Summary: This sermon deals with the importance of training called men to continue the ministry of the gospel from generation to generation, and the need to respond positively when Jesus calls.
Passing the Baton
Aim: To show the importance of training called men to continue the ministry of the gospel from generation to generation.
Text: Mark 3:7-19
Introduction: It has been some time since I was last at Alton Towers or any theme park, come to that. Like most people the older I get, the less I enjoy being hurtled along a thin rail at high speeds. Of course, the thing about roller coasters is they are governed by the physics of momentum. At first you are dragged to the top of the coaster, and one you are released momentum takes over and there is no going back. It is a good thing in ministry to have momentum, to be moving along, to see things happen, but it can also be a scary thing.
By the time we reach Mark 3 I think it is fair to say Jesus ministry has momentum, and there is no going back. Something has to happen to channel that momentum.
I. His Ministry Enjoyed Popularity – vss 7-12
A. This is Mark’s emphasis, he wants us to understand something of the stir Jesus preaching and miracle working was causing.
B. Verse 7 tells us Jesus withdrew Himself.
1. Withdrew Himself from where? From the synagogue in Capernaum.
2. That is where His fiercest critics sat, and it was the focal point of a plot to destroy Him.
3. In any case it is unlikely the synagogue could be expected to house those who wanted to see Him, and hear Him preach, so His withdrawal was very strategic.
4. In the first place it took Him from the vicinity of danger, but in the second it allowed Him access to an even greater audience – “and a great multitude from Galilee followed Him.”
5. How interesting. The critics were left with a synagogue bereft of the presence of God, whilst He ministered to the common people who heard Him gladly.
a. Ichabod, the name given to Eli’s grandson, meaning “the glory has departed” might well have been written over the pillars of the synagogue in Capernaum.
b. And could it not also be written on the lintels of many a church in England today.
c. I just read this week that Leicester has become the first city in England to have an ethnic majority and this the city of Melbourne Hall where F.B. Meyer, famous pastor and author, preached for many years.
d. A few yards away stands a large mosque that will hold a thousand Muslims in prayer, and a one or two streets beyond that is a large Hindu temple.
e. Oh, the glory has departed! The churches sit empty and the Christians (so-called) show indifference whilst the bastions of paganism are full to overflowing!
f. Yet, where Jesus is faithfully preached, the people will still come.
g. The problem is not with Christ, the problem is with Christianity.
C. Now, Mark wants us to see the extent of His popularity.
1. He says, “…a great multitude from Galilee followed him, AND from Judaea, AND from Jerusalem, AND from Idumaea, AND from beyond Jordan; AND they about Tyre and Sidon, a great multitude, when they had heard what great things he did, came unto him.”
2. Now bear in mind that for 400 years nothing had been heard from God. Not since Malachi put down His quill.
3. Apart from an uprising under the Maccabees, nothing had happened in Israel in terms of spiritual activity until John the Baptist came along, but now this preacher from Nazareth was causing quite a commotion in the land.
4. People were coming from everywhere to hear Him, to be healed by Him and to be helped.
5. They came from the South, from Idumea, an area south of the Dead Sea, they came from the north, from all over the Galilee region, they came from the east, from beyond Jordan, and they came from the west, from the coastal towns dotted along the Mediterranean!
6. And yet just a few verses before we read of those who plotted against Him, how they might destroy Him.
7. With His rising popularity there was a growing resentment among the ruling classes – they feared He would win over the nation, and rob them of their power and prestige among the people.
8. It was a spiritual roller coaster ride in which one moment people were pressing upon Him to be healed, gathering around Him to be heard and imploring Him to be helped, and the next moment he was the subject of the hatred and hostility of those who would seek to hinder Him and shut Him up.
9. This is what happens when a ministry gains momentum – it makes many friends and create many enemies also.
His ministry enjoyed popularity BUT