Faithlife Sermons

The Slippery Slope of Being a Fan of Jesus-Mark 3:7-12

The Gospel According to Mark  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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This mornings message looks into why people follow Jesus.

As we begin this morning, please turn in your copies of God’s Word to the Gospel of Mark 3:7-12. We will read the passage a little later.
Last Sunday morning in our journey through the Gospel according to Mark, our passage was Mark 2:23-3:6 in the message titled Jesus, Lord Of The Sabbath. As we studied the passage together, we witnessed another episode of the Pharisees doing battle with Jesus, not because He did anything Scripturally wrong, but because He refused to honor their manmade established traditions. Traditions they placed above the very Word of God. God had given only one command regarding the Sabbath, which was they were not to work, they had heaped on that one command, 24 chapters of ridiculous rules and regulations that were virtually impossible to adhere to. He confronted the Pharisees and their The Hypocritical Allegation. Then He Opened The Pharisee Eyes To Their Own Scriptural Blindness when He reminded them of Davids and his men’s consumption of bread reserved only for the priests, when they were in need of food while they were fleeing King Saul. The true and hateful colors of the Pharisees came to the forefront when they became angry with Jesus for healing The Man With the Withered Hand on the Sabbath. This violated their man made laws of what was and wasn’t permitted to do on the Sabbath. Jesus pointed out that “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” In other words, the purpose for the Sabbath rest was for God to give His people a weekly rest, not to enslave them with a thousand rules and guidelines on what you can and can’t do on the Sabbath. That is part of what Jesus was speaking about in Matthew 11:28-30 when He said “Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.” The Pharisees had placed an impossible burden on the backs of the people with their Sabbath day rules and Jesus is letting them know He was providing a better way, because He was The Lord of the Sabbath. In the end, the Pharisees left and took council with the Herodians, who were their enemies because of their political allegiance to the Roman Empire, and together they began to devise a plan of how to kill Jesus.
That brings us to this morning’s message. Before we start, let me ask you a simple question.
Why do people look to God? Think about that question for a moment, in fact personalize it, Why do you, why do I, look to God?
In 2018, A Pew Research Center survey listed the top 10 reasons given by Americans who attend religious services at least once a month. Survey respondents were allowed to give more than one reason on why they regular attended services. Here are the reasons they gave:
1. To become closer to God. (81%)
2. So their children will have a moral foundation. (69%)
3. To become a better person. (68%)
4. For comfort in times of trouble or sorrow. (66%)
5. They find the sermons valuable. (59%)
6. To be part of a faith community. (57%)
7. To continue their family's religious traditions. (37%)
8. They feel obligated to go. (31%)
9. To meet new people or socialize. (19%)
10. To please their family, spouse or partner. (16%)
Truthfully, if you were to do your own survey, you would find out that there are many other reasons beyond those given in the Pew Research Survey.
In this morning’s passage we see huge multitudes following Jesus wherever He goes. My prayer for us as we look at the passage this morning is that we will all take a closer look at why it is we attend church, or, back to the initial question we looked at this morning; Why do I look to God?
To start with, I’d like to take a moment to look to the Lord in prayer before we read the passage.
Prayer time.
Would you please stand in honor of the reading of God’s Word?
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Mark 3:7–12 ESV
7 Jesus withdrew with his disciples to the sea, and a great crowd followed, from Galilee and Judea 8 and Jerusalem and Idumea and from beyond the Jordan and from around Tyre and Sidon. When the great crowd heard all that he was doing, they came to him. 9 And he told his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd, lest they crush him, 10 for he had healed many, so that all who had diseases pressed around him to touch him. 11 And whenever the unclean spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out, “You are the Son of God.” 12 And he strictly ordered them not to make him known.
May the Lord bless the reading of His Word, please be seated.
As was mentioned earlier in our review of last weeks message, Jesus had just finished yet one more confrontation with the Pharisees, and has been the case with each of these confrontations, He had soundly defeated them.
If most men were honest with you if you asked them what has been the biggest challenge that has come about as a result of this Coronavirus, most would have to admit it was the absence of live sports. No NBA playoffs, No major league baseball (for some reason the Korean league just doesn’t quite cut it!) No golf, until recently, NASCAR and Indy car racing shut down until recently. It has been a nightmare! Of course most wives have been rejoicing, but that is a discussion for another day! Because of the lack of live sports, all sports stations like ESPN have been pulling out all the stops to come up with good alternatives. Perhaps ESPN’s greatest success has come with the documentary on Michael Jordan called “The Last Dance.” While the documentary highlighted much of his career with the Chicago Bulls, it predominately centered on his last season with the Bulls, when they won their 6th NBA title. This series has spurred hundreds, actually more like thousands of Michael Jordan spinoff videos detailing countless other NBA players who learned the hard way, you don’t challenge Michael Jordan. Every one that I have watched has ended with the NBA player, with a wry smile on their face, poking fun at themselves for daring to challenge the GOAT.
While those NBA players could look back with a wry smile admitting their defeat, that was never the case with the Pharisees in Jesus days. They knew they had no chance of beating Jesus in head to head competition, and rather than look back at their defeats with a wry smile, they set out to destroy Him. Jesus understood from day one that His ultimate purpose in coming to earth was not to defeat the Pharisees, but to deal Satan the ultimate blow and that that defeat could only come by the sacrifice of His own blood on the cross. You could say that in the heat of the final battle on earth, Jesus proverbial Hands went down to His side, enabling Satan to have a temporary victory at His death, but in the end that death will bring about the final blow to Satan.
However, at the point where we are in the Gospel of Mark, Jesus understood that it was not yet time to lay down His life. Had He continued in Capernaum with His confrontations with the Pharisees and the other religious leaders, His date with the Cross would have come before the perfect time. Make no mistake, He was always in complete control and knowing that the time was not quite right to go to the cross, we find out in verse 7 that
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“Jesus withdrew with His disciples to the sea”
Now, please don’t think even for a second that Jesus was fleeing in fear! That was never the case, He was just waiting for the perfect time! Reading on we find out that Next Slide
“a great crowd followed, from Galilee and Judea 8 and Jerusalem and Idumea and from beyond the Jordan and from around Tyre and Sidon.”
Notice the crowds were coming from all over the place, including Jerusalem, which was a hundred miles to the south, and from Idumea, which was even farther away. There were many who came who had never even seen Jesus, but they had heard of Him and of the great things He was able to do.
The first thing I want you to notice from these verses is: Next Slide
The Disciples Were With Him, The Great Crowd Followed Him. Mark 2:7-8a
Please don’t miss the difference between the two distinctions. Based on what we see as we travel through Scripture, the disciples who were “With Him”, with the exception of Judas, were affected for all eternity, but those who just “Followed Him” were only temporarily affected.
Many of you who are a part of Liberty Chapel are familiar with this rope. This rope represents our life, this small red part represents our short life here on earth. This white part, which in our imagination goes on and on without an end, represents eternity. That is the difference between being With Jesus and just Following Jesus. One transforms lives for all eternity (the white part of the rope), the other is a temporary fix (the red part of the rope) with no eternal value.
You could say, the Great crowds were fans of Jesus!
Oh they loved what He could do for them, what He could provide for them, what they could get from Him, but beyond that they could take Him of leave Him.
Look at what we read at the end of verse 8: Next Slide
“When the great crowd heard all that He was doing, they came to Him.”
Did you happen to notice what it was that drew the crowd to Him? It was “all that He was doing” They were drawn to Him based on their own selfish desires.
He had healed the sick.
He had cleansed the lepers.
He had cast out demons.
He had given the gift of walking to a man that was lame.
He had healed a mans withered atrophied hand.
We read on in verse 10 that Next Slide
“for He had healed many, so that all who had diseases pressed around Him to touch Him.”
Don’t get me wrong, all of these things were good things. Who wouldn’t want to experience the miraculous?
But they were drawn selfishly to the temporal and ignoring the eternal.
The title of this mornings message is: Next Slide
The Slippery Slope of Being a Fan of Jesus.
Do you remember from one of our earlier messages in the Gospel of Mark, the work He said He had come to do?
You will find it in Mark 1:38. Leading up to this verse, Jesus had healed Peter’s mother-in-law, then He spent the rest of the day until long after the sun had set, healing everyone that was brought to Him. Not much time had passed after His weary head hit the pillow than He was up before the sun had risen to spend some time in prayer. His disciples hunted Him down because another large crowd had already assembled to experience the miraculous touch of the Masters Hand. Look at your copy of God’s Word, what is it He said to them when they found Him?
“Let us go to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came...”
While Jesus did countless miraculous works, so much so that most theologians believe that He completely eradicated disease wherever He went, He came to make an eternal difference, through preaching the Gospel and through laying His life down on the cross for our sins.
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Jesus didn’t come to build a fan base, He came to transform lives.
The miraculous things that brought excitement to Jesus wasn’t raising the physically dead, it was raising the spiritually dead. And those are the miracles that still excite Him in our time as well.
The question we need to ask ourselves today is:
Are we, or wait, let’s personalize this question:
Am I like the disciples, With Him?
Am I like the great crowd, Following Him?
One puts you on a slippery slope, the other is transformative.
This past fall, someone from church purchased a really nice zero-turn large deck John Deere mower for the parsonage. I gotta tell you, I love mowing with this mower. Well as most of you know, the week before last I went to Kansas City to spend some time with Brittany. Before leaving I gave Pam some instructions on how to use the new zero-turn mower. Well evidently I didn’t do as good a job of teaching as I should have. Pam had mowed most of the back portion of the property with the new mower, while doing the front yard and part of the back yard with our push mower. The reason I said that I didn’t do a good enough job of teaching Pam how to use the zero-turn mower is, she forgot to lower the deck on the mower. As she was mowing, she could see the track of the wheels, and she even saw some grass blowing out of the side shoot, but the vast majority of the grass she saw blowing was probably from the last time I had mowed. In other words while it appeared as if the mower was doing its job, it was not engaged fully and was doing virtually nothing it was designed to do.
That is largely what we see in the great crowds that were following Jesus. They were never fully engaged and as a result they were doing virtually nothing they were designed to do. Need some proof?
Think about this for a moment.
If the theologians are right about Jesus completely eradicating decease wherever He went (which I am convinced was the case), where were all the healed and/or their family members during His trial and crucifixion? He healed thousand upon thousand, which meant that if you include their family members literally hundreds of thousands likely had first or second hand experience to His miraculous touch. Had they been more than just fans of Jesus, there was more than enough to stop the crucifixion from ever taking place. And yes I am speaking hypothetically because Scripture is clear that the crucifixion was all a part of God’s perfect plan, but think about that for a minute, they could have stopped the crucifixion.
Earlier in the message I said the following; “You could say, the Great crowds were fans of Jesus! Oh they loved what He could do for them, what He could provide for them, what they could get from Him, but beyond that they could take Him of leave Him.”
If you look at the end of each of the Gospels, you will notice something largely missing after Jesus Triumphal Entry. Public Miracles. After His Triumphal Entry, He cleared out the Temple, He battled the Pharisees, He did a lot of teaching, a good amount of individual time with His closest followers, but His public miracles were largely a thing of the past. As a result, His fan base all but disappeared. So much so that when Pilate brought Barabbas before them, Barabbas who was a hardened criminal who deserved to die, and when Pilate gave these former fans an opportunity to gain the release of Jesus or this hardened criminal, these former fans shocked Pilate by shouting “Give us Barabbas!” Pilate went on to ask them what he should do with Jesus? These former fans shouted “Crucify Him” later saying “May His blood be on us and on our children.”
Oh the slippery slope of being a fan of Jesus. If you’re on that slippery slope, make the move from the slippery slope of following Him from a distance, to the firm foundation of becoming a transformed disciple of Jesus.
Let’s close in prayer.
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