November 1, 2010 David Balzer

Mark 4:32-5:43: What’s so special about Jesus?

No one has had a greater influence on the world than Jesus of Nazareth.

 

Time magazine described him as “the most persistent symbol of purity, selflessness and brotherly love in the history of western man”.

 

He’s been an enormous influence on CULTURE. More MUSIC has been inspired by him than anyone or anything else. Countless PAINTINGS AND SCULPTURES are based on the events of his life.

 

His moral teaching has revolutionised human relations. He’s the benchmark for how people treat each other/ the world over.

 

And that reliable measure of public opinion, the Internet, confirms it. Google lists 23.1 million hits to the name Jesus.

 

(By contrast, there’s only 9.5 million hits for Olympics, 5.8 million for Elvis, and a paltry 5.2 million for George W. Bush.)

 

Even the atheist H.G. Wells, has made this admission, “I am a historian, I am not a believer. But this penniless preacher from Galilee is IRRESISTIBLY THE CENTRE OF HISTORY”.

 

That’s a big call! The centre of history!

 

And while most people would agree that he’s had a great influence/ exactly what that influence IS/ is much more open to discussion. Because few people have been as widely MISUNDERSTOOD as Jesus.

 

If you walked down the main street of Blacktown, and asked the people you met, “Who do you reckon Jesus was?”/ you’d probably get as many opinions as people.

 

To some/ he was JUST A GOOD TEACHER. Gave us some good advice.

 

To others he was A LOVING EXAMPLE, showed people how to live by humility, sacrifice and compassion.

 

Still others see him as weak, a wimp in a long white dress. Who suffered at the hands of bullies. And who died, defeated and heart-broken. Never to be seen again. Hardly someone you’d trust your life with!

 

Many of the world religions acknowledge him as a prophet from God – a holy man telling people God’s message.

 

But there’d be some people who’d say that Jesus was MORE than ALL OF THAT. Yes, he was a good teacher, and a moral example, and a prophet.

 

But they’d reckon he was God’s Son. Came to earth to live, and die, and rise again. To save people. And to rule as God’s king.

 

And those people would probably be Christians. You see, that’s what a Christian is – someone who reckons that Jesus runs the world.

 

And that’s the opinion of around 2 billion people today. And GROWING. That’s a guess of the number of Christians in the world. THAT MANY PEOPLE reckon that Jesus of Nazareth is the centre of history.

 

And that opinion is based on FAITH.

 

But it’s not BLIND faith. Faith that’s divorced from reason and substantiation. That’s like believing in Santa or the tooth fairy.

 

To believe that Jesus runs the world is based on EVIDENCE. It’s intellectually credible. It’s logically and historically defensible. You don’t check your brain at the door when you decided to trust Jesus.

 

And that’s because Christianity is a HISTORICAL religion. It’s based on solid historical FACTS. Facts which Christians are convinced of because of HISTORICAL EVIDENCE. Documents which are scientifically reliable. That can be trusted.

 

Our best sources are BIOGRAPHIES of Jesus. Written by people who either WITNESSED the events THEMSELVES, or HEARD about them from witnesses.

 

They’re the books we call the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

 

And when you read about what Jesus DID and SAID. What he thought about his own mission and purpose. The miracles he performed. Then the opinions of the uninformed just don’t hold up.

 

Because if you look at the evidence, there’s NO EXCUSE for saying that he was JUST A GOOD MAN. Or a good TEACHER. Or a PROPHET. Because Jesus won’t ALLOW us that option.

 

Either, Jesus is who he says he is – God’s Son, His appointed representative. With all the authority of God to heal sickness, control nature, even raise the dead.

 

Or he’s part of the greatest cover-up – the greatest conspiracy – in the history of the world.

 

But to reckon he’s just another teacher, or a prophet, or a good man/ isn’t an option.

 

SO that’s the challenge for You today. To begin to look at the evidence. To make up your OWN mind. Who is Jesus? And if you’re SERIOUS about that decision, it will change the rest of your life.

 

Today we’re going to look at a section from Mark’s biography. It describes a day in the life of Jesus. An EXTRAORDINARY day. A day which sets Jesus apart from anyone else in the history of the world. A day which shows that Jesus really DOES rule the world.

 

2a Jesus rules over nature

And it actually begins the evening of the night before. Story one. Jesus rules over nature.

 

Look there at Ch 4 sentence 35. You can either follow along in the Bibles – pg 710 – or it’s reprinted there in your news sheets.

 

Night falls, and Jesus and his disciples get into a boat, and cross to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. It’s the red-eye. The commuter special. And Jesus is so exhausted / he falls asleep in the back of the boat.

 

The problem is/ there’s a bit more than your usual mid-flight air turbulence. Sentence 37 tells us that sometime during the night there’s A WILD STORM. A furious squall. The wind’s SO STRONG, and the waves SO WILD, that the boat’s nearly swamped.

 

Now a storm at night can be pretty scary. But a storm at night on the open sea would be TERRIFYING. And that’s exactly what the disciples reckon. So they wake Jesus up. Look there at sentence 38.

(Mark 4:38 NIV) … “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”

 

Perhaps they just want his help bailing out the boat, or rowing against the wind. But Jesus does something they don’t expect. Something MUCH better.

(Mark 4:39-41 NIV)  He got up, REBUKED THE WIND and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. {40} He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” {41} They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”

 

And that’s the question YOU need to ask. “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him?”

 

What sort of good teacher, or holy man, or moral example RULES THE FORCES OF NATURE? Certainly no-one else I’ve ever heard of!

 

2b Jesus rules over evil.

But that’s not the end of the story. Part 2 shows us that Jesus rules over EVIL.

 

It happens perhaps a few hours later. Probably early morning. They finally make it across the other side of the sea. They’re wet, and cold, and hungry.

 

And as they pull into shore, there’s a welcome party to meet them. But it’s not exactly the sort of party they might WANT.

 

It’s a demon-possessed man. Tortured. Suffering. Broken chains and shackles dangling from his wrists and ankles. In such anguish, that he’d cry out and cut himself with stones.

 

This poor guy was controlled by the forces of Satan. Pure evil. But when he saw Jesus from a distance, he recognised his authority at once. He came running towards Jesus, and fell on his knees in front of him.

 

And look what he says to Jesus. Ch 5, sentence 7.

(Mark 5:7 NIV) …”What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? Swear to God that you won’t torture me!”

 

The spooky thing is/ it’s ACTUALLY THE EVIL SPIRIT whose doing the talking. Controlling this poor man. It’s a servant of Satan, but the spirit recognises that Jesus even rules OVER HIM.

 

And he’s RUNNING SCARED. And sentence 8 tells us why.

(Mark 5:8 NIV)  For Jesus had said to him, “Come out of this man, you evil spirit!”

 

The eviction order comes through. But Jesus hasn’t finished yet. The very next sentence.

(Mark 5:9-10 NIV)  Then Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” “My name is Legion,” he replied, “for we are many.” {10} And he begged Jesus again and again not to send them out of the area.

 

But Jesus was having none of it. He rules over these spirits. They have to do whatever he says.

 

And so, at Jesus’ command, these destructive, satanic spirits come out of the poor man, and enter a herd of pigs. Who rush down the hill, straight into the water, and drown.

 

Wow! Imagine the disciples? Just standing around, still in their dripping clothes. Mouth gaping!

 

One moment it’s SEAS, the next it’s SATAN. And Jesus rules over it all!

 

2c Jesus rules over sickness.

But that’s not all. They hop back in the boat. It’s time for story 3. Jesus rules over SICKNESS. It’s there from sentence 21. They cross back to the OTHER side of the lake. Near where they’d been the previous day. And there was a large crowd waiting.

 

But one guy in particular is EXTRA keen to see Jesus. His name is Jairus, and his daughter is sick. I don’t know about YOU, but as a father, when your daughter is sick, you’d do almost ANYTHING.

 

And in Jairus’ case, it’s desperate – she’s DYING. From sentence 22. He falls at Jesus’ feet, and PLEADS EARNESTLY.

(Mark 5:23 NIV)  “My little daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live.”

 

And so Jesus heads off.

 

But on the way the camera zooms in on ANOTHER desperate case. Sentence 25. This woman’s suffered continual internal bleeding for 12 years. No doctor could help. In fact, it was only getting worse.

 

It wasn’t just that it was uncomfortable, and probably painful. But it made her a social outcast as well. Because according to the rules of the time, it made her ceremonially unclean, and meant that no-one could have anything to do with her.

 

Her spirit was SO crushed, her emotions SO raw, she didn’t even dare to SPEAK to Jesus. She couldn’t STAND the rejection. But she’s so desperate / she can’t let the opportunity pass. She has to try. So look at what she does. Sentence 27.

(Mark 5:27-30 NIV)  When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, {28} because she thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” {29} Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering. {30} At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?”

 

How ironic – she’s instantly healed. But now she’s going to suffer the wrath of Jesus for touching him without permission. 12 years of sickness and rejection. And when she’s finally cured, she’s going to be rejected again! By the most important person she’d ever met. By the One who rules over storms and Satan and sickness.

 

Sentence 33.

(Mark 5:33 NIV)  Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth.

 

But what does Jesus do? Is he angry because she didn’t seek permission? Because she was sneaky? Annoyed because some of his power had been used up? No! Limitless power at his finger tips, but there’s compassion and love and forgiveness to go with it.

(Mark 5:34 NIV)  He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”

 

What wonderful words they must have been in the ears of that poor woman! Freed from her suffering. Just like the demon possessed man. The chance of a fresh start. Cleansed and whole.

 

And, you know, it’s the same hope and promise he offers to broken people TODAY! His POWER hasn’t changed. And his compassion and concern certainly haven’t changed!

 

2d Jesus rules over death

But the best is yet to come. Story 4. Jesus rules over DEATH.

 

Had you forgotten about Jairus? He’s been standing around waiting. Getting more and more desperate. His daughter’s at death’s door. And Jesus is just hanging around CHATTING!

 

But then something happens which turns his DESPERATION TO DESPAIR. Sentence 35.

(Mark 5:35 NIV)  While Jesus was still speaking, some men came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue ruler. “Your daughter is dead,” they said. “Why bother the teacher any more?”

 

The dreadful news no parent ever wants to hear. Perhaps he breaks down. The frustration of help being so close, but ultimately so far. Because Jesus turns his attention immediately to Jairus.

(Mark 5:36 NIV)  Ignoring what they said, Jesus told the synagogue ruler, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.”

 

And for the Christian today, those are wonderful words. Don’t be afraid, just believe. Death is nothing to fear, when Jesus is around. So don’t be AFRAID, just TRUST him. Because he RULES over death. As we’re about to see.

 

He arrives at the house. Everyone’s standing around weeping and mourning. But that’s because they don’t know what Jesus knows. They’re AFRAID, rather than TRUSTING.

 

He goes into the girl’s room, together with her parents, and his two closest mates. And then look at what he does. Sentence 41.

41 He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum!” (which means, “Little girl, I say to you, get up!”).

 

As gently, and simply, as if she’d been taking an afternoon nap.

 

What was Jesus thinking? Dead people can’t hear. Dead people can’t get up! With anyone else, you’d think they’d lost their marbles. But not with Jesus. Because this is the guy who STORMS listen to. Who EVIL SPIRITS obey. Who SICKNESS/ FLEES FROM.

 

And wherever this girl was, whatever she’d been doing. (A miracle happens) She HEARS Jesus. And RESPONDS. LIFe enters her body. Sentence 42.

Immediately the girl stood up and walked around (she was twelve years old). At this they were completely astonished.

 

Jesus even rules over DEATH.

 

Well, that’s the day. An incredible day. One which sets Jesus apart from any other person in history. Jesus rules over nature, and evil, and sickness, and death.

 

And if we kept reading his biographies, we’d find that he’s STILL doing it. Still running the world. Because we read that within a couple of years, he was murdered. But death couldn’t keep him. He rose from the dead, appeared to many people. We remember those events at Easter.

 

And then the biographies tell us, he returned to heaven, to be with his Father. And that EVEN NOW, HE RUNS THE WORLD. Rules over the very things he ruled THEN.

 

It’s not such a hard thing to accept, if we accept the evidence of THIS particular day!

 

And if all of that’s true, then a king like that/ deserves our allegiance. Our respect, and service. Because it means he RULES OVER US, TOO!

 

And so the right response is two-fold. The two words there in your outline are ADMIT, and SUBMIT.

 

You need to admit that you HAVEN’T given Jesus your allegiance. You’ve ruled your own life. Followed your own agenda. That’s what the Bible calls SIN.

 

To admit that/ is called REPENTANCE.

 

Secondly, you need to SUBMIT. To acknowledge that Jesus really DOES run the world. And that you’re going to ALLOW him to run YOU TOO.

 

And that’s basically what a Christian is. Someone who’s ADMITTED, and who SUBMITS.

 

And I can PERSONALLY say, and the evidence of the Bible supports this, that a life submitting to King Jesus is the best life you could ever have. It’s one of JOY, and PURPOSE, and a FUTURE. It’s a life of SATISFACTION, and MEANING.

 

Because following King Jesus is what you were MADE FOR. Are you willing to give that a go? To live life the way it was DESIGNED?

 

Perhaps that’s something you’re not sure of. You want to look at more of the evidence? That’s GREAT! This is no sales program. We’re transparent. There’s nothing to hide.

 

If that’s you/ why not sign up for a short course on Christianity? Six weekly sessions of looking at the evidence. And then you can better make up your mind.

 

But if admitting and submitting is what YOU want to do, then it begins with something as simple as TELLING Jesus. That’s PRAYING. A prayer that can be as simple as this.

 

It’s printed there in the news sheet. Have a look over it, and if that’s something you want to say, then you can repeat the words in your head as I say them.

 

Dear Jesus. You rule over the whole world. I admit that I haven’t allowed you to rule over me. Forgive me. I submit to you. Make me your friend. Help me to serve you and follow you as my king. Amen.

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