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The Spirit and Power

Mark(ed) for Action  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  45:32
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Back into Mark. Series: Mark(ed) For Action. Marks most recognizable word might be ‘immediately’.
Mark takes us on two great movements: From the birth of Jesus (as a baby and in His ministry) to the point of recognition of who He is. This recognition is from Peter “
Mark 8:29 “29 And he asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Christ.””
This recognition is for the spiritual realm as we see the revelation of who Jesus is on the mount of transfiguration.
And this recognition is for you. For the reader of Mark. Mark takes us on a journey to understand how Jesus of Nazareth is also God in the flesh.
This point of recognition ends on journey and begins the next. The next journey is from the height of glory to His death on the cross. There are three times Jesus predicts His capture, death, and resurrection. We saw the first one before Christmas in Mark 8:31-9:1.
The second we’ll see today. The third will come in a few weeks.
These predictions of death and resurrection are hard things to get our head around. And the further we are from recognizing Jesus, the farther we are from understanding the cross.
Today we’ll look at four groups or people who stood a varying distance from Jesus. They had different recognition of who He was. And so had different reactions.
These four position are played out in our own faith relationships with God. They represent a progression. But even so, we can uncover some lacking even as we grow in maturity. As we move through these today, I ask you to be open before God’s Word. Let His Spirit show you areas of lack, and how He can supply all your needs!
Listen for the four groups or people in this passage.
Mark 9:14–32 ESV
14 And when they came to the disciples, they saw a great crowd around them, and scribes arguing with them. 15 And immediately all the crowd, when they saw him, were greatly amazed and ran up to him and greeted him. 16 And he asked them, “What are you arguing about with them?” 17 And someone from the crowd answered him, “Teacher, I brought my son to you, for he has a spirit that makes him mute. 18 And whenever it seizes him, it throws him down, and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid. So I asked your disciples to cast it out, and they were not able.” 19 And he answered them, “O faithless generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him to me.” 20 And they brought the boy to him. And when the spirit saw him, immediately it convulsed the boy, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth. 21 And Jesus asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. 22 And it has often cast him into fire and into water, to destroy him. But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” 23 And Jesus said to him, “ ‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.” 24 Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!” 25 And when Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “You mute and deaf spirit, I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.” 26 And after crying out and convulsing him terribly, it came out, and the boy was like a corpse, so that most of them said, “He is dead.” 27 But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose. 28 And when he had entered the house, his disciples asked him privately, “Why could we not cast it out?” 29 And he said to them, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer.” 30 They went on from there and passed through Galilee. And he did not want anyone to know, 31 for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him. And when he is killed, after three days he will rise.” 32 But they did not understand the saying, and were afraid to ask him.

The Critics, The Crowds, The Dad, and The Disciples

As they came down off the mountain of transfiguration, Jesus, Peter, James, and John come on this scene. Have you ever had an absolutely wonderful time of worship only to seem to have it ruined by a bad driver on the way home?
Or an amazing vacation and come home to damage to your home?
I recently had a great training class; met a lot of great people, learned a lot, and got to stay with an old friend in Sacramento on the way home. I got up in the morning to go have breakfast with my sister before heading home… And found my car had been broken into and a bunch of things stolen. It was HARD to not let that bad experience ruin an otherwise great time.
I can only imagine the letdown of the disciples as they had JUST witnessed Jesus true nature, only to find in contentious ruckus the nature of sin on full display. Ailment, control, inability, disagreement, pride, and blindness - all on display.

The Critics Lacked Vision.

The first group we see is that of the scribes. They seemed to follow Jesus around for the purpose of criticizing Him. These guys would have LOVED social media!
Their energy and enthusiasm for trying to prove Jesus does make certain sense. They believed Scripture, and they had a love (somewhat miss-placed) for God. This Nazarene was making claims that were beyond belief. They were downright blasphemous! I would agree - if who they believed Jesus to be was true.
But if their vision was flawed, if they missed who Jesus actually was, THEY were the ones standing against God, not Jesus.
When we fail to see who Jesus is, where Jesus is at work, what Jesus is doing, we will by necessity fail to do what pleases Him.
Sadly, critics of Jesus can be found outside the church and inside the church; among enemies of God and among followers; among the lost and among the saved.
When we see things of God, we will be about His work. When we see things of this world, we become a hindrance to the gospel.
Matthew 16:23 ESV
23 But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”
Let us, therefore, Heb 12:2 “look to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith...”

The Crowd Lacked Conviction.

Turning from those who lack vision of who Jesus was, we find those who lack conviction to follow Him.
We saw crowds almost everywhere Jesus went. Most were favorable, and some wanted Him dead. But one common denominator, and we see it with the crowd here, is that they gathered around Jesus for their own purpose, not for God’s glory.
The crowds gathered for several reasons. They gather for what they would receive, they gathered for what the would see, or they gathered for what they would experience. The crowd here in Mark seems to have gathered in response to what Jesus disciples were doing - or in this moment, failing to do.
There are a few points here worth seeing.
1) The first is that shortcomings often show larger than success. It is most likely the disciples had been given direction while Jesus and the three other disciples went up the mountain. They would have been teaching and healing, and casting out demons just as they had previously. There would have been a crowd already. But the real show came when they were unable to cast out THIS demon. Why else in verse 28 would they ask why they couldn’t cast it out? If they had no record of success, they would have had no expectation of victory.
As we do what God has called us to do, we may very well attract crowds. But crowds that lack conviction will be all to ready to forget all the good things done and criticize for a failure. They are only there for the entertainment, and a crash is every bit as good as kindness.
2) The second thing that’s worth noting is that to the crowd that lacks conviction Jesus is judged by the actions of His disciples. Here we see the words of the father - but at that point, he was part of the crowd. Mark 9:17-18
Mark 9:17–18 ESV
17 And someone from the crowd answered him, “Teacher, I brought my son to you, for he has a spirit that makes him mute. 18 And whenever it seizes him, it throws him down, and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid. So I asked your disciples to cast it out, and they were not able.”
“I brought my son to you… So I asked your disciples to cast it out.”
It might be tempting to offer what we have when people come to see Jesus. And we might provide some benefit and help. But we must not put ourselves in the answer when people come seeking hope. Jesus must always be our answer. We call those who are wondering to have conviction about the person of Jesus.

The Dad Lacked Faith.

As we move in this event from those furthest from Jesus to those nearest, we get to the father. He entered the scene seeking healing. He had conviction more than the crowd - when Jesus asked His disciples what they were arguing about, the dad answered. He interjected and made his request known. “O faithless generation...” Who did Jesus address that to? The critics? the crowd? Maybe His disciples who couldn’t cast out this demon. (That seems unlikely because when they asked why, Jesus didn’t tell them they lacked faith, but prayer.)
It seems the father is the mostly likely object of this phrase, because Jesus is in the middle of the conversation with him and because the father is the one who’s faith is questioned. This is where the father truly separates from the convictions crowd and addresses his lack of faith.
In verse 24 he said do Jesus, “But IF YOU CAN do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” Jesus hears this lack of faith and points out that this is what hinders God’s work in his life - “All things are possible for one who believes.”
In a remarkable moment - Immediately - this father, knowing what was at stake cried out “I believe; help my unbelief!” He knew faith he had was lacking, but depended on Jesus to supply what he lacked.
The father, seeing he lacked faith, offered what he had and pleaded for help from God. In response to his conviction, Jesus supplied the faith.
A lack of faith is not a hindrance, a lack of desiring faith is. These same disciples pray for the same increase of faith in response to Jesus’ radical call to put away sin and to forgive those who wrong them.
Luke 17:5 ESV
5 The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!”
Our journey with God will always have new plateaus of faith. Will you trust Him with your salvation… with your language… with your relationships… with you finances… with your rights… with your skills and resources.
At every step of the way - Lord, increase our faith!

The Disciples Lacked Development.

The disciples saw who Jesus was, had conviction about what they saw, had faith to leave their homes and lives to follow Him. But they lacked development. Jesus made disciples. That was a process. It’s a process I intend to develop more systematically here.
These same disciples would be the instruments to change the world. They would with one exception be executed for the faith they would hold to. The church would be established by them, doctrine would be directed through them, the scriptures would be written by.
but at this moment, they didn’t show out well. They turned a ministry opportunity into frustration, and bickering, and confusion, and failure. I’m sure I can’t be the only one here that’s happened to.
As you reflect on your faith, on your walk, on your ministry, I know you will encounter times when it just flops. Lord, why did you send ME? I am a hindrance to you, LORD!
Don’t let your stage of development convince you to stop developing! We are the church! We are chosen by God and the powers and forces of the spiritual realm though it were gathered and concentrated to fight with all it’s strength could not prevail against it - for we are God’s chosen instrument, empowered, protected, and employed by the God of the universe. We let the littlest things derail us. Satan need not defeat us, he only needs give us a mirror sometimes!
Don’t retreat because of the news headlines that print only in your own head. Remember these encouragements from God:
Philippians 1:6 ESV
6 And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
Romans 12:2 ESV
2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Ephesians 2:8–10 ESV
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Hebrews 10:19–25 ESV
19 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, 20 by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
Whatever it is you lack, ask of God.
Philippians 4:19 ESV
19 And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
Whatever your need, find your answer in Jesus. Our passage today continues on with Jesus, for a second time foretelling of His death and resurrection. These passages work together, Mark puts them next to each other on purpose.
We see the love and desperate need for a father to bring healing to his son, who has been turned over - physically and spiritually - to destruction. But Jesus is concerned not only for the son, but the whole generation without faith. So that this generation can see and respond, He does what is required to overcome this stranglehold of death. But the result is the son appears dead. The father would have felt the loss, the pain, and separation for the son he loved do dearly. But the victory is made complete when Jesus reaches down and lifts to son out of apparent death to not only new life, but one free from the bondage of his past.
Jesus speaks of His own death and resurrection here as the truth behind the events. He showed us the what and why in the lives of these people so that you would understand the what and the why for what will happen to Him.
Jesus death was tragic and horrific. But the pain and separation was felt far more than we could imagine. This is the cost of our sin. May we run from it, for the love of God!
Let the wonder of Jesus accepting our punishment never grow old in us. May we see the gift beyond belief - forgiveness and life with the God who would love us so much.
Draw us closer to you -Oh LORD!
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