Today will be our final message in the series fan or follower. We began a couple of months ago by looking at 2 Peter, and studying how being a follower of Jesus is different than just being a fan of Jesus. We started talking about growth, and that a follower is growing. So we began 8 weeks ago taking about growing and we have this growth chart you can use to measure your growth. Do you think you are growing? One end the dead end we said is that you are here against your will. And the other end the growing end is that you cannot imagine growing anymore in following Jesus, You are a sneeze away fro a self-rapture. So go ahead and mark were you are on the chart.
In order to grow as a follower, it requires us to do things. We need to follow what God says. While we have the Holy Spirit in us to help us , we also have to make every effort we said to grow also. It requires on our part a commitment. A commitment in our hearts to Jesus. Weather it is worship or prayer or perseverance or holiness, or general spiritual growth in order to be a follower of Jesus we have to have at least be willing to follow Him.
Through these 8 messages there has been one major idea-and this is the subject of today’s message. You could call it the capstone Idea, and I am going to use this acronym ABC.
B.elief (in Jesus)
Our belief in Jesus, who we think Jesus is, our perception of Jesus, our view of his humanity, our view of his deity determines how we are able to commit to being a follower. A low view of Jesus means a low commitment. A high view of Jesus means we are able to have a high commitment.
Last week we were in Mark 12- and we talked about the greatest Commandment. The greatest commandment Jesus said is to love the Lord your God with ALL your heart ALL your mind and ALL your strength and the second one, Jesus said is like it-to love your neighbor as your self. These two commandments that sum up the whole law. Those are hard to do. They require commitment. Your ability to commit to them is linked to your belief in who Jesus is.
You can think of this idea like an idea you have in your secular life. If you have a job where you think highly of your leaders or your boss, you are more likely to work for him. You will go the extra mile, stay late, you will be committed to him. But, if you have ever had a poor leader or boss, your commitment level drops significantly. You have no interest in going the extra mile, in fact it becomes a drudgery and you are looking for a way out.
Your christian life is not to be a drudgery. You should want to follow Jesus-with joy. Going to worship-should be where you want to be. To give your money should be not a question of ugh, how much can I afford, but where can I give to further God’s kingdom. When things are discouraging, and in the face of suffering we need to be getting our hope and strength from Jesus.
How we do that. I would submit to you today is tied to our belief in Jesus. Similar to my secular example, however a bit different. A bit different because in the case of Jesus a right belief, a correct view of Jesus causes us to be part of the kingdom of God. We step into the eternal. The Holy Spirit fills us and He helps us to commit with all our heart. He helps us to be strong, He helps us to pray, and he helps us to worship.
So as we go forward to look at this idea, let’s turn to Mark chapter 12 starting right where we left off last week at verse 35. Jesus had just finished telling the scribe he is not far from the kingdom of God, and now Jesus is going to tell the scribe a little more about the Messiah.
David himself, speaking by the Holy Spirit, declared: “ ‘The Lord said to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand until I put your enemies under your feet.” ’ David himself calls him ‘Lord.’ How then can he be his son?” The large crowd listened to him with delight.
People at that time were convinced that the Messiah would be an earthly king. They searched the scriptures and concluded and rightly so that the Messiah must be from the the lineage of the famous, and beloved King David. He must come from the royal family line, thus having rightful claim to the throne of Isreal. Yet this view of who the Messiah was only partially correct. This belief in who the Messiah should be was limited to an earthly picture. Their belief did not have a heavenly component. Jesus wants to start them thinking along different lines. Jesus wants them to start viewing the Messiah from a heavenly perspective. So Jesus turns to Psalm 110, and asks them some questions about that.
Jesus said, Israel’s greatest king, King David, wrote Psalm 110 under the influence of the Holy Spirit, so like all of God’s word it must be true, yrt it is hard to understand with your current belief.
The Lord says to my lord: “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.”
The Lord-all caps-says to my lord, small l. That is the LORD (Yahweh or God) says to MY or David’s adoni. Now that word for lord could mean God but it also just as likely can mean superior. This is paraphrased well here in the message.
when we all know that David, inspired by the Holy Spirit, said, God said to my Master, “Sit here at my right hand until I put your enemies under your feet.”
David is calling the Messiah his superior. If David is calling the Messiah his superior, the Messiah must be something more than just an ordinary human descendant of David. This most likely made the religious leaders a but puzzled as Jesus tries to change their belief of the Messiah.
The Crowd listened to this with delight, no doubt because Jesus was “showing up” the religious leaders. But this idea turns out to be a difficult one for all to process. This is eventually what gets his crucified. What gets Jesus crucified, is not that he was a nice guy, or a good teacher, or a miracle worker, but the fact that Jesus is claiming to be more than that.
What ends up sending Jesus to the cross is not his humanity but his claim to be God. Jesus is telling them that they are going to have to change their thinking as to who the Messiah is. This creates a whole set of problems for the religious leaders. See Jesus is not offensive, or a problem when he is a set of good rules, that you may or may not follow. Jesus is fine when you can follow him when you want to. Jesus is fine to debate when you are free to debate with him over what he say. But if Jesus is the Messiah, who is not only man but also your superior, or even more who is fully divine, then you can’t do that.
You can’t leave behind what you don’t like. You are no longer free to debate with him. He is now King, and as such what he says goes. You now have to follow what he says. As divine, as King of the Kingdom of God they are forced to follow what God says or reject God.
This struggle over who Jesus is is very much alive today. People look at Him, and they are quick to say, you know he was a good teacher, I like what he says here, that part is really good, but when He says that, I’m not so sure. This is also the dividing line of fan or follower occurs. A fan has Jesus as this good guy, a good teacher, a life coach if you will. So you open the Bible occasionally to get helpful tips about living your life the way you want to. You take those helpful tips and you may do them, you may not. He is a coach. A coach is helpful but you don’t always do what he says. Especially since Jesus is such a nice guy, he wouldn’t be mad at me if I didn’t follow him exactly right. I mean if I only sometimes love the Lord with my whole heart, or if only love my neighbors that agree with me. Jesus won’t really get mad at me. They listened with delight to him.
Isn’t Jesus delightful. Look at him take apart those religious authorities, but us commoners here, we have nothing to worry about, right? Well what Jesus says applies directly across the line of us and them. When Jesus says something it applies universally. Our struggles might not be their struggles, but we still have struggles. And Jesus’s words apply across both groups.
Because when we recognize Jesus as who He really is Fully man yet also God incarnate, His words carry weight, they carry authority. They carry the authority of the King. What he says is now something we are obligated to follow or to we must openly reject with consequences.
So when the king says, love one another-we have to love one another. That includes our enemies. No matter how wrong we think they are. This is not open to debate. The king said it-follow his word-Or reject the king.
Followers are authentic believers in Jesus’s authority.
Then Jesus shows us one last time what fans look like. Fans are concerned about themselves.
As he taught, Jesus said, “Watch out for the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets. They devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. These men will be punished most severely.”
There is something inauthentic about fans. The religious leaders are fans. They walk around and want to be noticed for being religious. They have clothes that people can tell that they are religious. They want the people in the marketplace to give them respect for being so good and Holy. Rather than being concerned with what people think of God, rather than being concerned with the way people treat the word of God, they are concerned with how people treat them. That is a sure-fire tell indication of fan there interests exceed there interest in God.
A fan is more interested in themselves than they are in Jesus.
Jesus says, they devour widows houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. Their prayer life does not match up with their life. They are not authentic. These supposed spiritual leaders were placing a financial burden on those that cannot afford to give. These men were placing a burden to give even on the poorest of people rather than helping support them. Then for a show they would make lengthly prayers. One commentator suggested that Jesus is referencing a practice of pay for prayers for the widows. Perhaps, rather than help the poor they would accept the deed to the widow’s house, allow her to live in it until her death and then they would take the inheritance. Whatever the case, unfortunately it did not end in the first century but continues until today.
In the 1500’s it was indulgences. Indulgences was a way you could pay priests to get a loved one to get out of purgatory. Still today late night televangelists ask for seed money so that the poor will be blessed financially. These inauthentic people prey on the weak and worried. Jesus cautions against this inauthenticity. The church should be helping those that cannot help themselves rather than placing demands on them. And warns that those who take advantage of religion to feed their pride will be punished most severely.
Then Jesus sits down to watch people for a while. To look for the fans and the authentic Jesus followers.
Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents. Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.”
Jesus sat down opposite the place where people were giving the offering. There were 13 trumpet shaped funnels attached to the money chests in the temple. People would place there coins in these and would make noice and fall into the chest. It says many rich people put in large amounts, again like the scribes in their flowing robes. The money is making noise as goes into the chest. Then this widow comes up. The poor the one who needs support from the church comes up and puts in two small coins. They are called lepton they are worth about 1/64th of a denarius or or 1/64th of a days wage. They would barely make any noise at all. In fact I have a replica here. It is so small you can barely see it.
Jesus says, “truly I tell you she has put more in then all the others. These two coins are worth more than all the others. How can that be? Why is two cents more than all the others? Becasue it is not the size of the gift that matters. What matters is how much of yourself you are giving.
She gave and trusted God with everything. They still kept some back. She had trusted God truly with all she has. Everything she had to live on. The rich still have plenty. She is loving God with all her heart, with all her soul with all he mind and with all her strength. She is all in. She is Genuine, authentic.It is these contrasting pictures that Jesus is showing us. The scribes, the people who place God right behind themselves. To the widow, God is even more important than her life. Everything she had to live on. She puts God above herself.
We looked at fans and followers over these many weeks and we come to one conclusion. No matter what aspect of being a follower of Jesus we look at we look at...whether it was worship or holiness...or love of God, Jesus looks to us to be all in. He looks for everything. He is calling for all of us. To place Jesus above everything.
One way to do that is this ABC acronym.
Authentic Belief creates Commitment.
A. B. C.
This is what we have been trying to get across the entire time. Your belief-Your faith. Who you think Jesus is, creates the commitment. If you have half the belief you half commitment. If you think Jesus is a coach and he is your helper-you don’t give all you have. If you take Jesus as a good coach, you only go as far you are comfortable with. When things get hard, you just step back off the sideline, and say maybe that isn’t for me, let someone else take over.
I place several areas you can look at the bottom of the handout, You can look at each of these areas and determine how you believe Jesus to create commitment.
Authentic Belief (in Jesus) creates Commitment in killing Pride
In the area of Pride-Authentic Belief Creates Commitment.
When you see Jesus for who he is King, Lord fully God, and you see yourself as who you are a sinner in need of a savior. Authentic Belief in Jesus as a Savior brings you into His kingdom. You have a heart of love for your Savior, you see yourself as not your own, and you aren’t worried or concerned with what people think of you because your only concern is what Jesus thinks of you, because after all, he is the one you will spend eternity with.
Authentic Belief Creates Commitment in Worship
When Jesus opens your eyes to who he is you see Him as the one who is the most beautiful most wonderful and most important person in your whole life, so you commit to worship him with your whole heart. Worship is enjoyable, you seek to do it, you pour your whole self into it.
Authentic Belief Cretes Commitment in Prayer.
When you see Jesus as the God who supplies everything you need. When you see Jesus as the God who cares about you and loves you through your struggles and difficulties, you fully commit to him in prayer like a child come to their father, unconcerned outcome because you know God loves you enough to die for you he will care for you throughout what is going on around you.
Authentic Belief Creates Commitment in Perseverance.
When you believe that Jesus makes you strong through the Holy Spirit, When you believe that Jesus will complete the good work he began in you and He will see to it to completion you commit to growing in Him
Authentic Belief Creates Commitment in Giving
When you believe who Jesus is, and that He provides everything you need you do not need to hold back. You know that He is the source for all you have, you trust him with your finances and you trust Him to care for you, so look for ways you can give to further the kingdom of God in your finances and your time.
You have these ways in which Authentic Belief creates commitment in how you follow Jesus. I am asking you today, what areas do you need to re-shape your belief of whoJesus is, and what he has done to improve how you follow Jesus?
At the bottom of the handout are these different areas that are important in the life of follower. You can mark what areas you need to work on, you can keep this in you Bible, and as we approach Christmas you can see Jesus in a new light. Through authentic belief in Jesus you can commit to following him even closer.
In Jesus Name.