Coming to the end of the gospel, Pastor Mark reflects on the book of Mark as a whole. What did the author want us to take away from this action-packed story of Jesus? Even more accurately, who is the Jesus that God wanted to reveal to us? Pastor Mark highlights four recurring themes exquisitely lived out in the life of Christ. This gospel pulsates with Christ’s “gut-wrenching’ compassion for damaged people. It reverberates with His resolute passion to reveal our desperate need. It resounds with His uncompromising demand for our genuine devotion; devotion which frees us to follow Him down the path of suffering on the way to experiencing His Resurrection Life.
Jesus was dying on a Roman cross. In Mark 15: 33-47, we join the crowd at His crucifixion. It is striking to note who was not present, namely His disciples, but even more instructive to notice the affect of Christ’s death on those who were in attendance. In this sermon, Pastor Mark explores the mysterious work of God at the cross in the people we would least expect and in ways we could not imagine.
Jesus spent his life on earth saving those in need. “Sozo” is the greek word used over and over in the gospels to describe what Jesus did. He healed the sick, he rescued the fearful, he delivered the demon-possessed, and he even restored the dead to life….all acts of “sozo” or salvation. However, in Mark 15:16-32, we find one person Jesus could not save….Himself. What kept Christ nailed to the cross? Pastor Mark unpacks the powerful truth behind the insult hurled at Jesus in verse 31, “He saved others, but He can not save Himself.”
“Before Him the nations are nothing,” proclaims the prophet Isaiah. Yet, Christ did not seem very powerful or prominent in Mark 15:1-15, as He stands before Pilate with His hands bound. In this passage, Pastor Mark explores the nature of the Kingdom of God and it’s power and influence in the Kingdom of Man.
The Judge of the living and the dead is standing trial. In Mark 14: 53-72, Pastor Mark takes us into the clandestine courtroom and out through the fire lit courtyard where the Son of Man is being judged. In both scenarios the Lord of the Universe is judged unworthy. The Sanhedrin, in the courtroom, cannot tolerate an unmanageable god who does not fit into their boxes. Yet, paradoxically we find Peter, Jesus disciple, in the courtyard joining the Sanhedrin in denying Christ. How could this be? Looking back, we see that the exhaustion of busyness and the self-dependence of pride had separated Peter from Christ, and in his felt isolation he gave way to fear and disbelief.
Mark 14:1-11 begins a story of two divergent legacies. This week Pastor Mark introduces us to the legacy left by Mary, the sister of Lazarus. Unlike Judas, there was nothing restrained about her. She cared for no thing or person more than Jesus. Her reckless devotion poured itself out over Jesus, in the face of misunderstanding and disapproval. What energized her freedom of worship? Mary had experienced her own very personal deliverance by Jesus. In the process she had learned that she could trust His timing and purposes even when she could not understand what He was doing. Freed from competing devotions and completely convinced of Christ’s Lordship and love, worship had become her deepest joy. And we are left with her shining legacy of love.
Mark 14:1-11 begins a story of two divergent legacies. Legacies left behind by two very different individuals; one restrained and one reckless. Pastor Mark begins unpacking these legacies by introducing us first to Judas. Nothing made Judas stand-out. He could even have been described as dull, yet within days this quietly restrained, self-absorbed man betrayed the Lord. What happened? Judas had become disappointed in Jesus, and discontentment was eating at his soul. Mary’s extreme act of devotion irritated Judas and his disapproval was palpable. His bitter, self-righteous spirit was an open door for Satan’s destructive designs. What began in Judas as disappointment with God’s ways grew into a darkly dangerous legacy of hate.