Disciple – A new King
Caleb Campbell

Today we’re kicking off a new series in the Gospel of Mark.  We’re actually going to be in the Gospel of Mark for a few months.  We’re going to be doing a deep dive, looking at what it means to be a disciple of Jesus.

“Disciple” is a weird word.  It’s kind of a weird word we don’t use that outside of church.  But disciple is good to use because it has nuances to it that some of the other alternative words don’t have.

For example, you could be a student to a teacher, but not really have a relationship with your professor or teacher.  You don’t really know what they’re doing in their normal life.  They’re just kind of lecturing and doing data transfer.  A student disciple is kind of like a student, but it’s more.  And you can also be like a follower of like a person on Twitter.  You can follow a celebrity.

You could follow a political leader, but there’s no real relationship.  They don’t know you.   It’s me so far Disciple has this idea of kind of like student and kind of like follower but also like a deep level of relationship.   So in the time of the Gospel of Mark, the word disciple kind of inferred that deeper level of relationship.  Not only that, you would be a learner or a follower, but also have a deep relationship.

I just want to say something out loud, maybe you’ve never thought of before. If you’re a theologically thinking person, this might blow your mind.  The disciples of Jesus knew when he pooped.  I just said the words out there.  You’re receiving them in.  Just receive that.  That’s a gift to you today, right?

The disciples were so close to Jesus, right?  He wasn’t an entertainer.  He wasn’t a celebrity, wasn’t a performer.  The disciples were walking his path and on occasion He would have to leave that path to poop.  And the disciples knew that.  So disciple has this idea of closeness or proximity – a deeper relationship than maybe just between a student and a professor, or maybe a follower of a leader or celebrity.

OK, as we’re going to look at through the Gospel of Mark, we’re going to look at what it means to live as a disciple.  If you’re a follower of Jesus, you might say that you’re a Christian or whatnot.  This discipleship thing is so critical for us to understand.

Also, for those of you that are still trying to figure out what you think about Jesus, I’m so glad you’re here.  And I just want to say that as for the space that you’re at, a lot of the characters that we’re going to read about in the Bible — even today, a lot of the people that we’re going to read about they’re in exactly your space.  In fact, many of the disciples of Jesus who were walking the Jesus way didn’t know much at all about what it meant to follow Jesus.  I

We will go through the Gospel Mark, a span of three years — not in the sermon series Just in the chronology of about three years of these disciples following Jesus.  And all the time they’re not understanding and not getting it.  The first step of following Jesus is just to start looking at Jesus and asking yourselves “What’s this all about?”

That’s the first discipleship step.  To put it another way, all of the disciples in one phase of the process or the other were trying to follow him.  It’s critical for us to understand what it means to be a disciple, because if we’re a disciple of Jesus, then his voice, his teaching, his lifestyle, the truth of who He is, and what He’s done, it will radically shape us.  Because we are people who, like It or not, are shaped by the voices that we listen to.

All of us are making choices about who we will allow to speak to us. We have at our fingertips digital devices that we could let anyone’s voice into our lives at any point in time.  We have this radical wealth of voices that can speak into our lives.  And when those voices speak into our lives — whether we know it or not — are shaping us because we’re shapeable people.

Now a lot of us we like to think of ourselves “I don’t have any uncritical thoughts. I’m not influenced by my society,” we say.  I was born in Phoenix.  My dad worked for Snap-On Tools and he transferred from Phoenix to Dallas when I was in second grade. I was in Dallas, TX from 2nd grade until 7th grade.  That’s a pretty formative time in a young person’s life, wouldn’t you agree? And I was there when the Cowboys were good, and that’s why I’m still a Cowboys fan.  You can’t make me like the Cardinals more than the Cowboys because it’s deep within me, And if they end up playing the Cardinals next week, they’re going to crush you guys.

I’m your pastor, and I feel this tension inside of me.  But God help us all, I was shaped in the Cowboys mold.  I went to the games.  I saw them on the big screen, and it just did something to me.  I wasn’t consciously deciding today to be a Dallas Cowboys fan.  It Just happened to me because we’re shapeable people.

Also, something else I notice is that when we would come back from Dallas, I would be with my Phoenician family, and they quickly started noticing something and they made fun of me about it.  I started talking differently.  I said “howdy “and “y’all.”  I’m 40 years old, and I still say “y’all.”  I’m not making a conscious decision to be the type of person who says “y’all.”  And where did that come from? No one sat me down and said, “Here’s how you’d be a Texan.”  It was modeled for me in the community that I was in.  It was the voices that I was allowing to speak to me and to influence me that shaped me into that to who I am today, for better, for worse, y’all.

We have choices of the voices that we let inside.  And I want to encourage you to be aware of whose voices are you choosing to listen to.  What does listening to those voices produce in your life?  Who are the voices that you’re listening to and what is it producing in your life? Are they producing goodness, kindness, self-control, joy, peace, patience, love, understanding?  Are they producing fear, rage, malice, slander, gossip, hate? What are the voices you’re allowing in and what are those voices producing?

Being a disciple of Jesus — following the Jesus Way — is to say “The first voice that I’m going to let influence me is the voice of Jesus.  I’m gonna listen to him first.  I’ll listen to other people, too, but m gonna listen to Him first.  And if whatever is going on out there doesn’t sync up with Jesus, I’m going to give order of priority to Jesus’s voice as opposed to these voices out there.  Not that I’m going to turn them off, but just I’m going to filter everything through that Jesus voice.”   So I invite you on this journey to listen to Jesus’s voice as you follow His way and as we study the Gospel of Mark.

Now I want to give you a caution.  There are going to be points in time where you don’t like this — where you don’t like listening to Jesus’s voice.  I just want to say something.  I want to tease something out here that’s critical to any real deep relationships.  In your relationships of deep friendship — maybe it’s with a spouse or just any deep relationship — there is always an invitation to be frustrated, disappointed, to feel anger, to feel sadness, to feel fear, to feel offended, and to feel flummoxed.

Have you ever met a married person? Some of you are married.  And if you meet people who have a deep marriage relationship, a deep love relationship a– maybe they’re in their fifties or sixties — you look upon their marriage you say, “Oh, they’re just so in love.” This great marriage did not exist without thousands upon thousands of moments of disappointment, anger, frustration, sadness, being offended, being flummoxed, being confused, wondering — or just having their wills conflict with the other person ‘s will. And the joy, the beauty that you see produced in those deep love relationships only comes through the fire of disappointment, anger, sadness, fear, offense and so on.

And so it is, too, with Jesus.  There are going to be times where Jesus says something, and it’s offensive to our sensibilities.  Or it makes us feel fear.  It makes us feel sad.  It makes us feel angry.  And when that moment comes — not if but when that moment comes — I want to encourage you to keep following him, because there’s a gift for you on the other side.  There’s a maturity There’s a shaping.

Do you know what Play-Doh is?  OK.   I’ve got four kids, so I’ve eaten Play-Doh more times than I care to admit it.  It’s in everything, and sometimes it gets left out and it’s crusty. But when you get a fresh batch, you pop it open and you just smell it and you’re just thinking “How do I get this thing out of here?” And then you dig it around with your finger.  Finally you get that fresh Play-Doh out, and then what inevitably do you start doing with it? You start causing it offence. You start offending it.  I mean, how would you like it if that were you in that shaping process?

C.S. Lewis, who’s an old-school theologian, had in his mind this idea — that if clay were animate and aware, there’s no way that the clay would appreciate what the sculptor is doing until it’s done.  The clay would feel offended and betrayed and afraid.  Oh my goodness!  All this shaping this happened to me.  But at the end there’s a masterpiece there if we follow Jesus through these  feelings, through these fears, through these concerns.

Through this feeling flummoxed –through feeling offended — we’re going to follow Jesus through that, recognizing that this is how it feels like to be shaped. So I invite you in.  And here’s why I say all that.  In the Gospel of Mark, there’s a bunch of things that come up that we don’t want to talk about.  So sex and sexual assault comes up. Politics is all over the place.  Betrayal, deceit, issues around money and greed.  And have you guys ever heard it said that there are just certain things you don’t talk about in polite company? Usually one of those things — sex money, politics, power.  I just want to be very clear with you.  We are not polite company.  That’s not what we’re doing here.

OK, we believe that Jesus is the King over the whole cosmos, which means there is not one square inch of our existence hat he is not the King and Lord over.  He’s inviting us in to have these hard conversations as a Jesus-centered community. And as that happens, we’re going to be shaped and reshaped, and we’re often going to do that to each other, even sometimes, unknowingly.  Because the spirit is going to do something through this church family as we collectively follow Jesus, where we lead into these hard conversations and take the light of Christ into these dark spaces.

And what we’ll feel is fear.  We’ll feel anxiety and we’ll sometimes feel betrayed. We’ll feel offended and like everything is just unstable.  Because Jesus is going to be reshaping us more and more into His image.  That’s why I’m so glad that we’re not a homogeneous church — a bunch of sames.  We’re a bunch of misfits.  Jesus uses the pieces of us that don’t fit together to shape us. What a gift we have and what a gift to our community!

If we would lean into this and actually model for our community a Jesus-centric way of talking about all these difficult, impolite conversations … By the way, it’s in the text, so I would feel like I would be betraying the text if I didn’t bring it up.  So here we go. Here’s, Oh yeah, this is great OK.  So guess what?

Do you know that the printing press was not around when Jesus was around? Mass-produced Bibles, which I’m so grateful for, were not in the hands of the majority of Christians until maybe the 1700s.  Even today, there are many, a multitude of Christians who cannot read.  Therefore, when they engage in Scripture — just like the hundreds of years of Christian tradition that came before them — they didn’t read it.  Do you know what they did? They heard it.

In fact, the literary design of the Gospel of Mark and my current understanding is all the books of the Bible is that it’s primarily designed to be heard, not read.  That’s not a reason to not read it.  I love reading the Bible. I think you should read the Bible.  I think you should go home today and read the Bible 50 times and then argue about it for the next 100 years with a bunch of people who aren’t like you.  I think you should do that.

But what we’re going to do throughout this series is that we’re also going to connect ourselves to those who came before us and those around the world who can’t read.  And we’re also going to participate by hearing the Word. And so I’ll read it this week, and for this little first glance, I’m going to ask that you would just close your eyes.  Fr those of you that are online, I know you’re looking at a screen, and that’s weird.  But we’ll figure it out, right?

If you can close your eyes, I just want you to hear the Word.   And then I’m going to ask you to be attentive to the spirit of the living God and what the spirit is speaking to you through the Word. Even right now, maybe there’s a word that gets highlighted.  Maybe a sentence or a phrase jumps out at you.  Just be attentive.  You don’t have to overthink it. There’s no right or wrong answer.  Just be attentive because we serve a living God who speaks to us.  So just be attentive to that as I read.  I’m going to read the Gospel of Mark Chapter one verses one through 20. And then we’ll go back and we’ll just notice some things.  So here is the Word of God.

“The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus the Christ, the son of God.  As it is written in Isaiah the Prophet ‘See I am sending my messenger ahead of you. He will prepare your way — a voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ’Prepare the way of the Lord. Make his paths straight.’

Now John came baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. The whole Judean countryside and all of the people of Jerusalem were going out to him. And they were baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins.

Now John wore a camelhair garment with a leather belt around his waist. He ate locusts and honey.  He proclaimed, ‘One who is more powerful than I am is coming after me. I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the strap of his sandals.  I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.’

Now in those days Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee, and he was baptized in the Jordan by John.  As soon as he came up out of the water, he saw the heavens being torn open and the spirit descending on him like a dove.  A voice came from heaven, ‘You are my beloved son. With you I am well pleased.’

Immediately, the spirit drove him into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness 40 days being tempted by Satan, and he was with the wild animals, and the angels were serving him.  Now after John was arrested Jesus went to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God.  ‘The time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe in the good news.’

As he passed alongside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew, Simon’s brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. ‘Follow me,’ Jesus told them, ‘and I will make you to fish for people.’ Immediately they left their nets and followed Him.  Going on a little farther, he saw James, the son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat, putting out their nets.  Immediately he called them and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed Him.”

This is the word of the Lord

I wish we had more time together or maybe even in a smaller setting to hear if maybe the spirit of God brought something up to you.  We are going to be doing a class where I’m gonna be leading a a deep-dive Bible study in the Gospel of Mark on Tuesdays. I think we start in two or three weeks. We’ll be here on campus.  I’d love to have you join us if you would like to do a deep-dive study.  We’ll do some of that kind of back and forth — much more conversational than this. And if you want to sign up for that, you can go to our website – dsbc.church. Or you can just fill out that connection card, next steps card and drop it in the metal box.

But what I’d like to do now is just go through the text and let’s just notice some things together. I’m not going to really do application.  I’m going to actually encourage you to just not ask an application question just yet.

One of my concerns being in the individualistic and consumeristic society that we live in here in Phoenix, is that that is oftentimes shaping us and shaping our approach to the Bible.  We kind of go to the Bible, really sometimes just defaulting like:  “I’m the center of the universe. You fix my life.”  And then we open the Bible and act like it’s going to work that way.

That’s not how the Bible works.  It’s not a magic book. It’s not a handbook for life that works like your car manual. It is something much more profound, and it’s going to work on us and shape us in ways that we oftentimes don’t see.  Sometimes that might make us feel like we’re not in control, because we want to ask our questions and get our questions answered.  And I just want to tell you this — as gently and as pastorally as I can:  You are not in control.  That’s an illusion.  If Jesus is the King, then you and I are not.  And so rather than fretting about that or freaking out about that, let’s be a people who follow the King wherever He might lead, knowing that it’s good.

All right, so let’s go into the text.  In the time of Mark, the time of Jesus, there was an empire that ruled over Jerusalem, which is where all this stuff in Mark takes place.   They are the overlords. They are the conquerors. Does anyone know the name of that empire?  It’s four letters and starts with R.  Rome, that’s right.

OK, so the Roman Empire has conquered the area where Jesus is doing his ministry.  In the area that that Mark records in this text, one of the most common things for people to engage with was to spread news. Not only was there not a printing press back then, but also there weren’t any fax machines.  So to spread news — bad news, good news — to spread news you would have a good news orator who could proclaim the news.  They would come into your town and they would say things.  And you know what people would do? Right, they would listen. They would attune their ears to the good news and usually the language of good news.

What sometimes we refer to as gospel, that “good news,” was usually sent from the emperor or the throne room.  And it was usually good news about like a new king being born or a prince that was going to become king.   So a “good news” would come to your town.   And they would say “Good news.   The new king is born.”  Everyone would go Yay — or if you if they were your overlords You would go yay.

There is also another means of good news, and that was mainly the conquering of a bad guy — or at least if you were Rome, what you consider to be a bad guy. So a “Good News “orator would come and say, “Good News.  The Enemy is dead. We can be at peace.”  And it was common for “good newsers” to come into a town and say good news, and they would say whatever came from the throne room.

Now, in the Gospel of Mark, Mark models this introduction by leveraging that idea.  But you’ll notice it’s not the good news from Caesar.  It’s the good news of Jesus, right?  Do you see that already?  Mark has framed this in a political way, meaning this has radical implications to the power structures of whatever world you’re living in. He’s giving kingly language, and I’m just going to keep pushing on this, ’cause I’m so convinced of it.   Oh man, I almost missed it. Thank you for reminding me. Notice the first two words — The beginning …

OK, so this is cosmic.  This is harkening back.  There are three other books in your Bible that start with “the beginning.”  One of them is the Gospel of John, which is a counterpart to Mark, just a couple books ahead.  Another one is Hosea.  And the first place we see that language is in the beginning of the first book of your Bible –Genesis.  Genesis has a better opening than Star Wars.

I think that Mark is intentionally leveraging that his original hearers would have heard “the beginning.” think what Mark is trying to do artistically is to tether this new creation to the creation story.  He’s going to tell us a story about the new creation that we find in Jesus.

OK, the gospel about the good news of whom?  Jesus!  Notice there’s another word next to his name, and it’s not his last name.  Our naming conventions are crazy, aren’t they?  So another way to articulate this is Jesus the Christ or Jesus the Messiah. Christ and Messiah are just the same word.  Christ is just a translation of Messiah.  It means “anointed one” — the chosen one of God.  So Jesus the Christ, Jesus, the anointed one.

And do you know who usually gets anointed in scripture? It’s the promised one.  In fact, I think that he’s riffing on the line of David that there would come from the line of David, another king.  Here in the first sentence of the Gospel of Mark, you have radical implications to government, to power, to who you serve.

OK, let’s keep going.  As it is written  *** TV timeout …  Do you guys remember when Charlton Heston was Moses?  What was that movie called?  “The Ten Commandments.  It’s about this dude named Moses — and I think the Pharaoh was Yule Brenner.  There’s this scene where Yule Brenner in his Egyptian outfit says the words “So let it be written.  ***

So let it be done.”   So let it be written, or as it is written, is a legal term that the ancients used to add strength.  Notice what he says — “as it is written.”   Here’s the deal.   He’s quoting from what you and I would call the Old Testament.  He’s quoting Isaih the prophet.   “I am sending my messenger ahead of you. He will prepare your way.”  Remember, we’re talking about following Jesus.

*** Another TV timeout.  Do you guys want to know some Bible nerd trivia?  You guys know how you play Bible trivia parties?  OK, I’m gonna give you some extra ammunition.  If anyone does that, please don’t invite me to your parties.   Do you know that the earliest people who followed Jesus were not called Christians? In fact, we don’t have any early evidence of anyone self-identifying as a Christian.  They were actually called that as almost a derogatory word. ***

OK, let’s get going … “A voice of one crying out in the wilderness,” keep that in mind.  “Prepare the way for the Lord.  Make His path straight.” You get this imagery all over in Marks gospel.  You’ve got pathway-type language, right?  John came baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism or repentance for the forgiveness of sins.

Let me ask you a question Why do people go out into the wilderness? Have you ever been in the wilderness unprepared? I’m not talking about “glamping” with one of those massive backpacks.  Instead, you’re just out there, with a with a camelskin jacket and a leather belt and a jar of honey and a bag full of locusts.  Has anyone ever done that before?

Just imagine back in Mark’s day.  Being in the town was safe.  The wilderness, was what? Not safe.  So why would anyone risk going to the wilderness? Well, one of the reasons is you’re trying to avoid the legal authorities.  You’re trying to get outside of some of those constructs that society affords. Another reason is that no one in town wanta to hear your noise.  So they say “Get out of here” and they run you out of town.

Notice where John the Baptizer is doing all of his proclaiming.  He’s in the wilderness.  He’s in the wilderness. This is a dangerous place.  A bear could eat you.  You could get bitten by a snake.  And when you try to call 911 back then, you realize phones don’t exist yet.  You’re done for, right?  OK, so John is out there. He’s not making proclamations about the King.

Notice this.  He’s not making proclamations about the king from the palace or the temple. He’s making proclamations about this King from where?  Outside.  He’s an outsider.  He’s a prophetic voice. He’s not trying to maintain the status quo.  This King is going to come and upset status quo — at least that’s what we’re set up to believe here.

The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem are going out to John and they would be baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins. John wore a camelhair garment with a leather belt around his waist and ate locusts and wild honey.  What application does that have for you today, friends? The reason I’m making fun of that question is because when we just think what this verse means, for me right now in my life?  Sometimes it doesn’t work on us right, unless you feel compelled by the power of the spirit to go and dress this way. I don’t think that’s the application, right?  Honey is nice, but have you guys ever eaten a locust lately? The last couple years they’ve gone sour.

Why is Mark telling us this?  Did you notice that he tried to tether his story with Genesis and with Isaiah the Prophet? Did you guys catch that early on? You know who else dressed this way? Another prophet named Elijah.  Mark is saturating the introduction of his good news about King Jesus with the Old Testament and all of their prophecies and all of their longings and all of their hopes.

He proclaimed one who was more powerful than him was coming.  He said he wasn’t worthy to stoop down and untie the strap of Jesus’s sandals.  “I baptize you with water, but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit” In those days Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized in the Jordan by John. So now we’re introduced to the King.  Here comes the King.

Notice, where does Jesus come from.  OK, have you guys ever been to Gila Bend?  I’m sorry this is going to be offensive. Let me ask Is anyone here from Gila Bend? Great.  Have you guys ever been to Gila Bend?  There’s a reason you and I don’t live there, right?  Nothing good comes from Gila Bend.  Why do people live there? What good could ever come from Gila Bend?  Do you see it?

And here comes the King. He’s the anointed one. He’s the royal line. And where does he come from? New York City?  No. Washington, D.C.?  No.  Where does he come from?  Gila Bend.  Hold on, already. The one who’s making the way straight is outside of the power dynamics and structures of society.  And now you get a King who’s an upside-down King.  You’re going to consistently see Jesus take power and flip it upside down.  He’s the King that comes from Gila Bend.   So already we’re leaning in– what kind of a King is this?

As soon as he came up out of the water, Jesus saw the heavens being opened.  He sees the heavens being what? Torn open.  Now this is actually really interesting. Look at that violent language. This is power. Something powerful is happening – the heavens torn open and the spirit descending on him like a dove.

*** TV timeout *** What’s descending?  The Spirit of God.  Now this is interesting too.  Because in the Book of Genesis it says that the Spirit of God hovered over the waters, and now here Jesus is in the water and the spirit of God is hovering over the waters again, only this time with a destination.  So the spirit descends on him like a dove.  It’s interesting that we have that as a symbol of peace. ***

What kind of a king is this?  It’s not a Roman eagle that descends on him.  Isn’t that interesting? And a voice came from Heaven, saying, “You are my beloved son with you I am well pleased.”

Let me ask you a question.  In your understanding of how kings work, how does a person become a king?  They can conquer their way to kingship, right?  They can kill their enemies, right?  There’s another way to be king, and that’s to be born a king.  But if you’re going to be born a king, what does your dad have to have been usually?  A king, right?  And so if your dad’s a king, you get to be a king, right?  It passes from father to son.

Then notice who Jesus is receiving this from.  I’m going to just play with the metaphor here. Notice who Jesus is receiving the kingly line from.  Who is it?   Spoiler alert:  It’s got to be the father, right?  So His kingship, His authority is unquestioned, unquestionable.  It’s not earthly authority.  “This is my beloved son.”

Now notice God also says, “I’m well pleased.”  I want you to see something what’s descending OK, so God the father speaking, the spirit of God is descending.  Notice what happens next – a shocker.  Immediately the spirit drove Jesus into the wilderness.

Does that mean that the spirit is an Uber driver?  No, what kind of driving are we talking about?  We’re talking about, yeah, chasing, like pushing out into where?  Outside — outside of all of the safety and systems of the city.  Out into the wilderness.  Who wants to go into the wilderness?

I’m definitely not going to do application.  I’m just going to ask you a hypothetical question.  Have you ever felt like you were in the wilderness?  Inevitably the question is “God, where are you?  God, are you with me?  God, are you angry with me? God, are you even good? God, do you still love me?”                                                       ’

I just want you to notice what happened. A voice came from Heaven, saying, “You are my Beloved son with whom I am well pleased.”  And then what happens next?  The spirit of the living God takes his beloved and drives Him into the wilderness.

So it may be that the wilderness is not just a place for people trying to avoid problems.  Maybe it’s not just a place where people want to kick you out of town ’cause they’re tired of hearing what you’re saying.  It may be that the wilderness is also a place of testing and shaping where, by God good design, He might drive us into a wilderness.

So if you’re in a wilderness — again, I’m not doing application — you might, a person might happen to be in the wilderness.  We know that Jesus has been there, as well.  It does not mean that God is displeased and that you are not beloved.  It may be a season of shaping He was in the wilderness again wilderness How long was he in the wilderness for oh?

*** TV timeout *** In the Book of Exodus, there’s a group of people known as the Nation of Israel.  They were chosen by God to be a Kingdom of priests.  But they kept rebelling against God, and so one of the things that happened is they spent 40 years wandering in the wilderness.  OK, so they failed.  Guess how long Jesus was in the wilderness for being tested?  You guys are so good.  Forty, right?

So Mark here is saying that what Adam and Eve failed to do in the garden Jesus did in the wilderness What Israel failed to do as they were being led to the promised Land, Jesus does In the wilderness.  He’s the King Who fixes the broken. And he is the faithful King who does what we cannot do.

After John was arrested, — notice this that John gets arrested.  We’re actually going to get into this here in a few weeks. There’s going to be a whole section of Mark dedicated to this.  John was arrested because he spoke truth to power and power didn’t like it.  So power had him arrested and executed.

And this has given you a foretaste of what’s going to happen to Jesus. Jesus went to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God.  OK I’m gonna land here and I want you guys to zoom in on me here.  What is the good news?  It’s another word for gospel.   But what is it?  What is the good news that Jesus comes proclaiming.  As American Individualists, capitalistic consumerists — for those of us that are, I know, not all of us are — for some of us, we can imagine the gospel to be a transaction in which I say a prayer and go to heaven when I die.

But that’s not the good news that Jesus comes proclaiming. The good news that Jesus came proclaiming is that the time is fulfilled.  Do you remember that Mark keeps tethering us back to the Old Testament? We talked about Genesis, we talked about Hosea, we talked about Elijah, we talked about Isaiah.  So all the stuff that they were talking to us about — John the Baptist was kind of screaming about — is happening right now. The time is fulfilled.   What’s the good news?  The King is here.

The King establishes his Kingdom.   What is my response to the fact that the Kingdom of God is here in Christ?  I’m called to do two things — repent and believe.   “Repent” has a bunch of religious nuances to it.  Here’s what repentance is.  It’s my whole being — my mind, my heart, my guts, all of me and my behavior and my thinking.  Repentance is going HIs way.  Going my own way is sin.   Do you remember that Mark keeps using pathway language that Jesus said?  “Follow me.” Repentance is I’m following something other than my own self.         Repentance is a change of my being to turn back to God.  It’s not contrition, although that’s a part of the process.  It’s not feeling sad.  Repentance is turning back to God.  You guys ever heard of the parable of the prodigal son?  It’s that moment of turning.

And then, belief.  Do you guys believe in aerodynamics?  Do you believe in airplanes?  A person with a fancy hat in the front of the airplane gets you From A to B, and they’re usually going to get you there safely.  Do you believe that OK?  There’s a belief that exists up here, and then there’s the type of belief where you get on the plane.  Have you guys ever had that experience boarding a plane?  Until you step on the plane you don’t fully understand the weight of your belief.  That language of belief also has a nuances of allegiance and trustworthiness. I’m gonna follow the Jesus way. I’m going to believe in the good news that He’s the King and that the king has come. And that means I’m following Him.

And so, church family, here’s where we’re at.  Jesus goes to these disciples and says “Follow me.”  The call to discipleship Is the call to turn to turn from sin, to turn from evil.   To turn from our own way, to turn to Jesus and to believe in such a way that we want to board the plane.  That we follow him.

So my encouragement to you is this, perhaps even just a question to meditate on: What would it mean your life, if you were to receive the good news that the Kingdom is near that Jesus is its King and that He calls you to follow him?

Let’s pray, Lord, we love you and we give you thanks.  We want to be people who follow you and we know that that’s scary and frustrating and sometimes disappointing.  Sometimes it offends our sensibilities.  Sometimes it’s confusing, and yet we know You’re good and we know that You only have good things in store for us as we follow you — Even though sometimes the way there is through the wilderness.  And so as we embark on this study, Lord, would you give to us wisdom and that by the power of your spirit, we would be a people who, step by step, moment by moment, would follow you.  And that when we turned that we would repent. That we would remind one another and encourage one another to good works. That we would remind one another of the good news. That we would reflect Your goodness and grace to one another into this community. Jesus, we love You. We know that You love us and that You are powerful to bring these things about.  And so we entrust ourselves to You.  Amen, Amen ###