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A Tale of two kings. The true King vs. the want-to-be-king. Who are you following?

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During Spring Break I went to West Virginia. Katie had been up there with her parents and I flew up there so I could drive back down with her.
During Spring Break I went to West Virginia. Katie had been up there with her parents and I flew up there so I could drive back down with her.
Is anyone familiar with West Virginia or that part of the Country? What do they have? (mountains) we went on a hike one day, we drove up and down some pretty steep hills, mountains can be fun...
Do you know when mountains are not fun? At 4:45 in the morning when the wind is gusting and it’s pitch black outside because West Virginia doesn’t have street lights on their freeways! It was terrifying… You couldn’t see the ups or downs and the wind would gust and it made the van feel like it was going to fly off the road. I did not enjoy it.
What I figured out after a while was that if I drove slow enough I could see far enough ahead to know when to slow down for curves. And if I drove slow enough, eventually someone would pass me and then I could watch their car and see where the turns were. Some cars were great to follow, they didn’t drive too fast and I was able to keep up with them for a good while…some of the cars were driving like they were racing in the Daytona 500 and they sped by and I could only see them for a few minutes.
The cars seemed to be all the same, but how the driver behaved determined whether or not the car was worth following.
Tonight we are continuing our study of the book of Mark, we are looking at Mark 6:7-32. And we are going to see two different styles of leadership, among other things. And how these leaders behave in our passage will tell us if they are a leader worth following or not.
Mark starts - “The beginning of the Gospel”
Jesus first words- “The time has come, repent and believe”
Jesus calls - “follow me and become like me, I’ll make you fishers of people in a world of calamity”
Jesus shows - “power demonstrated of the inbreaking kingdom. Demons, Mothers, and Lepors”
Jesus explains - that our real problem is sin “Man of a mat with a desperate faith. The most fundamental problem is the one of sin”
Jesus loves - people who don’t deserve it...just like you and me. Our response should be to love people who me may feel like they don’t deserve it.
JESUS ENCOURAGES us to turn to him when we have difficult, stressful times in our lives The book of Mark was written in a time when Christians were facing high levels of stress. Through two parallel stories, Mark gives the remedy for dealing with the stressful times in our lives.
Last week we saw that Jesus Responds when we reach out in faith. I was teaching in middle school and I tried to drive home the point that Jesus is not going to force us to believe in Him, but He will invite us. And our response to His invitation can determine how active He is in our lives.
We are going to see 3 responses to Jesus and who gets healed and who doesn’t.
Tonight we are looking at sort of an odd passage. It almost seems a little scattered, but I think there is a good reason for that.
Mark 6:7–32 NIV
7 Calling the Twelve to him, he began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over impure spirits. 8 These were his instructions: “Take nothing for the journey except a staff—no bread, no bag, no money in your belts. 9 Wear sandals but not an extra shirt. 10 Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you leave that town. 11 And if any place will not welcome you or listen to you, leave that place and shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.” 12 They went out and preached that people should repent. 13 They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them. 14 King Herod heard about this, for Jesus’ name had become well known. Some were saying, “John the Baptist has been raised from the dead, and that is why miraculous powers are at work in him.” 15 Others said, “He is Elijah.” And still others claimed, “He is a prophet, like one of the prophets of long ago.” 16 But when Herod heard this, he said, “John, whom I beheaded, has been raised from the dead!” 17 For Herod himself had given orders to have John arrested, and he had him bound and put in prison. He did this because of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, whom he had married. 18 For John had been saying to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” 19 So Herodias nursed a grudge against John and wanted to kill him. But she was not able to, 20 because Herod feared John and protected him, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man. When Herod heard John, he was greatly puzzled; yet he liked to listen to him. 21 Finally the opportune time came. On his birthday Herod gave a banquet for his high officials and military commanders and the leading men of Galilee. 22 When the daughter of Herodias came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his dinner guests. The king said to the girl, “Ask me for anything you want, and I’ll give it to you.” 23 And he promised her with an oath, “Whatever you ask I will give you, up to half my kingdom.” 24 She went out and said to her mother, “What shall I ask for?” “The head of John the Baptist,” she answered. 25 At once the girl hurried in to the king with the request: “I want you to give me right now the head of John the Baptist on a platter.” 26 The king was greatly distressed, but because of his oaths and his dinner guests, he did not want to refuse her. 27 So he immediately sent an executioner with orders to bring John’s head. The man went, beheaded John in the prison, 28 and brought back his head on a platter. He presented it to the girl, and she gave it to her mother. 29 On hearing of this, John’s disciples came and took his body and laid it in a tomb. 30 The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. 31 Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” 32 So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place.
Mark 6:7-32
This passage is like a sandwich. We see Jesus send out the 12 and then Mark goes to the weird story of Herod and his step daughter and then JTB gets beheaded and then the disciples come back and talk with Jesus… So we are going to follow the passage. Jesus, then Herod, then the disciples return.
JESUS: vs 7-13
CALLS - Jesus huddles up His boys
We read last week about an extreme lack of faith, Jesus is sending His disciples out on a faith building retreat.
EQUIPS - He gives them power to drive out impure spirits.
Jesus is not just building the disciples faith, He is also expanding the Kingdom of God and using the disciples to drive back the powers of darkness.
Odd flex, but ok Jesus...
He is calling them to trust Him deeper and develop a mature faith.
INSTRUCTS - But He sends them empty handed.
Odd flex, but ok Jesus...
He is calling them to trust Him deeper and develop a mature faith.
Don’t look for an upgrade, stay with the people who welcomed you first.
Brush that dirt off yo shoulders.
HEROD: vs 14-29
Herod divorced his wife to marry is brother’s wife. His brother was not dead, it’s not like he was doing something noble by taking in a widow…he stole his brothers wife and married her.
ENTERTAINED - His guests
He threw himself a birthday party…and it was kind of a big deal. All sorts of local rulers and big shots were there.
LOST HIS HEAD - maybe it was the booze or maybe something else.
His step-daughter drops it like its hot and he wants to reward her.
He offers her up to half of his kingdom…which he had no right to do. Rome ran the show, he couldn’t just give away what Rome controlled.
Well, she goes and asks her mother, Herod’s ex-sister in law and now wife who hates JTB>
TOOK JTB’S - Sorry John, I lost my head…so I took yours.
…she says to ask for John’s head
JTB is beheaded
This seems so random. Why is Mark choosing now to throw in this flashback?
I think he is trying to illustrate the difference in the Kingdom of God and the kingdoms of man.
Herod wasn’t actually a king, he was tetrarch - basically a local ruler. He didn’t even get all of his dad’s (Herod the great - from the nativity story) territory. He was what I’d call a paper champ - he didn’t earn his title, it was given to him. He let his emotions get the best of him and he ended up a slave to his own words and ego.
Jesus is the true King. He is never a slave to His words or ego, He lays it all down for the sake of His followers. He equips us for the journey, He calls us to trust Him, and He provides.
I think this was especially for the Roman readers that Mark was writing to. If you aren’t careful, you will fall into a trap reading this passage. It seems as though Jesus is saying just go and claim something and I’ll give it to you. Just have enough faith and I will make you comfortable and safe.
But that’s not true. Jesus calls us to take up our cross and follow Him. I can imagine a Roman Christian reading the first part of the passage and thinking, I’m doing this all wrong. Jesus promised to take care of me…why am I in jail? Why was my husband fed to a lion yesterday? Why was my cousin used as a human torch last week? What are we doing wrong?!?
It’s like Mark is saying, have faith, but just because life gets hard doesn’t mean you are doing something wrong. The kingdoms of this world will never be ok with the truth of God or anything that threatens its hold in your life. I think there is a bigger narrative at work here. I think Mark wants us to see that our enemy wants to imprison us with our own desires, be entertained by our sin, lose our selves as we seek pleasure…but it will cost you everything in the end. (“What does it profit a man to gain the world and lose his soul” Mark 8)
So which king are you following?
Jesus who loves you, so much so that He died to be in fellowship with you. Seeks what is actually good for you, even if it looks really bad, in the end we get to be with Him forever.
Satan who doesn’t care about your well being, he knows he is going down in the end and he just wants to drag you down with him.
The disciples return from their journey and report to Jesus all they had done. That looks like a picture of heaven to me. A time where we all sit with Jesus and talk about the victories in His Name on the earth.
True discipleship will not always be easy, in fact, it’s pretty much guaranteed that it will be hard at some point (In this world you will have trouble… a). But if we follow Jesus and obey His commands and stop trying to figure everything out and trust Him - He will provide all that we need for the journey. And in the end, we get to spend forever in unbroken fellowship with Him. No more sin, shame, or death. (…but take heart, I have overcome the world! John 16:33b)
If you choose to follow satan instead you may have fun for a while. But you’ll end up enslaved, addicted, and ultimately separated from the love of God for eternity.
Make no mistake, you are following someone, but do you know who?
How can we know who we are following?
Is it easier to follow Jesus or satan? Why?
What are some practical ways we can stop following the world and start following Jesus?
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