Patch Adams was a man whose passion to build a hospital centered on compassion, love, and community drew people from around the world. But his story cannot begin to compare to the story of our Savior's love and compassion for the world. Learn why men threw down their nets to answer Christ's call to become fishers of men.
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
I have a confession to make. When we started three weeks ago now in the gospel of Mark, the reason I wanted to go there after we did that little series on gifts we'd give our children which talked about the core values and beliefs of us at Watermark Community Church, and I thought about what we need to do next in terms of getting God's Word before us, my heart was we would go to the Gospels and study one of the four gospels, and I just selfishly picked the shortest one.
We would go to the Gospels and begin to look at the life of this Jesus, this one who we say in our core purpose, that element in our body that will never change, that we exist to call all people to be fully devoted followers of Jesus. As we set out to do that, I thought, "Well, then we need to learn more about this Jesus.
We ought to go right there and look at his life and watch the way he interacted with those who were in places of authority but were not using their authority in the way God intended, that we would go and watch the way he dealt with those who were far from God and watch the way he dealt with those who were sick and infirmed and some who were even possessed with all sorts of evil spirits and depressions."
I thought, "Let's go look at this Jesus," and then I was going to so inspire you and motivate you to master the Master's life that we would all rise up out of here after studying Mark, and we'd go out and we would do Jesus. "Man, let's go do Jesus!" As I prepared over the last month or so leading up to us beginning Mark and as I began to look at even the first chapter of Mark…
The gospel that was written to the world, not to the people who had the oracles of God, the Jewish people; not to the Greek who were looking for a perfect man; and not so much for the believers who were being encouraged that this Jesus who they love and worship is the God incarnate, God in the flesh; but to the world, to the Roman world, the world that venerated power and loved servants at their feet…
This gospel of Mark talks about Jesus right away as an individual who identifies with the world that he came to save, that he came to love, that he came to draw back into a relationship with God, and I was convicted that I should not exhort you to go do Jesus. That is one of the great problems within our churches today. We all seek, out of maybe a good heart, to do Jesus.
"I'm going to be like him. I'm going to be kind like he was kind, and I'm going to be moral like he was moral and be ethical like he was ethical," and we go out firmly committed by the power of our own will, because we love God, to do Jesus. As you saw last week (we're going to go back and look again), that's not what we should do as followers of Christ. He doesn't want us to do Jesus. He wants us to live as he lived by the power he lived by, so you're going to hear me not command you to go out and do Jesus but to be like Christ, to be a Spirit-directed person.
It's a very confusing thing. Do you remember last week we studied this idea of the baptism of Jesus when he went to John the Baptist who was calling people to a baptism of repentance? Now who needs to repent? Folks who have a problem in their lives, who are bent towards believing in or participating in something that appears to be life-giving but isn't life-giving at all, people who are trusting in something that is not trustworthy.
They need to turn from what they're trusting in or turn from what they're going to to experience life and go back to that which is ultimately life-giving. Well, Jesus was not involved in any immorality, and he wasn't trusting in anything but the living God, so why did he get baptized? We learned last week there were three reasons.
One is to identify with this lost world and to say, "I am going to come and fulfill all righteousness. These people who have earned the wage of sin, which is death, I will come alongside of them and leave my regal throne." As Moses left Pharaoh's palace to go identify with his people and to lead them out of bondage, so did Jesus, and he identified himself as a servant with them, as a man who will come alongside and, in humanity, walk in a way that they could not walk so that he might pay a debt they could not pay, to identify with sinners.
You'll see that Jesus also came to be baptized in such a way that, when the Spirit of God came and descended upon him like a dove in a way that he himself experienced and that others saw, he was being anointed as the regal king of this nation of Israel that was to be a light to the nations and call all people back into a relationship with God.
It was an anointing of his kingship, a sign that this is the Spirit of God, the Deliverer, the Great Anointed One who will lead you out of bondage and then to encourage him and affirm him that God was with him. "Jesus, you're doing what I want you to do." Remember this. Jesus is fully God and yet fully man, and so that he might be an individual who could identify with us and who could be a substitute for us before a holy God, he laid aside, the Scripture says….
Even though he existed in the form of God, he did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but he laid aside his self-contained ability to be all-powerful and all-knowing, and only by his dependence on the Father and by his dependence on the Spirit was he able to be the perfect man without sin. He offers to you and me forgiveness for the fact that we have not been perfect men and women with his substitute, his sacrifice.
We're moving quickly towards Easter season, where we celebrate Good Friday. How can it be good when the greatest man who ever lived, God in fact in the flesh, who created us, walked in our midst, and we spit in his face and crowned him with thorns and nailed him to a tree? How is that good? It's good because it's the greatest gift that God could give us, the sacrifice of the perfect God-man for us.
This Jesus, who by the power of the Spirit lived this life of perfection, then said, "I offer to you, not just forgiveness through my own shed blood, but the very means through which I walked in obedience before the Father, I now offer to you." It says in John 14, "I will not leave you as orphans…" When Jesus was about to leave, the disciples said, "You can't go. Where are you going to go? Who are we going to follow?"
He says, "Don't worry. It's better for you that I go because, if I go, the Father will send you the Helper, the Spirit of Truth also called the Spirit of Christ also called the Holy Spirit, also called 500 years ago in the King James Version the Holy Ghost," so we think about this thing in our mind that's eerie and like Casper that floats around and maybe he'll get on us one moment and not another, but that's not what the Scriptures teach.
The Scriptures teach that all who profess faith in Christ will be indwelt with the power of God, the Spirit of Christ, who will enable us to be the people he wants us to be. What we saw last week is that a person who wants to be like Christ, who wants to follow in his paths, will be an individual who is a Spirit-directed person. A Spirit-directed person is an essential part of what it means to be like Jesus. We talked about this last week.
A Spirit-directed person is somebody who will always result in your life reflecting concern for those far from God. Being a Spirit-directed person will not make you immune from temptation, but it will give you the ability to overcome it. This is stuff we've seen already in chapter 1, verses 1 through 15. These are all things you can see in Christ. He had a concern for those who were far from God, so he left his regal throne to identify with them.
He was not immune to temptation. We've already seen him tempted. In fact, the Spirit drove him to the wilderness, impelled him to go, but he had the ability to overcome the temptation because he trusted in the Spirit. To be 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 desire. One of the temptations of Christ revealed that. The other temptation revealed that being a Spirit-directed person means you will not seek your own comfort or exaltation but instead will live meekly, waiting on the Lord's timing.
That's what it means to be filled with the Spirit of Christ. To be filled with the Spirit of Christ means you will bear your cross and not seek a crown. You won't look for the easy way out to self-exaltation. You won't do what the world wants you to do so that men will claim you're great and women will adore you, but you walk in the way of Jesus, and you cannot do that by the power of your flesh.
To be like Christ is to be a Spirit-directed person, and a Spirit-directed person always means you will proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God. That's what we looked at in detail last week. As we get started this week, I want to look at a very short number of verses because now Jesus is about to call some men to respond to his message. Look with me here at Mark, chapter 1. Let's reread the message that we ended with last week, verses 14 and 15.
It says, "Now after John had been taken into custody, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God…" Gospel, we said, is good news, the good news that the heavens have been rent. The heavens have been opened, and God is pouring out his love and his Spirit to allow people to have a means through which they can be forgiven and then live a life that is pleasing to him. It's all God. He does all the work, and all we do is receive the gift and the provision that he has given us.
It is not that we do good works to be acceptable. No, Christianity, gang, is not what we do do or don't do. I know that there are some of you out there today that, when people talk to you about church and talk to you about religion, it puts you away, and we understand that. To you, we say, "Let me explain to you clearly if you've never heard it before that Christianity is not what you do do or don't do. It is singularly who you trust. It is what Jesus has done, not what we'll do or not do.
It's not going to be having trust in what Jesus has done or what we will now do for him, but we are then to become vessels of honor, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work, and be Spirit-directed people who make ourselves available to him. That's what it means to be fully devoted to Christ, to be continually decreasing that he might increase in our life and that we would let him guide us and direct us with his Word, the fellowship of the saints, and his Spirit who teaches and guides us.
Jesus came with this good news that God had rent the heavens and was coming down, and he was saying, "The time is fulfilled. Here it is, the promise that I told you that I was going intervene in your life and care for you people." "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel." Now Mark just throws this out there, and before I get too far ahead of myself, in verse 16, he starts to now tell you what happens, but he jumps an entire year.
There's an entire year of Christ's life that just goes away between verses 15 and 16, and that's when Peter and Andrew were called to follow him, and James and John shortly follow. We're going to talk about what happened in the life of this man that made him so intimately attractive that men would utterly leave everything to follow him in the way they did, but what Mark wants you to be confronted with is this. Will you believe? Will you turn from your dependence on some activity, event, or thing, and will you turn to him?
The idea that Jesus communicated is to repent and believe. The repentance that God wants to call us to is not just a repentance where we acknowledge we did something wrong and we become overwhelmed with that and become depressed. I'll show you a picture of what repentance in the world looks like, but read Paul's words in 2 Corinthians 7:9-10.
"I now rejoice, not that you were made sorrowful, but that you were made sorrowful to the point of repentance; for you were made sorrowful according to the will of God, so that you might not suffer loss in anything through us. For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death."
Let me make it clear to you this way. Repentance biblically means that you turn from something, and then you will go just away from it. It's an about-face. It can be a military term. You're heading this direction, maybe in belief. You're heading this way, maybe in looking for experience of joy, and you turn, but the question now you have to respond to is, "Where will you turn? What will you do having turned?"
I will tell you, if you acknowledge that your self-love, your self-will, your workaholic attitude, your lack of care for your spouse and your children as you've seen your family disintegrate as a result of that, or your immorality as a single person, or your longing to find significance as you pour yourself into striving after beauty and bodily perfection or in relationship… When you find out that that has been a misappropriate use of your life and you find discouragement and you begin to turn from that, you can turn, and you just don't know where to go. You can be a lost person.
By grace, maybe you've seen that no longer is that god that you've worshipped worthy of worshipping, but now, you've turned and you're sorry that you've lost your family, that you've wasted three decades of your life, but what do you do? Where do you go? It's a sorrow that leads to death and depression and discouragement. See, Jesus just didn't tell you to repent, folks.
He said, "Would you stop trusting in that which doesn't give you life, and will you repent and believe? Would you stop that and begin with me? Will you begin to trust me? Will you see if life is here?" Let me say it to you this way. It's not enough that you turned from an alcoholic lifestyle to a lifestyle of sobriety and all that you have is a life of sorrow that you ever gave yourself to alcohol and brought horror into your life and the lives of others. Don't turn from alcohol to sobriety. Turn from alcohol to a love for and adoration of and dependence upon Jesus Christ.
I'll be honest with you. Satan doesn't care if you go to hell a virgin or not. He doesn't care if you go to hell sober or drunk. The issue is not are you going to be a drunk and not are you going to be cutting corners at work. The issue is what will you do with the fact that you have not met the standard of a holy God? I want to show you an example of somebody who had a sorrow leading to death.
It says, "Then when Judas, who had betrayed Him, saw that He had been condemned, he felt remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying, 'I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.'""I flat blew it. What I did is wrong, and I repent because it's making me miserable." "But they said, 'What is that to us?'""Who cares what your problem is and what you're thinking about?" "'See to [your own remorse] yourself!'" Look at where the sorrow of the world leads.
"And he threw the pieces of silver into the temple sanctuary and departed…" Scripture says worldly sorrow leads to death. "… and[Judas] went away and hanged himself." Did he repent? Say, "Yes." He absolutely repented, but did he believe? Say, "No." You see, what Mark wants to ask you now… He's not concerned with chronology. His is an action gospel. He wants to know this: What are you going to do with this Jesus who is this powerful, this attractive, that he's offering you a message of life?
He's telling you not just to cease and desist your immorality and your idolatry, but he's saying to you, "God wants to give you life, and he wants to give you a relationship with him," and that is eternal life, the Scriptures have told us. Hey, don't just be discouraged that sin has brought horror into your life. Learn from it and let that sorrow lead you to repentance from it, but let that repentance be a godly sorrow which leads you to life which can only be found in him. That's where we're going today.
Mark wants to ask you, "What are you going to do with this message of Jesus? Will you follow him, and will you learn to be what a follower of Christ always is, which is a Spirit-directed person?" I want to show you somebody who's not a Spirit-directed person, but I want to show you somebody who is an individual who lived his life in such a powerfully attractive way that, though is lifestyle was radical, though his message was totally antiauthoritarian and went against years of tradition, people slowly were attracted to him.
What you have to ask yourself is, "What kind of man was this Jesus? What kind of love and life did he lead that, all of a sudden, he could walk by a couple of guys, fisherman…?" I believe, by the way, this is Jesus' greatest miracle you're about to see. Any guy who can walk up to four guys fishing and say, "Quit fishing. Let's go work," and they stop fishing and go work…that's quite a miracle.
That's what happens here. He says, "Boys, quit fishing." "What do you mean quit fishing? That's all we do, man. We love to fish." He said, "Well, I have some work for you. It's going to give you life," and they put it down, and off they go. What kind of man is that attractive? Watch this man. He's not a Spirit-filled man to my knowledge, at least he's not at all brought out in this little section as a Spirit-filled man, but there's something attractive about his life. He stands up against what he perceives is wrong, and slowly, people are led to follow him.
Patch Adams: I'd like to leave.
Dr. Prack: Hunter, we'll have to discuss this at your scheduled time.
Patch Adams: I'm leaving.
Dr. Prack: And have you thought about what you'll do?
Patch Adams: I want to help people. Last night with Rudy, I connected to another human being. I want more of that. I want to learn about people. I want to help them with their troubles.
Dr. Prack: That's what I do.
Patch Adams: But you stink at it. You don't even look at people when their talking. I want to listen. I want to really listen to people.
Dr. Prack: I'm sorry, Hunter. I can't allow you to leave. I believe you still have some issues to work out.
Patch Adams: Uh-huh. Well, I don't need your permission, though, because I admitted myself.
Dr. Prack: Hunter, I must warn you. My report will read, "AMA," that you were signed out of this hospital against medical advice.
Dean Walcott: It is our mission here to rigorously and ruthlessly train the humanity out of you and make you into something better. We're going to make doctors out of you.
Doctor (to students): Here we have a juvenile-onset diabetic with poor circulation and diabetic neuropathy. As you can see, these are diabetic ulcers with lymphedema and evidence of gangrene. Questions?
Male Student: Any osteomyelitis?
Doctor: None apparent, although not definitive.
Male Student: Treatment?
Doctor: To stabilize the blood sugar. Consider antibiotics, possibly amputation.
Patch Adams: What's her name? I was just wondering the patient's name.
Patch Adams: Hi, Margery.
Dean Walcott: Our way of doing things is a product of centuries of experience. It's all there for a reason. It's my hospital. I know everything that goes on inside of it.
Patch Adams: Yo! Ride 'em, cowboy. Woo-hoo! Yea! Ha! Ha! Ha! Oh! I surrender. I'll tell you what you want to know.
Dean Walcott: Do you want to tell me what it is you think you're doing?
Patch Adams: Oh. Just getting a few laughs, sir. In the American Journal of Medicine it's found that laughter increases secretion of catecholamines and endorphins, which in turn increases oxygenation of the blood, relaxes the arteries, speeds up the heart, decreases blood pressure, which has a positive effect on all the cardiovascular and respiratory elements, as well as overall increasing the immune system response.
Dean Walcott: Mr. Adams, when I told you I knew Dr. Prack, did I mislead you in some way to think I'm a pushover like he is? Kindly remove that coat. I told you, you are not to see the patients till the third year.
Patch Adams: I'm just visiting friends, sir.
Dean Walcott: Why are you here? If you want to be a clown, go join the circus. Patients don't need to be entertained. They don't need a friend. They need a doctor. I don't want to see you in this hospital again.
Patch Adams: It'll be the first fun hospital in the world. It'll be a totally free-form building. It'll have like slides and secret passageways and game rooms.
Carin: Slow down. I can't write that fast.
Patch Adams: I can't slow down. We'll use humor to heal pain and suffering. Doctors and patients will work side by side as peers. There will be no titles, no bosses. People will come from all over the world to fulfill their dream of helping other people. There will be a community where joy is a way of life, where learning is the highest aim, where love is the ultimate goal. Do you have all that?
Carin: Yeah. Not verbatim, but the overall insanity's intact.
Patch Adams: That's why you have to help me with this.
Carin: Patch, no. No.
Patch Adams: Oh yes.
Patch Adams: Yes.
Patch Adams: I know it's not going to be an easy road, but you said, "Anything worth doing is difficult."
Carin: Look. I'm not like you, Patch. I want the white coat. I want people to call me, Doctor, more than anything. I want the recognition.
Patch Adams: And you'll get it every day in the eyes of patients you're helping. I mean, there is more to life than what Dean Walcott puts out there. That is all about power and control. All right? I mean, I know you're scared.
Carin: Right. I am scared. I'm scared to death.
Patch Adams: There's room for you.
Patch Adams: Hi Bile.
Bile: Hey, Patch.
Carin: Who's Bile?
Patch Adams: An old friend.
Patch Adams: Without medical insurance. He's just staying a couple of days. What do you say?
[End of video]
Let me tell you that a number of months ago… I saw that movie about a year ago, and I was watching it with my wife, and I said, "I want to do for the church what Patch Adams is trying to do for medicine. I want to have a church and form of treatment and a group of people who are so radically attractive that you could walk up to them and say, 'You should come see what we're doing,' and they'll use whatever they have, even if it's just one lousy arm, and they'll say, 'Can I contribute in any way? I'll do whatever I can because I see lives being transformed here. I see hurting people getting healed, and I see those who won't be accepted anywhere else being accepted, and that speaks of the divine to me.'"
You see, it makes you wonder, and if you go to the end of the movie and you read the postscript, he's in the middle of building it when they made that movie, and there are already like 1,500 to 2,000 doctors who have offered to come and to work there with no title, no offer of reimbursement, but just to participate and basically to follow this man's call to say, "Come follow me, and let's transform medicine." I have to tell you, as attractive as that move is and the great job that Hollywood did with it and the great job that Robin Williams did with it, it doesn't compare with what we have to offer.
What I'm going to make a case for today is, when you look at this Jesus… What Mark is asking you is basically this question: Who is this one who calls the way that Jesus calls? Who does he think he is that he can say to somebody, "Follow me?" Not only who is this one who calls, but what does it mean then when you decide to follow him? You're going to be blown away that this Jesus can walk up to individuals and say, "Follow me," and they drop everything. Let's read it.
It says in verse 16, "As He was going along by the Sea of Galilee, He saw Simon and Andrew, the brother of Simon, casting a net in the sea; for they were fishermen." They were at work. And Jesus said to them, 'Follow Me, [come after me] and I will make you become fishers of men'"
Then, one of Mark's favorite words; he uses it 43 some odd times . He used it in the way that Christ was obedient to the Spirit, and he uses it now in the way that these men are obedient to the call. "Immediately [straightforward, forthrightly] …" It's a very strong word, and you'll see it all throughout the book. It says, "Immediately they left their nets and followed Him." What kind of man makes a call like that? What kind of life must he have had that allowed guys and women to do that?
It says then he went on, and they "Immediately they left their nets and followed Him." In verse 19, "Going on a little farther, He saw James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, who were also in the boat mending the nets. Immediately He called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants, and went away to follow Him."
What Mark is saying to you right here is, "Who is this Jesus, and will you respond to the call?" What kind of man is that? Are you impressed by somebody who could walk up to somebody at work and say, "Follow me?" You ought to be. You ought to be impressed that a guy could absolutely transform the institution of medicine the way that Patch Adams is apparently doing in some places. What is it about his life?
Well, I'm going to make a case that Jesus is our example and model in everything, and if we are doing what he has left us here to do, we will have the sane ability to put the same call on people's lives and be just as amazed at the response we receive. What you're seeing here is the evidence of a Spirit-directed person, a Spirit-directed ministry. You're seeing all heaven being opened up and the world that is dying with its immorality and idolatry and is looking for something to turn from and turn to, and all of a sudden, they see hope. When hope calls, people who have godly sorrow respond.
I will tell you that Spirit is looking for a body today to dwell in, not the spirit of humor but the Spirit of God. A guy named Jim Cymbala, who wrote a book that a lot of folks have really been encouraged by called Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire, recently did an interview in a paper here in town, and I want to read you what he said because I think he's right. He said, "Churches that don't want black or brown people or even poor white people are not Spirit-filled churches. […] That appeals to the prejudices of the people and makes a social club of the church."
That's not what Jesus wants of his church. Hey, are you scared? If you're not, I don't think you're listening. It scares me when I hear what God wants to call me to. See, I grew up here like you did, and too much of my call has been to medicine as I've always seen it done. Too much of the call has been to just finding a comfortable place where I can wear my white robe and I can speak impressive things over people, and they will cower willingly before us on Sundays.
Cymbala goes on to say that, "Today's religious establishment is so sophisticated it is in danger of crucifying the Holy Spirit, grieving him right out of our churches in the same way that the religious establishment two millennia ago crucified Jesus." We read about the Pharisees. In this book of the gospel of Mark you're going to find that the Dean Walcotts of Jesus' day absolutely tried to run him out of school and said, "We are doing this based on hundreds of years of tradition. Who do you think you are? What do you think you're doing?"
He said, "I want to identify with people. I want to know their names. I want to value them and love them and bring hope, even to the death that is certainly coming down their road." We look at the Pharisees, and they go, "How could they be so Dean Walcottish? How could they be so blind?" Yet, this Jesus, who upon leaving, said, "I will send you the Helper. I will send you my Spirit, and by that Spirit, you will be able to do even greater things than I have done."
We, like the Pharisees who crucified Jesus, too many of us have crucified this provision that God has given us because it doesn't fit into our categories. Listen. Cymbala says, "On one side, people are doing so many weird things that are not in the Bible, and they're blaming it on the Holy Spirit." He said, "They are jerking. They are twitching. They are roaring like lions. They are tweeting like birds. They are acting like animals.
Very few people in those circles have any guts to stand up and say, 'Stop! Would you wait a minute? That is not in the Bible. That is not Spirit-directed people do.' Can you imagine Jesus doing that or Paul doing that? These people are adding to the Word of God. They say he's doing a new thing, so new it's not even in the Scripture. If it's a new thing, I want to see the people in the church. I want to see souls being won and people seeking the Lord."
He says, "On the other side, are those who have tossed the Spirit out the window. They have watched that foolishness on television, those showoffs, those shysters, those con men, and don't want anything to do with it. But how are you going to run a church without the Holy Spirit? Trying to do so results in little one-hour packaged 'protestant masses,' where there is no spontaneity, no Spirit, no anointing."
Cymbala said, "People will sit through a three-hour football game but get itchy if a church goes longer than an hour." Can you imagine Paul telling Peter he only has 18 minutes to preach because the chariot races are about to start and people need to get home to watch? Something is wrong with the church today, and the percentage of people who are taking drugs for depression is the same for Christians as for people don't attend the church.
He said, "Don't tell me it's the culture. Don't tell me it's the environment. It's the lack of the presence of the presence of the Spirit and his power in our lives. We're not going to change it by computers and committees or by fanaticism or foolishness or emotionalism or by throwing the Holy Spirit out of our churches. We need a revival. We need a Holy Ghost revival. We need the power of God in our lives."
See, I want you to master the Master's life, but please, don't hear me say, "Go do Jesus." Hear me say, "To supremely be like Christ is to live as Christ lived, fully availing himself as God-man who laid aside his God in order that he might identify with you and me, still being fully God and being fully man, though he yielded himself completely to the relationship he had with the Father and the power of the Spirit through which he lived a life that was so powerful and attractive that he could walk up to people and say, 'Follow me,' and they left their nets."
Yesterday, we had our membership class, and as we do with every membership class, we talked about what kind of church we want to be, and we went to Acts, chapter 2, verse 42. Just turn there with me. I want you to see what happens when people let this Jesus live in them and live through them. In Acts, chapter 2, verses 42 through 47, it says, "These men and these women who had now been given the Spirit of God."
Now watch this, Jesus says, after he had been crucified, buried, and resurrected, he came back and he appeared to the disciples to say, "Look, the Lord has raised me as a sign to all men that, in fact, the wages of sin have now been accomplished, and I have identified myself with you. I've paid your debt. I who knew no sin became sin on your behalf that you might become the righteousness of God in me. Now, you go and wait for the Holy Spirit to come upon you," and he said in Acts, chapter 1, verse 8, "…you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses…"
Now, in chapter 2, these men who had received that power who were now able to be Spirit-directed people, who were now able to live out what Paul calls in Colossians… Do you hear my quoting the Scripture? What Paul says in Colossians was the hope of glory, Christ in you; see also the Holy Spirit in you… That's the hope of glory…the spirit of humor to Patch Adams…something far better than that, the Spirit of God in you.
Because they had that spirit, "They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe…" In fact, such a sense of awe that, when this Peter preached, 3,000 men left what they were believing in and followed this Jesus on that day, who knows how many children and women.
It says, "…many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles." People were getting healed. Depression and marriages were being repaired. "And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need."
Notice, again, I say it every time… This is not socialism, not Communism, but because of the compelling example of their servant leader, they gave as there was need, not evenly, not according to respect of persons or not to people they liked but as there was need. This is not Communism. This is a servant's love for others who are hurting in their midst. It says that they were there "…with one mind in the temple…"
I hope we have one mind here, and our one mind is to be a church that's so obviously in relationship with God and a people so fully directed by his Spirit that people cannot stop but wonder what we're up to. They were of one mind, helping people believe in Christ, belong to the family of Christ, be trained to walk with Christ, and being strong and living a life of devotion to Christ.
"…they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved." That is the church that we seek to be, a purpose-driven, prevailing church that has favor with all the people, where there's a sense of awe because the Spirit of God is alive and active, and where God adds to our number.
People can't help but not resist this Jesus who walks and did some amazing things. In this year that Mark doesn't tell us about there were a number of times when the disciples would leave temporarily and occasionally, usually around events of great pageantry, and he would go with them. You'll find if you read John 1, 2, 3, and 4 that Peter and Andrew and James and John…these men you see here in Mark 1…had already been around this Jesus some.
Even as when you saw the people in the video slowly being attracted to go out and give what they could to remake the Gesundheit Institute, it didn't happen at first. They were scared at first. They weren't sure it would work at first, but then they saw the love. They saw the hope. They saw the healing, and they slowly came forward. That's what you don't see in Mark, but it's there is John 1, 2, 3, and 4.
They had been with him at a couple of events. Peter, James, John, and Andrew had been with him at the wedding at Cana, and they saw the way he was a servant-minded individual and not using his power to be self-indulgent but to use it to serve others, that he had creative abilities to turn water into wine. They left with him from there. At times, they went down to Jerusalem with him to a Passover. They saw him clean out the temple, and they go, "Oh, Patch. Geez! Dean Walcott, you took him on like that?"
Far more…he drove the money changers right out of the temple, and he said, "You've made a mockery of my Father's house." They saw him go and visit John the Baptist, and they heard the voice from heaven, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased." They saw him on the way back home not go around Samaria like everybody else but cut right through that tainted land and love a woman who had been with four different guys and the fifth guy she was with right then was not her husband.
They saw the sensitivity and the power, and they heard him say some things, "I'm not hungry. I know you guys just went to eat, but you don't know what kind of life I get when I come to bring hope to a hopeless heart and when I come to bring healing to a land that people who are supposed to be my representatives won't even go in. You don't know how that energizes me." Then all of a sudden, Jesus walks by them one day and says, "Okay, boys, it's time to decide. Are you in or are you out? Will you follow me?" and they dropped their nets, and they came.
See, that's the question you have to ask yourself. Are you going to drop your nets? Are you going to come? What Mark wants to show you right here is simply to repent and believe is to break with everything in your old way of life. It means that you're willing to do whatever he asks you to do, and there's nothing that you're holding onto in order to be a part of this life-giving, healing center of hope. Notice this, what Jesus calls… He says, "Follow me."
The idea there is, "I want you to come, and I want you to be my disciples," but disciples of Jesus Christ are not just followers of him. He says, "Follow me…" And then what? "…I will make you fishers of men." **It doesn't say, "And you should go be for me fishers of men." He says, "By the regenerative, restoring, life-giving power of my Spirit, I will make you like me." Don't go and do it on your own self-will, but"Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men."**
Can I tell you how wonderful and how radical this Jesus is? Throw up there Jeremiah 16. If you go look in the Old Testament. There are four times, I think… In Jeremiah, in Ezekiel, in Habakkuk, and I believe in Isaiah, there are places where this motif of fishermen is used by the prophets, but it's always in the context of judgment. Scroll down, please, to verse 10.
What God is telling the prophet Jeremiah in Jeremiah 16 at this time is simply this: "Jeremiah, there's going to be some real hard times that are going to go on in the land of my people Israel, and I don't want you to cry. If somebody dies, I don't want you to mourn because there's going to be all kinds of trouble in their land because they are loving that which is not worthy of their love, and I'm going to bring about a godly sorrow in their lives."
He says, in verse 10 when it will come about. "Now when you tell this people all these words, they will say to you, 'For what reason has the Lord declared all this great calamity against us? And what is our iniquity, or what is our sin which we have committed against the Lord our God?'" They're absolutely oblivious to their ways. Jeremiah was to be a John the Baptist of his day and call people out to a baptism of repentance. Watch this, in verse 11,
"Then you are to say to them, 'It is because your forefathers have forsaken Me,' declares the Lord, 'and have followed other gods and served them and bowed down to them; but Me they have forsaken and have not kept My law. You too have done evil, even more than your forefathers; for behold, you are each one walking according to the stubbornness of his own evil heart, without listening to Me. So I will hurl you out of this land into the land which you have not known, neither you nor your fathers; and there you will serve other gods day and night, for I will grant you no favor.'"
This is a dark day. This is when the heavens are closed up and God says, "You're going to have a fill of what you want. You want to worship at that alter? You want to drink from that cistern? Then have your fill, but you're going to miss me." Then he says this graciously:
"'Therefore behold, days are coming,' declares the Lord, 'when it will no longer be said, "As the Lord lives, who brought up the sons of Israel out of the land of Egypt," but, "As the Lord lives, who brought up the sons of Israel from the land of the north and from all the countries where He had banished them." For I will restore them to their own land which I gave to their fathers.'"
He's saying, "You thought the miracle of the deliverance out of Egypt was impressive. There's going to be a time in the future when you develop a godly sorrow which leads to repentance and to belief in me that will become the great miracle of the day." Now watch what he says in verse 16.
"'Behold, I am going to send for many fishermen,' declares the Lord, 'and they will fish for them; and afterwards I will send for many hunters, and they will hunt them from every mountain and every hill and from the clefts of the rocks. For My eyes are on all their ways; they are not hidden from My face, nor is their iniquity concealed from My eyes.'"
Do you hear what God is saying? "There will be not a single man or woman who will escape my judgment in their rebellion. I will send fishermen, and I will find them beneath the logs, in the twigs. I will send hunters and will find them in the caves, and they will feel my wrath." There's the John the Baptist of his day, saying, "Because of your sin, you need to come and repent, and God in his graciousness will one day bring you to godly sorrow, but for now, you're not there yet, and he's going to send fishermen, and he's going to bring you into judgment."
See, the heavens are closed here. Look what Jesus did in Mark, chapter 1. Are you starting to so why now back in Mark, chapter 1, Mark calls it good news? He says, "This is good news because those heavens that have been closed have been opened up, and now God's fishermen are not going to come and look to bring you into judgment.
They're going to come, and they're going to take you out of the sea of judgment, and I will look for you, and I will hunt after you, and I will find you," and what Jesus does is he just absolutely implodes on the earth, and he tells folks, "You come and see the Lord is good. Come and dine with me. Come and drink with me, he says. Come, and I will give you rest. Come and see."
When you come and see what this God does and you find that his fishermen are casting out nets of divine truth in the great sea, that they are going to gather up scores of believing souls on the shore of the kingdom of God, and they will have been one for him…followers of Christ, gang. Don't just following in his steps. By the power of his Spirit, Jesus takes this curse and makes it a blessing. Followers of Christ will be individuals who will go and preach the good news.
Followers of Christ will be individuals who don't just walk after him but those who go and love the way that he loved, live the way that he lived so that others will walk after them. Paul says it this way. "The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be [fishers] also.""Give them what I've given you, a relationship with me. Then through the power of the Spirit, the ministry of the Word, and the proclamation of the gospel, they can do what you have done."
Do you see who you are? We are the reversal of the curse. He calls us, and he says, "Stop making live fish dead and make dead men alive." Do you see why they dropped their nets? What a calling? "You mean, I can come with you and do that? You mean, I can be part of this renting of the heavens and the transforming of the world? I can stop killing live things and making dead, rebellious, sinful people alive with you the way you've done with me? I can participate with you in that? I'm coming! I'm in!" "Follow me!"
I will say it this way to you. If you are not a fisher of men, you are not a follower of Christ. "Follow me, and I will make you…" It's an absolute. "…will make you fishers of men." Jesus was effective at calling men because his life had authority. His walk backed up the power of his words, and his words revealed the power behind his walk. He had the authority of God vested in him, and that is what he said he has given to us who walk in his steps.
He wants us to follow him and to be given the same ability that he has been given that we might be the people who will declare his name and, by the power of his Spirit, do his work. Well, what does a fisher of men look like? If you're going to be a fisherman, you've got to do a couple of things. You have to get near water, and being near water, you have to get your line wet. Getting your line wet, you have to then bait your hook. What's that look like?
For us, if we're going to be followers of Christ, it means we have to get near lost people, and not just near them. You've done that. You live in Dallas, Texas. I was sharing with some folks yesterday. As I was frustrated and fed up with the city of Dallas and the churchianity that was rampant in this city, a good friend of mine and I started to talk about leaving Dallas and doing a study and finding out where the greatest population of unchurched English-speaking people is.
We were too lazy to learn a language. We didn't want to go for very long. We thought we could go for two years, so let's find out where the greatest population of unchurched people is, and let's go live there. We looked at Australia, and we looked at England. We were going to move our families over there, get some jobs, and just start trying to love people. Well, for a series of reasons, we didn't do that as we sought to see if that's what the Lord would have us do.
Do you realize that last week I was reading and that I read that the third largest place, the three largest populations of unchurched people in the world are, first, India; second, China; and third, North America. Hey, you're near the water, brother. You don't need to go to England or Australia. I mean, there are some lost folks there. Percentage-wise, it's greater in some places, but people, number-wise…right here. But it's not enough just to live here. You have to wet your line. What's that mean?
You have to engage. You have to be intentional about pursuing relationships with folks who don't hang out with us, who don't talk like we talk, who don't drink what we drink, who don't think like we think. We have to wet our lines, and then we have to bait our hooks. That means we have to take with us things, so when we get a chance to see a hunger in a person's life, we can recommend a book, we can hand them a tape, we can share with them a tract. So many of us go out and we say, "What are you doing?"
"I'm going to go fishing."
"Really? Do you have any bait?"
I wouldn't say that's a very serious fisherman. How many of you are ready if somebody asks you to share the gospel to share that? How many of you have a tape that you believe that God could use in their lives? A book that you would recommend that you'd go through with them? You have to bait your hook.
I'm going to tell you one of those encouraging stories. When my wife and I had our fifth child about three months ago, there were a number of you in this body who were extremely gracious and said, "Hey, Todd, we want to help you guys for the next number of days. We're going to cook for you," as believers often do for each other. So for the next, I think, 12 days, every other day, somebody brought us, I mean, a fine meal, and it really ministered to us. Robin and Robbie Rice kind of led the way for us and coordinated it and brought the food over.
Well, one of the girls in the body came to her and said, "Hey, I really enjoy this. You know, I can't serve in the normal and traditional way because, you know, I have this newborn myself at home, but I love to cook. I love hospitality." Robin said, "Well, why don't you start a ministry? Why don't you do this?" She came up with a ministry plan. Hugs and Quiches is what she's calling it. It was kind of laying out there a little bit.
We're working hard to get things in order at the office, and trying to develop leadership and ministries like this that this sweet young girl brought forward. Then two weeks ago, Robin and Robbie had a friend who had a child, and Robin called up this girl, our leader at Hugs and Quiches, and said, "Hey, guess what? We have another opportunity. It's not our pastor this time, but it's somebody who our line is in their water, and let's bait the hook."
Robin called the girl up and said, "Hey, can we bring you food?" She goes, "Who?" She goes, "Just friends of mine." Folks, we know how crazy it can be, and in fact, she had been sharing with Robbie about how tough it is for her, a newborn mom, and she was just completely overwhelmed, and Robin said, "Well, let's take one thing off your plate. Let us serve you," so just like me, for the next 12 days, Monica and her team brought her a meal every other day.
It shouldn't surprise you that, when Robin and Robbie talked to them and said, "Why don't you come to us to the Gesundheit Church?" they said, "We're in!" They said to them, "Who are these people? What are they doing?" They said, "Well, they're folks from our church, and we just want to serve you. We just want to love you," and there they came. The girl actually said this first. She said, "First of all, do y'all have a cookbook?" That was the first question she asked. That's serving with excellence. Then, she said, "Can I come?"
Man, we're dying for them to come. Monica, I love your creativity. I love what y'all are doing. I love for you to think like that. That is life. That's living, and I can't wait for them to get grafted in. I don't want them to like our cooking. I want them to love our Lord, and I want us to just be awed at what God is doing in our midst. We have to back it up with our life. We have to back it up with our words.
Quickly, I will share with this illustration. I'm not talking about being good people. Being good is not enough. We have to be good people who know the truth as well. We have to be good people who can tell folks why it is that we live the way we do, not because we have a good sense of humor, not because we're Good Samaritans, but because we've been radically transformed by God.
A true story of a man on the Pacific Coast who had gone away to some, you know, Christian event, and his life was transformed. He came back the office, and he told his boss. He said to his boss, "I've just trusted Christ," and the boss said, "That is so fantastic! I've been praying for you for years." The guy goes, "What?" He goes, "I've been praying for you for years." The guy says, "You're a Christian?" He's devastated.
The boss says, "Well, absolutely, I'm a Christian. I have purposed to live my life before you with such authenticity, such integrity, such honesty, such excellence that you would know that." The guy said, "Hey, you're the reason I haven't trusted Christ for the last five years. I've had friends telling me about Jesus and how I need him, and I keep telling them about you and how you live a life of excellence and morality and a life of purity, and you don't need Jesus. You're the reason I didn't trust Christ."
You see, Jesus just didn't do a lot of good stuff. You will find that he did it, and guess how he did it? You watch how many times through Mark he's going to say, "By the power of the Spirit," because the heavens have been rent open and now God is not fishing to bring people into a sea of judgment but he's trying to take you out before the great wrath of his flood is coming. If we live as Jesus lived, our lives will be as attractive as his, and our call will be as welcome. Gang, the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith.
A pure heart says, "We love you. We really do. We're not trying to work you. We don't need money here. I mean, God's going to bless this ministry if it's his ministry. We're not trying to get you in because of what you make or what you don't make. We're here because we love you, because you matter to God. Therefore, you matter to us." That's a pure heart. "It's not because you can be a big old bass that I can mount on my wall but because you are in a sea of judgment, and I want to bring you out."
"Do you love me?" the world wants to know. If we have pure hearts, they'll see that. A good conscience… Are you real? We ought to be folks who don't just act this way on Sundays but they can find…in our places of work, in our families, in our communities, in the way we drive and the way we apologize for the way we drive…that we are a different people. Good conscience. Are you real?
A sincere faith… They want to know, "Hey, look. That's great that you guys are all riled up, but does it work? Are people healed? Are lives transformed? Are marriages put back together? Do people work through differences differently in your body? Does it work?" Let me show you one thing here. Patch Adams was effective. He really loved people. He knew their names. He had a pure heart. He wasn't looking to make a name for himself. He said, "What's her name?" and that pure heart drew folks.
He was motivated to innovate, not because he was lazy and he didn't want to do it the way they had always done it, but because he loved. He wasn't looking for an easy way out. Just look at his grades. He was number one or two in his class. He had a good conscience, and the things in which Dean Walcott wanted to criticize him, he was above reproach. His life backed up his passion. He studied to be a doctor like nobody studied to be a doctor, and he had a sincere faith, or it sincerely worked.
He had results. Hopeless patients had hope. Angry people died at peace with themselves and with others. Families he dealt with were transformed. Patch Adams cannot hold a candle to us. You want to make a movie, Hollywood? Then film this. If we can't say that yet with boldness, it's not the Spirit's fault, but it's where we're going, and it's what we purpose to be. Follow him, and he will make you fishers of men. Let's pray.
Now, Lord, you know the areas of my life where my work doesn't match with my word or where, for whatever reason, I don't bait my life like I should. I thank you that I can agree with you that there's sin, and I can confess it, and you are so faithful and so just because of what this Jesus did for me to forgive me. Thank you that you made provision for that. I thank you that you also made provision for my desire to live for you.
I don't have to go out and do Jesus and neither do my friends, but today, we can say, Father, as we must decrease, you must increase. Come and fill me up. We thank you, Father, that we're not looking for a special outpouring. We don't need it. You've given us everything pertaining to godliness. We have been baptized, sealed, and filled with your Spirit. We don't need to act like animals, laugh hysterically, or speak in unknown tongues.
We just need to carry the power of love that existed in Jesus that was so radically powerful, with a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith that worked, that men left everything to follow him. We're confronted with the same question today. Will we follow? I thank you for a chance, Father, to just say, "I want to follow you." I thank you for my friends that are following you here who spur me on to love and good deeds. May we be a purpose-driven, prevailing church, and may the world be curious as to what's going on. May they leave all they have to be a part of your kingdom.
Father, this day, we cast the net of divine truth. This day, we throw it out on the great sea, and this day, we believe that, if you want to draw maybe even someone in this room out of that sea of judgment up onto the banks of forgiveness that is your kingdom, I pray, Father, you would not let them leave here until they've dealt with you and they would seek one of us out and we would talk and we would tell them about this Jesus who wants to deal with their helplessness once they've decided to follow him. We pray this 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.