This week we looked at the message of the Gospel as preached by Jesus. As Jesus preached the Gospel He was offering citizenship in the Kingdom of God to wretched, rebellious, enemies of God. If that is not the evidence of God's great grace and mercy, I not sure what else would convince you. Maybe the fact that in order for our citizenship to authorized Jesus had to exchange His life for ours. We become citizens, Jesus takes the punishment for our rebellious crimes.
I think that the greatest impact on my thus far in our series in Mark has been the reminder of the magnitude of God's grace. Humanity receives large quantities of God's common grace every day. I imagine that your mind probably begins to question, but what about... the earthquakes, hurricanes, diseases, human trafficking, and the countless other horrific things that happen in our world. Is that what God's grace looks like? No, sadly all of that is the result of the sin cursed world we live in. In fact because the end result of sin is so destructive the potential of worse is beyond our comprehension. Honestly this is the point where I have been overwhelmed by God's grace. You see if there were no grace then the sin cursed world under the authority of Satan would truly be hell on earth, disease would be widespread with no relief, natural disasters would be constant and catastrophic, and human harm due to immorality would be intolerable.
The fact that we have moments of peace or we discover cures for human diseases or we have the intelligence to design early warning systems to preserve human life from natural disasters are all a result of the Grace of God. Sinners do not deserve this kind of treatment from a holy, righteous, and just God. Instead we are given His grace and mercy on daily basis. Then to top it all off God offers citizenship and adoption in His Kingdom and Family through the belief in His Son, Jesus Christ.
Amazing Grace that saves a wretch like me. Celebrate the moments of grace you receive and seek God during the moments when the curse of sin seems to overwhelm you.
This week we learned that in three scenes, Mark gives us the evidence that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. This has the potential to give great joy to our lives, knowing that God's promised Savior and King has arrived. We no longer have to wait and wonder instead we can live as followers of the one true King, Jesus.
I was struck by the simplicity of Mark's presentation. He didn't need to go into a great amount of detail and yet was still capable of providing adequate evidence that Jesus fits the criteria of the promised Savior. When I think about how speedily Mark moves through these details of Jesus' life I get excited to see what other parts of the Gospel Mark will spend time with. What I do believe is that Mark want's us to do something with everything we learn from the Gospel. He wants us to be able to confidently declare that Jesus is the Christ, to learn from Jesus' life, and to pattern our lives have His.
This week I hope you are reminded that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God and you allow Him to be King and Ruler over your life. That you would remember that because of Jesus nothing can separate you from the love of God and with the presence of the Holy Spirit you are able to live like Jesus and overcome in the world. Praise God that Jesus is who we believe Him to be.
What great joy!
On Sunday we started a new sermon series on the Gospel of Jesus: According to Mark. I totally underestimated how much time it would take to adequately introduce the book of Mark and was unable to answer all three questions that were posed on Sunday Morning.
We were able to answer our first question "Who is the Author." We determined that the author had to be someone who had heard, witnessed, and experience the power of the Gospel. After looking at the many testimonies and biblical accounts related to John-Mark, I think we can safely say that Mark was someone who fits that criteria and that we can trust that his account of Jesus' life and ministry are accurate and useful to our understanding of the Gospel.
I would like to answer the other two questions that were posed but left unanswered on Sunday due to time constraints.
Who is the Audience?
It is important to understand who the original audience is because scripture cannot mean something to us today that it didn't mean to the original audience. We have already determined the best criteria for the author of a Gospel but what kind of audience would need to hear the message of the Gospel? Does the audience fit that criteria?
I am going to suggest that Mark wrote his Gospel because he that his audience were people who desperately needed to be reminded of some good new.
On Sunday we looked at three historical testimonies the confirmed Mark as the author of the Gospel and Peter as the source of the eyewitness material. One of those testimonies, shared that Mark penned his gospel after the death of Peter and Paul, and in Italy. These two facts give us contextual clues as to what would have been true of Mark's audience. Thee clue is written after Peter and Paul's death. This places the writing of the Gospel to happen somewhere in the late 60's AD. And it means that the church had just suffered the loss of two pretty important preachers of the Gospel in a highly violent way. Both Peter and Paul were martyred for their stand that Jesus is the Son of God and must a believers one and only King.
The other historical influence that was happening at this time came from the leadership of the Roman Empire. The death of Peter and Paul happens toward the end of Nero's reign. If you are familiar with history you would know that Nero was a vicious and self seeking ruler who probably burned Rome just to have a reason to blame and persecute Christians. Finally during this time period the Roman Empire had tired of the political and religious tension that existed between the Romans and Jerusalem and the began the hostile takeover of the land of Israel that resulted in the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD. With all of this going on in the Roman world I would suggest that those who Mark had in mind as his primary audience would be:
What is the Message
Our final question from Sunday was "What is Message?" When we begin studying any passage of scripture we rely upon the context to help us understand what the author was intending on communicating to their original audience so we can best apply those truth's to our own lives. Each Gospel writer had a different approach to sharing the life of Jesus due to the audience and message they were sharing. For instance the Gospel of Matthew is highly directed toward a Jewish audience and reinforces the truth that Jesus is the King of Kings entitled to sit on the throne of David forever.
We just established that the audience of Mark were people who needed to hear some good news. Let me suggest that Mark's primary message to this audience is that the Good New is that Jesus is the Christ the Son of God. In the opening verse of the Gospel Mark declares that this is the beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This sets the stage for the content to follow. Mark intentionally supports this message through the careful organization of the events and teaching of Jesus' life and ministry. Mark does not include every event that the other Gospel writers include, the fact is Mark's account is the shortest and most concise account of the life of Jesus. But everything included in the words and pages are meant to point the audience to the fact that Jesus is the Son of God come to save the world from their sin and suffering by suffering in their place, ultimately on the cross. The following are ways that Mark conveys that message in his Gospel:
As we journey together through the book of Mark, I hope that we recognize that Mark's testimony reinforces our belief that it is Jesus and Jesus alone who can save us and lead us as our King. I also hope that we are reminded that, no matter the uncertainty of life that we face, we have the assurance that Jesus is the Son of God and His saving work has provided us new life today and for eternity.
Spend learning the truths of the Gospel, Rehearsing those truths to yourself, and Sharing those truths with others. If we can do this together than I believe our community will be transformed by power of Gospel of Jesus.
- Pastor Derreck