These are my notes from a sermon series I did though the gospel of Mark. It has not been proofed for grammatical or spelling errors. I present it to you as-is.
What does it mean to believe someone? To trust someone? To have confidence in who they are and what they can do? My 3 year old, she believes and has complete confidence I will catch her every time she jumps off my bed toward me. She will jump with no warning. She has never said to me, “I believe you will catch me.” The way I know her belief is real, her trust is genuine, and her confidence is strong is by watching her jump off the bed at me. It is a child-like faith she has in me. It’s one thing to stand on the bed and have confidence in me, it is another thing to jump off.
If you say you are a believer in Jesus, how do you know that you have real faith? How do you demonstrate your trust? How is your confidence in Jesus confirmed in your life? It’s one thing to sit in church and say you believe, its another thing to live it on Monday at home, at work, and in your relationships. That’s what we are going to think about today.
We are going through the gospel of Mark. Mark is introducing us to Jesus. So far we have learned that we are going to get to know Jesus as the suffering servant who came to live, die, resurrect and come again for those who trust Him for salvation. We have already seen some lessons from the baptism of Jesus and His encounter with the devil in the wilderness. Now we come to the point where Jesus is beginning to preach and teach about the Kingdom of God.
We pick up with the life of Jesus in Mark 1:14-15 which says, Later on, after John was arrested, Jesus went into Galilee, where he preached God’s Good News. 15 “The time promised by God has come at last!” he announced. “The Kingdom of God is near! Repent of your sins and believe the Good News!” (NLT). Let’s walk ourselves through these two verses and see what God says to us.
Later on, after John was arrested, Jesus went into Galilee,
Mark begins by saying, “Later on, after John was arrested, Jesus went into Galilee….” Between verses 13 and 14 about 6 months to a year has passed. Jesus has been in Judea ministering there and even cleansed the temple (cf. John 2:13-4:3).
Mark picks up the life and ministry of Jesus “after John was arrested,” an event he will describe in more detail in chapter 6. It was after John the Baptist’s arrest that Jesus began His public preaching and miracle working in Galilee. At this point there are two things we need to seriously consider.
First, following Jesus takes courage. Think about it. John was put into prison. That was his reward for becoming a spokesman for God. Sometimes when you serve God your life does not end up where you thought it would. In Hebrews 11 you will read about those who had faith in God and served God and spoke for God. In verse 7 you will read that “It was by faith that Noah built a large boat to save his family from the flood.” Then in verse 8 you read, “It was by faith that Abraham obeyed when God called him to leave home and go to another land that God would give him as his inheritance.” Hebrews 11 goes on and on listing one person after another of how they acted in faith toward God. By the time you get to verse 32 you read, “How much more do I need to say? It would take too long to recount the stories of the faith of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and all the prophets. By faith these people overthrew kingdoms, ruled with justice, and received what God had promised them. They shut the mouths of lions, quenched the flames of fire, and escaped death by the edge of the sword. Their weakness was turned to strength. They became strong in the battle and put whole armies to flight. Women received their loved ones back again from death” (vs.32-35, NLT). I wish I could tell you that if you walk by faith in Jesus that’s how it will always end. But there are those who when they walked by faith something different happened. Hebrews 11 goes on to say in verse 35, “But others were tortured, refusing to turn from God in order to be set free. They placed their hope in a better life after the resurrection. Some were jeered at, and their backs were cut open with whips. Others were chained in prisons. Some died by stoning, some were sawed in half, and others were killed with the sword. Some went about wearing skins of sheep and goats, destitute and oppressed and mistreated” (vs. 35-37, NLT). John the Baptist fell into the last category. He did exactly what God wanted him to do, said exactly what God wanted him to say and he ended up in prison and eventually will have his head cut off. Following Jesus takes guts. It takes bravery. It takes courage. When you follow Jesus there will be some who will love you for it and there will some who will not. You will be blessed and hated. You will be understood and misunderstood. But stay faithful. Be strong. It doesn’t matter what people say to you or do to you because of your love for Jesus. Regardless of where your faith in God takes you; whether your faith takes you to the mountain top or into the valley, whether your faith causes people to love you or hate you, bless you or hurt you remember Hebrews 13:5, “God has said, ‘I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.’ So we can say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?’ Remember your leaders who taught you the word of God. Think of all the good that has come from their lives, and follow the example of their faith” (vs. 5-7, NLT). Regardless of where your faith takes you, God is going to use you. God used John the Baptist and God will use you.
Second, following Jesus recognizes others will replace you. God’s kingdom and God’s message will always have its representatives and spokes people. God brought John the Baptist onto the scene and when his time was up Jesus arrives to continue God’s plan. God has always worked like that.
- God brought Moses onto the scene to deliver God’s people and then to finish the journey God brings Joshua onto the scene.
- God had Elijah and then Elisha shows up.
- God used Paul then comes along Timothy.
God brings in one leader and moves another one. God is not going to let His message vanish and fade away. He will always have His people where they need to be saying what they need to say. When I think about John the Baptist doing his ministry and then Jesus showing up, I can’t help but think how God uses one person and then another.
Until I became the pastor of Genesis Church I had always followed the previous pastor at that church. They taught, shepherd, and ministered and then they leave and I come in and pick up where they left off. Then I would leave and someone would come in behind me and pick up where I left off. God has worked like this since He created people. This tells me, I don’t have to do it all and neither do you. You do what God wants you to do and I will do what God wants me to do and when our time is over God will have someone to pick where we left off.
where he preached God’s Good News.
Mark goes on to say, Later on, after John was arrested, Jesus went into Galilee, where he preached God’s Good News. The Gospel is called “God’s Good News” because it comes from God, about God and brings us to God. This good news is the gospel that brings forgiveness, restoration, and new life. Let’s take a moment and think about this gospel, this Good News!
On your outline I have provided some Scriptures about God’s Good News. Let’s take a look at some of them.
Romans 1:16-17, “For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes – the Jew first and also the Gentile. This Good News tells us how God makes us right in his sight” (NLT). There is power in the gospel, in the Good News about Jesus Christ. People from every generation and every nation who have heard this Good News have come to believe it and follow Jesus because of it. It transforms lives. It changes directions, values, and gives hope. When you see the Good News of God at work you are getting a glimpse of the power of God at work.
Romans 10:16, “Not everyone welcomes the Good News” (NLT). Not everyone will believe it. Not everyone will accept it, but that doesn’t mean you quit sharing it. The Good News will always be worth sharing, supporting, and living.
2 Corinthians 4:4, “Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God” (NLT). The devil will do everything he can to blind and confuse people about the Gospel. He is not interested in you or anyone else embracing God’s Good News. For Satan, this is an all-out war against God and God’s people.
Ephesians 2:17-18, “He brought this Good News of peace to you Gentiles who were far away from him, and peace to the Jews who were near. Now all of us can come to the Father through the same Holy Spirit because of what Christ has done for us” (NLT). This gospel is called the Good News of peace because it brings peace between you and God.
Ephesians 3:7, “By God’s grace and mighty power, I have been given the privilege of serving him by spreading this Good News” (NLT). It is an honor, a privilege, and by God’s grace and power that people like you and me get to tell others about Jesus and what He has done in our lives and what He can do in there life.
Philippians 1:27, “Above all, you must live as citizens of heaven, conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ” (NLT). The Good News is about being rescued and saved from our sins. However, it is so much more than that. It is about living as citizens of heaven who happen to be living on earth. You want to live in a manner worthy of the Good News.
Colossians 1:6, “This same Good News that came to you is going out all over the world. It is bearing fruit everywhere by changing lives, just as it changed your lives from the day you first heard and understood the truth about God’s wonderful grace” (NLT). Somewhere in the world today, someone is hearing the gospel and its making sense to them for the first time and they will give their life to Jesus. There life is about to take a major change and who knows what God will call them to do.
How was this Good News delivered? Mark says it was “preached.” Whether it was declared and proclaimed from a pulpit, down by the river, under a tree, in someone’s house, to one person over lunch, or to thousands at one time God has used the preaching of His Word to spread the gospel. This is so important that before Mark ends his account of God’s Good News he reminds of what Jesus said in Mark 16:15, “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone” (NLT).
Today’s sermon is in the context of the Coronavirus, COVID-19. People around the world are responding to this differently. Some are responding well and some are not. As God’s people live, behave, and speak as “citizens of heaven.”
- This means pray for the leaders who are making decisions. Speak well of them. They are having to make tough decisions that affect a lot of people. Live and speak like citizens of heaven.
- This means respect the emotions and fears of others. Don’t mock or belittle others because they are afraid. Live and speak like citizens of heaven.
- This means protect and care for your neighbors. If you know of an elderly person or a family that may need something call them up and say, “I’m headed to town can I pick something up for you so you don’t have to get out.”
- This means look for opportunities to bring God into the conversation. God is still in charge. He is still in control. This did not take God by surprise. He has gotten others through it and He will get you through it as well.
Live as citizens of heaven.