Mark developed his Gospel from notes he had taken as he listened to Peter teach, so this gospel is really Peter’s account. Part 1 deals with the need for 4 gospels, showing how each was written to a different audience and shows a different side of Jesus, and covers Chapter 1.
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So we’re going to begin a study in the Gospel According to Mark. Before we actually open the book of Mark and begin reading, I want to answer a question that a lot of people ask. Maybe you’ve asked it maybe not, but a lot of people have, and so I’ve become accustomed to whenever I start a study in the Gospels of answering the question, why are there four Gospels? I mean, couldn’t these guys get it right? Couldn’t they have had a meeting or something and sat down and agreed as to what happened and what they were going to say? Well, there’s a really good reason for that, and I don’t know if you’ve heard it before or not, but you’re going to hear it tonight.
The reason for it is that each of the four Gospels is slightly different. Each of them was written with a different purpose in mind. Each of them was written to a different audience, and each one had something different to say about Jesus. And we’ll go through that, and I’ll show you what each Gospel is all about tonight, as we begin this study.
The Gospel According to Matthew
So we’ll start with Matthew. And I call this, by the way, the Gospel in Quadraphonic because this is one of those things that show us that God is simply too big to fit into one account. If we tried to meld everything there is about Him into this single account it would become so confusing that we wouldn’t understand it, even as well as we do. And so the reason there are four Gospels is so we can get the whole picture, the whole story, of Jesus.
And so let’s start, and we’ll give you a brief, a very brief, synopsis of each one of the Gospels, and you can see what I mean.
The first Gospel, of course, is Matthew, that’s the book that opens the New Testament. Now Matthew was written specifically to a Jewish audience. The purpose of Matthew is to demonstrate to the Jewish people that Jesus was the promised Messiah, the Lion of Judah. There are more tie-ins, if you will, to Old Testament prophecies in the Gospel of Matthew than there are in any of the other Gospels. In fact, the most frequently used phrase in the Gospel of Matthew is, “it was fulfilled.” Because, I think on 38 different occasions, that phrase is used, and each one of the points back to an Old Testament prophecy that was fulfilled in the life and times of Jesus.
Matthew opens the Gospel with a genealogy of Jesus, which he begins with Abraham, the father of the Jewish people. Matthew’s first miracle, the first miracle he talks about, was the cleansing of a leper, which was symbolically very important to the Jewish people because, whenever leprosy is used symbolically in the Scriptures, it is always a model for sin. And so by opening his Gospel with a miracle of the cleansing of a leper, Matthew was demonstrating to the Jewish people that Jesus was the antidote, if you will, for sin. The Gospel closes with the promised Resurrection. And so you have there the summary of the book, and so if you want to reduce all these things to little phrases, Matthew’s purpose was to tell Israel who Jesus was: the promised Messiah.
The Gospel According to Mark
Okay, now we go to Mark. Mark’s Gospel is a little different—a lot different—from Matthew, in that Mark wrote, first of all, to the Roman church. He probably was in Rome when he wrote. Mark’s Gospel is unique in the sense that it is really Peter’s account. And what Mark did was he listened, he traveled and was with Peter a lot, and he listened and wrote down Peter’s sermons, and then he organized them into this Gospel account.
And so when you’re reading the Gospel according to Mark, which we’re going to be doing for the next few months, you understand that Mark is really giving us the benefit of Peter’s insight into all of this. Now Mark is different in the sense that, first of all, it’s a very rapid-fire Gospel. It’s sometimes called the Snapshot Gospel because Mark takes you from here, to here, to here, to here. In fact, the most frequently used phrase in the Gospel of Mark is “immediately” or “straight away” some of your Bibles will say. He goes from this incident to that incident, to that incident. We are going to see tonight how Matthew took a whole chapter to talk about the temptation in the wilderness; Mark took two sentences. And that’s the way he goes; he goes from here to there, to somewhere else and it’s like he has this high energy need to get all the stuff he can, said about Jesus in the shortest possible time. And so that’s why we call it the Snapshot Gospel.
Now there isn’t a whole lot of extra detail in Mark. He doesn’t include any genealogy of Jesus at all. He skips all of that. Mark is primarily, as I said, writing to the Romans, and he’s trying to convey to people what Jesus did. What did He do? Mark portrays Jesus as the obedient servant of the Lord. And that’s why there is no genealogy because you don’t care about the genealogy of a servant. You don’t need to know what a servant’s pedigree is, and so he leaves all that out.
As I say, it was written to the Romans, and because the Roman society was a highly pagan and superstitious society. Mark’s first miracle was driving out demons, and He did a lot of that. In Mark’s Gospel, you’ll see a lot of the driving out of demons. Because you see, in the Roman pagan tradition, there are lots of gods. And some are good, and some are bad, and they fought each other and mankind got in the middle of some of the fights—you know if you’ve ever read any Greek mythology in school and things like that, Roman mythology was very similar. The names are different, but the people are the same. And so the driving out of demons, and the way in which Mark portrays that, is meant to illustrate to his pagan audience that Jesus is more powerful than their gods, good and bad. That He has authority over the Spirit World, which would have been very critical to a Roman audience because all of them felt they were subject to the whims of the Spirit World.
And so his first miracle is the driving out of demons, Mark ends the Gospel with the Ascension. Which, in a sense, is saying when the servant’s job was done, He went home. That’s how Mark worked.
The Gospel According to Luke
Luke’s Gospel—I know I’m giving you this real fast, you can get a lot of this off the website if you’re so inclined and you want more to chew on where this is concerned, you can go to the website and look for an article called The Four Faces of Jesus, and you’ll find more detail on that.
Luke’s Gospel has been called the most beautiful book ever written. Luke’s Gospel is the one that everybody uses, pretty much everybody, when they want to make a movie of the life of Jesus. Some have called it the loveliest book in the world, as I say.
Luke was written to the Greeks. Luke was of Greek origin himself. He was a very smart man; he was a doctor, a lawyer, and an artist. He was the original Renaissance man, I think, and long before the Renaissance even, so he was way ahead of his time. And so, Luke was a very learned man who wrote the Gospel According to Luke. He also wrote Book the Acts, and they are meant to be taken together. It’s like part one and part two. Many people believe that the Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts were written as a pretrial document that was submitted to Caesar in advance of Paul’s trial in Rome.
If you were a Roman citizen, you had the right in any crime you commit to appeal to Caesar. If you did that, you had to send ahead all the documents that were pertinent to your case, so that he could read them and review them and get ready for them. And a lot of people feel that Luke and Acts are the pretrial documents that were sent to Rome in advance of Paul’s trial.
Luke focuses on what Jesus said, and it’s in storybook form. The most frequently used phrase in the Book of Luke was, “it came to pass.” He’s a storyteller, you see. It came to pass that this happened, and it came to pass that that happened. Since he’s writing to the Greeks, who are also steeped in mythology, he chose, as his first miracle, the driving out of demons, as well. He ends his Gospel with the promise of the Holy Spirit, which was very important, again, to a pagan audience because that gave them parity, if you will, with the Spirit World. So that’s Luke. As I say, we’re going really fast on this, because we really want to concentrate on Mark.
The Gospel According to John
John’s Gospel is totally different from all the others. A lot of people have felt like, or feel like, Matthew and Luke borrowed heavily from Mark. That Mark’s Gospel is the first one written, and that Matthew and Luke used Mark’s Gospel as sort of a source document in writing theirs, and that’s one of the reasons that Matthew, Mark, and Luke together are called the Synoptic Gospels because they seem to have the same idea, the same background. They say a lot of the same things. All three of those Gospels focus on the Galilean ministry up north.
John’s Gospel is different from all of the others. None of the Gospels are meant to be historical accounts, by the way. None of them—although Luke’s has probably the best sense of history about it—none of them were written as a historical account. And so you’ll find that the different Gospel writers included some things, excluded some others. You’ll find some things in some Gospels that aren’t in others because they, as I said, were writing to a particular audience. They wanted to include the things that would be pertinent or meaningful to their particular audience. So Matthew focused mostly on the connection with the Old Testament, the Lion of Judah, the Messiah of Israel. Mark to the Roman audience, Luke to the Greek audience, and John wrote to the Church.
John focused on how Jesus felt. And so Matthew says who He was, Mark says what He did, Luke says what He said, John says how He felt.
You’ll find a lot more private conversations in the Gospel of John. For example, where Matthew, Mark, and Luke devoted a chapter or two to the Olivet Discourse, John doesn’t mention that at all. He spends three chapters telling us what Jesus said to them privately at the dinner on the night before He died.
Where Matthew, Mark, and Luke focus on the Galilean ministry, John focuses on the Judean ministry down south in Jerusalem. John’s Gospel really, with a few exceptions, focuses on 21 days out of Jesus’s three-and-a-half-year ministry. Ten of the 22 chapters in John have to do with the last week of the Lord’s life, and one-third of the 879 verses in the Gospel of John has to do with a single day. And so you see, John made no attempt to write a historical account. He wanted to show you how the Lord felt as He was coming to the end of His life here on Earth.
John’s Gospel is written around sevens. There are lots of sevens in John’s Gospel. He picked out of all the things Jesus did; he picked seven miracles. And he wrote about those seven miracles. Each of those seven miracles is followed with what’s called a discourse, where Jesus talks about something pertinent to the miracle, and at the end of the discourse, there is an “I am” statement. And so there you’ll find seven miracles, seven discourses, and seven “I am” statements. I am the bread of life, I am the resurrection and the life. I am this, I am that. That’s the key to John’s Gospel.
John’s goal was to convince us that Jesus is the Son of God. The most frequently used phrase in his Gospel is, “truly, truly” or in the King James, “verily verily I say unto thee.” That’s the most frequently used phrase in the Gospel. The phrase “Son of God” is second, twenty-four times it’s used.
John’s Gospel contains the most unique genealogy of all. It’s in the first couple of verses:
In the beginning was the word and the word was with God and the word was God
That’s his genealogy. Jesus preexisted time, He was there at the creation, He was with God, and He was God. John’s Gospel begins with the miracle of water into wine, which at first glance seems to be kind of an unimportant thing. I mean, who cares whether a wedding banquet in Cana had enough to drink or not? And by the way, it took a lot in those days, because the banquet lasted seven days. Who cares about that? But as you read in John 2 about the miracle of the wedding in Cana, you’ll find out that because of that miracle, the disciples put their faith in Him. And then you start thinking, well, something is going on here that I didn’t see the first time through! And then you want to go back through it again. And you find out that the miracle symbolizes the Lord’s entire ministry on Earth. And if you want to know more about that, you can go to the website and search for that miracle, Water into Wine, and you’ll find out that we talk about that a lot on the website. And again because this is a study in Mark, we won’t go into that tonight, but one day we will.
And then John’s Gospel ends with the Second Coming, the promise of the Second Coming. And toward the end of the Gospel, John says, You know I could, if I wanted to, write enough about Jesus to have enough books to fill a whole room. But, he says, I’ve written these things so that you can know that Jesus is the son of God. And so, that’s John.
And so you have four Gospels, each one has its own purpose:
- Matthew, who He was
- Mark, what He did
- Luke, what He said
- John, how He felt
Each one has a different audience:
- Matthew to the Jews
- Mark to the Romans
- Luke to the Greeks
- John to the Church
Each one of them tailor makes his Gospel to his particular audience, starting with a miracle that would be highly symbolic to that audience, ending with an event that would be highly symbolic to that audience. Choosing words and phrases that would be meaningful to his particular audience, inserting or leaving out things that he didn’t feel would be pertinent to his audience.
And so if you want the whole story of Jesus, you have to read all four Gospels, that’s the whole point of it.
Okay, so there’s a really quick summary. It seemed quick to me, but it was almost 30 minutes. You’re probably tired of hearing about it already! But that’s a summary—we’ll leave out the quick part—that’s a summary of the four Gospels, and that will give you an idea of why there are four, and if you’ve got a favorite one, you’ve got one picture of Jesus. If you want the whole picture, it is necessary for you to read all four of them. And so like I say, if you want to get more information about this, go onto the website and get the articles about The Four Faces of Jesus and that will give you a lot more.
Mark’s Gospel: Let’s Begin
Okay, back to the Gospel According to Mark.
I’ve said that some believe that Mark’s was the earliest Gospel written, it may or may not be, there are a couple of schools of thought. Some people believe it’s written in the late 40s, early 50s. Other people think it was later, toward the end of Peter’s life, which would have been ten or 20 years after that.
By the way, don’t get the idea just because the Gospels come before the different letters that are written, that the Gospels were written before them. Paul’s letters, some of them were written very early, and before the Gospels were written. Perhaps Mark’s Gospel, if you take the early view of his Gospel, you might see it being circulated about the time that Paul was beginning to write. But Paul’s first letters to the Church came as early as 51. I think the letters to the Thessalonians were the first letter, they were written about 50 or 51. The Corinthian letters came right after that. And so Paul’s letters were really some of the earliest communication to the Church. The Gospels followed those up. John’s Gospel for example, didn’t come along until much later. Mark is probably the earliest of the four.
Okay, let’s say that I’ve given you all I know about the background here. And since this is a study in Mark we really ought to spend some time in Mark tonight, so why don’t we go into chapter 1 of Mark and we’ll start looking at what he has to say, and then if I think of other things that I think you should know about the background, we’ll add those as we go along.
So let’s go to Mark 1:1 where he opens the Gospel saying:
The beginning of the Gospel about Jesus Christ the son of God.
There’s one thing you should know, and that is Mark is the guy who not only hung around with Peter, he went with Paul and Barnabas on one of their missionary trips. He left in the middle, and Paul was really mad at him. So upset with him, by the way, that it caused Paul and Barnabas to split up. They reconciled later on toward the end of Paul’s life, but for a while, there was some bad blood. Barnabas was really a cousin of Mark’s, and so that’s how the two of them stayed together even though Paul was upset. So Paul decided to go his own way, and Barnabas and Mark went another way.
Mark might have been a young boy who hung around with Jesus, you know at the end of Mark’s Gospel, we’re going to see that there was a young man sitting on the tomb, at the entrance to the tomb. Some people think that was Mark. There was also a boy in the Garden of Gethsemane the night Jesus was arrested. When he ran away, the soldiers grabbed his cloak, remember that? And he slipped out of it and ran away naked? A lot of people think that was Mark.
I think Mark’s mother was Joanna, who was a wealthy woman who funded some of the Lord’s ministry, and also funded a lot of the disciples’ work after the Ascension. It was her house, I believe that the disciples had as a kind of headquarters in the early stages of the Book of Acts, and so Mark was really around and in a lot of this for all that time.
Okay now we can go. Mark 1:1:
The beginning of the Gospel about Jesus Christ the son of God.
It’s written in Isaiah the Prophet, I will send my messenger ahead of you who will prepare your way.
A voice, the one calling in the desert, prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for Him.
Now even though Mark says “it’s written in Isaiah the Prophet,” the first part of this, it says, “where I will send my messenger ahead of you who will prepare the way.” This really comes out of Malachi 3:1. And then starting in verse 3, “a voice of one calling in the desert” comes out of Isaiah 40:3. And so Mark combined a little bit of Malachi and some of Isaiah, and he came up with this quote on that. Now of course, the Isaiah one is the one that John the Baptist used of himself in the Gospel of Matthew. When they came out from Jerusalem to find out who he was, he said, “I’m the voice of one calling in the desert, prepare the way for the Lord.” And so Mark uses that passage as well. But verse 2 is Malachi from Malachi 3:1. Verse 3 is from Isaiah 40:3.
Now verse 4:
And so John came (speaking of John the Baptist). Baptizing in the desert region and preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sin.
The desert region was about 20 miles east of Jerusalem down into the valley where the Dead Sea is, on the western shores of the Dead Sea. If you’ve ever been in that region, it is real. You know Qumran, where they found the Dead Sea Scrolls. There was a colony of Essenes, of the Essene sect, who lived there for a number of years. It’s thought that John spent a lot of time with them. John the Baptist spent a lot of time with the Essenes. So where they’re talking about is probably down in that area. It’s where the Jordan River empties into the Dead Sea. That’s what they’re talking about in the desert region. It was about a day’s walk straight down from Jerusalem because in that 20 miles you drop from, I think Jerusalem is at an altitude of about 3,700 feet, and the Dead Sea is what, 1,200 or 1,300 feet below sea level. So you make a 5,000-foot drop just in that 20-mile walk, and so it’s downhill all the way. And so that’s the desert region.
Now we need to talk about this baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. We’re going to show you a passage in Acts that talks more about that, but it’s time for us all to have a clear understanding of this word repentance, because this is one of those scary words in the Gospels that is scary because people don’t understand it. It’s been misinterpreted for a long time, misunderstood for a long time, until it’s gotten to mean something it wasn’t intended to mean. Let’s correct that problem.
Repentance does not mean change your behavior. Repentance means change your mind about your behavior. Often repentance will result in a change of behavior, but repentance and behavior are not connected directly. When John the Baptist and others, Peter, for example, in the Bible say, repent and be saved—you’re familiar with that phrase, right? Repent and be saved, or, repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand. It doesn’t mean clean up your act and stop sinning so that you’ll be worthy to be saved, or so that you’ll be worthy to enter the Kingdom. It doesn’t mean that at all. Because if you had to clean up your act and stop sinning before you could be saved, you wouldn’t need to be saved. Do you understand that? And to me, that’s the clearest way I can put it because a lot of people put the cart before the horse there, and they think that repent means stop sinning. Well, it often does result in us liking our sins a lot less than we did before, but it has nothing to do, directly, with our behavior.
When John the Baptist said “repent” how’d he say it exactly? Oh, it doesn’t say it here. But in the Gospel of Matthew when he said, “Repent for the kingdom of God is at hand.” He was saying change your mind. He was in Israel, after all. He was saying change your mind about your behavior, recognize that it is sin, then you will be ready for the Kingdom. Because when he said, the Kingdom is at hand, who is he talking about? He is talking about Jesus. And what did Jesus come to do? Handle the sin problem. But, you can’t handle somebody’s sin problem until they recognize that they are sinners, right? And a person who doesn’t think they are a sinner doesn’t want a savior. That was the big problem with Israel. They thought by keeping the law, they were being righteous. And so they didn’t want a savior to save them from their sins. They thought, I’m keeping the law, I don’t have a sin problem. I want a Messiah to come and kick the Romans out of here! That’s what we want the Messiah for, we don’t need anyone to die for our sins. We’ve got the law for that. We’ll keep the law, and that takes care of it.
But John was saying, no, you all need to change your mind about your behavior, because you cannot keep the law sufficiently to earn salvation. You have to have a savior. And before you can accept a savior, you have to accept the idea that you are sinners.
That’s what repentance means.
Now when it is repent and be saved, you start to recognize your behavior as sin, you realize that you can’t stop it, you realize that you need somebody to save you, and then you start looking for a savior. And of course, there is one, and you find Him, and you ask Him to forgive you for your sins. Nobody ever goes to Jesus and says, Lord, I’ve stopped sinning now, I’ve been clean and sober for 30 days and all of my sins, I’ve stopped doing them. I am perfect again, I am clean, and I’m righteous. Am I okay to be saved now?
And you know what He’s going to say to you? Nuh-uh. No, you’re not, sorry. I didn’t come to call the righteous, I came to call the sinners. Once you realize you’re a sinner then come back and we can talk. But as long as you think you’re not, you don’t need me. You don’t even want me.
All right, so the phrase “repent and be saved” means change your mind about your behavior. Recognize that you’re a sinner, admit that you can’t stop and that you are hopelessly lost without a savior. Once you get to that point, you can be saved.
Now I realize that this may be going against what you have been taught. You may have been taught that repentance means stop sinning. There are some, let’s call them religious organizations, that teach that if you don’t stop sinning, you can’t be forgiven. I know some places where people are taught that, if you ever commit the same sin twice, your forgiveness is rescinded. Not only for that sin but for all of them, because they have this view of repentance as being stopping the behavior.
Now here’s the way it really happens. You repent by admitting you’re a sinner needing a savior. You fall on your face in front of the Lord Jesus, and He agrees to save you just because you ask. Then, out of gratitude for that, you change your behavior. Okay, is that the way it works? But if you had to wait until you deserve salvation, you would die forever in Hell because you can’t. You can’t do it. It’s a catch-22. It fits in a whole lot of different categories. It’s changing your mind.
This is why the Lord in Matthew 12, when Peter said, Lord, how often do I have to forgive somebody who sins against me? Is it seven times? (thinking he was being very generous) And the Lord came back and said, No, no no. Not seven. Seventy times seven.
Now this means that if the person comes back to you and sins against you again, and again, and again, and again, each time you are required to forgive him. Because that’s exactly the way the Lord has done with you. Only He doesn’t stop counting at 490. He keeps going, because there is no count. As often as we ask, He forgives.
And so when John is preaching a baptism of repentance, what he means by this is that John is preaching to the Israelites saying, your behavior is sinful. You cannot keep the law well enough to save yourself. You need to change your mind about that and admit that you need a savior.
And that’s all he was trying to do. John wasn’t trying to save anybody. John was trying to prepare people to be saved. And his baptism, a baptism of repentance, was simply a means of preparing people for this coming savior. The baptism didn’t save them, and his preaching didn’t save them. It was designed to prepare them for the One who was coming who would save them.
That’s why he says I baptize you with water, but another is coming after me who will baptize you in the Holy Spirit. And that’s the baptism that saves us.
Paul says in Ephesians 1:13 that the moment we first believe we were marked with the promised Holy Spirit, which was sealed within us. That is what he’s talking about, that’s the baptism we get. The water baptism is simply a symbolic act where we publicly declare what we’ve already privately decided in our heart. The baptism, by the way, is borrowed from Judaism. In Judaism, it’s called a mikvah. It’s a ceremonial bath, an immersion bath. There were several occasions when men would take ritual baths, the most religious of them, and before Sabbath or a holy day, they’d take a ritual bath to kind of prepare themselves, to set themselves apart.
I personally believe the Saturday night bath that was popular when we were kids, where we had a tub in the kitchen. None of you are old enough to have done this, are you? We had a tub in the kitchen; it was one of those galvanized metal washtubs. We had a tub in the kitchen and on Saturday night, Mom heated up the water on the wood stove and poured it in there and got it nice and warm and each of the boys got a bath. There were four of us, we used the same water, so the last one probably didn’t get as clean as the first one. But we were considered to be clean after that. And that was a bath that cleansed us on the outside. The mikvah was a ritual bath that was supposed to symbolize wanting to be clean on the inside as well.
On Yom Kippur, the High Priest had to immerse himself seven different times during the Yom Kippur ceremony, so to be, quote, “completely clean.” So the baptism came from the Jewish mikvah. And the Jewish people were used to seeing this water ceremony taking place. They had seen it a lot more frequently in the conversion of Gentiles, because the first thing a Gentile has to do if he wants to convert to Judaism is, when he’s ready, he has to go through that ceremonial bath to prepare him.
If a priest was entering the age of service and was ready to start his 15 years of service—he started at age 30, and he served in the temple for 15 years. And so at the beginning of that, he took a ritual bath. If a missionary was going out on a missionary journey, he took this ritual bath. This was a preparation, preparation for a change, something that was changing in their lives.
And so this was not an unusual thing for John to be doing, but it was unusual in the sense that he was asking them to take this bath in preparation for beginning a new life. Not just for undertaking a period of service or something, but before beginning a new life. And the beginning of that new life would come when Jesus brought the Gospel and began saving them. You don’t see any places where John is preaching where he’s preaching the Gospel. You don’t see John preaching the Gospel because he wasn’t trying to do that.
Okay, let me show you what I mean by that. Let’s go to Acts 19, and you can get a view of this pretty quickly there. We’re well into the Book of Acts here in chapter 19, so this is sometime after the Ascension. In Acts 19 we’re going to read the first seven verses. Paul is on his way to Ephesus here.
It says he found some disciples, and in verse 2 he says to them:
“Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?”
Disciples, he found some disciples. People who were learning. A disciple was a student. And they’re apparently learning about Jesus because he said, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” And they answered:
“No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.”
So it was a whole new thing for them.
So Paul asked, “Then what baptism did you receive?”
“John’s baptism,” they replied.
So they had been disciples of John’s. And here it is, years and years and years later, in verse 4, Paul said:
“John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” And on hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and some spoke in tongues and prophesied. And there were about twelve of them in all.
And so you see John’s baptism hadn’t given them the promised Holy Spirit that Paul said happens to us on the first moment that we confess and believe. They had only come to the point where they realized they needed a savior, and so Paul told them about Jesus. And then he baptized them in the name of the Lord Jesus, and the Holy Spirit became active in their lives. So you see the differences in those two baptisms.
Some people use that verse to justify water baptism followed by a baptism of the Holy Spirit, but it doesn’t work that way because of what I’ve just said. John’s baptism wasn’t intended to save anybody; it was to prepare them to be saved.
All right back to Mark 1:5:
The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him.
Went out to John. Now, this is obviously an exaggeration here, though. The whole countryside and all the people in Jerusalem. I doubt whether that’s literally true. But what he’s trying to say is, there’s a whole bunch of people who went out there.
Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River. John wore clothing made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. And this was his message: “After me will come the one more powerful than I, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I baptize you in water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
And so we’ve already talked about that part. I do want to make the point here that John wore clothing made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. John, you know, was the son of Zechariah and Elizabeth, who were cousins of Mary. Zechariah was a priest in the temple, remember? And he was actually on duty during his once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to bring the incense into the Holy of Holies. Every priest was lucky to get one chance to do this in his lifetime. And Zechariah was given that chance, and that’s where the Angel Gabriel came to him and told him about the impending birth of his son.
You know, Elizabeth had been barren all of her life, and they had not been able to have children. But then the Angel Gabriel came and said to John, “Your wife is going to conceive and have a child and you’re going to name him John. And he’s going to minister in the spirit and power of Elijah.” Do you remember that? That’s from Luke 1 or 2. Luke 1:17 said that John the Baptist would administer in the spirit and power of Elijah.
Now way back in 2 Kings 1:8—if you have Pharisee tabs like I have, you can get back there real quickly. But if you don’t, I can just read it to you.
2 Kings 1:8, these people are talking to the king of Israel about this man they had met, and the king asks them in verse 7:
“What kind of man was this who came to meet you and told you this?”
In verse 8, they replied:
“He was man with a garment of hair and with a leather belt around his waist.”
The king said, “That was Elijah the Tishbite.”
And so, John the Baptist actually is dressed like Elijah was dressed. He also wore a camel hair suit with a leather belt around the waist.
Now the reason I’m getting into this is because, if you go to Luke 1 with me, and we look at that first chapter 1:17, and we see Gabriel saying to Zechariah in verse 16:
Many of the people of Israel will he bring back to the Lord their God.
And verse 17:
And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”
So there you get John’s ministry. He was preparing people for the Lord who would come and preach the Gospel to them, and take care of their sin problem.
All right here’s some tradition for you, you won’t find this in the Bible, but I think it is needed. It is a Jewish tradition that when Elijah was taken up into Heaven, remember the Chariots of Fire came and got him? He left behind his clothing because you don’t need clothes like that in Heaven. Elisha, who succeeded him, picked up the clothes. And the tradition is, eventually, these clothes wound up in a compartment, a cabinet if you will, that was underneath the incense altar in the Holy of Holies, and they were kept there for all that time. The tradition says that when Zechariah, who on the only time of his life, was in the Holy of Holies offering the incense in that same altar to the Lord, the Angel Gabriel said, “You’re going to have a son, and he’s going to minister in the spirit and power of Elijah.” The tradition, the Jewish tradition is that Zechariah went into that cabinet, got the camel hair clothes and the belt, and took them home, and later on, John the Baptist was wearing the same clothing that Elijah had worn.
Now don’t build any theology on this; this is just a tradition. But I think it’s a neat one, because the circumstances are such that it could have happened, and it’s kind of like the Lord to do something like that.
John the Baptist
Later on, in the Gospel of Matthew—we don’t read this in Mark but in Matthew, when they came out from Jerusalem to ask John the Baptist who he was—the first things they ask him are:
“Are you Elijah?”
He said, “No, I’m not.” He’s wearing his clothes! No I’m not.
Then they say, “Well, are you that prophet?” (Which is the prophet from Deuteronomy 18, where the Lord said, “I’m going to send a prophet like Moses to you.”)
They said, “Are you that prophet?”
He said “No, I’m not that guy either.”
“Are you the Messiah?”
“No, I’m not the Messiah.”
“Well, who are you then?”
“I’m the voice of one calling in the wilderness; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.”
Okay, so then you skip down to Matthew 17, and you find out that the guys up on the mountain with the Lord had seen Elijah up there with Moses on the Mount of Transfiguration. And on the way back down, one of the disciples said to Jesus, I thought Elijah was supposed to come before the Lord comes. And Jesus said, Well, that’s right. And, He says: In fact, if you were willing to receive it, John the Baptist is the Elijah who was supposed to come.
The idea being, because the people were not willing to accept that, therefore, he wasn’t. But had they been willing to accept that, he would have been. It’s kind of like, you know it’s the choice. If you’re ready for him, he’s the one; if you’re not ready for him, he’s not the one. But all this tradition is wrapped up around Elijah and John the Baptist, the two of them together, and how they minister together.
And it’s an amazing thing to me that when the prophecy of Malachi, the very last chapter and verse of the book says that:
I will send the prophet Elijah before that great and terrible day of the Lord. And He will turn the hearts of the children to their fathers.
Just like it says here. But in Malachi it says:
Or else I will bring a curse on the whole land.
Remember that? Read that last part of that. Look at Malachi right at the end of the—I realize we’re jumping around a lot here—but look in Malachi.
The last book in the Old Testament, just to the left of Matthew. Malachi 4:5 says:
I will send you the prophet Elijah before the great and dreadful day of the Lord comes. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers.
This is exactly what Gabriel said John the Baptist was going to do. He said:
Or else I will come and strike the land with a curse.
And of course, when John the Baptist came, Jesus said, he could be Elijah if you want him to be.
But they didn’t accept him; they said they did with him whatever they pleased. John the Baptist was dead by now, beheaded. A few, maybe a year or two after that, Jesus Himself would be dead. And within 40 years after that, the nation of Israel, destroyed. The temple, destroyed. Jerusalem, destroyed. The land was struck with a curse. And so the prophecy came true, but not in the way they would have hoped.
All right, so that’s about John the Baptist.
Now let’s go to verse 9, Mark 1:9:
At that time Jesus came from Nazareth
You see no Nativity, no growing up, no visits to the temple. None of the details, just the snapshot. Here comes Jesus down the road.
At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan.
Remember, you also find that in Matthew 3.
Mark 1:10 is:
Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit ascending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”
That’s that photograph. Now here comes the next photograph.
At once the Spirit sent him out into the desert, and he was in the desert forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him.
Can’t you see a polaroid of Jesus in the desert, there are some wild animals over here, and Satan’s standing here going like this to Him? And that’s what you get. That’s the 40 day wilderness temptation. You get that photograph. And just to show you how different this is from the other Gospels, let’s go to Matthew 4 because Matthew spends a lot of time on this, and so does Luke, by the way, on this temptation in the wilderness. And some pretty amazing things happened here.
The chronology is the same. Jesus comes into Jordan. He is baptized by John; the Spirit descends on Him like a dove. And then verse 1 of chapter 4 says:
Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.
I guess that would be kind of an understatement, wouldn’t it?
The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.
I’ve got to tell you a little something here. In the Greek, the word if is much less conditional than it is in English. The closest we can come to translating that word is if you were to say, if, and it’s true. Maybe if we use the word since it would be a little better. Because Satan had no doubt about who he was talking to, and Satan was not trying to question whether Jesus was the son of God or not, he knew He was. And so we miss a little bit of the certainty there because of that word if. But, even so, in verse 4:
Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.
Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple.
“If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:
“‘He will command his angels concerning you,
and they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”
Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'”
Now here I want you to see this one because here I want you to see the devil is quoting Scripture. Just because you hear somebody quoting Scripture to you doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re talking to the right person. You look at the context, how it’s being given. This is a case where the devil is telling Jesus, jump off the wall, because the Scriptures say God will come and save you.
Jesus comes back with another scripture, Deuteronomy 6:16:
Do not put the Lord your God to the test.
The devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. He said “All this I will give you, if you will bow down and worship me.”
And Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’”
That’s Deuteronomy 6:13. And then the devil left him, and the Angels came and attended Him. Now just before we finish this, there is an interesting little thing in Luke, where he gives us his account of this third temptation. It’s in Luke 4:5. I want you to see this because this surprises some people.
The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world.
Now, look how Luke tells the story. Verse 6:
And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor; for it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. So if you worship me, it will all be yours.”
And Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.’”
What’s going on in this verse? The devil says, I can give you all the kingdoms of the world because they are mine and I can give them to anybody I want. And what is remarkable about this is not what Jesus said in response, but what He didn’t say.
If I said to you, if you will worship me I will give you this dealership and all the money that comes out of it, what would you want to know? Is it mine to give? Can I really do this? I can make the promise, but can I really perform on the promise? And you’d want to know that before you made any kind of commitments to me. Jesus didn’t question that. You know why? Because Satan was telling the truth. All the kingdoms of the world are his. This world is under the control of the evil one.
That’s why there’s all the sickness and disease and heartache and disaster and catastrophe. It’s because this world is under the control of the devil. Not for long! But right now, it is. I get so frustrated when people blame God for stuff. Why did my little boy die? Why did my wife die? Why was there this terrible accident and all these innocent children killed? Why did this big storm come and blow down the orphanage? And they always say, why did God do this?
Well, the answer is, He’s as upset about it as we are. He didn’t do it. Because of what happened in the Garden, Satan has wrested temporary control of this world away. He is the one you ought to be mad at when those things happen. But he’s done such a masterful PR job that a lot of even Christians don’t even believe he exists! So how can you blame somebody who doesn’t exist? And the only one they know who exists who would have that kind of power is God, and so they blame God for this.
The one we ought to be mad at is the one who caused it. Look at 1 John 4. We’re going to look at 1 John 5, and then we’ll come back to chapter 4.
First on chapter 5:19 (I think it is, maybe it’s 18. I’ve got so many notes in here I can’t tell which verse I’m after). It’s 19. 19 says:
We know that we are the children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one.
See, we are supposed to know those two things. We’re supposed to know that we are children of God, and we’re supposed to know that the whole world is under the control of the evil one.
Now if you go back to I John 4:4 he says:
You, dear children, are from God and have overcome the world, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.
When we became believers, and the Lord came to dwell in our hearts, we have been given a power now that is greater than the power of the one who is in control of the world. And so while we are commanded to respect the power of the evil one, we are also commanded to understand that our power in Jesus is greater. And so while we respect his power, we do not fear his power, because we have, in the Lord Jesus, a greater power. Do you understand that? Is that clear to everybody? That’s important for you to know, because I know people who are afraid to go out and pray against the devil in a place, or consecrate a place to the Lord, or pray against problems that people are having because they don’t know if we have the authority to do that.
And at the other end of the spectrum, you have people saying, well, there is no devil. This stuff all just happens, and God allows it to happen. In fact, sometimes, He actually makes it happen so that you will shape up a little bit. And so He comes and brings you sickness and disease and accidents and things like that, just to teach you a lesson.
That irritates me so much when I hear that kind of theology because what it’s saying is that the God who loved you so much, while you still hated Him, that He died the most painful death in history for you, now that you’ve agreed to like Him, now He is going to make you pay. Does that make sense to you, that He would do something like that? He doesn’t do that.
Our sins are what cause our problems in this world, because this world is a place that is infested with sin. And we’re as bad as the next guy with them. And if we understood more about the negative effect unconfessed sins in our lives have on our health, mental and physical and spiritual, if we understood more about that, we’d be on our knees all the time. But we aren’t taught that stuff. We are taught this watered-down stuff that leaves us vulnerable.
Christians live defeated lives because they live their lives out of fellowship with God because they do not confess their sins, and they do not make themselves right with God in confession. You can’t make yourself right with God in behavior, but you can make yourself right with God in confession, and you should be doing it all the time. And the more important it is for you to live a sanctified life, the more important it is for you to recognize that you are sinners even though you’re saved, and that you can only exist in God’s protection when your sins are confessed and forgiven because God cannot abide in the presence of sin.
If you have unconfessed sin in your life, you have closed a door between you and God that deprives you of some of His blessing; it deprives you of some of His protection. Now, if that doesn’t scare you into confessing, I don’t know what will!
It has nothing to do with your salvation. Your salvation is a free gift, irrespective of your behavior. All you have to do is ask for it, and you receive it. But if you want God’s blessing and you want God’s protection, you can’t stop sinning, but you have to remember to confess and be forgiven.
I John 1:9:
When we’re faithful to confess, he is just and faithful to forgive and will purify us from all unrighteousness.
The minute you ask you are purified again. And so as the world gets worse and worse, it becomes more and more and more important for us to say, to keep ourselves cleaned up through confession. That is what’s called the believer’s bar of soap. It is like a bath cleans us on the outside, confession cleans us on the inside. You got it? It should be an everyday thing for all of us. Nothing to do with salvation, you don’t have to get saved again over and over. It keeps you in fellowship with God. It keeps you close to Him, and Him close to you. It provides greater opportunity for blessing; it provides greater protection. It’s just a matter of self-defense to do that.
I was thinking we might have trouble with just trying to do one chapter tonight because we might get done too early, but it looks like that’s not going to be a problem.
Let’s go back to Mark 1. As we’re doing that, you know that there are two levels to your relationship with God. One level I call union. That came when you were saved, and it makes you one with God. That can never be broken; no matter what you do, it can never be broken. Once you have that union with God, that’s permanent.
Jesus said in John 10:30:
No one can take you out of my hands
No one. That includes you. You can’t do it. Nobody can do it. 2 Corinthians 1:21 says, when you were saved, God Himself assumed responsibility for you. And He keeps you saved, all right?
Now the second level I call fellowship. Fellowship is the relationship. The best example I can give you for all of this is the Parable of the Prodigal Son.
The Prodigal Son took his inheritance and went, didn’t he? He led a sinful life, and he lost everything. And finally he’s in the pigsty eating pig’s food because he can’t afford food for himself. And he says, Boy why don’t I just wake up, go back and apologize to my dad? And maybe he’ll give me a job as one of his hired hands. I don’t deserve to be a son, but even his hired hands are living better than I am. So he changes his mind about his behavior, realizes he’s in a jam, turns around, and goes back home. His father, who’s been standing there waiting for him, sees him from far off and runs out to meet him.
It’s like nothing ever happened. And at the end of the parable, the older brother is complaining to the dad about the fuss he’s making over the younger one. And he said to him, Son, you need to understand. Everything I have is yours. But this brother of yours, he was dead and now he’s alive again.
You know what he didn’t say? He didn’t say, This brother of yours was bad and now he’s good again. He said, He was dead, and now he’s alive again.
You see, as bad as that boy got, he never stopped being his father’s. You can never stop being a child of God. It cannot happen. You were given the authority to become one of His children when you believed in Jesus, and that authority can never be revoked. But a lot of Christians spend their life like the Prodigal Son, don’t they? Off on their own, doing their own thing, not paying any attention to their family relationships, and living miserable, poor, beat up defeated lives because of it. If they would only turn and go back to God and say, Please, forgive me. I sinned. And He would forgive, and He would forget, and it’s like it never happened. You understand that? Don’t settle for a union with God. Have union and fellowship with God. Your life will be immeasurably better for it. You got that?
If you don’t learn anything else about this tonight, get that, please, because that is literally a life-changing idea.
All right, back to Mark.
So what we were talking about here, Mark gives you three verses about the temptation wilderness. Matthew gives us a whole chapter, and then I gave you another 45 minutes of preaching about it. That’s more than just a snapshot, isn’t it?
By the way, the big point of the temptation in the wilderness is Jesus, who could have squashed Satan right there on the spot and turned him into a grease spot in the desert, how did He fight back? He quoted Scripture. That’s your defense. That’s what you’re supposed to learn from that; that’s your defense against the devil. Scripture. Know enough Scripture so that when he quotes it to you, you can quote it right back to him.
After John was put in prison
Now, here again Matthew takes 12 chapters to get to this point. Mark’s got 14 verses behind him.
After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”
See, here it is again: Change your mind about your behavior, believe that a savior has come to save you because you can’t do it yourself. That’s the good news.
As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come” He said, “follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” At once they left their nets and followed him.
That’s it! They just walked off the boat, and that was the end of it, according to Mark. Snapshot. When he got a little farther, another snapshot.
He saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat, preparing their nets. Without delay he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him.
That was that. It looks like Jesus didn’t work very hard because there He’s got four disciples, and it’s only taken Him a couple of seconds! But the other Gospels, they put a lot more into this, don’t they? So you’re only getting the snapshots here. This is like when you go to your friend’s house, and he’s taken a trip somewhere, and he’s showing you this picture, and then this picture, and oh here’s what we did over here, and this is what we did then. This is what Mark’s doing for us. It’s like a travel log here.
They went to Capernaum, and when the Sabbath came, Jesus went into the synagogue and began to teach. The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law.
Isn’t that something? Have you ever been in a church where you knew the guy knew his stuff, but he didn’t inspire you at all by his talk, because you knew he was just saying stuff that he had learned? Then you go to another church over here, and maybe the guy is nowhere near as intellectually adept, and maybe he can’t even use the English language very well, but when he talks, you sit there mesmerized? One of them is speaking with the authority of the Holy Spirit. The other one has got an intellectual comprehension of things, but there’s nothing behind it. It’s just words; he’s putting out words.
Now you all know which one you prefer. And they knew right away that Jesus taught differently than the teachers of the law taught. They were the scholars; they were the intelligentsia, they were the intellectuals of the day. And this carpenter came into the Church one Sabbath morning, and wow, look at the way this guy talks! A visiting teacher comes and just energizes everybody.
Now look what happens in verse 23:
Just then a man in their synagogue who was possessed by an impure spirit cried out, “What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!”
“Be quiet!” said Jesus sternly. “Come out of him!” And the evil spirit shook the man violently and came out of him with a shriek.
The people were all so amazed that they asked each other, “What is this? A new teaching—and with authority! He even gives orders to evil spirits and they obey him.” News about him spread quickly over the whole region of Galilee.
I’ll bet that did! I will bet it did.
In verse 29, we’re going to talk more about these evil spirits, but this is the first miracle. This is the one that I told you about; His first miracle is to drive out a demon.
As soon as they left the synagogue, they went with James and John to the home of Simon and Andrew. Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told Jesus about her. So he went to her, took her hand and helped her up. The fever left her and she began to wait on them.
That evening after sunset
Remember, this was the Sabbath. So at sunset, the Sabbath is over. People who couldn’t do any work during the day, like carrying their infirm relatives on a bed to see Jesus. Once sunset came, they could do that now. And look what happened. The people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed. The whole town gathered at the door. And Jesus healed many who had various diseases. He also drove out many demons, but He would not let the demons speak because they knew who He was.
Remember, there was only one day in His whole ministry that He let people call Him the Son of God, the King, the Messiah. And that was on Palm Sunday; that was the only day He ever permitted that, in His whole ministry. Up until then, He said, Don’t tell anybody. He wouldn’t let the demons identify Him. When people whispered about Him, He said, Don’t say anything. Because it wasn’t until that day, that was the day that was appointed in history for Him to announce Himself to Israel as their Messiah. And before that day came, He would not permit that to happen.
Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. Simon and his companions went to look for him, and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!”
And Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.” So he traveled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons.
See the emphasis there on the demons? Every time He’s doing something, it’s demons.
Verse 40. Wow:
A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees, “If you are willing, you can make me clean.”
All right, here’s another key one. This is the only time in the Gospels where this question is asked of Him. If you are willing, you can make me clean. And what does Jesus answer?
Filled with compassion Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cured.
You hear these prayers for healing, and people give impassioned prayers for healing. And at the end of the prayer, they say, If you’re willing. And what’s His answer to that? His answer is, I am willing. He could say, I went to the cross for that. Some people believe that the cross was just to take care of the sins. It was the beating He took beforehand that was for the healing. Because in Isaiah 53:5, it says:
By his stripes we are healed.
Not by His death; by His stripes. The beating He took beforehand was designed to facilitate our healing. There’s no conditionality to that. By His stripes, we are healed. We need to understand that was part of His role, it was part of His purpose, in coming here so that we could be healed.
But you know what, it takes two to heal us, doesn’t it? It takes the Lord, and it takes us. Because on seven different occasions in the Gospels, healing miracles are accompanied by a statement from the Lord saying something to the effect of, Your faith has made you well. Your faith has made you well.
There’s something about it in Matthew 12 or 13, it says when He came back to His hometown later, and they all said, Jesus, isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Don’t we know His mom and His dad and His brothers and sisters? Where did He get all this learning from? It says:
Jesus couldn’t do many miracles in that town because of their lack of faith
It didn’t say He wouldn’t do many. It doesn’t say that He didn’t do many. It said that He couldn’t do many because of their lack of faith. I’m convinced the reason we don’t see healings today like we read about in the Book of Acts and in the Gospels, is because at our best, we don’t have anywhere near the faith that they had.
Our faith has gotten so weak, you know why? Because it’s gotten so easy for us to take care of ourselves. We can go out and get work. We can earn money. We can buy the stuff we need. Most of us don’t even bother to thank the Lord for it, and even when we do, we don’t mean it. We just kind of ceremonially thank Him.
He warned us about that in the Book of Deuteronomy. It says when you get in the land, and you get wealthy, and you have all this stuff around you, you have money in the bank, you have food in the fridge, and you have clothes in the closet, don’t forget about Me. Don’t start saying that it was your brains and your muscle that got all this for you. He says, Who do you think gave you that stuff? Who gave you the intellect, who gave you the muscle?
But that’s typically what happens. When we have nothing, we have great faith. Pretty soon, because of our faith, we get a lot of stuff. Then what happens to our faith? It goes away. And so, praise the Lord, sometimes He takes it all away from us again. And then we can get our faith back!
All right. The only time in the Gospels where somebody says to Jesus, You know if you’re willing, you could do this.
Because we all know, intellectually, that Jesus has the power to heal, we all know that. What we don’t know for sure is if He is willing to heal us. That’s where our stumbling block is, right? We can see all the miracles on TV, and we can see the miracles in the churches, and we can go places and hear stories about miracles, and we can say, Yeah, well, it may make sense sure. He’s the creator; He’s got the power to do all that. We know that He can do it. But do we believe that He will do it for us? That’s the problem. That’s where we get snagged. That’s what we have to work on.
Jesus sent him away at once with a strong warning: “See that you don’t tell this to anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them.
There’s a whole chapter of stuff that a person who was cleansed from leprosy had to do, and it’s in Leviticus 14. We won’t bother to read it tonight, but it’s a tremendously complicated process that they had to go through at the temple to prove that they actually were healed of an infectious disease. You can read it on your own, Leviticus 14. It took birds and animals and blood and water, and all kinds of stuff to confirm all this through the temple ritual. And this is what Jesus is telling this guy to go and do.
But look at verse 45:
Instead he went out and began to talk freely, spreading the news. As a result, Jesus could no longer enter a town openly but stayed outside in lonely places. Yet the people still came to him from everywhere.
It’s an amazing story, isn’t it? And even in Mark’s abbreviated fashion, we can sense the excitement that was generated by His appearance among the people. Don’t ever get the idea that it was a consensus of the Jewish people that rejected the Messiah. It was the leaders who rejected Him; the people loved Him. The people were changed by Him. The people were healed, they were made well, they were fed, they were energized by Him. And that’s what really scared the officials. That’s one of the things that motivated them to put Him to death, because He was becoming way too popular. And they had to stop this, because it was a challenge to their lifestyle, to their authority, and they couldn’t have that. Who knows what would have happened, it would have turned the whole world upside down.
The same would happen if He came back today, wouldn’t it? I mean there’s a whole lot of people who don’t want anything to do with Him coming back. And a lot of them stand on pulpit, don’t they? And they have big churches. Because they got something going, they got a whole school of thought in the Church today, that it’s our job to fix the world, and then give it to Him, after we are done repairing it. It’s called dominion theology, and it’s terrible stuff because it puts the Church in the position of conquering the world, and that’s nowhere in Scripture. We’re supposed to go everywhere and make disciples of everybody.
There is a religion that wants to conquer the world, and we don’t like some of the ways they’re doing that! But it’s not Christianity, that’s not our job. Our job is to recognize that it’s not this world that’s important, it’s the next one. And we’re supposed to prepare people for that one, not fix this one.
All right, that’s the end of chapter 1. Now, if the rest of the chapters are like this, this is going to turn out to be a pretty decent study, won’t it? I mean, I can hardly wait for the next one myself!
So let’s have a closing prayer, and then I can take any questions that you have, and we’ll try to make sure we haven’t sent you out of here all confused about anything.