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Ben Fleming: The Person and Purpose of Jesus, Mark 1:1-15

March 14, 2022

Audio Recording

Mark begins his narrative by describing who Jesus is, why he came, and what he brought to the world. Jesus’ identity as the son of God makes it even more amazing how compassionate he is to us. The gospel of Jesus Christ is a key phrase in understanding Mark’s narrative. His life and ministry (his teaching, healing, and compassion) was and continues to be good news. This good news is hope to the world, especially to those who are hurting, broken, and living amidst chaos and confusion.

Mark: The Gospel of Curiosity
Mark: The Gospel of Curiosity
Ben Fleming: The Person and Purpose of Jesus, Mark 1:1-15
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Sermon Transcript:

:00 You're listening to a live recording from Westside church in bend, Oregon. Thanks for joining us

00:06 Morning, everybody. Welcome in those of you who are online. welcome to the service that is full of the smarter people. I don't understand why on daylight saving day, you would come to the first service. It makes sense. It makes no sense to me. I'm Ben, I'm one of the senior pastors here on staff, and we're just coming out of a series that we titled church history, where we talked about the overall history of the church. Maybe even a little bit of west side history sprinkled in, and they're all for the purpose of understanding where we come from. Some of the mistakes that we've made and often continue to make, to look at the cycle of the church and see where we fall and where we rise again, with a hope that we can come to a greater understanding of who Jesus is in the middle of all that.

00:50 So that we as a body and the we, as individuals can better reflect who Jesus is. It's a work in progress. It's a tough one, but it's the reason we're jumping into a new sermon series this morning. That is just going all the way through the book of mark leading up to Easter. So we're going to be in mark chapter one this morning. And in verse one, go ahead and follow along with me here, it says at the beginning of the good news about Jesus, the Messiah, the son of God, as it is written in Isaiah, the prophet, I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way. A voice of one calling in the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord make straight paths for him. And so John, the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, the whole Judean countryside, and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him, confessing their sins.

01:40 They were baptized by him in the Jordan river. John wore clothing made of camel's hair. The original hipster. I like to call John with a leather belt around his waist and he ate locusts and wild honey, but a true, authentic hipster. And this was his message after me comes the one more powerful than I, the straps of whose sandals, I'm not worthy to stoop down and untie. I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the holy spirit. Let's pray together, father God, we thank you that we get together to be together, to listen to your word, Lord, I pray that it would be far more than the words that I speak, but that there would be something about your presence and who you are, the life you lead on this earth that would lead us to incredible inspiration and a new way of living in Jesus' name. We pray. Amen. Amen. I am a Seahawks fan by the way, which I'm just, yeah, yeah, we're struggling right now. I'm going to go through the stages of grief after a Russell Wilson trade right in front of your eyes this morning. and I would like to say to those, you've been texting me, your condolences, especially unite our fans. There's a special place in the kingdom of God for you.

02:57 I got to, I actually learned to the Russell Wilson news on a little small vacation that I took, just by myself for the first time. I think in my whole life, this last week, I flew down to see a friend in Arizona. and I was reacquainted with one of the loves of my life. And that is air travel. I like air travel. I like planes. I don't mind that the seats are small. I'm still in awe of the fact that we can fly at all. Is anybody else? Some of you travel a lot and you're like, dude, just relax. We lived off and I looked down and I'm like, this is a miracle. This is so cool. And I, I kinda liked that. you know it, and once you see it this way, you'll never unsee it. But when you're on a plane, it's almost like the, flight attendants, which God bless them turn into babysitters. And we all become small children. You know, I really gotta go potty and you can't go potty right now. Put your seatbelt on. Here's your small snack and your small cup. Don't Speaker 3

03:50 Spill.

03:52 Don't bunk your head on the way out. But in the, in the airports themselves, I find that I have, I don't know if it's something about my ears. I can't pick up the frequency, but anytime, one of the flight folks gets on the little walkie-talkies that they have at your gate. And they say things like welcome to, Speaker 3

04:09 To Alaska flight, 370, it's a beautiful Tuesday morning. We're excited to get going. We might be about five minutes delay.

04:17 And really, I hear some of the basic information at the front, but what I've discovered about myself is that when they actually have real stuff to relate to me, I cannot for the life of me, hear what they are saying.

04:30 Okay, Speaker 3

04:30 Welcome to Alaska. Slide three 70 and just the beautiful Dames. And it was Some incredibly urgent information for you. We're excited to have you aboard

04:57 The other people move. You didn't hear anything. They didn't say anything and people are getting them stuff. You know, How do you know? And I realized that flying by myself, that I usually have my wife, Rebecca with me. He was like, okay, now we got to do this. Well, what did they say? Well, they said, they're on, they're not gonna have coffee available on this fly. They're actually trying to leave this one a little bit early. Since everybody's checked in, she gives me the download. And then she tells me where to go. And some of you were like, Ben, you're just not paying attention. I resent that. And you're probably right, But it feels a little bit like maybe some of you have felt this way in church before, or maybe you've even felt this way today while we were worshiping that this voice of God thing happens for some people around you. And even, you know, I lead worship sometimes I'm like, yeah, God's just going to speak to us right now in this moment. Some of you were like,

05:55 There's people next to you? Just like the presence of God. I don't feel anything. I feel a little chilly. The air conditioning might be on. And maybe you spent years in church doing this, or maybe just today, or maybe it's for a season where you feel like things were a little bit drier, but what mark is trying to do, and really his name's John mark and associate of Peter and Paul, where, who, whom he gathers these stories from to create what this is the gospel of mark. What mark is trying to do is really help you understand that Jesus is supposed to accomplish the thing that my wife Rebecca does for me in airports, that there's a lot of language going on. There's a lot of things happening and she grabs my arm and moves me into the right direction, what Jesus does and what mark is trying to exemplify for the Jewish people who are curious if their Messiah will ever come, as he's trying to connect these old scriptures and these old prophecies and things with Jesus, because he believes him to be the Messiah, the savior of the world.

06:55 And so for people who have been in what they call 400 years of silence, where our new profit hasn't showed up a new thing, hasn't happened, he's trying to show them it's happening right now. You are in the middle of the story. And so John, the Baptist shows up and he begins to preach this thing and use these old stories and languages about the Jewish people, the Israeli people that are set free from Egypt and they cross the sea that God has opened up for them. And he begins to speak to this freedom to remind them of what God is saying. Now the problem is, is again, for a hundred years of silence, a few generations have gone by of people that have been hearing the stories about how a Messiah will come and it has become somewhat old news to them. It's a little bit like Steve Mikel talking about Lord of the rings. You know what I'm saying?

07:43 He's not here today. And I don't know the whole podcast. That's all I'm gonna say whatever I want. It's a little bit like hearing grandpa tell the same story over and over and over again. Or how about this? A Mariners fan saying we're going to win the world series, you know? Yeah, sure. Fine. Okay. Never going to happen. And John comes back and he says, no, look, you got to understand you are in the middle of this story. It's not just an ancient thing. It's not just an old prophecy. I want to show you. I want to show you. I want to show you that this is happening right now. And so in mark chapter one, now skipping down to verse nine. It says at that time, Jesus came from Nazareth to gala in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan, just as Jesus was coming out of the water. He saw heaven being torn open, and the spirit descending on him like a dove and a voice came from heaven. You are my son whom I love with you. I'm well pleased that once the spirit sent him out into the wilderness and he was in the wilderness for 40 days being tempted by Satan, he was with the wild animals and angels tended to him.

08:45 And after John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee proclaiming the good news of God, the time has come. He said, the kingdom of God has come near repent and believe the good news, John mark, again, trying to get across the point through this imagery and this telling of the gospel, that things are not as they seem that this kingdom that you've heard about this thing that you've been wondering about this rumor of a Messiah has now entered into our midst. And I love that Jesus accomplishes a few things for us here. So early on in his time of ministry, he gets baptized, which tells us a few things. First of all, that we believe baptism is important. I think there's so many things that happen in this time when we get baptized in water in front of a crowd of people, this decision, something spiritually happens that I don't think we can fully comprehend, but even on a basic level, I kind of subscribed to the idea of if Jesus thinks it's important for him to do, then I think it's important for me to do. And that's why it's such an incredible part of our faith community. It's built into it, but baptism in and of itself tells the entire story of the gospel. And certainly the story of Jesus's life is that life will begin, but then death will happen in the middle, but death is not the end when call you're the author. And pastor says in his book, love big B. Well, he says, I think we should hold people down under the waters of baptism longer than we do

10:20 Kind of creepy. You know, there's something about the rhythm that we have now, especially when we have this tub over here that I'm really comfortable with. You know, I can't imagine Hold ring them out. We got baptized in the Creek at my church growing up and the Creek came right out of the bottom of the Gillsville reservoirs was ice cold. And even in the middle of the summer, man, that thing was just frozen. We used to dare each other to get into it. And so you take people down a baptism. Sometimes it would feel a little bit more like an execution than it would a baptism

11:00 Going down and we would dunk them in there and then people would celebrate and rejoice except for the person that was getting baptized. That was just like, get me out of here. I don't want to be in this thing anymore. Give me a towel, let me dry off. But I want us to understand that the beauty of baptism, especially with Jesus going through to eventually go and die on the cross and then come back from the grave. What Jesus is trying to tell us over and over and over and over again is not that we will avoid death, but it's that death is not the end. I believe that there's some of you in here today that are experienced a death of a relationship, maybe an actual, real death of a human being in your life that you love and care for. Maybe it's a hope or a dream or a purpose that you once had a direction that you were confident in your life.

11:46 Every you're experiencing the death of that thing right now. I got to encourage you just in really classic gospel fashion death. Isn't the end for those hopes and dreams for you that even death that is heartbreaking as it is. And we should lament the loss of the people that we love around us. It is not the end. That thing that you thought was your ultimate purpose. Dying is not the end. Instead. There's always a more dynamic, beautiful life on the other side, do we avoid and skip over death? No, we do not. Instead. We're brought back to life on the other side of it. Baptism doesn't promise us away around death. Instead it promises that death isn't the end. All deaths we experience are and will not be the death of us.

12:37 It goes on to mark chapter two, but before we do, I want to show you this prophecy from Daniel in chapter seven, verse 13 of the book of Daniel, a lot of the people that are wondering about a Jewish Messiah would have been really familiar with this story. And Daniel uses some words that come to him in a vision that Jesus goes on to use in mark chapter two, I'll connect the dots for you in a second. So it says in Daniel seven says in my vision at night, I looked and there before me was one like a son of man, a son of man coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the ancient of days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory, and sovereign power, all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away.

13:21 His kingdom is one that will never be destroyed. And as I watched this horn was waging war against the holy peoples verse 21 and defeating them until the ancient of days came and pronounced judgment in favor of the holy people, the most high and the time came when they possessed the kingdom. So when you tell people that are familiar with the Jewish scriptures, that a Messiah is coming, this is their image of a Messiah. One who has given, who has been given the title of son of man, who has given permission to judge the nations and build this everlasting kingdom, which in their mind, especially under the rule of Rome is thinking we will finally push against all of the soldiers and the government that is holding us down and then enter Jesus where the rumors are already starting to circulate that this might be the Messiah, or it could be a heretic.

14:13 And mark two says a few days later when Jesus, again, entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home. They gathered in such large numbers, that there was no room left, not even outside the door. And he preached the word to them. And some men came bringing to him, a paralyzed man carried by four of them. And since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus, by digging through it and then lowered the mat. The man was lying on. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, son, your sins are forgiven. And now some teachers of law were sitting there thinking to themselves, why does this fellow talk like this? He's who can forgive sins? But God alone, immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts.

14:59 And so he said to them, why are you thinking these things, which is easier to say to this paralyzed, man, your sins are forgiven or to say, get up, take your mat and walk. But I want you to know that, check this out. And this would have triggered their ears. I want you to know that the son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins. And so he said to the man, I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home. And he got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them. All this amazed everyone. And they praise God saying we have never seen anything like this. So he comes home. Most scholars say to actually to Jesus's house and people hear that he's coming. They fill the house. He begins to speak to them. Religious leaders included everybody curious what this supposed Messiah might look and sound like.

15:52 And this incredible thing happens where the super faithful friends lowered their paralyzed friend down through the roof. And Jesus, doesn't just go, oh my gosh, look at you. You're paralyzed. Let me help you out and fix your body. Instead, he looks at them and he says, your sins are forgiven. And the religious leaders are like, what? You can't do that. Now, part of the reason, this is so offensive to this group of people is that if, if you were one of these religious leaders, you had a certain amount of power and sway. And at the current moment, the current cultural moment, you had to come to the temple. You had to participate in certain sacrifices in order to be absolved from your sins and for someone to show up and just in the middle of their living room with half the roof tore off say, now your Sears for sins are forgiven.

16:39 This takes away everything that they've learned. This takes away their cultural thing that has been built up for so long. And it takes away so much of their power that they respond to Jesus in this defensive manner. And then Jesus says, this is even crazier. I'm going to do you one better. I'm the son of man. Now, as he says, the son of man, everyone would have looked and stopped and gone, okay, what's going to happen next because if he's the Messiah, he's about to put his white Knight uniform on. He's about to get this sword out. He's about to take out some of the soldiers down the street, and then we're gonna run on the government tonight, boys, let's go. And Jesus says, I'm the son of man. All right, Speaker 5

17:18 Here comes the judgment. It's going to be amazing. Look out for

17:21 Fire. I can forgive sins. Oh, come on. Not as cool. Have you ever discovered in your life that sometimes based on your emotions and your current stage of life, that Jesus has kind of a massive letdown? Oh, it's true. And they're feeling it right now in this moment, but Jesus, instead of bringing this powerful judgment, this moment is communicating something that's even more powerful and that is the power of forgiveness.

18:02 See the thing that I like a lot more than forgiveness. I don't know about you, but this is just a natural thing in me that I find myself having to fight against all the time. My reaction when I have been wronged is not to be like, I'm going to look for an opportunity for give them my mother-in-law does that. She drives around. She goes, oh, they cut me off. Hmm. Must be in a hurry. Maybe something's wrong. No, Let me tell you what's wrong. They're an idiot.

18:29 Yeah.

18:31 Oh, you, you don't cut me off on the Parkway. My goodness. I'm trying to get off onto that Hawthorne exit. You leave me alone. My mother-in-law thinks this way. I hope there's a few other people in here that think this way, but no, my first thought is revenge. How do we get them back as efficiently as possible without breaking the law In a way to get us caught. We think in revenge, this is a primal reaction for us because we've been so evolved as tribes to respond in a certain way. Whenever we've been wrong, because we want to protect ourselves when to protect our own, we want to hold onto what's ours. And a lot of times we confuse the power of God with this power of, we got to fight back any single time something comes against us. And T Wright says it this way. He says some will say is the only language they understand people say is they plant another bomb or AME another rifle. Sometimes whole nations and governments engage in childish, but deadly tit for tat retaliations. People who live that way, tend to think that God lives this way too. But forgiveness is the most powerful thing in the world. But because it's so costly, we prefer to settle for second. Best

19:57 Forgiveness Is so difficult. And in so many cases, it seems impossible. And I can't say that I completely understand it at all. But I do know that I became such a priority for Jesus. That when John mark is writing this gospel, he insists on including this fact that when so many people after he says, son of man would have expected fire and brimstone. Instead, they got the new, most powerful thing in the world Forgiveness.

20:34 And I want you to realize who in this story receives it, right? You've got religious leaders that know their stuff inside and out. You know, we say religious leaders all the time we talk in scripture and these people were often corrupt. They killed, they did, you know, obviously incredibly horrible things. They studied so hard. They memorize these old prophecies and the Torah. They spent all this time. They've hustled their way. Think about the two guys, the friends that lowered this mat down, they ripped off the roof, incredible that they had this idea as they showed up to a full room that they didn't go, excuse me, can you move? They said, that's it. We're going to the roof.

21:10 They worked hard. And they hustled. And so I want to speak to some of you to bring a little bit of relief today. Some of you are part of the hustle culture, the work like it all depends on me and pray like it all depends on God crowd. The I'm going to get mine no matter what folks, those of you who can't seem to stop working at any moment and simply rest in what you have. I want to tell you, the person who experiences the miracle and receives the forgiveness is not those that pulled the man up onto the roof. It's not the religious leaders. It's not those who showed up to be into the front row, in front of Jesus. It's the one who literally couldn't move. And then somehow ends up by the grace of other people around him to end up in front of the feet of Jesus, still unable to move.

21:55 And he's simply looking for this one physical miracle, but he gets even more than he bargained for. He gets the forgiveness of the Messiah. The savior, his life has changed forever. Not just because his legs can move again, which is unbelievable, but because his soul has seen a new grace and a new way of living through the person of Jesus Christ. I want you to understand today, that is forgiveness that has been given to you, allows for a certain amount of rest. That allows us in moments when we're broken and saying, I don't even know how to move tomorrow. I want you to know that you're right in this spot with Jesus, simply looking up to him helpless, and Jesus knows exactly what to do with you in that moment. Don't be afraid of our inability to move or to not know what's next. Instead, sit at the feet of Jesus. I think sometimes it takes so much. We think it takes so much effort to be loved by God or to be included in a community that all finished with this short quote. It's not going to go up on the screen. It's from a it's from the prophet and Mr. Rogers,

23:10 He says you don't have to do anything sensational for people to love you. May it be so for west side church, because it is so in the economy of Jesus, father, God, we thank you for this morning. We thank you for your forgiveness. That is an ceasing on ending aren't. I pray that we be refreshed by the truth of baptism, that as we face death and even walk through it and its many forms that there is a new life. On the other side, we embrace you forgiveness. We repent of feeling like hustle. Culture will get us everywhere that we want. Instead we want the peace that comes only from being at your feet in Jesus name. And everybody said, amen.