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Deeper Magic

Gospel of Mark  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Kids are learning today
I love psalm 18 because David has such an imaginative view of God.
I mean David is not interested in a safe, soft, and cuddly view of God. He is more interested in speaking in ways that give us an awesome and terrifying view of God.
you don’t find God depicted as an old guy in the sky
you don’t see God often depicted as sweet and soft
In Psalm 18 David is struggling, he is distressed so he calls out to God for help...
Psalm 18:6 ESV
In my distress I called upon the Lord; to my God I cried for help. From his temple he heard my voice, and my cry to him reached his ears.
Psalm 118:6 ESV
The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?
David then describes how God came to him...
God comes like an Earthquake v. 7
God comes like a Fire Breathing Dragon v.8
God comes like a Great Storm vv.9-13
God comes like a Warrior v.14
This is how the bible describes God. And this is how we should describe God. The Holy Spirit inspired David to tell us that God is like a fire breathing dragon.
I mean, look at this verse
Psalm 18:8 ESV
Smoke went up from his nostrils, and devouring fire from his mouth; glowing coals flamed forth from him.
8
I’d love to see a kids book where God is depicted as this powerful fire breathing dragon who rides on the clouds, rather than the old guy who looks like Santa Clause feeding kids cookies in milk next to a peaceful fire.
Deeper Magic
You know who does this well? CS Lewis...
The last few weeks the Chronicles of Narnia books have been read often in our home.
Karis is working through the books
Mandee is reading through the series again
Lewis’ timeless stories have come up randomly in conversations
and I have run across references in different books the last few weeks.
One thing that Lewis does, with words of a poet and the detail of an exegete, is give us power pictures of incomprehensible truths in prose that are simple and engaging
In his book, The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, the lion named Aslan is the Christ-figure. One of the children, Edmond, got sick and tired of all the snow and followed the White Witch to eat Turkish Delight.
📷
But the Witch knew that Edmond’s actions made him a traitor and he must die. She also knew that Aslan would come and take his place in order to save him. This was her plan to humiliated and kill Aslan.
But the Witch knew that Edward’s actions made him a traitor and he must die. She also knew that the great Aslan would come and take his place. This is how she humiliated and killed her greatest enemy.
The morning after the Witch killed Aslan, Lucy and Susan mourned Aslan’s death in the cold, But then, the great lion stood up having come back to life. You can imagine the girls response.
Lewis then writes,
“But what does it all mean?” asked Susan when they were somewhat calmer. “It means,” said Aslan, “that though the Witch knew the Deep Magic, there is a magic deeper still…when a willing victim who had committed no treachery was killed in a traitor’s stead, the Table would crack and Death itself would start working backward.
This deeper magic that Lewis talks about is the power self-sacrificing love. As Jesus says, “No one has a greater love than this, to lay down your life for your friends.”
For lewis,
Deeper Magic = The innocent dying for the guilty
A love so deep that someone would actually die in the place of another
This deeper magic has been called many things throughout history
unconditional love
the great exchange
the theological name is , Substitutionary atonement
Middleton was a medium security jail and most of the inmates were in for less than 10 years.
We find echoes of the “deeper magic” all throughout the OT.
Isaiah the prophet expresses the propositional teaching of the substitutional death of Christ when he writes that “he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, with his stripes we are healed . . . the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” (). Likewise Paul the apostle states the proposition of penal substitution, writing that Jesus “was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification,” () and that “Christ died for the ungodly” ().
In the dark prophecy of we see this deeper magic foretold when he says,
Isaiah 53:5–6 ESV
But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
Isa 53
The deeper magic is bound up in the nature of the bloody sacrificial system,
But the doctrine of penal substitution is likewise set forth typically throughout the Scriptures. It is bound up in the nature of the bloody sacrificial system, when God first slays the innocent animals to cover the guilty shame of Adam and Eve (); it is depicted ritually when the sinner is instructed in the law to bring a sacrifice and lay his hand upon the head of the burnt offering, thus confessing that the sacrifice is taking his place in bloody judgment as he goes forth free ().
when God first slays the innocent animals to cover the guilty shame of Adam and Eve ();
it is depicted when the sinner is instructed to lay his hand upon the head of the burnt offering, thus confessing that the sacrifice is taking his place in bloody judgment as he goes free (lev 1.3-4)
Rebekah understood the deeper magic when she said to Jacob, “Let your curse be upon me my son” ().
Moses offers himself in the place of Israel in
When David hears of his son Absalom’s death he wishes he could have died in his place (2 sam 12.14)
Anticipating nothing less than the love of Christ for His own people (), Moses charges Israel with great sin in the matter of the golden calf and then begs God to forgive their sin if necessary by blotting his own name out of God’s book (). Similarly, Paul so loved his Jewish kinsmen according to the flesh that he would have wished himself accursed if only Israel could be forgiven ().
When David hears of his son Absalom’s death he wishes he could have died in his place (2 sam 12.14)
However there was one day when the mood of the jail was different.
David’s great grief for his son Absalom is another illustration of the soul that would offer to die in the place of another. “O my son Absalom, my son, my son, Absalom! Would I had died instead of you, O Absalom, my son, my son!” (). David’s grief for his wicked son follows his mourning for the death of his innocent son, Bathsheba’s firstborn. In a striking anticipation of the death of David’s greater Son, the innocent son born to Bathsheba was appointed to die as a consequence of David’s sin () while David went forth free ().
There is a further illustration of the transference of the curse in the account of Naaman’s leprosy. Elisha’s wicked servant Gehazi disobeyed his master in pursuing Naaman to ask for a money reward after the prophet had healed the Aramean warrior from his leprosy. Gehazi willingly received Naaman’s silver and clothes, but for his disobedience was made to receive his leprosy as well (). [2]
It is a matter noteworthy to all four Gospels that Jesus, the innocent (), in His condemnation and death took the place of Barabbas, who was a notorious criminal (; ; ; ). [3]
The guards were on edge, the prisoners were had a hushed but alert presence.
Finally, there is a magnificent dynamic of redemption that is unleashed after the terrifying curse cried out by the crowd in Jerusalem at Jesus’ trial before Pilate. To encourage the Roman governor in his unjust judgment, the people cried out, “His blood be on us and on our children!” (). The implicit ambiguity of this statement [4] is construed in grace when Peter announces the possibility of repentance to Israel, proclaiming that “the promise is to you and to your children!” ().
The overall feel of the jail was one of restlessnesss
In all of these things stories we find shadows of the deeper magic, but it is not until the life of Jesus that this deeper magic is so fully realized that it begins to make death work backwards.
The reason for the restlessness was because a particular inmate had transferred in for 72 hours before moving to another prison. This inmate was serving multiple life sentences for murder.
He was a massive man standing at about 6’9 and weighted over 350 of solid muscle. and had a history of being aggressive with both inmates and guards.
I remember talking to one of the guards and he was saying he couldn’t wait for him to leave.
This man had a reputation, this man was dangerous, this man was notorious.
It struck me, this man who is serving a life sentence, is so dangerous that the jail didn’t even want him. What would happen if we was released?
What would happen if one day the guard came to his door opened it up, and told him he could leave, that he was free to go.

Jesus Took our

So as we look at may the spirit of God open our eyes to the deeper magic of Christ.
Mark 15:1–5 ESV
1 And as soon as it was morning, the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council. And they bound Jesus and led him away and delivered him over to Pilate. 2 And Pilate asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” And he answered him, “You have said so.” 3 And the chief priests accused him of many things. 4 And Pilate again asked him, “Have you no answer to make? See how many charges they bring against you.” 5 But Jesus made no further answer, so that Pilate was amazed.
So here they come, all the religious leaders having, in their minds, just cause to have Jesus put to death.
They bring him to Pilate hoping that he would send Jesus to his death as a revolutionary, one who would revolt against the regime as a reckless rebel (R is among some of the most menacing of sounds)
Rome would crucify rebels who would dare think about revolting against the throne.
Caesar himself wanted to make sure there was no riots or recklessness when the Jews would come to Jerusalem for Passover.
So when Jesus told the the Sanhedrin that he is the fulfillment of and they bring him to Caesar knowing that he would execute anyone who claimed to be king over all the nations of the world.
And this is Pilate’s first question he asked Jesus, “Are you the King of the Jews?”
This all that Pilate really cares about,
Pilate doesn’t like the Jews, the Sanhedrin are annoying with all their religious regulations and so on.
Pilate doesn’t care that Jesus is a threat to the priesthood, he doesn’t care that Jesus claims to be a prophet, he doesn’t care that the religious leaders think he is a blasphemer.
All Pilate cares about is squashing any sort of rebellious revolt so he asks Jesus the only question that matters, “are you King of the Jews?”
EXAMPLE**
Mandee and I have a game that often plays out in our home where I will ask Mandee a question such as, “when is dinner?”
To which she will respond by telling me about how
My responds, “I don’t care the reasons why.... I just want to know how much it costs”
the dog escaped the yard
Piper didn’t take a nap
Is she to old for naps, she but she’s cranky because every time she got splashed with water she would cry, which would remind Mandee of
*Insert long list of projects that need to get done at the house*
And then.... I would interject, as lovingly as possible, “i don’t care about that” I just want to know when dinner will be. because I”m hungry.
In the same we we see the Pilate really doesn’t care about all the other things the chief priests accused him of… he just wants to know, “are you King of the Jews?”
Jesus affirms the statement - He is the king of the Jews
Pilate wants to hear more from Jesus, but Jesus remains silent.
What is Pilate to do?

The Substitute

EXAMPLE: TRANSITION
Mark 15:6–15 ESV
6 Now at the feast he used to release for them one prisoner for whom they asked. 7 And among the rebels in prison, who had committed murder in the insurrection, there was a man called Barabbas. 8 And the crowd came up and began to ask Pilate to do as he usually did for them. 9 And he answered them, saying, “Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?” 10 For he perceived that it was out of envy that the chief priests had delivered him up. 11 But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have him release for them Barabbas instead. 12 And Pilate again said to them, “Then what shall I do with the man you call the King of the Jews?” 13 And they cried out again, “Crucify him.” 14 And Pilate said to them, “Why? What evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Crucify him.” 15 So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified.
In 2014 I went to Middleton correctional facility in Middleton, MA twice a week to teach a bible study and help lead a re-entry program for gang involved prisoners.
Middleton was a medium security jail and most of the inmates were in for less than 10 years.
However there was one day when the mood of the jail was different.
The guards were on edge, the prisoners were had a hushed but alert presence.
The overall feel of the jail was one of restlessness
The reason for the restlessness was because a particular inmate had transferred in for 72 hours before being moved to another prison. This inmate was serving multiple life sentences for murder.
He was a massive man standing at about 6’9 and weighted over 350 of solid muscle. and had a history of starting riots and being aggressive with both inmates and guards.
I remember talking to one of the guards and he was saying he couldn’t wait for this notorious prisoner to leave.
This man had a reputation, this man was dangerous, this man was notorious.
It struck me, this man who is serving a life sentence, is so dangerous that the even the jail didn’t want him.
What would happen if we was released?
What would happen if one day the guard came to his door opened it up, and told him he could leave, that he was free to go.
And what if he was told that an innocent person offered to take his place on death row?
Now, he would be thrilled, but what about the community?
what about all the people at home that are now in danger because this harden criminal is out on the streets?
Would they be ok with an innocent man substituting himself for a dangerous guilty man?
The immediate answer would be no. Who would be ok with that exchange?
Unless, the community hated the innocent man. If their hate was so severe that they would rather have a dangerous criminal walking the streets than this man, if he is hated by all, they would be happy to see the innocent man die.
This is the level of hatred we see surfacing in the next part of the story...
Mark 15:6–15 ESV
6 Now at the feast he used to release for them one prisoner for whom they asked. 7 And among the rebels in prison, who had committed murder in the insurrection, there was a man called Barabbas. 8 And the crowd came up and began to ask Pilate to do as he usually did for them. 9 And he answered them, saying, “Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?” 10 For he perceived that it was out of envy that the chief priests had delivered him up. 11 But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have him release for them Barabbas instead. 12 And Pilate again said to them, “Then what shall I do with the man you call the King of the Jews?” 13 And they cried out again, “Crucify him.” 14 And Pilate said to them, “Why? What evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Crucify him.” 15 So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified.

The King of the Jews

The irony is that though Pilate called Jesus, “king of the Jews” out of disrespect, never had truer words come out of his mouth.
Jesus was the king of the Jews - and the king of the Jews was prophesied to be the king of all the world.
So Pilate, not wanting their to be a riot decides to let the people make the choice,
He says, who do you want? Jesus, the king of the Jews - or do you want Barabbas the murderer?
Here is the real question he asked the Jewish people, do you want God to be your king?
and you know whats interesting, this is not the first time they have rejected God as their king.
When Israel demanded that Samuel appoint them a king so they could be like the other nations, Samuel want to God with their request and this is what God said,
1 Samuel 8:7 ESV
And the Lord said to Samuel, “Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them.
1 sam 8
You see, the nation of Israel had a long tradition of rejecting God’s rule over their life. God was their king, but they rejected him.
And now, Jesus, God in the flesh stands before them, and they again reject God as their king.
Example:
And today, Jesus is presented to you as King, sitting on his throne - will you reject him? will you rebel against the king?
I had a conversation a couple of weeks ago with a friend from town
He was telling me about a friend of his, we will call him Andy, that he and I had done some counseling with a number of years ago.
This guy was in the middle of a divorce struggling to understand God’s purposes in his life.
We met a few times but he eventually fell of the radar...
anyways, Andy and my met up for the the first time in a number of years a few weeks ago
Andy told my friend when asked about his relationship with God,
“I feel like I have done everything i can to hear from God, but he’s not answering. So I am doing my own thing and God knows where I am if he wants me.”
When I heard about his comment, I sat back and thought about how that was a deeply theological statement.
We so often think that God exists to bless us.
We think that God’s purpose in this world is to make us feel good, give us the answers we want, and to make us happy.
And if God is not doing these things, we think we are somehow justified to respond by doing what we want
I have had countless conversations that go like this...
“why aren’t you reading your bible?”
“I don’t really get anything out of it, it doesn’t help me”
“why aren’t you going to church?”
“I don’t feel God at church, so I’m taking a break”
“why aren’t you being emotionally faithful to your spouse?”
“my spouse doesn’t really understand me, or get me”
“why aren’t you raising your kids in line with what the bible says?”
“well our kids are free spirits, stubborn, sensitive, or whatever. So we are doing things differently.”
You see, the reason for this sort of living and thinking is not justifiable.
You don’t get the right to not pursue God because he seems to be far off
you don’t get to not read your bible because you’re not getting anything out of it
you don’t get to not go to church
you don’t get to not be faithful to your spouse
and you don’t get to not raise your kids the right way.
If you choose to live contrary to the word of God, you are not justified. Rather, you are in rebellion to the king.
He is sitting on the throne and you are rejecting his kingship.
When my friend told me this story I said to him, “Its not that God is not speaking that is the problem, its that he is living in rebellion to the king”
Jesus is enthroned as king, yet he is rejecting him by saying if God wants me he can come and get me.
Jesus has already done that! and the Deeper Magic of the gospel demonstrates how far he has gone to get you and how we should respond - by giving him our full allegiance.
So the Jews are presented with the same choice, Jesus, the king of the Jews or No?
And they choose, like the Israelites of old, and like Andy, and like us so often, to reject the king.
Pilate asks,
Mark 15:12–13 ESV
And Pilate again said to them, “Then what shall I do with the man you call the King of the Jews?” And they cried out again, “Crucify him.”
Mark 15:
Rather than a throne they want to give him a cross
Rather than a crown of gold they will give him a crown of thorns.
They reject God as their king. And the same people who once yelled “Hosanna” are now crying out “crucify him”.
They say they would rather have Barabbas than Jesus.
They hate the innocent man so much they would rather have the murderer.

Barabbas

Now, Barabbas is a notorious criminal who was guilty of murder.
Barabbas was guilty - Jesus was innocent
Barabbas murdered people - Jesus brought people back from the dead
Barabbas was hateful - Jesus was loving
Barabbas deserved to be crucified - Jesus deserved the heavenly throne.
Barabbas was apart of a movement that wanted to overthrow the Roman government.
Barabbas was apart of a movement that wanted to overthrow the Roman government.
Mark tells us that he committed murder in the insurrection.
He was a zealot who wanted to see Rome fall.
he had the same sort of reputation as the man in the jail that made everyone so nervous.
And you know the interesting thing about this story? In the ancient world criminals were not supposed to be named
Yet, all four gospels name this criminal. They all tell us Barabbas’ name.
His role in the story is a passive actor who has no lines. Yet, he’s an important character.
Could you imagine what it would have been like for Barabbas? How cool would it be to read a novel about the life of Barabbas climaxing here at this point in time.
Set the scene for Barabbas hearing the news that he is free
Could you imagine what it would have been like for Barabbas? How cool would it be to read a novel about the life of Barabbas climaxing here at this point in time.
Barabbas locked up in a cold dingy dungeon. Sitting on the cobblestone floor remembering the glory days of the insurrection. No hope of rescue or escape.
He was as guilty as the day is long, so there was no hope of a trial going his way.
Hungry, cramped and tired Barabbas sat there.
He then hears the crunch of gravel and the scuffing of shoes on the stone hallway and the jingling of keys as the guard comes closer.
And to his surprise the noise stops, and then the sound is replaced by the sound of the door unlocking… the door opens and...
The guard says, “Barabbas, you’re free to go”
Barabbas, “are you serious? How? why?”
Guard, “Jesus of Nazareth, the ‘king of the Jews’ is taking your place”
Barabbas, “’m free to go? You’re not going to arrest me again as soon as I leave?”
Guard, “you have received pardon from the Roman government, you will not be judged or arrested for anything you have done in the past”
Barabbas is free to go because Jesus took his place.
Barabbas is the first one to experience just a taste of the deeper magic.
he is free to move away and start a new life, he is no longer condemned
I mentioned how Barabbas was a criminal and criminals are normally not named in ancient literature. But I think it significant that the bible names him.

Barabbas: “son of the father”

Barabbas’ name means, “son of the father”
Barabbas represents a guilty sinner, who by no effort of his own, no words spoken, no works performed, was pardoned of his guilt because of Jesus.
In the same way, we are guilty sinners, chained in the dungeon of sin and condemnation have, by no effort of our own, no words spoken, nor works performed, been pardoned of our guilt because of Jesus.
Barabbas was set free because Jesus took his condemnation
We have been set free because Jesus took our condemnation
Barabbas was given new life, because Jesus took his death
We have been given new life, because Jesus has taken our death
Barabbas was declared righteous, because Jesus took his place as guilty
We have been declared righteous, because Jesus took our place as guilty.
We are Barabbas in this story, guilty sinners who deserve death and have no right to be named.
Jesus has come and taken our guilt, taken our place, died for our sins so that we could be called Barabbas - son of the father!
He has given us new names, not because of what we have done, but because of what he did for us.
This is the deeper magic Aslan was talking about, Jesus has laid his life down for his people, he has died in our place.
You see, Barabbas’ redemption was at the cost of Jesus’ condemnation. But Barabbas had now security of his redemption, because the deeper magic had not yet been applied to Barabbas. Death didn’t start working backwards for him
However, we are
no condemnation is different than not being condemned
God does not relate to us based on our future performance
We will NEVER be condemned.

And as we often say, without death there is no resurrection.
Mark 15:16–20 ESV
16 And the soldiers led him away inside the palace (that is, the governor’s headquarters), and they called together the whole battalion. 17 And they clothed him in a purple cloak, and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on him. 18 And they began to salute him, “Hail, King of the Jews!” 19 And they were striking his head with a reed and spitting on him and kneeling down in homage to him. 20 And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the purple cloak and put his own clothes on him. And they led him out to crucify him.
This is the fullest sense of the deeper magic, that not only did Jesus die in our place, but by doing so he he was also raised and provides life for his people.
And death starts working backwards.
Lets pray.
But there is a better way, a more loving way, a “deeper magic” that reflects a more profound expression of love found in the cross of Christ, where He suffered our curse in order to give us His blessing, where He who had committed no sin became sin for us, where God kissed a guilty world in love, and death itself began “working backward.”

Barabbas was apart of a movement that wanted to overthrow the Roman government.
Barabbas is an actor on stage who has no lines. But he is a pretty important character
Set the scene for Barabbas hearing the news that he is free
he is free to move away, he is no longer condemned
But if he would have committed another crime he would have been put back in jail
no condemnation is different than not being condemned
God does not relate to us based on our future performance
We will NEVER be condemned.
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