Mark: S1 E4 - REPENT. BELIEVE. FOLLOW.
Resource: Lead Pastor Justin Dosch
Topic: Follow him and lay down our lives.
Well I want to let you know up front this is going to be a different kind of Easter sermon. First and foremost I hope you’re ready to be built up and encouraged. Because that’s what the gospel always does. But I also want you to get ready to be punched in the mouth a little bit. Wait, hold up, did the pastor just say he was going to punch us in the mouth!? Metaphorically of course!
You see when we look at the life of Jesus and what it means to follow Him there is a dichotomy. On the one hand it costs us absolutely nothing. Jesus' substitutionary death on the cross is fully sufficient to cover all of our sin; past, present and future. We don’t have to DO anything to earn our salvation. On the other hand, there IS an incredibly demanding call that Jesus places on the lives of those who want to be His followers. And that’s what I want to talk about today.
For the last few weeks we’ve been working our way through the Gospel of Mark studying out the life and ministry of Jesus. When we last left Jesus, he had just been baptized and coronated as the true messiah and passed a major test in the wilderness. At which Jesus goes back to the region of Galilee to begin His ministry.
14 After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. 15 “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” Mark 1:14-15
Let’s unpack this. First off I want us to see this. As Jesus begins his ministry these are His FIRST public words; “repent and believe the good news!” Those words could not be more direct or more simple. He didn’t use any gimmicks, He didn’t try to manipulate people’s emotions or skirt around the culture so that people could digest it more easily, He didn’t try to soften the blow in any way. He simply stated a very simple and profound message; “repent and believe the good news.”
And this should be a powerful reminder for us today. That the gospel stands on its own. The gospel doesn’t need to be dressed up and made easier for people. We don’t need to add anything to it or take anything away from it. For those of us who call ourselves followers of Jesus our mission is simply to call people to repent and believe the good news.
Second, Jesus proclaimed that “the time has come.” In other words, the time to repent and believe is NOW! Don’t wait! There are two words in the Greek language for time; kairos and chronos. Chronos is the word for literal time. Seconds, minutes, hours etc. Kairos is the word for a moment in history or an era. This is the form used here, kairos. Jesus is essentially saying the era for my reign is upon you. This is a fork in the road moment and I’m calling you to follow my path. Jesus is saying, I’m here! There is a place for YOU in My Kingdom! Are you ready!? It is a personal invitation from the King himself, and ALL are welcome.
You see the truth is there are two Kingdoms; God’s and Satan’s. You’re either in one or the other. One leads to a life of longing that ultimately ends in death. The other to a life of purpose, ending in eternal life. How do we enter this kingdom? The message of Jesus is simple; REPENT and BELIEVE!
I want to talk about that word REPENT for a moment. In our culture that word has become increasingly negative. Many pastors and churches never say it because they don’t want to offend anyone or push them away. But when we really understand repentance it is such a beautiful word. You see we think of repenting as feeling sorry for or guilty for our sin. But it’s so much more than that. Repentance isn’t just about feeling sorry, it’s about changing our direction and our perspective. When I was a kid “Pac Man” was still a fairly popular game at the local arcade. If you’ve ever played the game before you know that the primary purpose of the game is for Pac Man to eat all the little white dots while trying to avoid the “ghosts” trying to kill him. So the game essentially consists of Pac Man constantly turning and round and going a different direction in order to not run into that which will destroy him. THAT is exactly what repentance is. It’s a turning from that which will destroy us, to that which brings life. Jesus was calling them to turn from false Gods, depraved thinking and sinful living and turn to the right way, the way of Jesus. And why should anyone turn to or believe in Jesus? Because he was going to do something unthinkable. He was going to DIE for sinners. And THAT is the GOOD NEWS.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
That is the amazing promise of the good news of Jesus Christ. Jesus took our place and gave us the free gift of salvation. But I want us to see something today that is vitally important. For those who genuinely repent and believe, there IS a call to FOLLOW Jesus with everything we’ve got. And Mark wants us to see that as Jesus begins His ministry.
16 As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 17 “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” 18 At once they left their nets and followed him. 19 When he had gone a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat, preparing their nets. 20 Without delay he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him. Mark 1:16-20
As Jesus is traveling around the Sea of Galilee preaching the good news he sees two brothers. Fisherman named Simon and Andrew. Andrew was actually a disciple of John the Baptist and had met Jesus months before, sharing with His brother Simon that this Jesus was the messiah they had waited so long for. As Jesus is walking along the sea He calls them to come and follow him. And then just a little further down the lake He calls two more brothers, also fisherman, named James and John.
Now I want us to see a few things about this encounter that Jesus has with these young men. When Jesus says “follow me,” first of all this would have been;
Highly unusual. In those days students sought our prestigious rabbi’s, not the other way around. But JESUS was calling THEM! He sought them out and beckoned these average fishermen, with no religious schooling, to come and follow Him. This was wildly unorthodox. But this is what Jesus does. He calls those who are unqualified and ill-prepared to come and follow HIM.
Don’t miss this. Jesus calls them to follow HIM. Not a set of rules or laws, but to follow Him. In other words he calls them to be in relationship with Him. To sit with Him and learn from Him. To learn the rhythms of His life and model their lives after Him. Again, He makes that same call to each of us. And He does that because he wants to teach them something.
And what is it that he wants to teach them? To become fishers of men. Christ’s goal is to prepare them for a new mission in life. The old life they once knew was about to change. The plan and purpose they thought they were meant for was completely redirected. Jesus was going to use them to help others hear the good news. Again, he calls us into that same new adventure.
Finally, Christ’s call to “follow me” was a command, not a request. It was extreme. It was a call to abandon everything; their businesses, their families, everything they held dear, to come and be on mission with Jesus. The truth is these men were likely very successful. Most likely they were all in business together with Zebedee, James and John’s father. And in the ancient world fishing was BIG business. I mean can you imagine Zeb’s face as he watched his sons, two of his best workers, who were in line to inherit the family business, just drop everything to go and follow Jesus!? I’ve often thought this would have been a really tough decision. But as astonishing as it may seem, I actually don’t believe it was. Why? Because they truly believed what Jesus offered was better. And that would prove to be more true than they could have possibly imagined.
As we close here’s what I want you to know. I worry that many churches are preaching a watered down gospel that actually robs it of its power. As we celebrate another Easter I want us to hear the same simple message and challenge that Jesus proclaimed 2000 years ago on the Sea of Galilee; Repent. Believe. Follow.
Repent (change direction)
The bottom line is that the good news isn’t for good people, but people who admit they need Jesus. The bottom line is that the good news is only good news, if we believe we need some good news! Jesus said, “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” - Luke 5:32. If a person doesn’t recognize they are lost they’ll never ask for directions. If a person doesn’t understand they are a lost sinner they’ll never seek out forgiveness and will never see a need to repent. The gospel is for the humble, for those who admit they need a savior and are willing to change direction and turn to Him as their only hope for salvation.
Believe (the good news)
What is the good news? The simplest way I can put it is to say, “Jesus in my place.” He is the substitute. He substituted himself in our place and took the punishment for our sin so that we wouldn’t have to bear the consequences ourselves. The most powerful illustration I can give is the thief on the cross. He was a sinner of the worst kind. A murdering thief who deserved death. As he hung on the cross and cried out for mercy, repenting of His sin and seeking Jesus for salvation, he was instantly transported into paradise as Jesus welcomed Him into the Kingdom. He never had an opportunity to go to church, attend a Bible study, read his Bible or serve in the community. But in that instant he was in paradise. THAT is the amazing grace and good news of the gospel. But finally we must;
Follow (in the direction of Jesus)
Jesus calls us to leave behind our old life and enter into a new way of thinking and living. Everything from our purpose, to our relationships, to our money is now to be used to bring glory to Christ and build His kingdom as we follow Him. Jesus put it this way;
“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me - Mark 8:34.
That is Jesus’ definition of following. Giving up your whole life for the sake of the gospel in the same way that He gave up His life for the sake of all mankind. But I need you to hear this; it must be done with the right motivation. If it’s done out of obligation or guilt or some effort to earn our salvation it’s all for nothing. Instead we must take on the mind of the apostle Paul who said this;
14 For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again - 1 Corinthians 5:14-15. We follow Jesus and devote our lives to Him out of LOVE. Because He first lavished His love upon us on the cross we desire to serve Him wholeheartedly.
The truth is, MANY “Christians” have never denied themselves a single thing for Christ let alone made substantial sacrifices. So I must ask today, as you reflect on your life, does it look any different from your unbelieving family, friends, neighbors? Sadly; comfort trumps calling for most Americans. But if we’re going to truly follow Jesus this cannot be the case. We must recognize, like those fishermen that Jesus called 2000 years ago, that following Jesus with everything we have is worth giving up everything for!
Want to know more about what it means to have a relationship with Jesus? We would love to talk with you! No matter where you are at in your journey, you are welcomed here. Check out our visit us page to see what to expect during our Sunday Celebrations. If you simply have more questions, whether about this message or Jesus, OR if you feel you are ready to take the leap and receive salvation through faith, then reach out to us via the contact form or at firstname.lastname@example.org.