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Study in Mark’s Gospel

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  1. Study in Mark’s Gospel Presentation 17

  2. The Rejection Of Jesus Chap 1v1-6 Presentation 17

  3. Introduction Hardly a week goes by but you can pick up a copy of the local newspaper to discover how some local person has made good. We are understandably interested in the accomplishments of people on our own doorstep. The people of Nazareth were no different. From the time of his baptism, Jesus seems to have spent about a year exercising his teaching and healing ministry before returning home to Nazareth where news of his accomplishments had aroused great interest. On the first Sabbath the synagogue was packed. What would Jesus do? Would he participate in the service? Jesus stood up to show that he wished to speak. Presentation 17

  4. Introduction Luke tells us in his gospel, that Jesus was given the scroll of the prophet Isaiah which was the appointed book for the day. And the passage he read from passage from described the activity of the Servant of God, the Messiah [Isa.61v1-2] “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor, He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favour.” Luke 4v18-19. Presentation 17

  5. The Claims Of Jesus Jesus had just quite purposefully read out part of the Messiah’s job description. His role was to, "Proclaim the good news to the poor." We mustn't think in exclusively in material categories. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus filled out the meaning of ‘poor’ when he said, "Blessed are the poor in Spirit. for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." Matt. 5v3. The poor in Spirit are those who are conscious of their own spiritual bankruptcy. They realise that they cannot satisfy the demands of God’s righteousness. ‘Oh’, you say, ‘what a devastating, soul destroying situation to find oneself in’. Yes! but into that situation of despair the Messiah would bring good news, a message of hope for those aware of their spiritual poverty. Presentation 17

  6. The Claims Of Jesus Secondly, the Messiah would ‘set the captives free’. Jesus did not plan to empty the nation’s prisons nor emancipate the Jews from Roman occupation. It is a spiritual captivity that is in view here. We lie not only in a debtors prison owing God perfect obedience but we are slaves to sin and unable to break free from the habitual wrongdoing in our lives. In this context we are understand the glorious freedom than Jesus brings. Wesley writes: “Long my imprisoned spirit lay, fast bound in sin and natures night, Thine eye diffused its quickening ray, I woke the dungeon flamed with light My chains fell off, thy heart was free, I rose went forth and, followed thee.” Presentation 17

  7. The Claims Of Jesus Wesley’s hymn speaks not only of spiritual emancipation but of becoming spiritually sighted and of walking in the light. All of which are elements in God’s plan of salvation. And this, you will notice, is cited as the third feature of the Messiah’s ministry, “the recovery of sight to the blind” Lk. 4v18. When Jesus healed those who were physically blind, he would often point beyond their physical blindness to a spiritual blindness. A malady for which he claimed he alone had the cure, “I am the light of the world” Jn.8.12. Presentation 17

  8. The Claims Of Jesus The Messiah’s ministry would also address the emotionally, psychologically and spiritually bruised. He would care for them. He would bind up their broken, crushed and disordered humanity. In this regard man has both been crippled by his own foolish and sinful behaviour and ravaged and trampled down by the sinful behaviour of others. To say nothing of the way in which Satan has the malevolent goal of crushing man into the ground. It is in this sense that the Messiah would ‘release the oppressed’ Lk. 4v18 Presentation 17

  9. The Claims Of Jesus Finally, the Messiah would ‘proclaim the year of the Lord's favour’, Lk. 4v19.The background of this expression is clearly linked to the year of Jubilee celebrated within Israel. The Mosaic law provided for a new state of affairs to be introduced into Israel every 50 years [Lev. 25v8ff]. Debts were cancelled, slaves were released and land was restored. It was a time of glorious new beginnings. In a far greater sense the Messiah would usher in a new age. Sinful men would be reconciled to a holy God. And on such people God would smile favourably. Presentation 17

  10. The Scepticism Of The Crowd Having read the passage that outlined the role of the Messiah and having expounded the passage, Jesus electrified his hearers with this conclusion, “That's me Isaiah is speaking about!” Imagine the impact Jesus’ claim must have made? Initially the crowd thought Jesus had preached ‘a good sermon’. Jesus had spoken with an inner conviction, and a freshness, authority and grace. They must have felt what we feel when God's Word is properly expounded. But gradually the crowds attitude changed to one of resentment and anger. And we need to ask why? Presentation 17

  11. The Scepticism Of The Crowd First, “good sermons“, aren't like good books, good plays, good paintings, these are all things we can enjoy without them making any real difference to the way we live our lives. When God's Word is spoken in the power of the Spirit, then God himself draws near to challenge the heart and he provokes a response. It was when the challenging thrust of Jesus’ words were driven home that the crowd began to re-evaluate what he had said. They resented this intrusion of authority into their established "closed shop" religion. Early enthusiasm for the gospel can often become adversely critical, and even antagonistic, as the realisation dawns that Christ's teaching is in conflict with ones own strongly held views and deviant sinful behaviour. Presentation 17

  12. The Scepticism Of The Crowd Secondly, the crowd allowed themselves to be distracted by Jesus' background. "Isn't this Mary's son?" In Judaism people were always identified through the male line. To refer to Jesus as Mary’s son was to raise doubts about his legitimacy. The implication is clear, no one of such questionable parentage could possibly be the Messiah! The crowd adopted a proven technique, belittle the preacher when what he says makes you feel uncomfortable. Attach attention to some defect, real or imagined, and it will distract from the searching character of his message. When a minister was beginning to scratch some of his congregation where they itched. One member said to another, “Yon wee man wi the broon hair and squinty teeth shouldnae be a minister” Presentation 17

  13. The Scepticism Of The Crowd Thirdly, there were some in crowd who resented the idea that someone they had grown up with and perhaps even played football with in the streets could be the Messiah. It is all too easy to belittle the gifts of those people we have grown up with. Familiarity does breed contempt. And, it is precisely because we can remember when an elder was in nappies, that we decide not to take him too seriously. Sadly, some people find that it is only when they marry or, change jobs or, move away that their God-given gifts are truly appreciated. Presentation 17

  14. The Rejection Of The Crowd Jesus answers the crowd’s unspoken questioning of his messianic claims saying, “Only in his home town, among his relatives and in his own house is a prophet without honour” v4. Jesus' miracles were invariably performed in response to faith but Mark tells us, “He could do no mighty work there because of their unbelief.” Now there was historical precedent for God blessing Gentile faith when faced with Jewish unbelief. This is why Jesus cites the case of both a Sidonian widow and Naaman the leper. These so-called "outsiders" demonstrated their faith and found both God's blessing and salvation as a result. It is faith that God is interested in and not race, nationality or religious pedigree. Presentation 17

  15. The Rejection Of The Crowd The Nazareth congregation were infuriated by Jesus' suggestion that Gentiles could have more faith than them and enjoy the privileges of messianic rule which they considered to be theirs by right. And so they tried and silence Jesus for good. Luke tells us that the angry hearers took Jesus to the top of a cliff intending to throw him off. Jesus frustrated their plan by passing right through them. Lk. 4v29-30. As far as we know Jesus never returned to his hometown again. They remained hardened to his message. From this point on Nazareth fades from the scene and plays no further part in the expansion of Christ’s kingdom! Presentation 17

  16. Conclusion Isaiah predicted that Jesus would be ‘despised and rejected by men and aquatinted with grief’ Isa.53v3.We tend to equate Jesus’ grief with his physical suffering upon the cross. But the context makes it abundantly clear that the source of Jesus’ greatest grief was rejection by his own people. Grief which is expressed again on Jesus’ final trip to Jerusalem. “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing”. Matt.23v27 Who can fail to be moved by the pathos of his words? Presentation 17

  17. Conclusion While sitting on the bank of a river one day, an Indian Christian picked up a solid round stone from the water and broke it open. He noticed it was perfectly dry in spite of the fact that it had been immersed in water for centuries. He thought this to be a parable concerning many people in the Western world who for centuries have been surrounded by Christianity. They have been immersed in the waters of its many benefits. And yet it has failed to penetrate the hearts of many who do not love it. The fault lies not in Christianity, but in the hard heartedness of men. Presentation 17

  18. Conclusion Do we bring grief to the heart of God because we too, though exposed to the ministry of Christ, cannot bring ourselves to submit to his gracious influence and rule? Over one hundred and fifty yearsago, Robert Murray McCheyne, one of the godliest Scottish ministers of his day, wrote these words of exhortation to a young Kelso girl who was corresponding with him, “Christ gives last knocks. When your heart becomes hard and careless then fear lest Christ may have given you a last knock.” Have you rejected Christ right up until today? Then fear lest Christ may have given you a last knock. Presentation 17