Look to Jesus

Mark 1:9-13 English Standard Version (ESV)

The Baptism of Jesus

In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. 11 And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son;[a] with you I am well pleased.”

The Temptation of Jesus

12 The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. 13 And he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. And he was with the wild animals, and the angels were ministering to him.

Several years ago, writer Charles Conn was living in Atlanta and was looking for a place to eat lunch. He thumbed through the yellow pages, you might not know what those are, but we used to get these books delivered to our homes with listings of people and business, you know this is an old story. Charles came across a peculiar restaurant name and out of curiosity called the number. The name of the place was Church of God grill. Charles asked the man who answered the phone how they came up with the name. He said. Well you see we had a little mission down here, and we started selling chicken dinners after church on Sunday to help pay the bills. Well people liked the chicken, and we did such a good business, that eventually we cut back on the church service. After a while we just closed down the church altogether and kept on serving the chicken dinners. We kept the name we started with, the church of God grill.”

The church of God in Atlanta went looking for answers in all the wrong places. The church stopped looking to Jesus. When the church took their eyes off Jesus you see they abandoned Him and His mission. My prayer for us this morning is that we would focus our gaze upon Jesus Christ the anointed Son of God.  That we would see the cosmic purpose of God finds its reality in Him.                              I would like to remind you of the aim as we study the gospel of Jesus Christ according to Mark, Our Aim- That we would believe on Him whom He sent, confess that He is the Son of the living God, and that we would follow the teaching, manner and way of life of the gospel’s hero Jesus Christ.

Look to Jesus

Christ Jesus came as one of us and lived unlike any of us!

Look to Jesus- He lived in perfect obedience

Look to Jesus- Heaven declared and empowered Him

Look to Jesus- He was tested and proved true

We left last weeks study with John the Baptist declaring the greater One is coming. He said in essence, “don’t look to me, I am lower than the filth upon His feet, I am unworthy even to untie the straps of His sandals, don’t get excited about me, look to Jesus. His is a greater Baptism, get excited about the One I am pointing you to.”

Do you remember the dragnet T.V series? Jack Webb was the matter of fact L.A detective who often said when interviewing complainants, “Just the facts, Ma’am.” The writer of the gospel of Mark seems to be just the facts kind of guy. Look to Jesus, He came as promised, as prepared, as proclaimed from a real place, at a real time.  Remember that the first audience had been facing immense persecution from Caesar Nero, the gospel writer is quickly and intently driving the good news of Jesus home that they would believe on Him whom He sent, confess that He is the Son of the living God, and they are to follow His teaching, manner and way of life.

The gospel according to John gives us a detail that will help us focus in on what Mark’s gospel is driving at. John 1:29 records John the Baptists words at the appearing of Jesus, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!

Behold, look to Jesus, He is the One who came to take away sin

You might be asking, why would Jesus the sinless One be Baptized by John, He had no need of repentance, or remission of sin?

                                                                                                                

John the Baptist asked this same question in Matthew’s account, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” 15 But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented.

 Christ Jesus came as one of us and lived like none of us. Look to Jesus, he lived in perfect obedience. Look to Jesus, He fulfilled all righteousness.

Are there any among us who have obeyed God perfectly? Are there any among us who are altogether righteous in our behaviors and attitudes?

Isaiah speaks against a hypocritical human righteousness, Isaiah 64:5-6

 You meet him who joyfully works righteousness,  those who remember you in your ways.
Behold, you were angry, and we sinned;  in our sins we have been a long time, and shall we be saved?[b]
We have all become like one who is unclean,    and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment.
We all fade like a leaf,  and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.

Look to Jesus who fulfilled all righteousness, look to Jesus who perfectly obeyed the Father. Jesus is the One who will baptize you with the empowerment of the Holy Spirit to walk in newness of life. Jesus identifies with sinners like you and me in Baptism. He came as one of us and lived like none of us.

                                                                                                                                               We will notice the word immediately or straightaway in the Greek euthus This word occurs 11 times in chapter 1 and 37 times in Mark’s account of the gospel. Reminder we are driving from Chapter 1 verse one to the pivot point of the book in chapter 8:29 Peter’s confession that Jesus is the Christ. Which is the driving point this morning. Look to Jesus, confess Him as Lord and Savior, follow his manner of life and teaching.

Look to Jesus, He is the heaven sent, Father approved, Spirit empowered Son of God. Look to Jesus, He is the image of the invisible God. Look to Jesus, for in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven.

 The heavens were torn open. The cosmic purpose of God has manifested it self in the person of Jesus Christ. The purposes of God in the heavens met with humanity in Christ Jesus, look to Him!       

                                                                                                                 

Listen to what God said when He created us, 26 Then God said, “Let us make man[a] in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the

earth.” 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him;    male and female he created them.

A simple way for us to think about a life that is pleasing to God, is living in such a way as we bear the image of God perfectly. Let’s look at what the writer of Hebrews says of Jesus, in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.

 

The Gospels are like a biography and go beyond what a biography does. The gospels claim all human history is consummated in Jesus. Jesus brought the kingdom of God to earth. Jesus is the ultimate model for humanity. Jesus nature is beyond human. Jesus is not just a figure in the past but is living in the present.

Do you desire to live a life pleasing to God? Look to Jesus, He obeyed perfectly. Look to Jesus, He is the radiance of His glory, the exact imprint of the invisible God’s nature. Look to Jesus, hide yourself in Him.

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your[a] life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory

Christ came as one of us and lived like none of us!The Spirit drove Jesus immediately to be tempted and tried as we are. Satan and the realm of this age wars against us. The questions and temptations are always the same. Are you going to believe and obey God’s word? Are you really His Son, daughter? If so you would not be hungry. If so you would have all that you desire. Look to Jesus. He came like one of us and lived like none of us.

Christ Has Come

I love to tell the story, ’tis pleasant to repeat,
What seems each time I tell it more wonderfully sweet;
I love to tell the story, for some have never heard
The message of salvation from God’s own holy Word
.

For the past eight weeks we have been studying a letter. We all know how a letter is to be read. It has an introduction as to who the author is who the recipient is and fairly early on we get the purpose of the letter.

          Today we are going to begin to study the gospel according to Mark. The gospels are a completely different type of literature and a little more challenging when finding its author, its audience and the intent. For the 1st century audience the gospel genre was brand new.  Before we begin we need a little historical background to have in front of us as we explore this book. The gospel was written in the aftermath of a great fire in Rome that some suspected was caused by Caesar Nero. To avert suspicion Nero blamed Christians. He would clothe them in the skins of wild animals and then have feral dogs tear into them.  This first audience under immense persecution, had little background as to the traditions and history of God’s redeeming work with Israel. Mark under the guiding hand of Peter tells the story of Jesus to Christians suffering fierce persecution.  As you might imagine the first audience would have been brought great comfort and hope in hearing the story of the heroic work of God through His son Jesus Christ.

          The story of Jesus in the gospels are likened to a biography in that they are focused on a heroic figure and explore his ancestry, teaching or philosophy, his manner of life, his virtues and how he died. Yet the gospels are not disinterested history, they are not simply biographies. The gospels are concerned with this world and the next. They focus in on the consummation or complete history of the world. The gospels proclaim God’s saving work and make many claims beyond a biography. The gospels claim all human history is consummated in Jesus. Jesus brought the kingdom of God to earth. Jesus is the ultimate model for humanity. Jesus nature is beyond human. Jesus is not just a figure in the past but is living in the present.

 Now we will begin the greatest story ever told. The true story of Jesus Christ the Son of God. Our aim, to believe on Him who he sent, to confess that He is the Christ the Son of the living God, and to follow the manner and way of life of the gospel’s hero, Jesus.

The Beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ the Son of God. The promise fulfilled, the way prepared, His greatness proclaimed.

          The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.[a]2 As it is written

          100’s of years has passed since the prophets spoke forth God’s word to the people of Israel.  In the absence of God’s prophetic word, the religious leaders have elevated themselves and their traditions above God’s word. The Scribes and Pharisees had the final say as to the faith and practice of God’s people according to their interpretation of the law and their own traditions.

Whenever we leave the authority of God’s word we will soon enough elevate ourselves and our own rules as the final authority.

2 Timothy 3:16-17

16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God[a] may be complete, equipped for every good work.

2Peter 1:3

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to[a] his own glory and excellence,[b]

 

You can imagine an electric excitement among God’s people with the announcement of the beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the good news that God’s Messiah, the anointed one is coming as promised in God’s Word.

You can further imagine fear and trepidation among God’s people who have profaned His name, who have worshiped idols, who have relegated God’s word as secondary to their positions and traditions.

The announcement: according to God’s promises in the prophets the Christ is coming, You will know the Messiah is coming, the messenger is coming to prepare His way, The Holy One will soon be upon you.

2 Corinthians 1:20

For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory

The Pharisees would have objected to John the Baptist’s claim that Israelite’s needed Baptism. Baptism in that day was for Gentiles they would say, not for those born of Abraham they were clean by birth right. None the less all the people of Judea and Jerusalem came to be Baptized confessing sin.  The Holy One, the Christ, the Son of God is coming, ready yourselves. John is preparing the way by preparing the people for the coming Christ.

                                                                                                                  

The Christ is coming, the appearance and lifestyle of John the Baptist would have reminded them of the prophets of Old, further confirming the coming Christ.

How do you approach the Lord’s day? Do you casually gather in the school gym just like any other person might on say a Monday? Have you come with an expectation that when the Lord’s people gather under God’s word, That God Himself is speaking and that Jesus Christ the Holy anointed Son of God is present? That the Kingdom of God is at hand? Have you prepared yourself for the Holy? In the 19th chapter of Exodus God was going to come down on the mountain and be present with His people. Look at His instructions to Moses, the Lord said to Moses, “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their garments 11 and be ready for the third day. For on the third day the Lord will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people. 12 And you shall set limits for the people all around, saying, ‘Take care not to go up into the mountain or touch the edge of it. Whoever touches the mountain shall be put to death. 13 No hand shall touch him, but he shall be stoned or shot;[a] whether beast or man, he shall not live.’ When the trumpet sounds a long blast, they shall come up to the mountain.” 14 So Moses went down from the mountain to the people and consecrated the people; and they washed their garments.In the presence of the Lord Jesus we too should be a consecrated people.  Consecration is, by definition, simply this, an association with the sacred or Holy.  The Christ is coming You will soon be in the presence of the Holy. So, as you approach the gathering of God’s people on the Lord’s day are you prepared to associate with the Holy One?  Or is this just a thing you do once a week, a place you go? How do we respond to the impending presence of the Holy One of God? Repentance and faith- the preparation for the Holy.

The Israelites would certainly and understandably have been excited to see that God was again speaking to His people through a prophet. Here comes John wearing outrageous garb and eating locusts, our God is once again meeting with His people.  We should notice that John the Baptist fulfills his ministry by preparing the way of the Lord and then gets out of the way. God is certainly at work in sending His messenger, John might say but don’t get                                                                                                                         

excited about me get excited about the One I am pointing you to.  Everyone wore sandals in that day. You can imagine how dirty feet were. The religious

leaders wouldn’t even stoop down to untie their own sandals because of the filth. John say’s I am unworthy to untie the sandals of the One who I am proclaiming. Mightier is He. Greater is His Baptism. His Baptism is complete. His Baptism is enabling through the empowering Holy Spirit of God. My Baptism would have to be done again and again. Don’t get excited about me Christ, the Holy anointed Son of God is bringing the good news of the Kingdom of God.

Like John the Baptist the ministry of every Christian is to tell the story of Jesus. The reality of God’s work in Christ. And then get out of the way and point people to the One who came. The One who is coming again. The Apostle John say’s 1John 4 Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.

Are you and I living with the expectancy of the Lord’s return? How might church life be different if we had an expectancy that the Lord was present with us in our gathering that He has indeed come? We might come to church prepared to meet the Holy One! How might we live if we expect the Christ is coming back in the same way He left? Titus 2:11-1411 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people,12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.

We might live self-controlled, upright and godly lives today!

Lawlessness

When we think about the events of this week one word seems to describe what we are seeing in our nation- Lawlessness. Our nation’s leaders and potential leaders transgress the law and call it something else. Our protectors try to enforce the law and then are criticized harshly when the result of lawless deeds turns negative for the criminal. This leads to a “righteous indignation” from other lawless men and women seeking retribution for the negative result that stems from personal lawlessness. Where does this lawlessness come from? In our leaders and potential leaders it comes from a sense of entitlement. Our leaders have believed their own press concerning their greatness. They have become drunk with power. Their abundance of money and the time that money affords, leads them to seek the desires of their flesh from a position of entitlement. As go the leader so goes the follower. The follower then believes that they are some how entitled. The leaders communicate that we dare not infringe on the “rights” of anyone and therefore we are free to determine right based on our own perspective and not the rule of law. So what is at the core? Pride! What is the problem in the world? Me! What mus t we do as Christian men and women? Repent and pray! The problem of pride and entitlement begins in my own heart. I must examine where I transgress the law of God in my own life. I then should encourage those within my sphere of influence to examine pride and entitlement in their own heart. We must work together in community to have an open dialogue of our prideful, transgressing sinful heart and turn once again to God for healing. Then we can see clearly to ask God to heal our land and to revive us once again to serve Him , to love others, and to do justice!
1Kings 8:35 When heaven is shut up and there is no rain because they have sinned against you, if they pray toward this place and acknowledge your name and turn from their sin, when you afflict them, 36 then hear in heaven and forgive the sin of your servants, your people Israel, when you teach them the good way in which they should walk, and grant rain upon your land, which you have given to your people as an inheritance.

New Life

Do you remember the excitement you felt when your child was born? The sense that all things for this person were possible. As a mom or a dad you did not see any limitations to what this child might accomplish. This was a new life. Perhaps we sense these possibilities for our child as if through them we get another chance to see a life lived without limits, a life without corruption, a life not limited by pre-conceived notions about our value and worth.

Because of Christ’s atoning work on the cross and our surrender to His power and might, we are promised a new life, a life of limitless possibilities. We are not limited by our short-comings and failure, Christ is sufficient for all of that. John chapter three tells us that we can be born again, born of the Spirit, not of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. Is a life born of God a life with limits? Would you surrender your old life to God today? Are you ready to live a life born of God that is limitless? Surrender your life at the cross of Jesus Christ today and find New Life.

Pastor Jeff McInnis