HPC – Encounter 03 28/10/18
Reading Mark 1:4 – 28
We have started a new series titled – Encounter. What happens when we encounter Jesus, personally and intimately?
We often hear people talking about “Jesus touching your life”. It sounds right – and yet is just so impersonal. Do you want Jesus to touch you – not your life, but your heart?
What we see when we read the Bible is people’s lives being changed radically. But how can we love a character in Bible stories so much as to live such a radical life for Him? We can’t! You can only be that sold out for Jesus, once you have encountered the Risen Lord Jesus personally and intimately, and fallen in love with Him, knowing you are fully loved.
Jesus is a very real and personal and intimate God. Ironically it is this intimacy that seems to put so many off.
Last week we saw that no one can see the Kingdom of God, unless they are born again.
Being born again is simple:
- Accept that you are a sinner before God who needs a Saviour
- Believe that Jesus came to die for your sins.
- Believe that He rose from the dead as your Lord and Saviour
Salvation is a free gift. All we need to do is accept the gift and receive Him.
Last week we also saw that we need the Holy Spirit in us.
John declared – I baptize you with water, but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.
John’s baptism with water prepared a person to receive Christ’s message. Water baptism shows humility before God and repentance. When Jesus baptizes with the Holy Spirit, however, the entire person, from the inside out is transformed by the power of His Spirit. Jesus offers us both forgiveness of sin and the power to live for Him.
I think the main point here is that John prepared the way for Jesus – but it is Jesus who personally baptizes us with His Holy Spirit. That is very personal and intimate – and just so awesome. I have only just now come to realize that I was not just baptized by the Holy Spirit – Jesus, Himself, filled me with His Spirit. Mark – this is my Spirit, for you!
Today we look at the book of Mark, and see some radical encounters with Jesus – that changed people’s lives radically.
We start with John the Baptist – John the Baptizer. He had encountered Jesus while still in his mother’s womb. You can read the whole story in the first chapter of Luke. Mary, Jesus’ Mom, met with Elizabeth, John the Baptist’s Mom – and the baby John, leapt in her womb.
And John lived in the desert and dressed in the latest snappy fashion of the day and dined on the finest desert cuisine. John was a seriously different fellow. By God’s calling on His life, he lived in the desert – to show that he was different and had a different message to the religious norm of the day. To demonstrate a sharp break with the hypocrisy of the religious leaders who preferred their luxurious homes and robes and position and title. But he also lived in the desert to fulfill prophecy;
Mark 1:2 – 3 It is written in Isaiah the prophet: I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way – a voice of one calling in the desert, Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for Him.
John’s clothes were not the latest style of his day. He was dressed to distinguish himself from the religious leaders of the day, whose flowing robes reflected their great pride – their delight in pomp and ceremony, their pleasure in their own importance.
John was a wild and woolly man – and yet Jesus said – of those born of woman there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist.
Let me ask you – who would you most likely respond to – someone who wore the latest smart clean suit, spoke with charming elegance and charisma, driven in a fancy car, with assistants and body guards, someone who would tell you all God’s great plans for you …. or someone from Zshishivane – in old tattered overalls – preaching something totally radical that challenged everything you ever believed in and held dear – all about how much God wanted you to give up for Him. And yet by the power and calling of God in John – the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River.
Although baptism at the time was understood as symbolic cleansing or washing – to baptize a Jew as a sign of repentance was a radical departure from Jewish custom. It was the heathen that needed to do that – not God’s chosen.
The purpose of John’s preaching was to prepare people to accept Jesus as God’s Son.
And then Jesus takes over. Jesus proclaims the Good News! He says the most incredible and exciting thing. He says – the time has come, the Kingdom of Heaven is near.
Jesus is saying to you today – the time has come, the Kingdom of Heaven is near – you.
Everything Jesus did and said was showing that His Kingdom is something so very very different to what we might make ourselves to believe. So very different to what we so often are prepared to accept in our religious traditions and comforts.
The great John the Baptist encountered Jesus and proclaimed – after me will come one whose sandals I am not even worthy to untie. Anyone else, religious leaders and devout followers would have claimed their special place and title before God, their entitlement as God’s messenger, they would find a way to make it about them, but not John the Baptist – when we truly encounter Jesus, we will know our place, at His feet!
No wonder Jesus said – the first will be last and the last first.
Satan encountered Jesus – long before this story. Satan is an angel who rebelled against God and is constantly working against God and those who are His. Satan had already rejected Jesus in Heaven way back – and had been cast out.
To identify fully with humans beings, Jesus had to endure Satan’s temptations – just like you and me. Although Jesus is God, He is also man. And as fully human, He was not exempt from Satan’s attacks. Because Jesus faced temptation and overcame, He can help us – first as an example to follow when facing temptation and sin, and as a helper who knows and understands. If you read the same encounter in the other Gospels you will see that the only thing Jesus did to counter Satan was quote scripture – He kept His eyes on the Father and His Truth.
Evil spirits or demons are ruled by Satan. They too are fallen angles. They know who Jesus is – do you?
Mark 1:23 – 24 Just then a man in their synagogue who was possessed by an evil spirit cried out – what do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are – the Holy One of God.
Well this is scary. A devout Jew, who attended synagogue religiously was possessed! On the outside – every appearance of religious devotedness – but Jesus could see the true heart, the true spirit. Jesus came to set us free and here he sets this man free from the clutches of Satan and this evil spirit – be quiet and come out of Him Jesus commanded.
When we encounter Jesus – we encounter the only True all Powerful God. He, and He alone has authority – and He would have all authority and power over your life – for your good. Having a knowledge of who Jesus is, is not enough.
Jesus saw Simon and Andrew – come follow me He said – at once they left what they were doing and followed Him. He also saw James and John. He called them too, and they left everything and followed Him.
Do you know Jesus has a calling on your life? He is calling you by name.
Simon and Andrew and James and John and many would have known exactly who Jesus of Nazareth was. The carpenter! When we study the different Gospel accounts of Jesus calling the Disciples we see that it is very possible that Jesus called them several times.
We often assume the Disciples were instantly great men of faith from the first time they ever laid eyes on Jesus. This total stranger walks up and says the craziest thing – follow me and I will make you fishers of men! Do you think they went – well that’s weird but righto – lets go!
They had to grow in their faith, just like us. This is apparently not the only time Jesus called these men to Him. Although it took time for Jesus’ call and His message to get through, the disciples in the end did follow – and they doubted, they feared, ultimately they abandoned Jesus and betrayed Him – but Jesus never gave up on them. In the same way, we question and falter, but we must never stop following Jesus.
Do you think when Jesus called them He shouted from far off?
Has Jesus not being revealing Himself to you – I bet He has, very gently, and little by little as it were. And the time comes when Jesus will walk right up to you, and look you in the eyes and say – follow me. And in that moment – we need to immediately abandon everything that would hinder us from following Him, and follow Him.
These Disciples did not follow out of religious duty. So much of what Jesus showed them went against their religious upbringing – as stated in the word of God – as interpreted by the religious leaders of the day. They followed because they had encountered Jesus.
And Jesus says – the time has come. The Kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the Good News. And I will make you fishers of men.
What Jesus was saying is – come, I will show you the true meaning and purpose of life.
Wouldn’t you be intrigued if someone who appeared authentic said to you they would show you the true meaning and purpose of life? Many have made millions writing books etc by claiming such things. But only Jesus is the right author to listen to when it comes to the true meaning and purpose of life.
Jesus showed them that true life is all about the Kingdom of God. God has given us this life as a precious gift, to learn what it means to be fully alive – and so that we might seek Him and reach out and find Him.
But the test is – His Kingdom, not ours. Your will be done on earth – not mine.
We need to be born again. We need to be filled with the Holy Spirit. And we need to drop everything – and follow Jesus. If only there were more who earnestly sought Jesus as much as diesel and petrol. It’s all about Him and His Kingdom.
We can know about Him. We can read what He says, and try to obey. We can be religiously devout and very sincere. But none of that is enough.
Jesus said – remain in me, and I will remain in you!
He says – the time has come. The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the Good News. And He says – come follow me. I will show you the true purpose and meaning of life.