Faithlife Sermons

Fisher’s of Men Are Not To Get Caught Themselves - Mark 12:13-17

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Mark 12:13-17 Fisher’s of men are not to get caught themselves INTRO I’d venture to say that somewhere in your home or perhaps in your parents house or grandparents even, if believers, you could find a coffee mug, a sticker, a fridge magnet…or something of that nature with either (Matthew 4:19 or Mark 1:17) on it..…the verse that says “Follow me and I will make you become….Fisher’s of men.” For me…the fridge magnet stemming way back from childhood is still on my parent’s refrigerator. Heavily worn, faded and cracked but holding strong proclaiming those words Jesus spoke to his disciples. I recall a conversation I shared with Craig a number of years back during a Friday night gathering the Bronson’s hosted at the Bibler house. I shared some thoughts that came to mind prompted by that verse of how there are a lot of illustrations we can draw from fishing in our call to evangelize as fisher’s of men. An avid and skilled fisherman doesn’t go fishing mindlessly. Quite the contrary. The location is purposely selected, the timing plays a role, where your line is cast at the location, HOW deep in the water your bait, fly or lure is placed and what your bait or lure is……determined by the time of year, water temperature, flowing water or still….the current hatch of bugs in the region that the fish would be biting on….how to determine when to set the hook…DO you let them play with it a little and then jerk or do you jerk right away?….SO much at play in the skilled fisherman’s mind but all important IF you are going to come home with a good catch or…..empty handed. SIMILARLY, as fisher’s of men, evangelizing….know your location..the culture of the area…know it, study it, have good timing…be ready…don’t force…learn to perceive those open doors to share the gospel….know how deep in theology is appropriate to go..and how much is too much…you know…what is suitable for this individual I’m am speaking with in this moment. Don’t use christianize language…speak the gospel to them in a manner that is relatable in terms they are familiar with and learn how to discern when to set the hook….when to go to the cross of Jesus Christ. That’s the hook of the gospel to catch a man or woman. It’s the message of the cross by which faith in CHRIST comes. (Romans 10:17) “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 1:18) “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” If the hook is to be set it is by the message of the cross of Jesus Christ. We are to be fisher’s of men…just as Jesus told us to be. NOW, in all my fishing experience…never once has a dark chocolate bar with a huge slab of peanut butter on it….never once has such a lure popped out of the water… and land in proximity to me. Tempting me to ignore the nearly invisible line attached to it…and grab a hold of it for my eating pleasure. NOT ONCE.…nor anything remotely like it. The fish have never tried to catch me. This is not so with men. MEN will try to catch you. MEN..people….watch christians closely and will try to catch them so that they may…discredit them. OKAY…. We clean fish after catching them..remove innards and scales…JESUS, through his word and by the power of the Holy Spirit cleanses the men and women caught by the gospel..cleanses them,… removes sin…sanctifies them….and nonbelievers will conversely try to catch christians to mar any respect one has as a follower of CHRIST. To discredit your name as a christian.…Remove your credible reputation as a follower of CHRIST. They attempted to do so with JESUS,…as we’ll see in this morning’s passage,…and they will do so with you and I….his followers. SO how are his followers,..who “Jesus is making become fisher’s of man”…HOW are we NOT to get caught ourselves? For I believe every christian would agree: Fisher’s of men are not to get caught themselves and thereby…be discredited. OUR Lord provides the answer in (Mark 12:13-17). FIRSTLY with the bait to be on the watch out for and THEN the remedy that holds strong our reputation and respect as followers of Jesus Christ. It begins with the enticing fly of FLATTERY in (verses 13-14). BODY 1) FIRST POINT - (Mark 12:13-14). Enticing fly of flattery Let’s look at them together shall we? - read Impressive compliment wouldn’t you say? We find JESUS here,..a day after he cleansed the temple. And the same day the chief priests, the scribes and the elders came to him questioning his authority. To which HE silenced by wisely asking them a question they were unwilling to answer and then taught a parable against them…exposing their error…causing them to go away defeated. Defeated…YES…but quickly forming new ranks….some fresh faces to come and oppose JESUS…this time to catch him in His words. They rally together some of the Pharisees and Herodians to attempt this feat of trapping Jesus in His talk and thereby discrediting Him and the authority by which he spoke and acted. And this was no loose go at it. FAR from it. Great plotting was behind this attack on him. Starting with who they sent. Matthew’s gospel says it was disciples of the Pharisees and not the Pharisees themselves. NO doubt trying to further mask their bait concealing the hook to catch Jesus in his words by downplaying things some…Presenting the well crafted question by those who…..looked,..less antagonistic and more like learners so that JESUS would have his guard down….not be suspecting. Joining them…joining these disciples of the Pharisees…by evil plot, the Herodians…a party among the Jews who were gladly indebted to the Roman emperor and to Herod…the emperor’s appointed delegate of the region Jerusalem resided in. This sect of people made it their business to reconcile people to that government…ROME….which certainly includes emphasizing all to pay their taxes. Do you see where this is going? The Herodians pressed hard to the people to pay taxes while the Pharisees, zealous for the liberty of the Jews,… denied paying tax…influencing the people rather,….as they were able,…to be ill of the Roman yoke they were under. It’s these two groups of people who come to JESUS this time…two groups of people who were not aligned….At all.…YET here they come together with one question…crafted for one purpose…the hook if you will….to trap Jesus in his words…to discredit him. Those in opposition to one another UNITE in opposition to Jesus. “What do you say Jesus? Is it lawful or not?” You can almost hear their wicked crafty thoughts looming in their heads. “We got him….for either answer will result in raising great opposition to him.” We got him….He’ll be caught either way and not able to get out. For if he says it’s not lawful..then the Herodians will have grounds to incite the government against him and if he says it is lawful to pay taxes…then the Pharisees will have established cause to inflame the people against him. We got him!” They figured he’d be trapped for sure. Those in opposition to one another UNITE in opposition to Jesus. And so they will against us…his followers. One may be a republican and the other a democrat as one example to give….not aligned but as agents of the enemy, can and do UNITE in opposing Jesus, opposing the gospel, opposing you and I whose lives are transformed by the gospel of Jesus Christ. And one sure fire bait used to conceal the hook to catch us is the bait of FLATTERY. The hook here, in the passage,….to trap Jesus in his words was the crafted question that is concealed by flattery. Notice with me that that which they share is….truthful. It is not inaccurate. I would agree with every word they said. AND it is good to affirm, to speak kind words of compliment…to rightly encourage as fitting to do so. Paul himself said in (Galatians 4:18) “It is always good to be made much of for a good purpose..” Listen to an example Paul provides with his affirming words to the church of the Thessalonians. Every verse from 2-10 is loaded with affirmations. (Thessalonians 1:2-10). turn and read Affirmation after affirmation is good and godly to do so. Whether it be employer to employee or visa versa, spouse to spouse, parent to child, child to parent, amongst siblings, between fellow church members…even to a stranger. You observe something done well and right…affirm it and you yourself do that which is praise worthy. I recall years back helping a brother in CHRIST, Mike Rufner, install the electrical wiring of the new church building under construction. 15yrs and I am still helping with wiring..ay Craig…not leading…this is good and right..amen? I remember something he said along the way that stuck with me to this day. When completing a portion of the job he came by and put a few finishing touches on it while saying ‘we want to be able to sign our name to it.’ And I knew exactly what he meant. Do the job well from start to finish. Be proud of your work. NOT prideful BUT…complete your work in a manner that, to your ability, the care and effort put into your work is evident in it’s completion….even if it is only to God’s eyes. It’s HIS eyes alone that matter. BUT if acknowledged by someone else. Someone else sees and makes known to you a job well done… say “Thank you,. It was a joy to do…I praise God for the opportunity and ability to do so.” Something along those lines….It could be a wise decision made at work, a life saving diagnosis made, a school project completed, a skillful craft executed, an athletic accomplishment…what ever it may be…… We can humbly receive affirmation in a manner that honors God and it’s right to do so. NOW, that’s the danger though right? Something right and good can so quickly go south if we are not being watchful. It’s not a BIG leap to go from appropriate recognition of a job well done to flattery. It’s a short quick baby step to stumble there…that is …unless of course…. your not skipping into flattery as one given to despicable self adulation. FLATTERY waits at the heels of affirmation.…Be watchful. Especially since our culture is inundated with it. Flattery of oneself is in. Whether it be the creative awards imagined to ensure every child gets a ribbon. “Best bubble gum popper on the lacrosse team” or “Best rested” awarded to the pupil who always slept through class. I got that in college….I mean… “Come on.” And then there is the recent Pelaton commercials on Pandora “You feel that Pelaton…That’s Greatness!”. No it’s not! It’s not greatness…watching Micheal Jordan play basketball, or Walter Payton run the football, Simone Biles perform gymnastics or Sean White snowboard…THAT’S greatness. What I just did for exercise, isn’t..I burned a sweat. Nothing more. Not even touching greatness. A few moments after Marcy and I finished a recent run my wife I heard her watch enthusiastically say “Your friends are dreaming about it…you did it. Nice work out…way to killed it.” No we didn’t. It was like a 9 minute mile pace that morning. That’s not killing it. To say it’s pervasive in our world today is an understatement in my mind. We are overrun with it. But truth be told though - We don’t need anyones help - we flatter ourselves OH too easily. Allowing our thoughts to go beyond the satisfaction a job well done. Returning our thoughts there over and over or gazing at that well done job every time we go by…..accumulating lofty thoughts of self…ooouuuu… satan will feed us those suggestions every time…be on guard fellow christian. Be watchful… We are all susceptible to this. These Pharisees and Herodians come to JESUS with this intent to entice Jesus with these words of flattery to conceal the hook in the question they’ve crafted to catch HIM in. And that’s just it isn’t it? Their intent. Though they laid it on a bit thick…the words they spoke were accurate and true, not wrong in and of themselves,….BUT it was the motive they had behind it. That’s the difference. It was’t a pure of heart statement of truth to affirm to the glory of God…NO, rather it was deceitful;…drawn from their ill motive to trap Jesus in his words that they may discredit him. And the same tactic will be used on us…so be watchful. The lure of flattery is deadly enticing. JESUS, our Lord…isn’t fooled by their tactics, he is keen to their plot and sees plainly their hypocrisy. Hypocrisy all sinful man is susceptible to,…which results in our own self demise. Which leads us to our 2nd point….the.. 2) SECOND POINT (Mark 12:15a)- Self demise of Hypocrisy Please note in the first part of (verse 15a). - read You see, they are not authentic, they are not real in what they are saying, not sincere in their approaching presentation…Jesus sees right though it…it’s all fake which devoid ‘them’ of any credit. That is what hypocrisy does right? You discredit yourself. The Self demise of Hypocrisy - Our second point. Our attackers will certainly be guilty of this but sadly,…so can we. And with either one the result is the same. You discredit yourself. It’s like the fish jumping into the boat or getting themselves caught in a pool to be easily picked up - NO lure is necessary..NO hook even. We discredit ourselves; We lose all respect as a true follower of Christ. It’s like saying your a christian but yet never reading your Bible with sincere heart desire to learn and see Christ revealed in it. OR saying your a christian and YET are void of godly sorrow over sin, no true repentance but instead delighting in sin and practicing it…hypocritical…it’s not real. Hypocrisy is sharing about Jesus’s love with others but then living a life that is void of compassion, void of mercy, grace and forgiveness. Quick to scrutinize, quick to pass judgement, and quick to become angered….Hypocrisy. Barren of any joy and peace in your life….losing all respect as a true follower of Christ unless of course…unless we own up to it - confess it and - REPENT… Repentance restores us through the gospel of Jesus Christ. That is where credit as a christian can be reestablished because credit is given to Christ whereby we may be forgiven and redirected to live respectful godward lives to the glory of Him. Because of the gospel, through faith in Christ, a truly repentant believer can be restored as a respectful witness of Jesus Christ. He ‘JESUS’ makes it possible….not I…not us. HE…Jesus does….and (returning to the text)…despite their hypocrisy and Jesus making known to them that he is aware that they are putting him to the test..HE provides an answer to their question. Just before he shut his opposers up by asking them a question but this time he provides a answer….for which I am ever so thankful…..because their well crafted question, though with evil intent, is a noteworthy question. To phrase it in a redeemed manner..NOT with ill intent… The question could be stated…. “As a citizen of heaven and fellow heir with Christ how am I to properly live that out here in this life now where Christ’s kingdom has yet to be consummated?” Jesus is on the throne, he is King…but we are still in the ‘inbetween’. The final judgment has yet to come. Evil is still allowed to operate under God’s sovereign rule. Should we support this government that is not aligned with your kingship? Or should we not? In other words, “What respect are we to show the governing authorities? - “Should we respect the ruling authorities we are under the yoke of or should we not?” I see that as a legitimate question. Does this have relevance today? Absolutely it does. How do I, a redeemed child of God, live out my life as a christian where God has placed me in this world and it’s corresponding ruling authorities….how do I live that out in a manner that my reputation warrants respect as a follower of Jesus? What is Jesus’s answer to that question to which they stand astonished at? Loyalty. It’s what we are redeemed by and therefore what we are to exhibit. 3) THIRD POINT (Mark 12:15-17) Redeemed by loyalty Backing up a touch to the beginning of (verse 15) and reading through (verse 17) - read Loyalty - JESUS asks for a coin valued as a days wage and “draws the peoples attention to whose likeness and inscription is on it.” Which was Cesars’. It would be like taking a $100 dollar bill and saying whose likeness and inscription do you see? President Benjamin Franklin one of the foremost founding fathers of the United States of America. Okay then….Render therefore to this ruling authority the things that are theirs and to God the things that are God’s. In short, be a loyal citizen BOTH as a citizen of heaven and, a resident alien, a loyal citizen under the governing authority where God has placed you. Paul elaborates on this matter in (Romans 13:1-7) - turn to and read NOW what if the governing authority is in direct conflict to God’s Law you ask? For that certainly exists today in many parts of the world…increasingly our own nation for that matter. Valid question…to which we can look to the Bible to answer. Let’s go some examples. FIRST the example of Daniel in the Old Testament. Do you recall what direct conflict existed between Daniel’s worship of God and the governing authority he lived under? (Daniel 6:1-10) - read. (Note his loyal character) Daniel was unwavering…he remained loyal to God and loyal to the consequences of not submitting to the kings edict. He rendered to both the things that belonged to both. Worship to God and punishment as decreed by king Darius to for those who acted against Darius’s mandate. Reading further you would see Daniel, sentenced to death in the lion’s den and still remaining unwaveringly loyal…trusting in His God who miraculously delivered him from the mouths of the lions. David’s loyalty to God and to king Saul who tirelessly sought to kill him is another striking example. Today’s Family Table Talk will take us to an amazing account in that Biblical narrative. Loyal to both God and the ruling authorities. We could read similar accounts in ACTS. (Acts chapter 5) for instance provides the account where The Holy Spirit was doing mighty works through Peter and the other apostles who, because so, were arrested and put into public prison being strictly charged not to teach in the name of Jesus. That very night they were miraculously delivered by an angle of the Lord who charged them to “Go and stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this Life.”…the Life in Christ. Which they did not hesitate to do…they remained loyal and when confronted by those who arrested them and strictly charged them not to teach in the name of Jesus; they said to them “We must obey God rather than man.” A reply that resulted in them getting beaten to which they “rejoiced greatly that they were counted worthy to suffer for the name of Jesus whom they preached.” And all throughout the book of ACTS we never see the apostles fight back or resist the authorities arresting them or punishing them. OH..They stood with firm resolve in what they believed and bore witness to….YES, unwaveringly… BUT they received the consequences issued forth by the ruling authority they were under….in a sense…remained loyal…respected the ruling authority by not resisting the consequences. Loyal to God and loyal to the ruling authorities which may include punishment, death,….persecution when their loyalty to God directly conflicts with the ruling authorities. AND SO it is with us today who follow in the footsteps of those gone before us. This is not speaking of NOT protecting yourself or someone else who is being attacked by a predator of sorts. A bully at school, a malicious brute, a sex predator…wicked people of that nature. They are attacking you, a family member, a friend, a vulnerable stranger…intervene…rise up and defend. Defend the rights of the poor and needy. Help the helpless….(Proverbs 31:9) Someone breaks into my home with intent to do harm,… I will not stand by idle…my life will be spent on protecting them. But if it is the ruling authorities in place who come and take me away to prison; issue forth punishment; because I preach the gospel. Because I am known as a follower of Christ. Standing on scripture, I don’t believe I am to fight back. I am not to resist arrest on the grounds that I am a christian. JESUS didn’t resist arrest when the mob came to take him at the garden of Gethsemane. LOYALTY - It’s what Christ calls us to. It’s what Christ as our forerunner was and is now. He remains loyal….though we so often are not. CHRIST remained loyal though he was deserted by all his followers the night of his betrayal. JUDAS wasn’t the only one who betrayed Jesus that night. YES he may have been the one who betrayed him with a kiss but everyone of his disciples fled. Every one of them deserted him. PETER, though he was given the warning that he would deny Jesus 3x that night before the rooster crowed a second time,…it did not prevent him from doing that very thing…but our Lord, who remained Loyal through it all in fulfilling the Father’s will, looked at PETER in the moment that 3 denial was made…(Luke 22:61)…looked at Peter with unwavering steadfast love in his eyes toward him. From the cross he was a loyal son giving instruction to his disciple John to care for his mother…our LORD is loyal…he is loyal now despite the times we break faith with him,….He remains faithful to us. He corrects us, restores us, strengthens us and sustains us over and over again because we are a part of him you see…HE has united us to himself through faith and though we fail to perfectly up hold our end of the covenant……the covenant is a covenant of GRACE….and our Lord’s loyalty to the covenant keeps us secure in him through to the end where we are able to come to him time and time again, confess our sin that broke faith with him, repent of that sin, receive the forgiveness through his atoning blood shed on the cross, be restored that we may once again walk in obedience to him with joy in the power of the Holy Spirit. CONCLUSION Fulfilling our calling from God and Jesus’s work in us to become fishers of men. With HIS equipping and empowering may we not get caught ourselves but rather be productive fishers of men as reputable followers of Christ. - PRAY Guard us against Flattery, may we be vigilant in our watchfulness of it. Keep us from hypocrisy in all it’s forms (not being who we are to try and get our way to not living in accordance to what we say we believe). May we be known as loyal men and women. Firstly and above all to YOU but also to our fellow man. Within our households, to our local church, to our employer, through the encompassing area of influence you placed us in the community we live. May we be loyal. Bitterness - And guard our hearts from BITTERNESS. When we are betrayed, keep us from allowing bitterness to take root in our heart and grow. You are not bitter towards us who time and time again; treachery break faith with you. Give us your heart Lord Jesus. COMMUNION JESUS lovingly reminds us of this covenant of grace by the sacrament of communion. Where we take up the bread that is broken which serves to remind us of his body that was bruised, beaten and broken in our place and the cup holding the fruit of the vine representing his blood that was shed on the cross absorbing the fullness of God’s just wrath for our sin. We remind ourselves of His sacrifice, give thanks to Jesus for it, confess any sin His Spirit convicts us of before partaking it and then receive the meal as a memorial until the day he returns. The elements of communion are prepared for you this morning…the christian. This meal is not for the unbeliever but for the believer. The table is prepared. Come forward as the Spirit leads while the music team leads in some closing songs. Benediction (2 Timothy 2:11-13)
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