Now in the morning, having risen a long while (exceedingly, beyond measure; Aorist Act Participle) before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place (remote, desolate, uninhabited); and there He prayed.
And Simon and those who were with Him searched (to hunt Him down) for Him. When they found (eurisko) Him, they said to Him, "Everyone is looking (to crave, demand something from someone) for You." But He said to them, "Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach (Kerusso) there also, because for this purpose I have come forth." And He was preaching in their synagogues throughout all Galilee, and casting out demons. Mark 1:35-39
Now when it was day, He departed and went into a deserted place. And the crowd sought Him and came to Him, and tried to keep (to hold back, to hold fast, to detain) Him from leaving them; but He said to them, "I must preach the kingdom of God to the other cities also, because for this purpose I have been sent." And He was preaching in the synagogues of Galilee. Luke 4:42-44
A Powerful Ministry
So now we move from last week’s message regarding an impressionable ministry to a powerful ministry.
Introduction – The Unbaptized Arm
Ivan the Great was the tsar of all of Russia during the Fifteenth Century. He brought together the warring tribes into one vast empire--the Soviet Union. As a fighting man he was courageous. As a general he was brilliant. He drove out the Tartars and established peace across the nation.
However, Ivan was so busy waging his campaigns that he did not have a family. His friends and advisers were quite concerned. They reminded him that there was no heir to the throne, and should anything happen to him the union would shatter into chaos. "You must take a wife who can bear you a son." The busy soldier statesman said to them that he did not have the time to search for a bride, but if they would find a suitable one, he would marry her.
The counselors and advisers searched the capitals of Europe to find an appropriate wife for the great tsar. And find her, they did. They reported to Ivan of the beautiful dark eyed daughter of the King of Greece. She was young, brilliant, and charming. He agreed to marry her sight unseen.
The King of Greece was delighted. It would align Greece in a favorable way with the emerging giant of the north. But there had to be one condition, "He cannot marry my daughter unless he becomes a member of the Greek Orthodox Church." Ivan’s response, "I will do it!"
So, a priest was dispatched to Moscow to instruct Ivan in Orthodox doctrine. Ivan was a quick student and learned the catechism in record time. Arrangements were concluded, and the tsar made his way to Athens accompanied by 500 of his crack troops--his personal palace guard.
He was to be baptized into the Orthodox church by immersion, as was the custom of the Eastern Church. His soldiers, ever loyal, asked to be baptized also. The Patriarch of the Church assigned 500 priests to give the soldiers a one-on-one catechism crash course. The soldiers, all 500 of them, were to be immersed in one mass baptism. Crowds gathered from all over Greece.
What a sight that must have been, 500 priests and 500 soldiers, a thousand people, walking into the blue Mediterranean. The priests were dressed in black robes and tall black hats, the official dress of the Orthodox Church. The soldiers wore their battle uniforms with of all their regalia--ribbons of valor, medals of courage. and their weapons of battle.
Suddenly, there was a problem. The Church prohibited professional soldiers from being members; they would have to give up their commitment to bloodshed. They could not be killers and church members too.
After a hasty round of diplomacy, the problem was solved quite simply. As the words were spoken and the priests began to baptize them, each soldier reached to his side and withdrew his sword. Lifting it high overhead, every soldier was totally immersed-everything baptized except his fighting arm and sword.
That is a true historical fact. The unbaptized arm. What a powerful picture of Christianity today. How many unbaptized arms are here this morning? How many unbaptized wills are here? How many unbaptized talents? Unbaptized check books? Unbaptized social activities? How many are there here this morning? Dr. Wayne Dehoney, Walnut Street Baptist Church, The Pulpit
Jesus was the God-man of great passions. He had a passion for souls but His greatest passion was the fellowship with the Father. Jesus was fully committed to the cause of the father. Let’s examine several areas of Jesus mastery.
First, He was…
THE MASTER OF PRAYER 35
Up between the hours of 3 to 6 am, Jesus spent time with the Father. Why would he want to do that? What does that say to us?
First, we find Jesus seeking the Father’s Plan.
Jesus had His itinerary mapped out by God the Father. He was doing the Father’s will and sought His will continuously.
Then, we find Jesus trusting the Father’s Power.
Too often we rely upon our own strength to get things done. But that was not so with Jesus. He received His “orders” and relied upon Him every moment. He had an assurance because He sought His will.
Third, we find Jesus desiring the Father’s Presence.
Jesus enjoyed His fellowship time with the Father. That was the highlight of His day. He was ministering to those who needed Him.
He was healed:
Tony Campolo tells a story about being in a church in Oregon where he was asked to pray for a man who had cancer. Campolo prayed boldly for the man’s healing.
That next week he got a telephone call from the man’s wife. She said, "You prayed for my husband. He had cancer." Campolo thought when he heard her use the past tense verb that his cancer had been eradicated! But before he could think much about it she said, "He died." Compolo felt terrible.
But she continued, "Don’t feel bad. When he came into that church that Sunday he was filled with anger. He knew he was going to be dead in a short period of time, and he hated God. He was 58 years old, and he wanted to see his children and grandchildren grow up. He was angry that this all-powerful God didn’t take away his sickness and heal him. He would lie in bed and curse God. The more his anger grew towards God, the more miserable he was to everybody around him. It was an awful thing to be in his presence.
But the lady told Compolo, "After you prayed for him, a peace had come over him and a joy had come into him. Tony, the last three days have been the best days of our lives. We’ve sung. We’ve laughed. We’ve read Scripture. We prayed. Oh, they’ve been wonderful days. And I called to thank you for laying your hands on him and praying for healing."
And then she said something incredibly profound.
She said, "He wasn’t cured, but he was healed."
The ultimate healing we receive is when we stand in the presence of God. Our temporary healing may take place on this earth but the ultimate healing comes in the future.
So we find that Jesus was the master of prayer but we also find Him…
THE MASTER OF PRIORITIES 36-37
Jesus spent time ministering to the down and outers. To the religious of the day, Jesus was ministering outside the ‘family’. He was in the risking business! How did He do that? Let’s look at three ways He accomplished this.
First, Jesus displayed personal convictions. He did what was best all the time. We often settle for “good” when we could’ve experienced the best. Jesus knew why He was here.
We find that He presented persistent courage. Jesus modeled courage by going against the accepted norm. We must not cave in to the demands of the world but seek God’s purpose and plans.
And finally, He demonstrated persuasive compassion. He was preaching in the synagogues (where they didn’t want Him) and casting out demons (who most certainly recognized Him). He had compassion on those who needed, not deserved, it.
Distractions & Priorities
William H. Hinson tells us why animal trainers carry a stool when they go into a cage of lions. They have their whips, of course, and their pistols are at their sides. But invariably they also carry a stool. Hinson says it is the most important tool of the trainer. He holds the stool by the back and thrusts the legs toward the face of the wild animal. Those who know maintain that the animal tries to focus on all four legs at once. In the attempt to focus on all four, a kind of paralysis overwhelms the animal, and it becomes tame, weak, and disabled because its attention is fragmented.
And then we discover that Jesus is…
THE MASTER OF PREACHING 38-39
The Greek word Kerusso means “to preach, proclaim or publish.” It is a divine calling with a powerful content delivered with courageous conviction in a dangerous culture.
We see that the Message is timeless. Jesus was preaching the kingdom of God. It was a message of hope to the hopeless and help to the helpless. The same is true today. The gospel message of Jesus Christ still saves sinners!
We see that the Methods are flexible. Jesus did not heal the blind the same way every time. He varied the healing. Our message should remain the same but our methods of reaching people do change.
And finally, we discover that the Mission field is white unto harvest. It needs to be done right now. Time is wasting.
A man went to church with an angel as guide. The church was filled, but oddly, there was no sound. The organist played, but no music could be heard; the choir’s lips moved, but no song came forth. The pastor went through the motions of preaching, but the man heard nothing. He asked the angel, "Why?" The angel’s reply: "This is the service as God sees it. When there is no heart in it, there is no sound." Then in the back pew he heard a child pray, "Our Father, who art in heaven ..." The angel said, "You are hearing the only part God hears, that which comes from the heart."
In the fifteen hundreds there was a protestant reformer in England by the name of Hugh Latimer. He was known as a great preacher of his day and he had many opportunities to preach. One of his opportunities was to preach before the King Henry VIII of England. He thought about his great responsibility to bring a message before the King. He also thought that the message that God laid on his heart was not the message that the King was going to want to hear.
As he contemplated this, he said that he heard a voice, Latimer, remember you are preaching before King Henry VIII who, if he wills, can take away your life. Then as he began to contemplate this, he heard another voice, Latimer, remember you are preaching before the King of Kings, do not displease him.
Latimer had a struggle with motives. Would he preach what man wanted to hear or would he preach what Christ would have him preach. Latimer chose to preach what Christ would have him to preach. Ultimately it cost Latimer his life.
Oh God, help us to preach the kingdom of God and not of men. Let us look on the fields as a harvest for your glory and not ours. Use us to reach the lost. Let us lose our life for your honor.