Gospel of Mark

A New Reality

Apparent Hopelessness

The painful realities of this world we live in are constant. Moment by moment we are reminded that something has gone terribly wrong. We're reminded that we, humanity, are broken, and that no matter how hard we strive, we can't fix ourselves or the mess we're in. Through terror, war, injustice, and oppression we're reminded of the sickness of our hearts. Through sickness, pain, cancer, and death we're reminded of the fragility of our bodies. Our hopes, so quickly placed in the fleeting chance that someone or something might come along and intervene thus making things right, are in a moment dashed, and we're quickly reminded once again of the world in which we live, and we're left once again, hopeless.

Not All Is Lost

But not all is lost. The bible tells us that a person has come to put things back the way they were intended. Over 2,000 years ago, Jesus entered into human history as a humble baby, born of a virgin, in a manger. There was nothing in this baby that should have caused us to immediately recognize him, and if not for God shining his star brightly over him (Matthew 2:2), no one would have. This baby would grow into a boy who would eventually grow into a man with the simple identity of a carpenter's son (Matthew 13:55). But eventually, Jesus would enter the scene in a new way. He would enter with power and authority that was formerly unseen, and with a message that was unheard (Mark 1:14-15, 27). Jesus entered human history as the light that would shine into the darkest of places, exposing the sins and brokenness of humanity and revealing our need for a savior (Mark 4:21; John 1:9; 8:12). He came proclaiming a kingdom that was unlike any other kingdom, a kingdom that would begin so humble and small, but would eventually spread its growth throughout the entire world (Mark 4:30-32). 

This kingdom did not come without a cost. Jesus went to a cross and died a brutal death in place of humanity. The death he died was to take upon himself the wrath of God that is due to all people for our rebellion against The Creator. The death he died was to defeat the enemies of Satan and sin, and the ultimate enemy death. Three days after his death, he rose from the grave, and in so doing he won the victory that we couldn't on our own, and he now sits in heaven at the right hand of God as the ruling King of all. 

In Christ alone is our hope for the ways of this world to be changed once and for all, and because he has already been dashed at the cross, our hopes for a new reality remain intact. 

A New Reality

The bible ends by telling us what the new reality will look like! 

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, more pain anymore, for the former things have passed away." (Revelation 21:1-4)

Some of us are without hope. We see and feel the realities of this life, and despair and lostness overwhelms us. 

The declaration of the gospel is that there is hope! Jesus came proclaiming his kingdom, and he promised that he will one day come again and bring it to its completion. He is coming! We have hope. Reality will be made new.

Christ is all!

Pastor Mike 

   

The Scandalous Love Of Jesus

What Does It Take?

What does it take to be a follower of Jesus? For many, a long list of moral reformation immediately pops into mind. Stop drinking. Stop smoking. Stop cussing. Stop looking at porn. Stop sleeping around with people you aren't married to. Stop being attracted to someone of the same gender. Stop voting for liberal democrats. Stop voting for conservative parties. Stop hanging out with all your friends because they'll only bring you down. Stop lying. Stop stealing. Stop...you get the picture.

Scandalous Love

Here is the scandal of the love of Jesus. None of those things are required to be one of his followers.

In our text this weekend, Mark 2:13-17, Jesus continues his ministry along the Sea of Galilee. In the midst of his teaching, he calls Levi, the tax collector. Now, this might not sound like a big deal to us, but in Jesus' day it was. Tax collectors were considered to be among the worst kind of sinners. They were seen as traitors, and their treason was ultimately seen as opposing God. They were lumped in among those who were murderers and thieves, and they were seen as more unclean than a leper, because a leper had no choice in the matter of his uncleanness. A tax collector did.

But these are the kinds of people Jesus was friends with. In Matthew 11:19, Jesus says, "The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, 'Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!'" What's startling is that his friendship with them included no agenda. No strings attached. In other words, Jesus didn't require anyone to "clean up their act" before they could hangout with him! Instead, Jesus just hung out with people as they were. The result was that Jesus was constantly surrounded by those who were the most unclean and rejected.

Jesus presented a real challenge to the religious separatist culture of his day, and he continues to do the same to ours. You take a look at the church (as people, not a building) and seldom do you think of the unloved being loved. The popular opinion is that the church is far more hostile than loving.

But if Jesus were among us today, he would still hang out with and call to himself the same people he did then. We would no doubt see him with a house full of sinners, functioning as the host to: alcoholics, drug addicts, prostitutes, porn-stars, homosexuals, adulterers, fornicators, corrupt lawyers and politicians, extortioners, terrorists (even of the ISIS sort), rapists, child-molesters, thieves, and so on.

And the chances are, many of us do the same thing the religious people of his day did: look down our noses at him and those he kept company with wondering, "Why is he hanging out with those people." Not realizing that our hearts might just be more wicked, sick and desperate for salvation than theirs.

True Reform

This text is challenging. As I've prayed and prepared this week, my heart is challenged. I don't love people the same way Jesus did. Truth be told, I'm afraid to. I'm afraid of what might happen if I invite these "worst of all sinners" into my home or the gathering of my church. I like my comfort. I like my safety. I like what is familiar to me and everyone else around me. I like to know that people appear "right" before I let them get too close to Jesus. I think I have the control.  

But then I'm reminded of the gospel. Jesus came into this world to pursue sinners! I am among those. In coming, he was met with hostility so intense that he was brutally killed by being hung on a cross. The question that needs to be asked is, "Who put him there?" It wasn't the "bad company" he was always with. No. It was the religious people. The one's who had it all together. The one's who thought themselves righteous. Their religion was far more hostile to the scandalous love of Jesus than any murderer ever was, and their hearts were farther away too. 

You see, the beauty of the scandalous love of Jesus is that he invites us to follow him while we're sinners. He calls us to himself, as we are, in the midst of our disgusting, unclean, un-put-together lives. In so doing, he confronts the heart of the religious and the sinner. The religious did not recognize their uncleanness before God the sinner does. He draws us close so that we would know him and be near him. And then in experiencing his love so amazing, we can't help but want to be more like this Jesus who was crucified for us.

We have much to talk about this weekend, church. I'm inviting you to pray along with me, that our hearts would be challenged to love in the same way that Jesus has loved us.

Christ is All!

Pastor Mike      

Sunday Preview: Paralyzed Hearts

How is your heart?

It's a question you might often think of regularly or not at all. But it's a question that matters.

The heart, biblically, is thought of differently than how it is today. Today, the heart is usually one of two things: either a vital organ in our body, or the seat of our emotions. So when I ask, "how is your heart?" it's easy for you to think it's good, because as far as you know you're emotionally stable and you don't have a heart attack coming in the foreseeable future. 

But when the bible talks about the heart, it is talking about the core of our motivations. In other words, what moves you? What makes you tick? What causes you to do the things you do and make the decisions you make? Biblically, the answer is your heart.

The big problem is that our hearts are broken. They are paralyzed. This is the big idea we'll be looking at this Sunday. 

The ministry of Jesus is moving forward and rapidly growing. Crowds are continually pressing in on him, and he has the attention of the religious elites. In our text this Sunday, Mark 2:1-12, Jesus is confronted with a drop in. Literally, a paralyzed man is dropped through the roof of his house. The hopes of this paralyzed man are that he would be able to walk again, but Jesus immediately confronts a far deeper issue. The heart. He declares to the man, "Son, your sins are forgiven." In that bold statement, Jesus makes a claim that would challenge the hearts of all who heard him.

Before this Sunday, think about that question. How is your heart? Then come ready to receive from God's word.  

Sunday Preview: How Jesus Did Ministry

We're going to try something new this week. We're calling it the Sunday Preview.

My intent with the Sunday Preview is to help you in preparation before our Sunday Gathering. The Sunday Preview will be a short blog post that introduces the text of scripture that will be preached and some of the main points that will be addressed in the sermon. It is my prayer that this serves you well.

How Jesus Did Ministry: Mark 1:35-45

What is ministry? 

The word "ministry" conjures up many ideas in the church today. For many, ministry is what happens inside the four walls of a church building. For others, ministry is what the "paid professionals" do. And for others, ministry is a unique spiritual experience where Jesus is talked about, sins are confessed, and people are "ministered" to. But is this all there is to ministry? 

Over the past several years, the idea of ministry, as it is most commonly known within the church, has been challenged. There were many in the church who recognized that ministry is not a specific, planned for event that one attends in a church building, but rather, that ministry encompasses the entirety of the Christian life. This means that ministry is not something you go to do, but an identity that you live out of. In other words, all followers of Jesus are ministers, and the whole of Christian life is ministry.

The way Jesus did ministry.

In our text this weekend, we're taking a look at how Jesus did ministry. Thus far, we've seen that Jesus was set apart for a very specific type of ministry, and we've even seen a little bit of what that looks like. Jesus is a preacher unlike any other. He speaks and acts with an authority completely foreign to the audience around him. Furthermore, we've seen the message he proclaims and the kingdom he ushers in is so compelling that it will completely change the way your life is lived.

This week, we get to look at a few more of the details of the ministry of Jesus. Our main points will be that:

  1. Jesus Prayed.
  2. Jesus Preached.
  3. Jesus went among the people.

Preparing For Sunday

Over the next few days, spend some time reading Mark chapter one focusing on verses 34-45. Do your reading with the above points in mind, and think through why Jesus prayed, think through his preaching, and think through what his life among humanity looked like. During your reading, pray that God would show you more of Jesus, and ask him to show you what doing ministry like Jesus would look like for Taproot Church as a whole, and for you personally. As followers of Jesus, we want to know Jesus and how he lived, and how we can live like him.

See you Sunday! 

Pastor Mike