Mark: S1 E5 - BE AMAZED.
Resource: Lead Pastor Justin Dosch
Topic: Follow him and lay down our lives.
So let me ask you a question; what amazes you? For some, maybe it’s a one handed catch. For others it’s watching someone with amazing musical talent. For others, it might simply be looking at God’s creation and some of the amazing landscapes He has created. The truth is many people are amazed by the simplest things. My boys are amazed by the dumbest things. Have you ever heard of “Dude Perfect?” They LOVE these guys! There’s something about watching a guy throw a frisbee off a cliff and seeing someone catch it on a jet ski that just lights their fire. Personally, I’m amazed by my BOYS. I mean who needs Netflix when you have three rambunctious boys to watch on the daily. Seriously, I can save you 19.99 a month. Cancel your Netflix, get yourself a couple of elementary age boys, send them outside and get your popcorn ready!
The bottom line is we are wired to be in awe of things. We are all captivated by something because that’s who God created us to be. And there’s a fundamental truth we must understand; what captivates our hearts dominates our thought life, and what dominates our thought life ultimately ends up controlling the direction of our lives. And as we’re going to discover today, there is only one thing that’s truly worthy of our amazement, and His name is Jesus.
As we continue our study in the Gospel of Mark Jesus has just proclaimed his mission (repent and believe) and called his first followers; some fishermen named Andrew, Simon, John and James. Things are truly about to get exciting as Mark moves to show Jesus doing his thing. Doing what Jesus does best. And what was that thing? Well, when you get down to it Jesus’ ministry consisted of three things; teaching, casting out demons and healing. As we pick back up in Mark 1:21 the apostle Mark is going to give us what a typical day in the life and ministry of Jesus looked like;
21 They went to Capernaum, and when the Sabbath came, Jesus went into the synagogue and began to teach. 22 The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law. Mark 1:21-22
So let’s just stop there for a second and provide some background and context that’s essential to understanding this text. First off Mark tells us that they went to Capernaum. Capernaum is located on the Sea of Galilee and was the largest and most influential city in the region. It was influential enough to have a Roman garrison, which was essentially a military base within the city. Not only that but Peter’s home was located there, most likely due to the fact that this was a major fishing port and it was also the home of Matthew the tax collector. Finally, Capernaum was the headquarters of Jesus and his ministry. This was the place where they would come back to after traveling the countryside spreading the message of the gospel.
Second, Mark says when the Sabbath came they went into the synagogue. The word synagogue means “place of assembly.” It was the place where Jews would congregate to worship the Lord and hear the scriptures read. In those days most Jews were illiterate and only religious leaders had copies of the scriptures, making the synagogue the only place you could truly learn about God.
Now I want us to imagine the scene that Mark is conveying to us. It’s the sabbath day and Jews from all over Capernaum have gathered to hear the scriptures read. In those days there was something called the “freedom of the synagogue” which said that any qualified man could teach the scriptures. Kind of like a guest speaker. And in this case Jesus shows up and is given the floor and begins to speak. It’s incredibly important to remember that Jesus has no formal education, no title of any standing and no fancy rabbi pedigree. And yet his teaching was unlike anything they had ever heard. Mark tells us that the people are AMAZED because he taught with AUTHORITY. There was something different about the way Jesus taught. You see, in those days rabbis often spoke in very confusing language and simply quoted what other famous rabbis had said. “Rabbi so and so says this, and rabbi and rabbi so and so says this.” But when Jesus spoke he was direct, clear and brilliantly illustrated the things of God in a way that no one had ever experienced. In short, His teaching cut right to the heart of the human condition. If they had bumper stickers on their chariots back then they might have said, “Jesus, King of the mic drop.” The word used for "amazed” in the original language literally meant, “to strike a person out of their mind.” My translation, Jesus blew their mind holes! Now in the middle of Jesus’ incredible teaching Mark tells us something pretty crazy happens;
23 Just then a man in their synagogue who was possessed by an impure spirit cried out, 24 “What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!” Mark 1:23-24
Again, I want us to imagine the scene. Jesus is teaching and you can probably hear a pin drop when all of a sudden a man screams. And it wasn’t just any scream, it was the scream of a demon coming from this man’s body. Now we have to understand that this would have been startlingly unusual. The truth is that outside of the three year ministry of Jesus demon activity is extremely rare. Both in the OT or the rest of the NT. Why? Because demons prefer to stay hidden. The fact is they don’t want attention drawn to them because they do their best work when no one knows they’re there. This is true of Satan in every possible way. If Satan can lie and manipulate without anyone paying attention to him he has a huge advantage. But during Jesus’ ministry His presence drew them out. The fact of the matter is they know him. They know what he’s going to do to them. They have been at war with Jesus since the fall. And so when Jesus shows up and starts speaking this demon is so angry and terrified that he can’t help himself. Like a child throwing a temper tantrum who can’t control his emotions he explodes.
Again, why? Because Jesus is opening people’s eyes with the truth. The truth that can free a person from the clutches of evil. In fact, the truth is the only thing that can truly set someone free from the lies of the enemy. Satan is the father of lies and nothing is more dangerous to the enemy than God’s truth. And so this demon goes on the attack. On behalf of all demons (he says “what do you want with US”) he tries to attack Jesus’ credibility by disrespecting where he’s come from (“Jesus of Nazareth”). Nazareth was a tiny little town that was somewhat looked down upon. And yet, the demon also recognized that Jesus was God and acknowledged His power (“Holy One of God”). Now at this point Jesus is like, “enough is enough and he shuts this demon up.
25 “Be quiet!” said Jesus sternly. “Come out of him!” 26 The impure spirit shook the man violently and came out of him with a shriek. 27 The people were all so amazed that they asked each other, “What is this? A new teaching—and with authority! He even gives orders to impure spirits and they obey him.” 28 News about him spread quickly over the whole region of Galilee. Mark 1:25-28
Now this demon was strong, it says it actually shook this poor man as he came out of Him. But I want us to see the power of Jesus here. With a word Jesus commanded this demon to run and he obeyed. That is the power of the Word. It breaks any and every stronghold and shuts up evil every time. Now at this point the crowd is completely amazed. They have now heard amazing preaching and seen Jesus cast out a demon in a way they’ve never seen before. They are truly amazed. And Mark tells us that the word began to spread quickly about Jesus.
29 As soon as they left the synagogue, they went with James and John to the home of Simon and Andrew. 30 Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they immediately told Jesus about her. 31 So he went to her, took her hand and helped her up. The fever left her and she began to wait on them. Mark 1:29-31
So church is over, and like we would also be today, everyone is hungry. And Mark tells us they went to Simon Peter’s home for lunch. Fun fact; Peter’s home was just a few blocks away. You can actually still see the foundations of both the synagogue in Capernaum and Peter’s house. When they arrive Simon immediately takes Jesus to see his mother-in-law who is battling a fever. The gospel writer Luke actually tells us it was a high fever, meaning this was serious. She had an infection that rendered her on the verge of death. The reality is that Peter has just seen what Jesus could do and he has brought Jesus to lunch for this specific purpose. And Jesus does not disappoint. In an instant Jesus heals the woman, and again I want us to see the power Jesus has. This healing was instantaneous. It didn’t take her a few hours to slowly come around. She popped up like grandpa Joe in “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” after he’d been in bed for 18 years and it was like she was never sick! She literally started making lunch the second she was healed. And it is at this point that a frenzy is about to break out;
32 That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed. 33 The whole town gathered at the door, 34 and Jesus healed many who had various diseases. He also drove out many demons, but he would not let the demons speak because they knew who he was. Mark 1:32-34
Again, let’s Imagine the scene. By the law of the day you could not heal on the sabbath (but Jesus is Lord of the sabbath so you know, he did!) That meant that if someone wanted to be healed they had to wait until the sabbath was over. So, as the sabbath came to a close at sunset people everywhere started showing up at Simon’s door looking for Jesus to do something miraculous. And one-by-one Jesus healed them. Late into the night they kept coming and Jesus kept healing them and casting out demons. And with each demon he cast out Mark tells us he refused to let them speak. Why? Because the most dangerous people to the gospel are those who claim to know Jesus but teach a false gospel, and Jesus doesn’t want ANYONE associating these demons with Him. Now at this point you have to imagine Jesus is exhausted. And so he takes some time to recharge;
35 Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. 36 Simon and his companions went to look for him, 37 and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!” 38 Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.” 39 So he traveled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons. Mark 1:35-39
He’s just healed people all night long and he is in great need of having his power source replenished. That power source is his Heavenly Father, and the delivery system is prayer. And so Jesus goes off and finds a quiet place to be alone with his Father. Now at this point, the disciples wake up and realize two things; 1) More people have come to be healed and 2) Jesus is nowhere to be found! And so they head out looking for him. When they finally find him, panicked and worried about all these people who have come to see Jesus, they respond with backhanded criticism; “everyone is looking for you!” In other words, “Jesus come on, isn’t this what we wanted? You’ve got a crowd! You’ve got people’s attention! We’ve gotta capitalize on this!”
And I want us to take note of Jesus’ response; “Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.” In other words, “nope, my mission isn’t to heal or cast out demons, it is to PREACH.” And therein lies a vitally important truth for us today. The primary method by which Jesus has chosen to change lives is through the preaching of His Word. It is his WORD that transforms. And so we must understand this fundamental truth; Jesus healed and cast out demons for one reason and one reason only, to give credibility to his PREACHING.
Jesus did not come to heal our bodies, yes he will do that in due time, but his primary purpose was that he came to heal our souls.
This is a good time to address something. This speaks powerfully against the health and wealth gospel that is preached by many pastors and churches in our world. Please understand me, I’m not saying God doesn’t miraculously heal, I absolutely believe he does! I believe in the power of prayer and that we SHOULD “pray about everything” as the apostle Paul reminds us in Philippians 4. But the claim that it is God’s will for all people to be healed is patently false. And the scriptures make that blatantly clear. How do we know this?
1) Clearly Jesus did not heal everyone! He healed everyone who came to him, yes, but he did not heal every person in the world. He healed people show his power and to give validity to his message that he was the messiah.
2) Some would say, “what about the apostles?” They were given the power to heal right? Yes, they absolutely were. But we need to understand something, we ain’t apostles! There were only a few apostles and they lived in the first century A.D. Those apostles had direct contact with Jesus and were given that power for a specific purpose for a specific time. The apostles were given that power for the apostolic age as they began preaching the gospel message to authenticate the gospel. They healed for the same reason that Jesus healed. Once the Word of God was written down and the movement spread, the authenticity of the gospel was validated by scripture.
3) Finally, let’s just think about this logically for a moment. if God intended everyone to be healed then why were so many NT saints never healed and subjected to such torture? The truth is that if those who claim to still have the gift of healing really have it, you would be seeing the same kind of miracles Jesus and the apostles performed. You would see true miracles. Not just people who have a cold get well a week later or someone who had leg pain suddenly able to walk without pain. The miracles Jesus did, like the one he performed for Peter’s mother, were truly miraculous. Ask yourself, if there are really people who have this gift of healing why aren’t they flooding hospitals and healing everyone? I mean if you have that gift and you’re not doing that what kind of a horrible person are you? The answer is because they can’t. They must do it in a controlled environment where they can manipulate the outcome and plant people in a crowd.
Sadly this is what many came for, and what many have been told Jesus wants to do for them today. And the reality is, it is so short-sighted, and damaging to boot. The truth is that Jesus came to offer us something much better than earthly physical healing, he came to preach the truth that would heal our souls! He came to set us free from being captivated by the things of this world!
Now there’s so much we could take away from this amazing text today but I want us to remember just one thing; True life change happens when we become amazed at who Jesus is. When we become amazed at what he wants to do in our spirit. When we understand what he really came for, to die for us and set us free from sin and death. True life change happens when we become amazed at His Word. When, like those listeners in the synagogue, we marvel at his teaching and desire to grow from it. When we tremble in his presence. When we trust his power over evil in our life. When we recognize that above all else he came to heal our soul!
So I ask today, are you only amazed by what Jesus can do for you, or are you more amazed by what Jesus wants to do in you? As I unpacked this amazing text in the gospel of Mark this week I was struck by something. The biggest difference between us and the demons is they get no second chance. They were cast out of heaven with no opportunity for redemption. But God, in his great mercy and love for us, provides a second chance, a shot at redemption, through the gospel of Jesus Christ. Our awe and amazement at the truth of the gospel should lead us to the cross where He provides infinite grace! May it be so!
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