Christ’s Power Over Every Need
The Gospel of Mark Sermon Series
Remaining Focused On Your Calling In A World of Distractions
“We say we turn to our phones when we’re “bored.” And we often find ourselves bored because we have become accustomed to a constant feed of connection, information, and entertainment. We are forever elsewhere. At class or at church or business meetings, we pay attention to what interests us and then when it doesn’t, we look to our devices to find something that does. There is now a word in the dictionary called “phubbing.” It means maintaining eye contact while texting.”
Today we are going to see that Jesus is having to fight really hard to stay focused on His purpose in ministry. There are distractions that are constantly trying to derail his ministry. As a disciple of Christ, you too have a ministry that you are constantly being tempted to abandon. Let’s see how Jesus stays focused.
Jesus Knows His Ministry (vv. 14-15)
14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”
We don’t know how much time has passed, but Jesus has emerged from his 40 days of being tempted in the wilderness. John’s arrest gives us a rough estimate of time, “after John was arrested.” “Mark placed the beginning of Jesus’ ministry after the imprisonment of John.” Jesus then goes into Galilee and is “proclaiming the gospel of God” – Here the “gospel means, for Mark, the message of Jesus himself.”
Having started his ministry, Mark wants us to understand clearly that this message is about God (Jesus is the Son of God), and it is from God (the gospel of God) – it is not a manmade, human thought up myth.
“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand” – “The time” means the time foreseen by prophets, the time fixed in God’s foreknowledge; “The hour has struck.” The Jewish people had longed for God to reestablish his earthly kingdom, where they would be His chosen people amongst all the other nations. The coming king would overthrow all empires that threaten His people, and he would reign as king.
Jesus says, this reigning of God on the earth, “the kingdom of God” is here. He is taking back territory, He is building His kingdom now. So how do we make sure that we don’t miss this “kingdom of God that is at hand?” Jesus says, one must, “repent and believe in the gospel.”
They were to believe that what God had promised in the Old Testament books was now being brought forth, “The time is fulfilled.” Jesus is saying “A new order is at hand. Get a new mind that fits it.”
The good news (gospel) of God’s kingdom being brought back is here – but they didn’t understand that this kingdom would be men’s souls, and their territory He would be getting back would be people not pieces of land, but men’s hearts.
Jesus Must Pass On The Ministry (vv. 16-20)
16 Passing alongside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. 17 And Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” 18 And immediately they left their nets and followed him. 19 And going on a little farther, he saw James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, who were in their boat mending the nets. 20 And immediately he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants and followed him.
Jesus surrounds himself with a group or people who will be with him all the way through his ministry. They will be able to give an account of what he did, what he said, and how others reacted to him. Jesus wants the gospel to spread to “the uttermost.”
“Follow me”— is a technical term for discipleship. Jewish teachers called their disciples to follow them: one would not presume to follow without an invitation. “The call to come after someone implies discipleship because it is the disciple who breaks all other ties to follow his master as a servant.”
And the phrase, “fishers of men” was an Old Testament figure of speech (Jeremiah 16:16) – where God was sending fishermen and hunters to catch/restore Israel. In the Jeremiah and other Old Testament passages – God playing the role of fisherman is ominous in tone, one of judgement.
We find ourselves surrounded by the net, and we are hunted like prey by evil – Jesus’ disciples (like in Jeremiah 16) reverse the tables and become the fisherman, seeking to catch and release men from their sin. Jesus came preaching, and the calling to His disciples is that they are be apart of restoring people back to God (away from judgment); restoring people to wholeness.
Mark emphasizes that “they left their nets” and “they left their father Zebedee” – being called by Jesus to become His disciples involves leaving something behind (break ties). Why is it important to emphasize what they left behind? Why not just say, “and they followed Jesus?”
To follow Jesus you have to leave things behind – a sinful lifestyle, a way of thinking about God, family, your career path, what you think makes you safe, even how you think the world works – everything has to be laid down. We are going to see that the disciples constantly think they understand the world, only to have Jesus turn it upside down. The Message of the gospel has to spread – but it has to be the right version of the gospel, it has to be God’s version.
Jesus’ Presence Strikes Fear in the Heart (vv. 21-22)
21 And they went into Capernaum, and immediately on the Sabbath he entered the synagogue and was teaching. 22 And they were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes.
With several disciples, Jesus now travels about twenty miles to Capernaum, enters the synagogue there and “was teaching.” But Jesus’ teaching was distinctively different than other teachers of His day. “he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes” – “The scribes were the official teachers or expounders of the Torah; as a member of a school, the scribe would teach what he learned from his master – viz., the scribal tradition.”
The people reactions to Jesus’ teachings was astonishment; but this also conveys fear and alarm. Jesus taught with authority, meaning that there is no room for theological discussion, theoretical discussion, you were left with the impression that this was the Word of God. “In the presence of Jesus men are disturbed, and this disturbance is the precise act of fishing which Jesus had called the four fisherman.”
Eventually, these disciples would be preaching on their own – and their preaching would also cause people to be amazed, astonished, and faced with the question of “what to do with Jesus?” Also, if we go back to (v. 15) “the kingdom of God” – as reclaiming the hearts of men, reigning in the hearts of men. Jesus is showing his disciples how to preach the truth of the gospel, and that when He is gone, will multiply to truth outward (a multiplication effect instead of one man).
23 And immediately there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit. And he cried out, 24 “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God.” 25 But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” 26 And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying out with a loud voice, came out of him. 27 And they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, “What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.” 28 And at once his fame spread everywhere throughout all the surrounding region of Galilee.
“In his excited cry three elements appear – recognition, repulsion, and dread. The repulsion is first expressed, then the dread, and then the recognition of his character, which of course, the foundation of both.” The demons recognize what Jesus’ presence means, way before the people who are gathered around him understand.
Which do you think causes them more alarm, his teaching or the fact that he just cast out a demon? Look at their response, ““What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.”
“Aslan is a lion- the Lion, the great Lion.” “Ooh” said Susan. “I’d thought he was a man. Is he-quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion”…”Safe?” said Mr Beaver …”Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”
Jesus Heals Many (vv. 29-34)
29 And immediately he left the synagogue and entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. 30 Now Simon’s mother-in-law lay ill with a fever, and immediately they told him about her. 31 And he came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and the fever left her, and she began to serve them. 32 That evening at sundown they brought to him all who were sick or oppressed by demons. 33 And the whole city was gathered together at the door. 34 And he healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons. And he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him.
“And he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him” – Jesus doesn’t want the demons to tell others about him. He also doesn’t want those he healed to tell others about Him. Why? This is a thread that runs through Mark, what scholars call the “Messianic Secret.” Jesus wants to reveal that He is the Messiah, but He wants to do it in such a way that the people understand.
Jesus Preaches in Galilee (vv. 35-39)
35 And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed. 36 And Simon and those who were with him searched for him, 37 and they found him and said to him, “Everyone is looking for you.” 38 And he said to them, “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out.” 39 And he went throughout all Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out demons.
Mark mentions Jesus going to a “desolate place” three times in his gospel (1:35; 1:45; 6:31-33), and in each reference it is after he/or the disciples have encountered large crowds of people and miracles were done. Jesus deliberately withdraws from the people to return to an area which has the characteristic of the wilderness where he encountered Satan and sustained temptation.
Mark doesn’t tell us what happened when Jesus faced Satan in the wilderness but it seems to deal with the clamor of the crowds. He is turning from their praise, returning to a place which recalls his determination to fulfill the mission for which he has come into the world.
The disciples are looking around and seeing all the people, and want to continue to capitalize of Jesus’ growing popularity. “Everyone is looking for you.” Or “Why are you hiding when we have this opportunity for you to do more miracles! Look how popular you are!
In response to the crowds looking for Jesus, He says let’s go to the next town, “that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out.” Jesus does not want to become a miracle worker side show. He wants to preach the “good news of the gospel.” The disciples think it’s all about the popularity, the show, the numbers. Jesus does not want the people to misunderstand why He is there.
The crowds response were not appropriate because it did not involve repentance of sin, but attraction to Jesus as a performer of miracles (how Jesus made them feel). Jesus could heal thousands and thousands of people, yet if they don’t repent of their sin, and place their faith in Christ, you haven’t done anything with the eternal, what ultimately really matters.
“and there he prayed” – Jesus separating himself to pray occurs three times in Mark, here at the beginning of his ministry, “in the middle after the feeding of the five thousand (6:46), and at the conclusion in the Garden of Gethsemane (14:32-42)” – These are all three critical moments in His ministry.
Why is this a crisis point? Because there is the danger to fail in His mission before He even gets started. “The crisis is the shallow and superficial response of the people to Jesus.” The people of Capernaum had no interest in Jesus beyond the miracles or any interest in coming under the reign of God.
Jesus Cleanses a Leper (vv. 40-45)
40 And a leper came to him, imploring him, and kneeling said to him, “If you will, you can make me clean.” 41 Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand and touched him and said to him, “I will; be clean.” 42 And immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean. 43 And Jesus sternly charged him and sent him away at once, 44 and said to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, for a proof to them.” 45 But he went out and began to talk freely about it, and to spread the news, so that Jesus could no longer openly enter a town, but was out in desolate places, and people were coming to him from every quarter.
The leper did not stand at a distance nor was he yelling “unclean” as the law stated and as we see in other healings of lepers in the NT. The “leper came to him, imploring him, and kneeling,” – He is showing himself to be a person who acts in his own self-interest, not thinking about how his actions affects others. “Desperation may not be the most noble motive for seeking help, but Jesus does not scorn it.” Jesus shows compassion toward his illness, but anger toward his heart.
The tone of how Jesus responds to the leper seems to be one of anger. “Moved with pity” – some translations have “moved with anger,” also, when Mark says, “sent him away,” it is the same phrase for driving out demons. Jesus shows compassion by touching him, when no one else would touch him, but it is clear that Jesus is angry about something.
He tells the man “sternly charged him and sent him away at once, 44 and said to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone” “Don’t tell anyone, be quiet.” So does the man stay quiet? (v. 45) “But he went out and began to talk freely about it, and to spread the news”
“The command was not obeyed. Now the former leper could go anywhere, in and out of the cities freely. But the one who healed him could no longer openly enter a town without the immediate crush of the crowd.”
“The man had gotten his heart’s desire, but regarded not the heart’s desire of the Healer.”
“Exuberant Rebellion” – the man acted out of his feelings, not according to the mission of God. This man is doing what seems right to him, in direct rebellion of clear teaching of Scripture; he is doing what feels good, despite clear instructions from the Lord. Mark ends this section with this man’s example. “I am going to use Jesus to get what I want, while at the same time ignoring what He has to say.”
 Sherry Turkle, Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age, Penguin Publishing Group.
 “Mark apparently wants to show that John, the forerunner, completed his God-appointed task; and only after that had occurred did Jesus enter his ministry.” Frank E. Gaebelein, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Volume 8 (Grand Rapids, Michigan; Zondervan Press, 1984) 624.
 James A. Brooks, The New American Commentary, Volume 23, Mark (Nashville, Tennessee; Broadman Press, 1991) 46.
 George Arthur Buttrick, The Interpreter’s Bible, Volume 7 (Nashville, Tennessee; Abingdon Press, 1951) 655.
 Buttrick, 657.
 Ibid, 656.
 William L. Lane, The New International Commentary on the New Testament, The Gospel According to Mark (Grand Rapids, Michigan; William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1993) 67.
 Buttrick, 660.
 Lane, 72.
 “It was commonly believed that if one knew the name of the demonic power, he might exorcise it.” Clifton Allen, General Editor, The Broadman Bible Commentary, Volume 8 (Nashville, Tennessee; Broadman Press, 1969) 275. Also see, Frank E. Gaebelein, General Editor, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Volume 8 (Grand Rapids, Michigan; Zondervan Publishing House, 1984) 627.
 W. N. Clarke, An American Commentary on the New Testament, Volume 2 Mark and Luke (Valley Forge, Pennsylvania; Judson Press, 1950) 25.
 C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
 Lane, 81.
 Ibid, 82.
 Gaebelein. 629.
 Brooks, 53.
 Allen, Volume 8, 278
 Clarke, 31.