THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST
SPREADING THE SOUL-SAVING MESSAGE OF JESUs
Introduction by narrator accompanied by a cappella singing:
THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST. Spreading the soul-saving message of Jesus. And now, Ben Bailey.
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. This is the first commandment” (Mk. 12:30). Welcome to our study of the gospel of Mark, which emphasizes the majesty of Jesus Christ Who “has done all things well” (Mk 7:37). In chapters 9 through 12 Jesus is going to be presented in His majesty as King of kings, King of the kingdom of God, and Hosanna on high. Mark 9 begins by showing us that the kingdom is not a future event for which we are waiting, but that it is a present reality that occurred in the first century. There are a lot of people today who say that the kingdom of God is something to which we are still looking forward. They say, “Yes, Jesus wanted to come and set up His kingdom. He intended to do that in the first century. It was the divine will of God. But the Jews thwarted that plan and did not allow it to happen. So, God put a Band-Aid over that failure (which is known as ‘the church’), and we are now waiting for the Lord to return, set up His kingdom, and reign for a thousand years.” There is just one problem with that: the Bible does not teach that, but, in fact, teaches the exact opposite! You cannot get around the words of Mark 9:1 where Jesus said, “Assuredly, I say to you that there are some standing here who will not taste death till [an adverb of time] they see the kingdom of God present with power.” Jesus said to His first-century hearers (some of whom were His own disciples), “I am telling you that there are some standing here who will not die until [adverb of time] you have seen the kingdom of God present with power.” So, the problem is that either we have some very, very old disciples running around, or the kingdom was established in the first century, and modern-day premillennial views of the kingdom are false doctrines of men. Of course, we know that the latter of those two options is the correct one. Jesus promised in the first century that the kingdom would come at that time. And that is exactly what happened. The kingdom is the church. Jesus said in Matthew 16:18-19, “I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. And I will give you [Peter] the keys of the kingdom of heaven.” The church and the kingdom are one and the same. Acts 2 confirms that the kingdom was established on the Day of Pentecost in the first century. The Jews in Acts 2 cried out, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” (vs. 37). The answer they received was, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins” (vs. 38). We are told that those who gladly received Peter’s words were baptized, and “the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved” (vs. 47). We know the kingdom is here because Colossians 1:13 says it is. That verse says of Christians that they were “conveyed into the kingdom of the Son of His love.” Is the kingdom here? Absolutely! The kingdom is the church, and it is present now. Furthermore, we must be a part of the kingdom of God in order to go to Heaven. Did you know that the kingdom (including those who are in it) is what will be delivered to the Father on the last day? In 1 Corinthians 15:20-24 Paul said that Jesus will deliver the kingdom to the Father when He comes back. If the kingdom is the church, and if it is going back to the Father, then it is essential that we be in the church in order to be right with God.
In Mark 9 we also read about Jesus’ authority and power (as our Spokesman from God today). Here the setting is the scene on the Mount of Transfiguration. Jesus takes Peter, James, and John upon a high mountain, where He then is transfigured before them. Elijah and Moses appear, and talk with Jesus. Peter and the others are afraid. They do not know what to do, and are bumfuzzled by the idea. Peter then says, “Lord, it is good for us to be here. Let’s build three tabernacles—one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” But the Bible tells us in the other gospel accounts that before He even finished his sentence, a voice spoke from Heaven saying, “This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!” God did not say, “Hear Moses” (the representative of the Old Law), or “Hear Elijah” (the representative of the time of the prophets). Christ is the voice of God to which we must listen today. Here are some principles that we can discern from all of this. We are not to follow the teaching of Moses in order to know how to get to Heaven or to do God’s will today. Ephesians 2:14-15 and Colossians 2:14-15 that the Law of Moses was nailed to the cross, so that we no longer are living under that law. We are not to follow the prophets’ teachings in order to learn how to please God. Yes, they were “written for our learning” (Rom. 15:4). They are a “tutor” to bring us to Christ (Gal. 3:24). But we do not look to the writings of the prophets to learn how to worship, how to be saved, etc. They are not our law today. John 1:17 says, “The Law came through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” Jesus is where our law is found today. And Jesus is the Authority in all matters related to religion today. In Mark 9:7 God said, “This is My beloved Son. Hear Him!” We are not to listen to religious leaders. We are not to look to see what the most popular religious book is on the New York Times bestseller list. Rather, we must listen and adhere to the voice of Jesus in order to be saved. Colossians 3:17 says, “Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” What does it mean to do something “in the name of the Lord Jesus”? Does that mean that whenever we decide to do something, we simply look up into the air, hold up our hands, and say, “I do this in Jesus’ name”? Of course not! Acts 4:7 clearly teaches us what it means to do something “in the name of Jesus.” The Jews asked Peter and John, “By what power or by what name have you done this?” To do something “in the name of someone” means that you do it by their authority. If a policeman says to you, “Stop in the name of the law!,” you understand that you must stop because he has the authority to make you stop, and to punish you if you do not (because of the teachings of the laws of the land). The same is true when we do something “in the name of” Christ. We must follow His authority (and His alone). As we follow the authority of Christ, we must make sure that we do it in a way that presents a good image to those who are in the world, as well as to those who are in the body of Christ. We must make sure, as we live our Christian lives, that we do not cause others to stumble.
In Mark 9, some people were bickering and fighting. They had problems and struggles. They were saying some things that Jesus knew might cause some to stumble or fall. A man was doing some teaching, and the apostles did not know who he was. He was doing it “in the name of Jesus.” He was following after the teaching of Jesus. But he was not with the apostles. So they asked Jesus, “Lord, do you want us to have him stop doing that? He is doing it ‘by the authority of Jesus Christ,’ and doesn’t need to do that.” Jesus then told His disciples that they needed to make sure that what they did would not cause someone to stumble. Notice Jesus’ stern words in Mark 9:42—“Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea.” Jesus said, “You must be careful what you say and do. You cannot ‘go gung ho’ and jump on everything without thinking about it. You must look at the influence you have on others.” Jesus pointed out what He called “these little ones.” He might have been talking about people who were young in the faith. Or, He might have been talking about little children. Whatever the case, there were people who were either immature in their faith or who were young, and Jesus told His disciples to think about their influence. What would happen if they were to cause someone to stumble? Jesus said, “It would be better if a millstone were hung around your neck, and you were thrown into the sea” than for you to cause one of these people to stumble. That is how serious it is to cause someone to stumble. Christians must be a good example in everything they do. Matthew 5:16 tells us that we must let our lights shine. We must be good examples to the world, and we must be good examples to other believers (1 Tim. 4:12). As Christians, we must ask ourselves how our actions might affect others, and what will others think of us if they see us doing such things? What would a young person think if he saw us out in a crowd with people who were doing immoral things? What would a young person think if he saw us standing in a group of people who were smoking cigarettes or drinking beer? That young person might think that such things were acceptable, and thus it could leave the wrong impression. Or, what if a young person saw us leaving a place like a dance hall, casino, or beer joint? What would that be like? Jesus said, “I would rather you just go get a big rock, hang it around your neck, and jump into the lake —than to do something like that.” That is the serious nature of causing someone else to stumble. Jesus does not want either of those things to happen. But He surely does not want us to offend young people or someone who is a young child of God.
In fact, Jesus strengthens His point by talking about Hell, and what we ought to do rather than to sin. Jesus said in Mark 9:43-48 that it would be better for us to cut off our hands, pluck out our eyes, or cut off our legs rather than to sin. In verses 44, 46, and 48 we learn why. While we may experience some physical loss here, eternal loss is far greater. Jesus said that Hell is a place “where the worm never dies, and the fire is not quenched.” The eternal effects of what we do can be damning to others if we are not careful. They also can condemn us if we do not live as we ought to. We must think about the reality and horror of that place called “Hell.” Would you want to do anything to cause someone to go there, or go there yourself? I am persuaded that if people really understood what Hell is like, we would get rid of sin as fast as we could. There would not be any such statements as, “Well, it might be OK,” or “Well, the Bible really doesn’t say anything….” If we really understood the nature of Hell, we would get away from anything that even looked like sin as quickly as we could. Jesus said that Hell is a place “where the worm never dies, and the fire is not quenched.” The word of “worm” is a Greek word that is similar to our English word “maggot.” Hell is a place where it is as if there was a maggot continually eating on our flesh, and the fire is never quenched. No one ever reaches over and turns down the air-conditioning. No one ever puts out the fire because it is eternal. Revelation 14:11 speaks of how “the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever.” Revelation 20 speaks of Hell as “a lake of fire.” It is described as a place where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. The rich man in Luke 16 was in a place of eternal torment. In fact, he was tormented in the flames so much that he begged for just one drop of water. “I’m tormented in these flames!,” he said. Can you imagine spending eternity in a place of eternal fire where it is like there is always a maggot eating on your flesh? If we really understood Hell, and the fact that it really was going to be like that forever, we would get away from sin as quickly as we could. And we would not do anything that might offend someone and cause them to be lost, too. Thus, Jesus talks about the kingdom and our relationship to it, our relationship to God, and our relationship to others inside the kingdom.
In Mark 10, Jesus discusses the subject of marriage. The Jews came to Jesus with a question about marriage: “Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce, and to dismiss her.” They were asking Jesus, “Can a man divorce his wife for just any reason?” Jesus then went back to God’s original principle concerning marriage: “’For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’; so then they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, let not man separate” (vss. 7-9). Here, Jesus takes us back to the original teaching—one man, one woman, for life (until death; Rom. 7). In Mark 10:11-12 (complementing Matthew 19:9), we learn that Jesus did give one reason for divorce (fornication), and that only the innocent party has a right to remarry. Matthew 19:9 says, “And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery.” Jesus added the exception (“except for sexual immorality”). He said, “If you divorce your wife because of sexual immorality, only the innocent party may remarry in such a case.” Jesus taught God’s original law, and then allowed an exception for cases of fornication. Jesus’ teaching on marriage was very strict, just as John’s teaching was in Mark 6:18 when he told Herod that it was not lawful for him to have his brother’s wife.
We then find the scene of the rich young ruler—probably one of the saddest scenes in the New Testament. A man comes to Jesus and asks, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus said, “You know the commandments. Do not murder. Do not steal. Do not commit adultery.” The man said, “I have done all of those from my youth.” Jesus then said, “One thing you lack. Sell all you have and give it to the poor. Then, come and follow Me.” We learn in Mark 10 that the rich young ruler was not willing to do that. In verse 22 we read, “But he was sad at this word, and went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.” Jesus said, “If you want to follow Me, then sell all you have, give it to the poor, and commit yourself to following Me in order to do the work of God.” The Bible says that the man was sad at hearing that because he had great possessions. Jesus teaches us here about the temptation of riches, and how hard it is for people with riches to get to Heaven. Jesus asked, “How hard is it for those who have riches to get to Heaven?” No one answered. So He emphasized it by asking, “Little children, how hard is it for those who trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of Heaven?” In Mark 10:25 He tells us: “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” How hard is it? Jesus said that it would be like trying to push a camel through the eye of a needle. I don’t know about you, but I have trouble getting a small piece of thread through the eye of a needle. Can you imagine trying to get a camel through the eye of a needle? It is something that would be practically impossible. Some say, “In the city of Jerusalem, they had a gate called ‘The Eye of the Needle,’ and camels had to duck in order to go through that gate.” Either way, it still is something that would be difficult. It was something that took great effort and care because it was something that was very hard. That is what Jesus is teaching. He is not teaching that it is wrong to have money. He is teaching that we cannot trust in our money, and that we cannot put riches above God because if we do, as Jesus had already pointed out in Matthew 6:24ff., we cannot serve God and mammon. We must decide who we are going to serve. Are we going to put God first? Or are we going to put riches first? Riches will not get us to Heaven. In 1 Timothy 6:8ff., we are told that the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. Let’s not let worldly riches, treasures, or other such things get in the way of our serving God. Let’s have the attitude of Jesus.
Look now at Mark 10:45—“Even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” In the context, here’s what’s going on. Two of Jesus’ disciples (James and John) came to Him. They said, “Teacher, whatever we request of You, we want You to give it to us.” That’s a pretty haughty attitude. But Jesus said, “What is your request?” They said, “We want to be on Your right hand and on Your left in the kingdom.” Jesus said, “You’re not willing to die the death I must die. You’re not willing to face what I’m willing to face, yet you want Me to give you these things?” Then He goes on to teach them that they have a problem with service. They want to be first instead of being a servant. In order to be right in the kingdom of God, we must be a servant of all—just as Jesus (the Son of Man) was. He was God in the flesh (Mt. 1:19-21). He was the Creator Who had come to Earth. What role did He take? The Son of Man did not come to be served. He had every right to be served. But He did not come to be served. Rather, He came to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many. What is the Christian’s attitude like? Our attitude should be an attitude of service. We are here to serve God, to serve others, and to do the best we can to live a good, Christian life. The Bible teaches us that we are not here to be exalted or glorified in our current state. In fact, we are to be diligent workers in the here and now (1 Cor. 15:57). We are to look upon ourselves as being “unprofitable servants” who are doing only that which is our duty to do (Lk. 17:10).
In Mark 11:1-9 we see Jesus making His “triumphal entry” into Jerusalem. People laid down palm leaves, and Jesus rode in on the foal of a donkey. This probably was not what the people were expecting the Lord to do. No doubt they wanted the Lord to ride in on a white stallion, like in the days of Solomon or other kings. They wanted great pomp and power. But what did Jesus do? He rode in on the foal of a donkey. Can you imagine how some people must have felt about that? That would be like the president of the Untied States riding into town in a Volkswagen bug. You might expect him to arrive in a limousine (or even a Humvee or something similar). But a Volkswagen bug?! Can you imagine that? That is how these people felt. But Jesus—even in this—was teaching a lesson. He was teaching that He—as King of kings who had the right to ride into town in pomp and power —was the Head of kingdom that would not be like that. He was not like that, and He taught His servants not to be like that. The kingdom is not something with pomp, power, and pride. Rather, it is a kingdom of service in which we serve God and serve others so that we can fulfill the law of Christ. Jesus does ride as “King of kings and Lord of lords” (Rev. 19:16). He is King of the kingdom. That kingdom was going to be established—and is the greatest kingdom we could ever imagine. Revelation 11:14-15 says that it is the kingdom that will out crush and outlast all other kingdoms. It is an eternal kingdom (Dan. 2:44). Today, Jesus is still reigning from Heaven at the right hand of God (Heb. 1:1-4).
Some of the people appear to have been confused by the teaching of Jesus, and especially the Sadducees. In Mark 12 they have a question for Jesus. It is a scene in which they are trying to trick Jesus. It is a “what if?” type of scenario. They say, “Suppose you have a man who dies. The Old Law says that if he dies without having any children, then his brothers are to marry his wife and raise up children. The man had seven brothers, and all of them died. None of them raised up children for the man’s wife. In the Judgment, whose wife will she be?” It is important to understand the Sadducees’ background. They did not believe in a bodily resurrection. So what they were trying to do was tie Jesus in a knot by having Him admit, “She must not be anyone’s wife because she had seven husbands. Therefore, there cannot be a resurrection.” Jesus does not do that. In Mark 12:24 Jesus said, “Are you not therefore mistaken, because you do not know the Scriptures nor the power of God?” He then says of God (quoting Exodus 3:6,15), “I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob,” and goes on to say of God, “He is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living.” In the context, God had said, “I am the God of Abraham, I am the God of Isaac, and I am the God of Jacob.” All of those had died, yet God was still their God. What does that imply? They were not dead, but were alive on the other side of the grave. So, Jesus showed from the Scriptures in which the Sadducees believed that the concept of the resurrection was true.
Jesus then gets to the heart of the problem—which was that these people did not love God as they should have. A lawyer (a teacher of the law) came to Jesus and asked, “What is the greatest commandment?” Jesus answered,
“The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’”
This is one of those passages (like John 3:16) that we hear a lot. It is talked about a lot. People quote it often. But what does it really mean to “love God”? Does it mean that we get a warm, fuzzy feeling, and that we get excited and have a tender feeling for God in our hearts? That is not really biblical love. What does it really mean to love God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength? Here’s what it means. To love God, we must put Him before everything else, and we must obey His will. Some people says, “I love God, but I do not want anything to do with a bunch of commandments and teachings. I just want to love God.” We cannot “love God” without obeying His commandments. How do we know that? Listen to what Jesus said, and think about it as it relates to love. Jesus said, “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (Jn. 14:15). Can we really say, “God I love You, but I don’t know about following the Bible”? We cannot love God, but not keep His commandments. In John 15:14 Jesus said, “You are My friends if you do whatsoever I ask.” We must keep God’s commandments, and we must do what Jesus asks of us if we really love God. We also must love our neighbor as ourselves. We are to put God first and keep His commandments. But we also must be concerned about others, help them get to Heaven, and live our lives the way we ought to. Jesus sharply rebuked these Sadducees. He went to their Scriptures to show them the error of their way. In fact, He does it again in Mark 12:31ff. He shows that He is greater than David. He is the Lord of David. And upon quoting the Scriptures, and upon bringing His message to them straight out of the Scriptures, Mark 12: 37 says that Jesus said to them (quoting from the Old Testament), “ Therefore David himself calls Him ‘Lord’; how is He then his Son? And the common people heard Him gladly.” What made Jesus a great preacher? It wasn’t that He had degrees in theology. It wasn’t that He had a Ph.D. after His name. It wasn’t that He used a lot of big words. The common people heard Him gladly because Jesus preached plainly from the Scriptures. He spoke with authority (Mt. 7:28-29). He demanded that men and women give their lives in line with the will and Word of God. The common people heard Him gladly because those were the people He was with every day. Whose sick had He healed? Whom had Jesus fed? For whom did He express love in His teaching and actions? The common people were the people whom Jesus wanted to reach. It was not those who thought they were already righteous, but those who knew that they needed the Gospel.
Are you a part of that crowd? Are you “common enough”—not in a bad sense, but in a good sense—that you will decide today to submit your will to the will of God? Will you gladly hear the voice of God on salvation today? Here’s what Jesus said a person must do to be saved. A person first must hear God’s Word (Rom. 10:17). Then a person must believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God (Jn. 8:24). A person must be willing to repent of sins (Acts 3:19) by turning from sin and turning to God. A person must confess the name of Jesus before men (Mt. 10:32-33). And Jesus Himself said, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved” (Mk. 16:16). Are you gladly receiving God’s Word today? Will you obey it? Or, as a child of God, are you living up to loving the Lord your God will all your heart, soul, mind, and strength? Do you really love God? Are you following His commands? Are you doing what He asks? Life is too short and too uncertain. If you have not obeyed the Gospel, I plead with you today to get your life right with the Gospel of Christ before there are no more chances.
Narrator accompanied by a cappella singing:
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1. According to the teaching found in this lesson, what is the relationship between “the kingdom” and “the church”?
2. According to Mark 9:1, is the kingdom something for which we should be searching in the future, or is it instead something that is already here?
3. What does Colossians 1:13 say about the kingdom?
4. According to 1 Corinthians 15:20-24, what will Jesus do in regard to the kingdom on the Day of Judgment?
5. According to Ephesians 2:14-15 and Colossians 2:14-15, and happened to the Old Law?
6. What does Colossians 3:17 instruct us to do?
7. What did Jesus say in Mark 9:42?
8. According to Matthew 5:16, what are Christians supposed to do?
9. What did Jesus say in Mark 9:43-48?
10. In Mark 9:44,46,46, how is Hell described?
11. In Mark 10:1-9, what important topic is Jesus discussing?
12. According to Matthew 19:9, what is the sole scriptural reason for a couple to divorce?
13. In Mark 10:17, what question did a rich young ruler ask Jesus?
14. How did Jesus answer the rich young ruler’s question?
15. According to Mark 10:22, what was the rich young ruler’s response to what Jesus had told him in answer to his question?
16. What important teaching is found in Matthew 6:24?
17. According to Mark 10:45, for what purpose did Jesus Christ come to Earth?
18. In Mark 11:1-9, what important event in the life of Jesus is discussed?
19. In the first part of Mark 12, a group of people had a question for Christ. Who composed this group?
20. For what one belief (in particular) was the group of people mentioned in question 19 (above) well known?
21. How did Jesus refute the group’s incorrect belief, as expressed in their question to Him?
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