Mark - Kingdom News - Hope 103.2

Mark – Kingdom News

By Simon ManchesterSunday 30 Nov 2014Christian Growth with Simon ManchesterFaithReading Time: 0 minutes


St Thomas’ Anglican Church
North Sydney

Kingdom News – Mark 1:14-20

Our loving Father,we ask that you would open our hearts,that they would be receptive to your word and please open your word to do good to our hearts.
We ask it in Jesus’ Name – Amen.

Well everybody,this is our third Sunday in the New Testament book called Mark.  Two weeks ago we looked at the preparation for the coming of Jesus and the work of John the Baptist.  Last week we looked at very spectacular events around the Baptism of Jesus and today we come to the little section of chapter 1 verses 14-20 – just 7 verses,and we are looking at Jesus’ first words and Jesus’ first disciples.

It’s very interesting to me how words can be completely ineffective or deeply,deeply effective.  There are some words that land on us and they do nothing.  When my alarm clock goes off in the morning,the radio alarm clock,and I listen to the News,there is a little sentence that comes about the “Dow Jones Index”.  Now I know this gets people excited – that sentence means absolutely nothing to me – just comes and goes.

Then there are words which sort of briefly amuse us.  I was reminded this week of the ABC Newsreader who announced “that a lady had been bitten on the funnel by a finger-web spider” !! That amuses me but just for a moment. 

And then there are words that come and they cut very deeply and you realise that they have come with a lot of anger or hatred behind them. 

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And then there are words that change us forever and that’s we are looking at today.  We are looking at words spoken by Jesus which change people forever.  And may the word of God that we are looking at – these few verses – have a deep impact on us and not just wash over us.

So we are going to divide up our little section into 3 points –

First of all – Jesus Announces Himself – he says the Kingdom has come – he might as well have said “I have come”.
Secondly he tells us what to do – he says repent and believe. – Jesus Tells Us What To Do.
And thirdly he says this with very great effect because men who are involved in a perfectly good job drop what they are doing and start to follow. – Jesus Has Great Effect.

So let’s think about these 3 points together.  These are very well known verses and we have read them (some of us here) hundreds of times but let us by the grace of God look at them more carefully.

First of all – Jesus Announces Himself (verses14-15).  Verse 15 we read that he began to preach after John the Baptist was put into prison and you notice how casually Mark mentions that.  Just imagine I got up this morning and said “well I am filling in today because the other Clergy have all been jailed”.  It’s mildly interesting isn’t it?  And here just Mark casually says “John has been put into prison and Jesus begins to preach”.

We know of course from Mark 6 when we get there that John has been put in prison by Herod for speaking the truth to Herod and Herod will eventually have John the Baptist beheaded.  John the Baptist becomes pretty well the first of what I learned this week is basically 70 million people who have been martyred for the cause of Christ.  It is estimated that 70 million have died for their faith. So when Mark says chapter 1 verse 14 that John was handed over – it’s a very important word “handed over” – that’s what the word literally means handed over because later on Jesus says “I am going to be handed over” and then Jesus says “you will be handed over” and he of course is handed over to crucifixion.  So this word “handing over” becomes a part of the long process of the Church of suffering for Christ.

I wondered whether John and Jesus ever worked together?  And I realise from the whole of the New Testament picture that John did see Jesus get baptised but he probably never heard him preach and he probably never saw a miracle like a healing.  And therefore he becomes a remarkable man – John the Baptist –

because at the age of about 30
having done his job for what may have been weeks or months,
he gets arrested and put in prison and
never gets to hear this person he has spoken of,preach,
never gets to see a miracle
has to put his confidence in the word of God without any visible evidence and
then his life is cut short about the age of 30.

Well now that John is in jail soon to be beheaded,what is it that Jesus announces (verse 14)?  He announces what is called “The Gospel from God”.  We often translate this “The Good News”.  Back in the Old Testament it said “How beautiful are the feet of the one who brings Good News”.  Here is Jesus bringing ultimately good news.

Isaiah 61 of the Servant says “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,he has appointed me to preach good news and here is the climax of the good news”.

Now what is The News?  It’s one thing to stand up and say “The Kingdom is here – believe the good news” and then you think – what is The Good News?  Well in some ways the good news is the kingdom is here but what does he want people to do?  Well he wants people to repent and believe which we will see in a minute.

But the Good News is that the time has arrived and the Kingdom is we might say literally ‘on your doorstep’.  The time has come,says Jesus,all the waiting is over,and all those Old Testament prophesies that said the Messiah would come – he’s come.  The Kingdom as we might say is now in your face – you are looking at the Kingdom.

This word “NEAR” the Kingdom is near doesn’t mean (listen carefully) doesn’t mean the Kingdom is any day now.  You know those people you see with a sandwich board often in the cartoons – THE END IS NIGH – and it’s a loony position in a way because we don’t know when the end is.  But this word NEAR means up close,beside you,physically near to you.

I think I may have mentioned that many years ago behind the street where we live Developers came and bought all the houses behind us and then announced they were building 3 storey units that would come right up to our back fence.  I joined the little protest at Willoughby Council and found myself right at home behind a lectern in front of the Willoughby Council!!

And stood up as you would and said “Who would like to have 3 storey units right on your back fence”?  Would you like it?  I wouldn’t like it.  And I remember these Willoughby Councillors sitting around the table with eyes like saucers as they thought – who is this freak who has come,who seems so at home standing lecturing us?

Anyway they were very agreeable and gracious and they pushed the units back about 20 metres.

That’s too close.  Jesus says the Kingdom is close but that’s good close – it’s near and it physically near.  This word NEAR and it’s very important to get this – it doesn’t mean it’s coming one day – Jesus says it’s beside you.  In Mark 11 they came NEAR Jerusalem physically near to Jerusalem.  In Mark 14 Judas came NEAR Jesus to betray him – physically near.  Here the Kingdom,says Jesus,is physically near because Jesus is physically near and if therefore Jesus has come near and is the King,then the Kingdom has come near and if he announces the Kingdom is near,he is announcing – I AM THE KING.  In not so many words he is saying –


Now one Commentator,Cranfield,who is very respected,says “The Kingdom of God is Jesus and he is the Kingdom”.  So if you want to belong to the Kingdom you have to do business with the King,with Jesus.

To put it another way and someone told me this morning after the 8.00 Service that this is a ven diagram so for those of you who understand these things,I’ve often mentioned that if you think of two concentric circles that are connecting –

                   ONE IS THE WORLD                               ONE IS THE KINGDOM

As soon as Jesus comes into the world,the Kingdom intersects with the world and therefore it’s possible when you put your faith in Jesus to be in that little intersection.  You are “in the world,you are in the Kingdom”.  You are very much in the world,yes you are a normal person but you’ve also put your faith in the King and therefore you belong in the intersection.

If you are not a Christian,you are in the world but you are not in the Kingdom and we pray of course that one day that Kingdom will completely come “and that every knee will bow and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:10-11).

So the Kingdom you see is not so much a place that you get on an aeroplane and fly to – the Kingdom is a person who you respond to and you respond to him as we see in a minute by repenting and believing.  So when Jesus famously said “The Kingdom is among you” it doesn’t mean that the Kingdom is inside you (although there is a sense in which he takes up residence inside us) but he means the Kingdom is standing among you – I am standing among you.

Now friends if you were to announce these sort of things with a big loud hala or you went into a shopping centre and you called out in a loud voice ‘THE KINGDOM HAS COME – IT’S ME’ you would want to be able to back it up wouldn’t you?  It’s easy to say it but how do you show it?

And what we’ll see as we go though Mark’s Gospel is that again and again and again Jesus shows exactly that he is the King and what the Kingdom of God looks like and it’s marked by kindness and authority and compassion and making things well and showing that there is one who runs the place and loves the place and wants the best for the place.  The Kingdom which Jesus illustrates is marked by great authority and great love.

I just want you to notice this first point – he announces the Kingdom – he announces himself.

Now the second point is what does he want us to do – what does he want people to do?  Do we just say “O the Kingdom has come – I hope I make it one day”.  No this is our second point this morning – he wants people to repent and believe (verse 15). 

We are not meant to just pull up our socks,
We are not meant to say a little prayer every now and again
We are not meant to mentally tick acknowledgement to God but practically ignore him the rest of our days.

The secret of responding to the Kingdom,to the King,is to take seriously his authority.  Now I am sure that you recognise this but whenever good authority comes,it makes its mark and I am talking good authority.  There is bad authority – the nations of the world many of them today could do with good authority. 

I was reading an article this week in one of the Newspapers pointing out that many of the Rugby League Clubs (and I know some of you here love Rugby League – the godly here love rugby league) apparently are in a complete mess because of lack of authority.  The article was appealing to the CEO’s to please speak to the players and say ‘listen can you see this on my desk – it says I am Chief Executive Officer – now do what you are told or leave.”  And to the legends who undermine and to the Board Members who undermine – see what this says “CEO do what you are told or leave”. 

And then I was reading also recently that the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary which was founded in the 1840’s and began as an excellent Theological Seminary – then fell into what is called “progressive theology” (progressive theology is a polite way of saying progressing out of the Bible – away from the Bible).  And then it becomes what is called Liberal – Anti-supernatural – proud – dead.  And the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary for 100 years was liberal and progressive and dead. 

In 1993 they appointed a new President – a man called Al Molar aged 33 years and looked about 23 years.  He stepped up to the plate and he said “this is our charter –

If you are a professor here,sign it or leave.
If you are a lecturer here,sign it or leave.
If you are a student here,sign it or leave.

He was left with 4 of the staff – all the students were protesting,carrying coffins around the grounds saying “you are killing our college”.  But he stuck to the basics,the founding basics and today the college has moved from a college of under 100 to well over 2000 students with a united faculty with good authoritative leadership.

Now it needs to be loving leadership – leadership that cares for the people – leadership that it interested in the people but you see this authority in Jesus and his response that he seeks is very simple – you are going to get this or you won’t get it.  He says I want people to REPENT and BELIEVE. 

And I have been in Ministry for quite a long time and I’ve seen lots of people who intellectually believe things but never repent.  And there may be some sad people who are always repenting but never believing but when you repent and believe you move into the Kingdom.  You move immediately and one day you move in ultimately.  If you don’t repent and believe you never do move in.

So you’ll notice that the message of Christianity is not just good news – it’s change your direction good news.

Old Bishop Ryle,English Bishop Ryle 150 years ago said “we may reach the Kingdom and never have riches or greatness or even health but we shall never reach Christ’s Kingdom if we die impenitent or unrepentant or unbelieving.  No a new heart and a lively faith in the Redeemer are absolutely needful”.

So what does repentance mean?  I just remind you because I think we need to get this clear.  It’s not just something that is called out angrily – it’s a wonderful thing to tell people.  It’s basically ‘drop your dangers,drop your diseases,the things that will kill your soul’.  Repentance means that you agree to give up anything or anyone who keeps you from Christ.  If there is someone or something who would keep you from coming to faith in Christ,that person or that something is incredibly dangerous.  And it will destroy you.

Repentance means that you come to your senses and you say “I must make a break”.  If I am to take hold of Christ with two hands,I must make a break.

Now it maybe that you need to make a break with your goal which is your big person goal which is to be in charge of yourself – that will kill you. 
It may be pride that you are kind of too big for this – that will kill you.
It may be a relationship which you are in which is wrong and is going to keep you ever trusting Christ – well that’s got to go.
It may be a policy which says ‘I am not interested’ – that’s got to go.
It may be a lifestyle “I come first and that’s all that matters’ – that’s got to go.
It may be habit
It may be a possession
It may be an attitude
Anything that keeps you from Christ has got to go.

And it’s a God-given ability and it’s a human responsibility that you lay down anything that gets in the way of Christ.

Believing on the other hand doesn’t just mean ticking a mental box.  It means that you take seriously what God has said and done so much so that you act on it.

It doesn’t mean that you leap into the dark.  Jesus took very great care in his ministry to say things and then prove things. 

I am the Resurrection – I will bring Lazarus out of the grave.
I am the Bread of Life – I will feed a crowd.
I am the Light of the World – I will heal a blind man.

PROMISE             PROOF                    PROMISE        PROOF       PROMISE           PROOF

I’ve been a Christian for 44 years – far and away the most intelligent people I’ve met in my life have been Christians.  It doesn’t mean that you have to be clever to be a Christian but it is certainly not – not sensible – it’s sensible.  You just need to be humble.

Now I wonder what Jesus expected people to believe given the fact that he virtually at this stage had done no miracles,preached no sermons,hadn’t lived a perfect life,had not died on a cross,had not risen from the grace and he says “believe the good news”.  What are people expected to believe?

I presume what he is saying to them is – believe what’s in front of you,believe what you’ve got given to you and as time proceeds and he lives his life and he preaches and he performs miracles and he dies on the cross to show his love and he rises again,the information unfolds to the point where he can say to you and to me ‘I’ve given you so much that you might put your faith in me and your confidence in me.

And we today with books,DVD’s,MP3’s and masses of material – libraries and bookshops and resources unbelievable – we know that we have enough information to find out about Jesus Christ and to take a place in his Kingdom. 
So believe is not the same as agree.  Believe means you decide.  If you believe your plane is leaving in 2 hours,you hurry and you get it.  If you believe Jesus is mighty and merciful,you hurry to him and you speak to him and you give yourself to him and you drop everything that would keep you from him.

So Jesus is telling us exactly what to do to enter the Kingdom so nobody in this building need be in despair about the Kingdom.  Don’t say to yourself “I think to get into the Kingdom you’ve got to be really wonderful,successful,godly,brilliant,and consistent.  No no No – you would drop would keep you from Christ and you go to him and take hold of him and he will immediately embrace you in his Kingdom – that’s the gospel and that’s the good news.

Now the last little section this morning is that Jesus says this with very great power and we know this because in verses 16-20 which are the verses where he speaks to the fishermen – they respond.

This is the famous call of calling Simon,Andrew,James and John who leave their nets and they leave their family business and you say to yourself at this point as you read these verses – what  is going on here?  Why would these perfectly normal people having heard somebody say for one second “Come and follow me” – make a decision like that?

And of course we know from the rest of the New Testament that there is more behind the scenes – they had actually spent time with Jesus,they talked with him,they asked their questions – and now we come to the crunch and Mark is only recording for us the crunch which is COME! And they COME. 

Does it mean that they left all their property,their boats,their nets,their family,their spouses and their children and started walking the hills?  Not necessarily.

The rest of the New Testament tells us I think with plenty of good evidence that these disciples still had their boats,their houses and their families right up to the end.  We are told in John 21 in the last chapter that they were fishing and it looks as though what they were doing was they were taking everything they had – family,property and possessions and work and it immediately took second place to Christ. 

So if we were to read into this and say every Christian should walk away from everything they have and everyone they know,that would be absurd.  Jesus is simply saying “I will take first place because I deserve first place”.  And I think Mark records this double call of the 4 disciples because first of all we are being shown what incredible authority he has.  Who can normally get 4 blokes to leave everything – Not me!  I can’t get anyone to follow Christi.  I can tell them about him.  I could call to them but in the end it’s only Jesus who can get people to take him seriously and it’s his word and it’s his voice and it’s his message which goes deep into the mind and heart and totally transforms the person.  And that’s what we are being shown here.

Jesus stands up and says “The Kingdom is here – repent and believe the good news”.  And we say – Yeh is anyone going to take any notice of you?
Watch this – COME and four men begin to follow because he has the authority – he really is The King of Kings.

And suddenly these 4 men have received new leadership
They have received direction
They have received new values
They have received new goals
They have received privileges
They have received new opportunities
They have received new responsibilities – They have been transformed which of course is what happens when people take Jesus at his word.

The second thing we notice from this is that when he calls them to come and fish for people,we are seeing a little window into how Jesus improves the person who he takes over.  I know that many people will think that if you take Jesus seriously,that will be the end of your usefulness,the end of your life,the end of your privileges and the end of your fun.  The New Testament says the exact opposite.  It’s the thief who comes to kill and destroy but Jesus says “I have come that you might have life and have it to the full”. 

He says to these fishermen – fishing is great – I like fishing – it’s an excellent business – and around the Sea of Galilee,a very big business,exporting off to Egypt and all over the place but he says ‘you are going to do something immeasurably more wonderful’.  That is I am going to help you fish for people and to bring them who are drowning in their sin onto the rock of new life.

So here is a little window I think,as we see Jesus demonstrate – he does have the authority – he does have the love for people.

Somebody I heard recently said that they didn’t think people outside the church were bored with Christianity – they thought that people outside the church don’t understand Christianity.

But the danger is that the people inside the church will get bored with Christianity because we take our mind off the fact that Jesus has said something to these men which is so interesting and so stimulating and so fresh and so great.  We forget how interesting and wonderful Jesus is and then we become the stumbling block to the spread of the good news because we get bored with something we shouldn’t be bored with and people outside don’t hear what they should be hearing. 

And this guy said he went back to his room,knelt down by his bed,confessed and asked that the Lord would help him to speak to people with new fresh compassion.  And he said on this particular talk that he had had 6 men come into the church in the months that followed that prayer.

Now it’s not an equation but it’s a good thing to ask,isn’t it?

So here is Jesus calling these men to life to the full which of course he’s going to give them because he will die to the full and they are eternally transformed.  They didn’t all have the same experience. 
                                         James had a very short ministry
                                         John had a long ministry
                                         Simon Peter had a famous ministry
                                         Andrew had an unknown ministry

But they were wonderfully changed and used for evermore.  And as I think of this as a Christian,I think I am asking the Lord to help me to see the person of Jesus in the Gospel of Mark as very great and very wonderful and very merciful and not to be tricked into drifting away from him but to really to be devoted to him and be available to him and to join in that wonderful work of fishing for other people.

This week I was at a dinner for Operation Mobilization and I heard the Director,the National Director tell us that one of the people who is on the staff in Brisbane of Operation Mobilization which is a Christian Mission Organization was quite recently an Afghani Muslim Insurgent Rocket Commander and his jeep was bombed and in hospital he was converted and when he was concerted he started preaching Christ and he got persecuted.  He then fled to Pakistan; he preached Christ and started a little church.  He got persecuted and for his life he has come to Australia.  He is now on the team of Operation Mobilization helping people in Australia take Jesus seriously.  An Afghani  –  Muslim  –  Insurgent  –  Rocket Commander not too long ago is now proclaiming the gospel.  Who could do that but Christ? And that’s what we see here in these wonderful verses.

Let’s pray –
Father we thank you for showing us in these verses something of the majesty of Christ.  And we pray that you will continue to open our eyes to see him more clearly.  We thank you for the wonderful Kingdom that he has brought and for the way he has opened the way through his own death.
We thank you too for the invitation to repent and believe.  We pray that you would give people in this building and all who hear this talk the ability from on high to repent and believe.
We thank you for the invitation to be your fellow workers in the world and we pray that you would help us to play a useful part in the days to come.
We ask it in Jesus’ Name – Amen.