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Following the Example of Christ in Ministry
Truths to affirm about Christ from Mark 3:7-12
Once, a frustrated father was trying the crank out a rushed time in the Word before going to work. Tiring of his lack of consistency in his Christian walk, he cried out one simple little prayer–“God, please make me more like Jesus.” With that he shut his Bible, ran out the door, and rushed down to the subway station.
Pressing his way through the crowd at a slow run, the late man ran right into a third grader whose books and lunch exploded on impact. After squeezing out a, “Sorry, son,” he was about to continue, when he remembered what he’d prayed. He stopped, waved goodbye to his train and turned around with a forced smile to help the startled little boy. Stooping down, he picked up all the third grader’s books and lunch as everyone else rushed by in all directions. After that brief moment of assistance, the man stood up, patted the little boy on the head, and was about to turn and walk away when the gaping, wide-eyed third grader took a step toward him and said, “Hey mister, are you Jesus?”
It is those kinds of choices God is going to press upon us today as we open our Bibles to the gospel of Mark, chapter 3:7 to 12 and follow along in your outline. Jesus is in the midst of massive ministry as He serves. If we dependently follow His example, we will make an amazing impact for His glory and for our joy. But this world is hard, and it seems at times like God is not in control.
Mark strongly affirms Jesus as the Son of God with all authority over demon possession, sickness, disease, leprosy, sin, sinners, old religion and over the Sabbath. Mark is in the midst of proving to His Roman audience that this Jesus is the ultimate conqueror, leader–God Himself. We are at the halfway point of Christ’s public ministry, and Christ is super popular. Yet He is now so hated by the religious leaders that they already want to kill Him.
This brings a ton of pressure, and needed wisdom in the midst of His ministry. And as Christ displays His wisdom, He shows us how to live under pressure and serve for His glory. So today these verses are going to show us a lot about Christ, and give us some really practical advice in our everyday life, and as we seek to minister to others. On the heels of a plot to kill Christ, look at what Jesus does.
Read aloud with me from your outline verses 7 to 12. “Jesus withdrew to the sea with His disciples; and a great multitude from Galilee followed; and also from Judea, 8 and from Jerusalem, and from Idumea, and beyond the Jordan, and the vicinity of Tyre and Sidon, a great number of people heard of all that He was doing and came to Him. 9 And He told His disciples that a boat should stand ready for Him because of the crowd, so that they would not crowd Him; 10 for He had healed many, with the result that all those who had afflictions pressed around Him in order to touch Him. 11 Whenever the unclean spirits saw Him, they would fall down before Him and shout, ‘You are the Son of God!’ 12 And He earnestly warned them not to tell who He was.” The very first thing Jesus does is
#1 Christ shows wisdom in picking His battles
Don’t look for a fight–seek the Father’s will in everything. Verse 7, “Jesus withdrew to the sea with His disciples.” Up to this point, Jesus has had five clashes with the Pharisees, and the last one resulted in a plot to destroy Him. Matthew 12 tells us, as He withdrew, He was aware of their plot. He moves His ministry away from the Synagogue, and out into the open, into the public where everyone can hear the Word, possibly be healed, and see what God is able to do.
The gospel of Mark alone lists eleven occasions where the Lord retired from His work to escape his enemies, enjoy prayer in solitude, to rest, or give private instruction to His men–Christ often withdrew. But here He is aware of their plot, so He withdrew. Verse 7, “Jesus withdrew to the sea with His disciples,” not from fear, not by force, but from a passion to follow God’s will.
Jesus wasn’t afraid of the religious leaders. Jesus wasn’t forced to leave by anyone. Make no mistake–Jesus did not leave from fear. Remember who this is. He could save Himself anytime, and destroy anyone seeking to harm Him or His men. This is the same Jesus who said, “I am He,” and 200-600 Roman and Jewish soldiers fell down from the force of His words. Peter tried to protect Jesus by drawing His sword, but Jesus said He could call twelve legions of angels (72,000) to defend Himself if He chose.
There is no fear here, but wrong timing–Christ had more work to do. It was not yet time to go to the cross. It was not yet the Father’s time for the Son’s ministry and life to come to an end. When it did come, Jesus accepted His arrest, trials and crucifixion without complaint. Jesus alone can wear the “No Fear” t-shirt.
And the Lord was also not forced to go. Our Savior could have continued in any place doing what He pleased, because no force in heaven or earth, including crack Roman troops, could have hindered Christ in the least way. The Father’s plan was not to shed Roman blood, but His own Son’s blood, because His Son’s blood could atone for the sins of mankind and open the way to heaven.
So Jesus and His men withdraw—“Jesus withdrew to the sea with His disciples.” Mark makes the phrase “His disciples” emphatic–He emphasizes the Lord and His men leave. They are with Jesus in this. They are all looked upon as those opposing the religious leaders. Also, they are a team now–they share Christ’s alienation from the current religion, the traditions, the pharisaical laws. They are all in this ministry together—all in, no matter what. At least seven of the twelve are official now–the others are probably with the Lord at this point, but not yet called the twelve. Simon Peter, Andrew, James and John, Matthew and John, Nathaniel and Philip too–but soon there will be twelve.
They all withdraw knowing the plot to kill Him. With more training, teaching and ministry to accomplish before the cross, the Lord moves out of the city and into the countryside to do the Father’s will. The very essence of Jesus’s life–His very food is to do His Father’s will, no matter what others thought, no matter what some might say. Is that your heart too? Are you more concerned with defending yourself, or doing God’s will? Making yourself look good, or doing what pleases Christ most? Are you all about getting that scholarship, pursuing that promotion, making that team, or showing off Christ? Are you all about God’s kingdom, or America first?
I love my country, but this planet is going to burn, and this nation is a drop in the bucket. God is in charge–you should not fight, strive or protest for temporal things–only for eternal things. Jesus withdrew because He had eternal things to accomplish and was not yet ready to go to the cross. Make certain your life is focused on those things that will last forever.
#2 Christ and His men serve people
Be available and faithful to love people. “Jesus withdrew to the sea with His disciples; and a great multitude from Galilee followed; and also from Judea, 8 and from Jerusalem, and from Idumea, and beyond the Jordan, and the vicinity of Tyre and Sidon, a great number of people heard of all that He was doing and came to Him.”
“A great multitude” is emphatic here–this group of people is huge, massive. Mark’s Roman readers understand huge crowds from Roman parades and the Roman Coliseum, and here is a “many” crowd of regular people from everywhere. I was told once, the secret to high school campus ministry was to somehow connect with the football players and cheerleaders, then everyone else will follow–and that’s how you do it. The Lord didn’t do that and wouldn’t do that–Jesus didn’t cater to the rich or the elite. He ministered to the multitudes.
We’ve developed a celebrity culture in Christianity. I go to conferences where grown men, supposedly Christian men, run to get the good seats, press to get their books signed, and speak about leaders in revered tones. I actually had an entire group of pastors steal the seats reserved for me and the TC men, and when I politely asked them about it, the pastor sitting on the end of the stolen aisle wouldn’t even look at me. I laughed at him and walked away. That is not a good thing, because they are men. But these people are coming from everywhere to meet God–and that is a good thing.
In spite of the religious leaders plotting to kill Christ, in spite of their criticism of Christ, the people are flocking to Him. Look carefully at verses 7 and 8. Huge crowds from Galilee are following Him. And peoples from distant lands are coming to Him. In the original, Mark puts great emphasis on the exceptional size of these crowds. This had been snowballing for some time now. Look back at 1:37, “everyone is looking for you.” Verse 1:45, “they were coming to Him from everywhere.” Verse 2:13, “all the people were coming to Him.”
And now look at verses 7 and 8, because they are coming from Galilee, where a huge group is currently following Him, Judea, the common folks from the southern region of Israel, Jerusalem, even the elite, the snobs from the capital city of Israel over 100 miles away were coming to Christ. This might explain too why the leaders at Capernaum were so upset. They were embarrassed in front of their spiritual leaders from Jerusalem by how Jesus was breaking traditions of the Sabbath and more. Idumea is more than a 100 miles south of Judea, and south of the borders of Israel, mainly Jewish, but also filled with Edomites beyond the Jordan, which is east, the Transjordan also called Perea, which is mainly desert land with patches of garden soil and beautiful farms. And people came from Tyre and Sidon, 50 miles north, also called Phoenicia. Again, many Jews lived there, but mostly Gentiles.
No one came from the west, because that’s the Mediterranean sea, and no one came from Samaria in the middle of Israel, because the Samaritans avoided the Jews, and bad blood remained between them. But this isn’t merely a geographical gathering, but an ethnic coalition of Jewish and Gentile peoples. The fame of Christ was all-encompassing. Seven different communities are listed here from east, north and south—why?
Verse 8, “They heard of all that He was doing.” Reports kept coming, people are telling their story, person-to-person accounts that are undeniable–demons cast out, lepers cleansed, paralytics can walk and talk, deaf can hear, dumb can speak, withered hands are fully restored, the worst sinners are forgiven and transformed, even religious traditions are being overturned for real transformation and life. Verse 8, “They heard.” Literally, they are hearing present tense, continually–this is not a one-time mention, but people keep talking, multiple sources kept confirming, people who’ve never seen Christ believe what He is capable of.
The reports kept coming in, many who were healed returned home to shocked family, relatives and friends. Everyone who was healed personally touches 20 to 200 others, and they all knew Jesus was doing amazing things. So more came. The attraction was intense, the fascination was overwhelming. And the crowds are not merely following from Galilee, but massive herds of people are pursuing Christ from everywhere around Israel. The text says they just kept coming. It is like the overpass to the 91 freeway during the height of rush hour–it’s massive. The entire country was agog with excitement.
And what is amazing to me is that Christ made time for them all. He had a heart for people, even when they drained him, even when He couldn’t eat, even when it was overwhelming. He loved people–these were not His crew, the same age, His team, but strangers from everywhere. Christ loved them.
So let me ask you. Are you available to others? How about strangers? These people were desperate, needy and hurting. And there are people here and all around you who are just as needy and hurting. It is why we have a greeting time to meet new people, why we want you to hang on the patio, and why we want you to plug in to a ministry or RMG, so you can care for each other. This is not a pastor-run church, and though it’s overseen by elders, we are striving to be a body, a family who cares, loves, ministers, and tends to each other the way the New Testament teaches. Are you caring for others? Or are you in it for what you can get? It is time for some of you to take off the bib and put on the apron of genuine Christ-like love for others.
#3 Christ and His men are prepared for anything
Be prepared in ministry for any contingency. Crowds can be deadly. In 1953, thousands of Russians died when a massive crowd pressed in to see the dead body of Stalin–it was so massive that two horses also died in the press. In 1971, people were killed when the fans of a soccer match in Scotland got out of control. They had left the stadium, but their team scored in the last seconds and they pressed so hard to get back inside, sixty-six people died. In 1979, eleven fans died of asphyxiation from the press of a crowd trying to get into a rock concert in Cincinnati, Ohio. In 1981 and 1982, twenty-four people, then 340 people respectively died as a result of out of control crowds at soccer games. In 1990, 1,426 people died in Mecca, Saudi Arabia while walking through a tunnel in hot weather during the annual Muslim pilgrimage, after one person fainted and blocked the tunnel. Crowds are deadly.
And Jesus is facing a similar danger. The response to Christ is so great that the Lord Himself could be killed–not from the religious leaders plotting to kill Him, but from the crowds who merely wanted to touch Him. So what does the Lord do? Verse 9, “And He told His disciples that a boat should stand ready for Him because of the crowd, so that they would not crowd Him.” The crowd is an issue because, verse 10, they were all trying to touch Him, to literally fall on Him. So Jesus tells his men, be prepared–get ready, just in case.
You say, “Jesus just needed some good bodyguards. No, I read up on bodyguards and what they are paid to do and can do–and I found they would’ve had a hard time protecting Christ, because there were just too many people. No, Jesus has a very parctical, common sense escape plan. In His planning . . .
First He calls upon those He can trust
Verse 9 “He told His disciples.” He goes to the men who He knows are going to be there for Him. He depends on the faithful, the reliable, and the trustworthy.
Second He prepares for a personal contingency
Verse 9 “that a boat should stand ready for Him.” He asks His men to get a boat to be ready to receive Him. There’re lots of Greek terms for boat, but this one is a small boat–not a large fishing vessel, but a dingy, a little rowboat, the kind of boat you use to get to shore from your bigger boat. Stand ready means to be devoted to–it’s set apart for Christ, it’s just for Jesus to have as an escape if it is needed.
The word ready means might remain constant, telling us this boat is to follow along just off shore, and kept close to Christ. So picture this, one of the disciples is offshore (Peter?), in a little dingy, rowing along as Christ walks, teaches and heals onshore, staying right with Christ, just in case He needs to escape the throngs who might press Him so hard, He could be crushed or drowned.
Third He prepares for a possibility
Verse 9 “should stand ready for Him because of the crowd.” The verb “stand ready” is subjunctive, telling us this is a possibility, not a certainty–it is just in case, not an absolute. The boat is there just in case. If necessary, if the crowd presses too hard, then Jesus can step offshore and into the boat and teach from there. This might happen, so be ready for any possibility.
Fourth He prepares for a purpose
Verse 9 “so that they would not crowd Him.”
“So that” is a purpose phrase, and all this preparation is so that the crowd will not literally crush Christ–means to afflict, press, whip, throng, or crush. This word “crowd”, in “would not crowd Him”, is a strong word, used of the crushing of grapes to extract the juice. The purpose of the boat is to avoid being killed accidently by those who are in desperate need. Can you see this in your mind? Christ wasn’t surrounded by cuddly lambs, small children and puppies here. He is surrounded by a great commotion of people, pushing, shoving and crushing with urgency.
I was with a brother at a Christian concert who was literally folded in half, and almost killed when people pressed to get inside. Yet in spite of that danger, Jesus stayed with people–He hung out with the crowds, even though those very crowds were a danger to Him because they needed Him. So the little boat was a pulpit to preach from, but also a potential escape from crushing. We don’t know if it was used at this time, but Jesus did later use boats to teach from. Matthew 13:2 and 3, “And large crowds gathered to Him, so He got into a boat and sat down, and the whole crowd was standing on the beach. 3 And He spoke many things to them.”
But can you see how intensely practical this little boat is to us? Even Jesus, the God man, made wise use of precautions. Jesus, the sovereign God of the universe, here took measures beforehand to be prepared for possible contingencies and danger. This is a huge lesson for those of us lacking in common sense. If the God man prepared “just in case”, how much more should we prepare, just in case?
I know you are not so proud you’d say to Christ, “Lord, you need to live by faith, trust the Father, there’s no need for you to make these kinds of preparations, God’ll take care of you.” Yet in our culture, sometimes in childish faith, there’re believers who have no medical insurance, telling all, they’re trusting God–who have no budget or savings or little giving for eternal purposes–who have no schedule to be a steward of their time–who have no life insurance for their spouse with kids (in our culture, that is instantly turning them into the poor). We have missionaries who don’t seek to speak the language, and pastors who are not trained in the Word and theology, Christians who plan gatherings who don’t think about if it rains (like Easter sunrise services–who does that? We planned for it and decided to stay outside anyway). Or plan events, not considering safety–asking what if?
The small boat may not have been used, but it was there, always ready, ever available. The little vessel teaches a big lesson. Live by faith, but live prepared for eternity and for potential difficulties and dangers as you serve Christ, not yourself.
#4 Christ is pressured because of His power to heal
Do all you do in the Spirit’s strength, and not your own. Verse 10, “For He had healed many, with the result that all those who had afflictions pressed around Him in order to touch Him.” Christ had healed many, and delivered all of them from their affliction—literally, afflictions means a whip, like a scourge, a cat of nine tails, a lash used to torture or punish someone. Their afflictions were a torment. And the Greek word “afflictions” is emphasized in the original, painting a dramatic picture.
They were tortured by their illnesses and sickness. They were in constant pain, in agony. The word sometimes describes a stroke, or a scourge, a distressing bodily disease, as if someone were over you, whipping you continually. They had this scourge all their lives or for years, then in one moment, one touch, one word, it was completely gone forever. There is no modern medicine, and they are in a bad way–but Christ healed them instantly and completely.
Christ healed in such a way that no disease could resist His power, no sickness could withstand His touch, no illness remained uncured when He spoke. His power never failed. His ability to heal was unprecedented. His power was unlimited.
In the parallel account, Matthew says Jesus healed them all–even those who didn’t believe in Him for salvation. This Lord showed compassion to all. He healed those who were despised and neglected by the scribes, and He made a way for people to draw near to Him. Christ always had time for those who were suffering and in need. Matthew 9:36, “Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd.”
No wonder people disregarded their religious leaders and their criticism of Christ. Christ had compassion on the diseased and deformed, where the Pharisees treated the sick like sinful dirt, and took advantage of them like a wolf does sheep. As a result of this amazing power to heal, verse 10 tells us the sick were not waiting for Jesus to touch them, they were pushing their way through the crowd in order to touch Him. “All those who had afflictions pressed around Him in order to touch Him.”
“Pressed around Him” is literally falling on Him–they are throwing themselves on Christ. Like a little kid tantrum, or a waitress I knew about who would literally throw herself down on the ground—oooohhh. Except these crowds are seeking to touch, cling to, hang on to, and to grab a hold of Christ. They were not waiting patiently–they were pushing the people next to Christ out of the way in order to reach Christ. They didn’t care how rude they were, or who got in their way. They were desperate, and Christ was the only one who could help. Like the woman with the issue of blood in chapter 5:25ff, they just want to grab onto Christ and be healed.
You don’t have the power to heal, but Christ does. You don’t have the power to serve, but Christ does. You don’t have the power to endure, to worship, to speak, to drive, to work, to live, to parent, to study–but Christ does. To make an impact for Christ, it must be Christ through you.” Galatians 2:20, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.” Philippians 1:21, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” Ephesians 5:18, “Be filled with the Spirit.” Galatians 5:16, “Walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.” With all you do, walk dependently upon Christ, saturated in the Word of God, confessing all known sin, and seeking to serve Christ in all you do and say, and you will see Christ do amazing things too.
So the boat was to be an escape if the crowd pushed too much. The danger was present, because people wanted to touch Christ in order to be healed. And Christ healed many, even though many of them were not following Him for salvation from sin, but only for relief from their suffering. Most did not recognize Christ as God in the flesh, their only hope for salvation. Yet remarkably, some other evil beings did recognize Christ.
#5 Christ is perceived and proclaimed by His enemies
Let all you do point to Christ. Look at verse 11, “Whenever the unclean spirits saw Him, they would fall down before Him and shout, ‘You are the Son of God!’” When the demon-possessed actually saw Christ, they’d fall down before Christ and tell everyone, Jesus is God—they know! Remember back in 1:23 to 24, “You are the Holy One of God,” and 3:11, “You are the Son of God,” and 5:5 to 7, “You are the Son of the Most High.” The demons in these possessed people instantly know who Jesus is–they recognize Him. He was veiled to human beings, but the fallen angels immediately know who their Creator is.
Notice the verbs in verse 11, “Whenever the unclean spirits saw Him, they would fall down before Him and shout, ‘You are the Son of God!’” The tense of the verbs saw, fall down, and shout each indicates the demons were continually falling down, crying out, constantly saying you are the Son of God over and over and over. And the verb saw is not the sight of an indifferent spectator giving a casual glance–no, this is the look of intense interest.
The Greek verb saw is actually used in the New Testament to describe the inspection of troops. So what you have here is the lowly, traitorous and sinfully debauched AWOL private who just spotted the Commander in Chief–so he reacts dramatically. Demons recognize the absolute blinding white holiness of the perfect Lord of all, with no flaw, no blemish, no sin, which completely exposes their dirty, rebellious, gross sin–so they fall down and cry out. And the parade never stopped–they kept on falling down, and they kept on crying out. And the cry of verse 11 was not an “eek” or whisper, but a loud scream–it was a scary shout.
Can you imagine this scene–a deep-throated, scary voice from the satanic world, shouting “You are the Son of God!” The “you” is emphatic—literally, Mark writes, “As for YOU, YOU are the Son of God–the only Son of God.” Again, these fallen angels know who God is. They used to live with Him in holiness before they rebelled and became unholy. These are spirits—that is fallen angels, followers of Satan who enter into people, possess them and dominate them.
They can’t possess or “own” a genuine Christian–there is no record in Scripture anywhere of a demon possessing a Christian. Since true believers are indwelt/possessed by the Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit will not, nor cannot share a believer with an unholy spirit. A Christian can be influenced by a demon, but never owned or controlled by a demon. Yet a child of the devil, a non-Christian can be possessed, owned, controlled and corrupted. So here is the warning–if you, as a non-Christian, open up your life to the demonic world through Ouija boards, witchcraft or spiritism, even drugs, you make yourself available through those means to demonic possession. No Christian can say the devil made me do it, but the non-Christian will say I did it for the devil, and may say the devil made me do it.
Just travel to any third world Asian country on market day, and check out the snake charmers and witch doctors, and you will see demon possessed people. They are here too, just more subtle. Mark tells us in verse 11, these demons are unclean spirits–unclean because they are morally and spiritually filthy, and because they move those they possess to commit wicked evil. And they would fall down in front of Christ.
The “they” here are the people possessed by demons–these people are now the helpless tools of evil angels. So they force their hosts to fall down at the Lord’s, feet and to continually shout, “You are the second person of the Trinity, you are God’s Son; you are God.” In the presence of Christ, they fall down in recognition of who Christ is.
Listen friends, if you saw Christ correctly as they do, you too would fall down in front of Him. Even Christ’s closest human friend, John the apostle fell down in a dead faint when he saw Christ for who He really is. And not only did they fall down, but they cried out—“You are” is the unmitigated affirmation of who Christ is, the Son of God. The Pharisees don’t see it, the disciples don’t get it yet, but the demons do see Christ for who He is–they can’t help it.
We who love Christ, have an ability to declare the Son of God, but often fail to say anything out of self-centered fear. We can declare Him to be God as His friends. Now as His children, we can do all things in Christ and for Christ. We can point to Christ, not as an enemy, but as a friend.
So what you have here is human sufferers falling on Christ, seeking deliverance from their tortured illnesses, and evil spirits torturing unsaved people, making them fall in front of Christ and declare to everyone who this Jesus really is. Both groups are on their knees bowing before Christ, as all people will do at the end of time. Some will enter into heavenly joy, and others will be sent into eternal torment, but each of you will eventually bow to Christ. What does Jesus do about all this demon attention?
#6 Jesus is purposeful in His plan
Keep everything focused on the Gospel. Verse 12, “And He earnestly warned them not to tell who He was.” Jesus told the demons to be quiet. He warned them, meaning censured them severely, rebuked them, in classical Greek (which is a little older than New Testament Koine Greek) it was to charge them, meaning if they violated this order, they’d be severely punished.
Now wait a minute, the crowds are pressing in all around–the demons are rightly identifying Christ for who He really is, and Jesus tells them to be quiet. He censure’s them–what gives? This is the midpoint of Christ’s public ministry, and the highpoint of His popularity. All His CD’s immediately go platinum. He is very popular. Yet He tells them to be quiet. Realize this is nothing new. Back in Mark 1:24 to 25, “What business do we have with each other, Jesus of Nazareth? Have You come to destroy us? I know who You are the Holy One of God! And Jesus rebuked him, saying, ‘Be quiet, and come out of him!’”
Demons: 1:34, “He …cast out many demons and He was not permitting the demons to speak, because they knew who He was.”
Little Girl: 5:43, “He gave them strict orders that no one should know about this.”
Deaf Person: 7:36, “He gave them orders not to tell anyone.”
Disciples: 8:30, “He warned them to tell no one about Him.”
He silences them? Why? He could’ve agreed with them! (Yeah, you’re right, I’m GOD, here I am!) Why did He silence them?
It’s true–Christ didn’t want to appear to be in league with Satan. Holy Christ did not want the affirmation of unholy demons. But the biggest reason was this: Christ’s mission. Christ had a purpose, and it was not time for that purpose to be fulfilled. The answer is found in Mark 9:9, “They were coming down from the mountain, He gave them orders not to relate to anyone what they had seen, until the Son of Man rose from the dead.”
The point is this–Mark 10:45, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” Jesus came to die–“to give His life a ransom for many.” He had to go to the cross. If He revealed His identity to the crowds, they’d make Him king. Jesus silenced them because their confession came at an inappropriate time. Do you get it? They’d want to make Him their Messiah so He would overthrow Roman rule, but the Lord had bigger goals–bigger than Rome. He came to overthrow sin, to overthrow darkness, slavery, rebellion to God, and overthrow the devil and His demons.
Christ isn’t concerned with national issues, but spiritual issues–not political overthrow, but the submission of the heart; not your situation, but your salvation. That’s why He kept on saying in the gospel, my time has not come. These statements to silence can only be understood by the cross of Christ. Mark 15:39, “When the centurion, who was standing right in front of Him, saw the way He breathed His last, he said, ‘Truly this man was the Son of God!’” This is the first time a human being confessed Jesus as the Son of God. It is only at the cross can Jesus be understood for Who He really is. His suffering and dying on the cross was for you. Until the cross and resurrection, His identity remains incognito.
In verse 12, Jesus warned them not to tell who He was. Christ is literally shutting the demons up so that they lose the possibility of making it clear who Jesus is. The Greek word “tell” here means evident, clear and visible. Christ’s deity is physically veiled in His human body. But as He heals and casts out demons, it becomes more and more clear, even more evident exactly who Christ is. But His purpose is to get to the cross–to give His life as a ransom for many. Therefore, He silences them in order to continue teaching and ministering until the time is right for the cross.
The devil even tempted Christ to throw Himself down in front of everyone gathered in the temple courtyard so they might make Him king, but Jesus knew why He’d come–His purpose was the cross. He came to die for your sins and rise from the dead for new life. Keep your ministry focused on the same purpose–to proclaim the cross, to talk about what Jesus did and is doing for you the sinner.
Do not get sidetracked in programs. Do not get distracted with relationships. Don’t get so focused on good things, like helping the poor, showing compassion, caring for needs, that you forget the cross. Yes, do all those things, but keep the cross central. All ministry for Christ must have as its central core focus the cross and resurrection, revealing Christ as the only means of salvation. First Corinthians 2:2, “For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.” Christ died for your sins and mine.
#1 Have you bowed before Christ yet?
You will, the only question is when. Philippians 2:10 and 11, “At the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” You will bow before Christ–either now, in salvation, or later in condemnation, but you will bow before your Creator. Christ is sovereign, but you’ve rebelled from the perfect life He designed for you–you sinned and you must be judged.
The only escape from coming judgment is if someone takes your punishment for you. That is what Christ did on the cross. Out of great love for you, He took the punishment for your sin, and having no sin of His own, He rose from the dead. If you bow before Him now, submitting to His Word by faith, turning from your sin in repentance to serve Him as your King, you will have life now and eternal life forever. But if you do not bow now, then you will bow before Him as He justly condemns you forever in hell for your sinful rebellion.
#2 Leaders serve and followers submit
There is a lot of pride being manifested by the spiritual leaders of Jesus’s time. And their pride was shown in the way they treated people. As a spiritual leader in your home or at this church remember, your worst sin is pride–you all have it, and you all need to battle it, confess it, deal with it, be aware of it, and hate it. Remember the battle this way, with this formula. Leadership with pride equals tyranny. Followers with pride equal rebellion. But leadership plus humility equal service, and followers plus humility equal submission. When we realize just how broken and flawed we really are, do we lead like Christ in service, and follow like Christ in submission.
#3 Desperation is a good place to be
Desperation should mark our lives since we are to be desperate for God Himself. Why–because of what we are like when we live in our own strength. Because we are weak, needy and frail when not filled with God’s Spirit and saturated in God’s Word. Why–because of our ongoing failure to obey even basic commands, like do all things without grumbling, give thanks in everything, pray without ceasing, trust in the Lord, love the Lord your God with all your heart, be holy as I am holy, and much more.
Some of you are desperate right now, and the reason He has brought you to that place is to make you turn to Him for all the answers you seek–we need to be desperate.
#4 The cross is more important than the spectacular
Jesus makes it clear in this passage that all his miracles and all his power over demons pale in comparison to His main purpose to get to the cross and be our Redeemer. Yet today, more and more believers are enamored with dreams, experiences, visions, revelations from God, “God told me this.” Christ demonstrated for us that the cross is more important than the miraculous, and His Word is more important than your feelings, impressions or dreams.
Hey Dude, God did not tell you to marry that girl. God does tell you in His Word you are to be a godly man, to follow His Word, to walk in obedience, to be filled with His Spirit, and in the course of that walk, when you are attracted to a woman who has the same commitment to Christ, and if she is attracted to you, and over time you discover you can serve Christ better together than you can apart, and everyone in the church family, young and old, elders and friends, ministry leaders and disciples agree this is good–then pop the question. Then, the moment you say, “I do”–then, you can know for certainty that is the girl God wanted you to marry–not before! The Gospel, the cross, and God’s Word are your guides, not “God told me” impressions. Let’s pray.