What Jesus Values Most
Introduction: If you have your Bibles let me invite you to open with me to the book of Mark chapter 13.
Last week we began what is Jesus’ largest body of teaching in the gospel of Mark.
As Jesus and the disciples leave the temple.... the disciples make a passing comment which opens the door to a much larger conversation.
Lets read our text from last week.
1 And as he came out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher, what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!” 2 And Jesus said to him, “Do you see these great buildings? There will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.” 3 And as he sat on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew asked him privately, 4 “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when all these things are about to be accomplished?”
Jesus predicts a very real historical event that was to take place.
The city of Jerusalem and the temple itself was going to be totally destroyed.
This happened just as Jesus said in A.D. 70
Last week we discussed the historical and theological significance of this.
but the disciples don’t ask “why?”
they want to know “when?”
Much like many who are obsessed with the end times… they want to know when this prophecy was going to be fulfilled....
Jesus, however, doesn’t give them the when…, rather he gives them the what?
he gives them what they should be prepared for in the coming days....
and its to that we turn our attention to this morning.
so lets read verses 4-13 and then pause and pray for understanding.
4 “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when all these things are about to be accomplished?” 5 And Jesus began to say to them, “See that no one leads you astray. 6 Many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he!’ and they will lead many astray. 7 And when you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. This must take place, but the end is not yet. 8 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. These are but the beginning of the birth pains. 9 “But be on your guard. For they will deliver you over to councils, and you will be beaten in synagogues, and you will stand before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them. 10 And the gospel must first be proclaimed to all nations. 11 And when they bring you to trial and deliver you over, do not be anxious beforehand what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour, for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit. 12 And brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death. 13 And you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.
The first thing I want you to notice is that word “see” in verse 5.
Its the same Greek word that in verse 9 is translated “Be on your guard”
Jesus does not tell them when these things will be…
rather he aims to prepare them for what life will be like for a disciple of Jesus in these last days Between Jesus’ first coming and his second coming.
He intends for his disciples to take on a sort of spiritual watchfulness so that they will not be surprised by the kinds of things that they will be called to endure.
In fact this is the emphasis throughout chapter 13.
V. 5 “See”
v. 9 “Be on your guard”
V. 23 “be on guard; I have told you all things beforehand.”
v.29 “When you see these things”
v. 33 “be on guard, keep awake.
V. 34 stay awake.
V. 35 stay awake
v. 37 stay awake.
I’d like to admonish you similarly throughout the duration of this sermon… stay awake.
Much of what Jesus prepares them for included very real historical events in Jerusalem that were going to happen in their life time.
But the events Jesus describes go beyond that.
He describes what Christians will endure in every generation including ours.
Jesus’ preparation of the disciples in this chapter, now serve as preparation for us today.
And I think it is the lack of precisely this kind of preparation that has produced such a weak version of Christianity in our context here today.
As I studied this passage this week, I was burdened by the normal cultural Christianity that I was raised in and that many of you were raised in.
Its the kind of Christianity that sets Jesus up to be an accomplice to our American dream.
Its the kind of Christianity that talks more about blessing then endurance…
more about morality and goodness, then suffering and holiness…
Its a kind of Christianity that leaves the cross at calvary and doesn’t expect any more crosses to be carried.
Its the kind of Christianity which talks about persecution in hypothetical distant terms but never in experiential and imminent terms.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer called it cheap grace.
In contemplation during a time and place where true Christians fled for their lives and studied the Bible in secret… Bonhoeffer wrote these words…
Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate. Costly grace is the treasure hidden in the field; for the sake of it a man will go and sell all that he has. It is the pearl of great price to buy which the merchant will sell all his goods. It is the kingly rule of Christ, for whose sake a man will pluck out the eye which causes him to stumble; it is the call of Jesus Christ at which the disciple leaves his nets and follows him. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Jesus does not want his disciples to be fooled by a false narrative which says following Jesus will be easy…
He wants them to be ready to endure the inevitable difficulties.
He wants them to know what to expect if they are to follow in Christ’s footsteps.
We are going to see Five Expectations for following Christ in these days Beginning with what we see in verses 5-6.
5 And Jesus began to say to them, “See that no one leads you astray. 6 Many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he!’ and they will lead many astray.
#1 Expect False Teachers (v. 5-6)
#1 Expect False Teachers (v. 5-6)
Jesus warns that there will be many who claim to be coming in the name of Jesus… and that some will even claim to be Jesus…
And Jesus warns that they will successfully deceive and lead astray MANY people.
my question to you this morning is this:
Do you expect this?
Do you recognize that not everything with Jesus’ name on it is of the Lord?
Do you recognize that not everyone who uses the word “God” is from God?
Not every person who speaks in public while holding a Bible, actually teaches the words of that Bible?
Not every missionary is on the right mission.
Not every building with a steeple is a place where the true God is worshipped.
not everyone who says they are a Christian… is actually a Christian
I have had several conversations over the years with people who have rejected Christianity all together, because of their bad experience in bad churches with bad teaching and bad leadership.
They have experienced a false version of Christianity, and have rejected Christianity all together….
I have often said in those conversations… “I also reject the Christianity you reject… but that does not mean that the real thing doesn’t exist”
the presence of false versions of Christianity in the world does not discredit that there is a true version of Christianity to be embraced.
In fact, the presence of all these false versions of Christianity only confirms the Bible’s repeated warning.
Jesus is having this conversation with Peter, James, John, and Andrew…
And I love seeing the authors of New Testament actually drawing directly from the wisdom that Jesus himself poured into them.
Listen to Peter’s later instruction to the newly planted churches exiled and persecuted by the Roman Empire.
After urging them to pay attention to the Scriptures… Peter says this.
But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. 2 And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. 3 And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.
John similarly prepares the churches he was involved with.
Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.
Don’t let the overwhelming presence of false teaching in our broken world cause you to reject the God of the Bible.
Let it drive you to your knees, to your Bibles, and to your Christian brothers and sisters so that you might know what is true.
Don’t believe every YouTube video you watch.
Don’t believe every t.v. Preacher you see in passing.
Don’t believe every person who says they are Christian.
Test the spirits.
know your bibles.
It is not wrong to love truth and to be graciously skeptical until you can confirm that something is true or a teacher is truthful.
This is simply what it means to “see” to “be on guard”
You should be the kind of person so committed to the truth of God’s Word that you do not readily give out your trust to anyone who claims to be a teacher of this word until they earn your trust by their consistent alignment with sound doctrine in both their life and teaching.
Expectation #1 Expect False Teachers
7 And when you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. This must take place, but the end is not yet. 8 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. These are but the beginning of the birth pains.
#2 Expect a Hostile World (v.7-8)
#2 Expect a Hostile World (v.7-8)
Jesus is breaking down any notion that following Jesus was going to be a utopia like experience in the coming days.
The world will continue to be a hostile place… a very corrupted place.
the evidence of sin’s effect on the world will be felt in several ways.
rumors of wars
I suppose this list was not exhaustive.
You could throw in hurricanes, recessions, crime, pandemics, and so on.
These will be a part of normal life in this age between Jesus’ first coming and his second coming.
Every time there is any war or any earthquake or any natural disaster… Christian’s everywhere start obsessing over whether it is THE end of all things…
but here Jesus is explicitly saying that these things are not the sign of the end.
These are a part of life in these days In this broken world.
Mark 13:7 (ESV)
And when you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. This must take place, but the end is not yet.
Mark 13:8 (ESV)
For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. These are but the beginning of the birth pains.
This is what we should expect in the world…
The brokenness of the world will be evident and overwhelming.
Like a pregnant woman whose pains increase as the time approaches… so will the brokenness of the world.
Paul describes the bondage of the world with the same language.
22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.
Creation is groaning.
Our bodies are groaning.
The nations are raging.
Sin’s effect and consequences are evident and overwhelming.
And Jesus’ message to his disciples and to you from Mark 13… is this... “Don’t Be Alarmed”
Now why would it be important that Jesus tell his disciples all of this?
Why is it important that you be prepared like this?
Because if you misunderstand what God promises in this world… you will inevitably be alarmed.
And not only will you be alarmed… you may reject God for breaking a promise he never made to you.
Jesus was not promising these disciples a life of ease where as long as they had enough faith the storms would never hit…
Actually quite the opposite. Jesus prepares them for the war, the earthquake, the famine.
He prepares them for the battle that is headed their way so that they would not be surprised by the fiery trial.
Peter took the same approach in his discipleship of others.
12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.
This is why the theology of the prosperity gospel is so damning.
Prosperity preachers make up a version of Jesus who promises you blessings in this life as long as your giving and believing…
But the Jesus of the Bible prepares you for battle in a broken world.
In fact…., Jesus teaches that if you are faithful to the calling of Christianity… you will actually invite certain kinds of sufferings on your self.
Look at verse 9.
“But be on your guard. For they will deliver you over to councils, and you will be beaten in synagogues, and you will stand before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them.
Truth #3 Expect Persecution (v.9, 12-13)
Truth #3 Expect Persecution (v.9, 12-13)
This prophecy would very much come to pass in the life of Jesus’ followers
By Acts chapter 5 we already have the disciples undergoing exactly this.
40 and when they had called in the apostles, they beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. 41 Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name. 42 And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus.
The disciples were truly and really beaten, and they walked a way rejoicing?
Well, in part, they recognized that this was not an intrusion to the Christian walk…
This was not because they had done anything wrong…
This was a fulfillment of Jesus’ promise to them.
He prepared them for this.
They knew this was part of the plan.
My question is… do I recognize this as part of the plan?
Do you recognize this as part of the Plan .
Does your version of faithful Christianity include this?
I’m afraid that we have incorporated our love for comfort and safety into our religion so much so that our thinking about Christianity would be somewhat unrecognizable to Jesus’ followers.
Listen to their perspective on it.
If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.
If you live your Christian life sort of tip toing around people trying to always be agreed with and trying to always be liked by everyone… you will be forced into unfaithfulness.
We believe all kinds of things that the world will hate us for.
We believe in the immense value of human life from the moment of conception.
We believe that God has a divine design for marriage and for sexuality.
We believe that sin of all variations is dangerous and destructive to our lives.
We believe in a real hell that real people will go to apart from saving faith in Jesus by the grace of God.
We believe in absolute truth absolutely…
And those beliefs shape our lives in every way…
And those beliefs and more have caused others to hate Christians for the last 2,000 years.
If you expect to live your Christian life:
- without ever having a hard conversation with someone you love,
- without every being disagreed with,
- without ever having someone grow angry with you for your convictions…
- then you are not planning to live the Christian life
I am afraid that in the name of wisdom…, Christians in our nation in our generation simply avoid anything that is risky or difficult.... and in the process in the name of wisdom we avoid many things that look and sound most like Jesus.
It’s one thing to get fired up about the possibility of persecution when you think about it coming from the government or coming from some kind of institution… but
Jesus prepares us for a much deeper kind of pain.…
Jesus warns you to expect something that I frankly don’t think many of us are prepared for.
Look at verses 12 and 13.
12 And brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death. 13 And you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.
Though these sentences are shocking and even unthinkable to us…, they would have been familiar realities to the original readers of the gospel of Mark.
And in fact, for many of our middle-eastern and Asian brothers and sisters around the world right now… this is their common experience.
Mark 13 is alive and in 3D for them.
This was the testimony of a Muslim family that we had the opportunity to teach in Bali, Indonesia a couple years ago.
They were in Bali because they had recently converted to Christianity and they had to flee from another island where their Muslim family members had rejected them.
They had to choose between following Jesus and maintaining a relationship with their flesh and blood family members.
A choice, that Jesus very explicitly prepares us for
He warns against a love even for your own family which supersedes love for Jesus.
26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. 27 Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.
Now let me speak to that Muslim family who was forced to flee because of their faith in Jesus.
They had two options before them.…
Stay faithful to Jesus and undergo rejection from their family.
Or be unfaithful to Jesus and maintain a relationship with their family.
Now its tempting to say that if you really loved your family…, you would put them first, even over your relationship with Jesus…. but…
What if that family which converted from Islam kept their relationship with Jesus secret their whole lives just to maintain relationship with their relatives.…
All the while knowing that those relatives would spend an eternity in hell unless they turned to the same Jesus which saved them.
The most loving thing they could do for their family was to model a devotion to Jesus which put on display his eternal value and worth over all things in hopes that one day even through their own persecution… their relatives might see the beauty and reality of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
That is the kind of devotion Jesus aims to prepare his disciples for.
Perhaps your here, and you hear those words…
and you think… there Is no way.
There is no way id make the right choice between maintaining relationship with my children, and maintaining relationship with Jesus.
there is no way I could persevere in the midst of that kind of persecution/.
I’d like to say to you… you are right… that kind of endurance. that kind of perseverance. Is a miracle…
but it is a miracle power that Jesus promises that you have access to.
Notice what’s happening in the midst of this persecution.
10 And the gospel must first be proclaimed to all nations. 11 And when they bring you to trial and deliver you over, do not be anxious beforehand what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour, for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit.
#4 Expect Spiritual Empowerment (v.10-11)
#4 Expect Spiritual Empowerment (v.10-11)
Jesus meets his disciples and he meets you in your thoughts and insecurities with a promise.
In these last days of persecution in a hostile world…. We are not alone.
We do not have to endure alone.
In fact, Jesus gives this command… “DO NOT BE ANXIOUS”
You have not reason to be concerned about not being able to endure, not being able to speak, not knowing what you should say….
God aims to work miraculously through you as you seek to remain faithful to him.
Part of the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives is the supernatural empowerment to say true things in moments where we are undergoing the pressures of persecution.
If you were to ask me this morning if I think I have the resolve to undergo the persecution that I think pastors will likely endure in this country in my lifetime…
I would say that I do not have what it takes to endure…, but though I don’t have what it takes…. God has given me and will give me what it takes in the miracle working power of the Spirit in my life.
You may already know what I am talking about…
Perhaps you are here this morning and you have had to endure things you never thought you could endure and you look back only to recognize a miracle of God’s provision in your life.
Perhaps you can look back at a conversation that you were not equipped to have but God used it anyway.
Christian, you should expect to be thrust into situations that you cannot handle.
You should expect to be thrust into conversations you are not equipped to handle.
It is part of the Christian life… but you should not be anxious about this reality.
There is a very real presence in your heart, soul, and mind, who will empower you with what you need when you need it to fulfill the Sovereign will of God.
Before the Spirit of God fell at Pentecost, the apostle Peter was so afraid of persecution that he lied about knowing Jesus three times in the courtyard of Caiaphas.
In Acts chapter 4, Peter stands before Caiaphas himself And declares these words.
10 let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by him this man is standing before you well. 11 This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. 12 And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” 13 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus.
We are meant to see Peter’s words in this text as miracle words given to him by the Holy Spirit to accomplish the will of God.
Notice how God’s plan to spread the good news of Jesus to all nations is interconnected with the presence of persecution and heartache.
The difficulties that the apostles face will not stand as a barrier to the good news of Jesus being proclaimed to all nations… rather it will be part of the plan to get the gospel to the nations.
God will take even the most terrible things that the nations throw at us…, and he will use those things to only further confirm the truthfulness and the immense value of this message about Jesus.
Do not be anxious. We have been promised a powerful presence as we seek to accomplish this global plan.
And its that powerful presence who will not only give us what we need in the moment… but it will carry us along until the end.
13 And you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.
#5 Expect Endurance (v.13)
#5 Expect Endurance (v.13)
Jesus states a powerful and theologically complex sentence at the end of verse 13.
“The one who endures to the end will be saved.”
This is both a provocation and a promise.
The statement is meant to both motivate you and comfort you.
he has just promised that the Spirit of God will do a miracle in you so that you will respond rightly to persecution.
And now he encourages you that on the other side of endurance… their is a great salvation.
Now the question is this…
Is endurance the product of God’s grace in our lives or is endurance the way in which we secure salvation for ourselves?
Is endurance the fruit of our salvation already received… or is it how we earn our salvation.
I think that the rest of the Bible is clear…. That endurance is actually the fruit of God’s work in our lives.
The truly saved person will prove their salvation by their miraculous endurance.
You are to expect false teachers to try to sway you, an hostile world to try to destroy you, persecutors who will hate you…, but also a Spirit who will empower you and a God who will sustain you until the end.
Jesus told us what genuine salvation looks like in his parable of the seed and the sower earlier in Mark.
14 The sower sows the word. 15 And these are the ones along the path, where the word is sown: when they hear, Satan immediately comes and takes away the word that is sown in them. 16 And these are the ones sown on rocky ground: the ones who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy. 17 And they have no root in themselves, but endure for a while; then, when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away. 18 And others are the ones sown among thorns. They are those who hear the word, 19 but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. 20 But those that were sown on the good soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.”
I believe the parable of the seed and the sower is just an elaboration of the sentence.... “the one who endures to the end will be saved.”
The proof of genuine conversion is not a temporary burst of enthusiasm.
Rather it will be fruitful endurance to the end.
And that is exactly what God has promised to work in us.
Listen to these promises to the Christian who has received the word of God into good soil.
1 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
6 And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
24 Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, 25 to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.
35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Christian, Jesus aims for you to strive for endurance… but he also aims for you to expect it by faith in the grace that only God can give.
Expect Endurance to the end by God’s grace and for God’s glory.
Let’s pray together.