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November 29, 2020
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Jesus: Unlike Any Other
Mark 1:16–39 – November 29, 2020 – Introducing…Jesus
When I was courting Anne, a friend of mine, Suzy Linger, asked me, "What's she like?" I should have answered simply, like she expected. Instead, it paralyzed me. What I was feeling was, "She's unlike anyone else. Like no one I've met before." Any answer I thought to say made her sound too common.
In our text this morning, we'll encounter the first disciples called by Jesus. If you asked them what Jesus is like, they'd say, "Unlike any other. Like no one we've met before."
This morning we continue our series from the Gospel of Mark, “Introducing…Jesus.” We'll see today how true it is that Jesus is unlike any other. Speaks with complete authority. Not just confidence. But authority, like someone who has control. Over people. Over demons. Even over diseases. He speaks and people stop what they’re doing to follow him. He speaks and demons obey. He speaks and diseases leave someone’s body. He speaks truth, not like someone who has studied a lot but like someone who is the truth.
This morning we’ll be in the Gospel of Mark. To help us understand who Mark is and what kind of writing he gives us, this is a quote from Papias (Pappy-us), a man who knew the apostle John and died in the 2nd century AD:
The Elder [apostle John] said this also: Mark, who became Peter’s interpreter, wrote accurately, though not in order, all that he remembered of the things said or done by the Lord. For he had neither heard the Lord nor been one of his followers, but afterwards, as I said, he had followed Peter, who used to compose his discourses with a view to the needs of his hearers, but not as though he were drawing up a connected account of the Lord’s sayings. So Mark made no mistake in thus recording some things just as he remembered them. For he was careful of this one thing, to omit none of the things he had heard and to make no untrue statements therein.
Papias, “Exegesis of the Lord’s Oracles,” bishop of Hierapolis, d. approx AD 130
Why is this helpful?
- Ancient witness. Papias’ life overlapped with the apostle John.
- “Peter’s interpreter.”
- “Accurately, though not in order.”
- “Omit none of the things he had heard and to make no untrue statements.”
- That’s what we have in Mark’s gospel.
- A Kingdom Like No Other
- An Invitation Like No Other
- Authority Like No Other
- A Healer Like No Other
- A Mission Like No Other
Read Mark 1:14–28 and Prayer
I. A Kingdom Like No Other
We start this week where we left off last week, at the beginning point of Jesus’ ministry: Mark 1:14–15.
Mark tells us that above everything else, Jesus is “proclaiming (kērussō) the gospel of God.” He’s a “herald” (kērux) of God’s good news.
And a key part of that “good news” has to do with “the kingdom of God [being] at hand.” It’s here.
This moment is a new day of fulfilling all those OT promises about God’s kingdom being established on earth:
- With all nations bowing to him (Pss 2:8; 22:27);
- God’s people vindicated (Isa 60);
- God’s righteousness and glory covering the earth (Isa 11; Hab 2:14);
- God’s chosen King reigning over all things (2 Sam 7:14);
- The end of all death and disease, the end of the curse of sin (Gen 3:15–20; Isa 65:17ff.; Rev 21:1–4).
What we’ll see in Jesus’ ministry is not the completion of this kingdom vision but a step forward in its fulfillment. During Jesus’ ministry and continuing into the Church Age is a time where you have this dual reality.
We experience the world as it is in all its fallen state AND the world as it will be in the new heavens and new earth. It’s the ALREADY AND NOT YET. Things are ALREADY changing but everything is NOT YET changed.
We can ALREADY live with Christ as our King but he is NOT YET reigning as he he will reign.
In that coming day which is NOT YET here (Rev 21–22)
- God’s King will be in perfect fellowship with God’s people;
- God’s triumph over Satan will be complete;
- God will completely remove death and disease and the curse of sin from the creation
But Jesus is proclaiming, “The kingdom of God is at hand,” it’s near. It can ALREADY be experienced.
And in passage from Mark we’ll see just how true that is: Fellowship with our King, his triumph over the devil, the undoing of disease and death.
II. An Invitation Like No Other
With such an opening we expect fireworks and fanfare. Maybe an army to instantly rally around this new revealed King.
What happens is very different. Some fishermen from an obscure village are invited to join him. We expected stars to fall from the sky, and instead Jesus invites four fishermen to follow him. Talk about small beginnings.
But like with all things involving Jesus, there’s more going on here than we might expect.
We meet these fishermen doing what they’d been doing for years, “casting a net” into the Sea of Galilee. We’re a 100 miles north of Jerusalem outside Capernaum, a city never mentioned in the Old Testament.
“Casting a net” means throwing into the water a big, circular net about 10–15’ across with weights on the edge and a rope in the middle. As the weights fall and you pull the rope, any fish inside will be trapped. A half-dozen or so were caught at a time (William Lane, The Gospel of Mark, 67).
Jesus, God’s Chosen King of kings, sees these two men—sweaty, dirty, and smelling like fish—and says, “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men” (Mark 1:17).
Say what?!?! Like I said, this is an invitation like no other.
There’s no way Peter and Andrew would have known what Jesus was talking about—a ministry of evangelism and discipleship, casting the net of the gospel and seeing what converts would come in.
But they heard in Jesus’ word an inner call and they responded: Mark 1:18.
“Immediately” they left their livelihood to follow Jesus into an unknown future.
The day’s work isn’t finished yet. Jesus then goes to call James and John, sons of Zebedee.
James is the older brother here. John is likely a teenager. It’s this John who will outlive all the other disciples. This James will be the first martyr in the church, killed by sword by Herod (Acts 12:1–2).
Mark tells us they left their father Zebedee in the boat “with the hired servants,” a clue that even though the first disciples weren’t famous they weren’t necessarily poor.
The important thing here is that now the invitation is not only to leave their livelihood but also their family. All allegiances give way before Christ’s invitation.
The stress in Mark’s brief report falls upon the sovereign authority in Jesus’ call, and the radical obedience of James and John. So compelling is the claim of Jesus upon them that all prior claims lose their validity.
William Lane, The Gospel According to Mark
III. Authority Like No Other
In the next scene, Jesus with his four new followers enters a Capernaum synagogue on the Sabbath.
It is Jesus’ authority that “astonishes” this synagogue congregation.
First it’s the “authority” of his teaching (Mark 1:22). They were used to “scribes,” experts in the Old Testament. Teachers who knew about the Bible and could give the accepted interpretation of a verse.
But Jesus taught with “authority.” Likely there was something here like Jesus’ teaching in the Sermon on the Mount in Matt 5–7. He would start a topic with, “You have heard it said.” And then he’d say, “But I say to you.”
Jesus wasn’t teaching like a good interpreter of Moses. That’s what a “scribe” would do.”
Jesus was teaching like a new Moses!
But then his authority is revealed in a whole new way. Totally unlike a scribe!
He has a throwdown with a demon—Mark 1:23–26:
- The mere presence of Christ provokes the demon.
- “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth?”—Implication is that it’s not yet time for our real fight.
- “I know who you are—the Holy One of God”—These demons knew the truth about Christ in a way no one else in the synagogue did.
- “Be silent”—A fancy way of saying, “Shut up!” (France, NIGTC, 105).
- “Come out of him!”—The knockout punch. Hardly a fight at all.
The congregation was “amazed.”
- Don’t think of 1st century Jews as gullible and accustomed to exorcisms.
- The research done has shown the only person in available literature who did a number of exorcisms where these are reported in detail…is Jesus (France, NIGTC, 101).
- These people were just as amazed as we would be if this happened in our Sunday service.
But notice what “amazed” them: Mark 1:27: “A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.”
A couple things about this exorcism.
We need to see this as part of the in-breaking of the kingdom of God. Jesus announced, “The kingdom of God is at hand” (Mark 1:15). The final act of God’s kingdom coming will include Satan being thrown into the lake of fire (Rev 20:10).
And even now, Satan is bound in the pit of Revelation 20. We’re living now in that millennial era where Satan’s influence is real but limited.
Scenes like this one in Capernaum remind us that Jesus has power over all demonic powers.
And they remind us that demonic powers are real:
“The greatest achievement of the powers of evil would be to persuade us that they do not exist.”
Donald English, The Message of Mark
IV. A Healer Like No Other
As this Sabbath day in Capernaum continues, Jesus is far from finished.
That afternoon Jesus goes to the home of Peter and Andrew. Mark 1:29–31.
Peter’s “mother-in-law” is sick. In other words, Peter the great apostle was married and his wife’s mother lived with them.
Then we read the detail that this time Jesus didn’t heal with an authoritative command. Instead, he touched her: Mark 1:31.
And then to show just how complete the healing was, “she began to serve them.”
That’s a good picture of the work of Jesus: Not just removing sickness, but getting a person back to a place where they can serve others.
Jesus the Healer is far from finished, though. Once the sun sets, the people come. Mark 1:32–34.
Why? Healings weren’t to be done on the Sabbath. They waited till sunset when the Sabbath was over. Then they came.
In mass they came—“whole city,” “he healed many,” “cast out many demons.”
The in-breaking of the kingdom. One day death and disease will be completely eliminated. But, “the kingdom of God is at hand,” so healings can happen today.
We know not everyone will be healed. But healings can happen today.
V. A Mission Like No Other
In our last section Jesus clarifies why he came. Mark 1:35–39.
First we want to see Jesus the man praying alone while it was still dark.
Then there’s Peter who always knows what’s best for Jesus.
- Put up a billboard
- Hire a media strategist
- Bigger presence on social media
But Jesus has been praying to his Father. From his Father he got crystal-clarity on why “he came.”
He came to “preach” in the towns throughout Galilee.
- Goal wasn’t to make sure everyone in Capernaum had their sicknesses healed.
- Goal was to proclaim the gospel of the Kingdom far and wide.
- Included physical healings but much bigger.
- Physical healing helpful only until you die.
- The gospel of the kingdom has value into eternity.
Jesus is unlike any other. Three ways to respond:
- Follow him – All earthly allegiances need to give way before your allegiance to Christ.
- Remember he’s “the Holy One of God” – His agenda in your life is step-by-step to remove the evil from your life. He’s not “the Nice One of God,” wanting you to do what you want in order to be happy. No, he’s “the Holy One of God.”
- Pray knowing that “the kingdom of God is at hand” – The kingdom is at hand, because God’s King is at hand. Pray for the sick knowing he’s at hand. Pray for heart change knowing he’s at hand. We’re not in the “new heavens and new earth,” but God’s kingdom is at hand.
Let’s close with a look at what’s to come when God’s Kingdom has fully come:
1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (Rev 21:1–4)
Prayer and Closing Song
 From Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, cited in Walter Wessell’s Mark, EBC (1984), 605; see also Edwards, The Gospel According to Mark, PNTC, 3 (who dates the quote to AD 90–100); David Garland, A Theology of Mark’s Gospel, 54, who defends the historicity of it.
 Lane, NICNT, 69.
 Donald English, The Message of Mark, BST, 56.
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