Redlands church

The Amazing Offensiveness of Jesus

Mark 6:1-13

In this passage we see three aspects of Jesus: we have reason to be amazed by his power, Jesus was offensive to those around him, and we do not want Jesus to be amazed by us.

Be Amazed by Jesus

Leading up to chapter six in the Gospel of Mark there have been quite a few instances that reveal why we should be amazed by Jesus:

-Jesus heals Peter’s mother in law

-Leper is healed

-Paralytic man healed after being lowered to Jesus from the roof

-Man with deformed hand

-Jesus commands the storm to cease

-Jesus heals the demon possessed man

-Jesus heals a woman who had bled for 12 years

-Jesus raises Jairus’ daughter


At this point in Mark it is easy to see why people were amazed by Jesus’ power. However, when Jesus returns to his home town he is met with perplexing questions as to what his true identity is and whether the rumors of his amazing abilities were actually valid. When Jesus returns to Nazareth, the town questions the origin of Jesus’ power because they are obsessed with the source rather than the content of his ability. Second, they wonder where Jesus could have received the wisdom he displays since it was reserved for religious leaders. Wisdom was seen as a divine blessing given by God. The crowd even questions how he could possibly perform such miracles with his hands due to his low status as a carpenter. Lastly, they question Jesus’ ability because he is perceived as the illegitimate son of Mary.

The underlying message is that they cannot fathom how God would use someone with such an inauspicious pedigree in order to do His work. Even though Jesus returns home as a Rabbi with disciples, authority, a deep knowledge of the scriptures,  and performing miracles his hometown refuses to see him as a Rabbi. They refuse to acknowledge Jesus’ amazing power. 


“Underneath all of these questions is the assumption that the people of Nazareth knew who Jesus was and how God was going to bring in His Kingdom.”



Be Offended by Jesus

The people of Nazareth were offended by the claims of Jesus because he was nothing more than an illegitimate child. They were scandalized by the claim that Jesus was the Messiah. However, there is an important distinction between taking offense and giving offense

Taking offense:someone who wants to be offended and will find a reason to be

Giving Offense: Someone who purposefully makes it difficult to be heard

It is an important distinction because Jesus never gave offense to others. Jesus always spoke truth with compassion and wisdom. Jesus seeks the truth with grace not shame. Even still people were offended by him yet they all wanted to be around him. Christians should not measure their success by how much they offend people but by whether or not we are capable of compassionately explaining where we stand with people in a way that they still want to stick around even when they’re offended. Jesus will offend us because he calls us to repentance in the areas of our lives that he is not King. 

“We cannot control whether or not people will actually take offense. But we do not have the luxury of changing the message to make it less offensive.” 

Don’t be Amazing to Jesus

The people who should have known Jesus the most, his hometown, failed to respond to his authority even though they were amazed. Mark tells us that Jesus is actually astonished by the town of Nazareth because of their lack of trust. How is it that the people who knew Jesus and even saw his miracles reject him? Faithfulness to Jesus is not just about proximity to his miracles, but it is about our posture towards Christ. We must remember that unbelief is not simply a matter of a lack of information. Sin causes a rebellious sickness that refuses to give up control. It takes more than a few miracles or knowledge to change our sinfulness. Rather, we need a heart transplant that can only be given to us by Jesus. 

“We need to allow Jesus to reign and speak deeply into our lives even if it offends us.”


Links: Youtube-Full Sermon Transcript


The Essence of Faith

Mark 5:21-43

What does it look like to live a life of faith? 

Desperate for Jesus (How we come to Him)

Mark describes a story in which Jairus, a leader of the Synagogue, came to Jesus desperate for someone to help his dying daughter. Jairus came to Jesus knowing full well that Jesus already had the reputation of being a trouble-maker in Synagogues as a threat to the status quo. But, Jairus sets aside his position, reputation, and personal safety by falling at the feet of Jesus fraught with fear over the life of his daughter.

As Jesus and Jairus make their way to the sick child, Jesus stops in the middle of the crowd after he feels power come out of him. As it turns out, a woman who had been suffering from severe bleeding for years with no hope of being cured pushed through the crowd and touched Jesus’ cloak healing her instantly. 

These two stories are crucial in understanding God’s grace because the bleeding woman is the antithesis of Jairus. Jairus has wealth, status, and he was an authority in the synagogue. The woman was a social outcast due to her status as “unclean” from the bleeding, she spent all her money on physicians to no avail, and she was cut off from worship in the synagogue. Yet both are unified in their desperation for Jesus to help them in their life altering predicaments. 

“It’s not just sin and suffering that drive us to Christ. It is meant that even in the good times that we should be driven to Christ.”


Delayed by Jesus (How we grow to trust Him)

As we come to Jesus we may come to realize that his timeline is different than ours. First, the woman had been suffering from her illness for twelve years. Second, while Jesus is on the way to heal the dying girl he stops to talk to this woman, which seems to be a far less urgent matter than the task he was already on. The point in these two scenarios is that the timing of Jesus is not bound by our own intuition or urgency. Jesus chooses to give attention to this woman who has been pronounced unclean or unwelcome in the synagogue because his grace is not confined to status or wealth. 

In order for trust in Christ to grow we must understand that the opposite of faith is not doubt, but it is control. Since Jesus is bringing about our good within the delay he will not be controlled by what we think he should do. Faith requires us to relinquish the control we so desperately desire to have in order to place our trust in God’s ability to determine the best course of action. 

“Delayed, for your situation, does not mean denied. It may not be coming as quickly as you would expect, but because of who Jesus is, we can trust that there is something at play in the situation that God knows and we don’t.”

Dependent Upon Jesus (How we remain in Him)

The good news that is revealed from both of these encounters is that Jesus’ grace and love are compatible with delays. The bleeding woman had hoped to be healed incognito, but once she touched Jesus’ cloak he delays the healing of the young girl in order to bring deeper healing to this woman. Jesus requires more from her than she expected when he calls her out, but he responds to her with love and endearment bringing about a restoration that she was not expecting. 

Likewise Jesus requires more of Jairus than he was expecting. Jairus simply wanted Jesus to cure the fever coming over his daughter. When the news comes to both of them that his child had died Jesus asks that Jairus would simply trust in him. The outcome of such faith is that rather than a cure for his daughter Jairus witnesses a resurrection.

These stories reveal three aspects of Jesus’ character which makes him dependable:

  1. His grace is for you: Jesus forces Jairus to wait in order to give full attention to a woman who had zero status and power in the culture of his day because his grace is for both of them. Jesus’ grace is for us regardless of who we are or what we’ve done.

  2. His power is for you: We see Jesus’ power conquers our greatest enemy: death. Jesus grabs the young girl by the hand and raises her from death and he will do the same for you. The cross is a reminder that Jesus has power over death and he will gently pull us up from the curse of death.

  3. He became weak for you: In Jesus’ humanity we see a weakness after power comes out from him which was used to heal the bleeding woman. This is foreshadowing the weakness Jesus takes upon himself on the cross in order that we may live in God’s power. 

“The delays of God mean that we will sacrifice more than we thought and we will gain more than we hoped.”

Links: Youtube-Full Sermon Transcript


The Power and Goodness of Christ

Mark 4:35-5:20

The apocalyptic literature of Daniel sets up the valuable truth that Jesus is both abundantly powerful and abundantly good. Daniel Chapter 7 dives into a vision of four beasts that erupt from the sea. Each beast is meant to represent the human powers of Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome. In the time that Mark’s Gospel was written the audience consisted of Roman citizens who were facing persecution and death from Caesar Nero. Mark wants his audience to connect the power and goodness of Jesus in the midst of the powerful evil they find themselves in.

A Great Power

Throughout the scriptures we see that water is often viewed as chaotic darkness. When the Jewish people thought of the sea they thought of the clash between order and chaos or the place where God and evil rage against each other. Mark tells us the story of when the disciples were on a boat in the midst of an intense storm. When they look to Jesus for help they are surprised to find him sleeping. In pure terror the disciples wake Jesus up and he immediately rebukes the wind and the storm immediately ceases. The power of Jesus takes the intensity of a storm and commands it into a deep calm. The disciples were astonished at the display of Jesus’ power because they know from the scriptures that only the power of God can control the sea. In this story, Jesus does not conjure a higher power to deal with the storm, but he speaks directly to the wind because there is no higher power than the power Jesus has.


“[Jesus is] the creator of all things with unmatched and unmanageable power and the chaos of the sea is at [his] command.” 

A Great Compassion

When it comes to storms in our lives we can often become reductionistic in our views to the problems at hand. We may think that we simply need to move somewhere else or change a minor detail in our physical, mental, or spiritual lives rather than work on the depths of our problems. But, scriptures gives weight to our physical, mental, moral and spiritual selves and understands that they interlock which means they affect one another. Too often we reduce our world to the physical reality that we can see, touch, poke, or prod. But, there is a deep reality that is missed when we only focus on the physical. After Jesus calmed the storm the disciples ran into a demon possessed man who is so powerful that he is unable to be chained or controlled by anyone. The demon possessed man mimics the reality of what we run to for comfort in the midst of negative circumstances such as: isolation, bondage to addiction, or harming ourselves which doesn’t always mean physical harm. But the goodness of Jesus is demonstrated because he goes to the furthest depths for this man so that we can have the hope that Jesus will come rescue us from the depths of our chaos. 


In the midst of the powerful legion within this man Jesus shows his power by forcing the unclean spirits into the pigs who then drowned in the sea. The connection here is that Daniel sees a vision of a power that will engulf the world, but we see Jesus coming in the midst of this legion and he brings redemption, healing, and restoration. We see Christ’s power over what seems to be the most unimaginable power in the world. The demon possessed man is completely restored due to the deep healing of Jesus.  


“If we reject personal spiritual evil we will be blind to a significant power at work that stirs up our struggle and sin and creates chaos.” 



A Great Fear

Throughout each of these narratives there is an intense fear woven throughout. Fear of the storm, Jesus’ power, and the fear of the demoniac. Fear rises when we find ourselves in the midst of a power that we cannot control. The differences between the power of the storm, the demoniac, and Jesus is that Jesus is the only one that loves us. Just like the other powers we are unable to control the power of Jesus, but we can rest easy knowing that he is good. If the disciples had known Christ’s love and unlimited power they would have been able to remain calm within the storm. We often think that if Jesus loves us that he would not let us go through the storms of our lives, but this is not a Biblical view of Jesus’ love. Rather we should focus on the authority, power, and care of Jesus in the midst of the difficulties that arise in our lives. 


“If we believe he is powerful but not good we are driven away from him. If we believe he is good but not powerful we are driven to pity him. But, if we believe he is good and powerful we are driven to trust him in any and every season of life.”




Links: Youtube-Full Sermon Transcript


Parables of the Kingdom Part 2

Mark 4:21-34


The Light of Jesus will not be Hidden

As disciples of Jesus our job is to put God’s light on display throughout the world. Two parables within the Gospel of  Mark pushes us to put the light of Jesus on display and to sow seeds, but ultimately the growth that occurs comes from God. Jesus starts to subvert the expectations of what the Kingdom of God is meant to be  and the dangers of hiding the light of Jesus in two ways:

1. If you hide it you misuse it: 

In Jesus’ day the only light available to them was fire. If anyone were to put a fire under a bed or basket the fire would spread and burn down anything it could along the way. Likewise, if we hide the light of Jesus from the world we will begin to use it in ways that it was never meant to be used.

2. If you hide it you will lose it: 

Jesus gives a warning that those who misuse the light will have it taken away. We must be careful not to misuse the light that has been given to us through the scriptures and through the example of Jesus. Misuse of the light comes from trying to manipulate the gospel for our own gain. The light must be used for the purpose of  building up the Kingdom for God’s glory.


“We come to Christ because he is the light of the world, but then he sends us out as light.”


God will see to it that His Kingdom Grows

All of the Old Testament is pointing to what Jesus is doing in his ministry. Jesus declares that God’s Kingdom is coming and it is near to us now. This means that everything God promised he would do for His people is being done. God promises in Isaiah that he would give his light to us and as we reflect the light of God in the world others will come to worship God because of the light that they see in us. 

Jesus teaches that the Kingdom of God is here now, but it is not fully completed. The Kingdom is like a seed whose roots are growing strong underneath the soil. We only notice the seed’s growth once it breaches the topsoil. The kingdom’s roots are indeed growing and one day it will burst open in a glorious completion that God himself is creating. Even though we cannot see the growth occurring, the small acts of obedience that we produce contributes to the growth of the Kingdom that is certain to come.

“We know that God has done something, that He is doing something, and we know that He will do something. But for you, you need to be patient.” 


The Kingdom of God Starts Small and Grows Large

When Jesus compares the Kingdom of God to a mustard seed, he is not merely saying that the Kingdom is small, but he is referring to what happens to that seed. Seeds start growing small, but then bloom into something far grander than it started. Mustard seeds are the smallest seed, but grows to be a tree large enough to house birds. The Kingdom of God starts small then grows large which transforms it into something completely different. The nature of the Kingdom of God is vastly different than the kingdoms of Jesus’ day or the ones that we know in our current time. The Kingdom of God is not like a boulder that rolls through other nations in order to gain power through domination. But the Kingdom of God is like a seed that comes in quietly, slowly and unseen. God’s Kingdom comes organically, gradually, and gently transforms the deserts of creation into forests of new life. The kingdoms of humanity are about sheer power while God’s Kingdom is about transformation. 

“Jesus says, “You know what my kingdom is like? My Kingdom is the God of the universe, the largest and most powerful being, who became like a small seed to come into the world in order to be buried so that something could grow.”



Links: Youtube-Full Sermon Transcript


Parables of the Kingdom

Mark 4:1-20

Jesus is well known for teaching in parables that can often be confusing. The first parable that Jesus uses in the Gospel of Mark is one that gives us insight to why parables were used for teaching. When the apostles asked Jesus why he teaches in parables he responds with a quote from Isaiah expressing the purpose of parables is to open the eyes of those within the fold while those outside the fold will be able to see but unable to perceive. In one sense the parables are meant to help differentiate between followers of Jesus and those who see but are unable to perceive. Jesus is mimicking what God was saying for Isaiah's ministry revealing that the gospel  will stir faith in some, but many will be hardened to the message causing them to turn away.

 The Disturbance of the Parable

Jesus included teachings in his parables that were often shocking to his audience because they went against the normal conventions of the day. Jesus purposefully used shocking language as a way to elicit a response from his listeners. Jesus taught his audience in a way that forces people to stick around to gain understanding or to write him off. 


Jesus understood a crucial element of teaching a crowd which is: if you do not force your pupils to think deeply about what you are conveying they will not learn it. In our modern day we take for granted the depth of knowledge that exists at our fingertips. Too often people today do not remember what they have been taught because they have access to answers on the internet which means there is little reason to commit what one is learning to memory. By using parables mixed with shocking language Jesus is forcing his audience to think deeply about what it means to follow him and the nature of the Kingdom. Jesus knew that gaining knowledge was a slow, cumbersome, and tedious work that builds upon itself in order to grow in sustainable understanding. 


“The parables of Jesus are dynamic stories that should draw us in to reflect...Jesus arouses the spiritual imagination of his hearers that they might understand the nature of the Kingdom.”


The Details of the Parable

Jesus spends the first parable in Mark discussing the details of the heart’s soil. When seeds of the gospel are planted in our hearts there are many things that are actively seeking to obstruct it before roots are set in deep enough to stick. As a church, we are called to defend one another, to preach the gospel, and help support each other in the removal of these obstructions. 


The Four types of Soil

  1. Hard soil-the seed of the gospel is vulnerable capable of being devoured by Satan

  2. Rocky ground-thwarts root growth making it impossible to stand up to times of tribulation and persecution

  3. Thorny ground-portrays the choking of the word through false teachings within the world or the deceitful security found in wealth

  4. Good Soil-This soil allows for roots to grow deep. These seeds represent the ones who hear the word and yield an unimaginable amount of fruit thanks to the good soil they grow in.


“Jesus says here that it is not about our technique or trying to change ourselves or the ground. He stops and says ‘it’s God’s providence that is on display here.”


The Depth of the Parable

Everything that we do should be geared towards planting the gospel. Our job is to plant the seeds not to determine the outcome. Even when it looks like nothing is happening it is crucial that we keep the goal of planting seeds in mind because the depth is the most important thing. We may not see the roots that are growing within the people around us, but those roots must take hold deeply first before we begin to see the growth on the surface. Too often we become obsessed with trying to take away the weeds, thorns, and rocks in people's lives, but we are not the gardner. The growth that occurs in people's lives is solely from the miraculous work of God because only He can produce growth.


“The seed of the gospel is freely and lovingly scattered to any and everyone. It is the soil that matters. God alone is the one who prepares the soil to receive the seed.”





Links: Youtube-Full Sermon Transcript


Slaves Set Free

Mark 3:7-35

Jesus did not come to simply fix the sin or moral problems of the individual. Jesus is Israel’s long awaited Messiah; God’s anointed one. Jesus came to liberate everyone from captivity of the dark powers within this world. Jesus came to set us free from the wickedness and power plays of the kingdoms that seek to bring us down with their hellbent agendas. It is difficult in our modern views to think about the ideas of slavery or the power that modern kingdoms seek to control, but Jesus’ gospel of liberation, freedom, reconciliation, and redemption are just as potent against powerhouses who falsely seek authority as it was in his day. 

“Jesus did not come to merely dismiss our minor imperfections or show us a more moral or better way of life. He came to liberate us from spiritual slavery.”

Just like Israel, we can all become enslaved to our own desires which acts out as rebellion against God. The tragedy in Israel’s story is that even when they were God’s covenant family they polluted their own land by choosing to rebel, insult, and fight against God’s Holy Spirit who was in their midst. Israel defaced their temples by putting up idols as physical  representations of the dark powers which ruled the pagan nations around them. Isaiah prophesied a new exodus would be lead directly by God’s spirit present in the Messiah. This Messiah would forgive the sins of the people thus freeing them from demonic bondage.  

“The people of Israel had become enslaved to their own passions; their own depravities. Enslaved to the wicked and hostile world around them.”

It is crucial to remember that Jesus does not call sinners and tax collectors to show them that there isn’t anything wrong with their actions nor to condone the fact that the pharisees were engaging with pagan slave masters. The point is that Jesus calls the worst and most vile enemies of God because if God’s restorative grace is not for them it is not for anyone. 

“This Messiah would forgive the sins of the people setting them free from demonic bondage.”

The scene is set with a confrontation of cosmic proportions when the Scribes accuse Jesus of having power from Beelzebul rather than the Holy Spirit. But, Jesus declares his authority comes from the God who promised to rescue his people and cast down all other rivals to His kingdom. Jesus’ exorcisms throughout his ministry are not just morality plays about individual deliverance, but they are the evidence of the cosmic upheaval of the pagan powers surrounding God’s people. The dark kingdoms of this world are being overthrown and their tyrants are being cast down and plundered. Jesus’ liberation from the self inflicted wounds of idolatry and spiritual adultery is unfolding before the watching crowds. Jesus declares that the kingdom which sets the enslaved free is available for those who would believe the gospel.

“The beginning of the new exodus is exactly what the good news, the gospel, is all about. God’s Holy Spirit returning once again to dwell with His people...this Spirit would be present in the Messiah and he would do all of this by the power of God.”

Links: Youtube-Full Sermon Transcript

A Deeper Healing

Mark 2:1-12

Jesus drives us deeper than our perceived need

The gospel of Mark tells a well known story of a paralytic man who wanted to see Jesus; but because the crowd surrounding Jesus was so compact the only way to get to him was for his friends to lower him down through the roof of the building that Jesus was in. In a time where the inability to be independent was a massive burden, the paralytic man was hoping to be healed by the only being who could do such a miraculous work. However, we notice that Jesus does not heal the physical ailments of the man immediately, but his first words are “Son, your sins are forgiven.” This is because the man needs a deeper healing than just his physical maladies. It is a completely understandable desire for this man to want to be able to move his body as it should and it is not a bad desire. But Jesus sees that it doesn’t go deep enough because it doesn’t heal the heart. Jesus will not give us our strongest desire until he is our strongest desire. If our strongest desire is anything beyond Jesus, we will be devastated when it fails.

“Whatever your need is it is meant to drive you to Jesus who will take you deeper.” 


Jesus meets us in our need with His aggressive grace

As our need drives us to Jesus, he meets us in the midst of our struggle with his aggressive grace. It is rather strange that Jesus offers forgiveness to the paralytic man even though it seems he came to Jesus for other reasons besides repentance. However, Jesus saw the paralytic man’s faith through his eager desire to get to Jesus even within his powerlessness. This man’s actions mimic our own lives in that we come powerless towards Christ and cast ourselves on his mercy. It is not an attempt to buy God’s favor because grace is not earned. Faith is not earning Christ’s grace, but is trusting in his ability to deeply heal us holistically. When Jesus sees the glimpse of faith in the paralytic man and the actions of his friends, he responds with disproportionate grace. We may not always know how to put words to the weight of our afflictions, but as we ache towards Christ he meets us with his aggressive grace.

“If [Jesus] were not aggressive with his grace, none of us would have a saving faith because faith is not a virtue it is a gift.” 

Jesus overcomes our need with the ultimate healing

In this passage we see Jesus answering a question about his identity. When Jesus declares the paralytic man’s sins are forgiven the scribes are confused because sin can only be forgiven by the one who is sinned against. God is the only one who can forgive sins because all sin is an offense to Him. The scribes become perplexed at Jesus of Nazareth who claims to have the power to forgive this man’s sins which would only be possible if he were God. The scribes cannot verify that man’s sins are forgiven, but to show that Jesus has the authority to forgive sins he commands the paralyzed man to get up, pick up his mat, and to walk home. Jesus verifies his ability to forgive sins by expressing his authority in something that seems impossible. 

The truth is that sin and brokenness are inextricably linked together. We have all sinned and have been sinned against which always brings brokenness to our lives. The good news of the gospel is all of that is healed in Jesus Christ. The deep need we have for our sins to be forgiven, our brokenness healed and the deepest desires of our hearts to be fulfilled is all healed because Jesus is healing all. 

“Sin needs forgiving and brokenness needs healing and Jesus does both. 

This is the deeper healing.”

Links: Youtube-Full Sermon Transcript


A New Kind of Day

Mark 1:35-45

It is easy for us to live in such a busy pacing of life that the roots of our hearts and home are weakened with rot. We currently live in a culture that compounds on our already busy schedules with requests to volunteer or serve above and beyond what we already do. The technological age that we live in makes it nearly impossible for us to get away from the business that looms over us. We must learn a new way to go about our day so that our lives produce fruit in our lives rather than business.

Being Before Doing...

When our lives become overwhelming with our business, prayer and solitude are the first aspects that we leave behind which, ironically, are what we need most. The Gospel of Mark shows that the busier Jesus was the more intentional he became about prayer and communion with the Father. Jesus teaches us that our lives depend on communion with the Father. 

Jesus’ prayer life is incredibly intentional and intimate even when crowds of people were vying for his attention. Jesus understood that his priorities were geared towards being with God first and meeting the needs of others second. We cannot meet the needs of others fruitfully if we are not first laying the foundation of intimate relationship with God. 

“The degree that you know the Fatherly love of God is the degree that you do not need power, comfort, control and approval...we live out the freedom we have in Christ through prayer.”

...Produces Word and Deed Living...

Jesus was the first rabbi in history to ever suggest that we should have a fatherly view of God. Jesus’ prayer life reminds us that relationship with God is oriented around who we are and not what we do. Word and deed living is produced from a being before doing perspective. It is not being without doing it’s simply understanding that our being, identified with God, is what produces fruitful doing. Humans have more needs than just the physical reality of what they/we can see. There is a spiritual need that people do not see as readily which must be addressed in order for ultimate healing to come into their lives. When we are feeding our bodies on a spiritual level as well as physical we become a more holistic person which opens the door for word and deed living.  

“Christians must be word and deed people which means we are people who do not despise the world or reflect it because they are utterly different from the world.”

...Which Results in Holistic Healing

As we go about our day as word and deed people we see that we are joining God and his work which results in a comprehensive salvation. How do we view people who have needs in our sphere of influence? Do we see people as an interruption or as individuals in need of communion with their Heavenly Father? We cannot meet every single need in existence, but we are called to have compassion for those who are in our midst. If we are not living in the intimate relationship that Jesus exemplifies than we will see people as an interruption to what is fast and famous. As God’s people we are called to compassion for our world and our communities with a desire for holistic healing. 

 “At the foot of the cross we receive the spirit of sonship that cries out ‘Abba, Father!’ That reality leads us into word and deed living where we join in God’s work to see holistic healing come. Which brings us back again to the foot of the cross.”

Links: Youtube-Full Sermon Transcript


Old News is Good News

Mark 1:1-13

Mark begins his gospel reminding us that the good news occurs in the midst of a grand narrative that has been in the works long before his time. The announcement of a coming Messiah has been prophesied for hundreds of years. God has been at work redeeming his people and Jesus is the climax of that rescue. Mark expresses the importance of remembering how God has worked with the nation of Israel so that we may fully understand the significance of Jesus’ actions.

The Exile

Mark begins his gospel by pointing back to the Prophet Isaiah. Prophets in the Old Testament were responsible for pushing Israel back into the covenant/commitment with God. Prophets were meant to help drive people back into right relationship with God when they began to fall astray. The first section of Isaiah reveals a time when Israel was falling away from their covenant with God to the point that they were becoming spiritually dead leading to their exile. Exile is a term referring to a physical manifestation of the spiritually dead state in which Israel finds themselves. God pushes Israel away from his presence and out of the land promised to them because of their decision to move away from their commitment to God. But, there is good news in the second part of Isaiah which foretells the pinnacle point of God’s grace in a coming Messiah. Our sin places us into a place of exile, but God promises to send one who will lead us out of exile permanently.

“Repentance is not just the turning away from death it is turning to life.”

A New Exodus

Mark continues his gospel with the baptism of Jesus. The imagery of water and sin are constantly placed together in scripture. Whenever we see sin in the Bible we see water soon after because it is a symbol for God cleansing the world. During Noah’s time, God cleanses the world of sin in the waters of judgment. In Egypt, we see the Israelites passed over by the blood of a lamb while the Egyptians are later engulfed in water. These symbols are key elements in Jesus’ baptism. Now that the righteous one has entered the judgment waters and the Heavens have opened up in peace we may be certain that if we enter the grave in Christ we will rise again with Christ. Jesus is the promised one who gives us the new exodus out of the exile brought by our sin.

“Christianity is not just a better moral code or sentimental sweet nothings. It is a new identity as a beloved child of God.”

The Wilderness

Jesus leads us through a new exodus and into the wilderness. When we read about wilderness and temptation we often assume that it is a punishment because God is displeased with us. But what if it is a sign that God is at work within us? Unlike Israel's time in the wilderness where God’s people continued to rebel, Jesus is sent in the wilderness but continues in obedience towards God. Surprisingly, scripture also describes the wilderness as an intimate time between God and his people. Wilderness is where people are stripped of their strength, dependencies and idols turning their attention towards God. Although there are certainly times where we place ourselves into an unpleasant wilderness due to our actions, we cannot immediately assume that wilderness is a result of God’s displeasure; rather, it is God’s refinement so that we find pleasure in Him.

“As Christians we are always in one of three phases. You are either entering a season of wilderness, in a season of wilderness, or exiting a season of wilderness. But be encouraged because what it means is that your Heavenly Father is refining you.”

Links: Youtube-Full Sermon Transcript


The Wonder of Resurrection

Luke 24:1-12

In the difficult seasons of our lives it can be easy to succumb to the coldness and hostility of a broken world. We can become focused on the anxiety we feel to the point that we miss out on the immense beauty that is constantly around us if we were to simply take a moment to look. It may even come to the point that we believe that death, disappointment, and frustration will win out in the end. But on Easter we are reminded of the fact that death does not have the final say. The resurrection reminds us to pause and look at the truth around us rather than the despair we may feel. The truth is that God is at work in bringing life from death.

A Counterintuitive Word

Easter is a reminder that all of our preconceived notions about death are challenged. On the first Easter when the apostles arrived at Jesus’ empty tomb they still believed that death had the final word and so they were perplexed about Jesus’ missing body. They were greeted by two heavenly messengers who asked “why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen.” Any notion that Jesus’ body was stolen or that he falsified his death are taken off the table with this one question. All previous beliefs about death’s power over resurrection power are turned on their heads in light of the risen Lord. The problem is that rather than seeing Jesus in his resurrected glory, the disciples are only given a word of resurrection. This is something we can relate to today because we may not have the obvious view of resurrection power but we have been given a word proclaiming its existence.

“The resurrection isn’t forcefully obvious,

but resurrection and resurrection life is clearly visible.”

A Contrary Belief

We live in the tension of Jesus’ resurrection and our current experience which is that death is final. Just like the disciples, when these contradictory truths collide it is not surprising that we often respond with unbelief. It is important to note that unbelief is not synonymous with a belief in nothing, but simply means that we believe in something else more fervently. When people struggle to believe in the resurrection of Christ it is because they believe in the reality of death and all its affects more robustly.

When we are faced with the death of a loved one, we are often desperate to reassure the one who is departing that their life mattered. Of course, there is nothing wrong with expressing our gratitude towards those who have had a tremendous impact on our lives or reminding them of how much they mean to us, however in these moments we often believe something about death that is not entirely true. We can often push to remind the individual that their life mattered because we erroneously believe that death is about to win, thus snatching the meaning from their lives. A world without resurrection life can lead us into believing that life is a slow surrender to death.

What if death is real, but not final?

What if Jesus is not just past, but present?  

What if Jesus were to meet us here?

Beauty of a Concrete Hope

If resurrection life is true how do we step into it?

The Easter message calls us from our old understanding of death to a new belief in resurrection life. The reality is that death is foreign to us because it was something that was not meant for us, but entered the world with sin. We are all sinned against-some of us in heinous ways- which can cause us to believe in death more than the resurrection life. But the hard truth is that we have also sinned by contributing to the violation of peace and beauty of resurrection life. Humility is the best thing for God’s people because it is there that we trust Christ who takes our sin upon himself. Resurrection life begins when we die to ourselves. The resurrection life tells us that we can finally rest because we do not bring resurrection upon ourselves, but Christ brings it to us.

“We cannot live before we die to ourselves.

When we die to ourselves we become alive in Christ.”


Links: Youtube-Full Sermon Transcript

Sharing our riches in Christ

Philippians 4:14-23

What is Stewardship?

At the end of his letter to the church in Philippi, Paul reiterates his appreciation for their partnership in his ministry. The Philippians have constantly been partners with Paul in his ministry of the gospel and they have shared in his troubles. As we steward the time, talents, and treasures that God has given us to the ministry of the gospel we become partners of the gospel. We have all been given various talents that we can use for furthering the gospel in the world around us. It is by being good stewards of what we have that we actually participate in what God is doing through the church.  Good stewardship is what aligns our hearts and desires with the eternal kingdom of God. It is how we are trained to value, prioritize, and love the things within God’s work of redemption.

“Stewardship is how we learn to invest our very lives in what matters.”

Paul gives the church insight on the crucial principles of good stewardship. As we incorporate these principles into our own lives we can become partners in the work of God’s goodness.

Principles of Stewardship

  1. Practicing generosity rather than presuming generosity

    We must understand that everything that we are given is a gift of mercy from God. Good stewardship requires a generosity with no strings attached. We do not give our time or talents to God and others with an expectation that we will receive back what we have given.

  2. Focused on partnering with people rather than the purchasing of products

    The Kingdom of God is about people not products. Therefore, good stewardship isn’t focusing on the service or product that is given. We are partners with God and other people as we seek out His redeeming work. We must be more focused on the people we serve rather than a commodity.

  3. Long Term rather than Short term commitment

    The Kingdom of God is about people not products. Therefore, good stewardship isn’t focusing on the service or product that is given. We are partners with God and other people as we seek out His redeeming work. We must be more focused on the people we serve rather than a commodity.

The Motivation of Stewardship

  1. Overflowing fruitfulness rather than obligatory gifts

    Giving our finances, time, and talents must come from an overflowing fruitfulness within us. Just as God has given us the gift of salvation without obligation we must be willing to give what we have without expecting anything in return. We live in world with a “I scratch your back you scratch mine” mentality. However, Paul expresses that good stewardship gives without thought of reimbursement.

  2. Pleasing God rather than placating God

    God has made each and every one of us a unique individual. God has given all of us unique and beautiful talents. Within these giftings God has given us the desire to offer up all that we have to Him. As we give all of our resources we fan the flame that preaches the gospel in our lives. When we spend our lives offering the beautiful and unique offerings that only we, with our giftings, can present to the God of the universe, our lives emphasize the beautiful grace that we’ve been given in Jesus.

“And so, stewardship isn’t motivated by an overwhelming sense of guilt, but an overflow of grace. So, why steward? Because, it is an expression of the gospel, that God has fully paid the price of our redemption, and therefore we give not to placate God, but to please God.”

The Riches of Stewardship

If we’re honest, it can be incredibly difficult to give our resources. We can be consumed with the fear that giving up our riches means losing everything we have. But, Paul emphasizes that it is through the stewardship of our resources that we actually discover true riches. Stewardship actually frees us from constantly aiming for riches that will not last and points us in the direction of what is truly eternal: people entering into fellowship with Jesus Christ.

Jesus came to redeem eternal souls. True riches that last forever comes when we invest in the eternal lives of other people. When we see the fruit of eternal souls being reconciled with their loving Father through the saving grace of Jesus Christ we forget to worry about hoarding what we have. As good stewards, we see the intense beauty of redeemed people and push everything that we have towards partnering with God in redeeming a fallen world. All material possessions become insignificant in light of bringing eternal souls to the glory of Jesus Christ.

“True riches, tangibly, is most found when we see others see Jesus. When we see others grow and know Christ.”


Links: Youtube-Full Sermon Transcription-Lent Guide