Summary: How we react to Jesus will ultimately determine our response to Him.
Imagine if a background check had been done on the 12 disciples.
“Peter is emotionally unstable and given to fits of temper. Andrew has absolutely no qualities of leadership. The two brothers, James and John, place personal interest above company loyalty. Thomas demonstrates a questioning attitude that could undermine morale. Matthew [Levi] has been blacklisted by the Capernaum Better Business Bureau; James and Thaddeus definitely have radical leanings, and they both registered a high score on the manic-depressive scale. Simon is a zealot with terrorist tendencies and is always looking for ways to attack and annihilate the Romans.
“One of the candidates, however, shows great potential. He is a man of high ability and resourcefulness, is outgoing, has a keen business mind, and has contacts in high places. He is highly motivated, ambitious, and responsible. We recommend Judas Iscariot as your controller and right-hand man” (Adapted from “Eating Problems for Breakfast,” by Tim Hansel).
We’re continuing in our series called, “Who is This Man?” from the Gospel of Mark. Pastor Andy helped us understand last week that while we may think we’re righteous, in reality we are sick sinners. We were challenged to reach out to a “Levi,” a person we’d rather not be around.
In our passage today, we’re going to focus on three vignettes to show that our reaction to Jesus determines our response to Him. The sermon title comes from a phrase made popular by C.S. Lewis: “Lord, Liar or Lunatic?” We’ll be introduced to three groups of people -- the disciples who knew He was Lord, His family who treated Him like a lunatic, and His enemies who thought he was a liar. There are really only three choices -- Jesus is God, He is mad or He is bad. There is no middle ground. How we react to Jesus will ultimately determine our response to Him.
1. Is He Lord? We pick up the story in Mark 3:13: “Jesus went up on a mountainside and called to Him those He wanted, and they came to Him.” While there were always crowds around Jesus, He called out for Himself a smaller community of followers. Do you realize that Christianity began with a small group? The Christ-life is meant to be lived out in community and relationships. Are you connected to a Connection Group here at PBC? If not, contact Pastor Andy and get in one.
When Jesus was up on the mountain...
• He called. In John 15:16 we read that Jesus chose and appointed these men. They didn’t volunteer but were selected. It’s good to come back to this truth -- God does the choosing according to His sovereign selection.
• They came. Jesus initiated and the men responded. They didn’t waffle or waver. Jesus called and they came. When I was growing up and we would be playing outside, my dad would open the back door and whistle loudly when it was time to come home. Let me just say that it wasn’t a good idea to dilly dally, if you know what I mean. He whistled and we went.
Jesus is calling some of you right now…but you’ve not yet come to Him. Will today be the day that you do that? PBC missionary Emily Bill posted an update on her blog this week about a young man named Gilberto who attends the Care Center in the D.R. This is what she wrote: “I asked him if he is a Christian and he said, ‘Not yet, but really soon I am going to decide to follow Jesus!’ We talked about it a little more and he said, ‘Don't worry Emily, I will tell you as soon as I make the decision.’” Jesus is calling this young man…I pray that he comes to Him soon.
Let’s move to verses 14-15: “He appointed twelve -- designating them apostles -- that they might be with him and that He might send them out to preach and to have authority to drive out demons.” There’s a threefold task that they’re given that has direct application to those of us who are modern-day disciples. Someone has said, “Christians of the 21st Century are far better at believing than they are at behaving.”
• Hang out with Jesus. They were to be with Him. This is the most important element of discipleship and is at the heart of being a Christian -- spending time with Jesus, listening, learning and loving. And people can tell when we spend time with Him. I love how this is stated in Acts 4:13 - “Now when they saw the courage of Peter and John, and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that they had been with Jesus.”
• Sent out by Jesus. After being in the presence of Jesus they were sent out with a purpose: to preach the gospel. Actually the word “apostle” means “sent one.” They received their education by being with Jesus but they were not to just stay with Him; they were equipped to be sent out. It’s not enough to just come here; we must go there. We come together as the church gathered in order to go out as the church scattered. What we learn in private must be shared with the public. The disciples are given detailed marching orders in Matthew 10:5-42: “…As you go, preach this message: ‘The kingdom of God is near.’”