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Jesus' Early Ministry

(Mark 1:14-28)

Lesson 5 -- first quarter 2005
January 2, 2005

by Mark Roth
© Copyright 2004, Christian Light Publications

Probing Your Own Heart

Are you putting your life behind your teaching?

How easily could Jesus pry you loose from your own plans and aims?

Building on Some Foundational Concepts

God's plan unfolds according to His timing.

God never lags behind neither does He ever act with ill-advised haste. He always knows what He's doing and the timing of His doing is absolutely precise and perfect. At just the right moment, John was put in prison. At just the right moment, Jesus began to preach. The time was fulfilled! The kingdom of God was at hand! After "squandering" most of His earthly life in obscurity away from His mission, the time came for Jesus "get going." After using a brief portion of his life for his mission, the time came for John to "be gone." In neither case did God waste life or potential by erring in His timing. And God has not lost His touch over the years. He still knows what to do and when to do it...even in your life.

Jesus' message was meant to move hearts, not tickle ears.

Jesus didn't teach to entertain or impress. Rather, He had this goal: move hearers to repentance and faith. We too must present our message so that it will be heard in the heart, not just in the ears.

Teaching consistent with living reveals power and authority.

The scribes spoke unconvincingly of the will of God. When Jesus taught, though, people were astonished and amazed at the authority and power they saw. What made the difference? "My meat is to do the will of him that sent me" (John 4:34). "I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will" (John 6:38). "Father...not my will, but thine, be done" (Luke 22:42). Those who submit themselves to the message they present will present that message convincingly, with authority and power.

Questions and Responses

Was it really necessary for John to fade away so "ingloriously"?

What an awful way to decrease so that He might increase (John 3:30)! Surely God could have devised a more glorious plan. No, surely He couldn't have. Don't ever forget, it isn't just God's timing that is perfect -- His plan is equally perfect. That makes both His timing and His plan genuinely glorious, no matter how they appear to us in our woeful nearsightedness.

Shouldn't we make the Gospel attractive to unbelievers?

"Repent ye" (Mark 1:15) doesn't sound very enticing, does it? It tells the hearer he is wrong and must make some changes. In our day, that is considered too presumptuous, arrogant, and judgmental. Shall we therefore hide the Gospel's call to repentance until we have sufficiently enticed the hearer with a "more palatable" message? Absolutely not! The message from God already is "sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb" (Psalm 19:10). So don't tinker with it; otherwise, you most surely will ruin it. Hide or remove repentance from the words of God and they will no longer be "true and righteous altogether" (Psalm 19:9). Shall we dare think that we can improve somehow on the attractiveness and effectiveness of God's own message?!

What was so astonishing about the Lord's teaching?

It came from His heart. The people were accustomed to teaching that came only from the head from teachers whose hearts too clearly were out of sync with the God whose message they pretended to bear. But Jesus believed and lived what He taught.

It went to their hearts. The people were accustomed to teaching that at most appealed to their intellects, coming from teachers whose primary (sole?) interest was external conformity. But Jesus spoke to and cared about the real heart needs of the hearers.

The teaching of Jesus wasn't show and showmanship. The teaching of Jesus was "as cold waters to a thirsty soul" because it was "good news from a far country" (Proverbs 25:25).

Who should be a fisher?

Anyone who has chosen to answer this call: "Come ye after me" (Mark 1:17). Anyone who has been fished out of sin by the grace of God and the faithfulness of some other fisher: "That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ" (1 John 1:3).

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