It might’ve gone like this…
The disciple patted the donkey on the snout.
“I know we’re not your owners, but you have a very important job today. You will be carrying the Messiah through the streets of Jerusalem.”
The donkey snorted.
“That’s his way of saying, ‘Yes!’” His companion joked as he motioned to the right. “Here we go. This way to Jesus. I remember this olive tree from when we left.”
They continued a little farther past the olive tree, over the hill’s pinnacle, to the boulder where Jesus and the other disciples were resting.
Jesus smiled when he saw them approach:
Just like I asked. Thank you.”
One disciple took off his cloak.
“Here Jesus. Use this as a saddle. It should keep the ride from getting too rough.”
A few of the other did the same.
Then, Jesus thanked them, steadied the burro, and swung his legs over its haunches.
Together the crew began the afternoon journey to Jerusalem.
It was a bit quiet.
Some of the disciples had knots in their stomach.
There were people in Jerusalem who didn’t like Jesus.
People who were out to get Jesus.
In fact, Jesus had told them (repeatedly now) that when they got to Jerusalem, he would be falsely accused, arrested, and…killed.
A few of the disciples could be seen stretching their muscles.
Just in case they ran into a mob.
If only we can enter quietly.
If only we don’t cause a scene.
If only we enter, quietly…
THERE HE IS! I SEE HIM. IT’S JESUS.
The disciples were caught off guard.
But they weren’t hostile.
There at the entrance was a group of people.
Hands in the air.
Palm branches in the air.
Hosanna! Hosanna! Hosanna in the highest!
The donkey almost stumbled.
The people had strewn their coats.
Their outer garments.
A variety of large leafy palm branches onto the road.
A way to welcome their hero.
Hosanna! Hosanna! Hosanna in the highest!
The farther the group went into the city, the more people joined the celebration.
A group of many were seeing who could shout louder to the right.
A group of kids were having fun waving the palm branches on the left.
A senior citizen was grinning ear to ear as he struggled past his arthritis to join the celebration.
Hosanna! Hosanna! Hosanna in the highest!
Suddenly, the group was in the thick of the city.
More and more people had gathered to join the parade.
It wasn’t just a small group anymore.
It was a straight up crowd.
Hosanna! Hosanna! Hosanna in the highest!
The disciples shook their heads.
This was no longer a quiet entry.
This was no longer just ‘slipping in.’
This was a scene.
This was a commotion.
Was a parade!
I. The Victory Parade
This is Palm Sunday.
A day we celebrate how Jesus paraded his saving authority into Jerusalem.
It would be neat to celebrate with a parade.
To wave a palm branch.
To throw our coats on the ground.
To shout Hosanna with the people of Jerusalem.
But I don’t have that many palm branches.
I didn’t wear a coat.
And I’m fresh out of donkeys.
Because to parade the message of Jesus…
We have all we really need.
Because to parade the message of Jesus…
All we really need is you.
The lesson comes from 2 Corinthians 2. It describes a different kind of parade, “But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere.”
“Triumphal Procession,” refers to the type of parade that occurs after a military victory.
The musicians would march the streets.
The king would ride in on a stallion.
The solders would carry the victory spoils of the war.
Arms full of jewelry.
Carts carrying golden statues.
Cages carrying the occasional Bengal tiger.
But by far….
For a king…
The greatest victory spoils of all.
Or fine jewels.
People who were no longer a part of the warring nation.
People who now served the king.
We are Jesus’ VICTORY SPOILS!
Jesus won us.
He went to battle for us.
He went to war for us.
He went to bloody war on the cross for us!
He defeated sin to win us.
He defeated shame to win us.
He defeated guilt…
He defeated hatred…
He defeated evil to win us.
He defeated death itself to win us to himself!
Speaking of death, that’s what the battle cost him.
He was a king on the front lines..
Battling to death for us.
That’s uncommon to see a king do that.
But do you know what’s uncommon.
Seeing a king give up his life for his people…
And then coming back to life three days later.
Friends, Jesus won.
You have already been set free.
You are a part of his kingdom.
You belong to Jesus.
You are his victory spoils.
II. The Importance of Parade Smells
So how do you do parade for Jesus?
For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ… (v.15)
I love it! Paul sticks with the parade theme by discussing parade smells.
What kind of smells do you usually associated with a parade?
Gasoline from that replica roadster.
The sweat of the trombone player.
The hot dog from that guy sitting a couple of sidewalk squares over from you.
Paul says, We believers are to be the AROMA of Christ!
It’s like walking into a restaurant and you immediately smell delicious oven baked pizza.
Your mouth starts watering.
Your tummy starts grumbling.
Your wallet starts opening.
All because the smell made you think of that delicious people.
God wants you to be like that.
That you live your life in such away, it makes people think of Jesus.
Which leads to a very intriguing question…
Can others smell Christ on you?
Do those around you know that you follow Jesus?
Can others smell Christ on you?
Or do you give off a different kind of fragrance?
Maybe you reek of your politics.
Or your opinions about the virus.
You smell like your ETSY store.
Or your latest health kick.
Of your self-promotion.
Or your sexual promiscuity.
Or your vehement anger.
Maybe your own spouse can’t even smell Jesus on you!
If that’s the case, your smell isn’t pleasing to God.
You smell of the world.
God hates the smell of the world
Because the world stinks of sin.
Good news? Look at the passage again. It says, “We are the pleasing aroma of Christ.” (v.15)
Notice the tense.
It doesn’t say, “We were.”
Or we “might be.”
Confronted by the stink of my own life decisions, I ask:
When we are confronted by our own stinky deeds, how can that be?
There was this Febreze commercial where the room was covered in stink.
Pet hair everywhere.
Old banana peels.
It looked like it stunk.
But…the host took a bottle of Febreze.
They sprayed it a few times into the air.
And then, led a blindfolded person into the room to see what they smelled.
“It smells like fresh linens. Am I in a laundry room?”
Jesus covered your stench of sin.
He covered your stench of sin.
It’s a powerful scent too.
You are covered with the fragrance of forgiveness.
The perfume of peace.
The scent of your Savior.
Friends, God has covered you in the smell of his righteousness.
Make sure others catch a whiff.
III. Different Smells
But that means we have to discuss one more very important point. It’s found in verses 15-16:
We are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life.
Because people react differently to the same smell.
My grandpa was a farmer. Sometimes when we are driving out in the country and catch a whiff of the cows, it generates pleasing memories of grandpa’s farm. I breathe it in. “Smells refreshing.”
Julianna on the other hand? She’ll be plugging her nose.
People react differently to the same smell.
People react differently to Jesus.
Some find the scent of Jesus OFFENSIVE.
This was true for Jesus!
Some people hated his message – that’s the whole point of Holy Week. The scheme to kill him does!
Was the problem Jesus?
Was he saying the wrong thing?
The problem was in their selfishly sinful sense of smell.
They loved the stench of sinful pride.
Jesus was threatening to overpower it.
They were angry.
This will be true for you.
Some people won’t like it.
They will tell you to keep your Jesus to yourself.
They will tell you to stop inviting them to Easter.
They will tell you to be quiet.
But do not quit sharing Jesus.
Because while some hate the fragrance of the Gospel…
Some find the scent of Jesus GLORIOUS.
Think of the crowd chanting Jesus’ name! Many of them saw him as their Savior!
When he entered Jerusalem they thought, “Mmmm…Here is that sweet smell of salvation.
That fragrance of forgiveness.
That powerful perfume of peace.
And some of the people you interact with are just waiting for you for the message that your Savior brings.
Sometimes it isn’t who you expect.
Judy was a nurse down at a local retirement home. I used to visit this home every Friday and deliver a message that was tailored very specifically to the people of that community.
For example, I’d focus a lot on end of life issues.
And I’d drop any references to Twitter and Facebook.
The message was tailored to the senior residents.
But Judy came in to give out some medication.
Judy sat down and listened to the message.
Judy started crying.
Afterwards Judy revealed to me that she was just diagnosed with cancer. She was afraid. She was a sinner. And felt far apart from God, but…this message seemed just for her.
She was right.
Who will God bring the Gospel to through you?
IV. The Parade Route
Where is this parade going?
What is the parade route?
I remember in the small town I grew up.
People were always trying to get to the Zweig’s grill parking lot.
It was the best spot in town to watch the parade.
People would setup their chairs for the 4th of July parade the night before it happened.
It’s like waiting outside the Apple store for the new iPhone.
Only, instead of waiting for the latest technology.
You’re waiting for a couple of stale Brach’s peppermints.
Paul thought he knew where his parade should go.
He’s the guy who wrote the lesson from 1 Corinthians.
He had been on a mission journey and had made his plans to go and share the message of Jesus in Troas.
Paul probably had big plans for Troas.
Starting on church in the suburbs.
Doing some urban ministry.
Maybe even an Early Learning Center.
Before he could enter, something happened…
Paul went down to Troas. During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” (Acts 16:8-9)
Did you catch that?
God sent Paul a different direction.
He re-routed the parade.
And…What did Paul do?
God, I really think the parade should go through Troas. The streets are wider and more people will see it!
After Paul had seen the vision, he got ready at once to leave for Macedonia…”
Paul trusted God’s plan for the parade.
If God closed off one street…
It was with good reason.
Time to go the direction that God opened.
When the planned parade ROUTE closes, God opens ANOTHER.
I think about that a lot as I reflect on 2020.
At the beginning of the year, we had big plans.
A full-fledged sanctuary update.
A possible 3rd option for jam packed in-person worship.
A doubled down focus on ministry in North Raleigh.
God had other plans.
Instead of the sanctuary update, we got a technology update.
Instead of a jam-packed 3rd service, we got a 3rd service out of necessity.
Instead of keeping our focus here, we moved forward with plans for a 2nd site in Durham.
When God closes one route, he opens another.
Is YOUR LIFE where you thought you’d be?
In the right career?
With the right amount of money?
Enjoying the friendships, you planned to enjoy?
After 2020, probably not.
But guess what.
Even if you aren’t where you thought you’d be.
You are where God thought you’d be.
And he has good reason.
He wants you to parade HIS Glory through the streets of your life.
In front of the people that are in your life right now!
That neighbor you see as you work from home in your backyard.
That Amazon delivery driver who frequents your house.
That guy on social media who you’ve never even met in real life.
They are the parade route.
That’s where God wants you to parade HIS glory.
V. What Now?
Because there’s nothing worse than a parade that doesn’t start on time.
Ask any mom of three who’s had to calm down her cranky toddlers waiting in the cold for the first fire truck to show up.
It’s the same thing with this parade!
It’s time to get it going.
Consider this the initial fire engine.
It’s Palm Sunday, 2021.
It’s time to display Jesus’ glory in your life.
Don’t take a nap.
Don’t fall asleep.
Don’t take this year off.
Don’t chalk it up to COVID.
Don’t be quiet.
Don’t be silent.
Don’t be subtle!
Ride the little scooter thing that they do in parades.
Whatever it is God has given you to do.
Wherever it is God has given you to do.
For whomever it is God has given you to do it.
Parade Christ’s glory!
Shout it with me: Hosanna!
Hosanna in the highest!
We are on Day Eight of quarantine.
I don’t know if any of you have gone through this at all. But…
Quarantining when others aren’t?
It makes you feel like an outcast.
Sometimes I just look out my front window and think:
“Oh, dog walkers. Wish I could be included in your dog walk.”
“Oh, pizza deliver guy. You don’t know how good you have it.”
“Oh, Amazon delivery person, you lead such an exotic life. You’re probably doing something amazing and exciting…
…like delivering Baking Soda.
Must be nice.
But if I had it bad, I think Julianna has had it worse.
She’s been quarantining from us.
Not able to touch Daniela.
Not able to hug her.
Not able to just sit and enjoy a meal with the family.
When she comes to the door to request some water, we back up.
Go back to your bedroom, outcast.
Maybe you understand.
COVID has a lot of us feeling like outcasts.
But to be fair…
Feeling like an outcast was a thing long before COVID.
Today we are going to see how Jesus deals with outcasts. Before we do, a prayer: Lord, strengthen us by the truth. Your word is the truth. Open our eyes to see how you want us to see, to hear how you want us to hear, to believe what you would have us believe. Amen.
I. The Outcast
The true account starts in Mark 10:46, “As Jesus and his disciples and a large crowd were leaving Jericho, a blind man, Bartimaeus the son of Timaeus, was sitting by the road begging.”
It notes that Jesus and his disciples are in Jericho. It’s a fairly large city in the ancient world. Jesus has gathered a fairly large crowd from this very large city.
I bet that crowd was made up of lots of people.
Merchants and farmers.
Scribes and teachers.
Mothers and fathers.
People who live on the North side.
And people who live on the South side.
But there is one person who was not a part of the crowd.
His name literally means, “Son of Timaeus.” It’s like the Ancient Jewish way of saying, “Junior” or “Timaeus the Second.”
I don’t know what Bartimaeus’ dad Timaeus was like.
But dads are part of the genes, so they tend to pass things on to their kids.
Maybe, Timaeus passed on his blue eyes.
Maybe, Timaeus passed on his love of corn bread.
Maybe, Timaeus passed on his receding hair line.
But there is one thing that Timaeus passed on in his genetic code.
Whether Timaeus himself dealt with it or not.
Bartimaeus couldn’t see.
As a result, he was an outcast. You can see it highlighted in the text.
He was an outcast by LOCATION. Notice that verse 46 starts with Jesus entering Jericho. Then, a crowd develops around him in Jericho. Then, Jesus and the crowd leave Jericho.
It isn’t until the crowd is leaving that Jesus crosses Bartimaeus’ path.
That means Bartimaeus was outside the city.
By the gate.
At the city.
But not in the city.
He was an outcast by OCCUPATION. As verse 46 notes, he was a beggar. That was his job.
And begging is a unique occupation.
Because when you are begging, you don’t offer a good or a service in return.
In fact, this mentions that Bartimaeus was sitting.
He wasn’t on his feet pretending to be a robot.
He didn’t offer anyone some candy at a discount price.
He wasn’t playing on his violin with a donation hat on the ground in front of him.
He wasn’t doing anything.
Because he didn’t have anything to offer.
Other than the offer to leave you alone, if you only gave him a dollar.
He was an outcast by IDENTITY.
Because did you notice what comes first in verse 46?
Not his name.
I’m sure that’s how people knew him.
“Did you see that blind guy on the side of the road?
“Yep, the blind guy asked for money.”
“Man, I’m sick of the blind guy asking for money.”
He had a name.
But I wonder how many people used it.
II. The In Crowd
When Bartimaeus heard that it was Jesus…, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” (v.47)
I wonder how Bartimaeus realized it was Jesus.
It doesn’t seem like anyone reached out to tell him on purpose.
I doubt anyone ran to get him.
I doubt anyone shouted out to him.
I know that nobody texted him: “Hey Jesus is here. Where are you?”
He probably heard some noise.
More noise than usual.
A crowd full of noise.
He started asking, “Hey! What’s that noise? What’s going on? Somebody tell me?”
And it wasn’t until he almost bumped into a member of the crowd that he heard, “Get out of my way. I’m trying to follow to Jesus.”
Bartimaeus quickly responded:
“Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
David was a legendary Old Testament figure. He’s the kid who killed Goliath, the king that secured Israel’s prosperity, and the poet that wrote more than half the book of Psalms.
He also was prophesied to be the great, great, great, great, many times over, grandfather of the Messiah:
I will raise up for David a righteous Branch…In his days Judah will be saved…This is the name by which he will be called: ‘The Lord is our righteousness’ (Jeremiah 23:6)
Bartimaeus knew this prophecy.
Bartimaeus knew of Jesus.
And Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, knew that Jesus, the son of David, was the Messiah.
He’s shouting, because he’s confident!
Unfortunately, the crowd is just as confident… that he is being a nuisance: Many told him to be quiet. (v.48a)
Quiet. He’s busy with his crowd.
You don’t belong with him.
Stop bothering him, will ya.
But he kept shouting all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” (v.48)
Jesus heard him.
And Jesus said, “Call him.” (v.48b)
Bartimaeus got up.
He couldn’t see, but he was going to let that stop him from getting to Jesus.
He threw his cloak down.
He bumped into person after person.
Jesus wants to speak with me!
Finally, he reached Jesus. “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him.
“Rabbi, I want to see again.” (v.51)
And did you know….
Those were the last words that blind Bartimaeus ever spoke?
Because when he spoke again, he was no longer blind Bartimaeus.
Jesus told him, “Go. Your faith has made you well.” And immediately, he received his sight. (v.51-52)
III. Authority that Cares about Outcasts
This account is more than just a nice story for Bartimaeus. It is filled with important lessons for outcasts and former outcasts.
(1) While Others MOVE ON, Jesus STOPS.
In his lifetime, I wonder how many people had simply passed Bartimaeus by?
Sorry, no money.
Sorry, I don’t carry cash.
Sorry, I gave my last dollar to the other beggar.
I say that because I wonder in my own lifetime how many beggar I’ve passed by.
Sorry, I’m busy.
Sorry, got pastor things to do.
Sorry, no cash – at least easily accessible.
But not Jesus.
Verse 48 said, “Jesus stopped.”
Do you feel like an outcast?
Maybe it’s cause of COVID.
You had it.
You have it.
You’re sequestered because of it.
Maybe it’s depression.
Or a disability.
Or a lack of funding.
Or your background.
Or the color of your skin.
Or because you struggle with a sin that, in your opinion, most don’t struggle with.
What do most do when they see your struggle?
They move on!
They minimize it.
They get back to their lives….and leave you behind!
But not Jesus.
Actually… Jesus is stopping.
He is speaking through this lesson, through these words, through this message:
Jesus cares about you.
(2) While Others REBUKE, Jesus Shows MERCY
I was downtown back when going downtown was a thing.
I remember that on Fayetteville street, there was a beggar sitting on the side of the road.
He was asking people for money as they walked by.
I was a couple 100 feet back, but watch this unfold:
As the beggar asked for money, another pedestrian got in his face.
“Listen buddy. You better back off. Get out of our way. Leave us alone. And get a job.”
Thank goodness Jesus didn’t do that.
He didn’t do it for Bartimaeus in our story.
He had mercy.
He healed him.
And he didn’t do it for us.
He had mercy.
And healed use.
Because the truth is that Jesus saw you.
He saw you in your loneliness.
He saw you in your sadness.
He saw you in your guilt and shame – an outcast - far apart from his kingdom.
And Jesus showed mercy.
He showed mercy to outcasts by becoming an outcast.
He became an outcast from heaven as he walked this earth.
He became an outcast on this earth as he was hung on a cross.
He became an outcast from his Heavenly Father as he took on your sin.
He became an outcast from the living when he died.
He became an outcast from that too.
Because Jesus did that, you are no longer an outcast.
Because Jesus became an outcast, you are no longer out.
Because Jesus became an outcast, you are in.
(3) Jesus Brings the Outcast IN
That’s what he does for Bartimaeus. Did you catch this?
Because look at what happens after he heals Bartimaeus.
Immediately, Bartimaeus received his sight and began to follow Jesus. (v.52)
He was in.
He was in the crowd.
He was in the group of disciples.
He was in God’s kingdom.
Friends, because of Jesus you are in.
By faith in your Savior..,
You are IN his kingdom.
You are IN his family.
You are IN his church.
You are IN his graces.
You are IN his forgiveness.
You are IN his crowd.
You are IN his disciples.
You are IN eternal life.
And because of Jesus,
You will be IN heaven.
IV. What Now?
Let’s shift gears then.
We are IN God’s kingdom.
We are IN God’s family.
Jesus, the head of this family, is obviously concerned about bringing outcasts into his family.
Shouldn’t we be that concerned about it too?
Like this Easter, we should have more than just concern to get that one pleasant looking church friend of ours into church.
To be fair, we want that pleasant lady. Absolutely.
But we also want the outcast.
Here’s some ideas from the text on how to do it:
(1) See the Person
Because our world loves labels. We insert labels onto people and think we know everything about them because of that label.
This is the same thing so many did with Bartimaeus.
They just called him “blind guy.”
He saw a soul.
He saw Bartimaeus.
See the soul too.
Don’t see the homeless guy; see your brother.
Don’t see the single mom; see your sister.
Don’t see the foreigner; see God’s child.
Don’t see the drug addict; see someone else Jesus loves.
See the soul, that Jesus saw…
And died for….
And wants in his family…
And might work through you to bring into his family.
Because life is busy.
We’ve gotta get the vaccine, get the kids online, get on the ZOOM call, get the email sent, get the Doordash order in, get caught up on and get to bed, only to get up and do it all over again tomorrow.
But there was hustle and bustle for Jesus too.
He was surrounded by a crowd.
In the middle of teaching.
On the road to die for our sins.
Yet he stopped to help Bartimaeus.
There’s two weeks until Easter. Ready for the challenge?
Stop to talk to the one without a home.
Stop to encourage the refugee from another country.
Stop to help the man on the side of the road.
Stop to listen to the person with language difficulties.
Stop to hug the one with special needs.
Stop to converse with physically needy.
Like Jesus stopped.
(3) Take Action
That’s what Jesus did.
He didn’t just care about Bartimaeus.
He took action that showed he cared.
You aren’t Jesus.
You might not be able to fix things in that exact moment the way that Jesus fixed things for Bartimaeus.
But Jesus works through even the smallest faith filled actions.
Buy someone a lunch.
Give ‘em coffee.
Drop off some Easter candy.
Invite them to Easter worship.
Get their number, text them, and check in on them.
In order to accomplish Jesus’ mission, we need to reach those who are out…
In order to reach those who are out, we need to do some outreach…
Which leads to the final point…
(4) Make Gethsemane a Place for Outcasts
Because church is our community’s connection to Jesus.
Like it or not, they see Jesus through US.
Are we ready to show them a Jesus that WELCOMES outcasts?
It’s been difficult to make church feel welcoming during COVID.
A lot of things we do during COVID are things that we would have made a very lousy outreach plan prior.
If you aren’t on the list, you can’t get it.
If you aren’t wearing a mask, you can’t get in.
If you’re temperature check out, you can’t get in.
If you were near certain people, you’d better not even come to the door.
We need to go out of our way to make people feel welcome at a time when many will naturally not.
If you see someone at church, you haven’t seen before…
Say “Good morning”
Smile, (if it’s behind a mask) smile with your eyes!
Welcome them to church.
Show them to the coffee mugs.
Communicate to them that they belong.
Before they do.
Did you catch that part in the story?
Jesus told the man, “Go. Your faith has made you well…
Before he made the man well.
Jesus saw past his problem.
Jesus saw past his blindness.
Jesus saw past what made him an outcast.
Jesus already saw him as healed.
He saw HIM as part of the crowd…
Before HE was.
Just like he saw YOU as part of the crowd…
Before YOU were.
I. The Rich Man’s Error
Our lesson comes from Mark 10.
The same account is also found in Matthew 19.
In the Matthew version, a person described as a Rich Young Man approaches Jesus.
Perhaps not pridefully.
A steady look in his eyes.
Chest puffed out.
His fancy, new, “rich people” robe crisply tucked into his diamond studded, limited edition leather belt.
The people recognized him.
He was a local success story.
The kind of guy with a large following on social media.
With a YouTube Channel that had thousands of subscribers.
Who had a car strategically parked on the corner with his smiling mug plastered on the side, “Ask me about Low Real Estate rates.”
He noticed everyone looking in his direction.
And flashed a grin.
But the man had business to do.
And, as was often the case when he did business, he got straight to the point:
He asked, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” (v.17)
Build an orphanage?
Donate a month’s salary to the homeless?
Build an expansion onto the temple?
(I’m ahead of you. I drew up some plans on a napkin yesterday.)
Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except one—God. You know the commandments. ‘You shall not murder. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not steal. You shall not give false testimony. You shall not defraud. Honor your father and mother.’” (v.18-20)
The man looked at Jesus.
Brushed off his shoulder.
The man replied, “Teacher, I have kept all these since I was a child.”
Is there anything else?
Like university level stuff?
The trigonometry of holiness?
Let me know.
I can do it.
Jesus looked at him and loved him. He said to him, “One thing you lack. Go, sell whatever you have, and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” (v.21)
I picture him with his notepad:
SELL? Sure. Check. I can get a good return on my money.
GIVE? As in…take a hit?
Leave my stuff behind?
Who will take of my business?
What will become of my net worth?
I’ve done a lot, Jesus.
Most things aren’t hard for me to do.
I can’t do that.
He looked sad and went away grieving, because he had great wealth. (v.23)
Let’s pause the account right there and start dissecting the story.
Particularly, look back at verse 21. It’s key to understanding what’s going on here.
It says, “Jesus looked at the man and loved him.”
Did you see that?
This is important.
Jesus wasn’t trying to make the rich guy look like a fool.
Jesus wasn’t trying to win one for the poor people.
Jesus wasn’t trying to win a comment section political debate.
He was loving him.
It was because he loved the man that he gave him such an impossible task to do to earn eternal life.
Because the young man believed a lie.
A lie that could keep him forever out of eternal life.
The Law is Something I CAN Do for Eternal Life
That’s the whole point of his initial question to Jesus. He asked, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” (v.17)
He viewed eternal life as a To Do List.
Maybe you do too.
In fact, I have a ToDoList App on my phone.
When I check off a task, it disappears.
Today I made a list of things to do to earn eternal life as Jesus said.
Don’t kill anyone.
Don’t sleep with the next-door neighbor’s wife.
Don’t steal an apple from Food Lion.
Don’t punch a guy in the parking lot of Food Lion and steal his apple.
Never tell a lie in a courtroom.
Go to bed when mom and dad tell you – most of the time.
I did everything.
Look – the app even celebrates by shooting off confetti.
But how does Jesus respond?
“Go. Sell everything. Give it to the poor. And follow me.”
You want to DO eternal life?
Sell your stuff.
Not just the stuff you don’t want.
ALL your stuff.
The comfy couch.
The shiny shoes.
The Playstation 5.
Put it on Facebook Marketplace.
You can even use your phone to take some photos of it.
Before you sell your phone.
Before you give it away, do us a favor, and send us a screen shot of the total amount in your bank account.
Then, send me another screen shot when that bank account is empty.
Cause you gave it all away.
And you are now homeless.
Nothing but a Bible.
Can’t do it?
Then, you can’t have eternal life.
Which is the point.
Because for a sinner, like you, me or that rich young man,
Eternal life isn’t something you do.
The Law is Something I CAN’T do for Eternal Life
II. The Disciple’s Assumption
Which is why the disciples started to panic.
Jesus, wait, are you telling me that guy can’t get in?
He’s done a lot of things.
His name is on billboards and stuff.
If he can’t do enough to enter eternal life.
Then, I doubt I can!
Jesus saw their stress.
And decided to help.
He pointed at a camel tied up outside a nearby house.
It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. (v.24-25)
The disciples looked at the camel.
It was seven or eight feet tall.
Four or five feet wide.
Over a thousand pounds.
Do you know why it was tied up outside?
Because it wouldn’t fit through the front door!
Let alone the millimeter sized eye of a needle.
It’s impossible then!
Impossible for camel to go through the needle.
Impossible for the rich man to do eternal life.
And impossible for us to do eternal life?
Who then can be saved? (v.26)
Jesus looked at them.
For people, it is impossible, but not for God, because all things are possible for God.” (v.28)
Again, Jesus exposes another LIE. This time it was one that the disciples believed.
The Law is Something HUMANS are able to Do
That’s a terrible lie to believe.
Because these human hands are weak.
Have you ever done a Farmer’s Carry?
That’s where you take a dumbbell (try a 15 pounder) and you hold it in your hands while you walk.
At first, it’s not terribly hard.
But as you continue to hold the dumbbell, do you know what happens?
Your wrists start to burn.
Your shoulders start to shake.
Your palms start to sweat.
You drop it.
4 and a half minutes.
If human hands can’t even hold up a 15-pound dumbbell, how do you think we will hold up God’s holy law?
If we try and try and try and try and try because we think that it’s up to these human hands to earn eternal life…
We get tired.
We get downcast.
We get depressed just like Jesus’ disciples.
But Jesus didn’t let them stay depressed for long.
Because while Eternal Life isn’t something that HUMANS do;
The Law is Something only GOD Does
And he’s really good at it!
It’s kinda like a six-foot tall rollercoaster tycoon who puts up a sign that says, “You must be four and half feet tall to ride.”
He always qualifies.
Because “over four and a half feet tall” is who he is.
God is HOLY.
When the Law says, “Be holy.”
That’s not hard for him to do.
He is LOVING.
So when the Law says, “Be loving.”
He already is.
God has no problem doing good.
Because he is good.
III. The Opening Lie
Which reminds me…
We missed a lie.
Before Jesus exposes the disciple’s lie…
Before Jesus exposes the young man’s lie…
Jesus exposes a lie in the way the young man addressed him.
The young man said, “Good teacher…”
Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except one—God. (v.17-18)
Maybe that seems a bit harsh.
He was just trying to compliment you Jesus.
But Jesus speaks with a purpose.
He never actually denies being a good teacher.
He simply points out that the only one who is good is God.
If Jesus is good, then…he is God.
The lie young man believed in his address was that Jesus was just a human.
The truth is that Jesus was God.
The Law is something JESUS DID.
Because nothing is impossible with God.
And nothing is impossible with Jesus.
He did drive out a demon in the synagogue.
He did heal Peter’s mother-in-law from fever.
He did save a boy from a lifetime of seizures.
He did make his face to shine, his clothing to gleam, and heavenly saints to appear.
Nothing is impossible with Jesus.
He did honor his mom and dad.
He did not kill.
He did keep himself pure.
He did not steal.
He did not tell lies.
He did not cover.
Nothing is impossible with Jesus.
He did take your disobedience on himself.
He did give his obedience to you.
He did die in your place.
He did die for your sins.
He did rise triumphantly on day three.
He did declare you righteousness.
He did win you forgiveness.
He did win for you your eternal life.
In fact, do you remember Jesus’ challenge to the rich young man?
Sell everything and give to the poor.
That’s what Jesus did.
He gave up all he owned –
His throne, his eternal riches, the golden streets of him.
Even his life.
And he gave to the poor.
Friends, that’s what Jesus wants you to do.
Not all your things.
Not all your stuff.
But give up the notion that you need to do The Law to win eternal life.
Give up the stress.
Give up the guilt.
Give up the shame.
Because he has Authority over the Law,
He did what you haven’t been able to do.
He did what you aren’t able to do.
And he will do what you’ll never be able to do.
He did eternal life.
Peter finished washing his hands in the outdoor basin.
He shook some water into the ground.
And grabbed a towel to complete the process.
It was evening.
They had been traveling all day and had arrived at a familiar home in Capernaum.
Peter was exhausted.
Physically and mentally.
He came into the living quarters and noticed an open space right next to another disciple by the name of Simon.
Which is why Peter decided to stand.
Actually, all the disciples were spread out.
They had socially distanced around the room.
But this wasn’t the type of social distancing to keep you safe from a virus.
This was good old fashioned, I’m angry at you, social distancing.
Everybody seemed upset.
Everybody, that is, except Jesus.
He asked them, “What were you arguing about on the road?”(v.33)
No one said anything.
The silence was condemning.
They had been arguing about which one of them was the greatest. (v.34)
Now – the Bible doesn’t say what their arguments were.
But, being sinful people who have had sinful arguments before, perhaps we can hypothesize:
I’m the greatest, because I was the first disciple to follow Jesus.
Yes, well, I was the first disciple he wanted to follow him.
I’ve raised the most money.
I believed the best.
I’ve been rebuked the least number of times.
I’m most popular with the crowds.
I think Jesus has smiled at me most!
Jesus really likes the way I make his coffee.
I’m the greatest disciple!
But right now…
None of them felt very great.
This was the first step towards greatness:
Jesus said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.” (v.35)
I. Defining Greatness
There it is.
The definition of greatness from the greatest of all.
Do note; it is entirely different than the disciple’s definition of greatness.
It’s different than the world’s definition of greatness.
It’s different than sinful people’s definition of greatness.
At some level…
It’s undoubtedly different than your definition.
(1) Greatness Is Humble
This is so Un American.
Americans tend to think that greatness is proud, bold, and in your face about how awesome they are.
America is the greatest country on earth.
And I’m the greatest American citizen.
But it’s not just something ingrained in patriotism.
Have you heard of the Humble Brag?
It’s a statement posted on Twitter that appears to be humble, but is secretly bragging about how awesome you are.
A famous rock start tweeted, “Totally walked down the wrong escalator at the airport because of all the camera flashes…Go me.”
I’ve not had that problem…
A movie star posted, “What…does one wear to a meeting at the Style Network? Seriously.”
I’m usually more worried about what to wear to Walmart.
Somebody else Tweeted, “I just realized I’ve only showered in ONE of my FIVE showers since I’ve moved in here. This must change, #LifeProblems”
The thing is that these people have their Tweets retweeted.
They have hundreds of thousands of likes.
Their bragging makes them more popular.
Sinful thought says that in order to be truly great, you need to be proud, boastful, and in your face about it!
But in God’s kingdom, greatness is flipped.
It’s like a game of UNO Flip. You use your hand to play cards until you get down to zero. If someone suddenly someone plays the “flip” card, you have to flip your deck over and play with the other side.
And suddenly your DRAW FOUR wild becomes a measly “1”.
Jesus played the FLIP card.
If you want to be first, you’ll be last.
If you want to be last, you’ll be first.
(2) Greatness Serves
Jesus says, “You must become a servant…” (v.35)
Again, this is the reverse of society’s way of thinking.
Because if you were to go to a fancy restaurant, maybe the Angus Barn, and you’re all dressed up and looking nice.
In fact, everyone in your dinner part is dressed up and looking nice.
Sipping wine with pinky in the air.
Ordering the finest things off the menu just loud enough for everyone to hear.
Who is the greatest in the restaurant?
You might say that C.E.O. over in the corner who commands the most attention.
Or the government official who has four different waiters taking care of him.
But you’d be wrong.
In God’s kingdom the greatest in this scenario?
It’s the dishwasher covered in dirty dish sludge who’s running out to the rest room with a mop to clean up the plumbing emergency.
In God’s kingdom, greatness doesn’t get served.
in God’s kingdom, greatness serves.
(3) Greatness Serves ALL
Because the full transcript of Jesus’ conversation says, “You must become the servant of all.” (v.35)
To be fair, in society serving certain people actually lifts you up the social ladder.
I remember when I worked for a Valet Parking back at Seminary. We were charged with parking cars for the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra.
There were some nice cars.
And as they drove up, the other guys and I would always fight about how could take the nice cars.
I want that Corvet.
That Bentley is mine.
I’ll have the Red Ferrari.
But, then, I remember someone showing up who was driving a Station Wagon.
Nobody was clamoring to help that family.
In God’s kingdom, greatness serves all people.
The people who drive Ferraris and the people who drive scooters.
The people who live in mansions and the people who live on the streets.
The young and the old.
The white and the black.
The in person and online.
The Duke Fan, the UNC Fan, and the State Fan
The Republican, the Democrat, and the Unregistered.
The people who are nice to you, the people who are neutral to you, and that one guy at work who’s a jerk.
God calls the people of his kingdom to serve ALL people.
That means the person you are thinking of right now and you are trying to find a loophole NOT to serve.
God wants you to serve THEM.
True greatness serves ALL.
II. Greatness in Action
How great are you?
Not according to earthly standards,
But according to God’s standards.
If you are thinking…
I’m pretty humble. I don’t seek a lot of attention.
I have no problem serving others.
In fact, I served that underprivileged youth in my neighbor the other day, so…
Maybe I am great.
Here’s the problem with that assessment:
Jesus said, “Whoever wants to be first, must be last”.
And to be last, you need to want to be last.
If you want to be great, you aren’t.
Which was the problem for the disciples.
They wanted to be great.
And even if their arguments about their greatness were about how much they humbly served all types of people…
Just by mere virtue of arguing about greatness.
Indicated their desire for greatness.
Demonstrating their severe lack of greatness.
Do you know what Jesus said right before this?
Jesus who has the GREATEST amount of power.
Jesus who has the GREATEST amount of authority.
Jesus who has a place in the GREATEST heaven.
Do you know what he said before the disciples had their argument?
He said to them, “(I am going) to be delivered into the hands of men. They will kill [me], and after three days I will rise.” (v.31)
Did you hear that?
Jesus was going to humbled.
Considered a sinner.
A horrible sinner.
The worst of sinners.
Jesus was going to serve.
By allowing himself to be arrested.
By allowing himself to be crucified.
By allowing himself to be killed.
Jesus was going to serve ALL.
By dying for the shame of his prideful disciples.
By dying for the guilt of those awful Pharisees.
By dying for the sin…of you.
Jesus had greatness.
But he didn’t care about maintaining it.
He cared about saving you!
And that is what made him great.
And that is what makes YOU great.
Part of God’s greatest family.
III. What Now?
Taking the cue from Jesus, we’ve got some ways to practice Jesus’ definition of greatness.
(1) Humble Yourself
This is actually the essence of faith.
Faith in Jesus says, “I am a sinner. The lowest of low. Scum of the earth.”
Faith doesn’t say, “I’m the greatest. You’re probably going to want to save me Jesus.”
Because in that scenario, you are making yourself the Savior.
That’s one of the key points of the Lenten season.
We spend a lot of time talking about sin.
We confess that we are sinners.
We sing songs that we are sinners.
“In Adam we have all been one, one huge rebellious man.”
“Chief of sinners though I be.”
To remind ourselves that it was Jesus who got us here.
It is so easy for church people to stop being humble.
To think of ourselves as better than other people.
To think of ourselves as great because…
“I’ve read all the Lenten meditations.”
“I wave a pretty mean praise hand.”
“I know all the verses of In Adam We have All Been One.”
And during COVID, we’ve developed new ones.
Because I’ve been to all the in-person services.
Because I’ve stayed at home for all the in-person services.
Because I’ve maintained faith by myself apart from any services.
Remember why we are here.
We are here…
Because God humbled himself.
Because God gave his life for us.
Because God died for our sins.
This is an application for your whole life.
But since we’re talking church, let’s stay in that arena.
One of the hidden challenges for churches over the pandemic has been a violent droppage in volunteerism.
A lot of our volunteer positions went away.
In person Sunday school teachers.
Greeters that shake your hand as you enter.
But while the position has went away.
Don’t allow serving to go away.
Because it’s easy to think of church as a place you come to be served.
The musicians serve up some music for me.
The snack people serve up some snacks for me.
The pastor serves up a message for me.
And it better be to my liking or I’ll let them know about it.
But Jesus wants this church to be a place where you serve.
This is VERY practical.
Head to GatherToTheGarden.com/SERVE right now to see all the ways that you can serve.
Even right now.
Even during a pandemic.
But you know.
There’s one more way that you can serve.
That doesn’t require you to go to click on any link.
You ready for it?
Because when you worship, it serves…
…me. I’m uplifted.
…your church family. They are uplifted.
…any visitors. “People care about Jesus here.”
Your simple presence is a way to serve.
(3) Greatness Serves ALL
Remember – that ALL means ALL.
It includes the people you like.
And, perhaps, most difficultly, people you don’t like.
Is there someone in your life that is hard to serve?
Someone who isn’t kind?
Someone who is annoying?
Someone who is kinda a jerk?
They are included in ALL.
And if it’s difficult to do, remember:
To Jesus, you were the hardest person to serve.
Because you are a sinner.
But God died for you anyway.
Because he’s great.
And in him, you are too.
In fact, Jesus wasn’t finished with the conversation.
After he dropped the definition of greatness, he thought he needed a visual aid.
So, he asked a little child to come stand by him.
I don’t know where the child came from.
One of the disciple’s kids?
A next door neighbor?
One of the impoverished kids on the side of the road?
We don’t know.
What we know is this:
Jesus took the child in his arms and said, “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.” (v.36-37)
Because when you serve a kid, you serve Jesus.
Because when you serve the someone society doesn’t see as great.
You serve someone who is eternally great.
Which is GREAT.
The other night we were relaxing in our family room.
Julianna was on the side of the couching lounging on some pillow.
I was on the other side with my feet upon the ottoman, right arm propped and left arm in Doritos’ bag.
Clay was at my feet, belly flat on the ground, looking up for Doritos crumbs.
Frankie was on the dog bed curled up on in a ball.
And our cat, Minnie, on the window ledge inside the window blinds watching.
It was nice.
Suddenly, my cat let out a screech: “MRRRRROOOOOWWWWW!”
She darted down from the ledge, did a lap around the room, and cowered under the table farthest from the window.
I tried to approach her, but her back was arched and she was letting out low toned roars.
For the rest of the night, she stayed there.
Eyes wide open.
Constantly gazing towards the window.
She was afraid.
And that fear took over her night.
I get my cat.
Fear can rule us.
It influences our decision.
It dominates our interactions.
It becomes an authority in our lives.
But not Jesus’ life.
Today we’re going to see that Jesus had plenty of reason to fear but didn’t. His earthly life wasn’t ruled by fear, and our lives don’t need to be either.
Before we begin, a prayer: O Lord, strengthen us by the truth. Your Word is the truth. Open our eyes to see what you want us to see; open our ears to hear what you want us to hear; and open our hearts to believe what you would have us believe. Amen.
I. A Scary Situation
This event is written about in Mark 9:14, “When they returned to the other disciples, they saw a large crowd around them, and some experts in the law were arguing with them.”
The “they” in this section refers to Jesus and a select few of his disciples – Peter, James, and John. They had gone up the “Mount of Transfiguration.” There they had seen his face shine like the sun as two ascended prophets return to earth for conversation and a divine cloud spoke to them.
They were feeling refreshed from this divine wilderness retreat!
But what about the other disciples?
Not so refreshed.
There was a large crowd around them and some experts in the law were arguing with them.
They were shouting at the disciples.
They were booing at the disciples.
They were shaking their fingers at the disciples.
Whenever the disciples tried to speak, the experts simply got louder.
As soon as all the people in the crowd saw Jesus, they were very excited and ran to greet him. (v.15)
You disciples have made me so very angry, why I oughta…Hey there’s Jesus!
Great to see you Jesus!
How’s it going Jesus?
I can’t believe I get to meet you Jesus.
Can I have your autograph Jesus.
But Jesus wanted some answers.
What were you arguing about?
A man steps forward.
He seems a bit more bothered than everyone else.
Eyes red and puffy…
As if he were crying.
“Teacher, I brought you my son, who has a spirit that makes him unable to speak. Wherever it seizes him, it throws him down, and he foams at the mouth, grinds his teeth, and becomes rigid. I asked your disciples to drive it out, but they could not.” (v.17-18)
Just like the pediatrician.
He couldn’t do anything.
Nor the epilepsy specialist.
Nor the pharmacists.
Nor the natural supplement provider.
Nor the Pharisees.
Nor the Saducees.
Nor anyone else I’ve asked for help.
They couldn’t help.
I feel like no one can.
They brought the boy to Jesus. As soon as the spirit saw him, it threw the boy into a convulsion. He fell on the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth. (v.20-21)
Jesus asked, “How long has this been happening to him?”
His whole life!
Even as an infant, we had to watch helpless as his little body would begin to convulse.
Sometimes the seizure happens in the worst possible places.
We were on the banks of the Jordan for a picnic and the spirit tried to throw him in the water to drown.
We were having at our neighbor’s campfire when the spirit tried to throw him in the fire to burn.
Jesus, I’m scared.
Scared he’ll always have this demon.
Scared he’ll never be himself.
Scared that I’m a failure as a dad for never figuring this out.
Scared that I’m going to lose him.
Maybe you can help.
If you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” (v.22)
At that, Jesus’ ears perked up.
He tilted his head.
His eyebrow did the “perplexed looking” thing.
“All things are possible for the one who believes.” (v.23)
The man began weeping again.
He looked at Jesus and cried out as loudly as the spirit had cried out earlier:
“I do believe. Help me with my unbelief!” (v.24)
Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit. “You mute and deaf spirit,” he said, “I command you to come out of him and never enter him again!” (v.25)
The spirit screamed.
It shook the boy violently.
It came out leaving the boy’s body limp on the ground.
Jesus walked over.
Took the boy’s hand.
And stood him up.
II. The Truths about Fear
This is another powerful account. There is some incredible truth for us about battling fear.
(1) Hostility Often Stems from Fear
Because when Jesus arrives on the scene, what does he find?
Matthew with a dry, erase board writing down the Pharisee’s ideas on how to face this demon?
They are arguing.
I think it has a lot to do with fear.
Everyone’s afraid of the demon.
The Pharisees are afraid…
…that no one asked them to drive out the demon.
…that they wouldn’t have the answer that anyone did.
…that if the disciples can drive it out, they’ll continue to lose followers to this “Jesus group.”
The disciples are also afraid.
…that the Pharisees might be right.
…that they don’t have any idea what they are doing.
…that they never have and never will belong doing God’s Work.
Everybody blames everybody else.
Hostility often stems from fear.
That’s easy to see when there is a big, scary situation.
But what about when the situation is less scary?
I have a lot of socks.
I have so many that I need to fold them, line them up, fold them in half, and then again. Next, I stand them up in the drawer so I can quickly see which all of the novelty characters are on each sock.
My wife was lovingly doing my laundry the other day.
But she folded the socks into a ball.
No big deal, right?
Not to me.
I was argumentative, “How dare you roll these socks into a ball?”
Later, I was thinking about why I was so upset.
Honestly, I think I was afraid.
Afraid that rolled the socks would leave a messy sock drawer?
Afraid that if I can’t keep order in my sock drawer.
How can I keep order in my house?
And if I can’t keep order…
I’m a failure.
I am very afraid of failure.
Failure as a husband.
Failure as a dad.
Failure as a pastor.
Failure as Jesus’ servant.
Hostility often stems from fear.
Are you in an argument?
A fight with your spouse?
A cold shoulder to your friends?
A guy on social media you keep blasting?
What are you afraid of?
Because when we are certain of God’s love for us, disagreements are no big deal.
“No worries. You can disagree. I’m going to heaven. All’s well.”
But when we are afraid…
The FIGHT part of fight or flight takes over.
We get angry.
We try to remove our fear by throwing it on the other person.
But that doesn’t remove fear.
It only adds to it.
Cause now we’re afraid that we’ll be found out as the fear monger that we are.
There’s a better way.
(2) In View of Jesus, Fear SUBSIDES
Look at what happens when as soon as the crowd of scared, hostile people see Jesus: “As soon as all the people in the crowd saw Jesus, they were very excited and ran to see Jesus (v.15)
I think that’s key.
They see Jesus and all their fears subside.
Especially true for the disciples.
Because every other time they’d been afraid, Jesus gave them reason not to be.
When they feared the possessed man in the synagogue? Jesus calmed their fears and drove the demon out.
When they were afraid that Peter’s mother-in-law would die? Jesus calmed their fears and healed her.
When they were afraid that the storm would capsize their boat? Jesus calmed their fears and the storm.
When they were afraid they didn’t have enough food to eat? Jesus filled them with courage and bread.
When they were afraid they would never be a part of God’s kingdom, Jesus told them they were.
In view of Jesus, your fears will subside.
Because he has defeated all the scaries.
He drove out your scary sin.
He defeated your scary guilt.
He disposed of your impending eternal death.
He says that you are HIS.
He says that you belong to HIS kingdom.
He says that you are FORGIVEN.
When approaches with a scary situation, I think the solution is fairly simple.
Grab your Bible.
Read a familiar story.
Meditate on a Scripture.
Fear will subside.
(3) Struggling with Fear Reveals a Struggle with Unbelief
But what about when your fears are deeper?
Like the dad. He was one person in the crowd that for whom Jesus’ appearance didn’t immediately drive away fear.
Because he had seen the disciples fail to help his son.
His whole life he had repeatedly seen people fail to help his son.
And was now struggling to believe anyone could help his son.
It’s why when he asks Jesus’ for help.
He says, “If…”
And reveals a deeper struggle.
Jesus sees it and addresses it, “Nothing is impossible for the one who believes. “
This wouldn’t be scary, if you only trust what I could do.
That is so true, Jesus.
Nothing in life would be scary if we only trusted what Jesus could do.
A Struggle with Fear Reveals a Struggle with Unbelief
This is especially challenging for a full-fledged non-believer.
Because to you there is no greater power that cares for you.
There is no being who loves you so deeply.
There is no reason to not be afraid.
If that’s you, can I tell you something.
You do have a God.
He does love you deeply.
He defeats ALL the scaries.
But even if you’re a believer, you can struggle with unbelief!
It’s exactly what this boy’s dad said, ““Lord I do believe, help me overcome my unbelief.”
If you repetitively struggle with fear,
Fear of COVID.
Fear of rejection.
Fear of job loss.
Fear of acceptance.
Fear of the rest of your life.
Perhaps the problem isn’t fear.
Perhaps the problem is faith.
(4) Jesus Produces Fear-Battling Faith
To be fair, Jesus doesn’t just yell at the dad.
He didn’t tell the man…
To believe better.
To come back when his faith was “higher”.
That he couldn’t work with such unbelief.
Jesus produced faith.
He drove out the demon.
He healed his son.
I imagine the man’s faith had ever been higher!
Jesus saved his son!
Jesus did the impossible!
Jesus is the Savior!
Jesus doesn’t just command faith; Jesus produced it.
The more you interact with Jesus.
The more Jesus produces faith.
The more that faith fills your heart.
And drives out fear.
This was a terrifying situation for Jesus to walk into.
Jesus isn’t afraid.
He walks right into the scary.
But honestly, it’s not even the scariest thing he faced.
Check out the very next verses of Scripture, “They left that place…and Jesus said to his disciples, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men. They will kill him, and after three days he will rise.” (Mark 9:30-32)
Did you hear that?
Jesus left one scary situation.
And immediately began to march towards an even scarier situation.
Death on the cross.
But he wasn’t afraid.
He was fearless.
He kept marching towards the scary.
And with him,
By his strength.
By his Word…
He’ll help you march through whatever your scary is too, to the eternity he won for you.