Summary: Book sermon from Mark. Jesus' mission on earth was one of careful planning and execution and a life given over to Him ought to reflect the same care and effort.
I saw a picture of little twins the other day. They both were wearing red T-shirts. One said, “I was planned!” The other one said, “I was a surprise!” I wondered – how could they tell which one was the surprise?
I have news for you – whether you were planned or not, God says you were still “on purpose”! Your life has purpose! But too many people are living life like their existence has no purpose.
There are people convinced that everything that exists is here by random chance. That means you and I are the result of the happy collision of random atoms that ultimately arranged themselves into proteins and cells and tissues and organs and organisms and entire ecosystems. Under that arrangement, your purpose for existence, and mine, is on the very same level as that of a cockroach or a cloud. And everything that happens to us, and everything we do, carries the same meaning, or non-meaning.
Then, there are others who think life’s purpose is found in some kind of altruistic or important-sounding cause – save the whales or snails or lobsters; stop the use of Styrofoam cups, or bottled water, or microwaves.
So, you grow up, you get up in the morning, you go to school, you graduate, you get a job, maybe a family, and you still get up in the morning, and you go to work or whatever – maybe you even buy some stuff, and you grow old, and you continue to get up in the morning, until you can’t anymore, and then you’re gone, just like 10 billion people before you.
Let me say this: one of the greater features about life in Jesus is that it recognizes life has purpose. God made us for a purpose, and we get up in the morning with purpose and there is, underneath everything we do, a purpose to do it.
The times we’re living in require that we occasionally step back and review life’s purpose, especially as the situations around us grow increasingly hostile toward followers of Jesus worldwide. That’s probably the kind of situation Mark was considering as he compiled his account of the work of Jesus. Most likely, it was written in Rome, during the early stages of hostility against the Church. What did Christians in Rome need when it came to not giving up their faith in Jesus, and not letting their lives be thrown off track? The answer can be found in the gospel according to Mark. I think it gave them a quick and important reminder of what their lives and their commitments where all about. When early Christians asked themselves, “Hey, why are we going against our culture? Why do we refuse to worship the gods of most of the people around us? Why do we refuse to run after self-satisfaction and indulgence? Why should we take stands against immorality that will cost us everything we own, maybe even our lives?” the answer was, “Because you have been called to live your lives on purpose – a purpose that comes from God and that points you beyond those things – a purpose you can see in the life of Jesus Christ.”
Quite simply, you and I need this for similar reasons. When we start to ask ourselves, “Hey, why are we going against our culture? Why do we refuse to run after the same stuff our culture seems to live for? Why should we care about anyone other than ourselves? What’s the point of making ourselves square pegs in a culture where we just won’t fit?”
For the next couple months, we’re going to answer those questions with a look at the gospel according to Mark. What we’ll see there is a look at the life of Jesus that helps us see what life on purpose looks like.
I want to use the whole book this morning, but to get a sense of how it reads, I chose…
Mark 1:29-39 (NIV) As soon as they left the synagogue, they went with James and John to the home of Simon and Andrew. 30 Simon's mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told Jesus about her. 31 So he went to her, took her hand and helped her up. The fever left her and she began to wait on them. 32 That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed. 33 The whole town gathered at the door, 34 and Jesus healed many who had various diseases. He also drove out many demons, but he would not let the demons speak because they knew who he was. 35 Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. 36 Simon and his companions went to look for him, 37 and when they found him, they exclaimed: "Everyone is looking for you!" 38 Jesus replied, "Let us go somewhere else--to the nearby villages--so I can preach there also. That is why I have come." 39 So he traveled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons.