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.
We are experiencing some strange things right now. For the past several weeks we have been told to stay-at-home, sort of a self-quarantine and practice social distancing. We’ve been told not to get into groups and like many churches throughout the country and around the world, Genesis Church has gone all online. We do Sunday morning service online. We do Life Groups online. We do leadership meetings online. We do counseling online.
But here is the deal, no matter how much quarantining there is around the world the gospel cannot be quarantined. It is an unstoppable contagion that doesn’t hurt, it heals. It doesn’t destroy, it transforms. It doesn’t bring death, it brings life.
The Apostle Paul understood this well. At the end of his life he was stuck in a jail cell, chained to a Roman soldier waiting to be executed. He was in a final and ultimate quarantine of sorts. But he wrote these words in 2 Timothy 2:9, “And because I preach this Good News, I am suffering and have been chained like a criminal. But the word of God cannot be chained” (NLT). I love it! The word of God cannot be chained. The gospel was spreading and multiplying even while Paul was in quarantine on death row!
A couple of weeks ago, I watched the movie Outbreak, starring Renee Russo and Dustin Hoffman. It was a top 10 Netflix movie watched in March. It tells the story of how a monkey got a contagious strand of the Ebola virus. This infected monkey scratches a man. The man sneezes in a movie theater. The camera follows the particles coming out of his nose through the theater into the open mouth of an unsuspecting movie watcher and boom… the outbreak begins!
There’s a scary scene in the movie Outbreak where a military epidemiologist talks about the spread of the virus. Standing in front of a large virtual map, he says, “The infection will start here” (pointing to single red dot). “Within 12 hours it will spread this far” (the red covers a larger portion of the map). “Within 24 hours it will spread this far” (half the map is red). “And within 72 hours it will infect the whole of the United States” (the map is flooded in red).
When I watched that scene I couldn’t help but think of Acts 1:8 where Jesus told his disciples how the Gospel would infect the world (in a good way!). He said, “you will receive power after the Holy Spirit comes on you and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem (the single red dot), and in Judea and Samaria (the red covers a larger portion of the map) and to the end of the earth (the whole map is drenched with the red blood of Christ!).
The Gospel message is more contagious than the Corona virus. The difference is, that the Gospel doesn’t kill you, it transforms you! It doesn’t make you ill, it makes you well. It doesn’t lock you down, it frees you up!
So how can we help the spread of the gospel? We pray! We care! We share!
From Jesus we are going to see a viral outbreak of the good news. We are going to see how to spread the good news of Jesus in Mark 1:35-42. In this passage Jesus becomes the ultimate carrier and starts a contagious movement that is still spreading like a holy pandemic 2000 years later. Let’s take a look at it.
Mark 1:35-39 says, Before daybreak the next morning, Jesus got up and went out to an isolated place to pray. 36 Later Simon and the others went out to find him. 37 When they found him, they said, “Everyone is looking for you.” 38 But Jesus replied, “We must go on to other towns as well, and I will preach to them, too. That is why I came.” 39 So he traveled throughout the region of Galilee, preaching in the synagogues and casting out demons. 40 A man with leprosy came and knelt in front of Jesus, begging to be healed. “If you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean,” he said. 41 Moved with compassion, Jesus reached out and touched him. “I am willing,” he said. “Be healed!” 42 Instantly the leprosy disappeared, and the man was healed. (NLT)
What Jesus started we can continue. Let’s follow His example. So, what’s the first thing we need to do?
First of all, we pray! Jesus set the pace for prayer. Verse 35 says, Before daybreak the next morning, Jesus got up and went out to an isolated place to pray. 36 Later Simon and the others went out to find him. 37 When they found him, they said, “Everyone is looking for you.” Jesus was always escaping ministry opportunities to pray. In a sense He was quarantining himself so that He could spend time talking to God the Father before He dove into the hard work of spreading the Gospel.
When you look at the prayer life of Jesus you find that He prayed a lot and prayed different kinds of prayers.
- Jesus prayed about who to choose to be His original disciples (Luke 6:12-13),
- He asked the Heavenly Father to multiply some food when He feed the multitudes (John 6:11)
- and He asked the Heavenly Father to demonstrate that He was the resurrection and the life when He raised Lazarus from the dead (John 11:41-42).
- He prayed about the Heavenly Father’s will regarding the cross in Gethsemane (Matt. 26:36-46)
- and He even asked the Heavenly Father “Why?” while hanging on the cross?
- For a more detailed look into the prayer life of Jesus you can see how and what He prayed about in John 17.
- His prayer life was so strong, powerful and intimate with the Heavenly Father that the disciples asked Him to teach them how to pray (Luke 11:1).
One of the types of prayers that Jesus prayed was intercessory prayer. An intercessor is someone who takes the place of another or is a “go between.” When you pray for someone to be saved, to grow spiritually, or to be delivered from something you are practicing intercessory prayer.
- Let me tell you something that some of you already know. Just about every day I take ten names from the Genesis Church Partners and Friends list. I intercede for those ten people. I pray for their spiritual growth, that God would use them where they are and with the people that are with them. I pray scripture over them. I’m interceding for them. If they are not followers of Jesus, I pray that God would open their eyes so they can see how wonderful the Gospel really is. Then I contact them either by text or email and let them know they were prayed for that day.
You can do the same during this time. Compile a list of people and begin praying for them and let them know they were prayed for and see what God does.
QUESTION: How does our prayers impact the spreading of the gospel?
Pray for the lost. Pray for the believers. Be an intercessor. Be a go-between. Stand in their place and lift them up before God. This is part of what it takes to spread the Gospel.
If we want to unleash the gospel we pray. Then…
We care! Jesus shows us what this looks like in verses 39-42, So he traveled throughout the region of Galilee, preaching in the synagogues and casting out demons. 40 A man with leprosy came and knelt in front of Jesus, begging to be healed. “If you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean,” he said. 41 Moved with compassion, Jesus reached out and touched him. “I am willing,” he said. “Be healed!” 42 Instantly the leprosy disappeared, and the man was healed. How did Jesus demonstrate He cared? Mark tells us that Jesus was “moved with compassion.” That compassion caused Jesus to cast out demons and to heal a leper. Let’s talk about this leper for a minute.
- The original social-distancing practice was started with the lepers. They had to stay several feet away from people and they had to live in leper colonies. Instead of wearing a mask they had to put their hand over their mouth and call out, “Leper, leper!” So the people would know a leper was approaching.
- Lepers were considered outcast and cursed by God.
Jesus comes along and has compassion. He is moved to minister to this man. That’s what compassion does. It moves you to bless others and help others who are hurting.
- On another occasion with Jesus we are told by Matthew, When he saw the crowds, he had compassionon them because they were confused and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd (Matthew 9:36, NLT). Right after that you see Jesus blessing and ministering to people. Compassion is the fuel that moves you to bless others.
- Now listen to this warning by John in 1 John 3:17 which says, If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion—how can God’s love be in that person? (NLT). One of the signs that God’s love is in you and moving through you is compassion. You care about others to the point you to want to help them, accept them, and forgiven them.
QUESTION: How does compassion help spread the gospel?
Who in your life needs some compassion? Who needs someone to care for them? To show some concern, kindness, and sympathy? What can you do for them? How can you bless them? When you minister to them, don’t just be nice for niceness to sake. Bless them and let them know God placed them on your heart. Let them know this is a God thing.
If we are going to be a part of spreading the gospel like Jesus then we need pray and we need to care, but we also need share!
When Jesus was away praying, His disciples sought desperately to find Him. Here’s how Mark 1:36-38 records their search and Jesus’ response, 36 Later Simon and the others went out to find him. 37 When they found him, they said, “Everyone is looking for you.” 38 But Jesus replied, “We must go on to other towns as well, and I will preach to them, too. That is why I came.” Jesus’ primary purpose was NOT to have a dynamic healing ministry, even though He did have one. His primary purpose was to teach and preach about the Kingdom of God and the good news it brings.
When they found Jesus they told Him that “Everyone is looking for you.” This was a reprimand. They were saying, “Jesus, don’t you know that after last night there would be more people coming to the house for healing and deliverance. These people need you. You need to get back to the house and help these people instead of being out here alone and praying.” Think about that. The people were not looking for a heart change, they were looking for temporary physical relief.
Again, Jesus’ primary purpose was not to bring physical healing but to share the good news of the Kingdom of God. He healed people from diseases and demons to prove who He was, fulfill prophesy, and demonstrate that the Kingdom of God and its good news is real and true.
This is why Jesus wanted to go to another town. He wanted to spread the good news of God’s kingdom to more people. He was about the gospel of salvation, redemption, and forgiveness.
At some point we have to leave what we are comfortable with and sometimes even leave our successes and go tell others about Jesus. This sharing can take many forms:
- Have a conversation with someone you know does not believe in Jesus. Find out why? Pray for an opportunity to share the gospel or your testimony of what Jesus has done for you.
- Use social media: I’ve seen people doing a testimony challenge. They take about 5 minutes recording themselves sharing how and why they became a follower of Jesus and then post it on Facebook.
- Mission trips:
- Become a missionary:
QUESTION: Why is it important to share the actual gospel with others for the gospel to spread?
Remember, you can’t quarantine the Gospel! Jesus prayed, cared and shared. That’s how he dealt with a people infected with a pandemic called sin.
- Glad you came to church online today?
- Did you worship God today?
- Did you receive from His Word today?
- Are you going to do something with it?