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The Word of Despair

March 19, 2017 | Mark 15:33-39 | crucifixion, jesus

In this sermon, we will be looking at the fourth of His last sayings, the word of despair. We will consider Christ’s questioning cry, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Have you ever cried out to God like Jesus did? Have you ever felt forsaken and alone? Have you ever felt distant from God? Have you cried, “God, where are you?” We all feel lonely at times. We all want acceptance. We want to be accepted and approved. But instead, we often feel rejected and alone. The truth is, if we would rightly understand how our sins have separated us from our Creator, we would cry out with a deeper feeling of despair than we’ve ever felt. It was for this, that Christ took on our despair, that we might receive in exchange, His oneness with God.

In the gospel of Mark, Jesus cried out in despair to God as He experienced the extravagant exchange that it cost Him for our reconciliation. We can understand the cost of this extravagant exchange.

“And Jesus cried out with a loud voice, and breathed His last. Then the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom” (Mark 15:37-38 NKJV).

March 11, 2017

At the sound of Jesus’ last cry, the thick curtain separating the Holy of Holies from the rest of the temple, was rent from top to bottom, opening the way. This must have been quite startling to the priests who witnessed it during the exact time of afternoon prayers. For it was at the “ninth hour” that Jesus cried out, which was the final time of daily prayers. The Jews counted time from sunrise at 6AM which they called the “first hour,” so the “ninth hour” would have been 3PM. There were three daily prayer times, except on the Sabbath when there were four. The daily prayer times were: Morning prayers at 9AM, Midday prayers at Noon, and Afternoon prayers at 3PM. It was during the third prayer time that Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying “It is finished!” (John 19:30). And the temple veil was torn asunder.

From that moment, Jesus, our Great High Priest, opened up “a new and living way” by His blood, so that we are able to enter the “Holiest” place and bring our requests before the Father (Heb. 10:19-22).

“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is” (Mark 13:32-33 NKJV).

March 7, 2017

After visiting the Temple in Jerusalem, the disciples commented on its magnificence and the beauty of the surrounding buildings there. Jesus surprised them by saying, “Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone shall be left upon another” (Mark 13:2). They asked Jesus two questions in response. 1) When will this happen? And 2) What will be the sign of its fulfillment?

Jesus answered both their “when” and “what” questions concerning the Temple. The Temple would be destroyed during the time of that “generation,” just as Jesus had said. For it was demolished in 70 AD by the Romans. But Jesus went on to tell them even more than they had asked. He also spoke of a time of tribulation followed by his coming again. Concerning this, he gave some of the signs, but not the time. In fact, he warned that no one except the Father knows the time of his return.

Therefore, do not believe those who predict the day or hour of Christ’s return. Jesus has already told us that they do not know. Instead, follow his instructions:
1) “Take heed.” – Be prepared. Live as if he could return today. Get your affairs in order.
2) “Watch” – Stand guard. Keep your eyes open for the signs of his return.
3) “Pray” – Let prayer be the main activity of your heeding and watching.

The destruction of Jerusalem was one of the many signs fulfilled exactly according to Christ’s words. The reality that he is coming again is just as certain.

“And Jesus went into Jerusalem and into the temple. So when He had looked around at all things, as the hour was already late, He went out to Bethany with the twelve” (Mark 11:11 NKJV).

March 3, 2017

And so ended the day of Passion Week, Palm Sunday, 33 AD. After a very eventful day, Jesus and the Twelve spent the evening in Bethany, no doubt at the home of Lazarus, Martha and Mary. The Bible offers more detail about this week, than any other week since the week of creation recorded in Genesis.

Creation Week Passion Week
Day 1/Sunday Light Triumphal entry
Day 2/Monday Sky and seas Cleansing the Temple
Day 3/Tuesday Land and plants Teaching in the Temple
Day 4/Wednesday Sun, Moon and stars Anointed in Bethany
Day 5/Thursday Birds and fish Last Supper & Garden
Day 6/Friday Animals and Man Crucifixion and Death
Day 7/Saturday Rested In the tomb

Day 8/Sunday Man’s Fall Christ’s Resurrection!

The Bible zooms in on these two weeks for a day by day account. In the first week, all is created, yet man falls into sin. In the second week, all is redeemed by Christ’s death and resurrection!

“And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire” (Mark 9:47 NKJV).

February 28, 2017

Jesus often used hyperbole to make a point. After taking a child onto his lap, he warned against anyone who would cause such a little one who believed in Him to stumble. He told them it would be better that such a one have a millstone hung around their neck and be cast into the sea. Then, he warned against allowing anyone or anything to cause us to sin as well. He illustrated this with three parts of the human body, the hands, the feet and the eyes, in his warning to drive home the extreme seriousness of sin’s penalty. He taught that it was better to enter heaven missing a hand, a foot or an eye, than to go to hell with them. Perhaps the apostle John had these three warnings in view when he wrote, “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world” (1 John 2:16). Do not let anyone or anything, no matter how dear it may be to you, cause you to choose sin over believing in Christ.

“And He went up on the mountain and called to Him those He Himself wanted” (Mark 3:13 NKJV).

February 18, 2017

Jesus selected the twelve disciples that “He Himself wanted.” Choosing them was preceded by His going up on the mountain alone to pray. It was there that He discussed each of the twelve candidates with His Father. Surely, the Father must have warned Him about the pros and cons of each, yet Jesus replied, “Father, I want them.” And so, knowing their hearts and their propensity for pride and rebellion, the Father sent Jesus down the mountain to call them, that they might be with Him and follow Him.

Today, I want Jesus. As the song lyric goes, “You can have all this world, but give me Jesus!” Yet, the only reason I have this burning desire for Jesus is because He first “wanted” me. For me to want Him is easy, for He is all beauty and grace. But that He wants me is astounding. For He knew, as the Father’s love sent Him down from heaven, the high cost He would pay to purchase “those He Himself wanted.” O how much He wants us for Himself that He would die for our redemption!

You are not unloved, nor unwanted. Jesus wants you for Himself.

“Then they came to Him, bringing a paralytic who was carried by four men. And when they could not come near Him because of the crowd, they uncovered the roof where He was. So when they had broken through, they let down the bed on which the paralytic was lying” (Mark 2:3-4 NKJV).

February 16, 2017

What friends these were! Neither the crowds nor the barrier of the small house stopped them from getting their paralytic friend before Jesus. This is no doubt the same house, which belonged to Peter’s mother-in-law, where Jesus had stayed in Capernaum before. Perhaps Peter reflected back to when he had let Jesus use his boat and how it nearly sank with the huge catch of fish. And now, he was letting Jesus use his house and it was so full of people that they were crashing through the roof! Jesus commended the faith of the paralytic’s friends, he forgave his sins and healed him. So that the cripple who had been lowered on a mat through the roof, now picked up his own bed and walked out the front door a new man.

Two applications questions:
1) What kind of friend am I? Am I willing to overcome every barrier to get people in front of Jesus?
2) Am I willing to let Jesus use my stuff (my house, my car, my possessions) for His kingdom purpose?

I wonder if Jesus later helped repair the roof? He was a carpenter after all.

“And immediately He called them…” (Mark 1:20 NKJV).

February 15, 2017

“And immediately” (Greek: “καὶ εὐθέως, kai eutheós”) is a recurring phrase throughout the gospel of Mark. The phrase moves the story along with an intensity unique among the gospels.

Each gospel reveals a different aspect of Christ:
– Matthew (The Lion) – Christ is King.
– Luke (The Man) – Christ is human.
– John (The Eagle) – Christ is God.
– Mark (The Ox) – Christ is Servant.

Written in the present tense, the gospel of Mark presents Jesus as a man of action, doing everything “immediately.” If the gospels were presented in movie form, the gospel of Mark would be an action film!

When Jesus saw the fishermen, Peter, Andrew, James and John, as He walked along the shore of the Sea of Galilee, He immediately called them. “And immediately,” they left everything and followed Him. He made them men of action too.

“Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?” (Mark 16:3 ESV)

March 12, 2016

On the first Easter morning, the women who went to anoint the Lord’s body worried about moving the stone that sealed His tomb. Arriving there, they found that the enormous stone had already been rolled away, revealing the empty tomb. Do you know someone that seems close to believing, yet there is a kind of immovable stone standing in the way? You can lead them to the cross and to the tomb, but only God can move the stone. Pray that the stone of blindness and unbelief is removed from their heart, so that they might receive the Risen Lord Jesus.

‘And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!”’ (Mark 15:39 ESV)

March 11, 2016

Roman soldiers were expert executioners. They had seen men die in the cruelest of ways. They had witnessed their various human responses to torture and death. Yet, this officer had never seen anyone endure suffering as Jesus did. What was it about Jesus that moved this hardened death squad centurion? Was it his dignity and demeanor amidst such ugliness and disdain? Was it his care for the thief crucified beside him or his forgiveness of the taunting crowd? Perhaps it was the darkening of the sky or the ground that shook when he cried out his last? Maybe there was a way that he looked at the Roman leader with compassion in his eyes even as he was dying? Whatever it was, this officer was moved to affirm Christ’s identity. His normally sarcastic, biting tongue was moved to childlike wonder. I wonder. What became of this Roman officer? Did he turn in his sword for a seat at the Lord’s table? Did he exchange his Roman helmet for one of salvation? Will we see the soldier who once stood at the foot of the cross, someday a servant bowing at the feet of the Christ?