Jesus Rediscovered: Part 3 - Life Over Law - Hope 103.2

Jesus Rediscovered: Part 3 – Life Over Law

By Simon ManchesterSunday 27 Sep 2015Christian Growth with Simon ManchesterFaithReading Time: 0 minutes


Our loving Father, we thank you for this part of your Word.  We pray that you would help us today that as this Word has been inspired and recorded for every generation, so you would cause it by your Spirit to take root in our hearts and bear good fruit.

We commit these minutes to you and ask that you would speak, communicate, encourage and bring an appropriate word to us.

In Jesus’ Name – Amen.

We have these two passages this morning everybody from Mark’s Gospel and I want to say to you at the beginning that if you pay attention to them, I think you will find in a few minutes time, we are looking at something that is really very wonderful – that the world gets completely upside down – but you will have to commit yourself and work with me.

I don’t know if you remember a story of some Police Cadets who are doing a written exam.  And the question asked on the paper:-

“You come across an accident, there are smashed cars, there are injured people, there is a fire hydrant nearby that has burst, people are looting a nearby shop, someone has snatched a lady’s handbag, a large dog has attacked a small boy, and on the 15th floor of a nearby building – fire has broken out. What is your first action?”

And one Cadet wrote at the bottom of his paper – “Remove uniform and mingle with crowd”!!

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We are trying to do the exact opposite.  We are trying to give ourselves to what we have got which is these two wonderful paragraphs in Mark chapter 2 verses 23 through to chapter 3 verse 6.  In the first couple of chapters (if you are visiting today) we have been looking at Jesus announcing himself as the King and if you wonder where his kingdom is, and if you think his kingdom may be up in the sky somewhere, let me assure you and remind you that Jesus in Mark’s Gospel immediately where he is  – he starts taking control.

So he takes control of a man who is demon possessed, He takes control of a man or people, who are sick, He takes control of a tax collector who is going nowhere

– where he is, is his kingdom.

And he also bring great happiness, relief, forgiveness, fellowship – where he is, the kingdom of Jesus Christ is where he is and people who have handed themselves in to his kingship.

Now because we are naturally unbelievers, we are and we are natural doubters and because the world is very messy and life is difficult, we struggle with the idea that he is a good King.  We struggle with the idea that he controls everything.  We struggle with the idea that he wants our best and that we can trust him with everything.

The problem is not his problem – the problem is our problem.  And that’s why these two little paragraphs will help us to understand him properly.

I am going to call the first paragraph – chapter 2:23-28 – The King of Love.

And the second paragraph – chapter 3:1-6 The King of Life.

Now the first incident as you may remember if you were just listening is Jesus is travelling on a Saturday (that’s the Sabbath) with his disciples and they are picking grain to eat from the fields as they travel and they are being criticized by the Pharisees (the religious leaders) for breaking the Sabbath Rules.

Now the Law in the Old Testament from Deuteronomy 23 said that you could take food from the fields but you had to do it with your hands.  You couldn’t bring in a sickle or a plough or something like that.  It was just a small local personal collection.  The problem here however, is that it is being done on the Sabbath.  The Pharisees had invented a lot of rules for the Sabbath.  Jesus was not very interested in their rules but it was still the Sabbath.  And the big question is – are they working?

Therefore we come to a huge issue and that is ‘what sort of world has God put us in?’ ‘What is his priority?’  “Has he put us in the world because he is primarily for people or for rules?’

Now during this week on Thursday night, I went to a lovely dinner and when we were parking our car in a back street near the Domain (this was a wonderful, sort of Mission/Thanksgiving Dinner) we parked our car in a back lane near the Domain and the sign on the meter said to pay up to 8pm.  So we put our money to go up to 8pm.  We went to the dinner and when we came back about 10.30 there was a guy putting a ticket on our car because we had missed another sign which said “After 8pm you need to put more money in from 8pm to 8am”

So there we were in a back street, very dark, no other cars, no through traffic getting a ticket because we had not seen sign No.2.  We had broken the rule.  There was a sign there.  But it did cause me to think to myself – what sort of Council gets excited about a back street in the middle of the night where they can trap more people between 8pm and 8am?

And do you not think that some people consider God to be a little bit like that?  That he exists to pounce on people.  He’s got a rule somewhere which is about sex, he’s got a rule somewhere about the Sabbath, these rules are very frustrating and then he jumps on you.  But we are told in this particular paragraph that that’s what the Pharisees were doing.  You see in verse 23-24 they got about 39 rules in their little book and there they are in the fields (I don’t know why they are in the fields) – why are they in the fields?  Ready to pounce!

And you will see what Jesus says in response (verse 25) and this will shock you because Jesus is about to take what looks like a bad example for his example.  But it will straighten out your views on God if you stay with me.

Jesus says “Have you not read what David did, David who became the great King, when he went into the Tabernacle (that’s before the Temple was built) and he ate the holy bread – he and his men.  So here is King David, he is on the run from King Saul, and he is travelling with his men and they are hungry and he walks into the Tabernacle and there are 12 loaves of bread for the priests and David with his men eats the bread with the priest’s blessing.

Now the question is ‘why would Jesus raise this example?’  And you notice incidentally that he says to the Pharisees “Have you not read this?”  Which must have been quite a punch to the belly because the Pharisees spent all their time reading their Bibles.  And David of course was a great hero for them.  This is what Jesus is saying – and I want you to listen very carefully.

He is saying – I want to tell you about a great King – he is travelling with his men.  He is beginning to receive quite a lot of opposition and because he cares for his men and they are hungry – do you know what his top priority is?  His top priority is that they would live.  And the law about the loaves is bent over for their life.  David makes a decision to do this.  And Jesus commends him for having as his top priority the life and the law to that end.  You see Jesus is not saying ‘I want you to learn from David God’s laws are a waste of time’.  No the laws about the bread were for the welfare of the priests.  Jesus is not saying ‘I want you to learn from David that people are more important than rules’.  That’s just a line out of a sort of selfish textbook that says ‘I don’t care about anything because I am more important’.

No God’s laws are always for people’s welfare and that’s why when you read the Old Testament, especially, you need to know that you are reading the will of a very good, gracious, merciful, compassionate, wise, life giving and life wanting God.  And then you will read everything in the light of that.

Otherwise if you sit over the Old Testament and say “O I don’t like that, I don’t like that, that looks silly and that looks silly” you won’t have the same outcome.

Let me just give you one example from Deuteronomy 5 on the Sabbath.  The commandment says “Stop your work on the Sabbath – this applies to your children and your servants and your animals and your visitors – give everybody bread – don’t grind people into the ground” – that’s the commandment.

Somehow the church, Pharisees and may be the 21st Century church takes this and it turns it into ‘God wants to punish you with boredom’.  Whereas the commandment which God has himself put into the Scriptures is basically saying ‘I want to bless you with rest’.  If we had communicated this better over the last few decades, we may have more men taking seriously Christ.

I don’t know how it is but somehow the Church manages to say, especially to men but maybe to all people, ‘you know come because Christianity is exciting as going to the ballet’ (Sorry if the ballet is your thing!) and one day you are going to end up in an everlasting church service’

Whereas Jesus says ‘come with me – we are going into a battle – it’s not going to be easy but eventually I am going to take you home and the home will be like the Whitsundays’.  We just seem to get it weirdly upside down.

Now all of God’s laws are in that Spirit and therefore I say again that you have to learn to read and interpret the Old Testament with a great a loving God in the background.  He is not in the spirit of the Domain Parking Company.  He is not thinking how can I catch people at 2am in a back lane where there are no other cars and its pitch dark (get the impression I am still annoyed about this??). My therapist says I am going well!

But here you see with genius, typical Jesus genius (chapter 2 verse 25) he points to the greatest king of the Old Testament and he says ‘he acted for the welfare for his people because the law of the loaves of bread was to feed people and he directs the law to that end’  And then you could almost imagine Jesus saying ‘Do you see the point?’  King of kings, in the world, travelling with my people, facing opposition, wanting the welfare of people – I am not here like a Pharisee.  And therefore you can see when he gets to verse 27 he suddenly says “The Sabbath was not invented as a dumb rule to trap people, it was provided as a gift to liberate people”.  And then he says as climax of the argument “I am the Lord of the Sabbath”.

Now when we think “Lord” we think “trouble”.  When we think “blessing” we think “escape” but Jesus says NO it’s when you come under my lordship you will find the blessing.  Just as David exercised loving authority for the good of his men – Jesus says ‘I the Son of Man, the King of Kings excises loving authority for the good of all people’.  And he says “I am the Lord of the Sabbath”.  He might have said to them ‘remember back in Genesis where the Sabbath is raised in the first few chapters of Genesis and there is this everlasting rest which God is planning for people?  Well Jesus says ‘I invented that’.

And do you remember the Saturday by Saturday break which God wanted you to have – the rest – the holiday – I invented that, says Jesus.  Behind the universe, friends, is therefore not a dog catcher who moves through the world looking at people who are happy, grabbing them and putting them in his cage.  Behind the universe is the King of Love providing life and what people to live forever.

The greatest proof of this of course is that God would look at the world and say

Do these people have life? No they don’t.

Can I do something about that? Yes

Will it cost a lot? Yes

Will it cost everything? Yes

Will it cost my Son? Yes.

It will cost my Son.  We will do it.  That’s the King of Love.

Now of course Jesus does call us to costly discipleship but love is driving the whole plan.

The second incident paragraph is The King of Life – chapter 3:1-6.  In the second paragraph, Jesus is not outdoors in the field he is indoors in the Synagogue.  Again it’s a Saturday and there is a man there who has got a shrivelled hand – probably a plant – because you were not meant to go into the Temple if you were maimed.  The Pharisees were again there watching, ready to pounce and ready to pounce.  What is Jesus going to do?  It’s obviously a set up.  The law says ‘don’t work on the Sabbath’.  In Jesus’ mind he thinks – that’s meant to be a blessing.  In the Pharisees’ mind that means ‘keep the rules, keep the rules’.

So what does Jesus do (verse 3)?  He gets the man to stand (well that’s not against the rules) and then in verse 4 he asks them powerful questions:-

Firstly – which is lawful on the Sabbath to do good or evil? What should we do for this man?

Now the Old Testament law says you could help a brother or a sister on the Sabbath but if it involved a lot of work and it could wait for another day because it wasn’t a life threatening situation you could leave it.  But you see Jesus is enthusiastic to bless this man.  He wants to get on with it and so he says ‘what is lawful – to do good or not?’

Secondly – the second question more disturbingly he points to the Pharisees and says ‘which is lawful to save life or kill’?

Now I don’t think at this point he is discussing the man with the withered hand.  I think he is now saying – here is another question for you.  ‘What are you going to do with me’?  We have asked a question – what will we do with this man, will we do good or not – and now I have another question – what are you going to do with me?  Are you going to save or kill?  They won’t answer (verse 4).

So he asks the man to hold out his hand and as he holds out his hand, he is healed.  And I love this because it is God who does things by speaking and how can anybody criticize Jesus for speaking?  They should be rejoicing.  Well let me say two things as we come to an end this morning.

First of all don’t separate Jesus’s authority and his kindness.  Why is he able to heal this man?  Because he has great authority and great kindness.  The authority gives him control and the kindness gives him desire.  They go together.  We may want to separate them.  We may think even as a believer – I like the kindness but I don’t like the authority – but it’s the authority that provides the kindness.  It’s the kindness that backs up the authority.  Thank God they can’t be separated.  What good would it be if he was authoritative but not kind?  What good would it be if he was kind but not authoritative?  We are so thankful the two go together.

So when Jesus says ‘he is the Lord of the Sabbath, the Lord of the Rest, the Lord of the Kingdom and the Lord of Blessing’ we need to surrender to get it.  That’s the key.  There are so many people even in churches who say ‘O I believe in God’ but they have never surrendered to Jesus.

I used an illustration last Sunday night which may be helpful if I just mention it briefly.  Imagine a person is travelling through the desert and they have an empty water bottle in their hand.  They come to a well which is absolutely full with beautiful cool and clear water.

So they take their water bottle and they just sit it, just sit the base of the bottle on the water.  Well now the water bottle is touching the water.

Then they push the bottle down a bit so that it is half down – it’s now involved in the water.

Then they push the bottle three quarters down so the neck is still sticking out so now it is kind of surrounded by water.

But nothing has changed.  There is no water in the bottle.

It’s only when they plunge the water bottle under the water that all the water flows in.

If a person never surrenders completely to Christ they never get converted and they never get re-born.  There are lots of people in churches and of course lots of people outside who are nominal believers and they have got a sort of a ‘touch’ or may be even some ‘involvement’ or may be even lots of involvement but there’s never been a surrender, there’s never been a transformation, a filling, a conversion or a rebirth.

The second thing is do you notice there are two campaigns going on at the same time in these two paragraphs?  One is the policy of God to bring life to people – the other is the policy of men to bring death to Jesus.  These two campaigns or policies are diametrically opposed.  You may be surprised when you read chapter 3 verse 6 that they went out and planned to kill Jesus.  I think it’s meant to shock us.

But when you become a Christian and you will discover this more and more and you will as well as you go on in the Christian life – you will begin to realize that the hostility to Jesus is very strong – it’s very determined – it can be very fiery and people use every possible strategy to avoid Jesus.  In fact we could say people use every possible strategy to get rid of Jesus.  The ultimate of course of getting rid of Jesus is the crucifixion.  But we can do it in more sophisticated ways.  That’s why of course it’s much easier for a church to do something which is unrelated to Jesus.  Just concentrate on self-help type message or concentrate on temporal relief – leave Jesus out of it.  But it is in the presenting of the authority of Jesus and the kindness of Jesus that people come to have eternal life.

Also as we go on ourselves we know the seeds of this opposition are actually in our own hearts.  We begin to know ourselves better, we begin to know what we are like, we begin to be humbler about ourselves because we realize that there is such hostility in the seeds of our hearts and therefore we become more and more grateful for Jesus.

Now in the fact of the hostility the living God goes seeking the welfare of people.

He has provided this country with uncountable blessings,

He gets no thanks, He gets no credit, He gets no acknowledgement

Jesus the Son of Man has come into the world to do good and to save and the reaction of the human race is to do evil and to kill and he goes on with his task and he provides salvation for people like us who don’t deserve it.  He is utterly misrepresented by the world.  But we have one hope in the universe and it’s not us.  We are ungrateful – deep in our hearts we are hostile.  Our hope is the King of Love and the King of Life – Jesus Christ – and he runs the world.

Now I wonder if you have ever been driving and you have seen an absolutely demolished demolition site where there is nothing but a barbed wire fence and bricks and rubbish all over the place and as you drive past, you think to yourself – that is a real mess.

But stuck on the fence is a little sign like ‘MASTERTON HOMES’ and you say to yourself – I wouldn’t be surprised if they didn’t do the demolition and if they aren’t about to construct something new and wonderful.

And so it is as we look at the mess of the world that we are in – all the mess of our own lifestyle.  We have to say to ourselves – it is true that the world is a messy place and our own lives are very messy but God has stuck up on the fence the word ‘MASTER’ – loving Master – King of Love and King of Life and we see it in these two little paragraphs here in Mark’s Gospel and these two paragraphs say to us ‘be patient because God is in the process of turning everything which is a mess into something wonderful’.  So keep trusting him and keep obeying him and keep representing him in a world that doesn’t know or understand.

Let’s pray –

Our Father we thank you for revealing to us things that we would not understand without your word.  We thank you for telling us of yourself full of love, full of life, eager to give love and life to others.  We thank you the reminder of the coming of your Son, full of love and full of life to make it possible for us to have new life.

We pray that you would help us to trust you with joy and obey you with discipline and to represent you well in the world that has such poor understanding.  Help us to be your servants, your lights, your witnesses in this world this week.

We ask it in Jesus’ Name – Amen.