Great villains make for great heroes. Before Mark tells the story of Jesus’ showdown with death, he pits Jesus against all kinds of lesser bad guys – demons, sickness, hunger and storms to make the case that Jesus has authority over everything. For Mark’s persecuted readers in Rome, the message is clear – nothing could stop Jesus then, nothing’s going to stop Him now.
00:00 You're listening to a live recording from Westside church in bend, Oregon. Thanks for joining us.
00:06 Well, good morning, everybody. Great to be with you in this Easter season. I'm Evan. I'm one of your senior pastors and a Traeger grill is being given away. This is good news. I might show up and rake some leaves because last season, flame started shooting out of the knob on my grill, and I don't think that's how it's supposed to happen. So it does make grilling more interesting. You know, you don't know you don't, if you're gonna get burned or not, but so great to be with you and to speak today in our series, in the book of mark, as we head towards Easter, I love Easter. It's kind of a big deal around here. Someone told me, they said, isn't Easter Sunday for you guys being church people. Isn't that kind of like your super bowl? And I'm thinking, no, it's actually, it's like the party after you win the super bowl.
00:52 I mean, this is Easter folks. It's when we celebrate that, Jesus went toe to toe with death itself and came out the Victor. I mean, this is, this is a big deal. And so I'm just thrilled to welcome the community into this house and the kids out on the lawn and the kids can come in by the way, for some of it. And then out on the lawn, I don't want to make it sound like we make the kids stay outside, but it's going to be great. It's going to be great. Well, today we want to be in mark. We're going to be in mark chapter four. If you have a Bible, you can open it to mark four. We'll be there in just a moment. I read this once that to make a good story with a great hero, you need a memorable villain.
01:34 Have you heard this? So to begin, just to get the wheels turning a little bit, I want you to throw out from books or movies, some of the most memorable villains that come to mind. Go ahead. SAR on Lord of the rings. Absolutely. What the joker Santos. Absolutely Darth Vader classic Jabba the Hutt. Yeah. Yeah, kind of a deep tracks villain, but he's in there. He absolutely did Vader and Java hut, Java hut, the hut. Did they ever team up? Maybe? I don't know. Maybe in a multi-verse somewhere. What else? What do I got Lex Luther, are you calling me Lex Luther? Or are you saying that's another villain I've been called worse? What else? Cruella. Deville. Absolutely. One more captain hook. And that was a great segue in actually I don't have a segue from captain hook to that.
02:32 Great. Villains are always part of the story. When we see this happens, every service people keep thinking of villains throughout, we'll be in communion later and be like, I've thought of one, you know, Voldemort, but great villains are part of the picture. If you're telling a great story and what we're going to find out. And what we've been finding out is that mark is telling a great story about the life of Jesus. And so what he's doing is he's going to, through a series of episodes in the book of mark, he's putting Jesus in these situations facing down these villains villains that look like hunger, villains look like demons, villains like storms, as we'll see today. And every time that Jesus proves that he has authority over one of these bad guys, we are drawn more and more into the story. As it points to the ultimate showdown that will happen as Jesus faces off with death itself.
03:30 At the end of mark, it's a beautiful way that mark draws us into the idea that no matter what Jesus faces, he has the authority over it. All. You know, mark was writing to a primarily Gentile audience that was in the city of Rome and who was undergoing a lot of persecution at the time that mark writes his gospel. And so from this vantage point of this young church that they're losing their reputations, they're losing their livelihoods. They're losing their home. Sometimes they're even losing loved ones to persecution. Surely they are wondering, is this all worth it? Is it worth it to follow this? Jesus, does he have the goods to fulfill his end of the bargain? Because this is costing us a lot to follow him. And so when mark sits down to pen his gospel, he is painting the picture that, yes, my friends, Jesus has the authority. He has the goods. He has the power to fulfill his end of this bargain and that he is worthy and deserving of your trust and your very lives as you put your hope in him. And so the message for that early church as they were reading this gospel for the first time, I think is true for us today. If you are wondering, is it really worth it to follow after this guy? Jesus mark is going to continue to make the case that yes, in fact it is.
04:57 We look in mark chapter four, we're gonna start in verse 35 at this key story of one of the miracles of Jesus, whatever you're facing today, you come to a place like this, looking for something most likely in the gospel of mark. We see story after story of people who are searching and hoping for something. And if you're in the category of people hoping in searching today, we're going to find some hope today. Mark chapter four, verse 35, it says as evening came, Jesus said to his disciples, let's cross to the other side of the lake. So they took Jesus in the boat and started out leaving the crowds behind, although other boats followed, but soon a fierce storm came up. High waves were breaking into the boat and it began to fill with water. Verse 38, Jesus was sleeping at the back of the boat with his head on a cushion.
05:50 The disciples woke him up, shouting teacher don't you care that we're going to drown. When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and said to the waves, silence be still. And suddenly the wind stopped and there was great calm. And then he asked them, why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith? The disciples were absolutely terrified. Now what we, this is interesting. We, we don't know quite what they're terrified of the storm maybe, but what I think they're really terrified of is this Jesus who wields such authority that even winds and waves listen to his voice. They say, who is this man? Even the winds and the waves obey him. Let me pray for us this morning. Jesus, we receive your word today. We want to be drawn into the story of Jesus, maybe in a fresh way. We want to read it.
06:46 Maybe as those original readers of this gospel would have read it, not with conclusions already drawn, but on the edge of our seats, wondering Jesus, how you were going to reveal what you're up to. Jesus changes today. As we hear your words, I pray that we would get a clear picture of who you really are. We pray this in Jesus name. Amen. Amen. Well, I know for all of us watching the news over these past weeks in horror, really, as we've seen some of the images and reports and videos coming out of Ukraine of war, war is an ugly thing. I think for all of those throughout history and war is nothing new. those who, who have seen it and been close to it, and granted, we are watching from a very far distance away from this war. But for all those who have been near war throughout history, it can shake our view of a sovereign God, who we believe is all powerful and carries all authority.
07:50 If that is true. So many would say on these days, why then why then is this allowed? Why then in a sense die, why then war? And I read one article and it quoted a journal from a Ukrainian girl who wrote in that journal from the besieged city of Mariupol. And she wrote, my neighbor has told me that God has left Mariupol and this shakes our theology. Sometimes I was sitting with a friend over dinner just a couple of nights ago this week. And we're talking about how we construct a sense of security around us. We do this very intentionally. It makes life a lot easier if you have a sense of, okay, things are going to be okay, I can kind of see out a bit. We're going to be all right. And then things happen, whether they're far away in a war across the ocean, or they happen in your life that begin to shake that structure, that scaffolding that we build around ourselves of security. And we start to wonder if God is so sovereign, if he's so powerful, if he has all authority, Why is he sleeping? Why is he either unwilling or unable to intervene in the situations that cause human suffering, where is Jesus in this storm? How would our view of Jesus? Hold up when the world is shaking. If you're not asking those questions, I guarantee you, you have neighbors and friends and people that you love that are asking those questions
09:33 That are wondering if, if the God that, that we talk about places like this from stages like these, if he's real and he's active and he's, he's really full of so much authority than where is he in the hard parts of life. And this is a logical conclusion. We draw, I think, many times in our theology that good things happen or should happen to good people and bad things happen to bad people. And if we ever find someone who's going through a bad time, we can probably assume they're a bad person. Don't know it. But you know that flat tire didn't just happen by itself. My friend check that guy's taxes, you know, or whatever, this idea that, that logically, if I do all the good stuff, good stuff should happen to me Sounds right, except for what Jesus said in Matthew five. He said, God gives sunlight to both evil and the good. And he sends rain on the just, and the unjust alike. And this causes a lot of wrestling with our theology, what we think about God. And if you've ever found yourself in that place of wrestling, you're not alone because people have been wrestling with these ideas around why God allows unjust things to happen all the way back through our history. I mean open the pages of the old Testament, open the Psalms and Ecclesiastes. He's opened the profits. You'll find page after page of people crying out and saying, God, what is going on?
11:06 I had a different understanding of how this was going to play out. And so we find ourselves in this place and I'll tell you what a theology that, that works well on happy days, Those great anniversaries in our lives, the moments of good health and great success when finances are looking good and the kids are happy and relationships are healthy. That's a great theology. I hope your theology works. Then I hope you can enjoy the good times. I hope you can rejoice with those who rejoice. As it says in the scripture For my goodness, a theology that also works in bomb shelters and hospital rooms. And beside the graves of the people we loved, That's something else. That's something deeper. That's something more resilient. That's something that doesn't crumble in the face of life. When it happens, you know, we don't, we don't escape the difficulties of life. And that's actually not something that has been promised to us. CS Lewis said it this way, we've been giving nothing that we weren't promised, But we have to hope. I mean, we get in there and be like, sorry guys, Good luck. There's no hope, but that's not the story of mark. That's not why we gathered. That's not why for centuries, believers in Jesus have come together to worship and to pray like Jesus taught us to pray our father in heaven, hallowed, be your name, your kingdom, come your will be done. We gather because hope still lives. Not in spite of trouble and suffering, but right in the middle of it,
13:01 I got to read this, this quote I say had it saved for the end, but it's so good. I want to share it right now. Christian hope Moltmann says Christian hope does not promise successful days to the rich and the strong, but resurrection in life to those who must exist in the shadow of death. My goodness, what kind of faith must we have to stand in the valley of the shadow of death and to fear no evil
13:30 To stand on a boat as the wave crashed down. And we fear for our very lives and to hold great faith that Jesus is with us, no matter what, this is the kind of faith I want. This is the kind of theology I want, but we have to upgrade maybe the, the first theology that we had, the first moments of how we came to understand God and his ways we have to upgrade it, not throw it out, but grow in it. I was thinking about this, the first date that we had, my wife's here the first day we had at a Starbucks in Hillsborough, which sounds exactly as romantic as it was Starbucks and Hillsborough. This is probably man, 17 years ago. The conversations you have on the first day, You're trying to come off interesting and funny, Intelligent, Attractive. And so the conversations you have, they tend to all be aimed at that. And they're not real difficult conversations. They're light by design. You're just getting to know each other. And I was thinking about the conversations that have come Since that day in the 17 years that we've had together on the good days and the bad days. And I don't know that if we had been aware, I don't know if she knew all the conversations we had, if she would have continued that relationship.
15:28 If I had had been fully self revealing about everything that was going on in my mind and my personality, she might've been like, you know, check please. Who's who else is out there. If we'd been aware of the difficulties that we would walk through together, it might've been enough to say, well, oh boy, maybe there's an easier way, But it's by grace that we start at the surface Because we don't always have the capacity to handle where that relationship will take us and the difficult places and the difficult questions and the hard conversations. And the bad days, we don't have the capacity at the beginning to embrace that level and depth of relationship. And I would propose this to you that, so it is with Jesus That when we first come to Jesus, there are conversations that will come later, that we wouldn't be able to handle right at the beginning, that there are moments that we find ourselves in storms, where we raise our voice and say, Jesus, don't you even care about me? That at the beginning would seem absurd and inappropriate and offensive, but we walk some miles with him and we get to know him.
16:54 And we learn the way that he talks. And we learned that he loves us so deeply and some questions rise up and the hard parts of life and the difficult moments. And we know that our relationship with him is strong enough to withstand questions when we don't understand what he's doing. And so what I hope you hear, and not just in this week, but the past couple of weeks, as we've talked about having the spiritual hunger, the spiritual curiosity about what God is doing, understand that we are on a journey of spiritual development and growth. We didn't arrive there. The day we got saved, we are discovering who Jesus is. Every single day, The disciples find out firsthand that being with Jesus on the boat, doesn't always mean they get to avoid the storm
17:45 And they cry out. You know, don't we don't you care. And Jesus wakes up. He says, storm stop storm does. And then he's frustrated with them. He says, all this time, where's your faith. And I've heard this preached a lot of times. And we get to that point and we're like the disciples. You don't have any faith. My goodness, if I was there, the fact is, I think most of us would respond the same way. The good news is Jesus. Doesn't kick them out of the boat for having no faith, nor does he like say, you know what? You don't have enough faith, great. You deal with the storm. And he jumps off the side, swims away.
18:30 It's actually what activates his authority over the storm is their lack of faith. Now this is, this is, this is big. They cry out to Jesus from a place of fear for their own lives. Jesus is unhappy that their faith is so small that they think they're going to die. And yet it's their call out to him. It's their cries of fear that wakes Jesus up and activates his authority that calms the storm around them. Jesus is drawing us into a deep and mature relationship where we have deep faith in his ability and his intention towards us. But I'll tell you what, in our prayers, when we are honest enough to bring what David said in the Psalms, our complaint before him, when we are bold enough to honestly approach God with the questions that seem like they don't have answers, it may represent a lack of faith, but it also might be the thing that activates Jesus's authority in the situations we face say, I haven't, that seems like a paradox and overly complex.
19:40 And yeah. Welcome. Welcome to church guys. We've got to move beyond this black and white simple. Just, just, I don't understand it, but it doesn't matter what just no, come on. We want to lean into the complexity of relationship with Jesus because it gets really rich under the surface. It gets really rich. If you'll hang with us, I hope you'll hang with us because it gets really deep and really good. Don't you care that we're going to drown. Maybe this question, you know, Jesus is actually an important process of our spiritual growth and our relationship with Jesus and not assign that we've given up on our faith. I have my Bible from, I got an a in middle school and I have it it's upstairs in my office and sometimes I'll reference it because I'm curious the notes and the highlights that I made in middle and high school, just to see a picture into my middle school brain is a scary place. I'm imagining 20 years from now. It would be preaching somewhere. I'm like, yeah, I'm back in 2022, man. I thought crazy stuff. My friends that's life, But I was looking through my Bible and it is overwhelmingly positive. The things I'll highlight and note on
20:59 It's early days in the relationship with Jesus, that All of our experiences are rooted in a place of pleasantries, But as life has gone on, we realized that there is a depth of relationship that comes not only on the good days, but also on the difficult ones. And, and so what I want to, as we kind of move towards communion today, that we're going to take together. I want to ask you, as you think about your relationship with Jesus, where do your highlights and notes stop? At what point does the relationship get too complex and too challenging and too full of doubts and questions for you to go on and highlight any more? Because I think it's probably just past where the highlighting stops and the pleasantries, and that you'll find a theology that is more resilient And rooted in something deeper than maybe we've had before. So I'm 44 is an example of one of these prayers that the first half is very pleasant. The Psalm is 10. I won't read the whole thing, but he says things like we've heard it with our ears. Our ancestors have told us what you did in their days. You gave us victory. You put our enemies to shame. We boast in you all day long. We'll praise your name forever. It's all positive. I probably highlighted all that. And then it gets reversed night and listen to the turn it takes.
22:29 It says, but now God, you have rejected and humbled us. You no longer go out with our armies. You made us retreat before the enemy and our adversaries have plundered us. You gave us up to be devoured like sheep and have been scattered among the nations. You sold your people for a pittance, getting nothing from their sale. And then verse 17, all this came upon us though. We had not forgotten you. We had not been false to the covenant. Now this almost is actually accusing God right there of being false to his covenant. Did you catch that? The covenant is two parties together? And the song was to say, we held up our end of the bargain As a bold accusation, verse 18. Our hearts said, not turn back our feet and not straight from your path, but you crushed us and made us a hunt for jackals. I'm going to call this my Jackal prayer. You covered us over with deep darkness. If we'd forgotten the name of our God or spread out our hands to a foreign God would God have not discovered it since he knows the secrets of the heart. He's saying we didn't do any of that.
23:36 We were good, good things were supposed to happen. Verse 22 yet for your sake, we face death all day long. We are considered as sheep be slaughtered. And then we hear echoes of mark chapter four in verse 23 awake. Lord, why do you sleep Rouse yourself and do not reject us forever? I love what Brigham Brighaman says about these prayers in Psalm 44. He says this prayer is not an active on faith, but rather the Supreme example of serious faith. When you are serious enough in your relationship with God to bring up the points where you feel that God has not come through, you were experiencing a deep faith, my friends. And so the Psalmist makes no apology for these accusations. And instead uses them as the language. This required for a rich and deep relationship between humanity and a God who holds all authority.
24:38 And then we fast forward and we get to the apostle Paul, who has had his fair share of troubles himself. He's been imprisoned. He's been beaten many times. He's been shipwrecked. He's been, they stoned him. He survived. He's in rough shape and he sits down and he writes his letter to the Romans. And I'm imagining him sitting there with the scroll of Psalm 44 beside him, after all he's gone through, after all the trouble and the tribulations and the suffering and the pain that he has walked through. And he sits down to write his letter to the Romans. Then he gets to Romans chapter eight and he writes, who shall separate us from the love of Christ shall tribulation or distress or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or the sword. And in his mind, he's thinking I've faced all of them folks as it is written.
25:33 And he copies over from Psalm 44, for your sake, we're being killed all the day long. We are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered. And if that was the end, my goodness that'd be heavy stuff, but he goes on and in verse 37, he says, no. In all of these things, we are more than conquerors through him who loved us for, I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come nor powers nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation would be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus, our Lord, you see the love of God revealed in Christ. Jesus. Our Lord on the cross is the answer to the Jackal prayers of Psalm 44. And the questions that we ask God, where are you in this situation? Paul's answer would be a resounding I'm on the cross.
26:38 Accomplishing everything that is necessary.
26:46 See you on the cross. We get an image of a God who not, who doesn't use his great authority and his great power just to make all the bad stuff go away On the cross. We get something how much more fascinating we get an all powerful God who has all authority in heaven and on earth. And instead of making all the bad stuff go away, He chooses to suffer alongside of us To put himself in the shoes of us who Have trouble in this life. Again, CS Lewis is writing and he's talking about this idea of suffering. And he says, you know, this is the one road for which we now need God's leadership. It's the row. We need his leadership. The most of all, and it's erode God in his own nature has never walked. And he goes on and he says, but suppose God became a man. This is the beauty of the cross. As we make our way towards the hope of Easter son of the beauty of the cross is that God saw us in our pain and he saw us in our suffering. And rather than making it all be erased, what he did is he went on the cross to suffer for us so that the ultimate
28:02 Enemy, the ultimate villain and the ultimate batty of death itself would not have authority over you Because of what he's done. And so for us who find ourselves in moments of difficulty walking in the shadows of death, we hold onto that promise that we're not promised successful days for resurrection life.
28:33 I wrote this about our hope. That hope is the one that visits us unexpectedly. And the dark night of our soul Hope is close to the broken hearted and those who mourn today. And we remember in this Easter season that hope hangs out near the tomb, reminding us that Sundays on the way That the Jesus who holds all authority in his hands is close to us right now. And there's some storms so calm, and there's some moments he'll just hang out with you till the end. Just stay with you every moment to remind you that God suffers too. And that in that solidarity with us, Jesus has done something Profound That God has come to be with us. And this is really the message. I mean, I want this message to be our, like the drum beat of our church, not come and all your problems go away and you'll walk out, you know, a Rolex and what a terrible, terrible gospel. I want our gospel to be that whatever you face today, whatever you're staring down, whatever storm is on your horizon, we have a God who will go there
29:55 With you,
29:58 And he's not going to give up on you. He's not going to abandon you to the store. This is our gospel. And so Jesus today, as we, are about to take communion together, we pray for, I remembrance, not just that you gave us salvation, but that by giving us salvation on the cross, you associated yourself With us Fully human, fully embodied, fully experiencing the worst that we will ever experience for our sake today. Jesus, that gives us great, great hope That you are with us. You will not abandon us. You will not forsake us. Thank you, Jesus. Well, Lindsey is going to, sing a song. Actually. She probably wouldn't want me to say this, but she wrote this song, for us, for this week, as we've been walking through meditations and contemplations every day, a beautiful song, I, I really think it is, so tied to this moment of community. So Lindsay is gonna sing the song, just receive it as she sings, and then I'll come back up and we're going to share in communion together,
31:25 You take these loaves, these few fish and with them, you feed my body, touch the hem of your beautiful
32:41 Still the way and walk on the lot. Or to me Turn my
33:23 I chose this place. My head expectations come
33:56 As we remember, Jesus broken body for us, That he was both broken for us and broken to be like us. We understand. And we remember this, that if he joined us in our sufferings, we can join him in his life. And so Jesus, today we remember your body broken for us and we receive it in our bodies. As we worship. Now, the cop represents his blood poured out for us By his wounds. We would be healed today. We receive in our bodies, the blood of Jesus poured out for us that we could receive life and salvation through the cross. Let's take it together. Jesus, we thank you. We thank you for the hope that we hold on to. We thank you for the invitation today that you give us, to go beneath the surface In relationship in our prayers. That even the most desperate prayer prayed with just a little bit of faith is enough to invite your authority and your power into our world and into our lives. Jesus, I pray for that faith. I pray that you stir it up in our hearts today. As we grow closer and closer to you, we love you and we worship you and pray this in Jesus name. Amen.