John baptizes Jesus, who lived His life as the ultimate example of a Spirit-directed man.
Jesus was Known for His Friendships with Sinners: What are You Known For?
Jesus, Two Groups and a Guy: The Danger of Lame Living
Baptism: What It Is and Is It for You? The Leper Revisited
The Leper Who Talked & the People Who Don't: How Disobedience Affects God's Purposes
If Busyness is Killing Your Heart, the Secret Place is the Solution
Do You Know Where to Take Your Suffering Friends?
The Testimony of an Unclean Spirit: Are Words & Information Enough?
Spirit Directed Fishing: Get Near Water, Get Your Line Wet, and Bait Your Hook
The Day All Heaven Broke Out
The Great Forerunner of the Great Servant: A Look at John the Baptist
We are looking at the gospel of Mark. Flip there with me. Go to your New Testament and one book to your right, and you are there in Mark. You want to know him? Well, then study about him. See who he has revealed himself to be. This man, Jesus, has made a pretty radical claim, and we're beginning to see who he is as we look through Mark.
This is a book, as we talked about last week… We looked specifically at the life of a guy named John the Baptist who was the great forerunner of the Great Servant, and this Great Servant made a great sacrifice for you and for me that demands a great response. Now we're going to begin to unfold this book a little bit more, and now we're looking at the one that John said, "Get ready for him because here he comes."
John says, "We have some good news." Good news is not just that your reigning human king has been victorious on the battlefield but great news. True gospel, we said last week. If your gospel, that which is good news to you, involves anything less than that which utterly shapes and transforms your eternity, than you're selling yourself short.
This book says, "You want good news? I have good news that will end it all," because it deals with forever. It doesn't just deal with what'll get you by this week, pay your bills this day. This is good news which changes everything. The good news is there is a great God who is aware of your great need and is who is willing to make a great sacrifice to provide for your every concern. That's gospel.
Well, what does a good savior look like? I received a deal not too long ago. It's pretty timely in keeping with what's going on right now in our country and will be for the next, I guess eight months, which is our presidential campaign. We're trying to figure out what a good presidential candidate looks like.
Well, I'm going to give you some ideas of what a good presidential candidate doesn't look like. All right? Here are a few things. You know that you have the wrong presidential candidate if he promises to improve foreign relations with Hawaii. You probably don't want to go there. You don't want to vote for that guy.
You know you have the wrong presidential candidate when he runs a series of attack ads against Martin Sheen's character on West Wing. See, you have the wrong guy there. You know you have the wrong presidential candidate when his number one choice to work in his cabinet is that Bob Vila guy. That should concern you.
You know you have the wrong presidential candidate when anybody mentions Washington and he says, "Are you talking about the state or that DC thingy?" See, that's the wrong presidential candidate. You have the wrong presidential candidate when, at the debates, he answers every question with a snarled, "Do you want to wrestle?" Probably not the right guy. You have the wrong presidential candidate when he vows to end the war in Pokémon and free all the Pikachu refugees once and for all. Don't want to vote for that guy.
You have the wrong presidential candidate when he says the Pledge of Allegiance really fast and says, "I win! I win! I win!" You know you have the wrong presidential candidate when, on the very first question in the debate, he asks if he can use a lifeline. This is one that did not come in the email, but I'll say you know you have the wrong presidential candidate if he doesn't know what "is" is. Okay, I can't go… Maybe I shouldn't say that. It's the wrong president if he doesn't know what "is" is.
As we study the gospel of Mark, I will say to you, "You have the wrong savior… You have the wrong person to put your trust in if he cannot identify with all your struggles. You have the wrong savior. You're depending on the wrong thing if your savior cannot sympathize with your weaknesses, if your savior cannot relate to the power of temptation in your life. You have the wrong savior if he cannot provide an absolute and perfect provision for your sin. You have the wrong savior if he cannot atone for your sin.
You have the wrong savior if he cannot gain favor for you in the eyes of a holy God. You have the wrong savior if he is not perfect in every way. You have the wrong savior if he is not fully God and able to do what only God can do, and you have the wrong savior if he has not identified with you completely and made himself aware of your weaknesses and the pulls and the tears in your flesh."
Mark says, "I have some great news for you. I have a Savior who can fully identify with you as a man and as a woman because he has become like you. He has walked in your ways. He has been tempted in every way that you have, yet without sin. We have a High Priest who can sympathize with you, and more than that, you have a High Priest who can adequately do what is necessary to make you acceptable in the eyes of a holy God who must judge sin." Mark says he has good news because this Savior has revealed himself to us, and his name is Jesus of Nazareth.
We are going to look now at this great servant who that great forerunner last week said, "He's coming. Good news is coming." Now what we're going to do today is kind of go at three different levels. We're going to start with the cookies on the top shelf, so to speak. We are going to go back to the Old Testament. We are going to let you know this was not some late idea of God to kind of throw Jesus on the scene, but he had promised this Deliverer, this Messiah to come, and the people had been expecting him.
They didn't expect him to look like he looked when he came, but they had been hoping for a great Deliverer. We're going to come back, and we're going to learn some things specifically from this Jesus' life, and then we'll go one more time, and we will look at some application points that we can take and walk out of here with if we miss everything else.
We are going to be in Mark, and we are going to read verses 9 through 15. That's where we're going today, but as we get there, let's go back, and we'll look at this one that the nation cried out for, and hoped would eventually come to them. Turn to Isaiah 63. We're going to read through Mark. Keep your hand there but turn to Isaiah 63. Verse 15 is where we are going to begin.
This is God's people of old, the ones who he has chosen to identify and relate to. Through the prophet Isaiah, they're crying out, in a sense corporately, about their situation. He says, "Look down from heaven…" Lord, look down and see. "…from your holy and glorious habitation; where are Your zeal and Your mighty deeds? The stirrings of Your heart and Your compassion are restrained toward me." Towards us as a people. "For You are our Father, though Abraham does not know us and Israel does not recognize us. You, O Lord, are our Father…"
What he is saying right there is, "We are a group of folks who really are in the midst of the hell that's going on around us who are truly going to try to identify with you, Lord, and the nation that says it follows after your ways doesn't really recognize us; the people of Abraham, the nation of Israel. They don't recognize this longing in our hearts, and we don't recognize that fact that you're for us."
Now maybe you're here this morning and you might not yet call yourself a follower of Christ but maybe you have a longing to do business with God. Surveys tell us again and again that America is at the height of its spiritual desires. There is a hunger for interaction and intercourse with the spiritual that has not been in our country for many, many years. What people have to decide is where they are going to go for that spiritual life. Where are they going to go to have business and do business with God?
John the Baptist says, "I'll tell you who you ought to go to," and John Mark, the man who wrote this gospel says, "Look no further. I have good news. Don't look for some higher power; experience him in the person of Jesus Christ. He's the one who has long been sought after by people who hunger for spiritual interaction with God. Listen to this Jesus."
You might feel like the church in America today misses you, and you might say, "They don't recognize the needs that I have. They're there just going through some systems, some forms, saying some things and wanting me to show up at certain places and give certain things and do certain tasks. That misses my real hunger, Lord," and I will tell you, "Good!"
Much of what the institutionalized church in America has become about has been missing what the heart of God has always been about, which is to have a relationship with him and not be a people who pay tax with some behavior or some attendance but people who walk with him, who follow in his steps and know him intimately." This is what the man continues to say.
In verse 17, he says, "Why, O Lord, do You cause us to stray from your ways and harden our heart from fearing You? Return for the sake of Your servants, the tribes of Your heritage. Your holy people possessed Your sanctuary for a little while, our adversaries have trodden it down." What he's saying is, "Our enemies inhabit your holy place." "We have become like those over whom You have never ruled, like those who were not called by Your name."
"We're a group of people," he says, "who really aren't much different than the rest of the world. There's no light, no salt coming forth from us, and God, we feel like there's a problem in our life, so we're seeking out after you." When we get to Isaiah 64, there's a key little passage right here, and you'll find that this passage is ultimately answered in the person who Mark reveals in chapter 1.
He says, "Oh, that You would rend the heavens and come down…" If I had to title today's message (I will a little bit later), I'd title it The Day That All Heaven Broke Loose. Now what do you think happens when all hell breaks loose? You think there is an influx of chaos, an influx of despair, an influx of heartache, an influx of fighting, but what would happen if heaven broke loose, if literally God would rend the heavens and say, "I'm going to take what is here, and I'm going to pour it down there, and I'm going to interject life where there is death, light where there is darkness, hope where there is despair?"
That would be a great and glorious day. In fact, it'd be a day that I would call good news. It's what people have asked for, for a long time. Haven't you ever felt like that? "God, my life is hopeless. I wish that you would just rend that which separates me from you and just jump into my world and cause me to intervene with who you are." That's what the gospel is all about. It is that God has rent the heavens, and he has just raced into our world to do business with us. The day all heaven broke loose.
When that happens, he says, "…the mountains might quake at Your presence…" The great nations, the great caesars will see that there is a greater power here than the power of man. "…as fire kindles the brushwood, as fire causes water to boil—to make Your name known to Your adversaries, that the nations may tremble at Your presence!" On and on he goes. He says, "God, will you come and bring this into our lives?"
In Isaiah, chapter 11, he picks this idea back up, and he starts to say, " [There will be a day when] a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse, and a branch from his roots will bear fruit." In other words, "There's one coming who will be from the tribe of Judah, a descendant of Jesse whose son was David, a descendant of David, even as you promised long ago, who will come, and this branch will bear fruit. He will bring forth, God, what you intended."
"The Spirit of the Lord will rest on Him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, The spirit of counsel and strength, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. And He will delight in the fear of the Lord, and He will not judge by what His eyes see, nor make a decision by what His ears hear…" In other words, he is not going to be influenced by the pressures around him or by the reflection of his flesh. He will think with a heavenly mind.
This will be great, when the Spirit of the Lord rests on our ruler. This is the Old Testament prophecy, the looking forward to that day when God would come and graciously give what they longed for and what you and I long for, that God would do business with us, and he would bring us a leader…more than a president, more than a caesar…a Savior who would minister to our every need. That's the gospel of Mark. Go back there with me.
Mark, chapter 1, verse 9: Let's read, having in mind that one will come forth that the Spirit of the Lord will rest upon, that the heavens would be rent and that he would come down and that this one would have a renewing effect on all of creation. We didn't read that far, but if you would've continued with me in Isaiah 11, that's the place that it talks about how the wolf will lie with the lamb.
We always say the lion will lie with the lamb, that all of creation will be renewed to the place where it says the young baby will be able to put its hand next to the cobra's den and the weaned child will be able to pet the viper because this Servant King would be so powerful that his effects would not be just during his lifetime, but they would be enduring to the end and would transform not just a few things but all of creation. He said the lion will ultimately eat grass, be a vegetarian, and will not devour the lamb anymore; no destruction from one part of creation to another, even as we destroy each other.
If you do business with this coming Servant, this great Servant who can give you great hope in the way that we live and exist, we'll stop devouring one another. This is going to be the great testimony of the church, that this is the one place that you can come and turn your back on people. That's why gossip and slander in our midst is absolutely a death knell to our testimony because there'll be no renewal that people will see here.
Look, that's just like anyplace else. There's insecurity and self-striving, and there is slander and self-promotion. They are just like anyplace else. I don't know what they've encountered, but it must not be the one who comes in peace who rents the veil of heaven and intervenes into their lives and brings renewal. That's why Paul says, "Keep gossip and slander far from you in keeping with being people of God." Mark 1, verse 9. Let's read it together, and we'll pick it apart a little bit by a little bit.
This is what it says, " [It came about] in those days…" The days that John had been talking about who he was and what he was there to do. "…Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. Immediately coming up out of the water, He saw the heaven opening, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon Him; and a voice came out of the heavens: 'You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased.'
Immediately the Spirit impelled Him to go out into the wilderness. And He was in the wilderness forty days being tempted by Satan; and He was with the wild beasts, and the angels were ministering to Him. Now after John had been taken into custody, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, 'The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.'"
See, Mark cuts right at it. He chops out huge portions of the life of Christ. There are only some 50-odd days that we have of Jesus' life when you take all four gospels combined, and Mark gives you even less. He tells you right away that Jesus came to Galilee preaching that we should repent and prepare and believe in the kingdom of God, leaving out an entire first year of public ministry, because Mark is cutting to the chase.
It is interesting, the very first book of the Bible that most Bible translators put into the language of a new people group… They take their spoken language and transfer it to written word and teach them to become literate, and then they transpose the Bible into their language so they can read it… The very first book that most translators give them is the book of Mark, for two reasons.
First is a very pragmatic reason, and that is it is a lot shorter than Matthew, Luke, and John, and they're people just like we are, and they want to save themselves some work, and "Let's get the story out there." Secondly, it is it is also a gospel that cuts right to the chase. It doesn't go back and give a lot of information that really to a non-Jewish mind that hasn't been expecting the Messiah doesn't mean as much.
Mark just wants to let you know good news has come. There is a great King, and you need to know him, and this is what he has to say: This is the guy who said he was coming, this is the guy as he came, this is what he's done, and this is how you now have to decide how you're going to respond. Let's pick these little verses apart, kind of staying up a little higher at first. There's some great stuff in here.
He says that John came and he baptized Jesus. John doesn't mess much with the difficulty about why or why not Jesus had to be baptized, and it's a question that we have to deal with because the baptism John called people to was…what? A baptism for the repentance of sins. I said earlier, if your savior is anything less than one who is perfect, then you have the wrong savior because, even if he dies for you, if he himself was guilty, than his death was only enough to pay for his own judgment. So why would Jesus come and say, "I need to be baptized by you?"
It's interesting. Mark doesn't deal with this problem at all, but Matthew does, in chapter 3. When Jesus came to be baptized by this John, John said, "Hey, I don't need to baptize you. You need to baptize me." One of the things I love about that is, if you know and you read Luke and other places, you'll find out that John is Jesus' cousin.
If you can't find faults with your relatives, you can't find faults with anybody, and John said to this Jesus, "Hey listen. I haven't seen anything wrong with you. You don't need to come and participate in this baptism," and Jesus said this, "Yep. You have to baptize me. You have to take that all righteousness might be fulfilled." Now what did he mean by that? Why did Jesus have to go and get baptized?
I will tell you why. Because Jesus, you're going to find out, is the new Adam…the second man, the second Adam…who will be successful in every way the first Adam was not, and even as Adam, the first Adam, identified us with him and his sin and all of us have suffered from the decision of him and of following his paths of corruption, the new Adam will come and give us the opportunity to respond to his pattern of righteousness and to have provision for that sin which all of us walk in.
The Bible says also the nation of Israel was its firstborn, and the nation of Israel was consistently a failure. Jesus, God says in a moment, is "…My beloved Son…" Paul writes in Colossians, "…the firstborn of all creation," and he will be successful in every place that Israel failed. What Jesus is going to do is come and identify with the nation of Israel because he comes to be their Savior. He is going to identify with man because he comes be our Savior.
Part of the purpose of baptism… In fact, the word baptism literally means to be identified with. When we baptize, as we will have in May our first time of baptism for all those who have trusted in Jesus Christ in the past and have never come forward as a public testimony to their relationship with him… We'll baptize you if you have not been baptized. For those who are coming to Christ now and in the coming weeks, we'll baptize you at that time, a time for you to publicly identify yourself with Christ, as you've already done in the privacy of your heart.
John came showing the external relationship that we desire with God, calling people to an external baptism. Jesus came, giving the internal renewal that really is what changes you. When you baptize something (baptizo: it's a transliteration, meaning we've taken a word in the Greek and we've brought it right over to the English, just changed it a little bit from baptizo to baptize), what you would do is you would take a white garment, and you would dip it in red dye, and when you'd pull that shirt out of the red dye, that white shirt would have been fully identified with that red dye and would now be a red shirt.
What Jesus is doing is he is baptizing himself into humanity, and he's identifying himself fully with the nation of Israel, and he's saying, "I know you have a debt. I'm going to identify myself with that debt, and I'm going to pay that debt." The very first reason that Jesus went forward to be baptized is he said, "You know what? I don't have sin, but I'm going to identify with your sin and the humility. I'm going to leave my royal place, my regal right throne, and I'm going to humble myself to walk with you."
Moses did the same thing. Moses left, if you remember, Pharaoh's palace to go and identify with his people, that he might deliver them. Jesus in the same way says, "I'm going to identify with your sin. I'm going to take my stand with you, and I will later die for you, isolated from all of you in order that I might deliver you from your place of despair." He baptized himself to identify himself with us, to fulfill all righteousness that we lack. The other reason he baptized himself we will see coming here in verse 10.
"Immediately coming up out of the water, He saw the heavens opening, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon Him…" This is all heaven breaking loose. It says there in the translation we're reading from together that the heavens opened up. It's not the best way to use that, to translate the word. The word is a word which really means ripped. It is an answer to what Isaiah prophesied and longed for back there in Isaiah 64. " [God, I wish] …that you would rend the heavens…" That's what they say happened right here in Mark, chapter 1, verse 10, that the heavens were ripped.
Now it may not be that big a deal, but I think it is because, firstly, things that are easily opened are easily closed. Things that are ripped are not so easily repaired, and God ripped the heavens, and he answered the cry of the Israelite nation and all people who longed for spiritual interaction in this moment, where God said, "I'm going to show you I have finally come, and I'm giving you what you longed for, a Savior and one who can identify with your needs," and he comes ripping through heaven and saying, "Here's my Son, and the Spirit of the Lord will rest on him."
The second reason that Jesus, I think, went through baptism was not just to identify with us but to identify him as God's anointed. This is the one that you've longed for. This is the one who I said would come. The Messiah's ministry, the Great Deliverer, the Great Savior's ministry was always going to be marked by the Spirit of God's presence, and if you go back and look at individuals who were a picture of this deliverer who was to come all throughout the Word of God, you'll find that, again and again, Gideon, Samson, and even kings…Saul and David…were men who were anointed of the Lord for a specific task.
This Savior is going to have a different kind of anointing, and he's going to offer now, not just deliverance through his own miraculous working of God, but he will offer you the same anointing that God has used in him, that you might do even greater things that he has done, and the Spirit would come, not just upon him, but in his grace and in his abundant delivering from our place of despair, he will give you the same provision so you might walk in the same way he walked.
The heavens were opened up, and it says the Spirit descended upon him as a dove or like a dove. It wasn't a dove which came down. That's the way we picture it, but it came down gently to do a work of renewal in the land. Now this is not the first time Jesus was given the Spirit. That is a heresy in the church that makes you often think that just like Jesus was a normal man until he was anointed by the Spirit you need to now seek the anointing of the Spirit separate and apart from your relationship from Christ. That's not what the Bible teaches.
The Bible teaches the second that you believe in Jesus, you are given this gift of the Spirit, and what you need to do is what we sang earlier and say, "God, everything pertaining to godliness is in me and available to me. What I need to do is be filled or controlled consistently by your Spirit," and we'll look at that in specific, what a Spirit-controlled life looks like in just a moment, but Jesus is being identified as God's anointed King.
Now those of you who know your Bible, you'll know another time the Spirit of the Lord came upon a land filled with chaos and darkness. When was it? Go to Genesis, chapter 1. Let me show you something. In Genesis 1, in verse 2, it says, "The earth was formless and void…" In other words, there was chaos on the earth. "…and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters." It came gently, as a bird, it says, would cover its young ones by its wings.
The Spirit of God gently came upon the earth, and it established order where previously there was chaos as a result of the rebellion in the heavens. The Spirit of God came and reestablished order where sin had brought disorder and had gently come upon and offered creation a chance at redemption, and here, God just pronounced it.
Now when you look centuries later, when sin again had taken its course (this time not through the angelic rebellion but this time through the rebellion of man), here comes the Spirit again, and he is going to now gently come upon his Servant, and he will show you, "This is my anointed," and the Spirit of God will do now what it did the first time creation got out of whack. It will restore order where there is chaos and will bring back light where there is darkness.
That's the ministry of Christ. It's to show that he is God's anointed. It's to identify he is the one who the Spirit will work mightily through, and it's to identify he is the one who will fully relate to you as in your sin. Thirdly, the thing his baptism did is right there in verse 11 of Mark, chapter 1. It says, "…a voice came out of the heavens: 'You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased.'" Matthew says it differently. He says, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased."
Well, which one is it? Did God say, "You're my Son. I'm well-pleased in you," or did he say, "This is my Son?" Probably, he did both. I think that's the reason the Gospels are there: There was a certain declaration that the people understood what was going on, and I think that also what happened right here is this was a time not to just anoint him as King but to encourage him that he was and also to encourage others that, "This is the one who is rightly related to God. Listen to him. Follow him." I will tell you that, Jesus, because he identified himself with us…
This is what the Scripture says, "…although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped…" In other words, Jesus, though he was fully God and continued to be fully God, did not selflessly use the fact that he was deity to care and administer for himself, to give himself worship and to stay in his regal place, but he identified himself with you and me and walked as a man or as a woman would, needing God to graciously work in and through him to resist sin and to be a vessel of light and redemption, just like you and I do.
Jesus needed encouragement that he could do, as a man, what you and I need encouragement from God that we can do what he wants us to do as men and women as a church. We are not to be compelled by God's saying, "Hey, I want you to do well, and I'm a great God, so go do well for me," and say, "All right. We'll go do it," and wonder if we can get it done for him. We are to say, "God, we cannot do it, unless you are for me and with me."
This is God's public testimony to others, "This is the man," and I think this is encouragement to Jesus, saying, "You're doing exactly what I want." As a man who has laid aside, not the fact that he is God but his right to use his deity for his own selfish benefit, he needed the Spirit working in him and through him to be the Great Deliverer, one who has identified with man, who walked as men walked, who was tempted as men had been tempted.
He needed the Spirit of God to enable him to resist sin and to be righteous and to walk in righteousness and to know that God was going to use him for great things, so here came an encouragement, "You're my Son, and I'm pleased with the way you've been doing things as you walk with me, and I'm pleased with what you've done right now, in leaving your regal place and humbly identifying yourself with sinners, that they might know that God has rent the heavens and cares for them."
You and I need that same encouragement. Two things ought to happen. The world ought to testify. There ought to be a sense of awe at what happens in our midst and our lives. People ought to… We ought to have favor with all the people, even as the early church did, and people ought to look at our lives, and there ought to be a sense that the Spirit testifies to them, "You want to see where God is at work? You go check out the folks at Watermark. You go check out people who are fully devoted in their following of Christ, and you'll see a sense of redemption and peace, and where there's typically chaos, it will speak of the divine. This is my beloved people."
We individually need to know that God is with us; that we are his sons, his daughters whom he is for. The scripture says in John, chapter 1, that he gave the right to all who believe to be called children of God, even to those who believe in his name. How wonderful to be the children of a king, where he says, "I'm well-pleased with you, and I want to use you for great things, and all the blessings of my kingdom I make available to you that you might be successful in accomplishing what I ask you to do."
Jesus was baptized, and it did three things. It identified him with us. It announced that he was the anointed one who was to come, and finally, the last thing it did right there, as we said, is it made it clear that he is the one who is rightly related to the Father that he would know and receive the encouragement of the testimony of the Spirit and the Father and that the world would know, "This is my Son." Look what happens now.
It says, "Immediately the Spirit impelled Him to go out into the wilderness." Jesus did not bask, though, in that testimony. He didn't just stay right there and determine that, "Hey, I just heard from the heavenly voice, and I just saw the heavenly Spirit descend, so we're just going to glory right now in this new word that I've received."
No. It says the Spirt led him immediately into the wilderness, this place of tempting, this place of depravity, this unredeemed place, a place of barrenness. In the scripture, there's always a picture of where the Enemy reigns and the Enemy rules, and the Spirit impelled him to go out there and to suffer for a while underneath the temptation of the Enemy.
It goes on to say, "And He was in the wilderness forty days being tempted by Satan; and He was with the wild beasts, and the angels were ministering to Him." It is interesting that Mark doesn't tell you exactly how that battle fleshed out, but what happens from this time forward is you never see Satan in this book again, and every time Jesus comes in contact with a demon, a lesser spiritual being who is part of the fallen angels, they always identify him right away, and they cower in his presence. Mark makes it clear as you go forward what happened in that desert.
Satan is put on notice right away that, "This is the one who's going to come, and Satan, this is not like the last Adam who you dealt with, who even in a place of Paradise couldn't be faithful. We're going to let this Adam go on your turf in your place, and we're going to deprive him of everything that a man needs, and you will find out that he still will be perfect in the face of your lies, deceit, and temptations.
You'll challenge him the same way you challenged the first Adam. You'll challenge his flesh. You'll challenge his pride. You'll challenge his lust for position, and he will be faithful, and you need to be put on notice that now God is back in the scene, and he is going to restore what you have taken in his creation."
Mark makes it clear that the strong one has been bound by a stronger one, and now he is going to redeem captives free from the bondage of this Enemy. Turn to Mark, chapter 3. We're going to look at this explicitly in a couple of weeks, but let's read it now. Look at verse 22. Jesus had been doing many things, including allowing demon-possessed people to be transformed, and there was a lot of talk about how he was doing this.
In verse 22, it says, "The scribes who came down from Jerusalem were saying, 'He is possessed by Beelzebul'…" Or a demonic spirit. He is possessed by him. "'…and [that is how] he casts out the demons by the ruler of the demons.'" In other words, he's just a greater demon than these other demons, so he tells them what to do so they will leave, and we'll think he is a good guy, when, in fact, he's just a higher bad guy. Look what Jesus says in response. "And He called them to Himself and began speaking to them in parables, 'How can Satan cast out Satan?'"
Then he quotes Abraham Lincoln. He says in verse 24, "If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.""What sense does that make? Why would I be destroying my workers? Nonsense." He says, "If a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. If Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but he is finished! But no one can enter the strong man's house and plunder his property unless he first binds the strong man, and then he will plunder his house."
See, Mark makes it clear that what happened in that wilderness, though he doesn't give you the detail, is that Satan was defeated and this new anointed one was here to do a special work, and he did it, and from that point forward, every time a demon comes into the presence of this Jesus, he identifies him, he recognizes him right away, and he cowers in his presence, pleading for mercy. Then you have the proclamation of what this Son said. In verse 14, "Now after John had been taken into custody, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God…" Saying, "Here it is, what you've been looking for."
The very first thing he does after he makes it clear who he is through his anointing and through his victory over the temptation of sin and facing the Evil One is he says, "I'll tell you. Now is your chance to get the peace that you've been looking for. You want to do business with God? The heavens have been rent, and all hell has broken up. All hell has been dealt with, and all heaven's been freed to come and to be in your presence, and you need to identify yourself with it and repent from whatever it is you are depending on and believe and trust in me."
Now let's go back through at a lower level, and let's talk about how we need to learn from this Messiah, this Savior who calls us to walk in his paths and to be like him, and we need to figure out that, if we're going to be the people who carry forward his purposes and if, in fact, the miracle of the New Testament which is Christ in us, the hope of glory, is going to happen, then we need to be people who learn from him and operate in the way he has operated.
As a man who was fully successful in doing what the will of the Father was, how did he do it? By depending upon the Spirit which fell upon him. We need to learn to be Spirit-directed people and to let the Spirit of God who dwells in those who believe, whom Jesus baptizes us with as we identify ourselves with him…he being our Savior, we being his followers… We then are given the gift of the Spirit. It's the promise of what the Messiah would come to do. Let me give you some points.
Being a Spirit-directed person is an essential part of what it means to be like Jesus. In other words, if you're going to be a person who desires to be a fully devoted follower of Christ, as all of us here long to do, then we have to learn what it means to be a Spirit-directed person. This is from Luke, chapter 4, verses 17-19. This is the very first time that Jesus had been going into the city, and he proclaimed this message of repentance and belief.
He says, "And the book of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Him. And He opened the book and found the place where it was written…" As was common for men who were seen as rabbis and teachers to do, and he went to Isaiah 61, and he read from verses 1 and 2. This is what it says, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me…" Again, what did I tell you? That the sign of the Great Savior was going to be that God's spirit was going to be mightily upon him.
He reads this, "'The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,** because He anointed ***Me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed, to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.'"* It says he shut that, and here comes his very first message. If you wonder why he was such an effective preacher, his very first sermon was nine words long. "And He began to say to them, 'Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.'" Then he closed the scrolls, and he sat down.
An amazing thing! He said, "Hey, God is here. Deal with it. I may not look like you think I was going to look, because you thought I was going to come and deliver you from the caesar who ruled in Rome who oppressed you as a people. Well, there's another king who is a greater threat to you to be my people. It's the Evil One who leads you in deceit and who is here to steal, kill, and destroy, and I'm going to deliver you from him, and I'm going to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord, that now there is a way out from your life of sin and rebellion.
I'm going to answer the prayers of you as a nation and that the world has been about for a long time which say, 'God, would you rend the heavens, and will you come down and provide for us what we cannot provide for our own?'" If we're going to be individuals and decide to live a life of Christ, we have to learn to be Spirit-directed people. The scripture says this. "Do you not know that your body is a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?" He says, "Don't be filled with wine, for that's dissipation."
In other words, "Don't be controlled by the spirits that you can get at some liquor store. Be controlled by something else." The Bible tells us not to be filled with lust, not to be filled with anger. What's that mean? It means don't be moved by an emotion or by a passion for some pleasure or some acquisition. "…be filled with the Spirit[of God]…" This is the command that Paul gives us in Ephesians 5:18. Be controlled by, continually moved by his leading. That's the song we sang earlier. Remember that?
"I love your leading because, Father, you lead, not in a way that causes chaos, but you lead in a way that brings peace and light where there is darkness." If we're going to be followers of Christ, if we're going to be like him, we have to be Spirit-directed people. Being a Spirit-directed person will always result in your life having concern for those who are far from God. If you're going to be a follower of Christ, you will be a person who is led by the Spirit. If you're led by the Spirit, it will always result in your life reflecting concern for those who are far from God.
When the Anointed One of God came, he did not come and sit himself in a place of comfort. What did he do? He left his regal throne, and he identified himself with those who are in sin. It says in the scriptures he humbled himself and became a man, and then he became a man who became a bondservant. Then he became a bondservant who was obedient, even to the point of death…even death on a cross. Why? Because the God of heaven cares. He is a great King who is a great Servant who knows your great need and is willing to go to great extents to give you hope.
If we're going to be his people, we have to have concern for those who are far from the Lord. No matter what we do as a church, we are not God's people if we are not intimately concerned for those who are far from him. If we're going to be like our Savior, we have to believe that lost people matter to him, and we have to make them a priority in our lives as Jesus made them a priority. Do you realize that you've never locked eyes with another person who did not intimately and deeply matter to God, that Jesus not only would but did die for?
No matter what we say about ourselves, if we're not concerned with everybody that we meet, that they might know that God has rent the heavens and come down and provided them hope where there was hopelessness… Every man longs for spirituality. Every man longs for interaction with God if he is there, and it's our great privilege to be concerned for them and to tell them that God has indeed come, and he has made his way known through this great Servant who identified with their sin and showed himself to be victorious over sin by the fact that he was raised from the grave, unique in history.
To be a Spirit-directed person always results in us being concerned with those who are far from him. Being a Spirit-directed person does not make you immune to temptation, gang. We need to know this. You look at Christ. Was he tempted? You bet he was, and being a Spirit-directed person (I will just offer you this morning) doesn't mean that won't be tempted.
I can remember that just this week again and again in conversations with folks and even in my own life, I've thought, "Man, Lord, when is this going to stop? When is my mind going to stop being pulled towards self-exaltation or self-indulgence in some sin or some experience or some pleasure?" It bothers me sometimes. I think, "Man, am I even saved, that I long for some of the things that I long for? That I think about some of the things that I think? I must not know you," and that is a lie from hell.
Spiritual people are still tempted. The difference is spiritual people are not guided by their flesh and don't bow to their flesh, but they trust in God's leading and God's way, and they let the Spirit control them. Listen to what it says in James, chapter 1, verses 13-16. Spiritually directed people are not immune from temptation, but it does, however, give you the ability to overcome that temptation. James says,
"Let no one say when he is tempted, 'I am being tempted by God'; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren."
What a spiritual-directed person looks like is somebody who will fight the good fight, who will buffet his body, who will not be conformed to the world but will be transformed by the renewing of his mind, an individual who will not walk in the way of the wicked, sit in the seat of scoffers or stand in the path of sinners, but his delight will be in the law of the Lord, and on that law he will meditate day and night. That's what a Spirit-directed person does.
What God has done is he has brought about a new creation in those who follow him and believe him and have accepted the offer of the Savior to identify with them. You and I have been individuals who have become a new creation, and now we're no longer ruled by the latest enticement thrown before us. The old is gone. New things have come. What has come?
We are now heavenly minded people who have been given insight into the hope and deliverance and the way that brings life, so we subject ourselves to God's Word, and we subject ourselves to what the Spirit of God has revealed through the person of Christ and through his servants in the scriptures, and we deal with temptation in such a way that we believe that no temptation has been given to us but such as is common, and with every temptation there is a way out so that we might be able to endure it.
We are individuals who face temptation as individuals who are always ready to war for our King, not in the power of our flesh but by the power of the Spirit, not by strength and not by might but by thy Spirit. A Spirit-directed person is to believe and live like you know it is better to obey God's Word than to satisfy your flesh's desires. Where do I get that? If you'll go and look at Matthew 4, you'll see that when Jesus was tempted in the desert, Matthew tells you about the kind of things that went on there.
Jesus had been 40 days without food, and Satan came to him and said, "Hey, you know what you need to do? You need to indulge your flesh right now. I'll tell you something. God doesn't care about you. He's forgotten you. You're the Son of God. Who led you out in the wilderness?" It says in Mark and it says in Matthew, "The Spirit impelled…the Spirit compelled…the Spirit led you out here. God told you to come here, and then for 40 days he doesn't provide for you.
Well, let me tell you something. God doesn't care about you, or he would not create such a craving in your flesh and then deny you the opportunity to have it satisfied. What you need to do is forget this nonsense about God caring about you, and you need to start taking care of yourself. You can do it. Be your own god. Break the terms of the incarnation."
What Satan was trying to get him to do was to no longer identify with the people he came to redeem but to snatch back what he had gladly laid aside and to turn that stone into bread. He knew he could do it, but Jesus said, "Man doesn't live by bread alone, but there's something more important. God the Father has led me here." As a man, he was trusting that God the Father would provide for him, just as you and I must.
Whenever I talk to single folks who are wrestling with the whole issue of God not caring about their provision, and they say, "Man, why does God give me this desire for sexual intimacy and then, because I'm single, he doesn't give me an outlet for it. Well, he doesn't know. He's forgotten me. I mean, I'm 30…I'm 31. I want to be a dad…I want to be a mom. I'm 40 years old; I've never found a spouse. God doesn't know what this is like."
Satan will whisper in your ear, "Well, you're doggone right God doesn't know what it's like. He's never experienced what you've experienced. He's never been alone like you've been alone. You know, what you need to do is forget this God stuff and trusting in him and walking in his ways and being consumed with faithfulness, knowing that God will bring others along in your life who you can covenant with and share a life with and then enjoy sex in the context of marriage. What you need to do is just be your own god. Find your own ways to find provision. You need to satisfy your flesh."
Spirit-directed people won't do that. They'll say, "You know what? Right now, I am a little bit hungry for that kind of activity, but I'm not going to go there because the Lord has told me that that would dishonor him and it would bring chaos in my life, so even though it looks like God has forgotten me, I'm going to trust him yet another day." That is why we have to stop saying things like this. "Okay. Well, I think that I'll probably be married by the time I'm 30 or 31."
I don't know when you'll be married, but what most of us do is we prepare ourselves to trust God until we're 30 or 31, and if God doesn't come through by that time, then we're out. We're going to lower our standard of what he says we should look for in a mate, and we're going to find a way to satisfy our flesh's desire, or we'll rationalize a way, sexual fantasy and self-pleasure in some form and stop trusting that God can allow us to be faithful in the midst of this.
If you think that Jesus is not able to identify with you, I'll tell you what I'd like you to do. The next time you feel like Jesus cannot relate to your temptation in the area of sexual purity, what I would like you to do is just go 14 days without eating. Just try not to eat for 14 days, and at the end of that 14 days (not 40; I'm just giving you 14), you tell me what you'd rather have: a date or a Big Mac. I'm guessing you're going for the Happy Meal. That's what you're going to go for.
The point is this. He knows what it's like to feel like God has abandoned any concern for his physical needs, but a spiritual-directed person is not going to cave to his circumstance. He is going to trust in God's concern for him and intimacy with him and know that he's God's Son, and even though he's in a desert right now in some area, he's going to say, "I'm going to wait, and I'm not going to compromise." A spiritual-directed person will always do that.
A spiritual-directed person will also be an individual who doesn't seek his own comfort or exaltation but, instead, will live meekly, waiting on the Lord's timing. What's that mean? It's what Jesus did when Satan said, "I'll tell you what you need to do. You're out here alone in the desert. What you need to do is go and throw yourself off the height of this temple right here, and when you fall, you're going to be a person who everybody's going see that you were miraculously protected.
The world's going to clamor, and you're going to have all the popularity, all the emotional needs met that you've had rejected for these last 40 days you've been alone in the wilderness. God doesn't care about what people think about you, and you're a person who has been built for community. You need community, so do this, and I'll give you fame. I'll give you whatever you want."
A spiritual-directed person is not concerned with his own comfort or exaltation, but he is just going to live meekly, waiting on the Lord's timing. "There will be a time when, if God wants to exalt me, he'll do it." I love the saying that it's God's job to exalt us, and it's our job to humble ourselves before him, and if you try and do God's job, you can be sure he will do yours.
See, we're not told right now that there's going to be any great buzz about who we are and how we live on this earth, and if you seek that, you will not be a spiritually directed person, but a spiritually directed person is not about looking for his own comfort or his own exaltation.
A spiritual-directed person is about saying, "I'm going to be strength under control." That's what meek means. It's a stallion with all his power but guided humbly by a divine (if you will) rider, and it's not going to be about what I want to do. I will use whatever glory, power, and desires I have, and I will let God ride me, and I will be one who is a stallion controlled by him.
A spiritual-directed person means you will bear your cross and not seek a crown. That's what Jesus did when he was tempted. Again, in Matthew 4, he says, "I'll give you all the kingdoms of the world," and what he was trying to get Jesus to do was to seek out his own greatness without enduring the path that God set before him, but a spiritual person won't do that. A spiritual person will say, "I'll endure whatever God wants me to do, and I will follow the way of the cross, and there will be a day when I will cast my crown at his feet."
If we want to say we are spiritual people, we have to say that we have to believe the God is concerned with our fleshly needs and we're not going to compromise to have our own needs and desires met. We're not going to be an individual who lives for our own comfort or exaltation. We will not be people who think we should not bear a cross. God's anointed people are always servants, and it ought to mark us as a body.
Finally, spiritual-directed people are folks who proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God. No matter what else you want to say about us, if we're not about that, then we cannot say we are people who are directed by God's Spirit. It's our privilege. It's what John did. It's what Jesus did. It's what spiritually gifted, directed people always do.
Well, ask yourself: How are you doing as that person? How are we as people who say we want to walk in the way of Christ and be anointed and directed by his Spirit, just as all believers in Christ are? Are those characteristics true of our life? I think, when they are, and as we grow in our effort and not being perfect (if we were perfect we wouldn't need a Savior) but the direction of our life is in accordance with these things as we trust in him and not look to ourselves, we'll be individuals who will provide the world hope, which is what God intends for us to do.
This is the mystery, he says, of the church; Christ in you, the Spirit of God in you. It's the hope of his glory. See, Jesus has ascended. He sits at the right hand of God the Father, and he sent the Spirit that we might have power to be his witnesses to testify to the fact that there is a God who has rent the heavens who concerns himself with lost folks and to glorify his name, that he is loving and that he is just.
He is loving in that he cares for us, and he is just in that he deals with sin. He has dealt with our sin as a people who fall at his feet by pouring out his wrath on the cross, and he will deal with your sin, and you can either take the Savior Jesus, which is good news that the Great Servant is a great King who is aware of your great need and made great provision for you, or you can take his great wrath yourself.
Here's what I'd like you guys to do as we move forward in this book. Each time you read a little section of the book of Mark, stop and ask yourself, "What's this mean? What's the application for me?" Very quickly, I'll shoot them through. In the very first verse, it's a paragraph. It's a separate thought, and as I looked at it, I said, "Hey, because this book is the record of the good news of Jesus Christ who is the Son of God, I will diligently study this book to see what the good news is. That's the application that I get. This is the good news, the gospel of Jesus Christ, so I'm going to diligently study it to find out about this King."
The next little section of the Scripture comes right there in verses 2 through 8. It was the part we really studied last week about John the Baptist, and I said, "If even a prophet as great as John sees the need to remove himself from the way so that Jesus might be properly exalted, how much more might I need to decrease so that he would increase?" The next little section there in 9 through 11, I simply said this. "Even as Jesus was willing to identify himself with sinners by obediently being baptized, so I must be willing to identify with people who I intend to minister to."
If I'm going to really respond to Christ, I have to say, "I'm going to be your anointed one. I'm going to be one who can identify with the needs of my world, who can confess to them my struggles but tell them that I've found hope in this Savior who is Jesus. I'm going to know my neighbors. I'm going to love those folks at my office who are different and around me where I work. I'm going to identify with the needs of my world, and I'm going to speak hope into where they are."
In verses 12 and following I will say this. "I must be willing to be completely controlled by the Spirit of God, no matter where that leads me." The Spirit impelled Jesus to go into the wilderness, and I don't know where the Spirit is impelling you to go, but if you're going to be a person who really responds to this text, you're going to be an individual who says, "I'm going to go wherever the Spirit of God leads me, and I'm going to do whatever he wants me to do."
Then finally, I'm going to say this in verses 14 and 15. "To be a true follower of Christ, I must repent and believe the gospel." Let me give you this two ways. First, if you're out there this morning and you've never dealt with who this Jesus is, if you've been trusting in yourself or some other plan, other method for you to find hope and significance in this life, I'd encourage you to repent and say, "I need the Anointed One. I need God to rend the heavens and speak to my need as a sinner and provide for me hope in his perfect provision, which is Jesus."
Then, for those of you that already know Christ, like myself, do you know where I needed to repent today? I needed to repent and believe that the kingdom of God is real and that he has come and that he has given me this Spirit, and I don't need to go out and perform great works for him in the power of my flesh.
I need to say every day, "Lord, I repent of my own self-dependence. I won't try now by my good works to accomplish great things for you, but even as Christ fully dependent as a man on the Spirit to do miraculous things and to be hope to the lost and to bring chaos into what was a life that was tempted as mine is tempted, I depend on your Spirit, not my own study, not my own self-discipline, but my own purpose to be a Spirit-filled person. I trust in you, and not by my strength and not by my might but by your power, says the Lord." Repent of your own self-will and begin as followers of Christ to depend on the Spirit of God to allow your life to be what he wants it to be. Let's pray.
Father, we thank you for the example of Christ and for how we have hope here in this story that Mark is starting to unfold that you do care, that you have loosed heaven, that you've rent the heavens and all heaven is broken loose here in this story and that the Messiah has come and has offered to us a chance to deal with who he is. We thank you that, in his humility, he has identified with us and our sin. We thank you, in his tempting, he has proven himself holy, and we thank you that, in his grace, he declares that we can participate in that holiness, as we repent in our own self-dependence, self-trust, and good works and say, "This Savior is one worth trusting in."
Father, might we have the humility to not depend on our own good works to make ourselves acceptable in your sight, and might we then, having accepted you as our Savior, have the wisdom to not then in our own flesh fulfill your calling in our life but to use the means that you've given us, your Spirit, your anointing in our lives, to be the people you want us to be. Will you grow us in our understanding of what it means to be followers of Christ, of what it means to be spirt-directed people?
As we do, might the world say of us what they said of our Savior and Lord Jesus, "Surely, this is his beloved people. Surely, there is order where there used to be chaos. There is service where there used to be self-interest." Might you do that and create a sense of awe in our midst that the world cannot but respond to, even as we read this story of this Jesus and cannot help but respond to him. Lift him up as we study your book and change our hearts. In Christ's name, amen.
The most influential person in history is also the most misunderstood and misrepresented. Two thousand years after He walked the earth, Jesus of Nazareth is still a mystery to many people. Whether you admire Him, worship Him, despise him or simply don't know about him, it's difficult to deny that any other single person has had more influence on our world than Jesus has. But how do we come to understand a man who is so commonly misunderstood? Join Todd Wagner for a walk through the Gospel of Mark and look into the life of one man who changed the entire course of human history. See Jesus for who He truly is and learn how He can change the course of every individual life that understands, responds to and trusts in Him. This volume covers Mark 1:1 through Mark 2:17.