This past Thursday the US House of Representatives passed House Resolution 5, now known as “The Equality Act.” It’s likely the bill won’t pass the Senate, but it will at least come up for a vote this time. In 2019 the same bill was put forward but it never got a vote in the Senate. It’s likely to get one this round.
The point of the bill is to take ideas like “gender identity” and “sexual orientation” and make them part of our national, federal Civil Rights Laws. Workplaces, retail establishments, sports, adoption agencies, and schools could no longer discriminate on the basis of a person’s “gender identity” or “sexual orientation.”
If a person identifies as a female, they need to be able to do anything and everything currently available to females.
A man who identifies as a woman should be able to access women’s sports and scholarships, women’s homeless shelters, and women’s everything.
Christian adoption agencies would be required to allow any type of couple to adopt.
In its current form, the law makes no provisions for religious exemptions. Part of the goal of the law seems to be to make it so that Christian business owners and citizens could no longer claim their religious convictions prevent them from doing or saying certain things.
Increasingly there’s the desire to make it so that our Christianity is appropriate for our hearts and churches and homes, but nowhere else.
More and more it seems like what the culture isn’t content for Christians to let other people live as they see fit. The culture wants us to affirm things the Bible says simply aren’t true.
We don’t know where this will go. Revivals happen. National leaders get saved. God has a thousand ways to remove someone from a place of influence.
But the tug-o-war is out there. And many of you are living in it in your workplaces. Generally, the larger your company and the more national or international it is, the more you’re feeling the pressure to suppress your Christian views and toe the line for a certain agenda.
Our passage this morning speaks to this issue. It may not speak to it in a very optimistic way, but it does bring a healthy dose of realism.
The Bible is profoundly realistic. Last week the message was on trusting God to answer bold prayers. And that truth absolutely stands.
Today’s truth is that sometimes following Christ will get you rewarded in this life. But sometimes it means you’ll be opposed or even killed. Three categories: (1) By Those Closest to Us, (2) By Those We’re Trying to Help, (3) By Very Powerful Enemies.
If you’re not a Christian, this will be an interesting sermon for you. This sermon isn’t promising if you turn to Christ you’ll get health, wealth, a spouse, and a house full of kids. It’s actually promising that if you turn to Christ you might end up rejected by your friends and killed. But if you do turn to Christ, I can say it’s still worth it.
Turning to Christ you’ll be forgiven of all your sins. That mountain of guilt on your back will be lifted off. You’ll be at peace with your heavenly Father. You’ll receive eternal life. So that even if someone does kill you, it’s only taking you to a place better than anything you could dream of.
That’s the realism the Bible offers—profound confidence in an all-powerful God. Honestly facing the opposition we’ll face in this world.
READ MARK 6:1–13 and pray.
“His hometown” (Mark 6:1) – Back in Nazareth. Not Bethlehem where he was born, but Nazareth where he grew up.
As his custom, “he began to teach in the synagogue” (Mark 6:2). People “astonished” (ibid.).
And then the questions come (Mark 6:2–3):
“One who constructs, builder, carpenter” (BDAG).
Guelich (WBC 1:1–8:26): “term used for manual labor with stone, metal or wood,” and means “Jesus grew up and learned a trade like everyone else in Nazareth” (310).
France (NIGTC, 243): “In a small village the tektōn would need to be versatile, able to deal both with agricultural and other implements and also with the construction and repair of buildings….He was a significant figure in the village economy, probably also undertaking skilled work in the surrounding area.”
Guelich (WBC, 310): Four brothers, though “only two of whom are known elsewhere in the NT (James, Jude).
“These questions point to his being a local son, a common, ordinary man with a trade and a family known to all. This common knowledge of who Jesus ‘really’ was led the townspeople to reject the alternative that God might be using him in any special way.”
Jesus’ response (Mark 6:4–6)
The takeaway: If it was true for Jesus, it’ll be true for us. Sometimes we’re opposed by those closest to us.
Now for the first time the Twelve are commissioned.
Resist any materialistic motives
We get a little snapshot of their ministry — Mark 6:13.
Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. (James 5:14–15)
But Jesus also prepares them for being resisted — Mark 6:11.
But we want to hear this as a reminder. People will reject us. Even THOSE WE’RE TRYING TO HELP will oppose us. Even if you bring a message of salvation, healing from diseases, and deliverance from demons, they’ll reject you. No matter how carefully you speak, how godly you act, how much you check your motives, sometimes people will not “receive you” or “listen to you.”
When we read this third part of the narrative it’ll feel like it doesn’t belong.
READ MARK 6:14–29.
With Jesus’ dramatic ministry in chapters 4–5, his reputation spreads. King Herod chimes in (Mark 6:14).
He’s trying to make sense of Jesus.
Mark decides to tell the story of John’s beheading here. It’s a flashback to give some explanation of what happened.
Who is King Herod?
The first one is Herod the Great, the head of this family line.
The 2nd Herod is the one in our passage, Herod the Great’s son, Herod Antipas.
The third Herod appears in Acts 12, also called “Herod the King.”
The fourth Herod goes is Agrippa’s son, Herod Agrippa II.
The woman Herodias enters our narrative as well.
John the Baptist spoke out against this sin—Mark 6:18.
Eventually “AN OPPORTUNITY CAME” (Mark 6:21).
“I want…that…immediately…you might give…to me…on a platter…the head…of John the Baptist.”
We need to remember who John the Baptist is.
And as Jesus’ ministry was growing, he humbly said:
He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:30)
But the greatest commendation he received came from Jesus himself:
“Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist.” (Matt 11:11a)
But with such an impeccable record, his head ends up on a platter.
John the Baptist was faithful with everything the Lord gave him. He had his moments of uncertainty, asking Jesus, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we expect another?” But he was tirelessly faithful. He spoke fearlessly to kings and priests and Pharisees and Roman soldiers. His reward? His EARTHLY reward was getting his head on a platter. There was a HEAVELY reward we can’t even imagine. But his EARTHLY reward was getting his head on a platter.
And when you stand back and take in the whole chapter, you realize that’s what God is telling us.
There is a basic conflict of interests, even of ideologies, between the kingdom of God and the norms of human society. An ambassador of the kingdom of God is called not only to a mission of restoration and deliverance, but also to a conflict of which John’s fate provides an extreme example.
R.T. France, The Gospel of Mark
Sometimes following Christ will get you rewarded in this life. But sometimes it means you’ll be opposed or even killed. Three categories: (1) By Those Closest to Us, (2) By Those We’re Trying to Help, (3) By Very Powerful Enemies.
But God’s word is clear. Even when they do, press on. Continue on. Don’t quit.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. (Heb 12:1–3)
And a final blessing from Jesus’ younger brother Jude. A man who later in life realized who came to realize who this mysterious brother of his really was.
We run our race “looking to Jesus” because of this view of who Jesus is.
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. (Jude 1:24–25)
Prayer and closing song
 France, The Gospel of Mark, NIGTC, 246.
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