We live in a world where communication overload is the norm. Which means information overload is an everyday reality for all of us. Which means our lives are either fragmented, distracted or we simply find ourselves making things that are relatively insignificant seem like the most important things in the whole world. The only way to combat all of the noise in our world today is to keep coming back to what is central and most significant. Otherwise, we will lose our way…no matter how noble our intentions.
I have a passion for all of us to see Jesus more clearly than we ever have before. To this end, beginning today through Easter, we’re going to walk through the gospel of Mark. We’ll do this through nine smaller series, starting with this one today – The Time has Come. I’m praying that we will come to see Jesus as the most joyful, wise, beautiful, glorious, compassionate, kind, loving, hopeful person in the universe…and that we’ll be compelled to center our entire lives around Him.
A little about Mark’s gospel: Mark was not an eyewitness of Jesus. It seems clear that Mark was Peter’s secretary…so though Mark wrote this gospel, it seems almost certain that this is Peter’s eyewitness account. Mark is the shortest of all the gospels and it’s just packed with action – things Jesus did. Who’s ready to dive into Mark and see more of Jesus?
Mark 1:1-13 The beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God, as it is written in Isaiah the prophet: “I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way” – “a voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’”
And so John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River. John wore clothing made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. And this was his message: “After me comes the one more powerful than I, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.
At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”
At once the Spirit sent him out into the wilderness, and he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him.
I love these first words from Mark – “The beginning of the good news about Jesus”
The reality of Jesus is the best news the world will ever know.
In case you haven’t noticed lately, most people believe we live in a “bad news” world. Watch the news. Read the newspaper – online or in print. Go back over your Facebook friends’ posts. You can even find this philosophy in many churches. I know so much is far from perfect, but when you live in the kingdom of God, you are living in a “good news” world. We must pay attention to our ratio of “bad news” inputs to “good news” inputs.
What is the gospel? We know pastors talk about the gospel. We know there is gospel music. We might even know that we’re supposed to share the gospel. But what is it?
Gospel comes from a Greek word:
euangelion – “good news”
Though this is a “Christian” word today, it wasn’t in the first century. It originally meant an announcement of victory but then came to be applied to other messages that brought joy to those hearing the message or the good news.
It’s crucial for us to understand the role God gave John the Baptist in marking the ministry of Jesus. And I want to show you some things from the life of John the Baptist that we can and should emulate in our own lives. And you’re thinking, “Sorry Ben…I’m out if I have to wear clothing made of camel’s hair and eat locusts and wild honey.” I mean I’ll put some honey in my oatmeal or tea…but let’s don’t go too far.
Mark quotes the prophet Isaiah, pointing out that John is the messenger sent ahead to prepare the way for Jesus. His core message is about repentance, turning from your own way and turning towards God. He baptizes many people, including Jesus. More on that in a minute.
John the Baptist gains quite a following. He has his own disciples. And yet he gives us an incredible template for how to steward our influence and where to point people who are observing our lives. “After me comes the one more powerful than I, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie.”
John is not putting himself down. He’s simply putting Jesus up. This is a great picture for how we should understand humility. It’s not about us putting ourselves down; it’s about us putting Jesus up. Let me show you what is recorded in the gospel of John – a different John. When Jesus comes on the scene, some of John’s disciples tell him basically, “Look! Now Jesus is baptizing and everyone is going to him.” In other words, you aren’t the big deal around here anymore. More people are choosing Jesus. Listen to his response:
John 3:27-30 To this John replied, “A person can receive only what is given them from heaven. You yourselves can testify that I said, ‘I am not the Messiah but am sent ahead of him.’ The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. He must become greater; I must become less.
When you struggle with comparison, let me encourage you to do what I’ve been doing over the past year – recite John 3:27. A person can receive only what is given them from heaven. I can only receive what God gives me. But I can receive EVERYTHING God gives me.
John’s like, “I told you ahead of time. I’m not the Messiah. I’m not the Main Idea. I’m not the hero in the kingdom of God story. I’m like the groom’s best man. It’s his wedding. I’m making sure the spotlight stays on him. And it doesn’t make me feel less than for the attention to be on Jesus. It actually brings me great joy. He must become greater; I must become less.
Do you know who you are?
John the Baptist was so locked in on his calling.
Do you know who you aren’t?
John the Baptist was so clear about who he wasn’t.
If you want more joy in your life, put more of Jesus and less of you at the center of it.
I’m calling this message “Mark the Moment” and that’s exactly what happens when Jesus is baptized. John baptizes him and as he comes up out of the water, heaven opens…the Spirit descends on him…and he hears his Father’s voice – “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”
The baptism of Jesus did not make him a Christian. It did not make His Father love him. But it marked a massive moment and it inaugurated his calling and ministry.
Have you marked the moment that God called you His daughter or His son?
This is why we celebrate baptism at Epic and why we urge all of you, if you are a follower of Christ and have never marked the moment, you are missing one of the most special opportunities you’ll ever experience.
To mark your moment and be baptized, grab the connection card in front of you and put your name, email, and check “baptism.”
We all long for approval. Listen to what Jesus said about where he found his approval.
John 6:27 Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.
We all long for the seal of approval. In Jesus our Heavenly Father has placed that seal on each one of us.
We must get clear on our God-given identity if we’re going to make it through the wilderness.
The wilderness might be a crisis in your life. Or a spiritually dry season. Or a massive season of testing your faith. Or it could just be living in a culture that tells us to find our primary identity in our work, our sexuality, or our politics. The truest thing about you is who God says you are.
The followers of John the Baptist told him his identity as the hero was being threatened. But his identity was secure because he had made Jesus the hero of his life.
When Satan tempted and tested Jesus in the wilderness, he told Jesus to prove his identity…in other words, to work for it. But Jesus received his identity from the Father and he was clear on who he was. Are you clear on who you are and whose you are?
It’s a battle. Satan tried to pull Adam and Eve away from trusting their Heavenly Father. He did the same thing with Jesus. And over the past year and a half, I’m here to tell you he’s tried to do it to me too. And he’s coming for you as well. Are you clear on who you are and whose you are?
-Receive the best news. Become a follower of Jesus today.
-Mark your moment. Be baptized as soon as possible – let us know on your card.
-Get clear on your identity.
-Commit to community here at Epic – it’s one of the best ways to stay clear on who you are and whose you are.
-Find great joy in making Jesus the hero of your story.