost, you’d think the Presidential candidate would have figured out he was bad luck!). The next election cycle, he again ran for Senate and lost again. You’d think he would have given up at some point in this journey, right? 

-From all outside appearances, this person seems like a major loser. Yet underneath all these failures was a strong, steady man who learned his lessons and continued biding his time until the right moment for him to step into his role arrived. Does anyone know who this is? The 16th President of the US: Abraham Lincoln! 

-Despite the external appearances of failure, Lincoln continued persevering, building a steady confidence underneath that prepared him to lead our country through our most divided time in history. Had he not dealt with these repeated failures and setbacks throughout his life, I don’t think he would have been ready to be the steady guide throughout the Civil War.

-Today we’re going to see how Jesus similarly subverted people’s expectations in His role. We’ll see how His arrival wasn’t what people thought, how He creates His people, and the markers of those who follow Him.


  1. The Entrance of the King (1-11)

-Taking a look at a slightly different perspective this week, after spending a couple months in Mark, I wanted to spend some time in a different Gospel for today (don’t worry, we’ll get to Mark’s account at the end of June)

-Whereas Mark was geared more toward Gentile believers, Matthew crafts his account toward his Jewish heritage, so he points out more ways Jesus fulfills the OT promises and prophecies (as we’ll see in today’s text)

-Similar to Mark, Matthew could be described as an “extended passion narrative”, the first 20 chapters cover the first 30 years of Jesus life, then the last 8 recount the last week of Jesus’ life (but spoiler alert, He doesn’t stay dead, that’s kind of the point of us gathering!)

-All that to say: the whole story has built up to this point, Jesus’ last arrival in Jerusalem during Passover week. He has visited Jerusalem before, as any good Jew would, to at least celebrate the Passover.

-The Passover was a BIG deal in the Jewish calendar. Think of 4th of July, Thanksgiving, and Christmas all combined into a weeklong holiday! Surrounding areas would shut down as everyone streamed to Jerusalem to celebrate the biggest even in their history. All this means the city would swell to 5-6x it’s normal size, meaning there would be about 2 million people in and around Jerusalem (today, about 950,000). There were parties to be had, food to be eaten, celebrations to participate in, and the Passover meal to be had! Families reconnecting, friends catching up after not seeing each other for a year. So all that to say, this is a holiday unlike any other! 

-Let’s think about where all this is taking place. As we’ve been studying Mark, we’ve been up north in Galilee, with some references to people from Jerusalem coming to see what Jesus is doing. Jerusalem is much further south and looked like THIS during the time of Jesus. If you look up to the right it says “path to Mount of Olives, which you can see more clearly in THIS picture. No one knows where Bethphage was, but this is the closest guess (also note Bethany 2 miles away)

-Jesus sends 2 disciples nearby to grab a donkey and her colt.

-A donkey seems like a weird choice! And it’s not just a donkey, it’s also her colt, which Mark tells us has never been ridden before. 

-At this point of the journey, you’d have to think the disciples were wondering why he needed a donkey. They’re within sight of Jerusalem, only a few more steps and they’ll be at their final destination, if Jesus has gotten tired, just let Him take a quick break! Thankfully, the disciples have learned not to question Jesus, so they respond with obedient.

-Now, notice that Jesus gives them basically a password in order to take this donkey away. You know like “open sesame,” but in this case the code is “the Lord needs them.” Imagine you’re on a journey, go into someone’s garage, take their car and if anyone asks you tell them, “The Lord needs it” Which Lord are we talking about? It may help to know that the word translated “Lord” could just be “owner,” so the disciples are saying the owner needs his donkey, which signifies the Jesus being the Lord (master) of everything! There’s nothing that doesn’t belong to Him, nothing that is left out of His oversight, so there’s nothing weird about Him using what is rightfully His. Think back to the car example, if it was your car that was in someone else’s garage, it would make perfect sense for you to take it! 

-But there’s far more going on here than Jesus just being tired! This act is done to fulfill a prophecy from Zech. 9:9

-Original context tells us: The king who comes is righteous, has salvation, and is humble. Jesus is fulfilling this prophecy of God’s deliverance from their enemies and the judgment towards them, but it’s directed toward His people. Contrast verse 9 with verse 10. Judgment comes! The chariots, war horses, and battle bows will all be cut off, and peace will come. To where? The nations! And what’s left out of His rule? Nothing! 

-This means: the expectations the people had are summarized in vs. 10. They had banked their entire faith on the Messiah overthrowing the Roman occupation of their lands, of this Messiah being a mighty warrior who would lead a political uprising and bring total and final victory to the Jewish people. But that’s not what Jesus came to do, He came to deal with the REAL problem, which wasn’t the Romans, it was sin. But we’ll get to that!

-The Disciples obey Jesus’ command, and then use cloaks to create a saddle for Jesus. Matthew’s account doesn’t include the detail about riding the colt, but Jesus riding a never before ridden colt signifies His authority and control even over animals. But the disciples aren’t the only ones who are getting excited about Jesus finally revealing Himself as the Messiah, as word travels about Jesus coming, the crowd joins in on the celebration. 

-Part of this is most likely due to Jesus raising one of his best friends: Lazarus. Remember Bethany is only a couple miles away? That’s where he lived with his sisters Mary and Martha. Not much a stretch to imagine that people in “the big city” had heard about this resurrection! 

-Because the crowd is excited about this coming king, they realize He can’t just walk on the plain old ground, so they use their cloaks, and if don’t have any cloaks they use branches, pulling out the red carpet for the arriving king! This would be typical of a kingly processional. There’s an account in 2 Kings 9, and the book of Maccabees where palm branches and cloaks are thrown on the ground for the king’s processional.

-Notice a detail Matthew includes about the crowd: “went before” and another group that “followed him”. Word is starting to spread through the city (before), and his merry group of followers haven’t given up yet (behind). But notice what they’re saying:

-They’re reciting Psalm 118 to Jesus. This Psalm is one of the Psalms used during the Passover festival. Hosanna (Aramaic meaning save now) Son of David (Messianic title) Blessed be (thanking Yahweh for military victory) 

-The whole city hears about this (“stirred up” is often used to refer to an earthquake) asking the question these Gospel accounts were written to answer: who is this?

-This is a question the disciples ask of Jesus regularly, it’s a question that all of us will one day be asked before God! But notice the deficiency of the crowd’s response:

-The crowds, who had just praised Him as the coming Messiah, now call him just a prophet, the hometown hero! We’re already seeing a disconnect between the people’s initial excitement and their response to Jesus’ arrival.

-People are excited that Jesus is coming in as David’s royal son (Messiah) but they forgot to notice that He was riding on a donkey (as a humble servant). How often do we miss what’s really going on around us?

-Drax: nothing goes over my head. My reflexes are too fast, I would catch it.

-So what: where are we tempted to make worldly judgments instead of seeing how God has designed things?

-We are all tempted to use and trained by the world to use wrong judgments in assessing what’s going on around us. We need God to remind us to move our eyes from worldly issues and troubles to Him! Jesus’ arrival into Jerusalem was coming not as a conquering king, but as a suffering Messiah.

  • The People of the King (12-17)

-After riding into Jerusalem on a donkey, and stirring up the town, Jesus turns His attention to the temple and comes to cleanse/purify the temple

-Drove out all who sold and bought: a necessary occupation. People would travel from all over the country to come to Jerusalem for the Passover, they needed some way of getting a sacrifice, it didn’t make sense to bring an animal, much less an spotless animal! 

-Money-changers: who were necessary too pay the temple tax in the correct currency, no image of Nero. But also had a wide assortment of moneys being used at the time, so essentially a currency converter.

-pigeons: particularly focused on the sacrifices of the poor.

-Text doesn’t say these people were stealing, could be implied by Jesus’ response, or else the mere fact that they were in the temple was missing the purpose.

-The temple was divided into different areas by level of holiness for where people were able to go, the closer you got to the Holy of Holies, the fewer people could go. Court of the Gentiles (we’ve talked about before), The Court of the Women, and then only purified Jewish men could go closer. These salesmen set up shop in the Court of the Gentiles, leaving them nowhere to worship the one true God. 

-Jesus quotes 2 different OT texts to make his point.

Isa. 56:7 “house of prayer for all the nations” ethnic implications

Jer. 7:11 – Jeremiah calling out Israel for indulging in sin, then treat the temple as a talisman to cover the sins. Why indulgences are so wrong! (say a couple ‘hail Marys’ isn’t going to cover it)

-Jesus’ cleansing isn’t only geared toward ethnic identities, because of His work the blind and crippled (who previously weren’t allowed to come to the temple) were welcomed in, and not just welcomed in, they were healed! 

-Jesus refocuses the purpose of the temple into what it was originally meant to be. Those that come to the temple through Jesus (blind and the lame) are completely cleansed and purified from all impurities! Those that don’t are cast out. Jesus is showing the true standards that should be used to judge people, instead of the man-made rules that had affected those who claimed to be following after God.

-Now the higher ups are getting upset! They saw the healings (notice it’s described as “wonderful”) they should be celebrating! People who were far off away from the one true God have been brought near! But they don’t even care. They’re so hard hearted they don’t even warrant a second glance, and instead focus on the children, children who had taken up the cry of the crowds: “Hosanna to the Son of David!” 

-There is something from children we would do well to learn! Unashamed, pure worship of God! No embarrassment, no concerns, we in our old age tend to become more cynical (and call it “wisdom”) 

G.K. Chesterson: “It may be that He [God] has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.” Where children are carefree and exuberant, as we age we have a tendency to become overly concerned with what others think of us and more reserved. This is why it’s so important to have children in our lives! I’m often amazed by my children’s simple faith and trust in God. Children aren’t a distraction, they’re a beautiful picture and reminder of the simple faith we need. We tend to get distracted by theological arguments or logical connections, when Jesus tells us that if we want to enter His kingdom, we need to become like children. 

Gregory the Great “Scripture is like a river, broad and deep, shallow enough here for the lamb to go wading, but deep enough there for the elephant to swim.” Jesus welcomes all to come to Him, from the child to the person with the highest IQ in the world! Everyone needs Him, and can only find the answers to their longing in him. 

-In this case, those with the high IQs are questioning if Jesus really knows what’s going on! Does he not hear the children praising Him as if He were God? 

-Yet even this praise was prophesied about in Psalm 8! The Psalm contrasts the greatness of God with the way He is praised by children. As we’ve been seeing in Mark’s Gospel, the way God’s enemies are defeated is through words. The words of babies and infants is how God’s enemy and avenger are dealt with. Everything that has breath can praise the Lord! 

-So what: We’ve seen the way people were left out from full inclusion of the worship of God (Gentiles, blind and lame, and children), yet those are the exact people God says are a part of His family. Who are you tempted to leave out of God’s reach today? 

  • Life Under the King (18-22)

-The last thing we see is a living parable of everything we’ve studied so far, and a proper application of Jesus “triumphal” entry.

-The first thing we see about Jesus in this section is His hunger. This is a normal human endeavor, IDK about you, generally after a night of sleeping (not eating) one if hungry when they wake up (another evidence that Jesus is truly a human). But another aspect to hunger is how one responds when they’re hungry.

-For me, it’s a little bit like my morning coffee. Maybe you’ve seen this coffee cup before that tells people when you’re ready to converse with them!

-Or maybe food is what you need in the morning, and if you don’t get your food you become hangry (that is someone who gets angry when they’re hungry) If that’s you, don’t worry you’re in good company, so does Jesus! You may have seen this meme before too “Sorry for what I said when I was hungry”

-Because Jesus is hungry, he becomes a man on a mission, and He sees a fig tree with leaves (Mark tells us it wasn’t the right season for figs, but the marker for a fig tree having figs is leaves). Even Matthew tells us that this fig tree has leaves on it! Because this fig tree is a dirty rotten liar, Jesus responses by cursing it, next thing you know the tree is dead (Jesus cares far more for people than the rest of creation, we saw that with the pigs a few weeks ago)

-As always, there’s far more to this story than Jesus being hangry, but we need the rest of the story leading up to this to properly understand it! The fig tree is representative of the way God’s people had been living. Just like the fig tree gave off the appearance of bearing fruit, God’s people are giving off the appearance of holiness, but aren’t actually living out what God has commanded them to. 

-How often is that true in our lives too? We do our best to act all “put together” when we come to church (despite yelling at our kids on the way out the door, cussing out the person who cut you off) then as soon as we walk in the doors we put on a smile and act like everything’s ok. It’s no wonder people give up on church when they see that kind of hypocrisy! Instead, we need to ensure that we’re ACTUALLY bearing fruit in our lives, not just the illusion of it.

-That’s only one part of this story, the text goes on to tell us something even more: the disciples marvel, but their focus is (as often happens) on the wrong thing. The tree is just a symbol of something, and it’s tiny! The disciples need to have faith, and that faith must be made manifest in their lives by bearing fruit.

-This isn’t something literal that we’re supposed to expect, otherwise there would probably be an account of the disciples moving a mountain! The mountain is a metaphor for doing things that seem impossible (like Jesus rising from the dead!) -Notice as well the connection between prayer and faith. If we have true faith, as evidenced by the fruit in our lives, our requests will be according to the will of God instead of wasting those prayers on selfish things. God is the God of the impossible, and will answer our prayers! 

-So what: what does your life look like? Are you bearing fruit, or just giving off the appearance of fruit? 

Matt. 3:8 J the B “bear fruit in keeping with repentance.” It’s easy (at first) to give off the appearance of fruit, but over time it will start to wear on you. If you have faith in Jesus, the Holy Spirit will work in you to actually make it possible to bear fruit, because apart from that fruit we’re dead! Vs. 10 “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” 

-3 things Jesus reveals to us in this passage: 1) look at things God’s way instead of the worlds way. 2) God’s mission is to all people, no one is left out, no one is too far away. Even those who were viewed as “unclean” were welcomed in! 3) We must pray, have faith, and pursue living out fruit instead of just pretending to have fruit.

Mark 5:21-6:6 Sermon Manuscript

-Have you ever seen something amazing? Golden Gate Bridge, Ocean, mountains, I still remember the first time I saw the ocean and could hardly fathom how far it stretched! But hands down, the place that amazes me most is the mountains. 

-Got to go backpacking for a week when I first started ministry, sunsets were amazing, and we would see a herd of elk cross on the other side of the valley every night. Caught fresh mountain trout that a couple hours after catching became fish tacos, it was absolutely gorgeous!

-Backyard of our house in CO, front yard of our house, our walking path, Estes Park. Pictures can’t even begin to do it justice! But you know what’s even crazier? The longer you live there the less you start to notice just how beautiful those mountains are. You become so used to it that you forget to take time to just look at them.

-We’re going to look today and what happens when you become so used to something you start to take it for granted, almost like receiving a vaccine where you’re given a small portion of the disease itself so that your body knows how to fight against it in the future. But what happens when you view Jesus that way?


  1. Raising to New Life (21-43)

-Last week, Jesus took a little trip to the primarily Gentile area of the lake. Jesus was so tired from serving that He fell asleep in the front of the boat and slept through a giant storm. Eventually the disciples got so worried that they woke Him up and accused Him of not caring. After stopping the storm, He asked why they still have such little faith. Then he healed a man possessed by a large group of demons, and got run out of town, so they went back to the West side of the lake. Guess who was either there waiting for Him, or came as soon as they got back? There’s the crowd again! Once again, it appears that Jesus is doing what is typical of His ministry: teaching. 

-I was thinking this past week of some of what we’ve learned about the kingdom of God through our study in Mark. Jesus arrival ushers in a new era of human history marked by holistic healing, it’s something that looks tiny and insignificant, but over time completely transforms everything that exists. It comes about by word-based ministry. Have you ever thought of that? The way God’s kingdom spreads is by people who take seriously the word (both the written and living Word), and share that word with everyone they come into contact with. And what made me think of this reality was readying a book about Revelation, because one of the descriptions of Jesus’ return says that a sword will come out of His mouth. That is the means God will slay His enemies: through His Word. 

-Think of how tiny and insignificant we tend to think of words. “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.” Yet words are the means God used to create everything, words are the means God uses to save people today, and we are commanded to be people of the Word! The Word that comes out as a sword at the end of time is the same word that is used to bring comfort to God’s people throughout history, so as we study the Word, let’s remember that it is God’s chosen means to transform us and make us more like Him. While it seems so insignificant (almost like a tiny little seed), we need more and more of it in our lives!

-This is the reason Jesus always brings things back to preaching. The Word is God’s chosen means of transformation in the world. And in the midst of another account of Jesus ministering (preaching) to the crowd, a desperate man falls in front of Jesus. But this isn’t just any old man, this is Jairus, a well-known man who just happened to be the ruler of the synagogue. What exactly is a ruler of the synagogue?

-Remember, the synagogue has been mentioned numerous times already in Mark’s Gospel. It’s the gathering place of the Jews for weekly Sabbath worship. This contained reading of the scroll, comments on the Scriptural reading, prayers, offerings, honestly pretty similar to what we do each week! But who do you think ensured the building was kept up? Who ensured the space was set up to accommodate people coming to meet? Who took care of the scrolls of God’s Word, and ensured the right scroll was pulled out for each week’s reading? That’s right, the rulers of the synagogue! This means these people would have been held in high regard, most likely wealthy, someone the local community would have looked up to. That’s communicated by the Mark recording his name! This was someone people knew! 

-How does Jairus approach Jesus?

-falls at Jesus’ feet right in front of the crowd. The man whom everyone would have known, yet Jairus had no shame or embarrassment! He ignored all the cultural norms, disregarded the entire crowd of people flocking to Jesus, and threw Himself down at Jesus’ feet, and begins begging Him to come and save His child. Now notice what Jairus asks of Jesus: to come touch his daughter. Remember what I said earlier about God using words? That will come up as well! But as we think of Jarius’ response, we also need to ask the question:

-What would you do to take care of your child? We had to take Ellie in for a surgery this week (adenoidectomy and tubes in her ears), don’t worry she’s just fine! In fact, she bounced back FAR quicker than we were expecting, and she made sure she didn’t miss movie night at Awana this week! I’ve had friends lose children and I can’t imagine trying to navigate that space. As a father, I would do anything I possibly could to protect and preserve my children, including bucking any societal norm I needed to.

-Remember, these stories are true! This recounts real people who lived in real time and space who are wrestling with real world issues. This is yet another reason we should trust that the stories contained in here are true, this would be EXACTLY how someone would respond to a sick daughter during the time of Jesus! If Jesus has been healing so many people, surely He could heal Jairus’ daughter! 

-Jesus goes with Jairus. The crowd is still there, but Jesus shifts his focus from the crowd to Jairus (not that they would be deterred), but we’re starting to see some of the ways people would interrupt Jesus’ ministry, yet He would still minister to them! Jesus isn’t trying to build a platform, isn’t seeking fame and recognition, He’s working to bring His Father glory, and the way that happens is by ministering to any and everyone He can! Keep that in mind for a minute, because that will come up again!

-Crowd once again serves as a foil! Pushing in from every side, but the crowd is merely there, the focus is on a woman.

-Some kind of hemorrhage for 12 years, look at all the ways Mark describes her situation: suffered much, spent all she had, grew worse. This would have led to her being a literal outcast, very similar to the leper in Mark 1. A woman’s bleeding rendered her (according to the Levitical code) unclean, and if anyone else touched her they were also viewed as religiously unclean. But if this bleeding never stopped it meant that she was never clean! She couldn’t even think of approaching the temple! On top of that, no one else would want to touch her because it would cause them to become unclean, so she would not only be a religious outcast, but a social outcast as well. How lonely do you think she was? Text doesn’t give us any specific history to this woman, but could have faced divorce, inability to have children, as well as trying to survive on her own for these past 12 years. How desperate do you think she was to get to Jesus? She was willing to risk making the entire crowd unclean just to try to be healed! 

-Let’s not forget where Jesus is going: to help Jairus! Let’s compare this woman to him. We know Jairus’ name, we know his occupation which makes him a leader in the society, well-known, well respected, in the people’s minds if anyone deserved healing or help, it would be Jairus! The woman isn’t even named. She was a cast off, forgotten, left out of anyone’s minds attempting to survive on her own. Isn’t purely sexist (plenty of women named in the Gospels and the demon possessed man doesn’t get named either), but portrays the point that no one is too low for Jesus’ attention  .

-Throughout this Gospel, we’ve seen Jesus’ interactions with both those on the inside, and those on the outside, but not yet in such close proximity to each other! And Mark puts these 2 stories next to each other like this so that we compare them to each other. Jesus goes to help Jairus, but even in his greatest hour of need, Jesus isn’t too busy to care for an unclean woman. 

-Continuing that idea of the difference between these 2 people, note how the woman approaches Jesus: tries to sneak in behind Jesus. 

-This is complete conjecture on my part, but I could very easily see the woman not daring to approach Jesus like Jairus did. She’s so used to being cast off that she doesn’t want to risk Jesus refusing her, so she tries the sneak attack! If I can just grab a piece of his garment, the lowliest thing connected to Jesus. She doesn’t feel the need to talk to Him, doesn’t even want Him to know that she was there! Get as close as possible, touch his clothing, and sneak out. No one will know, no one will dismiss her, but her life will be completely different. And that’s exactly what happened! At first. The instant she touched Jesus, she was changed, but Jesus wasn’t going to let her off that easily! As soon as she touches Jesus, He starts looking for her.

-Imagine the scene: huge crowd pressing in just to get near to Jesus, they’ve been following Him throughout His ministry, potentially waiting days for Him to return from His journey to the other side of the lake. They will not be deterred! The closest I’ve experienced something like this was back in the day when we’d go to Sonshine! Multiple stages, your favorite bands playing for a full week, camping together, eating terrible food, who wouldn’t want to go? But when you’re waiting for the band to start, the moment the first note begins there’s a huge surge of energy, people all around you, you feel like you’re suffocating, and in the midst of a situation like that, Jesus stops everything and asks “who touched me?”

-His disciples would have thought He was crazy! Jesus: everyone is touching you! You’re in the middle of a mob, everyone wants a piece of you, and you want to figure out who touched you? Look around, they’re all still here, AND they’re still touching you! 

-Jesus is undeterred, He continues asking the question, and the woman knows it. How do you think she was feeling as soon as she realized she hadn’t gotten away with it? The whole point was to sneak in and sneak out with no one else being the wiser! Notice how it describes the emotional state of the woman: fear and trembling. Just as she had been cast off for the past 12 years, is Jesus going to cast her off too?

-She realizes Jesus won’t stop until she admits it was her, so she has the same response as Jairus now: falls down before Him. There’s an interesting phrase Mark uses here to describe what the woman tells Jesus: “The whole truth.” She laid everything out for Jesus: the way she’s been bleeding, the abuse she faced at the hands of doctors, and anything else connected to that!

-Jesus doesn’t stop her, doesn’t brush by her to get to the more “important” things, He remains engaged and cares for this woman who had been healed.

-This leads to a question for us: do you believe that Jesus can handle your whole truth? 

-There’s a tendency to try to keep certain things hidden, to not acknowledge the way you’re really feeling, to be afraid that the whole truth will come out and people will dismiss you. Did you know that Jesus can actually handle “the whole truth”? Nothing you’ve ever done has ever surprised Him! Think about this: every sin you’ve ever committed came after Jesus died, and the penalty has already been paid for them! There’s nothing to keep hidden, nothing that Jesus doesn’t already know, why is there a tendency to try to keep “the whole truth” to just ourselves? This is a temptation for everyone! Before you’re saved the temptation is that Jesus couldn’t save someone like you so you’re convinced you need to clean yourself up before you come to Jesus, then when you’re saved you’re tempted to doubt your salvation when you sin so you continue trying to clean yourself up. This story is meant to remind us that we can’t clean ourselves up! We can’t sneak up on Jesus and just try to get the benefits, He wants us completely healed, and that comes about by being in a relationship with Him. Church: stop trying to clean yourself up, and instead fall on your face at the feet of the only one who can completely heal you.

-As Jesus ends his comments to this woman, all it takes is faith, put your entire hope, trust, and confidence in Jesus, and He will restore everything broken by sin. 

-Mark then shift back to Jairus, this unclean woman has been healed, but it led to the death of his daughter. Do you think Jairus was frustrated by the women or by Jesus at this point? He was so close to having his daughter healed, if only Jesus had just set His face forward to what He had agreed to do and not been distracted by this unnamed, unclean woman! 

-Yet God’s timing is always perfect. Nothing is a distraction to God and nothing can thwart God’s perfect timing, which Jairus is about to learn. But I also think it’s something we would do well to learn ourselves! People aren’t a distraction, people aren’t the problem, God has called us to go to people and give them the Words of life! Just as God’s timing is perfect, His plan is also perfect, and His plan involves you and I being faithful to sow the seeds of His word as frequently as we can. 

-Jairus is told that while Jesus was “distracted” by this woman, his daughter has died. But Jesus is right there! The word “overhearing” could also be translated “ignoring.” Jesus has an ulterior motive here, and He takes time to remind Jairus that things are still ok, and once again connects the healing to faith.

-Who’s on the inside this time? Peter, James, and John, the closest 3 to Jesus.

-As they approached they saw a commotion, which included people weeping and wailing. It was customary during the 1st. cent. to hire professional mourners. They served as a sign to the community to what had transpired, it was a reminder that death had visited this house. Yet in this case, the mourning was premature, and Jesus tells them so! 

-At first blush, this seems like a cruel joke from Jesus, doesn’t it? Seems to be flippant towards Jairus’ concern and He calls out the mourners who respond by laughing at Him (everyone seems fairly careless toward the needs of Jairus and his family) So Jesus responds by kicking everyone out (except the mother and father and 3 disciples) and moves toward this little girl.

-Jesus grabs her hand, which would once again make him unclean, then speaks a gentle word: little sheep, wake up. (Jesus spoke Aramaic, that mostly got translated to Greek, which we have now translated into English) We then see another connection to the unnamed woman: she had been bleeding for the same amount of time Jairus’ daughter had been alive! Everyone who saw it was amazed, yet Jesus wouldn’t let them tell, He’s still waiting for His glory to be revealed.

-Both Jairus (the well to do) and the unclean woman (whose name wasn’t even mentioned) were in need of healing from Jesus, healing that only He can provide if there is belief in Him. But this isn’t the only story! Jairus and this woman respond as they should, but then we see a group of people who outright dismiss Jesus:

  • Rejection of True Life (6:1-6)

-Jesus goes home, for what is likely the last time. Brought the whole crew! Nazareth would have been about 30 miles southwest of Capernaum, not too far away. But don’t forget about the last time we saw His family in Mark 3, they were trying to take Him away because they thought He was out of His mind! Can you imagine the tension at family dinner?

-As always, He goes to teach in the synagogue, people are amazed, but differently than after seeing Jairus’ daughter.

-They all knew his family, had seen Him grow up, knew his background, and didn’t believe what He was saying!

-These people have become overly familiar with Jesus without a recognition of who He actually was. Once again, this is a normal thing to happen in the course of human events! How would you respond to that friend from high school claiming to be God? Or imagine being one of His brothers! 

-And this is true of many people today! They grow up learning facts about Jesus, just enough to get inoculated against Him, but they don’t have any understanding who He REALLY is, and how that transforms everything. It’s not enough to just know facts about Him, it’s not enough to memorize every verse of the Bible, it’s not enough to go to church every week, it’s not enough to tithe every penny you own! What matters is your relationship with Jesus.

-And because of their unbelief, Jesus couldn’t do any mighty works, which is slightly ironic, because look at what Mark says next.

-Think of how noteworthy these miracles would have been if we hadn’t just read about all the healings that took place, but for Jesus they’re a footnote. Healing has become so commonplace that healing a few sick people is hardly worth mentioning!

-2 accounts of Jesus marveling: here and Luke 7:9 the Centurion’s faith. The polar opposites cause Jesus to marvel.

-Do we assume things about Jesus, getting just enough to be inoculated against him and force Him to be amazed at our unbelief? Or do we continue to be amazed by Him and fall at His feet in worship of Him?

Mark 4:1-34 – Sermon Manuscript

-Have you ever been hanging out with a group of people that’s new to you that have what feels like a different language that they speak?

-One of the things I’ve noticed since as my family has expanded by adding in-laws is that we have to take time to bring the new family members up to speed. We’ve got inside jokes, family stories, favorite movie quotes that unless you’re on the “in” just go right over the in-laws heads!

-When I first got here, Pastor Jeramy and I would often speak in movie quotes to each other! Heather and Tami didn’t even try to keep up.

-One of my favorite TV shows has an iconic line: “I love inside jokes” 

-Inside jokes are great when you’re inside! But what about when you’re on the outside looking in?

-In today’s passage, Jesus is going to use stories to train those who are “in” and confuse those who are “out.”


  1. A Sower (1-20)

-Does anyone remember the primary focus of Jesus’ ministry yet? Teaching! So guess what Jesus does again here? Teaches! Once again, the crowd has discovered Him, and once again it’s a HUGE crowd, so he leaves the land to get into a boat.

-Every author of the Gospels has a specific point to their writing, including Mark. None of them are trying to include every single story about Jesus, or provide a biography in the way we think of them today. (John 21:25 “Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.”)

-Matthew, Mark & Luke all have this exact same story, and Mark actually tells us why we need to understand this story, as we’ll see in vs. 13, which also means we’ll be spending most of our time today in these first 20 verses, because Jesus says we need to understand this parable to able to understand the rest of them!

-Jesus tells a story about a farmer who goes out to plant his seed. As the farmer goes about his work, the seed is scattered across 4 different types of soils that all lead to different outcomes for the seed. 

-1 – The Path. As the field wasn’t used for a few months, paths would have been worn by people walking through the field. If you’ve ever gone to college you’ve seen this! Colleges should never begin with any sidewalks, because over time the students will show you where the sidewalks should be placed! At my alma mater, there were sidewalks running in (what looked like) all these crazy directions because the students refused to be bound by things like cement! Eventually the administration figured that out. But if seed were to be planted on one of those paths, how successful would it be? I guess if you’re trying to feed birds, this was the best one! But if you’re hoping to get a harvest and plant these seeds into the ground you’ve got a terrible success rate, because Jesus says these seed all become bird food! There goes that group of seeds. Let’s look at the next one:

-2 – Rocky ground. When I grew up in North Dakota, by best friend’s dad was a farmer, and do you know what the boys got to do when they were growing up? Rock picking! If you drive by fields look and see, many of them have a huge rock pile somewhere nearby in order to make sure they don’t break the plow or interfere with the growth of the seeds. The issue with trying to plant seeds in rocky ground is it’s deceptive. Until you actually start doing some work on the field, it looks like it’s good soil, so you’d be tempted to double down on that area and plant a bunch of seeds there! Unfortunately, it’s shallow soil. Initially it would probably look like that will be the most fertile area, but as soon as the heat of the summer sun comes (which should give life to plants who have a good base to build from), the plants die, leaving the farmer with 0 for 2 on his sowing!

-3 – Thorns. This one is tricky just like the rocky ground, because you once again can’t tell that there’s going to be a problem! In fact, this may look even better than the good soil initially, because weeds just don’t give up, and as seedlings you can’t tell much of a difference between the weed and the what you’re trying to go (at least when you’re as good at planting as I am!). Just like the previous 3 soils, this seed dies because of the competition from the thorns, so I’m not liking this farmers shooting average so far! He’s at a solid 0%! Thankfully, there’s 1 more:

-4 – Good soil. Now we’re at the good stuff! The place where he should have been sowing the whole time! This is literally the entire purpose of planting seeds, to get a harvest, to help the seed to flourish, and these seeds make up for the deficiency of the others, giving 30, 60, 100 times the return!

-This would have been a well understood story to the people of the day. An agrarian society would have seen farmers going to work every year, the effort it takes to take care of the seeds, the plowing of the fields. To those listening it would have been common sense! Obviously, that’s how sowing works! It’s a basic as being told today: invest in the stock market, ride out the highs and lows, you’ll get a solid return if you keep your money there!

-There is something unique about the way this sowing takes place: the farmer sows the seed before plowing. Generally you plow the field first in order to rip out the thorns and pull out the rocks, but not this one. This has led some people to argue that this is normal Palestinian planting method: sow seed first, then plow after. Others argue that’s only one of the methods. The point remains: Sower sows indiscriminately! And once we get to Jesus’ explanation of the parable, I think you’ll see that there’s a reason why Jesus doesn’t talk about the plowing

-At some point after the teaching, the 12 needed to ask Jesus what in the world He was talking about! No one had any idea what Jesus was talking about, including those were closest to Jesus. But don’t worry, Jesus will explain it to them! And the purpose is so that there can be a distinction between those who are Jesus’ disciples, and those who are not. 

-Essentially, those who are “in” will be able to understand and apply the parables, those who are outside are left in the dark. It’s not enough just to know what Jesus meant, you need to believe and apply the truths Jesus is saying. Why is this? It’s the fulfillment of a prophecy from Isaiah 6.

-All of this is meant to confirm for those who are believers what their lives should look like, and until someone repents of their sin (180 turn), they won’t be forgiven and able to understand and apply God’s message. This tells us there’s only 2 way to live: either for Jesus, or opposed to Him, there is no in between when it comes to Jesus! If someone were to turn away from opposition to Jesus and put their hope and faith in Him, they would begin to understand these parables! 

-So let’s look at the meaning of this parable:

-Sower has 1 job: sow the seed, which means the Word! Church: don’t miss this! A disciple of Jesus is someone who is marked by faithful sowing of the Word. This is why Paul talks about the need to preach the Word “in season and out of season” (that is when people are for the message or when they’re against the message) Here are some of the responses you’re going to get:

-Path is a hard heart, this is someone who refuses to acknowledge what is true and are thus taken away by Satan. Has no time to germinate, no time to plant roots, it’s in one ear and out the other as quickly as possible. 

-Rocky ground is someone who looks like they’re all in! But as soon as something difficult happens, they blame God, who does and will allow testing to come! If you’ve heard the phrase “God won’t let you be tempted beyond what you are able” just tell that person to stop lying! God will absolutely let you be tested beyond what you’re able so that you realize the only think that will last is Him! 

-Story of someone who was saved, dog died the next week and he quit following Jesus. Or a friend I have who used to be a pastor, and then realized that the world wouldn’t judge him by the same standards as the church, so he’d rather use someone else’s standards, and last time I talked to him, he wasn’t any happier than he was before he gave up following Christ!

-Thorns is someone who hears, looks like they respond, but then they also want to add in other things to their faith (care of the world, riches, desire for things not from God)

-This is where you’ll often see Christian “social media influencers” (I feel like I dunk of social media a lot, it’s not all bad, but it’s definitely not all good either) Jesus tells us that the world will hate us, just like it hated him, why would we want recognition from the things that are going to pass away at some point? I feel like you see examples of this all over! Musicians who now claim to be agnostic, “pastors” who have shipwrecked their faith, you don’t have to look far to see this lived out today!

-Good soil are those who respond in faith and trust in God, and “bear fruit,” that is the multiplication that comes about from being in Christ.

-Let’s take all this back to the beginning: we need to be actively sowing the word if we’re disciples of Jesus, so as we sow, we should be paying attention to:

-How and where is this person’s heart? Where are you sowing the seed? (The need to sow doesn’t change! Did you notice that! Even those who are good soil will regularly need more seed added to help continue bearing fruit)

-A helpful way of summarizing where people at (continuing with the arrow that I used for our ‘Demystifying Discipleship’ series back in Nov/Dec.) is with 4 Es:

-Engage: this is someone who’s heart is the rocky soil. They’re not yet ready to be given an explicit gospel message and invitation to turn to Jesus, they just need a Christian to reach out to them and befriend them. Then as the Spirit works in them, they’ll slowly move to:

-Evangelize: this would be that moment where now they’re ready to be given more explicit calls of the Word, and more intentional sowing then you may have been doing up until that point. After someone hears the message and responds by putting their faith, hope, and confidence in Jesus, then we need to help them become:

-Established: this is help them learn, grow, and understand what it means to follow Jesus so their hearts don’t become either rocky soil or thorny soil. If you work with someone to help them understand where the thorns or rocks are in their life, they’ll be able to grow seed there instead of fall away.

-Finally, those who have weathered storms, been tempted by the cares of this world and endured, they’ll need help being equipped (think of Eph. 4:12), more intentionally and carefully trained so that we can have multiplication happening instead of just addition. The Christian faith isn’t a spectator sport, everyone has a job to do and a necessary role to play, otherwise God would take you somewhere else!

-There’s also the caution to be careful how you’re receiving the Word. Which soil is your heart?

-Even for those of us who are in Christ, we need to ensure we’re bearing fruit as we read, study, and apply the full breadth of God’s Word. As Micah reminded us in the NCC devotional this past week, we must submit ourselves to the full way God has revealed Himself to us through His Word. Where is your heart?

-Lastly, we need to acknowledge that the softening of the soil is the job of the Holy Spirit. Remember I said early that I think Jesus intentionally left the plowing out? That’s because it’s not our job! We sow the seed wherever and whenever we can, but it’s the job of the Holy Spirit to have been plowing the soil of someone’s heart to make them receptive to the seed! And that’s true of our hearts too: pray for the softening of your heart!

  • A Mystery (21-29)

-Jesus asked His disciples in vs. 13 why they couldn’t understand that first parable, because if they don’t get that one, none of the others will make sense. We don’t see Mark going back to the boat, but can be understood that these are examples of the kinds of parables Jesus would have used to teach the crowd. So view this as a cut scene back to Jesus teaching from the boat!

-The next parable relates to a lamp. What is the point of a lamp? To bring light. It would be a waste of time (and money) to buy a lamp and stick it under a basket or under a bed. (Hate to say it, but kind of like the superfluous pillows that get added around the house, ESPECIALLY to beds)

-The point is that Jesus is the light of the world, He has come to reveal the truths of who God is and what it means to be in relationship with Him, or what the kingdom of God is like. It’s like a light that shines into the darkness of the world, drawing people in, and exposing the darkness for what it really is 

-This is an idea that I’ve really been captivated by over the past few months: Jesus, and thus Christianity, provides the ultimate answer to every longing in the human heart. Jesus is both the source and end to every desire people have. Think of your favorite food (nice medium rare steak with all the fixings, if it’s anything more than medium just get a hamburger!) Did you know that when Jesus comes back, He’s planning a feast with us? Think of taste buds that haven’t been ruined by age or sin! And that’s just a small piece! The eating of your favorite food is meant to serve to remind you who gave you those tastebuds in the first place. Food isn’t meant to be an end in and of itself. 

-We have a tendency to view God as some cosmic killjoy who sits in heaven looking down at us frowning. No! God wants what’s best for us AND wants us to be in relationship with Him forever! Not to belittle or demean us, but to provide for us everything we need, and then some! It’s not a coincidence that He refers to Himself as our Father (not to say those who have strained relationship with their fathers should get over it)

-The next parable Jesus tells (24-25) means we need to pay careful attention to Jesus’ message! To those who pay careful attention to Jesus’ message, and obey it, they will get even more of that message! And if their hearts remain like the hardened soil, they’ll have nothing left.

-Jesus then adds another parable of sowing seeds. Think of the seeming insignificance of a seed! I remember one summer my parents decided to plant a big garden. My sister and I were each given a little portion to plant whatever we wanted, and I excited got my bag of seeds, opened the bag, and was super disappointed because they’re TINY! How in the world am I supposed to take care of these? But miraculously, they turned out! And it was exactly as Jesus described it here: I stuck it in the ground, watered it, and out came the corn, cucumbers, and peas that I had planted! It was a miracle! And then at the end of the summer we got to eat our food!

-How does seed work? At some level it is a mystery! (especially when you’re not good at taking care of plants!) I remember in science class in elementary school planting seeds and then being amazed as the roots would always go down, and the leaves would always go up, even changing direction as you moved the cup! 

-How does the gospel work? At some level, it’s a mystery! I remember being an 8 year old kid meeting some neighbors and asking them why they didn’t go to church. Guess who showed up at church the next week! See our job is to be faithfully sowing, then watch in amazement as we see fruit being born from ordinary people like you and me.

-The outcome of the planting is bearing a harvest. It seems like a miracle, and it is from our perspective, because it’s completely a work of God. The kingdom of God is like that: seems little, seems like such a basic ordinary thing, but what comes out of it is nothing short of a miracle.

  • The Smallest Seed (30-34)

-That brings us to our final parable, that of a mustard seed.

-Once again, no small amount of ink has been spilled on this issue! Mostly related to mustard seeds definitely NOT being the smallest in the world, and it’s not SO big that a bird can plant itself in it! 

-Mustard seed is representing the smallest seed in the world. It looks so insignificant when you think about the size of the plant it becomes. Some mustard plants can grow as high as 20-30 feet! No small plant! Birds could easily find a safe place to nest in a group of these!

-Like that seemingly insignificant seed, the kingdom of God begins by looking like something that is tiny and insignificant (a baby being born in a manger), but eventually will grow to the point of encompassing everything in the world!

-One of the commentators I read this week summarized Jesus’ point helpfully by saying: “The paradox of the gospel—indeed, the scandal of the Incarnation—is disguised in such commonplaces.” (James Edwards, Pillar)

-Think about that: the way God’s kingdom works is by using things that appear trivial, like you could throw it away and it wouldn’t matter at all, but then over time it slowly grows and grows to the point that it literally casts its shadow over everything else that exists. Do you want to know what that looks like? Look at our world today! I talked in Sermon Scraps last week about all the ways the world tries to say Christians are backwards, bigots, opposed to progress, yet they don’t realize that every advancement of human rights is connected directly to Christian ethics and a Christian worldview. This little message that Jesus shared 2,000 years ago has literally changed the entire course of human civilization. I was just listening to a podcast yesterday on just war theory, which has profoundly influenced the way the Western world has generally approached war. Do you know where that comes from? The Bible! Do you want to know the places in the world that have the most rights for women in the world today? Look to the places that had 19th Century Protestant missionaries! Jesus’ message has shaped everything we live on today, and it’s only because of Jesus that we have any hope for a more blessed future.

-These parables were meant to help Jesus’ followers understand and believe in the truths of what He says! The kingdom of God can’t be summarized in a few word descriptions, it will never be fully understood (until Jesus returns), but it is like a tiny seed that seems trivial until it’s planted in someone’s life and takes root. And once it’s taken root, there’s no turning back! If you let it, it will literally transform you from the inside out. So as we saw in the first parable: what kind of soil do you have? Is your heart letting the kingdom of God grow in you? Are you on Jesus’ side, or are you opposed to Him? 

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.

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. 

Ephesians 5:17-33 – 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.

-What’s the best piece of marriage advice you got before you got married? Start with me second best advice: “know your home team.” Best was “if you wake up every day and decide you’re going to die to yourself for the sake of your spouse, you’ll be just fine.”

-Same guy who gave me the best parenting advice: “never, never, never shake your baby.”

READ/PRAY (pg. 569)

  1. Be Filled with the Spirit (17-21)

-Seems to be an abrupt diversion into: being drunk. Where did that come from?

Drunkenness has been a problem for a really long time, and is always sinful. Remember back to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost (Acts 2), people thought they were drunk! So what that means for us is: 

-We should be “under the influence” of the Spirit, not alcohol. The amazing thing is we, as believers, have the third person of the Godhead, the Holy Spirit, indwelling us as believers, leading us and guiding us in righteousness, reminding us of the things Christ taught, and conforming us more into the image of Jesus. We are in a unique era in human history, because once the Holy Spirit’s in us, He’s not leaving! That’s what it means to be new covenant believers.

-Another thing we see is that this isn’t something unique for those “super holy” Christians, this is descriptive of the normal, daily Christian life, daily filled by the Spirit.

-Keith really struggling, driving and singing his heart out, didn’t realize how fast he was going and got pulled over.

-“The result of the Spirit’s work in our lives is renewed worship and renewed relationships.” (Merida, 133)

-So how do we encourage each other to be filled with the Spirit? I’m glad you asked! Paul reminds of 3 things: Address each other, give thanks always, submit to each other

  1. Address one another (19)

-Notice the vertical and horizontal component to our singing: “addressing one another” and “to the Lord” 

-Think about it like a see-saw – in order to keep that see saw level we need BOTH components. 

-There’s an element to our singing that is teaching, which comes out in the parallel passage in Col. 3. We teach the truths of the gospel to each other when we sing, that’s why the content of our singing is important. 

-Notice that Paul encourages a variety of types of songs. Nowhere in the Bible is any particular style/genre of music listed as “better” than the others. 

-So Paul says, “Psalms, hymns, spiritual songs.” Psalms are Hebrew songs of praise to God, hymns are Greek songs of praise to their gods, spiritual songs encompasses everything else – Spirit inspired songs of praise. Paul is not referring to How Great Thou Art when he lists “hymns” 

-In fact, people mean different things when they talk about a “hymn” Augustine defined it: sung, praise, to God. 

-Google: a religious song or poem of praise to God or a god.

-Merriman Webster: a song of praise to God

-I’ve yet to find a definition of hymn that means: in the hymnal or old.

-Grant Osborne “Hymns in the early church were used to teach theology to believers. The lyrics were chosen not for their artistic value but for their truth and depth of content.” (182)

-THAT’S what matters! The content. So we work INCREDIBLY hard to ensure that what we’re singing is biblically true, Christ centered, God glorifying, and that can be done with a wide assortment of songs

-Paul is saying whatever your background musically, it’s welcome in the church. 

“with your heart” is not saying we sing silently, or internally, but instead with our whole being. The heart is the center/sum of who we are. So sing with ALL WE’VE GOT! This means singing is not optional! Paul COMMANDS us to sing! 

-Pliny, governor of Bithynia in Asia Minor Christians “met regularly before dawn on a fixed day to chant verses alternately amongst themselves in honor of Christ as if to a god.”

-Tertullian, writing from North Africa during the end of the 1st Century, “Each is invited to sing to God in the presence of other from what he knows of the holy scripture or from his own heart.” How would you like to be invited to sing your own Scripture memory each week? 

And over all of this is:

  • Give thanks always (20)

-As Christians, we always have a reason to be thankful, because of the truth of the gospel message. We were once dead, alienated from life in God, but God who is rich in mercy saved us. Therefore, we give thanks!

-The opposite of this is sin. Richard Coekin in his commentary on this passage says, ““Sin is essentially rebellious and complaining ungratefulness; and holiness is essentially a life of gratitude for all that God has graciously given us in Christ.” (158)

-Even the fact that we’re here gathering together should be enough of a reminder for us to give thanks. COVID should have been enough of a reminder for all of us of the need for meeting with other believers for encouragement and edification. I know I look at this gathering much differently today than I did before COVID!

-I don’t always like what we do on Sundays “If the gathering is about building up and encouraging the church, then a song I don’t like presents an opportunity to love and encourage others whose tastes differ from mine.” (Mike Cosper, Rhythms of Grace, 88)

-“Are you known for ongoing thanksgiving or for complaining, murmuring, and pouting?” (Merida, 134)

  • Submit to one another (21)

-This is a daily dying to yourself. Dying to your preferences, desires, goals, everything for the sake of those around you. 

-This is most visibly made manifest through the process today known as church membership. Through that, we make a commitment to love each other unconditionally, support each other through anything, and be willing to do so until the Lord moves us or calls us home. Why do we do this? Because we see it modeled in our Lord, Jesus Christ. 

-This is the opposite of how we naturally orient our lives. Everything we do gives us the illusion that we’re the center of the world, which then affects the way we interact with each other in the family of God. We’ve got our iPhones, iPads, etc. 

-That’s part of the reason this gathering is vital to our lives. We need to be reminded that we’re not the center of the universe. We need a weekly reorientation, like calibrating your phone when you use the compass. 

-The next section seems to be an abrupt shift from talking about corporate worship to talking about marriage, but the reason Paul does this is because each family unit needs to be healthy for the whole church to be healthy, AND because marriage serves as a visible witness of the gospel message – that message that makes the church body unique. 

-On top of that, it struck me recently that for Paul, this wasn’t a disjointed idea. The church body is a family, which means everyone has a specific role to play. Because of the church/family connection, Paul just continues his thought from the church to the nuclear family. Those 2 ideas aren’t disjointed to Paul, instead they’re intimately connected (one requirement of an elder is managing his own household well, because the church is a bigger household!)

-Now anytime we talk about marriage in the church, I know there’s a temptation for singles to tap out and not listen, at least that was my temptation when I was single! But don’t tune out! Whether or not you ever get married you’re a part of the church, which means you need to know these things to encourage your brothers and sisters who are married, AND as a reminder of the realities of the gospel message, as we’ll soon see in verse 32. And the reality is, as Kent Hughes says, “Many of the problems in Christian marriages come from either an ignorance of or a cavalier disregard for the scriptural teaching on the roles of men and women in marriage.”

  • Wives: Submit to Your Husbands (22-24)

-This is one of the most hotly contested passages in the Bible. What does it mean to submit, and what does it look like?

-A large part of the reason this is contested is because none of us like the idea of submission, and in our culture there has been a flattening of any leadership, we love it when the underdog sticks it to “the man” Yet that’s not God’s way. In fact, submission is at the heart of the gospel message! 

-You see, Jesus is the king of everything, which requires everything else to submit to him. So becoming a believer means submitting ourselves to Jesus as the Lord of everything. Then, for our flourishing that means we need to correctly order our earthly relationships. So it begins with wives submitting to their husbands. 

-That word submit is someone who is completely equal being willing to trust and follow their leader’s guidance. So submission in the home does NOT mean women are inferior in any way. Both men and women are created in the image of God, equal in dignity, status and worth. 

-One way to think about this is in the military. The military cares greatly about correctly ordered relationships, which requires submission. If there is correct submission and accountability the military will flourish, if not you’re left with anarchy, so at the heart of what Paul is saying here is: submission is how we have correctly ordered relationships in the home. And why do wives submit? Let’s read verse 23 again:

  1. Why? (23)

For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and his himself its Savior.

-What does Paul mean when he says head? Well think about your own head, what does your head do? It’s the command center, if you will, of the rest of the body! The head provides nourishment to the rest of the body, and also dictates where the rest of the body goes and does.

  • How? (24)

Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.

-Paul shares an example of how wives are to submit to their husbands: that is just like the church submits to Christ, who is the head of the church. 

-Notice as well that this isn’t ALL women submit to ALL men, this is just within the home, between a husband and wife. BUT:

-No qualifiers: IF he’s smart, IF he loves you, IF he helps around the house. It doesn’t even say IF he’s a Christian, it says, “in everything” This was one of the ways the early church grew, through women honoring their husbands well, thus leading them to the Lord by the way they lived.

-Just as I shared last week with slaves, this does NOT mean women are doormats who are expected to not think, talk or do anything but serve their husbands, we’ll see the husbands role in a minute. 

-It also does NOT mean following your husband in to sin. Here’s the thing, even though the husband is the head of the home, we, as husbands have an even higher authority: God.

-The key to remember here is this God has designed marriage, he decides the rules, he dictates the best way for families to flourish, which means wives submit to their husbands. This means a daily dying to yourself for the sake of your family. 

-Now husbands are not off the hook. And Paul dedicates the rest of the 9 remaining verses (women only get 3) in this chapter to addressing husbands, and it’s very simple: 

  • Husbands: Love Your Wives

-While wives are called to submit, husbands are called to love their wives, JUST LIKE CHRIST loved the church! Paul describes a number of ways that we are to love our wives, can be summarized with S: sacrificial, sanctifying, and self-love. 

And gave himself up for her

  1. Sacrificial Love (25)

-I am by no means an expert on marriage, as we’ve only been married for 7.5 years, so I’m going to be relying heavily on the thoughts of others for this section, as you’ll hear from the various quotes. My dad, who was a pastor, encouraged me to preach all my sermons on marriage BEFORE I got married, because you don’t realize how hard it is until after! BUT, I do know what the Bible says. 

-Have you ever thought about the way the gospel is made evident in marriage? Tim Keller in his book “The Meaning of Marriage,” which I HIGHLY recommend, says, 

“The reason that marriage is so painful and yet wonderful is because it is a reflection of the gospel, which is painful and wonderful at once. The gospel is this: We are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope. This is the only kind of relationship that will really transform us. Love without truth is sentimentality; it supports and affirms us but keeps us in denial about our flaws. Truth without love is harshness; it gives us information but in such a way that we cannot really hear it. God’s saving love in Christ, however, is marked by both radical truthfulness about who we are and yet also radical, unconditional commitment to us. The merciful commitment strengthens us to see the truth about ourselves and repent. The conviction and repentance moves us to cling to and rest in God’s mercy and grace.” (44)

-This notion of giving of yourself means you as the husband must daily die to your wants, desires and preferences. It means LITERALLY dying for your wife if you must! It’s this self-sacrificing love from a husband that makes it easy for a wife to submit to her husband when necessary. 

-I once heard a pastor sharing a wonderful example of this in his daily life that’s such a little thing it seems trivial, but speaks to the larger way we as men can sacrificially love his wife. When they drive in the car she picks the music. 

-Husbands: how are you sacrificing for your wives? 

-But that’s not the only kind of love Paul talks about, he goes on to talk about:

  • Sanctifying Love (26-27)

This process of sanctification is purifying or cleansing. Think of taking a shower after an exhausting day. Marriage is one of the primary means of sanctification because it’s in the daily grind that your sinful tendencies come out. And the best part of that is: because there’s a covenant, you know they’re not going anywhere! Your spouse is committed to loving you IN SPITE of your sinful tendencies! And here’s the deal: you BOTH have those sinful tendencies. 

When Sinners Say “I Do” 

-I one time heard a story of a really difficult season in a pastor’s marriage. The church on the verge of a church split, long-time members were calling for his firing, things at home weren’t easy, and there seemed to be no way out. He and his wife one night went on a walk and were talking about everything going on, and his wife asked “Why are you still with me?” The pastor replied, “Because I made a covenant with you.” 

-Not the most romantic moment for him! But the point is true, we can’t rely on feelings to get us through a lifetime together, we need a covenant.

-This idea of sanctifying and cleansing also carries with it the idea of being set apart for God, which means men have an immense responsibility to point their wives to the Lord.

“A Christian husband will want to support Christ’s will for his wife, not with an overly intense marriage, but with one that enables them to serve God together and so proclaim the triumph of Christ in the spiritual realm.” (Coekin, 171)

-A problem for many of us is we are selfish. We don’t think about pursuing holiness because we’re too worried about happiness, which will only come about as a byproduct of pursuing holiness. So for husbands, that means intentionally praying for your wife. Praying for the strength to lead well, to point her to Christ, and to die to yourself. I was listening to a pastor once state that husbands should go to bed EXHAUSTED every day, because you are pouring yourself out. And one of the ways you should be pouring yourself out is in prayer. 

 “If we are not praying for our wives in detail, we are not loving them as Christ loved the church and are, in fact, sinning. We should be praying for their spiritual life, obligations, pressures, friendships, and dreams daily and passionately, for that is how Christ prays for us!” (Hughes, 189)

So husbands: how are you doing with loving your wives in a sanctifying way? Kent Hughes summarizes this well:

“Is our wife more like Christ because she is married to us? Or is she like Christ in spite of us?” (Hughes, 191)

  • Self-love (28-30)

Here’s the crazy thing about a husband who doesn’t love his wife well: he’s only hurting himself! When you are married you go from 2 separate families to 1. The way this was described to Cara and I during our premarital counseling was: you’re on the same team! This is why communication is so important! We need to know what’s going on so we can ensure we’re staying on the same team and not drifting apart. 

Wayne Grudem leaving TEDS for his wife who suffers from fibromyalgia, which flares up in humidity. They took a trip to Phoenix. 

  • The mystery of marriage (31-33)

This is where we see why this applies to everyone, not just those who are married – marriage is an example of the gospel because Jesus is our bridegroom. Going back to music – one of the things people have complained about is “Jesus is my girlfriend” songs, and that’s right, because that’s not intimate enough! The church is preparing herself to meet God face to face where we will finally be united, like a husband and wife are united. 

-Notice now how Paul wraps up this section, it’s a little weird, because you’d expect it to repeat what he’s been talking about: wives submit to your husbands, and husbands love your wives, but he changes what he tells the wives, instead it’s respect

Love & Respect

-The key to all of this: get over yourself. Decide every day when you wake up that you’re going to die to yourself so that you can faithfully serve your spouse, your family, your God, and your church. 

“When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.” (Bonhoeffer, Life Together, 99) 

-We need to extend grace to each other. 

-“Gospel-driven forgiveness is the glue that sticks our imperfect marriages together – gradually overcoming bitterness and despair with real hope and joy.” (Coekin, 174)

So all of us: sing loudly! Proclaim the excellencies of the God who saved us! Husbands: love your wives with all you’ve got. Sacrificially, sanctifying, like you love yourself. Wives: respect your husbands and submit to them. Unmarried: encourage the married that you’re friends with to continue on, and for all of us: prepare for our future marriage to God!