Asking God To Help Us Fully Believe In HIM

The demon possessed boy needed someone else to petition God for his release. Besides praying God’s armor for yourself, pray it for others. And PRAY for God to help you and others in their lack of belief Pray for wholehearted belief…because with that anything is possible!

How do we believe better? How do we believe more? How do we believe in Christ Jesus ‘Wholeheartedly’? Wholehearted belief results from relational investment, trust & commitment. When you believe in something wholeheartedly you have OWNERSHIP. How does that happen? God ultimately makes it happen!

We have a role to play: The practices & attitude of Discipleship to Jesus Christ! Where do we start? How do we respond to God working in our lives? It is simple: We are to ask God to help us in our unbelief. The way HE does this is to 1st make us all FAT: Faithful / Available / Teachable. This is how we become wholehearted in our belief in Jesus. It is an intentional seeking of God to grow our faith by BEING A FAT Disciple. Who needs to grow like this? Who is less than wholehearted in their belief? Based on Scripture, it is Jesus Christ’s chosen Disciples [that means all members of His Body].

The Disciples couldn’t cast out the demon in the boy. They had done it before… The disciples lack of belief was their problem, they didn’t fully believe in Jesus. The disciples did not have the preparation in prayer that was necessary [Jesus did].

Today’s passage is a lesson for all those who call themselves Christ’s Disciples AND those who are to become Disciples of Christ. Let’s see what God’s Word Says!

Mark 9:14-29 [NLT]

14 When they came to the other disciples, they saw a large crowd around them and the teachers of the law arguing with them. 15 As soon as all the people saw Jesus, they were overwhelmed with wonder and ran to greet Him.

  • The four of them return from the mountain [not sharing what happened]
  • A crowd had gathered to watch some Scribes argue with Jesus’ Disciples
  • When Jesus shows up people are drawn to Him like no one else

16 “What are you arguing with them about?” He asked. 17 A man in the crowd answered, “Teacher, I brought You my son, who is possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech. 18 Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth and becomes rigid. I asked Your disciples to drive out the spirit, but they could not.”

  • Jesus gets right into it: ‘What is the dispute’?
  • The father of the boy speaks up. This is not a hypothetical argument
  • The boy’s condition was diagnosed by his father: it was an evil spirit
  • And what the Disciples had done before didn’t work on this boy

19 “You unbelieving generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy to me.” 20 So they brought him. When the spirit saw Jesus, it immediately threw the boy into a convulsion. He fell to the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth.

  • Who is Jesus calling an ‘Unbelieving Generation’ [You People]
  • Jesus is disappointed in the halfhearted faith of His disciples
  • The demon reacted to Christ’s presence [The demon knew fully who he was]

21 Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?” “From childhood,” he answered. 22 “It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if You can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”

  • Why does Jesus ask about the duration of the issue?
  • He discerns that this is ‘Demonic Possession’ vs ‘Demon Activity’
  • Anyone can be the target of demon activity, only unbelievers can be possessed
  • His father believed the demon wanted to kill the boy, so he was desperate
  • He saw Jesus as a source of help but not as ‘God All Sovereign’
  • He, like the Disciples, did not fully believe in who Jesus was

23 “’If You can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.” 24 Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”

  • This is what you call ‘Half-Hearted Belief’ [‘If you can’]
  • Jesus is like; ‘Obviously you don’t know who I AM’
  • The problem is not with Jesus it is with US!
  • Jesus says: the only thing limiting the blessing of God in your life is your belief!
  • Jesus confronts him with truth: ‘You don’t fully believe who I am’
  • The response of this man is an example for us, all of us, Disciple or not:
  • He says: ‘I believe You [God] please help me believe whole heartedly!’
  • This is what Jesus wants from those who put their faith in Him: Ask for more!

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.” ~ Matthew 7:7-8

25 When Jesus saw that a crowd was running to the scene, He rebuked the impure spirit. “You deaf and mute spirit,” He said, “I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.”

  • It seems like He wants to minimize the commotion
  • He calls the demon by name and commands it specifically [All Sovereign]

26 The spirit shrieked, convulsed him violently and came out. The boy looked so much like a corpse that many said, “He’s dead.” 27 But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him to his feet, and he stood up.

  • During it’s forced exit, the spirit takes one last shot…
  • Jesus drove the demon out and then perhaps brought the boy back to life
  • It is the new life that occurs when someone is freed from demonic control

28 After Jesus had gone indoors, his disciples asked him privately, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?” 29 He replied, “This kind can come out only by prayer.”

  • Why did they seek privacy before being debriefed?
  • They had driven out evil spirits before, why not this time
  • The entrenched nature of a demon possession call for high level warfare
  • This was the next level in their training and they needed a new kind of training
  • They needed more prayer training [As do we]
  • Prayer to prepare and prayer to fight

What do you believe Jesus can do? What can HE do on your behalf? What is possible for YOU as a wholehearted believer in Christ? Do you think Jesus wants His Disciples to believe in HIM wholeheartedly? We all have need to grow like this!

If you believe half-heartedly in Jesus Christ you will: Serve halfheartedly / Give halfheartedly / Worship halfheartedly / Study Scripture halfheartedly / Pray halfheartedly / Love halfheartedly

Do you want to believe wholeheartedly? If so God’s Word today is telling YOU how! Do what this man did: ask Jesus to help your unbelief. But you have to start with some faith. ‘I believe, help my unbelief’!

Have you ever asked God to cause you to believe more fully in Christ? Do you believe in Jesus enough to confront demonic forces? How is your prayer life preparing you to overcome evil?

APPLICATION: What to Believe & How to Prepare

OUR NEED: Wholehearted Belief In Christ

Midtown Church Statement of Faith [Compilation of ‘Creedal Statements’]

We believe in one God, Creator of all things, infinitely perfect and eternally existing in three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.We believe in God the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.

We believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord, begotten of the Father before all worlds; God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God; begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father and the Spirit, by whom all things were made; who was conceived and incarnate by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified for us, died, and was buried; He descended to the dead. On the third day He rose again according to the scriptures and ascended into heaven, He is seated at the right hand of the Father, our High Priest interceding on our behalf, and He will come again to judge the living and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end.

We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and giver of life; who proceeds from the Father and the Son who with the Father and Son together is worshiped and glorified; who spoke by the prophets; His ministry is to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ and, during this age, to convict men, regenerate the believing sinner, and indwell, guide, instruct and empower the believer for godly living and service.

We believe in one holy universal and apostolic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, one baptism for the remission of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. We believe that water baptism and the Lord’s Supper are ordinances to be observed by the Church during the present age. They are, however, not to be regarded as means of salvation. We believe that the true Church is composed of all such persons who through saving faith in Jesus Christ have been regenerated by the Holy Spirit and are united together in the Body of Christ of which He is the Head.

We believe in the God inspired original manuscripts that encompass the cannon of scripture as affirmed at the council at Carthage in 397 A.D. (except for the Old Testament Apocryphal Books). The Scriptures, both Old and New Testaments, are without error in the original writings, the complete revelation of God’s will for the salvation of men and the Divine and final authority for Christian faith and life.

We believe that man was created in the image of God but fell into sin and is, therefore, lost, and only through regeneration by the Holy Spirit can salvation and spiritual life be obtained.

We believe that the shed blood of Jesus Christ and His Resurrection provide the only ground for justification and salvation for all who believe, and only those who have come to all encompassing faith in Jesus Christ are born of the Holy Spirit and, thus become children of God.

We unite in inviting all men to confess the one and only Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Perfect both in deity and in humanness; this selfsame one is also actually God and actually man, with a rational soul and a body. He is of the same reality as God as far as his deity is concerned and of the same reality as we ourselves as far as His humanness is concerned; thus like us in all respects, sin only excepted.

OUR NEED: Prayer Preparation

Pray The Armor of God

Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. ~ Ephesian 6:13-16

Christ’s Transfiguration

Reading this Gospel like an ardent disciple involves read this trying to learn each thing Jesus taught. This is why we go over and over the Scriptures here @ Midtown: We are a church of Jesus disciples constantly seeking to be taught by Christ. As we have studied throughThe Gospel of Mark what we have see is a minimalist account of a active, intentional Messiah. While declaring the coming of ‘The Kingdom’ He demonstrates the reality of God’s desire to be part of our lives.

After a period where He is Baptized and tested, He calls His disciples and begins His ministry in Galilee and various surrounding areas. [Preaching / Healing / Miracles] He has been revealing Himself through these interactions to His disciples.

Last week Laban did a great job pointing out the gravity of the moment the Disciples correctly identify Jesus of Nazareth [Peter as spokesperson] He says: You are the Christ! In Matthew 16 we get a bit more of the dialogue that day: “But what about you?” He asked. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven.” ~ Matthew 16:15-17

And because of that confession by His Disciples He said this:

If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake and for the sake of the Good News, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul? If anyone is ashamed of Me and My message in these adulterous and sinful days, the Son of Man will be ashamed of that person when He returns in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.” ~ Mark 8:35-38 [NLT]

In connection with this Jesus is ready to show a select group of His Disciples what this glory looks like. [He had taken these 3 W/ Him to the Synagogue Leaders home] So right on the heals of some intense things Jesus is telling them comes:

‘The Transfiguration’

Jesus’ Transfiguration is considered one of the FIVE Milestones of Jesus’ life according to the Gospels: Baptism / Transfiguration / Crucifixion / Resurrection / Ascension

This is an intense, transitional period in Jesus’ training of His disciples. From here everything leads to Jerusalem, the Cross and The Resurrection. Jesus had something special He wanted to show the three, and later all of us.

To start, He gives them a hint of what is going to happen:

Mark 9:1-13 [MOUNCE]

1 And He said to them, “I tell you the truth, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God having come with power.”

  • Cryptic to say the least…
  • What is says: Persons there would SEE the Kingdom come in power before they die… This is an exception; for everyone else who believes in Jesus as Lord sees / enters into the Kingdom when they die on this earth.
  • What it doesn’t say: The kingdom will come in power before some of them die

2 And after six days Jesus took with Him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And He was transfigured before them, 3 and His clothes became radiant, intensely white, as no launderer on earth could bleach them.

  • By themselves: just the 3 disciples… What about Andrew? Why is he not there?
  • He was the 1st of the 12 disciples Christ called & the 1st to call Jesus ‘Messiah’
  • Was He overlooked because He was John’s disciple 1st? [but so was John]
  • Left out of raising Jairus’ daughter [5:37], here & later in the garden [14:33]
  • Jesus was setting up the original Christian ‘Mountain Top’ experience
  • These 3 would witness: Eli, Mo and Jesus the Messiah In His heavenly Glory
  • This was Glory that was ‘Otherworldly’ not possible by natural means
  • Jesus was showing these disciples the ultimate proof of His Messiahship.
  • This was Christ demonstrating He IS GOD AlMIGHTY

4 And Elijah appeared to them with Moses, 5 And answering, Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good that we are here. Let us make three shelters: one for You and one for Moses and one for Elijah”— 6 for he did not know what he should reply, because they were so frightened.

  • Elijah & Moses… neither have a book of the Bible named after them
  • Moses: Giver of the Law
  • Elijah: Highest Profile Prophet
  • Together they represent Scripture / The Word of God ‘The Law & The Prophets’
  • Both departed from the earth in a manner that prefigures Christ’s Ascension
  • These two could be considered the most important of Old Testament Players
  • Luke 9:30 records these 3 were talking about Christ’s ‘exodus from this world’
  • Everything Christ did / does they talk about the crucifixion & the resurrection
  • Peter spoke ‘answering them’, they must have overheard the conversation
  • Peter wants to continue this ‘Salvation Symposium’
  • Totally frightened, yet they wanted more [The Life of True Christ Discipleship]

But before Peter can build anything… Verse 7

7 Then a cloud appeared, overshadowing them, and a voice came out of the cloud, “This is my Son, the beloved, listen to Him!” 8 And suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone, but only Jesus with them.

  • What kind of cloud? The ‘Shekinah Glory’

Shekinah Glory is a visible manifestation of God on earth, whose presence is portrayed through a natural occurrence. The word Shekinah is a Hebrew name meaning “dwelling” or “one who dwells.” Shekinah Glory means “He caused to dwell,” referring to the divine presence of God.

  • ‘Overshadowing Them’ This is the same phrase used by Gabriel to Mary
  • This was the same glory cloud that was in the tent of meeting: I, the Lord, appear in a cloud over the place of mercy on the sacred chest… ~ Leviticus 16:2 [CEV]

9 And as they were coming down from the mountain, He ordered them not to tell anyone what they had seen, until the Son of Man should rise from the dead. 10 So they kept this saying to themselves, questioning what ‘rising from the dead’ could mean.

  • Ordered… in Luke’s gospel it says they didn’t tell anyone in ‘those days’
  • They wanted to know when they could tell, when was this ‘rising’ happening?
  • All indications were no one but the three knew of this until Post Resurrection
  • They obviously figured out what Jesus meant by raise from the dead!

11 And they asked Him, saying, “Why do the scribes say, ‘Elijah must come first’?” 12 And He said to them, “Elijah does come first, and restores all things. Yet how is it written about the Son of Man? That he should suffer many things and be treated with contempt? 13 But I tell you that Elijah has come, and they did to him whatever they pleased, just as it is written about him.”

  • Jesus says the Scribes get it partially right…
  • He compares how the scribes misunderstand the Messiah
  • And in the same kind of ways the Scribes misunderstand ‘Elijah coming first
  • John the Baptist was the ‘Elijah’ that came first [mistreated like Christ]
  • Christ is saying how the Scribes misread the scriptures regarding the Christ {Jesus of Nazareth] & the Elijah [John The Baptist]

Questions, Answers & Application

Why doesn’t Jesus take all the Disciples up to the Mount of Transfiguration?

God teaches His disciples in different ways, preparing His followers for different things! God shows things to those He chooses to show things to. He has His reasons.

Take stock of the lessons you have been blessed to have been taught and ask Christ to make you more teachable.

Questions, Answers & Application

Why did Jesus reveal His future glorified state, including Moses & Elijah, to His Disciples?

It connects His Messiahship / Godhood with Old Testament Revelation while prefiguring the future of all Biblical Believers in Christ: Perfect fellowship with God in eternal glory.

Become a student of how the Old & New Testament Scriptures correspond, explain and validate each other as to the full nature of the Triune Godhead.

Questions, Answers & Application

Why were Moses and Elijah talking with Christ about the Crucifixion & Resurrection?

All of the glory the Disciples were seeing prefigured on that mountain would result from the Crucifixion & Resurrection of Jesus the Christ. God’s Glory emanates from who He is and what He does.

Meditate on the impact that Christ’s Crucifixion & Resurrection have on your daily life.

Questions, Answers & Application

Why would a Disciple of Jesus want to build earthly shelters for Heavenly Beings?

We all share the desire to stay at a great place in our growth as Disciples. God wants us to take the revelation of ‘Mountaintop Experiences’ and apply them to change our lives.

Take the latest thing God has taught you about Himself and change something in your life in response to that revelation.

Questions, Answers & Application

Why does the Voice of God from His Shekinah Glory say: ‘Listen To My Son’!

All the revelation in the world is worthless without obedience to Christ; His call to surrender your life, His teachings regarding living in ways that honor God and His call to make disciples.

Do one of these three: Surrender to His Lordship; Obey His Teachings More; Make a Disciple.

I will leave you with one last question: How did the ‘Scribes & Religious Leaders misinterpret Scripture so badly regarding both Jesus & John the Baptist?

Mark 8:27-38 (ESV)

Who do you say that I am?

I have a question that I want to start with. Why are you here today? What brought you here? what dragged you out of bed and all the way to this old building? Did a friend invite you? Is coming to church a habit?  So why are you here today? We are going to see in today’s text that Jesus asks his disciples a similar question.

Much like the question of why are you here today, why are we reading these stories? What is it all about?

Why do we care about these stories, about the way a specific man named Jesus interacted with a people group in the middle east in a world long ago? There are a few good reasons, one of which is that it is still relevant. We believe the text that we’ve been going through, the gospel of Mark, is a lot more critical and of more importance than any other story out there. These events had such an impact that thousands of years later we are still talking about them.

But most importantly, we show up at church and continue to read these stories to hear about it because of who we believe Jesus is.

I said Jesus challenges his disciples with a similar question in today’s text; He asks his disciples “who do you say that I am?” I think the sentiment he is getting at is “why are you following me?” what has this all been about? All of these people following him have given up what earthly goals and ambitions they had, and Jesus wants to know why. That is the first section we will look at.

In the second part of our text today, the disciples arrive at the truth of who he is, and Jesus doesn’t let them off the hook. There are some real consequences to the truth. His disciples had to face them, and so do we. Jesus tells his disciples there are two options. Either set your mind on me, or things of this world.

The last part of our text will explore what the consequences are for us. Jesus explains in no complicated terms what he expects us to do with this realization, how it is supposed to change our lives! If it hasn’t… Maybe God will use this morning to spark that very change.

As we dive in, we will let the text ask us a few questions. First, who is Jesus? Second, what is your mind set on? And lastly, how are you acting like Jesus is Lord?

27 And Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi. And on the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” 28 And they told him, “John the Baptist; and others say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets.”

•       Continuing his ministry, Jesus is now journeying to the next town. Here we take a break from the action of miracles and healings to listen in on a conversation between Jesus and his disciples on the road.
•       Jesus asks his friends for the inside scoop.
•       They have heard his preaching, seen his character and the way he interacts with the crowds, and the text tells us they repent and believe.
•       Their answer tells us what the masses generally believed was that Jesus was a new prophet, or a patriarch back from the dead. They believe that he was from God, but they certainly did not comprehend that he WAS God.
•       They think that Jesus is a good moral teacher, someone who is in a long string of messengers from God.

29 And he asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Christ.” 30 And he strictly charged them to tell no one about him.

•       Jesus says I don’t want to hear the noise. He asks his disciples, what are your convictions?
•       Peter looked around, and speaks on behalf of the disciples. Certainly, they have talked about this before, this is no pop quiz. When Jesus calmed the storm, they asked themselves, who is this man?
•       And Peter answers “The Christ”. What does that word mean? It is a Greek translation of the Hebrew “messiah”, or savior. The promised and expected deliverer of the Jewish nation. Several times through the Old Testament the word messiah is used to describe someone who will come and save the nation of Israel.
•       Peter is declaring on behalf of all the disciples that Jesus is in fact this promised rescuer, that he is who they have all been waiting for.
•       This is a neat moment for the disciples, who have had trouble seeing the big picture throughout his ministry, this is quite a proclamation.
•       He says to tell no one

31 And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32 And he said this plainly.

•       Jesus explains that the Messiah will be very different than the Jews have drawn it up. The Jewish leaders and traditions have taken some liberties and filled in the gaps with how the messiah is supposed to rescue them, and he sets it straight here.
•       Once it is established that Jesus is the Christ, he tells them exactly what it means.
•       He must be rejected by the elders and religious leaders, be killed and rise again.
•       He said it plainly.

32b And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.

•       Peter, who JUST confessed Jesus to be the long-awaited rescuer, decides he wants to tell Jesus he is wrong. Peter wants a mighty ruler, and earthy king who will conquer their enemies.
•       The Israelites had been physically and societally oppressed for so long that their understanding of a Rescuer had been boiled down to someone who would liberate the nation. That’s where their focus is.
•       Peter does not like that the Christ plans on dying, that is incongruent with their needs.
•       They need someone who will take up swords! Who will rally armies, command troops and galvanize resistance with lofty speeches and overthrow the Romans! But if he’s dead…
•       They have seen Jesus raise people from the dead, but even so, they need him to be alive. Life can’t come from nothing, life creates life.  A dead lifeguard can’t save anyone else from drowning.

33 But turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”

•       Todd mentioned last week, we really like to tell God what to do. Here is how I drew it up
•       Peter wants to give Jesus the crown without the cross. And Jesus knew the cross had to come first.
•       The miracles are parables.
o       Leading up to this conversation Jesus had just healed a blind man. The unique part of this healing only recorded in Mark is the two phased healing.
o       Mark 8:23b-25 “When he had spit on the man’s eyes and put his hands on him, Jesus asked, “Do you see anything?” 24 He looked up and said, “I see people; they look like trees walking around.” 25 Once more Jesus put his hands on the man’s eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly.”
o       The man first sees a little bit, and then his eyes are opened fully.
o       If you think it’s cause Jesus couldn’t do it…
o       The disciples start to see, but it is distorted. They don’t see the full picture yet.
•       Jesus calls his followers to set their minds on the things of God
•       The easy answer for Christians today when asked, what are the things of God, might be reading your bible. Praying. Going to church. Maybe tithing.
•       Those aren’t bad things, but it will be difficult to do those things over the marathon that is your life if you mind is not set on Him.
•       If the symptom is not wanting to read your bible, I would offer that the disease is not knowing him, understanding who Jesus really is.
•       Leads to our last question, what does a life look like that is set on Him?

34 And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 35 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. 36 For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? 37 For what can a man give in return for his soul?

•       Jesus tells us his followers need to deny themselves.
•       To deny yourself, ask what are the things you can’t go without? That your gut says you can’t deny, things you need? Is it your job? Career? Reputation? Financial stability, family ties? Jesus isn’t saying to avoid those things, but instead to put him first, as the priority in my life.
•       He tells the crowd to take up their cross. Crucifixion was the most common form of execution back then. They did not have the visual that we do of Jesus actually carrying the cross up the hill.
•       Does the phrase “lose your life” scare you? Do you think it means not getting to do anything fun or enjoyable?
•       Sometimes being in the world convinces you it has value.
•       There are things we build up in our lives, that we put value in, that when we step away from it, we realize are not of any value at all.
•       and I think that is what Jesus is telling his followers. You cannot build value in this world. We trick ourselves to think that we can.
•       Getting older we accumulate wealth, save money, home values appreciate, retirement accounts grow, we feel more confident, comfortable and safe.
•       But it is all worth nothing, and we know that because we ask, what does it get you?
•       You can judge value two ways. what does it get you or How much does something cost?
•       If the cost is our lives, our souls, have we gotten good value? What does it profit a man to gain the world, at the cost of the only thing we have that matters.
•       Jesus says the way to save our lives is to lay it down for him.

38 For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”

•       Jesus does not want followers who are ashamed of him, in fact there is no such thing as a closeted follower.
•       We may laugh that the disciples didn’t understand what it meant to be the Christ
•       We are still figuring it out ourselves! There is so much we don’t know, some because we can’t and others because we don’t make the time

People ever since have been trying to figure out what to do with Jesus.
Liar, Lunatic or Lord trilemma.

“however strange or terrifying or unlikely it may seem, I have to accept the view that He was and is God.”

We cannot stand with the people of Israel following him thinking he was a good moral teacher. The stakes are higher now, Jesus has not left us with that option.

I said at the start that we have an incredible God. He hatched this plan so long ago, so that he could bring us to himself. We as Christians today have the luxury of seeing the greater picture, but even so the messiah is greater than what our human minds could conceive.

The Jews were thinking too small when it came to the Christ. They had a legitimate physical need for a savior, so that is what they drew the Messiah to be. Can you blame them? Put yourself in the shoes of a Jew today.
I am sure they would love for someone from the line of David to bring home hostages, defeat their enemies. Bring Israel to peace and prosperity.

Yet God has more, his messiah did not come to do that. He came to unify mankind with himself, to bring eternal peace, to give us spiritual safety. Our need for rescue goes beyond physical safety. And that is why the Christ had to be God himself. Who came to suffer in our place, to die for us, and to bear our sin in a way that only God could do.

•       Who do I think Jesus is?

•       What is my mind set on? What does my life revolve around?

If something comes up, what do you have to clear? Getting to the gym? How is it going to make people feel? Do I have the money? Will I be able to get to bed on time?
•       For me it can be trying to make the most of my time. Working and family responsibilities take up a lot of time, so I prioritize by asking am I getting good value out of this time spent? But I am a fool to think I know how to get better value out of my time than God does

At the start of the sermon, I asked why you decided to come to church today. There is only one reason that matters, and I pray it is true for you. It is that you know who Jesus is, that he is the Christ, Lord of your life, and it has caused a cosmic shift in how you live and prioritize your life.

9 And he said to them, “Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see that the kingdom of God has come with power.”

Eternal Priorities

What really matters for those of us who have chosen to be Biblical Followers of Christ? If you have yet to become a Biblical Follower of Christ, what really matters to you? They say you can determine what really matters to someone by three key things: What they do with their time, what they do with their financial resources and what they do with others. [Shared Life]

At this point in the Gospel of Mark, Jesus has been training the Disciples for 2 yrs! Giving them principals & application of those principals. Some lessons are repeated. Repetition in Scripture…Important things are purposely repeated for OUR benefit. Why does the same sort of thing happen over and over again in Scripture? The disciples have been with Jesus for a while now but He has to repeat lessons for them…good thing that never happens with us!

All of these lesson are about what really matters: Right Relationship with God! Today in our text we see 3 key Principals of a Right / Biblical Relationship with God: We are to focus on Eternal things not Earthly things. We are to live by Faith that God is who He says He is and will do what He promises. We are to avoid any sort of entitlement and not demand anything from God.

Mark 8:1-21 [ESV]

In those days, when again a great crowd had gathered, and they had nothing to eat, He called His disciples to Him and said to them, 2 “I have compassion on the crowd, because they have been with Me now three days and have nothing to eat. 3 And if I send them away hungry to their homes, they will faint on the way. And some of them have come from far away.”

  • Christ is on the southeast side of the sea of Galilee [Gentile Area]
  • People have traveled from the surrounding towns [Decapolis = 10 towns]
  • These people have discovered what really matters: The Messiah, God Himself
  • They have ‘been with Him’…once you have been with Him, you belong to Him
  • And He cares for them…they’ve come a long way spiritually [No OT Revelation]

4 And His disciples answered Him, “How can one feed these people with bread here in this desolate place?” 5 And He asked them, “How many loaves do you have?” They said, “Seven.”

  • The reply of the disciples is: “There is no way to not send them home hungry!”
  • So Jesus asks: “how much do you guys have for a personal supply?”
  • The question may seem familiar…

6 And He directed the crowd to sit down on the ground. And He took the seven loaves, and having given thanks, He broke them and gave them to His disciples to set before the people; and they set them before the crowd. 7 And they had a few small fish. And having blessed them, He said that these also should be set before them.

  • No green grass this time, just find some ground..
  • 1st things 1st: GIVE THANKS!
  • Christ didn’t give directly to the crowd, He gave to the disciples for them to give
  • Teaching them & empowering them to give their lives [bread] away

8 And they ate and were satisfied. And they took up the broken pieces left over, seven baskets full. 9 And there were about four thousand people. And he sent them away. 10 And immediately He got into the boat with his disciples and went to the district of Dalmanutha. [Magdala]

  • They were satisfied physically and spiritually
  • 7 loaves to start…7 ‘full baskets’ when all had been fed
  • The disciples now have more to eat than what they started with [IN their power]
  • 4000 people / men, they way they counted…all non jews!
  • I would say this was a more profound gathering than the 5000 Jews He fed
  • Once fed He sends them home: The miracle was to cement / validate teaching
  • Immediately Jesus ships out! Back to the land of The Jews…

11 The Pharisees came and began to argue with Him, seeking from Him a sign from heaven to test Him. 12 And He sighed deeply in His spirit and said, “Why does this generation seek a sign? Truly, I say to you, no sign will be given to this generation.” 13 And He left them, got into the boat again, and went to the other side.

  • This an example of the ‘religious entitlement’ of the Religious leaders
  • ‘We deserve a sign’!
  • 6000 gentiles who sat under Jesus’ teaching for 3 days didn’t demand a sign
  • Like in the previous passage Jesus sighed deeply, this time in His spirit
  • Obviously God is totally grieved by this kind of attitude
  • Why do ‘you guys’ want a sign? No sign for you! Your sort [faithless] get zip!

Generation can mean; one’s own kind, race, descendants, an age or time period. Mark’s gospel uses the word 3 times: 8:12: ‘This generation’, 8:38: ‘This adulterous and sinful generation’, 9:19: ‘This unbelieving generation’.

  • Jesus drops the mic, walks out of the ambush and ships out again!
  • Back to the gentile, non-Jewish population

14 Now they had forgotten to bring bread, and they had only one loaf with them in the boat. 15 And He cautioned them, saying, “Watch out; beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.” [The Herodians]

  • So they leave ‘immediately’ and they only have one loaf of bread
  • As they discover their mistake [perhaps in haste] Jesus starts teaching
  • He sees their preoccupation with the earthly vs the eternal
  • It is a mini-parable:
  • Bread is the thing that gives life, it represents a relationship with God
  • The leaven is the thing that once introduced into the bread it infects it all
  • The leaven of the religious rulers is self-sufficient, entitlement
  • Self-sufficient, Entitled Religion = Zero seeking of God
  • It is a religion where I take care of all my needs and God is like a ‘Mascot’
  • I know how God works SO WELL… I know the way God works…

16 And they began discussing with one another the fact that they had no bread. 17 And Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why are you discussing the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened 18 Having eyes do you not see, and having ears do you not hear? And do you not remember?”

  • Watch out! Beware! Says Jesus…
  • To this warning the disciples are like; ‘Ok, great Jesus. Now, what shall we eat?
  • Here is the hardening of the heart again [Repetition! Mk. 6:52]
  • It is what He is warning them about, religious entitlement / self-sufficiency
  • THAT is the leaven of the current religious establishment [how about now?]
  • Jesus says: ‘I have given you the ability to see, hear and remember and yet…’
  • What have you seen Jesus do?
  • What have you heard Him say to you?
  • What can you remember about who Jesus is?

19 “When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?” They said to Him, “Twelve.” 20 “And the seven for the four thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?” And they said to Him, “Seven.” 21 And He said to them, “Do you not yet understand?”

  • Ok guys I love you so let’s go over this again:
  • We start with 5 loaves; after thousands eat their fill we have more than 5 loaves
  • We start with 7 loaves; after thousands eat their fill we have more than 7 loaves
  • What they don’t understand and we don’t understand is ‘Christian Provision’
  • Provision Now and Provision Forever
  • Abundance! He came to bring abundance, not ‘Scarcity’

Pastoral Plea: Take Jesus’ warning seriously!

BIBLICAL PRINCIPLE: If Christ has chosen you to be His disciple, He will provide for your basic needs. If you focus on such things they will distract you from what really matters: your relationship with God.

GOD’S WORD: “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and He will give you everything you need.” ~ Matthew 6:31-33 [NLT]

APPLICATION: What are the ‘Creature Comforts’ that dominate your thoughts? Fast from one or some of those things for a week and ask God to be your ‘Creator Comfort’.

BIBLICAL PRINCIPLE: It dishonors God when you demand He proves who He is in some way you desire. God has provided all the information [Scripture / Provision / Miracles] you need to surrender your life to Him for eternity and today.

GOD’S WORD: Without faith no one can please God. Anyone who comes to God must believe that he is real and that He rewards those who truly want to find Him. ~ Hebrews 11:4 [NCV]

APPLICATION: Take an hour and recount the times and things Jesus has done to prove He is the Christ. Use those things as reasons to seek God and surrender your life fully to Christ.

BIBLICAL PRINCIPLE: Christ directly warns His disciples to beware of expecting God to answer to you. This kind of ‘Spiritual Entitlement’ is an infection that works it’s way into every part of your life, it will come between you and a Biblical relationship with Christ.

GOD’S WORD: “Only an evil, adulterous generation would demand a miraculous sign, but the only sign I will give them is the sign of the prophet Jonah.” ~ Matthew 16:4

APPLICATION: Ask God to show you if there are ways you live like God owes you something. Once you find something, change that habit or practice [with Christ’s help].

Mark 7:24-37

A Constant theme of Mark is that when faith abounds, healing abounds. And often it is the faith of someone other than the one healed. We are going to see more of that in this passage.

We learn a number of important things about God from the Scripture prior to Christ.His Power / His Holiness / His Love / His Mercy / His Justice. In Christ’s humanity we experience God’s humility. His Humility… Demonstrated as the Suffering Servant: Jesus the God-Man. It could be argued that HUMILITY is the unique trait of the Triune God. Ultimate humility was demonstrated by the only True God in His incarnation. How Jesus The Christ lived and died was the epitome of humility.

The apex of Christ’s humility was His death on a cross. The power of that act cannot be overlooked! I would argue the power to forgive sin is released from the depth of God’s humility.

The cross is also the apex of the servanthood of The Messiah.The Gospel of Mark constantly shows Jesus in the role of the active servant / healer. To describe Jesus in that role the Author uses the word ‘Immediately’. The Author / H.S. Uses it 35 times! Immediately is used 79 time in the whole new testament, all but one of those is in the Gospels and Acts. Jesus of nazareth described Himself as a servant… He said the greatest among His followers would be the servant / slave of all.

What servants do is act immediately. In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus is acting immediately, not after a day or two. God moving in active servanthood, servanthood is a demonstration of humility. The humble servant is active: ‘The Son of man came to serve, not be served.’ ~ J.C. The God of the universe condescending to servanthood of HIS creation? Yep!

What activates the humble servanthood of the Messiah is the humble faith of people. What seems to be most powerful is when people have humble faith in Jesus as God / Messiah on behalf of another!

Mark 7:24-27 [MOUNCE]

24 From there Jesus arose and went to the region of Tyre. He entered a house and wanted no one to know about it, yet He was not able to escape attention. 25 But immediately after hearing of Him a woman whose daughter had an unclean spirit came and fell at His feet.

  • Some manuscripts include Sidon to describe the AREA [Costal Phoenicia]
  • Jesus puts Himself exactly where He want to be, to meet this woman
  • Once she heard about Jesus she came in desperate, humble faith (prostrate)
  • Her daughter was been possessed by a demon

26 The woman was a Greek, a Syrophoenician by birth. She begged Jesus to drive out the demon from her daughter. 27 He said to her, “Let the children first be fed, for it is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.”

  • The Phoenicians were the masters of the seas before other peoples
  • She could be considered a gentile, like the Roman Centurion in Matt 8
  • Most agree Jesus is referring to the Israelites as ‘the children’
  • He is saying the people that God has chosen to foster the Messiah get 1st shot
  • He is saying: ‘this is how my father says it is going to be done’

How will she respond?

28 But she answered Him, “Lord, even the dogs under the table feed on the children’s crumbs.”

  • She certainly could have been offended, she was given the place of a dog
  • Humbled before the God of all creation, she is good with the place of a dog
  • She calls Him ‘Lord’…and Jesus knows she means it!
  • That makes all the difference… Humble faith before Her Lord

29 And He said to her, “Because of this reply you may go, the demon has left your daughter.” And when she arrived at her house she found the child lying on the bed, the demon having departed.

  • Jesus, God is honored, pleased, blessed and glorified by her reply [a non-jew!]
  • The recognition of God in humility activates God’s power and BAM!
  • Perhaps the demon was gone once she humbly declared Jesus Christ Lord
  • The immediate action of a God who serves

31 Departing again from the region of Tyre, Jesus went through Sidon to the Sea of Galilee in the midst of the region of the Decapolis.

  • This seems like a crazy route but it makes sense… water is important [SEE MAP BELOW]

A topographical map will show that there is a mountain (Mt. Meron) 3/4 of a mile high [with no supply of water] directly between Tyre and the Sea of Galilee. But there is a pass from Sidon through the mountains to the Jordan river valley, where foot travelers to Galilee could have fresh water for the journey.” ~ Tim McGrew

32 And they brought to Him a deaf man who could hardly speak and they begged Him to lay His hand on him. 33 Taking him aside from the crowd privately, Jesus put His fingers into the man’s ears, and after spitting He touched his tongue.

  • ‘They’ brought to Him…Once agin it is the faith of another or others
  • They begged, expressing humility born of faith, or is it faith born of humility?
  • In private, not seeking attention, He get pretty personal, kind of right in there
  • Not healing from afar [another healing of a non-jew]

34 Looking up to heaven, He gave a deep sigh and said to him, “Ephphatha!” That is “Be Opened!” 35 and immediately the man’s ear’s were opened, that which bound his tongue was loosened, and he began to speak clearly.

  • The look to heaven, to direct the glory
  • The sigh, to demonstrate association with the suffering
  • Why does He say ‘Be Opened!’ ?
  • He is connecting to Isiah 35, which tells of when the Messiah comes:

Then shall the eyes of the blind be lightened, and the ears of the deaf be opened. ~ Isiah 35:5

36 Jesus ordered them to tell no one, but the more He ordered them the more they spread the news. 37 They were absolutely astonished, saying, “He has done all things well. He makes the deaf to hear and the mute to speak!

  • He told them not to but He knew they would
  • The crowd in general is coming to the place of seeing Jesus as the Messiah
  • In a way they are saying ‘He has passed all the tests’
  • How many O.T prophecies did Jesus of Nazareth fulfill? [ 570 / 300 ]

When Jesus read the beginning of Isaiah chapter 61 in the synagog [read] and then declared that He was fulfilling this prophecy, He was saying ‘I Am’.

The Spirit of The Lord God is upon me, because The Lord has anointed me to announce good news to the poor. He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted; to proclaim freedom to the captives, to let out into light those bound in the dark; to proclaim the year of the favor of God. ~ Isaiah 61:1-2a

It is similar to what Jesus told John the Baptist when he asked from prison if Jesus was the Messiah:

Now when John heard in prison about the works of the Messiah, he sent word through his disciples, asking Him, “are you the one who is to come, or should we wait for someone else?” Jesus answered them saying, “Go and tell John what you have heard and seen: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised and the poor are being told the good news.” ~ Matthew 11:2-6
In His humility, The Servant / Healer Messiah changes lives! How will you approach Him for your self and on behalf of others? Humbly


The active nature of God in people’s lives is fully displayed in the Gospel of Mark: ‘Emmanuel’.

We see the biblical doctrine of The Messiah, Jesus, coming for all peoples!

The humility of the Syrophoenician Woman is an example for us when approaching God. Not just calling Him Lord, treating Him as Lord!

God responds to our humility before Him on behalf of others with healing.

People need help coming to Jesus to be healed, God honors your faith for others.

The Gospel of Mark constantly demonstrates how Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah.

The Messiah comes to serve and heal in humility; our response is to believe He is who He proves to be.


When was the last time you got on your face and begged your ‘Lord’ to do something for you or for someone else?

Do you get offended by God if He doesn’t treat you how you want to be treated? What is the cure for that?

What can you do to ‘bring people to Jesus’ like ‘they’ brought the deaf mute man?

Following Jesus example requires getting into the ‘Nitty Gritty’ with hurting people, how are you doing that?