Summary: This is an introductory sermon offering a composite (layered) portrait of what a follower of Jesus looks like in Mark’s Gospel.
The Virtuous Kingdom: Evidence of the Reign of God in the Human Heart
Mark 11:1-11; 27-33
Sermon Objective: This is an introductory sermon offering a composite (layered) portrait of what a follower of Jesus looks like in Mark’s Gospel.
1As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage and Bethany at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples, 2saying to them, "Go to the village ahead of you, and just as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. 3If anyone asks you, ’Why are you doing this?’ tell him, ’The Lord needs it and will send it back here shortly.’ "
4They went and found a colt outside in the street, tied at a doorway. As they untied it, 5some people standing there asked, "What are you doing, untying that colt?" 6They answered as Jesus had told them to, and the people let them go. 7When they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks over it, he sat on it. 8Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches they had cut in the fields. 9Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted, "Hosanna! " "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!"
10"Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!" "Hosanna in the highest!"
11Jesus entered Jerusalem and went to the temple. He looked around at everything, but since it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the Twelve.
27They arrived again in Jerusalem, and while Jesus was walking in the temple courts, the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders came to him. 28"By what authority are you doing these things?" they asked. "And who gave you authority to do this?"
29Jesus replied, "I will ask you one question. Answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things. 30John’s baptism—was it from heaven, or from men? Tell me!"
31They discussed it among themselves and said, "If we say, ’From heaven,’ he will ask, ’Then why didn’t you believe him?’ 32But if we say, ’From men’...." (They feared the people, for everyone held that John really was a prophet.)
33So they answered Jesus, "We don’t know." Jesus said, "Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things."
Whenever you read a story you often learn something about the author. It is usually not the intention of the author but it is almost inevitable that his/her personality, passions, and familiarities will emerge from the pages. The same is true of Mark’s story too. Granted, it is an inspired story and, thus, there is a dual or “layered” authorship and through the pages you learn something significant about those authors … The Holy Spirit and his human amanuensis, John Mark.
For example, at no time in the story does God (or Mark) ever stop and say “This is what a follower of Jesus looks like.” Nor does it offer the counterpart to that and say “This is what one who opposes Jesus looks like.” But I think, as you read the story, a portrait of each of these emerges. It is not a complete or exhaustive composite but more of a silhouette that outlines the subject and shows its form.
I thought it appropriate to begin this series from chapter 11 on “The Virtuous Kingdom: Evidence of the Reign of God in the Human Heart” by helping you to see how this Gospel understands or pictures one who is following Jesus. I would actually recommend that you take a week or two and discover the portraits for yourself. Read through the book a couple of times and keep two lists, one would be traits that consistently portray a follower and the other would be a list of traits that consistently portray one who opposes Jesus. I will, however, for the sake of familiarity, give you a glimpse of what that portrait will look like.
Last week we looked at THOSE WHO REFUSE TO FOLLOW JESUS in Mark’s Gospel and discovered a few particulars that describe them. They are:
1. Motivated by peers, fears and ulterior convictions (Mark 11:18 & 31,32)
2. Unwilling to openly declare their intentions and loyalties (Mark 3:6)
3. Rationalists who justify their actions and behaviors (Mark 7:6-9)
Is there a composite of THOSE WHO CHOOSE TO FOLLOW JESUS in this Gospel? I think so. That composite is multi-layered too. It will be discovered by looking at many of the cast of characters in the book. You will see it in characters like the man who was delivered from the control of demons (chapter 5), the Syrophoenician woman (chapter 7), the blind man at Bethsaida (chapter 8), the widow who gives the small offering (chapter 12), and Joseph of Arimathea (chapter 15).