Sunday, May 30, 2004

I Have Something To Tell

Intro: Our story starts 30 or 40 years before the writing of Marks gospel. 1.With a man hanging on a cross. 2.They say he came back to life - the resurrection they call it 3.The stories have been told - passed down from family to family, from church to church 4.But it has now been 30 to 40 years since Jesus had left. Those who knew him best have started to pass away - and unless someone starts to record His history, the stories will be lost. 5.Four men - Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John - eventually write down the stories. They want to make sure that the facts are never forgotten. 6.Each author had their individual purpose for writing. They each a different audience to which they were writing. 7.The first author to record Jesus' history. And that just about defines Mark's purpose in writing - to put as much down on papyrus as he can. He omits a lot. There are so many details missing compared to the other gospels - but then he just wanted to make sure that something was written down. What if nobody wrote anything. 8.So Mark begins to write - and let us to begin to read his story. Read Mark 1:1-11 Pray Tran. Mark was young when he first became a Christian. He was invited to join Paul on one of his second trip into Asia minor - but for some reason decided to return home. It is suggested that there was somekind of argument between Paul and Mark. I don't know. But by the end of the New Testament, Mark is one of his most trusted companions. T.S. Mark begins his gospel with three independent, increasingly authoritative testimonies about Jesus Christ. I. The Witness of the Old Testament A. I don't think Mark is a very good Christian - Everyone that I know who talks about Jesus starts out with His birth. And Mark does not even mention His birth. What kind of Christian can he be? To skip the birth of Jesus - why I never? B. Yet, Mark, writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, does exactly that. And maybe even more amazing than that is that he starts by quoting two men who lived 400 to 600 years before Christ. C. In some ways it is not important what Mark quotes, but that he does quote the OT. This is the first of five times in the book of Mark that the author refers us directly to the OT prophesies that point to Jesus Christ. The NT authors understood that Jesus' coming was not a singular historical event - but an event that had its roots OT promises. (Appl.) There are those who minimize the role of the OT - yet the OT does lay a foundation upon which the coming of Jesus makes sense. The OT helps us to understand the new. It contains promises, prophesies, and blessings that are only hinted at in the Old, but are fulfilled and made fully available in the new. II. The Witness of John the Baptist A. Of course the OT quotations found in these first two verses of Mark refer to the coming of John the Baptist (Ill.) John the Baptist seems a bit strange to us - He "wore clothing made of camel's hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey." Not the kind of person that we would expect to meet on the street. The same was true in the 1st century along the Jordan River. John has committed his life to God using a vow that was first suggested in Numbers, chapter 6 - the Nazarite vow. Another part of that vow was to never have your hair cut while living under the vow. The other famous Nazarite was Solomon - and his hair was cut and he grew weak. B. John's message has two major components: 1. The first is that that Jesus is coming - whose shoes he is not fit to untie. He does not want to the focus to be on him. It must be on Jesus. The same is true today. In the church, the focus must not be on the pastor or the lay leader or any other leader in the church. Or even the church itself. The focus must be on Jesus. And when we do that, we will grow and the church will grow. 2. But John's message had another objective - and that was to his audience. There are three words which describe his message - a. "Confession" - agreeing with God about our sin. b. "Repentance" - once we agree with God about our sin, then we have decision to make. Will we continue to sin or will decide to follow God's way? Changing our life in response to understanding God's expectations is called repentance. Literally it means to change direction - it means to do an about face and to go in the opposite direction. c. "Baptism" - Christ has called the church to baptize those who come in faith to Jesus. And he has called those who are members of the Christ's family to be baptized. (Ill.) I had been a Christian for 20 years before I was baptized. Sandra and I had worked through the problems that had plagued our marriage and God had become something fresh and new in my life. The church I was attending was scheduling a baptismal service and I decided, finally, after 20 years including 5 years in the ministry, to be baptized. I was baptized by immersion in the church's old sanctuary. I was one of 15 or so that obeyed Jesus that day. It was one the milestones that God allowed me to have as my spiritual life was being rebuilt from some very dark times. III. The Witness of God A. John the Baptist has a message - but he also has a task. He is being asked to baptize Jesus. B. We don't get the whole story here - but we do get God's response to the event. Jesus is baptized and God responds - first with a dove descending from heaven. It was the Holy Spirt making His presence known - and then there were the words - "You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased." C. God's response mentions both a relationship - that of a father to a son; and an attitude - that says I appreciate my Son. (Appl.) Let me suggest that God is modeling two behaviors for us. First is the attitude of a parent toward their children. We need to have a relationship, we also need to have an attitude that says we will support them whatever may come. Obviously, God has a bit easier job at parenting than we have, but yet he sets the pattern we need to follow. The second is our connection to God - As a child of God can say the same of you, "Here is my beloved child, in whom I am well pleased." At some point we all find ourselves back needing to listen to John the Baptist. We need to develop habits that include confession and repentance into our daily lives. Confession, repentance, and faith begin the journey. There is something exciting about beginning the Christian life and things start out well. But then we start the day and when we realize that it is not the quite the same. When we find that our relationship with God is less than it was, it is clear who moved. And John the Baptist gives the pattern for renewing that relationship - confession and repentance. It doesn't take an altar. It doesn't take a pastor. It takes a takes a heart that wants to stay close to God. It takes time to admit that we have sinned. It takes the courage to repent and change the direction of our travel.

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