Gospel Quest Thru Mark #6: Christ and the Choice
Our Gospel Quest continues now through the book of Mark. Mark is the shortest of the Gospel accounts and was written by John Mark, the nephew of the apostle Peter. Many believe that Mark based his Gospel upon the memories of his uncle and then under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit wrote them down.
Mark begins His account of the Gospel with Jesus first appearing and the start of His public ministry, to him Jesus was the gospel, He was the good news. Mark says “Mark 1:1 The beginning of the gospel (the good news) of Jesus Christ, the Son of God;” He then tells us of John the Baptist announcing the coming of Jesus and then in verse 9 he writes, Mark 1:9-10 And it came to pass in those days, that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized of John in Jordan. And straightway coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon him:
There are, as you know, four Gospels Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. The first three Matthew, Mark and Luke are called the synoptic Gospels, the word means “with one eye.” They are called synoptic because they follow, for the most part the same order and cover the same events. John is the non-synoptic Gospel and though it overlaps with much of the other Gospels it covers an entire year, at the very beginning of Jesus ministry that the other accounts do not. Mark may have been the first Gospel written around 67- 70 AD.
All the Gospels record the life of Jesus, but they all present our Savior in the perspective of the man writing. The Holy Spirit used their vocabularies, styles and memories to give us a full view of who Jesus was. Matthew presents Jesus as the rightful King of Israel and gives us many Old Testament prophecies to show that truth. Luke show Jesus as the perfect, sinless man, while John wants us to see Jesus as God, the son: God in the flesh. Marks view of Jesus is as the servant. He uses words that are dramatic and forceful and show Jesus driven by His mission and His submission to God the Father.
The Wycliffe Bible Commentary says, “The characteristic word of this Gospel of action is euthys, which occurs some forty-one times and is translated straightway, immediately, forthwith, anon. … In numerous places words of unusual forcefulness appear, such as "driveth" (1:12), compared with "led," which appears in the other Synoptic Gospels (Mt 4:1; Lk 4:1).” - The Wycliffe Bible Commentary.
When all four Gospels are read, we see Jesus as God who became Man and as the King who became a servant. All of these descriptions of Jesus are true. He could not have been the Good News that saved us unless He was fully God who came down from glory and entered a virgin’s womb to be born a man. He was rightfully our King but willingly made himself a servant who died for us on Calvary.
We must be right about who Jesus is and we must be right about how the salvation He offers us becomes ours. I can’t afford to be wrong about salvation, no matter how good my intentions may be.
When it comes to salvation, I cannot make a mistake. I cannot hope that what I believe will save me. I must know what action to take to be saved.
Crippled Before Christ – Mark 3:1-2
And he entered again into the synagogue; and there was a man there which had a withered hand. And they watched him, whether he would heal him on the sabbath day; that they might accuse him.
This is the second Sabbath controversy in the book of Mark. The first takes place in chapter 2 when Jesus allows his disciples to pluck ears of grain and eat them on the Sabbath. Because Mark starts us out later in the life of Jesus, we don’t read about the year of obscurity, that John records, but are immediately plunged into the controversies with the Pharisees and during the year of opposition.
The Bible simply tells us that there was a man with a withered hand and they the Pharisees watched Jesus to see if He would heal the man on the Sabbath Day. The day when the commandments forbade any work.
The Pharisees see an opportunity to destroy Jesus with the law and let a man continue to suffer, but Jesus sees an opportunity to overcome the law with His love and to heal a man with His power.
This man was weak, his hand was useless. He would have been unable to do what a whole man could do. He was not as God had created him to be, sin in the world had brought about his condition that day.
In this man and in the actions of Jesus I can see a picture of us, not with a withered hand but with a crippled and withered soul.
We stand in this world as spiritually crippled before Jesus. This is a withering that is even more crippling, than the man in the synagogue that day. It is the withering of our souls, our spirits.
The Bible says this happened when sin entered the world as Adam and Eve disobeyed God in the Garden.
God told them in Genesis 2:17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.
But they disobeyed God and on that day they lost eternal life and they began to die physically, but they also immediately spiritually.
They fled from God, so they hoped to not be found. Yet he sought them and when he did find them He told them that because of what they had done, the rest of their lives would be filled with pain and sorrow. And not just them but all those who would come from them would be touched by the crippling power of sin, both physically and spiritually.
This is what the Bible says about Sin and Me
Romans 3:23 For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God
Romans 5:12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:
1 John 1:8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
We are spiritually crippled and just like that man on that Sabbath Day we need Jesus to see us and heal us from the devastating effects of sin.
Transition: This man with the withered hand had been this way for years perhaps since birth. Day after day he struggled with his deformity but today was no ordinary day, because today he was going to meet Jesus.
Called To Christ – Mark 3:3-4
3 And he saith unto the man which had the withered hand, Stand forth. 4 And he saith unto them, Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath days, or to do evil? to save life, or to kill? But they held their peace.
Called To Christ
Look at the character of Jesus in this situation, he sees the man and he sees the Pharisees and knows that they are watching. The Bible does not tell us that the man came up to Jesus to ask for healing but instead it is Jesus who addresses the man. He could have walked by, he could have let this man continue in weakness and disability, unable to fully use his withered hand. But, praise the Lord, that is not Jesus. He looks at the man, he looks at the Pharisees then he tells the man, “Stand up.” Stand up so everyone (I’m looking at you, Pharisees) Let them all see what I’m about to do.”
Jesus calls the man to Himself. He is going to deal with both the man’s crippled hand and the Pharisee’s crippled minds. The man listens and comes to Jesus, but the Pharisees leave to find allies they can use to kill Jesus.
There is no better illustration in the Bible of the outcome of the law and outcome of love. One leads to death, the other leads to life. That handicapped man knew the difference and we better know it as well.
Called To Come
You must know that Jesus is still calling today. Through the Gospel, through His Word, through His church and through his people, He is calling those with sin withered hearts to come.
Listen to the words of Jesus himself.
In John 6:44, he tells us that, “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.
Then in John 12:32, he tells us when that calling will take place. “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.
Some would take John 6:44 and tell you that you can’t come unless God draws you and that is true but then they will tell you that God only draws certain ones and we can’t know who are the drawn, the elect of God unless we come. Aren’t you glad that Jesus sets all that straight in John 12:32. He tells us exactly how we will be drawn and it is just as plain a call today as it was for the man in the synagogue that day. Jesus says, “If I be lifted up.” He is speaking of the cross, his death on the tree and He says in that lifting up, He draws all to himself.
Every time we tell someone that Jesus died for them we lift him up, and as He is lifted up the Holy Spirit calls out to that lost person and they hear the voice of Jesus saying, Come to me.
If that is not plain enough listen once again to Jesus in Matthew 11: 28-30 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
When we hear the voice of Jesus and you have heard it just now, will you be like the man who stood up and come or will you stay back like the Pharisees, resenting that we are being told that we are weak or sinful or lost or without hope. Would we would count ourselves with the Pharisees and walk away from the invitation of Jesus?
Illustration: Jesus, the sole point of judgment John 9:39
After healing a man born blind and then seeing that man thrown out of the synagogue because he also was healed on the sabbath, Jesus finds him and after presenting himself as the Son of God, the once blind man says, “Lord, I believe” and he worships Jesus. Then Jesus turns to the once again watching Pharisees and in
John 9:39-41 For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind. And some of the Pharisees which were with him heard these words, and said unto him, Are we blind also? Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth.
They refused to admit their own blindness, refused to come to the only one who could heal their spiritually crippled eyes and so remained in their sin. They were proclaiming, We don’t have sin and we don’t need Jesus.
Pay attention to what Jesus says they and we will be judged for? He brings us to one sole point of eternal judgment. He says, “For judgment I am come into this world.” Do you know what Jesus tells us is the only reason we won’t go to heaven, the only reason we aren’t forgiven? Just like the Pharisees we would reject and walk away from Jesus and that rejection is the only reason heaven and forgiveness is denied me.
Transition: The story of course doesn’t end with Jesus calling, it doesn’t end with the man hearing the call of Christ for there is one very important action that must still take place. We see it in verse 5.
Cured By Christ – Mark 3:5
5 And when he had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts, he saith unto the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it out: and his hand was restored whole as the other.
Restoration or Rebellion
Once again we see the character of Jesus as he responds to the those around him. The Bible says, he looked round at them with anger, grieved for their hard hearts.
If anyone ever tries to tell you that Jesus wouldn’t get angry at sin or confront a willful, rebellious sinner to their face then you tell them about this story. He looked around at every single Pharisee, daring him to do what they said he couldn’t do and Mark records there was anger written on his face. They all could sin that Jesus was not going to overlook sin just so people could say how nice he was or that He never offended anyone.
Ye he looks in anger at those whose hearts were hardened in sin against him but he also looked in power, love and forgiveness to the one who stepped forward when He called.
Now I’m going to challenge you with a simple question, exactly when was this man healed? He wasn’t healed just because he heard Jesus. Nor was he healed when he stood up. He was healed when he heard the command of Christ to stretch out his hand and he believed and reached out to Jesus. His belief was shown when He did as Jesus told him and stretched forth his hand. The Bible tells us, “And he stretched it out: and his hand was restored whole as the other.”
Salvation or Damnation
Every person has two choices when they are confronted in the sin and weakness by Jesus. You can like the Pharisees harden your heart and refuse to heed the calling of Jesus. You can refuse to look upon the Lamb of God sent to die for you. You can choose to not acknowledge the personal reality that He came and died in your place on Calvary.
You can ignore what it says in Isaiah 53:4-6 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
Yes you can along with the Pharisees, harden your heart but realize that also like them you will experience the wrath and judgment of God.
Romans 2:3-5 And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God? Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God;
The two choice are so plainly laid out in just one verse, Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Someone has rightly said that if you are lost then this world right now, your life right now is the only heaven you will ever know. This is the best it gets. This life with it's sorrow and heartache, pain and suffering is paradise if you are lost without God. And the world which awaits you upon death is one in which there is no evidence of God. There is no light, there is not friendship, there is no hope, there is no comfort, there is no family, there are no dreams of a better future. All these things are blessings from God and Hell is devoid of all these. All that is left is the worst most inconsolable pain and suffering and torment that exists for those who reject God and choose not to have Him in their life. Hell is exactly that and it burns with that fiery torment for all eternity.
But please listen Hell was not meant for you. God fashioned it for the Devil and his angels, but God created you to have fellowship with Him. Even when that fellowship was broken back in the Garden, God had already planned to send His own Son so that it could be restored.
And so now He calls. Calls us to the cross, calls us to Jesus’ wounded side and pierced brow. Calls us to the foot of the cross so that He may be lifted up and we can find restoration, redemption and righteousness in Jesus Christ.
Will you walk away, or will you come? These are only two choices you have.
If you would be saved. If you would have your crippled soul and broken spirit healed, then you must do as the man in Mark 3 did. You must stretch you hand out toward Jesus. I'm sure that man was not proud of his misshapen, broken limb. He probably kept it hidden from the view of others, but on this day he had to stretch it forth toward Jesus.
Will you find salvation in Jesus? Will you stretch forth that withered soul, that stunted heart, that broken spirit toward Him? Please don't harden your heart, give it to Jesus this morning.