Sunday Services at 10:00am
1155 Silas Deane Highway, Wethersfield
Date: February 18, 2018
Speaker: Eric Stillman
Series: Savior and Lord
Scripture: Mark 6:1–6:56
This morning, we are in the seventh week of a sermon series I am calling “Savior and Lord,” looking at what it means to relate to Jesus as both Savior – the one who died for our sins to give us eternal life – and Lord – the one who we follow and emulate. We are working our way through Mark’s gospel in this series. Mark was Peter’s traveling companion, and the Gospel of Mark is mainly Peter’s eyewitness testimony of Jesus (Peter was first known as Simon before Jesus changed his name). It is also the first gospel written, around 60-70 AD. So far, Jesus has begun to call disciples to him and shown himself to be one who teaches and heals with a divine authority, and run into a number of conflicts with the religious leaders that have left them wanting him dead. Some are claiming he’s crazy, others that he has been sent by Satan, but others are realizing that He could be the Messiah, the one sent by God to save His people and bring justice to the world.
This morning we’ll be in Mark 6. The summary of this section is that the extraordinary became ordinary, so that the ordinary might become extraordinary.
Mark 6:1-56 - Jesus left there and went to his hometown, accompanied by his disciples. 2 When the Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed. "Where did this man get these things?" they asked. "What's this wisdom that has been given him, that he even does miracles! 3 Isn't this the carpenter? Isn't this Mary's son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren't his sisters here with us?" And they took offense at him. 4 Jesus said to them, "Only in his hometown, among his relatives and in his own house is a prophet without honor." 5 He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. 6 And he was amazed at their lack of faith. Then Jesus went around teaching from village to village. 7 Calling the Twelve to him, he sent them out two by two and gave them authority over evil spirits. 8 These were his instructions: "Take nothing for the journey except a staff-- no bread, no bag, no money in your belts. 9 Wear sandals but not an extra tunic. 10 Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you leave that town. 11 And if any place will not welcome you or listen to you, shake the dust off your feet when you leave, as a testimony against them." 12 They went out and preached that people should repent. 13 They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them. 14 King Herod heard about this, for Jesus' name had become well known. Some were saying, "John the Baptist has been raised from the dead, and that is why miraculous powers are at work in him." 15 Others said, "He is Elijah." And still others claimed, "He is a prophet, like one of the prophets of long ago." 16 But when Herod heard this, he said, "John, the man I beheaded, has been raised from the dead!" 17 For Herod himself had given orders to have John arrested, and he had him bound and put in prison. He did this because of Herodias, his brother Philip's wife, whom he had married. 18 For John had been saying to Herod, "It is not lawful for you to have your brother's wife." 19 So Herodias nursed a grudge against John and wanted to kill him. But she was not able to, 20 because Herod feared John and protected him, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man. When Herod heard John, he was greatly puzzled; yet he liked to listen to him. 21 Finally the opportune time came. On his birthday Herod gave a banquet for his high officials and military commanders and the leading men of Galilee. 22 When the daughter of Herodias came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his dinner guests. The king said to the girl, "Ask me for anything you want, and I'll give it to you." 23 And he promised her with an oath, "Whatever you ask I will give you, up to half my kingdom." 24 She went out and said to her mother, "What shall I ask for?" "The head of John the Baptist," she answered. 25 At once the girl hurried in to the king with the request: "I want you to give me right now the head of John the Baptist on a platter." 26 The king was greatly distressed, but because of his oaths and his dinner guests, he did not want to refuse her. 27 So he immediately sent an executioner with orders to bring John's head. The man went, beheaded John in the prison, 28 and brought back his head on a platter. He presented it to the girl, and she gave it to her mother. 29 On hearing of this, John's disciples came and took his body and laid it in a tomb. 30 The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. 31 Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, "Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest." 32 So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. 33 But many who saw them leaving recognized them and ran on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. 34 When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things. 35 By this time it was late in the day, so his disciples came to him. "This is a remote place," they said, "and it's already very late. 36 Send the people away so they can go to the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat." 37 But he answered, "You give them something to eat." They said to him, "That would take eight months of a man's wages! Are we to go and spend that much on bread and give it to them to eat?" 38 "How many loaves do you have?" he asked. "Go and see." When they found out, they said, "Five-- and two fish." 39 Then Jesus directed them to have all the people sit down in groups on the green grass. 40 So they sat down in groups of hundreds and fifties. 41 Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to his disciples to set before the people. He also divided the two fish among them all. 42 They all ate and were satisfied, 43 and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces of bread and fish. 44 The number of the men who had eaten was five thousand. 45 Immediately Jesus made his disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. 46 After leaving them, he went up on a mountainside to pray. 47 When evening came, the boat was in the middle of the lake, and he was alone on land. 48 He saw the disciples straining at the oars, because the wind was against them. About the fourth watch of the night he went out to them, walking on the lake. He was about to pass by them, 49 but when they saw him walking on the lake, they thought he was a ghost. They cried out, 50 because they all saw him and were terrified. Immediately he spoke to them and said, "Take courage! It is I. Don't be afraid." 51 Then he climbed into the boat with them, and the wind died down. They were completely amazed, 52 for they had not understood about the loaves; their hearts were hardened. 53 When they had crossed over, they landed at Gennesaret and anchored there. 54 As soon as they got out of the boat, people recognized Jesus. 55 They ran throughout that whole region and carried the sick on mats to wherever they heard he was. 56 And wherever he went-- into villages, towns or countryside-- they placed the sick in the marketplaces. They begged him to let them touch even the edge of his cloak, and all who touched him were healed.
The extraordinary became ordinary. This passage begins with Jesus and the disciples going to Jesus’ hometown of Nazareth. He goes into the synagogue to teach, and people are amazed. Where did he get this wisdom and this ability to do miracles? Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son? Aren’t these his brothers and sisters? They knew him when he was a teenager. They had changed his diapers (so to speak). How could this former carpenter all of a sudden become this religious bigshot? And look at what they call him – Mary’s son. In a paternalistic culture, they would refer to someone as “Joseph’s son”. This is likely a shot at the suspicious circumstances surrounding his birth. And it says they took offense at him. They are outraged by him. As a result, he could only do a few miracles there, and Mark writes that Jesus was amazed at their lack of faith.
The gospel story is first and foremost about the extraordinary becoming ordinary. The supernatural becoming natural. The eternal Son of God taking on human flesh. Later on in ch. 6, we will see Jesus walking on the water out to the disciples in their boat, and stilling the storm. And after that we will see him continuing to heal people, sometimes even by them just touching his robe. In the previous chapters, we have seen Jesus with the authority to heal, cast out demons, and to teach the truth. He has claimed to have the authority to forgive sins. And great crowds are following him wherever he goes. He is truly extraordinary. And those who knew him growing up take offense at him, because they can not accept that someone as ordinary as a carpenter has become extraordinary.
Maybe you’ve never reflected on this dynamic, the ordinariness of the gospel. We see every Christmas how the eternal Son of God took on flesh and became a vulnerable baby.
Philippians 2:5-7 - Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.
The gospel proclaims that all are sinners who can not save themselves. That is offensive. It’s not for the super put-together people, but for those who recognize their need for a Savior. And the gospel calls “sin” things that we might hold dear. That is offensive. The gospel is so simple that even a child can come to true faith. And that can be offensive. And God’s power will not work where there is offense, where people do not have faith, do not believe that He is who He says He is.
The extraordinary became ordinary. The eternal Son of God became a baby, became a carpenter. And the people who knew him growing up could not accept that the divine could live in such a person. The second part of that is that He did it so that the ordinary might become extraordinary. Moving on to the next section:
7 Calling the Twelve to him, he sent them out two by two and gave them authority over evil spirits. 8 These were his instructions: "Take nothing for the journey except a staff-- no bread, no bag, no money in your belts. 9 Wear sandals but not an extra tunic. 10 Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you leave that town. 11 And if any place will not welcome you or listen to you, shake the dust off your feet when you leave, as a testimony against them." 12 They went out and preached that people should repent. 13 They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them.
Jesus takes these ordinary people, these fishermen and tax collectors and tradesmen, and gives them authority over evil spirits. They are able to preach, drive out demons, and heal many sick people. Part of what Jesus came to do is to make the ordinary extraordinary. Not that they became divine, but that He shared His authority with them, working through them to do more than they could do in their own power.
In the same way, God lives in us by His Holy Spirit. He says that we will do greater things.
John 14:11-12 - Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves. 12 I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.
In Him, we have authority over the enemy. We may experience healing. We may do greater things, because the Holy Spirit lives in us.
Ephesians 1:18-21 - I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, 20 which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.
One extreme is that we can do everything Jesus does regardless of how in step we are with God and His will. The other extreme is that God does not work supernaturally in the world. The truth is that God still works, still heals, still has the power. We have authority over evil spirits in him. But the power comes from being dependent upon God, not by walking as if the power is ours apart from relationship to God.
John 5:19 - Jesus gave them this answer: "I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.
John 15:5 - "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing
1 Peter 5:8-9 - Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith
We don’t speak to illness, we pray in Jesus’ name for healing. And He may or may not heal. That’s up to Him. After all, as we saw in Mark 1, God’s priority is our spiritual healing more than it is our physical healing.
There is a kingdom battle. The third story, about the death of John the Baptist, highlights the clash between the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of this world. Herod is on edge because of the reports about this Jesus, probably made worse by the fact that He is preaching a message about the kingdom of God. We are sent out as ambassadors of Jesus, proclaiming the gospel in word and deed. We will face opposition from the kingdom of this world as we move out in the authority and power of God to preach, heal, and confront evil.
The bottom line is that he takes our ordinariness and imbues us with His extraordinariness. He puts His Spirit in us, and He manifests Himself through different spiritual gifts.
1 Corinthians 12:7-11 - Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. 8 To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10 to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines.
We offer them in service to Him and He uses them to make a spiritual difference. In that way, it brings to mind the fourth story in this passage, the feeding of the 5,000. He has gone off with the disciples to be alone, but the crowd gathers him. Jesus has compassion on them, because they are like sheep without a shepherd, so he begins to teach them. The crowd has gathered to hear Jesus, and as it gets late, the disciples tell him to send them away so they can go get food. But Jesus tells them to give them something to eat. They are incredulous about Jesus’ request. And so he tells them to go and find what they have. They find five loaves and two fish. And Jesus has everyone sit down in groups, and 41 Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to his disciples to set before the people. He also divided the two fish among them all. 42 They all ate and were satisfied, 43 and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces of bread and fish. 44 The number of the men who had eaten was five thousand.
How is this related? Jesus could have just snapped his fingers and had bread and fish fall from heaven. Instead, he involved his disciples. Give me what you have, and I will bless it and multiply it in order to feed my sheep. In the same way, we offer to God what we have, and He blesses and uses it in order to feed and bless others.
The extraordinary became ordinary in order to make the ordinary extraordinary. How did he accomplish this?
The feeding of the 5,000 points ahead to the last week of Jesus’ life. The blessing and breaking of the bread foreshadows the Last Supper. Jesus has compassion on the people, because they are like sheep without a shepherd. This hearkens back to Ezekiel:
Ezekiel 34:1-16 - The word of the LORD came to me: 2 "Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy and say to them: 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Woe to the shepherds of Israel who only take care of themselves! Should not shepherds take care of the flock?
They have only taken care of themselves. And so God says that he will judge the shepherds and remove them. And then He says:
11 "'For this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I myself will search for my sheep and look after them. 12 As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness. 13 I will bring them out from the nations and gather them from the countries, and I will bring them into their own land. I will pasture them on the mountains of Israel, in the ravines and in all the settlements in the land. 14 I will tend them in a good pasture, and the mountain heights of Israel will be their grazing land. There they will lie down in good grazing land, and there they will feed in a rich pasture on the mountains of Israel. 15 I myself will tend my sheep and have them lie down, declares the Sovereign LORD. 16 I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak, but the sleek and the strong I will destroy. I will shepherd the flock with justice.
Jesus will shepherd his people. As he breaks the bread and distributes it to feed the sheep, we are reminded how at the Last Supper, he will also break the bread, proclaiming that it is His body, broken for the world. His broken body will give us life. On the cross, His body will break and His blood will pour out for the sins of the world, to bring us life.
John 6:30-35 - So they asked him, "What miraculous sign then will you give that we may see it and believe you? What will you do? 31 Our forefathers ate the manna in the desert; as it is written: 'He gave them bread from heaven to eat.'" 32 Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world." 34 "Sir," they said, "from now on give us this bread." 35 Then Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.
Are you hungry? Come and feast on Jesus, the bread of life. What is more ordinary than bread? The extraordinary became ordinary, so that the ordinary might become extraordinary.