Posts Tagged 'Mark'

The Gospel Challenge ~ Feed The Crowd

The Gospel Challenge ~ Feed The Crowd Sermon Audio Here


Mark 6:30-34, 53-56

Sociology professor Anthony Campolo recalls a deeply moving incident that happened in a Christian junior high camp where he served. One of the campers, a boy with spastic paralysis, was the object of heartless ridicule. When he would ask a question, the boys would deliberately answer in a halting, mimicking way. One night his cabin group chose him to lead the devotions before the entire camp. It was one more effort to have some “fun” at his expense. Unashamedly the spastic boy stood up, and in his strained, slurred manner — each word coming with enormous effort — he said simple, “Jesus loves me — and I love Jesus!” That was all. Conviction fell upon those junior-highers. Many began to cry. Revival gripped the camp. Years afterward, Campolo still meets men in the ministry who came to Christ because of that testimony.

Our Daily Bread, April 1, 1993.

To Carry Out Our Convictions, Remember

The Context of Our Values
Mark 6:30-34

  • v30 gathered: Jesus is our central desire
  • v31/32 quiet place: recognize value of rest
  • v33/34 Jesus, moved by compassion, changed his plans

The Value of Connection
Mark 6:53-56

  • v53 minister in your regular context
  • v54/55 changed lives change lives
  • v56 connection with Jesus is crucial

The difference between a conviction and a preference, according to SCOTUS case Wisconsin v Yoder, 1972: A preference is a very strong belief, held with great strength; a conviction is a belief that you will not change. Our gospel challenge isn’t to talk about our preferences; it’s to share our conviction.

The Gospel Challenge ~ The Price of Mistaken Identity

The Gospel Challenge ~ The Price of Mistaken Identity Sermon Audio Here

On America’s Got Talent, little 5 year old girl Heavenly Joy is told she’s got Shirley Temple inside; she replies, “Not Shirley Temple; Jesus!”

People are Prone to Misunderstand Jesus

Lack of Relationship Leads to Confusion About Christ

Mark 6:14-29

  • v14 recognition of power – know what Jesus can do
  • v15 recognition of position – know who Jesus is supposed to be
  • v16/17 reaction of panic – remember their own misdeeds
  • v18/29 revulsion against purity – confronted sin not always repented

Knowing about Jesus is not the same as following Him. Jesus is too important to merely know about: He wants you to trust in, cling to, and rely upon Him.

The Gospel Challenge ~ Live the Verb, Not the Title

The Gospel Challenge ~ Live the Verb, Not the Title Sermon Audio Here


Mark 6:1-13

Apostle is a title of authority; it is ALSO a verb meaning “to send out”.

Two Challenges to “Live The Verb”:

Closeness Breeds Contempt
Mark 6:1-6 beware a dismissive attitude

  • v1/2 synagogue not unusual; CONTENT was
  • v3 skandalized – they stumbled over their familiarity
  • v4/5/6 their contempt nullified their faith

Commission Brings Capability
Mark 6:7-13 we are sent to serve

  • v7 SENT=verb apostleO
  • v8/9/10 don’t trust your own preparations, but God’s provision
  • v11 “will not listen” active rejection; shake dust; active response
  • v12/13 AS THEY WERE GOING

We are told to go, and that we’ll be given the tools we need to get God’s work done. But if we don’t move, we can’t receive God’s empowering (like starting a manual transmission by compression – if it just sits there, it won’t start. Jesus sends us; and AS WE GO, we see that God enables us to do what He calls us to do.

The Gospel Challenge ~ Have Faith in the Crowd

The Gospel Challenge ~ Have Faith in the Crowd Sermon Audio Here


Mark 5:21-43

The school system in a large city had a program to help children keep up with their school work during stays in the city’s hospitals. One day a teacher who was assigned to the program received a routine call asking her to visit a particular child. She took the child’s name and room number and talked briefly with the child’s regular class teacher. “We’re studying nouns and adverbs in his class now,” the regular teacher said, “and I’d be grateful if you could help him understand them so he doesn’t fall too far behind.”

The hospital program teacher went to see the boy that afternoon. No one had mentioned to her that the boy had been badly burned and was in great pain. Upset at the sight of the boy, she stammered as she told him, “I’ve been sent by your school to help you with nouns and adverbs.” When she left she felt she hadn’t accomplished much.

But the next day, a nurse asked her, “What did you do to that boy?” The teacher felt she must have done something wrong and began to apologize. “No, no,” said the nurse. “You don’t know what I mean. We’ve been worried about that little boy, but ever since yesterday, his whole attitude has changed. He’s fighting back, responding to treatment. It’s as though he’s decided to live.”

Two weeks later the boy explained that he had completely given up hope until the teacher arrived. Everything changed when he came to a simple realization. He expressed it this way: “They wouldn’t send a teacher to work on nouns and adverbs with a dying boy, would they?”

Bits & Pieces, July 1991.

To Keep Faith in the Midst of Despair, Remember:

Christ is Diligently at God’s Work
(Mark 5:21-24)

  • v22/23 – what Jarius asks is already in Jesus’ job description;
  • ask according to God’s will

Circumstances Don’t Dictate God’s Work
(Mark 5:25-34)

  • v25/28 woman with a problem reaches out for Jesus
  • v29/30 connecting to Christ makes the change
  • v31/34 connection/faith/trust in God becomes the channel of God’s work

Challenge Doesn’t Derail God’s Work
(Mark 5:35-43)

  • v35/36 the challenge: to trust in the face of despair
  • v37/40 Jesus comes to our place of despair
  • v41/43 Jesus’ word can turn despair into joy

If you focus on your circumstances instead of the Savior, you could get lost in despair; therefore, whether in solitude or the midst of the crowd, look to Christ and live!

The Gospel Challenge ~ Use GMO Seed

The Gospel Challenge ~ Use GMO Seed Sermon Audio Here


Mark 4:26-34

Concerning agriculture, there is controversy over GMO seed, especially among those who don’t know much about it. I find it interesting that the same conditions give rise to controversy about the Gospel; when people don’t know much about it, they’re more likely to have wrong conclusions. Jesus taught about the use of seed as a way of describing how the Kingdom of God works.

The Kingdom of God Is Like

A Growing Seed
Mark 4:26-29

  • v26/27 understanding of HOW God gives growth isn’t required
  • v28 growth is a process; it takes time
  • v29 growth has a purpose; it meets a need

A Mustard Seed
Mark 4:30-31

  • v31 Salvadora persica (Middle Eastern variety); 1/16” -> 10′
  • growth isn’t dependent upon impressive starting conditions

An Observable Sequence
Mark 4:32-34

  • v32 look to provide environment of protection
  • – followers of God protect the oppressed, not put down
  • v33 put in the work to understand the Gospel
  • – we aren’t supposed to coast; we WORK for the King

v34 listen to Jesus for explanation – We don’t always get the answers we want, but since the Lord DOES know what He’s doing, we might learn something if we listen for the still small voice of God

The Gospel Challenge ~ Get Your House In Order

The Gospel Challenge ~ Get Your House In Order Sermon Audio Here


Mark 3:20-35

There is a Greek word often associated with the Gospel: kergyma – it means “to proclaim”. It has come to stand for the core or the foundation of the Gospel. This sermon begins a new series looking at the core components of the Gospel, as Jesus demonstrated in the book of Mark.

Jesus teaches the Danger and the Demand of the Gospel

The Danger: Misunderstanding of Mission
Mark 3:20-27

  • v20/21 confusion of family
  • v22/23 answer your critics
  • v24/26 look for illogic
  • v27 remind about the mission

The Demand: Membership in the Mission
Mark 3:28-35

  • v28/30 blasphemy=denial of God
  • v31/33 fitness for faith family
  • v34/35 calling eclipses connection

The Cost of the Call is Jesus First, Christ in Command. He is LORD; we don’t get to dictate terms; that’s HIS job.

Examining Markan Faith

Note: This blog entry was originally a theme paper presented to Dan Jass for a class titled “Self in Community” at Bethel Seminary in August of 2008.

Theme of Faith in Mark

During my reading of the book of Mark, I have found five main examples of faith. This blog post will take a brief look at these examples, and look at how they are reflected in my own understanding of faith. The profiles of faith that are found in Mark are 1) the faith of friends, 2) the unimaginative, 3) the desperate, 4) the unabashed, and 5) the Son.

The faith of the friends is found in Mark 2:3-5. The text simply does not give much detail to this narrative, but what is left unsaid leaves some interesting possibilities. What is immediately noticed in the account is that the one who actually receives the healing doesn’t seem to be the one who is driving the action. The paralytic isn’t insisting that he be taken closer to Jesus; rather, it is the friends who make the decision to do whatever is necessary to effect the alleviation of suffering for their comrade. The simple message in this narrative is that the benefits of faith are worth the costs that might be necessary to obtain them.

Conversely, Jesus seems to be frustrated with His disciples when they do not fully utilize their own faith. I refer to this next narrative as the faith of the unimaginative. It is found in Mark 4:35-41. Apparently, Jesus uses this example of His dominion over nature not to primarily show God’s power (although He does do that as well), but rather to show the disciples that their faith is too limited in scope. The weather conditions seemed to be of no concern to Christ; He slept through the storm! The disciples, however, were too afraid to think through the situation with the eyes of faith. They must have been focused on the storm clouds instead of the fact that Jesus was with them.

Of course, hindsight is 20/20, and we, the readers, know that Jesus was the Messiah with a mission to complete, which would not come to an end at the bottom of a lake but at the top of a hill. But even though the disciples didn’t have that specific knowledge, they’d seen Jesus do amazing things by faith. Jesus seems to imply that they should have done the speaking to the Father themselves about the storm, and they would have been fine (and let Him sleep).

The woman at the center of the next major account of faith didn’t seem to suffer from the limited faith of the disciples. She was desperate, and her story is found in Mark 5:25-34. This desperate woman knew that she was in trouble, and she believed that her needs for healing would be met by Jesus. Did she know that He was God the Son? The text doesn’t indicate any kind of confessional nature; only that she knew she would be made well. Her actions indicate the urgent nature of her need.

The blind beggar Bartimaeus also had an urgent desire for healing, but where the woman tried to stay unnoticed, the beggar decided to be bold. His narrative is found in Mark 10:46-52. There are a couple of points of note in this narrative; first, Bartimeaus is paying attention, even in the midst of his own infirmity. He is listening, and when he discovers that it is Jesus passing by, he takes the next step. Obviously, this blind man had been keeping his ears open, for news of Jesus’ miracles must have spread far enough throughout the land.

Secondly, Bartimaeus’ faith was not timid; he took a risk. He kept shouting to get Jesus’ attention, and it worked. He has no guarantee of success, but he is willing to risk trouble to gain the possibility of an audience with Jesus. Thirdly, when he was granted that audience, he didn’t hesitate to ask for what he wanted. Bartimaeus doesn’t launch into a lengthy account of his personal history; he simply wants to see again. And when Jesus heals him, we see the fourth point of note: he follows Jesus upon receiving his sight, even though Jesus told him that he could go. There is a connection to Christ with this kind of bold faith.

The connection to God is one that Jesus Himself talks about in the final narrative being examined here, the faith of the Son. It’s found in Mark 11:21-25, and Jesus seems to be talking about the possibilities of faith. The structure of Jesus’ words here reads like rhetoric to me: He seems to be making the point that faith isn’t just for purely spiritual things that have no bearing on the real world. Rather, Jesus points out that faith is a real-world thing, with real world implications. I’m sure that Jesus isn’t advocating the use of faith as the method of geological rearrangement; but He does seem to be saying that the tasks that His followers will face are all sufficiently addressed if done so in faith.

Significance of Faith in Mark

Mark’s theology of faith seems connected to action; the faith shown in the different snapshots is one that makes a difference in everyday life, whether or not it is in the midst of sickness or storm, bleeding or blindness, circumstance or sin. The faith shown in Mark is accessed by people, but provided by God. God is the one in whom the power rests, so that any necessary action is able to be taken for the glory of God.

Implications of Markan Faith in Life

I understand that Faith as shown in Mark underscores the need for faith to be an every day, immediately accessible reality. It cannot just be a matter of the mind (although it is that as well); faith needs to be lived out in the daily grind, mixing with the sweat of work, the tears of sadness, the goosebumps of fear, and the flush of joy. The people of God are to live a life of partnership with God – “whatever you ask for in prayer… it will be yours”. Not that God is a slot machine for our own petty wants, but rather that God is a good Father who delights in meeting the needs of His children.

God values US. It’s not about our ability to follow correctly or not; we already know that God gave His Son for us, so that we could be reconciled to God. This isn’t due to any inherently good nature in us, or any built-in ability to please God; rather, God has chosen to save us based on who HE is, not who we are. And the Markan accounts of faith reinforce that picture of a good God who desires to bless those whom He has created.


Pastor Ed Backell

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