MVMNT | To the People, For the People
Last week ended the Revelation series with the final words written in the New Testament:
He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen. Revelation 22:20-21
These words bless and commission every hearer to live with the end in mind and move with God here and now toward his ultimate purpose, which is to restore all the world and all of God’s people back to right and for himself!
This week begins with the first words of the New Testament, a 3 week series called MOVEMENT, based in the Gospel of Mark. Yes, Matthew’s Gospel is the first one listed in the New Testament, but the evangelist, Mark, wrote the earliest words about the life and ministry of Jesus.
On my first day of ninth grade health class, Coach Hanlan walked into the room, sat down and said, ‘say your name and what you think is the most beautiful sight in the world,’ which seemed like a strange question from a burly, 60 year old wrestling coach.
Some said mountains, others said butterflies, but when we got to the letter H, Coach stood up and said with a deep old raspy voice: my name is Coach Hanlan, and the most beautiful sight to behold is when one man leaps over another man to make a one handed catch for a touchdown.
Some of you may remember this beautiful sight from Dolphin receiver, Mike Gesicki, last season against the Bills…
[[[show Gesicki one handed catch pic]]]
Gesicki moved with such intention and urgency to make that catch.
In Mark’s Gospel, we get a sense of God moving through Christ the Son with great intentionality and urgency to save His people from a real adversary loose in the world, and his Gospel calls every Jesus follower to move with the same intentionality and urgency as Jesus lived.
Mark’s Gospel not only tells the story of God’s movement, but his style of writing embodies it. Mark wrote his Gospel like a play by play, full of action, full of meaning. As we read through the passages of Mark’s Gospel together, imagine a sports commentator calling the play by play of Jesus’ movement.
Chapter one of Mark’s Gospel begins with a kickoff, 6 plays down field, a time out, and then 2 more plays to finish the drive.
With each play, pay close attention to how each one of Jesus’ moves reveals a unique characteristic about God’s love and desire for us.
Are you ready to receive? In verse 1, John the Baptist kicks off on special teams, preparing the way for the Field General, Christ Jesus the Messiah, to take the field.
Verse one states,
“The beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God, as it is written in Isaiah the prophet:
“I will send my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way”—
“a voice of one calling in the wilderness,
‘Prepare the way for the Lord,
make straight paths for him.’”
And so John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. Mark 1:1-3
Mark opens his Gospel by immediately drawing the listener into God’s saving action for the world.
He doesn’t begin with any genealogies or layered imagery like Matthew or John or by setting the historical context like Luke.
Rather, he begins with movement. God’s movement to the people, for the people.
The voice foreshadowed in Isaiah’s vision is John the Baptist, who called all who would listen to find new life in God’s way of being.
A few chapters later in Isaiah’s letter, God said:
Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland. Isaiah 43:18-19
Isaiah’s words describe what God would later accomplish through Jesus, who makes a way home for every lost heart in the wilderness… and fresh streams to nourish every dry bone.
John’s wake up call opened the eyes of a nation. Mark recorded, “The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River.” Mark 1:5.
For Israel, the Jordan River represents God’s promise to lead his people into a good, fruitful, and free land. Yet, no matter how faithful God remained to his people, they just couldn’t shake the bondage of their sin nature, and neither can we.
For this reason, Mark writes, The beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God. Mark 1:1.
The good news that sin doesn’t get the final word.
The roots of sin go too deep in our lives. On our own, we can neither loosen its snares, nor remove our appetite for it. Thus why we need one greater than ourselves to make us new and whole, so God moved to the people, for the people, in Christ Jesus
— (1st play)
After John’s opening kickoff, Jesus took the field for the opening drive.
Beginning in verse 9, Mark writes, “At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan (the symbol of freedom). Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” Mark 1:9–11.
In his pronouncement over Jesus, God the Father spoke the words of Psalm 2:7 and Isaiah 42:1, which say:
You are my son; today I have become your father Psalm 2:7.
Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight. Isaiah 42:1.
Tradition says that choirs would sing Psalm 2 as a coronation song at the ceremonies of God’s newly appointed king over Israel.
The Psalm symbolizes God’s adoption over Israel’s new king into sonship, which gave him the firstborn rights to inherit the nation, God’s people, and committed God to lead His people as a Father through his son, Israel’s king.
Yet, some did right in their Father’s eyes and other kings intentionally led God’s people astray, but now, in Jesus’ baptism, using the same words of Psalm 2, God the Father anointed his one and only Son - not adopted, but begotten of his the Father’s own nature - as the true King over all creation, who will never lead us astray but instead lead us into everlasting salvation freedom.
In Isaiah 42, the prophet foreshadowed the coming of a Servant, a Messiah, a Savior, who would one day rescue God’s people from sin and death.
Therefore, In Jesus’ baptism, the words of God the Father anointed Jesus as King and Servant Messiah over his people to fulfill God’s promise to save and redeem our lives from sin! Jesus’ baptism means so much more than the beginning of his ministry. It means Savior King!
***** (FIX SLIDE!) Now, as his teammates, the church, what this means for us is: Jesus calls all of those on the field with him to live in the same way, not as a Savior - we have only one Savior - but as servant leaders, not passively, but actively!
We run our routes by leading with our hands open, praying for others, and leveraging our influence to help others join the team and find their victory in Christ.
— (2nd play)
On the second play of the drive, Mark writes, “At once the Spirit sent him out into the wilderness, and he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him.” Mark 1:12-13
Following the Father’s life-giving, anointing affirmation of Christ the Son, Jesus engaged in a fierce period of testing to prove his perseverance in the face of opposition. According to Matthew, Jesus fought off hunger and fatigue and encountered the same temptation for pleasure and power that we experience.
Matthew described the moment like this: “Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor.” Matthew 4:8
Yet, in the face of temptation, Jesus did something remarkable: he chose to remain faithful to His Father and also to us.
This move reminds us that following Jesus on his way always leads to opposition. Yet, with Christ in us, he always provides us with the power to overcome.
Jesus knows our trials, and he gets our struggles. He knows what we need to help us overcome in victory, so let’s keep trusting him for it.
This move also reminds us that “Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Ephesians 6:12
As we seek to follow the way of Jesus, let us hold firm to our Lord and Savior who fights on our behalf against our true enemy, who is not our spouse, not our coworkers, not our bosses, and not our neighbors… but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
Let’s make sure we remember who the true opponent is.
— (3rd play)
On the third play of the drive, Mark writes, After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” Mark 1:14-15
Here, Jesus announces the nearness of the kingdom because he’s near! Incarnate God, Christ the Son, is the very essence of God’s kingdom: If you know the king, then you know the heart of the kingdom. At the heart of Jesus is love, joy, peace…
As his teammates on the field, we wear the same jersey as the king, which makes us heirs to his Kingdom, citizens of Heaven, his ambassadors!
What grace that Jesus would call us his own and allow us to embody his good news message, not because of anything we did, but because His Spirit lives in us.
— (4th play)
On the fourth play of the drive, Mark writes in verse 16, As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” At once they left their nets and followed him. When he had gone a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat, preparing their nets. Without delay he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him. Mark 1:16–20.
On this play, Jesus drafted his team, but these weren’t first round guys. They were dudes that other Rabbis rejected. They were poor. They didn’t hail from a strong family name, but Jesus raised these roughnecks into men who would eventually lead the movement into what you and I know today as the church, the living body of Christ in the world, so if you don’t feel like a first round draft pick - maybe you feel less than or unworthy of God’s grace and love, then you’re in good company because these guys didn’t see themselves with much worth, either.
But Jesus did. He saw men who would “do even greater things than these” John 14:12, and Jesus sees you in the end zone victorious and full of worth.
[[[A pastor once said the church is always, “one generation away from extinction.””As the Father has sent me, now I am sending you. John 20:21. Jesus tells us to keep the movement growing. He will always be with us. We have nothing to fear but everything to gain.]]]
— (5th play)
On the fifth play, Mark writes in verse 21: They went to Capernaum, and when the Sabbath came, Jesus went into the synagogue and began to teach. The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law. Just then a man in their synagogue who was possessed by an impure spirit cried out, “What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!”
“Be quiet!” said Jesus sternly. “Come out of him!” The impure spirit shook the man violently and came out of him with a shriek.
The people were all so amazed that they asked each other, “What is this? A new teaching—and with authority! He even gives orders to impure spirits and they obey him.” News about him spread quickly over the whole region of Galilee. Mark 1:21–28.
In this play, we witness Jesus willingly move toward evil and release its grip on us. This is mysterious, it feels unquantifiable, yet we certainly experience the effects of evil in our world, don’t we?
One theologian wrote of this passage, When the church learns again how to speak and act with the same authority, we will find both the saving power of God unleashed once more and a similar heightened opposition from the forces of darkness. Tom Wright, Mark for Everyone, 12.
I believe Jesus spoke with authority because he offered worth and dignity to every human being created in God’s image, and likewise, he clarified the true opponent, which is not us. When the enemy turns us against each other, then he wins. Jesus came to dispel the lies, save our lives, and unify us under his leadership.
When a quarterback knows the playbook, empowers every player on the team, and clarifies how to overcome the opponent to achieve victory, in the eyes of the team, that quarterback becomes a trusted leader with the authority to call the plays.
People saw the same in Jesus: a teacher with authority because he embodied the heart of our Heavenly Father and overcame evil by restoring people’s lives to move with the Kingdom in love, joy, peace…
— (6th play)
On the sixth play of the current drive, Jesus healed Simon Peter’s mother in law. After hearing about what happened, the whole town brought their sick and demon possessed, and Mark tells us that Jesus stayed and healed every single one.
In this play, we witness Jesus move toward the hurting, sick, and broken-hearted. He spared nothing to see those created in his own image become restored by his own hand, and as his teammates, his movement calls us in the same direction: toward the hurting, sick, and broken-hearted to share his good news.
But just before the seventh play, Jesus called a timeout.
Mark writes in verse 35, Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. Mark 1:35
Though fully God, Jesus was also fully human and recognized his own need to stay connected with the Father to nourish his soul.
In his Gospel, John recorded Jesus saying, “Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” John 15:4
When we live disconnected from Jesus, we become easily distracted, discouraged, and divided from others and ourselves.
When we live connected with Jesus, we abide in the giver and sustainer of life.
As one church, one team, we need each other in the game to play strong and play healthy, so let’s stay connected to our Captain through daily Bible reading, prayer, and Sunday gatherings.
— (7th play)
Now, rested and ready, Jesus calls the seventh play, saying: “Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come. Mark 1:38.
To show and tell the good news, so let’s do the same!
— (8th play, last)
Last, on the eighth and final play of the opening drive in chapter 1, Mark writes, A man with leprosy came and knelt in front of Jesus, begging to be healed. “If you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean,” he said.
Moved with compassion, Mark describes, Jesus reached out and touched him. “I am willing,” he said. “Be healed!” Mark 1:40–41.
In this passage, Jesus demonstrated something extraordinary about the heart of God, and it is this: he’s moved by you. God’s moved by his deep, compassionate love for you, for all of us, and for every beating heart in the world.
In verse 41, the term Mark used for compassion is the Greek word splankxnizomai, which literally translates as the turning over of your guts - like the kind of compassion that you feel when your stomach churns for someone. That’s called splankxnizomai, and that’s how Jesus felt for this man.
Notice that Jesus didn’t ignore his emotions. Instead, he followed his gut and willingly healed him. Jesus showed strong emotional health and stability, following rest and intimacy with the Father.
Rest and intimacy with God provides the same emotional health and stability for you, as well.
Jesus calls us to stay healthy in the game, as we grow to:
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart (the well being of our life)
and with all your soul (our emotional health)
and with all your strength (our body and behaviors)
and with all your mind (our thoughts and attitude)’
and, ‘Love your neighbor as [you seek to love yourself in these ways] yourself.” Luke 10:27
Team, we need each other now more than ever. The world needs the light of its Savior to shine through us and illuminate their way to Jesus.
In chapter 1, Mark calls a play by play with a
Kickoff: Comes to the people, for the people
1. Becomes anointed as servant king
2. Overcomes the evil one
3. Comes up close and personal to embody good news salvation -
4. Calls together his team
5. Releases humanity from the grips of evil
6. Restores the hurting, sick, and broken-hearted
Time Out: Pursues intimacy and rest with the Father
7. Shows and tells the Good News
8. Leads with self-awareness and emotional health
All in the first drive of his ministry!
To follow Jesus means that we live according to his playbook, which means that as a leader on Team Jesus - AKA the Church - when you live on the move with Jesus, then you:
Go to the people, for the people
Act as a servant leader
Overcome sin (be an overcomer - don’t stay defeated, and when you fall short, seek forgiveness, and then get back up)
Embody Christ’s salvation in your life
Lead with character and humility on your family team, work team, church team
Live free and sober minded
Admit your need for healing and receive restoration.
James, brother of Jesus, wrote, “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” James 5:16
Take time outs to abide with Christ in rest and intimacy
Show and tell the good news
And, live with self-awareness and emotional health
This is the playbook; this is discipleship; and, this is how we lead others to move forward with Jesus in victory.
Now, this playbook may feel overwhelming to you, so what’s one play that you can focus on this week? Jesus gave you his Spirit to help you and comfort you in times of difficulty, so today, with his help, focus on one play.
How might your life grow into the movement of Christ’s kingdom if you focused this week just on one play?
We overestimate what we can do in a day, but we underestimate what we can achieve in a week, a month, a year, a lifetime!
We need all of us on the field with Jesus because over the next 3 weeks, leading to Easter, I want to call us to 21 days of intentional and urgent prayer for the Lord to help us make an invite to those far from God to visit us on Easter Sunday.
For those of you in attendance, you received this card - online, please go ahead and download the card using the link in the chat.
During these next 21 days, let’s prayerfully identify our 7 to invite to Easter Sunday.
If you can’t fill every line on the card, then pray for the Lord to open your eyes to see those in your sphere of servant leadership who need your compassion and invitation.
Let’s bring our 7 into proximity of Jesus, our King and Servant Messiah, who is faithful to save every dry and weary heart.
Join us on social media everyday for prayer. All of the information is on the back of your prayer card.
Over the next 3 weeks, let’s knock helmets together, pray together, and take the bold step to follow Jesus on the move and make the invitation.
Allow me to offer the first prayer on our 21 day journey together…
1 min max
Quick closing prayer