These are my notes from a sermon series I did through the gospel of Mark. It has not been proofed for spelling or grammatical errors. I present it to you as-is.
Oswald Chamber once said, “If I am going to know who Jesus is, I must obey Him. The majority of us don’t know Jesus because we have not the remotest intention of obeying Him.” As we will see today, following Jesus is to be a learner of Him – to listen and obey Him, to follow Him when it doesn’t make sense. To follow Him when the world says follow yourself or others.
As we go through the gospel of Mark we are learning what it means to follow Jesus and we are learning more and more of who we are following. In the section of Mark we find ourselves today we find Mark reminding us and summarizing some truths about Jesus that we need to pause and think about it.
Mark reminds of four things that involve following Jesus and who He is.
The followers of Jesus are not all learners of Jesus
Number one, the followers of Jesus are not all learners of Jesus. Mark says in verse 7, Jesus went out to the lake with his disciples, and a large crowd followed him. (NLT). I want you to notice two groups here: “his disciples” and a “large crowd.” Both groups followed Jesus, but each followed Jesus for different reasons.
The “crowd” followed Jesus for the show, the miracles, and blessings. Mark describes this crowd as “large” and in verse 8 describes them as a “vast number.” This number is not in the hundreds, but in the thousands and some believe even in the tens of thousands – a large and vast number of people were following Jesus.
Within the crowd you could find “his disciples.” At this point, “his disciples” consisted of an unknown number of followers. The word “disciple” (mathetes) means “learner” or “student” and refers to those who had moved beyond an initial interest in Jesus and desired to follow Him as their teacher. At this point, to be a “disciple” does not mean to be a believer, born again, or saved. It simply means they are listening closely, learning, thinking about it, and seriously considering what Jesus is saying.
Before we leave this point I want to give you a caution regarding following Jesus. Look carefully at John 2:23, “Because of the miraculous signs Jesus did in Jerusalem at the Passover celebration, many began to trust in him. But Jesus didn’t trust them, because he knew human nature. No one needed to tell him what mankind is really like” (vs.23-25, NLT). They were trusting Jesus to do miracles, but not to save. They believed in Jesus as a miracle worker, but not as the Messiah. Though they believed in Jesus, Jesus did not believe in them. Jesus had no faith in their faith. He knew it was not true saving faith.
By the time you get to John 6:66 we read, “At this point many of his disciples turned away and deserted him” (NLT). This is what happens to many. Jesus doesn’t do the miracle you want, so you quit following and learning from Him. Jesus doesn’t fix your problem the way you think He should, so you walk out on Him. The sacrifice, the suffering, and the inconvenience of following Jesus is too much, so you turn away and desert Him. There is the caution. There is the warning.
The question we have to ask ourselves is, “Am I simply a part of the crowd watching from a distance or am I a disciple who is genuinely wanting to learn and follow Jesus?”
The miracles of Jesus point to the need for Jesus
Number two, the miracles of Jesus point to the need for Jesus. Where did all this crowd and vast number of people come from? Mark tells us in verse 7, They came from all over Galilee, Judea, 8 Jerusalem, Idumea, from east of the Jordan River, and even from as far north as Tyre and Sidon. The news about his miracles had spread far and wide, and vast numbers of people came to see him (vs. 7-8, NLT). Jesus’ popularity had no equal in the history of Israel. Even King Herod was intrigued by the news about Him (Luke 23:8; cf. Matt. 14:1-2). Jesus performed miraculous displays unlike anything in history. The blind were given sight, the crippled walked, the deaf heard, the sick were made well, and the lepers were cured. It was wonder upon wonder, beyond what anyone could have ever imagined. No one had seen anything like this before. With nothing more than a word and touch, he brought immediate, complete healing and restoration to those who suffered from even the most devastating defects, diseases, and disability. In addition, demon-possessed souls were delivered instantly.
This all pointed to the needs of people. We are broken people and need a healer. We need someone to heal our heart, our hurts, and repair our brokenness. The tidal wave of sin from Adam and Eve have taken its toll on people everywhere. Jesus came to address all our needs and eventually when we get to heaven we will experience a place where there is no sin, no sickness, no disease, no pain, no heartache, and no misery. When Jesus is doing miracles it shows that we all have needs and Jesus is the one who can meet those needs.
The message of Jesus is priority over the miracles of Jesus
Number three, the message of Jesus is priority over the miracles of Jesus. Mark goes on to say in verse 9, Jesus instructed his disciples to have a boat ready so the crowd would not crush him. 10 He had healed many people that day, so all the sick people eagerly pushed forward to touch him. (vs. 9-10, NLT).
On this particular day Jesus “had healed many people.” These miracles had reversed the effects of disease and decay upon the bodies of the people. Jesus had performed immediate restoration to those who had physical and emotional sicknesses. For Jesus, the Creator of the universe (John 1:3), no sickness or disability proved too difficult to heal. He instantly created new limbs and organs – restoring eyes, ears, hands, feet, and bodies to full health and function.
The people “pushed” forward around Jesus, hoping just “to touch him” in order to be healed (cf. 1:41). As Mark 6:56 reports regarding a later point in Jesus’ ministry, “Wherever he went – in villages, cities, or the countryside – they brought the sick out to the market places. They begged him to let the sick touch at least the fringe of his robe, and all who touched him were healed” (NLT). They had learned that Jesus’ power was so available and effective that merely putting a hand on Him as He walked by could produce instant and total healing.
As a practical concern, Jesus instructed His disciples to have a “boat ready” for launch. While He was moved by compassion to heal the sick, cleanse those with leprosy, and cast out demons, He came for a greater purpose: to proclaim the gospel. As soon as healing began to infringe upon and compromise His preaching ministry, He made adjustments. When the crush around Him became too restrictive, He climbed aboard a boat, pushed out a short distance, and used the shoreline as a natural amphitheater. This way people couldn’t touch Him and couldn’t be healed. In this way, Jesus had stopped the healing and miracles so that He could teach about God’s truth and kingdom.
Some people came to hear Jesus because of the miracles, but some people couldn’t hear the message because of the miracles. They were so focused on Jesus doing miracles they weren’t hearing the eternal message regarding who He was and what He was truly all about. Jesus commented on this in John 5:36, “I have a greater witness than John – my teachings and my miracles. The Father gave me these works to accomplish, and they prove that he sent me” (NLT). The purpose of miracles is to prove who He is. Don’t let the blessings of God blind you to the message of God.
The Son of God has the authority of God
Number four, the Son of God has the authority of God. Look at what Mark says in verse 11, And whenever those possessed by evil spirits caught sight of him, the spirits would throw them to the ground in front of him shrieking, “You are the Son of God!” 12 But Jesus sternly commanded the spirits not to reveal who he was (vs.11-12, NLT). While the people struggled with who Jesus was and were slowly coming to terms with the mounting evidence (like the miracles He did, His authoritative teaching, and his power over demons), the “evil spirits” knew exactly who Jesus was.
The “evil spirits” knew Jesus was the Son of God. What does this mean to be “the Son of God” and why is it important? In the Bible, Jesus is often called the Son of God, which means that He is God made visible in human form (John 1:1, 14). In Jesus’ time, the phrase son of man was used to signify a human being. The phrase Son of God was used to signify God. The “evil spirits” immediately recognized that Jesus was God in the flesh. Mark says, “Whenever those possessed by evil spirits caught sight of him” they would immediately recognize who He was. To the “evil spirits” it was clear and without doubt that Jesus was the Son of God.
They recognized Jesus’ authority as God’s authority. The healing the sick and casting out demons, they knew only one Person could do that and that was the Son of God. They also knew He had the authority to cast them into hell at any moment. For them, when they stumbled upon Jesus and “caught sight of him” shear panic would consume them and they would shriek and through whoever they were possessing to the ground. They were overcome by fear in the presence of Jesus. They would blurt out, “You are the Son of God.”
Then Mark says, But Jesus sternly commanded the spirits not to reveal who he was.
Jesus wanted His followers to receive Him as the Son of God, but not on the testimony of demons. Furthermore, He had a carefully programmed message that progressively revealed truth according to a schedule. Therefore, he wouldn’t allow demons to continue calling Him the Son of God. He shut them down (1:23-26; 1:32-34; 1:43-4).
Jesus’ authority over demons underscores His divine nature. Not only did they recognize Him as the Son of God, but when He cast them out, they fled under His authority. When He told them to be quiet, they obeyed. Though they were His most vicious enemies, they were constrained to submit to His commands.
Who is this Jesus we follow? He is the Son of God. He is God in the flesh who came to live among us. He demonstrates this fact by the power of what He says and by the authority of what He does. Let’s follow Him, learn from Him, trust Him, and be all in being a true disciple of Jesus.