The Shadow Of Calvary Looms

Mark 11:20-33

As they passed by in the morning, they saw the fig tree withered away to its roots. And Peter remembered and said to him, “Rabbi look! The fig tree that you cursed has withered.” (v.20-21)

And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God. Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” (v.22-24)

Application point 1: There are situations/seasons of life when the Lord appoints an obstacle in our way to develop our faith and/or put His power on display.

And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive your trespasses. [But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father who is in heaven forgive your trespasses.] (v.25-26)

Application point 2: Be careful removing scripture from its context. An unforgiving spirit is a great hindrance to effective prayer. An unforgiving spirit blocks our prayers and isolates us from the blessing of His presence and awareness of His grace.

And they came again to Jerusalem. And as he was talking in the temple, the chief priests and the scribes and the elders came to him, and they said to him, “By what authority are you doing these things, or who gave you this authority to do them?” (v.27-28)

Jesus said to them, “I will ask you one question; answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things. Was the baptism of John from heaven or from man? Answer me.” (v.29-30)

And they discussed it with one another, saying, “If we say, from heaven, he will say, why then did you not believe him? But shall we say, From man?” they were afraid of the people, for they all held that John really was a prophet. (v. 31-32)

So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And Jesus said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.” (v.33)

Application point 3: They rejected Jesus just as they rejected John. And He rejected them.

In Summary:

-Our failures are a usual way God grows us, but often He appoints hardships for us to grow our faith, purify us, or protect us (perhaps even from ourselves).

-While v.24 appears to be a broad promise, it is contingent that we approach heaven, exercising faith with a humble forgiving spirit. Being right or getting right with our brothers and sisters!

-The Lord did not argue with His enemies. He did not seek to enlighten them. To them, He had nothing to say. Likewise, to the mockers and skeptics, we are not the ‘fixers’ of them all. We must be Spirit-led and filled. Recognize those He has given to us and move along from those He may appoint to others.

Something Greater Is Here

Jesus Calms the Storm

Have you ever watched a movie or been reading a book and thought, I know this story! I’ve seen this play out before. I’m not talking about the severe lack of creativity plaguing our culture now. What I am talking about is often a good thing. There is a fine line between copying and retelling. But some of the best movies are retellings of classic literature. “Oh brother where art thou” is a fun twist on Homers Odyssey. The Lion King is a modern Hamlet. When it is done right, it’s not lazy, it is an homage. 

We are going to see something like that through the next chapter of Mark. Gods story is intricate and detailed. His plan to rescue his creation from sin and darkness started long before Man ever left the garden. God orchestrated it together with perfect and purposeful. There was set-up that needed to happen in order to pave the way for Jesus. God prepared the world in specific ways by giving hints about his Character, and how he would never give up on his creation. God used a nation, of cowards, failures and idol worshipers mind you, to tell the world about him. He used kings, prophets and emancipators who loved him, but who were flawed. And then Jesus came to set things right at the exact right time. We are blessed to know that part of the story.

-Mark will show us through a series of stories that Jesus uses his life to retell some of the stories we’re familiar with in the old testament. 
-We will see parallels that show how Jesus is a fulfillment of the things God promised to his people. All the things he asked us to do, knowing that we would fall short, Jesus has come to complete. 
-Jesus is here to show that he is a better version than everyone who has come before him.

Mark written very fast paced. My study bible calls Mark a “docudrama”. It is a collection of tidbits of the life of Jesus. The tidbit we will read about today is Jesus calming the storm. 

Our text is Mark 4:35-41 

We only get 7 verses describing it in this account. We get a version of the story in all three synoptic gospels, and surprisingly this is the longest most detailed version! 

35 That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” 36 Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. 

    • Jesus is traveling with his disciples through the region, and they have spent a full day in the hot sun keeping the crowds at bay as Jesus taught. He would teach the crowds with parables, and then the disciples privately. 
    • So they decide to get away
    • it would have looked as archaic as you are thinking.   
    • The boat would have been made of wood, about 25 feet long, and fit 15 or so people. 

37 A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. 38 Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”

    • A “squall” means a sudden and violent gust of wind. 
    • The sea of Galilee is hundreds of feet below sea level, so apparently it was and still is prone to sudden and violent storms.
    • Danger comes out of the blue. Imagine not being able to swim. Do you know what happens when you wear loose fitting clothes in the water? Have you been on a boat when you are not in control? 
    • There is fear of death mostly, fear of losing the boat. No coast guard, no life jackets. 
    • Do not let the fact that Jesus is sleeping through this whole ordeal convince you otherwise: this was an intense moment.
    • Jesus was tired, a reminder of his humanity. He is not straight out of an action film where the characters have a seemingly superhuman source of energy.
    • They wake him up. Unclear why. Do they think he can calm the storm? From their reactions it sure doesn’t seem that way. Are they handing him a bucket to bail water out?

39 He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.

    • As quickly as the storm was upon them, it’s over. 
    • This should immediately make clear that Jesus is no regular man or prophet
    • Throughout the scripture there is only one entity who has control over nature itself 

Job 38
8 “Who shut up the sea behind doors
    when it burst forth from the womb,
9 when I made the clouds its garment
    and wrapped it in thick darkness,
10 when I fixed limits for it
    and set its doors and bars in place,
11 when I said, ‘This far you may come and no farther;
    here is where your proud waves halt’? 

    • There is no shortage of examples where God and God alone demonstrates power over nature
    • King David writes…

Psalm 29
3 The voice of the Lord is over the waters;
    the God of glory thunders,
    the Lord thunders over the mighty waters…

10 The Lord sits enthroned over the flood;
    the Lord is enthroned as King forever.
god controls even the flood, the uncontrollable. 

    • Jonah also found himself on a boat, for a very different reason, sleeping when they were caught in a deadly storm. 
    • When the crew realizes Jonah is the cause, he is thrown overboard, and God stills the storm

40 He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

    • He rebukes the storm, and quickly turns to rebuke the disciples. They are chastised for their lack of faith. 
    • “why are you so afraid”
    • there is an expectation that they have a certain level of faith at this point. 
    • Fear and faithlessness are connected. Fear is what manifests when we do not have faith.

41 They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”

    • The disciples are talking amongst each other about what they just saw. 
    • Previously, when Jesus performed miracles the people around him were in awe or disbelief.
    • But this scene gives us a different reaction from the disciples than a lot of the other miracles. It says “they were terrified”. The danger is gone, usually fear is replaced by relief or shock. But their terror transfers from the storm to Jesus. 
    • They were afraid of the storm because of its power. It clicks for them here that the storm is powerless over them. But the master over the storm is still in the boat.
    • “Who is this?” Do you think it’s a real question? 

A person could not be God. Only God has dominion over nature in that way. Yet it was a man, a tuckered out, sleep deprived man, who calmed the storm. The disciples did not know how to make sense of this.

Humans are not supposed to do what Jesus did. Even the ones that want to do good, can’t get it right. From Moses to David, they all got it wrong.
From the beginning, God knew he had to do it himself. He planned to take on flesh, and come down to show how it really should be done. 
When God called Jonah, he got up and left… in the opposite direction he was told to go. He didn’t want to go to Nineveh, it was a foreign land. It was beneath him. And after a bit of arm twisting and stomach churning, Jonah did as he was told. 
By comparison, Jesus listened. He didn’t need to be thrown overboard for God to calm the storm.

Jesus is a better Jonah in more ways than that. A little later in his ministry, the Pharisees ask Jesus for a sign. Jesus says they will only get one, and he calls it the Sign of Jonah. 

The crux is this: Jonah, after initial reluctance, preached repentance to the gentiles, and thousands listened. Jesus is greater than Jonah. He preached the same message, and it has lead to billions of gentiles around the world laying down their lives and following him. Praise God

What do we do about this? We follow suit

Jonah 3:10
10 When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened.

    • Where have I fallen short? What do I need to repent of right now?

Secondly, the disciples were afraid because they lacked faith

    • What do you not trust God with?
    • Do you know Gods character well enough to trust him?
    • Is your fear in the right place?

Matt 10
28 Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

I want to leave you this morning with verse 38. “don’t you care if we die”? Imagine looking Jesus in the face and asking him this question. How might he respond? As the disciples will find out soon enough, it turns out he does care if they die. He cares so much about them dying that he came to die in their place. He took on flesh to live a perfect life, that only he could live, and give his life for us. 

Jesus did not come to erase Jonah, he came to complete the mission
Jesus is a better Jonah. And because we aren’t stuck with the old version, we are able to know God, and repent. Thats just what we get to do together as we celebrate communion.

The Amazing Wonder of This Salvation!

1st & 2nd Peter are foundational books for the new testament church. Peter’s Story gives His letters great weight and authority. God used Peter for important reasons, his complexity helps us understand faith.

Who was Peter? We have few trusted sources, basically Scripture. In Scripture, Peter is depicted as hasty & violent and also as kind and caring. He could be resolute at times and in the case of the church at Antioch, vacillating. He is pictured as gentle yet firm, he speaks clearly about who Jesus is. Peter was unschooled, yet he is always depicted as the leader of the 12.

Peter presents a broad study of human nature, all by himself. He was complex man of passion & weakness who was transformed by ‘The Christ’. One moment he’s doing the right things, and then his flesh and sin would take over. Peter experienced the wonder of walking on water…and then overthought it and sank. Peter insisted, “Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!” (not so much). Peter was deeply ashamed of his betrayal of Jesus…’he wept bitterly’

Then after the Resurrection we start to see the transformation. 1st we see the restoring of Peter…do you love me? Then the Pentecost sermon. Then his vision & mission to the non Jews. Then his leadership of the Jerusalem Church and ultimately the Roman Church.

Peter was flawed & poor bad decisions but through that God made him a new creation. He grew in humility, he was faithful, and he was obedient. He was able to admit when he was wrong, and he was able to change. Peter’s absolute surrender to Christ was used by God to make Peter a servant leader of the early Church.

He became a prophet of God = writer of Scripture (speaking for God). He is believed to have written the Gospel of Mark (dictated it to Mark). In writing this letter to the scatted Jews in Asia Minor he starts with the basics

The original Audience. How does that relate to this body as the audience? We do well to read this letter as a refresher course in the fundamentals of our faith. We do well to approach this letter with childlike humility, not thinking this is too basic

CHAPTER 1:1-12

1 This letter is from Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ. I am writing to God’s chosen people who are living as foreigners in the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia.

  • Peter, not ‘Simeon Peter’
  • Apostle = ‘A Sent One’…’One Sent on Behalf of Someone with their message’
  • God’s Chosen = Jewish by ethnicity (mission to Jews / transition to church)
  • Jewish Christians fled from the area surrounding Jerusalem 35-40 AD

2 God the Father knew you and chose you long ago, and His Spirit has made you holy. As a result, you have obeyed Him and have been cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ. May God give you more and more grace and peace.

  • Clear communication of Biblical doctrines of ‘Election’ and ‘Predestination’
  • We are known and chosen as Jesus’s Christ’s Body (set apart = Holy)
  • Obeyed = surrendered to His Lordship / Cleansed by His Sacrificial death
  • THIS IS AMAZING GRACE… yet Peter asks God to give us more

3 All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by His great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation, 4 and we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay.

  • The Biblical doctrine of God being the sole focus of ALL our worship & praise
  • Expression of HIS mercy / WE get Resurrection life because God raised Christ
  • Now Jesus Christ’s Church gets to live expecting an eternity of priceless value
  • ‘Non-Fungible Eternity’

5 And through your faith, God is protecting you by His power until you receive this salvation, which is ready to be revealed on the last day for all to see.

  • Peter assumes his readers have ‘faith’… (their lives have displayed it)
  • Our faith is how God’s power acts as protection for the rest of this life…
  • When we are in heaven we will no longer need protection!
  • On the last day God will reveal to everyone that eternal salvation is in Him

6 So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. 7 These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold.

  • The basis for Christ’s church to be truly glad is our inheritance
  • What is coming is worth whatever you may have to endure to get there
  • The struggles are going to reveal true faith & purify it, increasing it’s value
  • Nothing is as important as faith in Christ (It should be the center of our lives)

So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.

  • There is an emphases on our faith remaining strong in the midst of trials
  • How we live during the hard stuff says everything about what we have faith in

(No matter what I go though nothing changes my faith in Christ for eternity)

  • Trusting in the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the ultimate reward in itself

8 You love him even though you have never seen Him. Though you do not see Him now, you trust Him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy. 9 The reward for trusting Him will be the salvation of your souls.

  • We can know and love Christ without seeing Him (Scripture)
  • Trusting in what you cannot see is difficult
  • God gives us assurance by His Spirit living in us
  • This is how that ‘Faith’ thing works (Peter knows what faith is)
  • When we know we are bound for eternity with Christ is is a source of great joy
  • The joy comes from know that our faith will be rewarded with Heaven

10 This salvation was something even the prophets wanted to know more about when they prophesied about this gracious salvation prepared for you. 11 They wondered what time or situation the Spirit of Christ within them was talking about when he told them in advance about Christ’s suffering and his great glory afterward.

  • Biblical Salvation is the point of all God’s revelation, all through the OT
  • God works through ‘Progressive Revelation’…information on information
  • Prophets were given bits of info & told more would be revealed in the future
  • This is how our faith walk works, (learn & apply…repeat)

12 They were told that their messages were not for themselves, but for you. And now this Good News has been announced to you by those who preached in the power of the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. It is all so wonderful that even the angels are eagerly watching these things happen.

  • God’s people (prophets) have always been asked to live for others…by God
  • God’s Spirit is the author of all Scripture, of the Gospel message
  • Angelic beings are watching to see how us human respond to God’s love

How amazing this salvation!

How we need to be reminded and encouraged to focus on it!

How we can live in ways that honors what God has done for us!

Might we live each day, each moment in light of the eternity Christ gives us!

He died for us, let’s live for HIM!