Last week – healing on the Sabbath – Grace was the gospel thread that weaved the three stories together- Because Jesus showed grace and redefined the Sabbath, dis-empowering the rule of the Pharisees – The religious people planned to destroy Jesus –
But the crowd follows Him. That sounds honorable, but You know the kind of followers these were – I pray you are not one like that. They follow Him seeking to get things from Him. It’s like the guy Bev graduated with that won ¾ of a billion dollars – people who cared about him were there before – I’m sure at this point he has a bunch of “F-O-L-L-O-W-E-R-S……..”
Scripture says, “when they heard how many things he was doing”. The same thing happened at the feeding of the 5,000. Jesus had been healing and doing miracles, casting out demons…
so people want to be near Him to get themselves some. They want the goodies but they do not desire the giver of the goodies – just the goodies.
Matt Chandler – Our culture wants the kingdom without the king.
So a great many follow – But Jesus withdraws and this is where Mark tells us that Jesus calls disciples to preach, heal, and cast out demons.
The NIBC says, Jesus calls them “To understand his mind, to catch His Spirit, to share trust in the Father, and His passion to seek and save those which are lost – this is the first equipment in any effective discipleship.”
Can’t pass by here without addressing the term Jesus gives James and John – “Sons of Thunder”
Sons of Thunder – There is a place in the Kingdom of God for Suns of Thunder. But not just thunder that’s all bluster. The NIBC calls the thunder the “Impact of the forthright prophetic word”.
Amos thundered against those who “sold” the poor for a pair of shoes and Jesus thundered against those who devoured widow’s houses. Peter “thundered” against those who killed Jesus in the beginning of Acts when the Holy Spirit lit him on fire. Thunder is not condemnation from Jesus’ disciples and proclaimers of the Word. Thunder is the preaching against sin and the preaching which offers forgiveness through repentance. There are far too many who smother God’s word with a whisper. Sons (and daughters) of Thunder are not popular in our society. What is popular in our society? Middle of the road. Riding the fence. It is not popular to proclaim that Jesus is the way. Society prefers everyone being allowed to decide their own way, Jesus being one of many ways. Sons of Thunder proclaim Jesus as The Only Way.
Being so bold as to claim the title as a “Son of Thunder”, I could get bogged down here in a lot of controversial topics today that I do not have time for. Suffice to say that Sons of Thunder proclaim the difficult teachings of the Bible. When they come up later in Mark, I will not avoid them.
And before we move on, it is worth acknowledging that Jesus picked Judas –—–
with full knowledge of what Judas would do. I believe the Bible teaches that God knows everything, even as we have free will. He does not decide what we are going to do, but He knows what we are going to do. Jesus picks the guy whom will bring to fruition God’s purpose for sending Jesus to earth. – Getting Him to the cross.
So rumors start spreading about Jesus – his teaching is not like the teaching of the Religious leaders. Some starting saying he was a madman. “This Rabbi is calling fisherman and tax collectors to follow Him. He is associating with the wrong people. He is telling people their sins are forgiven.
“Jesus’ own people” heard about it and in an act likely prompted by concern and love, they come to apologize for him. In the clip from the prince of egypt, moses unknowingly stumbles upon his brother Aaron and Sister Miriam, and she tells him who he is and who they are, and Moses is incensed and Aaron begins apologizing for what Miriam is saying. She’s out of her mind.
Then the religious people are piling on Jesus saying he is demon possessed himself – that He is being controlled by Beelzebub – a name and an idea that degenerated from the name Baal – and basically now means the ruler of the demons – we would use the term the devil or Satan. And Jesus says satan can’t cast out satan – And Jesus says a kingdom or house divided against itself cannot stand – can’t survive. It’s the idea from Matthew 6:24 – no man can serve two masters. If satan is divided, satan has already lost – and we know he does not lose until much later.
Satan’s most powerful weapon is division. We are experiencing that in our own country and in the UMC. And all the talk of unity in the country and in the UMC is really just people saying, “If you will see things my way or let me do whatever I think is right in my own eyes.”
But sons of thunder and disciples of Jesus care too much about lost people. Dons of thunder and disciples of Jesus have to be willing to proclaim as Jesus did in Matthew 23:15 – “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are.” Dragging unsuspecting people down with you.
If there is a way of escape, do you not proclaim it? But oppressors do not wish to see people freed.
One of the harder Scriptures follows – Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit –
Verse 30 says, they did it when they said Jesus was the devil – that he had an unclean spirit. John 16:8 says the Holy Spirit’s initial role is to convict us to repentance. To blasphemy the Holy Spirit does not happen by accident. It’s a conscious choice of a hard heart that is too far gone. Anyone who seeks forgiveness is being led by the HS to do so and therefore was not too far gone. I heard it explained once that if you are worried you’ve done it, you haven’t. It is almost like what I said a week or two ago when I spoke about people who are worried that loved ones went to hell, and I said because of Jesus coming to my sister-in-law in her final moments and allowing us to know that, it would not shock me for people to get a final chance at their final breath, and still there will be people who say, No to Jesus, and yes to hell without Him. That would seem to be those who have hearts so cold that they have blasphemied the Holy Spirit in the ultimate act of calling evil good and good evil as they choose the devil over Jesus – putting the devil in the place of preeminence. I do not know that we can ever truly know this about people. Some people have recovered and come to Jesus that nobody could have ever imagined. And no doubt, some have with their final breath.
Being apart from God is our natural inclination because of our sin. By nature we are not, and do not stay, close to God.
The natural thing is to drift from God, be hard toward God, even as He reveals Himself in some kind of way to everyone.
It is supernatural to believe in God, to be close to God. And this can happen only through the power of the Holy Spirit.
We get to the final verses today – A bunch of people around Jesus and his mother and brothers come calling. And Jesus basically says “Who is my family? Those who believe in me and do the will of my Father are my family. What is the will of the Father? What is the ultimate will of the Father? Some people would say to love others as you love yourself. I go back to the first and most important job of the Holy Spirit – And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:
Convicting us of our need to confess, repent and be saved by…….. Believing in Jesus and that He died for our sins and by that we are saved.
So by faith, when we believe in Jesus and confess our sins to Him, and are forgiven by grace through faith – we become a part of the family of God, and are entitled to all the benefits thereof. My EMT certification says, “The National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians hereby certifies that Paul S Knowlton is an Emergency Medical Technician, with all the rights and privileges hereto…”
Likewise, when we confess and repent and ask for forgiveness, becoming a child of the King – we gain membership into the family and obtain an inheritance in eternity. And it’s a big family with people from every color all over the world, all brothers and sisters – – brother from a different mother you might say—- but the same father – God the Father.
Today, you are either in the family of god or you are not.
Acts 5:38-39 – A Pharisee named Gamaliel – “Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.”