“Bad Motives, Good Motives, Glory Theft and an Eclipse of the Sun”

Image.pngBlog Post 8/21/17
Mark 14:1-11
“Bad Motives, Good Motives, Glory theft and an Eclipse of the Sun”

Today , I looked at the Sun, or at least part of it. I made the same viewer I had made some forty years ago from an old shoe box and saw the Moon gradually obscure the Sun up to about eighty percent, as much as we could here in New Jersey. about twenty-five hundred years ago a Solar Eclipse was recorded on Cuneiform tablets in ancient Babylon what did **they** think was doing this to the Sun? We know that a myth was made up that a hungry animal was devouring the Sun, and so ultimately this animal was made into a god. It seems that when we cannot come up with a explanation for something strange, then it becomes something supernatural, and that takes care of the explanation. From the Christian Worldview there is always a different explanation, a logical cause and effect that takes place and a God that rules over any natural phenomena.

Natural phenomena have no reasons or motives for doing what they do, all of it’s actions and reactions are controlled ultimately by God. Our motives control how we think, how we interact with others and how we see ourselves in the light of Jesus Christ. The motives that impacted ancient civilizations into thinking a hungry animal was eating the Sun, were the same motives that caused them to think that a god they created with their imagination and their hands is the same one that controlled giant celestial bodies millions of miles away from Earth in Space. Our God speaks to the wonder of His creation, and He speaks to the foolishness of a world that clings to their idols that do not speak or hear or feel: Psalm 115:2-7 ESV

“Why should the nations say,
“Where is their God?”
Our God is in the heavens;
he does all that he pleases.
Their idols are silver and gold,
the work of human hands.
They have mouths, but do not speak;
eyes, but do not see.
They have ears, but do not hear;
noses, but do not smell.
They have hands, but do not feel;
feet, but do not walk;
and they do not make a sound in their throat.”

The motives of modern man and the motives of man from thousands of years ago are still the same today; the both have the motive to live in a world without God, without a Creator. In Verse Eight from Psalm 115, we can learn what happens to these motivated people who worship gods with no hands and feet,

“Those who make them become like them; so do all who trust in them”

So the motives that caused ancient societies to put one of their man-made gods at the center of any natural phenomena were brought about mainly by fear.
The familiar sounds of wonder and awe are mixed with dread and fear, how can this be? How can the Sun be eaten away? Fear and dread that their lives can be so interrupted would drive men to create gods that give these events some meaning; because if there is no meaning to it, no purpose in it, then it becomes more frightening to them. Purpose and meaning without God leaves us with no purpose or meaning at all.

Today modern man thinks that he is far above ancient man, he believes he knows his purpose and tries to inject his meaning into life, everything is wrapped up in personal truth, ultimate truth is not found anywhere in secular man. The idols of self worship and pleasure propel postmodern man, they look at ancient man and point to her far they have come through innovation and science. But, modern man fixates on the same idols, the same discussions that ancient man had, only now there is the god of science that controls every natural event. Science is the god that has a mouth but cannot speak, science is the god that has ears but cannot hear, and science is the god that has been made with man’s hands to support anything that can’t be explained. God is the God of all creation, and He is the God of Science and the unexplainable. Science has it’s place in the world that God created, but it is subservient to God always looking towards the Creator in everything it does, giving glory to the one true God. God, who set the world in motion most certainly knows about a Solar Eclipse. It came as no surprise to God one day when the Moon blocked the Sun’s rays, it was all Divinely prepared and set in order eons before Science described it. God uses Science to show His glory. The motive of God in all Creation is to receive glory from His creation, the Solar Eclipse is no exception.

Glory is what God deserves, it is what He is due, glory from the creation, and glory from the created, us. The glory of the Solar Eclipse is something that must be ascribed to God, but sadly during this time of intense participation in this event, there has been little glory given to the one who set this beautiful natural phenomena in motion. The glory of the Sun being exposed for all to see belongs to God and to no on else.

In our messages from Mark’s gospel we heard about a “glory thief” this Lord’s Day, we heard about the priests and the scribes seeking glory for themselves and wanting to kill Jesus. Judas in Mark 14 is finally introduced as part of Mark’s literary sandwich, with the priests and scribes at the start of Chapter 14, and Judas in verse 11. In between we have the beautiful account of the woman anointing Jesus. Judas is intent on stealing Jesus’ glory, and like Satan, his desires and his motives are to have what he cannot have, to be what he cannot be. The motives of the priests and scribes are concealed in their false love for God and for the people of God. The motives of the woman are clear and distinct, there is no mistaking them, she understands who God is. This woman gives everything she had, like the widow in Chapter 12, to God. This woman gives to Jesus all the glory she can give, she gives him the glory he is due in this anointing of his body before burial.
The two accounts that make part of this “sandwich” in Mark 14 (1-2; 10-11) are part of the glory thieves, they all plan on stealing glory from the Son of God, but Jesus will not allow his glory to be given to another (Is. 42:8). He is quite aware of the looming cross and His death upon it. All the glory that has been stolen will be returned to the Son, His sacrifice will shut the mouths of the glory thieves, all the unjust motives will be exposed in the light of this amazing love (Rev. 21:23-27). The Son will not be eclipsed as the creation was, no, the Son’s light will continue to burn brighter and brighter as more and more motives are made right and more and more glory is returned to it’s rightful owner.

Call…Send…Do…

Call…Send… Do…

Mark 6:7-13

This past Sunday at Redeemer the message was centered upon the calling, the sending, the doing of the disciples as Jesus sent them into the towns and villages. Jesus calls and sends the disciples almost simultaneously, then he instructs them on what to take, not to take, and finally what to do when they get to where they are going. There is a great simplicity to the way Jesus sends, instructs and tells the disciples. The simplicity provides a way for us to see how our own lives were changed by the command of Christ, when, just like the disciples we were not prepared for it. The authority of Christ is what prepares the disciples, it’s this authority that gives them power over “unclean spirits”(v.7). In the same way we have no power by ourselves to come to Christ, it’s only through the regenerative power of Jesus that our hearts are changed and we enter into the family of God. Simply, it is this authoritative power that is given by The Son of God to his disciples that prepares them, and it is the power of the blood of Jesus on the cross that prepares and changes us.

The instructions that Jesus gives to his disciples (v.8-11) along with his authority, put the disciples on a narrow path where they must trust in Jesus for their everyday needs. These men can’t take any of the things that you might take on an extended journey, no food, no money and no extra clothing. They must rely on the people they meet to supply their needs, but more importantly they have to place all their trust in Jesus. Although they can’t take the things they are used to taking on a trip Jesus allows them to wear sandals to protect their feet on the stoney roads. Jesus knows their needs before they do and he takes care of their needs, the need for sandals on a hard road, and the need for increased faith. We all need our faith to be strengthened and we all need our basic everyday needs to be taken care of and God does both. Christ challenges us to increase our faith by challenging us to look to him for “every good gift and every perfect gift…” (James 1:16).

So just as Jesus knows our needs before we do, so we should be seeing the times we are in as challenges that God has placed before us to strengthen our faith and renew our love of Jesus Christ. Just as these disciples were sent out, we are sent out into the world with all we will ever need, true faith and total reliance upon God.

As this week ends many of you have seen things that may shake your confidence in this country, but remember this is not our home, we are “sojourners and exiles…” (1Peter 2:11). We have been born again with a new faith and a new desire not to serve man but to serve God. We are told by the Apostle Peter to “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the might hand of God…” so that we can put “all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.”(1Peter 5:6-7). Nothing in our lives is not seen and known by Almighty God, as Peter tells us, he cares for us. Everything in this world is groaning, and falling apart, as evil masquerades as good, and evil tries to push aside the light of Christ, we know that in the end Jesus wins.

The disciples knew something about Jesus, they knew he was different then anyone they had seen before, no Rabbi ever acted like Jesus. Jesus gave them authority, his authority over demons and they were able to heal many people. Today we have the authority of Jesus living inside of us and our faith should be renewed and increased despite anything we see in this world. Christ’s authority gives us all the assurance we will ever need to go through this world and bring others the good news of the gospel. There will be times ahead that we will become anxious or afraid, but through it all we have been given the same reassurance that was given to the disciples, we have been called, sent and given authority to do. Let Christ reign in your hearts throughout the weeks ahead and see the magnificent love of Christ Jesus pour out of you into others. Moses tells the people of Israel not to be afraid after they came out of slavery in Egypt and were facing the Red Sea, “…Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians you see today, you shall never see again. The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.” (Exodus 14:13-14). This is the God we serve and this is who reigns over us.

Together in the Gospel of Mark

Going through Mark’s Gospel at Redeemer 2016

Yes, we are going through the entire gospel of Mark here at Redeemer. We started the gospel in May and as of this writing we are in Chapter Three, preparing the Lord’s Day message on the fourteenth of August. Being a Pastor of a church means being responsible for many things chief among them is having the great privilege of preaching the Word, “in season and out of season…” ( 2 Timothy 4:2). It is a glorious pleasure to be able to stay in one gospel looking at the original meaning and what God is saying through His Word to us today.

Every week I am sitting with the sermon for next week, and truthfully I am thoroughly amazed at how God is speaking through the pages of Mark’s gospel. Jesus is plainly seen walking on the road to the Cross in this fast paced narrative. Everything that the Lord does in this gospel is reflected from the “Big Picture View” of the sacrificial act of crucifixion which is sufficient for the entire world to be saved. This aspect is crystal clear from the first verse of Mark, “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” to every verse in this inspired account of the life of our Lord. Our theme as we go through Mark’s account is then appropriately titled “Jesus Christ The Son of God”.

This is a quick study of Jesus, Mark gives us a different look into the life of Christ. Mark along with the gospel of John, doesn’t give us a study into Jesus’ birth, but we start out with a strong statement that cannot be denied in verse one that Jesus is, The Son of God.

Many people will deny that Jesus is God, many religions deny that Jesus was God, but Mark tackles that issue head on with this undeniable statement. In the first century this would have been very controversial to say the least, the Romans worshipped Caesar as God and the Romans were in charge.

This is the atmosphere that Mark wrote his Holy Spirit inspired narrative. The actual date of the writing of Mark is not known, scholars have used other means to identify the period in which it was written, so there is a span of about five or six years for the writing. James Edwards in his excellent commentary on Mark writes:

In summary, although none of the foregoing arguments and evidence is conclusive in itself, a combination of external and internal data appears to point to a composition of the Gospel of Mark in Rome between the great fire in 64 and the siege and destruction of Jerusalem by Titus in 70, that is, about the year 65.161

So here we are in the beginning of the gospel of Mark going through the pages of the Bible together as a church. Every week on the Lord’s day we have the opportunity to hear the Word of God preached in Portuguese or English, but every sermon is geared towards our theme for Redeemer Church (Redentor Igreja) this year that God has given to believers, gifts of the the Spirit. Through Christ, God has given to us certain gifts to share and build up other believers. The gifts of the Spirit can be seen in all the pages of Scripture and now we can see them as we go through Mark. Let us see our Redeemer Christ Jesus revealed each week and let us hold on to that gift as we begin our week, strong and anchored in the grace, love and mercy of Jesus.

  1. Edwards, James R. The Gospel according to Mark. The Pillar New Testament Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI; Leicester, England: Eerdmans; Apollos, 2002 .9.