Happy New Year everyone! We are starting a new sermon series and approach this year. Our theme is disciple-making. We’re be looking at the life and ministry of Jesus in the Gospel of Mark as our model of being and making disciples. Each Sunday – until Advent – we will preach through a passage from Mark. Please preview each Sunday’s verses and let Pastors Chris or me know if you have any questions, illustrations, or ideas for our sermons.
Mark 1:1-8 • January 1, 2017
If I could re-preach last Sunday’s message, here is what I would say:
1. The bad news. We live in the wilderness of doomed quests. Whether it is a quest for God without the church (the individualist), the quest for community without God (the socially dependent), or the quest for church leadership without spiritual maturity (the power hungry), all our quests will lead to failure. This is what Israel discovered in their failure to enter the Promised Land and during the Babylonian Captivity. Ultimately, their quests led to idolatry (worshiping anything other than God), disobedience, and its consequence.
2. The good news. Scripture shows us that life isn’t about our quests anyway. It’s about God’s quest for us. Mark 1:2-3 are quotes from Malachi 3:1 and Isaiah 40:4, which promises that a voice in the wilderness, a messenger, will announce that God is coming to his people directly. John the Baptist is calling out to us – requesting that we stop our personal quests – and turn our attention to God, who is looking for us and coming to us. Though John dressed and lived like the prophet Elijah, we ought to resist the temptation to ignore him. Rather, let us pay closer attention to his message!
3. The greater news. God not only seeks us, but he invites us to a new quest. John urges the people of Israel to receive the baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins in the Jordan River. Just as Israel entered the Promised Land by crossing the Jordan, we too can join God’s quest. Repentance is turning away from doomed quests in the wilderness. Forgiveness happens when God overlooks idolatry and sin so we can freely join his people into the new Promised Land.
4. The best news. We can join Jesus’ spiritual conquest over the powers of sin and evil in this world. John was not the Messiah, but he points to Jesus, whose Hebrew name is Joshua. The new Joshua will provide the baptism of the Holy Spirit. And he will, as we shall see, reconquer fallen creation by driving out demonic forces, healing the sick, and bringing in the Kingdom of God. We are invited to join his team and his quest. And the kicker is this: when we join Jesus’ conquest team, we will at last find our true quest in life! Will you join? Will you re-commit your life to Jesus and his quest?