Mark 1:16-28 16 Passing alongside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. 17 And Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” 18 And immediately they left their nets and followed him. 19 And going on a little farther, he saw James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, who were in their boat mending the nets. 20 And immediately he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants and followed him.
21 And they went into Capernaum, and immediately on the Sabbath he entered the synagogue and was teaching. 22 And they were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes. 23 And immediately there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit. And he cried out, 24 “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God.” 25 But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” 26 And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying out with a loud voice, came out of him. 27 And they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, “What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.” 28 And at once his fame spread everywhere throughout all the surrounding region of Galilee.
Last week, as we celebrated Easter Sunday I shared with you how Jesus Christ is King of a Kingdom that is not of this world. So many people do not understand this and how unique Jesus of Nazareth is among all the people who have walked on this earth. The only way to enter into this Kingdom is to know the King- Jesus Christ and to be united to Him through His shed blood upon the cross.
At the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry it is recorded that Peter and Andrew and James and John left their professions at the call of Jesus. Being with Jesus of Nazareth was more important than anything. So much so that the Good News that they heard from Jesus and would come to fully understand after Jesus’ resurrection would send them on a path to preach this message to the surrounding nations and to die for the One who called them. Their lives became consumed with Jesus Christ who was their Saviour! Are you consumed with Jesus or is He just another person who may or not have lived upon this earth? Does His very existence mean everything to you or have you not even examined who He is?
No one comes to give up everything to follow Jesus all at once and Peter and Andrew and James and John were no different. They had already been looking for the Christ when Jesus had called them. They had been prepared by John the Baptist who had declared to them in reference to Jesus, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” (John 1:35) and they knew to follow Him. They had already been born again by the Spirit of God. It is only by a close examination of Jesus Christ that anyone will hear Jesus calling them and turn to Him.
But no one will examine Jesus Christ unless they have a reason to. Peter and Andrew and James and John under the preaching of John the Baptist had come to know the God of the Bible, they had come to see the wicked state of their own hearts, and they had come to see that they needed to look for the Christ, the Saviour, who was to come. In the midst of the COVID-19 crisis how many people are searching and are in distress but do they see a need to examine Jesus Christ for who He really is?
From the very beginning of Jesus’ public ministry Jesus demonstrated that He was unlike any other man. He demonstrated that He was a King from a Kingdom not of this world. He had an authority that was far and above any other man. He entered the synagogue on the Saturday and taught the people and astonished them! He spoke the Word of God in such a manner as led by the Spirit of God that they had never heard before! Everyone was hanging on every word that He spoke and looking at Him in wonder! Who was this man? Does the Word of God amaze you? In the midst of this COVID-19 crisis have you heard the Word of God as enabled by the Spirit of God? Not just reading the Bible like any other book but the very Truth of God is revealed to you by the Spirit of God as you read it? Jesus Christ Himself is made known to you and you are amazed!
In the synagogue was a man with an unclean spirit, someone who was demon possessed. At the proclamation of the Word of God the demon spoke to Jesus saying:
Mark 1:24 24 “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God.”
Satan and his demons know that there is a judgment awaiting them for their rejection of the Holy One of God. This final judgment will be revealed to them when Jesus stands before them one day in the future in all His authority as Judge. They had been created as angels in eternity past but at some point they had rejected the authority of God. They had gone their own way and had become demons- fallen angels and no longer had fellowship with God. The demon within this man was afraid that the time of their judgment had come and so he cried out to Jesus. Jesus could see this demon. His Kingdom is not of this world. He could see the forces of darkness in that synagogue unrecognized by the Jews around him. Jesus’ Kingdom is a spiritual Kingdom where no darkness reigns.
And what does Jesus do? He authenticates His Word in casting out the demon:
Mark 1:25 25 But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” 26 And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying out with a loud voice, came out of him.
All the forces of darkness will one day be removed with the second coming of Jesus Christ. This was shown at the very beginning of Jesus’ public ministry. But His first coming was not as the Judge but the Saviour. He rebuked the demon and cast it out setting the man free! What authority Jesus has! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey Him!
Do you recognize the One who has authority? Do you know the King of a Kingdom that is not of this world? Or are you too living in fear of the Judgment? Are you afraid of being cast out forever with the demons apart from the presence of God? Do you continue to reject the Holy One of God? He came in authority to set you free! He came to call you to Himself!
Pastor Murray Hack
John 18:28-38 28 Then they led Jesus from the house of Caiaphas to the governor’s headquarters. It was early morning. They themselves did not enter the governor’s headquarters, so that they would not be defiled, but could eat the Passover. 29 So Pilate went outside to them and said, “What accusation do you bring against this man?” 30 They answered him, “If this man were not doing evil, we would not have delivered him over to you.” 31 Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and judge him by your own law.” The Jews said to him, “It is not lawful for us to put anyone to death.” 32 This was to fulfill the word that Jesus had spoken to show by what kind of death he was going to die.
33 So Pilate entered his headquarters again and called Jesus and said to him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” 34 Jesus answered, “Do you say this of your own accord, or did others say it to you about me?” 35 Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered you over to me. What have you done?” 36 Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.” 37 Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” 38 Pilate said to him, “What is truth?” After he had said this, he went back outside to the Jews and told them, “I find no guilt in him.
John 19:14-16 14 Now it was the day of Preparation of the Passover. It was about the sixth hour. He said to the Jews, “Behold your King!” 15 They cried out, “Away with him, away with him, crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar.” 16 So he delivered him over to them to be crucified.
Last week, I shared with you about the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry at His baptism. The Kingdom of God was at hand. Jesus of Nazareth was revealed! The means of our salvation was finally publicly made known as Jesus came onto the world stage and He began to perform miracles and teach people the Word of God in the nation of Israel and surrounding it. But our salvation is not found in just following the teachings of Jesus or seeing signs and wonders performed by Him but in what this god-man has done for you and for me. And this is the significance of Easter. We are not commemorating a religious leader or a set of teachings but we are reflecting on this historical event that occurred over 2,000 years ago that established Jesus’ Kingdom.
There are many different kingdoms in this world but Jesus’ Kingdom is not of this world as He said to Pilate the Roman governor in John 18:36. Pilate questioned whether Jesus was the King of the Jews. Pilate points out that if Jesus was only the King of the Jews it didn’t reflect very good upon Him that His own people and the chief priests had delivered Him over to be killed (verse 35). But Jesus’ Kingdom is not of this world and Jesus confirms this to Pilate by telling him in verse 36, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.”
Jesus stood before Pilate alone. He acknowledged to Pilate that He was a king (verse 37) but of a different kind of kingdom of which at that time it appeared there were no subjects. No one defended Jesus. No one fought for Him as Jesus was facing imminent death. His disciples had fled for fear of their own lives and none of the women who followed Jesus stood up to the Jewish authority. Pilate was speaking with Jesus whom He recognized as a man of authority but who was this man who claimed to be a king of an empty kingdom?
Over three and a half years, in spite of all the amazing miracles that Jesus had performed and all of the teaching that demonstrated a unique authority from God as He taught as one with authority and not as their scribes (Matthew 7:29), Jesus stood before Pilate without a single servant fighting for Him. There was not a single person in the nation of Israel or in the entire world within that generation that stood with Jesus. And there is not a single person throughout any generation that could have stood with Jesus in His defense. Why? Because all of mankind has been corrupted by sin. All of us have been defeated. All of us were born with a sin nature that is prone to evil and turning away from God. The devil has defeated us all. All of us have been born into a kingdom where darkness reigns. All of us by nature are not in this Kingdom where Jesus is King. Jesus, as the King of a kingdom which is not of this world, was flogged and beaten alone, He was sentenced to death alone, and He went to the cross and died alone- a king of an empty kingdom.
But He did not remain alone and His kingdom would not be an empty kingdom! On the Lord’s Day, on Sunday, He rose again! His relationship to all of His disciples was restored as He appeared to them! When He rose again He bore witness to the truth- the truth that He had proclaimed to them before He rose from the dead. Pesus said to Pilate in verse 37-38, “For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” Jesus bore witness to His disciples that He had died and rose from the dead in order that they could be forgiven of their sins and be transferred into His Kingdom- the kingdom of His beloved Son. This is why He had to die:
Colossians 1:13-14 13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
The darkness had been overcome! The Kingdom of God had been formally established! Our sins were placed upon Jesus’ body as He died and He bore our punishment and through faith we receive His righteousness. This is the only way to enter into this Kingdom where Jesus is King- by hearing this truth and believing it, by listening to the voice of Jesus Christ and believing in what He has done for you and for me. There is no other way to enter into this eternal kingdom that is not of this world. But so many people know nothing of this Kingdom that Jesus speaks of. They think that Jesus’ kingdom is of this world. They say as Pilate said to Jesus in verse 38, “What is truth?” They are still in darkness and will not listen to the voice of Jesus. If this is you, repent and believe. Come into the Kingdom of God through His Son Jesus Christ!
Pastor Murray Hack
Mark 1:9-14 9 In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. 11 And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”
12 The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. 13 And he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. And he was with the wild animals, and the angels were ministering to him.
14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”
The Good News, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, was revealed in a person who is the Son of God, in the person named Jesus of Nazareth over two thousand years ago. This was first publicly made known when Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist in the Jordan River in Israel. When Jesus was baptized a visible sign confirmed to all of mankind that this was no ordinary man. He was revealed at the very beginning of His public ministry as being equal with God and yet just like you and me. He came in the likeness of sinful flesh and yet is the Son of God.
The only means by which we may enter into the Kingdom of God was publicly revealed for the first time as Jesus of Nazareth came up out of the water and the voice of God the Father was audibly heard and the Holy Spirit was visibly seen coming upon Him in the form of a dove. This was an amazing and dramatic scene of which the very thought of should elevate our soul and spirit into the presence of God! The Kingdom of God was at hand! The Good News, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God was being publicly revealed for the first time! The veil of secrecy had been lifted! The first 30 years of Jesus’ life upon this earth was hidden from public view and very little is described in the Scriptures. But now, in the fullness of time, the means of our salvation was revealed!
What was Jesus doing for those 30 years as He was hidden away from public view? What are you doing as you are hidden away in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis as we are all forced to isolate and keep distance from others? For many they are acting as if nothing is going on. They live under the words found in Isaiah 22:13 “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” They live as if there is no God and there is no fear of God before their eyes. They live for the pleasures of this world and have no fear of the final judgment. For others they are gripped by fear and anxiety but they do not turn to Jesus Christ as their only hope. In secret they are falling apart. And as a result they are responding out of their flesh and lashing out in anger and lust and carnal thinking. They don’t know the Savior and as a result they have no peace.
But as Jesus remained hidden from public view for thirty years He was living in perfect obedience to His Father. His isolation was a time for holiness. In that time of secrecy and being alone with the exception of his earthly family He was at total peace with God. He was waiting to begin His public ministry but at the same time He prepared perfectly for our salvation to be revealed. For if Jesus did not live a perfect life of obedience to God in those thirty years of secrecy there was no way that He could be the perfect sacrifice to die in our place. Without His perfect submission to the Father in these thirty years the signs surrounding His baptism would never have occurred. What was hidden in secret was revealed in glory.
Immediately following Jesus’ baptism He was tempted by Satan in the wilderness. As the Christ was publicly revealed so came the greatest opposition against Him. Satan had been able to defeat every other man in human history and cause them to sin against God but not so with Jesus of Nazareth! He remained perfectly within the will of God. His thirty years of love to God in secrecy was confirmed in His obedience to the Father in the face of the devil’s temptation in the wilderness. Truly the Kingdom of God was at hand!
So how are living in isolation right now? If you do not know Jesus Christ are you being drawn to Him? Has this begun to peak your curiosity and is this intriguing to you? Do not think for a moment that Jesus Christ does not know what you are going through. He absolutely does and He came to this earth for the very purpose of saving you if you will only repent and believe in the gospel.
But do not think for a moment that we can live in wickedness right now and God will be pleased with us. We should be in every way desire to live in the same manner that the Son of God lived for thirty years in secrecy. He loved God the Father with all His heart. He lived a life of holiness. This is how we are to be living right now. Are you drawing near to Him or are you living as if you can do whatever you want? The glory of God will be revealed in us in the future if we love Him in secrecy. What is hidden will be made known.
Pastor Murray Hack
Mark 1:1-8 1 The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. 2 As it is written in Isaiah the prophet, “Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way, 3 the voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight,’” 4 John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5 And all the country of Judea and all Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. 6 Now John was clothed with camel’s hair and wore a leather belt around his waist and ate locusts and wild honey. 7 And he preached, saying, “After me comes he who is mightier than I, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. 8 I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
As we are unable to meet for church at the Good News Chapel because of the COVID-19 crisis, we will be preparing a devotional each week. I will be going through the book of Mark with you. Mark is the shortest Gospel account describing the life of Jesus.
It is at times like this that we need to hear good news. The only hope for all of mankind is the Gospel message. The word “Gospel” means “Good News.” There is much fear and uncertainty because of this current crisis. We have been placed under restrictions and don’t know when they will be lifted. Everyone is looking for “good news” or a “gospel” message. But the only real “Good News” that we can ever know is the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. The only lasting hope; the only eternal hope, is by knowing the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
But before the Good News can be revealed preparation is needed. In crisis everyone wants an immediate solution. Everyone wants immediate relief. But without knowing what is the real problem temporary relief will only lead to another crisis. There is a much greater crisis than the COVID-19 outbreak. The major crisis in Israel at the time of the Gospel of Jesus Christ being revealed was the occupation by the Romans. The Israelites were a defeated people and wanted to be a free nation. But the message that John the Baptist preached in the wilderness was a message of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. He did not speak to what was perceived as the crisis of the day but the real crisis that is behind all crises: sin against God.
It is mankind’s disobedience to God which leads to all crises. It began in the garden of Eden and it continues to this day as we live in a cursed and dying world. The crisis of the moment will not compare to the eternal crisis of which we all by nature are the cause of- a final judgment of eternal separation from God. Many are struggling in this crisis with being separated from their friends and family and other people in general. But have you considered your separation from God because of sin? Has the way of salvation yet been prepared in your heart? Or are you just looking for good news that is temporary and the real crisis is beyond your sight?
For those whose hearts were prepared by the message of John the Baptist, they saw their need for forgiveness from God and they confessed their sins to God. They came and were baptized in water symbolizing their being washed clean from their sins. In this pandemic cleanliness is of the utmost importance. The COVID-19 virus can so easily spread from a contaminated person without anyone even being aware that it has happened. But with washing the risk of being contaminated is lessened. The problem of sin is much more pervading and serious than any virus and water and soap cannot cleanse us. Only God can cleanse us from our sins. The power is within Him.
The message that John the Baptist preached opened the eyes of the people to see the real crisis in their day and this same message is the real crisis in our day. But John the Baptist knew that the Good News could not be fully revealed by himself but only by the Son of God who was to come after him. One was coming who was mightier than him. Although John the Baptist was the greatest of all the Old Testament prophets he was nothing compared to the One in whom the Gospel would be revealed: it is the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. It is His Gospel. The Son of God came to reveal His infinite power in forgiving you of your sins! Do you know Jesus Christ? Do you know the One who can baptize you with the Holy Spirit? Is the Name of Jesus Christ the One to whom you are calling to and resting in during this crisis? It is He, and He alone, who can give you the Good News that you need to hear.
Pastor Murray Hack