You’re Not Far, Part 3: The Difference Between Jesus And Religion // Andy Stanley

You’re Not Far, Part 3: The Difference Between Jesus And Religion // Andy Stanley


I don’t know about
your experience, but
in my experience, the gravitational pull
of religion is generally and the way it’s
presented and the way that many of us experienced
that especially growing up, the gravitational pull
of religion is usually toward some sort of
behavioral conformity. You know, there’s like
this is how we do it here, if you’re going to be
part of this church, if you’re part of this
religion, you know, this is how we do it here. In fact, if you show up
new to an environment that’s a religious environment, you kind of aren’t sure
what to do sometimes. In fact, some of you
who are gathered with us in what you would consider
a religious environment and you’re not really
sure what to do either because there’s just
stuff that you do, you gotta learn the rules, but it goes beyond the rules
of, you know, a gathering. There’s just stuff
you have to do to be a part of that religion, and this may be the
reason you left religion, it may be the reason
you left Christianity or you left the church, either
you couldn’t keep the rules, or you didn’t want
to keep the rules or they just didn’t
make any sense to you. In fact, interestingly enough, and maybe all of us have
experiences in some capacity, once you get outside the bubble
of any kind of community, especially a
religious community, once you get outside of
it and look back at it, you’re kind of like,
that’s just kind of weird. In fact, Sandra and I grew
up very similar in, you know, a southern traditional church, and we love the way
that we were brought up, and appreciate it so much, but there were just some
weird things about it, but when you’re doing
it when you’re in it, it doesn’t seem weird
it’s just a way of life, it’s just the kind
of the flow of life, it’s the rhythm of life. But, and along with
the kind of things that are kind of harmless, sometimes a part of those
little religious bubbles, sometimes they’re a bit harmful, and once you get
outside of it again it’s kind of like you
look at it and go, you know what that, I don’t, that doesn’t even
make any sense, it made sense at the time, but it doesn’t make
sense to me now, and this is true of basically
any religious system, whether it’s Christian or not, but somewhere along the way
as part of that little bubble, or that little eco, or that
little microcosm of behavior, there is, there are behaviors, there’s things that
you’re supposed to do and things you’re
never supposed to do and there’s generally some
sort of condemnation, you know, associated with those
kinds of things. Now, with that as a backdrop, one of the most
perplexing, irreverent, paradigm shifting,
mind bending statements that Jesus made in his earthly
ministry addressed this. And here’s what he said,
and the problem with us is because we’re not
dialed into First Century Judean culture, if you
read a phrase like this when you’re reading
through the Bible, you just read right by it, but I’m telling you
when Jesus said this, I would bet just about anything there was a gasp in the crowd. In fact, when you read this,
the statement in context, it was part of the reason
that the religious leaders turned on him so quickly. So one day he’s teaching,
and he makes this statement, “The Sabbath was made for
man, not man for the Sabbath.” (gasping) Exactly, it’s like,
what, who cares, right? Just keep goingm you
know, give me something I could apply to my life. This was a paradigm
shift of epic proportion. And the reason it was is
because first century Judaism, and modern Judaism
in some capacity, the Sabbath is everything. It’s one of the hallmarks, it’s one of the things that
differentiates Jewish people from the rest of culture,
how they keep Sabbath, and Sabbath was to
be kept in such a way that even if you were a
visitor and someone’s home, even if you were a foreigner
living in ancient Israel, especially you know,
pre-First Century, you had to keep
Sabbath because that’s just what everybody did, it
was like one of the top 10, right, and the the bottom
line is that people are more important
than the Sabbath. But the way it had
been presented, and the way it had been
lived out is no, no, no, the Sabbath is everything, because the Sabbath
is somehow connected to the holiness of
God, so consequently, you don’t violate the
Sabbath and Jesus comes along and says no, you don’t
understand my father. The Sabbath was made for you. You weren’t made
for the Sabbath. And as it turns out, what
was true of the Sabbath was true of the entire law, but the religious
folks in that culture, and unfortunately religious
folks in modern culture, get this turned around. So, let me say it a different
way because I can tell there’s still kind of like, I’m not even sure what
you’re talking about. So let me, let me put it
in modern terminology. Nobody has children, so there will be someone
to play with the toys. Let me say that again. Nobody has, couples aren’t like, you know we’ve
got all these toys we should have some children, there’s nobody playing
with these toys, we need to get
ourselves some kids so the toys won’t
be bored, right? No, toys are for the
benefit of the children, not the other way around. So back to Jesus’ point, let
me put it a different way, this is huge, in fact, this
may be hard for you to believe that God did not create
us so there would be someone to keep his rules, that his commands
are for people, because God is for people, and specifically,
God is for you. Now, again, let me put
it a different way, that God loves, this is what
Jesus is about, the teaches, I’m just kind of
giving you a heads up, in case you leave
earlier you lose power, God loves you more than
God loves his commandments. And when you get this
reversed, people get hurt. When you get this reversed, when somehow the be all end all
is the rule, not the people, people get hurt and
religious leaders have leveraged this
backwards for generations, and we’re about to
discover Jesus dives into this dialogue,
into this conversation, and into this tension,
and he stirs things up. And eventually, he’d be
arrested and crucified, because he just wouldn’t
play along with the way that people had twisted
his father’s words. In fact, as we’re
about to discover, when religious leaders, and
I’m part of the problem, or, I certainly can be, when religious leaders,
use the law of God to manipulate people
made in the image of God, Jesus was quick to remind them that they were on the
wrong side of God. And this may be the reason, this may go to the
heart of your struggle with organized religion, or
specifically Christianity, and I’m hoping today,
in the next few minutes, that Jesus’ words would
penetrate your heart and penetrate your
religious paradigm, so that you might
understand the love of your heavenly Father,
specifically in Jesus words, understand this
kingdom, this worldview, this way of life, that
he came to introduce. So today we’re in
part three of a story that should have
died in Nero’s Rome, but fortunately it didn’t. It is the story of
Jesus of Nazareth as told by his most famous
Apostle, Simon Peter, we just know him as Peter, and it’s dictated
to, and edited by, a gentleman named John Mark. And John Mark traveled
with the Apostle Peter and heard him tell the
stories of his life with Jesus for, well, Peter told the
stories for over 30 years, toward the end of that traveling
he was joined by John Mark who listened and, hopefully, perhaps documented
some of these stories. And now, Peter is in
his 50s, he’s in Rome, he’s imprisoned, and he’s not
going to leave the city alive but he doesn’t know
it at the time. And so, Mark, who’s
traveling with him, who’s very literate,
coaxes the story out of him one more time, and it comes
to us as the Gospel of Mark. Eventually the Gospel
of Mark is not called the Gospel of Mark, eventually
this First Century document is collected with other
accounts of the life of Jesus, the letters the Apostle Paul, it’s collected and it’s given
a name in the Fourth Century, and the name is
called the Bible. But today I don’t want you
to hear me reading the Bible. Because Mark wasn’t
writing the Bible. Mark was documenting Peter’s
experience with Jesus, and according to Peter,
as he dictates it and downloads it to Mark, he
said, right out of the gates Jesus had a very simple message, Peter would say we didn’t
understand it at the time. In fact, stay with
me on this journey so you’ll understand
it in the end. But Jesus’s message
was very simple. He would say everywhere he
went, every time he preached, every time he taught,
“the time has come!” “The kingdom of
God has come near,” which means you’re never far. The time has come. The wait is over, everything
was building up to this moment, “The time has come, the
kingdom of God has come near,” this is what Jesus’s preached,
and then he would say here’s what I want
you to do in response. “I want you to repent and
believe this good news.” If the religion you were
brought up on wasn’t good news, it might not have been
the original version, it may not have been
Peter’s version. And so Peter says here’s
what Jesus told us, everywhere he went, he wanted
people to turn and to face, and embrace this
new way of living, this new way of relating, this new way of
understanding God the Father, and this new kind of love that he was introducing to the world. So we’re in part three, but
previously on “You’re Not Far,” here’s where we left off.
(chuckling) Jesus, did you get that? Jesus is up in Capernaum, he’s traveling around these
little fishing villages. Capernaum’s kind of the big
city up here in the north, this is the Sea of Galilee,
Dead Sea, Jerusalem, Galilee, Mediterranean Sea. He’s up here, and he’s got, so far he’s got four followers, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, he’s got Peter, Andrew,
James, and John. Peter, Andrew, James, and John. They come into Capernaum and they see somebody
that Peter knows, we know Peter knows him
because he tells Mark what the guy’s father’s name is. He sees Levi, and
Levi’s a tax collector. This is where we
left off last time. And Jesus stares at
Levi and Peter’s like, yeah I know, right, a
traitor to our city, a traitor to his family. Everybody hates this guy,
Jesus walks up to him and Peter’s like oh I
don’t want to miss this. And Jesus leans in and
says the Levi, “Follow me.” And Peter, Andrew,
James, and John are like, I’m not sure if he follows you
if we’re going to follow you. Okay, because he’s an
embarrassment to the family, and everybody knows
what he’s up to because he’s out here doing
it in public all the time, so they have a decision to make. And besides, Jesus, do
you have no standards? Are there no restrictions as to who you would
invite to follow you. And the patriots,
the Jewish patriots, and the Jewish religious
people are offended by this. So Peter, Andrew, James, and
John have a decision to make, but they’ve seen too much,
they’ve heard too much, and they decided to
follow Jesus anyway. So Levi, we knew him as Matthew, Levi stands up and
Jesus says follow me, and I don’t know how
this conversation went because Peter didn’t tell
us but Levi’s like okay, I’ll follow you,
“Where are we going?” And Jesus smiles and says, “Well I thought we would
just go to your house.” and Peter, Andrew,
James, and John are like this is just
getting worse by the moment. So the text tells us when Jesus was having dinner
at Levi’s house, now this is wrong
on so many levels, because dinner at someone’s
home now, especially back then, was intimate, it was symbolic, everybody knew who was
at everybody’s house because everybody
lived close together, these villages, these towns
are small, everybody knew. It implies acceptance, and then it gets even
worse because Peter says it wasn’t just us
five with Levi, he was having dinner
at Levi’s house, many tax collectors and
sinners were eating with him, and his disciples for there
were many who followed him. So essentially either Jesus
or Levi, we don’t know who, either Jesus or Levi invites
the whole office home. Hey you guys put down
your pens and parchments, we’re going to close the tax
collecting office for today and we’re all going to my
house, and bring your family, and bring your friends. Well Jesus by this time has
been shadowed by the Pharisees even up in the northern
part of the country, because this guy is just, what he’s teaching
is so disruptive. I mean, a new kind of Kingdom, the kingdom of God is near,
the kingdom of God is near, the kingdom of God is
near, that’s so messianic. So they’re shadowing him,
and they follow Levi, and Jesus’s little posse
all the way to Levi’s house, but they don’t dare step
across the threshold, because that would make
them ceremonially unclean. And so here’s what happened. When the teachers of the
law, who were Pharisees, saw him eating with sinners,
talking about Jesus, and tax collectors, they
asked his disciples, because they’re standing
out on the street, they’re like, psst,
Simon, you know, Andrew somebody come out here. Why? Why does he eat with tax
collectors and sinners? Implication, why
doesn’t eat with us? We can’t even get
coffee with him. We can’t get any of his
undivided attention, and now here he is eating
with the worst of the worst. Besides, he’s a rabbi. He’s supposed to speak
on behalf of God, he should know better. And when Jesus hears
about this conversation, he doesn’t apologize,
he doubles down, and he says to Peter,
Andrew, James, or John, he says go back out
there and tell him this, he said on hearing
this, Jesus said, “Let them make sure they
hear it and they know, “it is not the healthy,” and I think he says this
inside of Levi’s home, “it is not the healthy who
need a doctor, but the sick,” to which Levi’s like, all of his friends, all
of his guests are like, whoa, you calling us sick? No offense Levi, but
you and your friends, I think Jesus was so gregarious, he just smiles and chuckles
he says, you’re all sick. And they kind of
looked at each other and suddenly they
realize who they are and what they’ve been up to and
somehow it wasn’t offensive. Somehow because of
how the story unrolls, Levi is ready to
acknowledge his sickness. He’s ready to acknowledge
his sinfulness, he’s ready to acknowledge
what he’s been up to, and I gotta pause the
story and we got to think about this for a minute. Imagine, okay? Imagine, you know,
Levi, who no one’s ever going to hear about again
once he passes away. Levi who’s an embarrassment
to his nation and his family, Levi who is a nobody, is
sitting in his home up here in Capernaum, and he’s
considering whether or not he’s going to follow
Jesus with his life, and think for a
moment about what hung in the balance of
that one decision. Think about what hung in
the balance of his decision to open up his heart, and
his life, and his mind and acknowledge, yeah, there’s
something wrong with me. I need help. I’m a, to use Jesus’s
term, not mine, I’m a sinner, who’s in
need of forgiveness. So let me just ask you, then we’re going to
continue with the story. Do you know what
hangs in the balance of your decision to
admit you need help? And the answer is no, you don’t. And there’s something
on the inside of you, your cousin, you
know, has emailed you, your husband or your
wife, your kids say daddy, you know, mommy and there’s
just people who love you, and you’ve kind of
shut them all out, and it may be something
to do with Christianity, it may be something to
do with your drinking, it may be something to
do with some other habit, you need help. You’re like Levi, and you’ve been
given an opportunity, you’ve been given an invitation. You’ve been nudged. And do you know what,
do you know what hangs in the balance
of your decision to acknowledge your
need and to say yes? I’ll give you just a
glimpse, a world of freedom, of forgiveness, of peace, and a different
level of relationship that perhaps you
know nothing about. And you’ll never know until you step up and
are willing to go. And I just want you to know every single day of your life
there is an open invitation from your Savior to follow
him into that kind of freedom, into that kind of new life. And you never know
what you miss. You never know what you
miss until you say yes, back to the story. So on hearing this,
Jesus said to them, reviewing real quick, on hearing this,
Jesus said to them “it is not that healthy who
need a doctor, but the sick,” and then he says this, “I have not come,” this was kind of offensive
to Peter, Andrew, James, and John, “I have
not come to call,” that is the little Greek term, I’ve not come to invite,
I’ve not come to summon, I’ve not come to call or to
reach out to the righteous, “I’ve only come to
call the sinners.” And then Peter’s like, well he called me. He called by brother,
and James and John, and suddenly this this
group that was, you know, so different from
each other, you know, the righteous, hard
working, you know, Peter, Andrew, James, and John, and Levi, suddenly
Jesus says, no, no, no, everybody I call is a sinner. I’ve not come to call
righteous people. What Jesus didn’t say,
that he could have said, is I’ve never even met
a righteous person. I’ve come to call
everybody to this new way. Now here’s what’s really
interesting about this, that again, we completely miss. In ancient times, ancient
times, ancient religions, they didn’t even call, they
weren’t even religions really, but it’s our term, ancient religions,
pagan religions, they
didn’t evangelize, they didn’t proselytize,
they didn’t try to get people to convert from
their version of paganism to a new version of paganism, and the Jews didn’t go
out and try to convert pagans to become Jews, this
just wasn’t the way it works. In ancient times, the
gods were like apps, they really were like apps. You want your crops to grow, you want your babies to grow, you want your house not
to fall down on you, you want to be victorious
in war, oh no problem, there’s a God for that. This is how they thought
all over the world, all over the ancient world. You didn’t ask people
to abandon their gods in order to embrace your God. You just, they just would
add your God to their god, it was just another
burger on the grill. I got these six household gods, and let me tell you,
your god does what? That’s great, I’m just
going to add your god. Just going to put in a little
statue up on the mantel, so nobody converted from
one religion to another, and nobody converted from one version of paganism to another. They just changed the
names of the gods, or they just added gods. And Jesus comes along, this
is brand new in history, Jesus comes along and says I’m inviting you
to leave something. I’m inviting you to
abandon something. And I’m inviting you to
embrace something brand new. And the reason Jesus
invited Levi in, and the reason he
invited Peter, Andrew, and James, and John in, and
the reason that invitation is extended to you is
because the time has come. The wait is over. All the other pagan religions, all the other
religions of the world, all the other cults of the
world, all the, even Judaism, it all pointed to
a time when God was going to reveal
himself in such a way that the entire world
would be invited to a brand new kind of Kingdom. A kingdom of the heart,
a kingdom of conscience. The kingdom of
God has come near, which means you are never far. You are one turn away. You are one decision away. You are one shift
in mindset away. So repent, that is, face it, and embrace this brand new news, and it was Jesus’s
pursuit of sinners, and it was Jesus’s
pursuit of the unrighteous that illustrated the
revolutionary nature of the kingdom of God. You didn’t have to be born in
a certain part of the world. You didn’t have to
understand certain customs. You didn’t have to speak
a specific language. You didn’t have to have
a specific heritage, every one is invited, and he went out of his
way to invite people in. He went out to invite people in. Now, to ensure that readers
understood that the contrast, Peter then moves from
this little incident we just talked about
with Levi’s house, to one of Jesus’s
favorite metaphors. Here’s what he said, this is, he’s quoting Jesus and Jesus
said this more than once. He said, I want to make
sure you understand the newness and the
uniqueness of my message, I’ve not come to
tweak something. I’ve come to replace
everything that’s in place. For example, “No
one sews a patch of unstrung cloth on
an old garment.” Now when Jesus said this, everybody in this
audience is like, right, everybody knows better
than to do that, and by the way you see, people
never threw clothes away back in ancient times,
clothes were very expensive, so if something ripped or torn, you didn’t throw it
away and replace it, you didn’t give it to
somebody else, you patched it. And he says, you
know that you never, you never take a piece
of unshrunk cloth and use it as a patch
on old material, why? Otherwise he says, and
everybody knew this, the new piece,
the unstruck piece will pull away from the old
making the tear even worse, and they’re all like,
we pretty much known that since we can
remember knowing anything. He says, let me tell you
something else you know too, “And no one in
the same way pours new wine into old wine skins.” The old wine skins
were stretched, they were old,
they were brittle, and he says otherwise
he tells him, again, something they all knew, otherwise, the wine will burst
the skins, the old skins, and both the wine and the
wine skin will be ruined. They’re like, yep, we
already knew that too. What is your point? This is so powerful. His point was that
this new teaching, this unique teaching, this brand new unique worldview
was like the new wine, the message of Jesus was the
new cloth and the new wine, and the mental image of torn
cloth and burst wine skins punctuated the impossibility, they punctuated the
impossibility of trying to blend Jesus’s new message
with a current cultural system, in their case, First
Century Judaism. He said, I have not
come to blend anything, you cannot add what I’m teaching on to what you already have, and you cannot pour
what I’m teaching into the container
you’ve already developed, it is all new. It punctuated the
futility of attempting to blend Jesus
worldview and his values and what he was teaching
with the system of Rome, with the kingdoms of Rome, with
the kingdoms of this world. He said, I’m introducing
something completely new. You can’t take
what I’m teaching, and put it in your old context because with my new teaching I’m creating a
brand new movement, a brand new ecclesia,
a brand new assembly that eventually we would
come to know as the church. The two are completely
incompatible. He had come to fulfill
and retire the entire law to replace it with
something better. He said no, you don’t pour
new wine into old wine skins, you pour new wine
into new wine skins. So if the teaching,
and the message, and the worldview of
Jesus was new wine, then new wine skin, again,
would be his ecclesia. He would talk about it in
terms of the kingdom of God, but eventually he would
announce to His disciples, I’m starting something
brand new on planet Earth that you’re going
to be able to see, and nothing’s going
to be able to stop it, and you know what, if you’re
part of a church, it’s you. It’s us. We are the container. We are the context, we are the framework for the
brand new teaching of Jesus. But then, before we can even
start to digest all of that, Peter moves us right along
because he’s a storyteller. There’s a story, after
story, after story, and he plunges us into yet
another Sabbath controversy, again, to underscore
this very same point, the incompatibility
of Jesus’s teaching with the current models. He said Jesus went into
a synagogue, again, we think he’s still up here
in the area of Capernaum, and Capernaum may
have been large enough to have more than one synagogue. Jesus went into the synagogue and a man was there
with a shriveled hand, and shriveled hand
meant he has had some sort of hand atrophy, which meant probably
had broken his hand, or he had broken
bones in his hand or he’d broken fingers,
and they had either been improperly set, or
maybe not set at all, and consequently, his hand
had just begun to shrivel, he probably kept it in a sleeve. It was visible,
it was noticeable. And it was very embarrassing. And apparently, as Jesus
enters the synagogue, and as people begin to
gather in the synagogue. This man somehow, you
know, eye contact somehow let Jesus see his hand
as sort of an invisible plea for help, like, hey,
maybe when this is over, we go out back or
maybe when this is over I can follow you out of town,
but it was a plea for help. But other people in the
synagogue knew this man and they knew he had an
injured hand as well, and the text says, Peter says,
I’ll never forget this day, “some of them,” he said
it was unbelievable to me, I knew these people,
I just had no idea how cruel they could be. “Some of them were looking
for a reason to accuse Jesus, “so they watched
him closely to see if he would heal this
man on the Sabbath,” because their first entry
application of the law, of the law of Moses, to
heal, or to help someone on the Sabbath was
actually a sin. If somebody was dying,
you could rescue them, you know, if they were
hanging off a cliff or they’re drowning,
you could rescue them. But if somebody
just needed help, or needed medical
attention, no help, no medical attention
on the Sabbath. Jesus looked at the
man and the interrupts whatever was happening
in the on the Sabbath in the synagogue
and he says this, Jesus said to the man
with the shriveled hand, this was his, this
was his nightmare, this was the worst day ever, “Stand up in front of everyone.” It’s like, what? “Stand up in front of everyone.” See, and we’re gonna talk
about this next week, don’t miss next week, it’s these kinds of
details that that assure me and confirm for me
nobody made this up. Mark’s like, do you want
me to write that down? Peter’s like I’m just
telling you what happened. Jesus calls him out in
front of the whole group and were like, oh, no. “Stand up,” he said. And Jesus then turns
to the audience, especially to the
Pharisees in the crowd, he asked him this question, “Which is lawful
on the Sabbath,” because he knew their
minds he knew their hearts, “which is lawful on the Sabbath
to do good, or to do evil?” Which is lawful on the
Sabbath to do good, or to do evil? Kind of a trick
question but you know what his real question was,
his real question is this, what was God’s purpose in
giving us the law to begin with? What was God’s purpose
in giving us the law? Why didn’t God gives us rules? Is it to preserve the
rules is that what our mission in life is? To preserve and to honor the
rules or is it something else? And before they
can answer because they’re not going to answer, and while they’re
thinking he reiterates it, he asks it a second way, he says, “Which is
permissible on the Sabbath, “to do good or to do evil, to save a life, or to kill?” And maybe this was literal,
maybe this man couldn’t work, maybe nobody would hire him,
maybe he was starving to death. Maybe this injury had,
he was so debilitated, it really was a life
or death issue for him, we don’t know,
what’s he getting at? What he is getting at is this, he goes back to that first verse because actually the verse I
showed you at the beginning, came right before this story. He’s illustrating
what he just taught. The question is the law of
God for the benefit of God, is the law of God for
the benefit of God? I don’t know how
you were raised, and nobody did this on
purpose, I don’t think, but there were seasons of my
life growing up in church, and I loved church, where at
times I wondered if maybe, not in these terms
because I wasn’t, I didn’t have these terms, but, I was sort of left with
the impression that maybe the laws were for
the benefit of God, because some of the
laws are so weird, and some of the
rules were so strange they certainly weren’t
for the benefit of me, they just got in the way of me. So this is Jesus’s
question because this is a huge paradigm shift. Are the laws for
the benefit of God or are the laws for the benefit
of those that God loves? Because if they are for the
benefit of those God loves, then people take
precedent over the law. Children aren’t for the toys,
the toys are for the children. So we ask them this question. Hey, what’s law, what’s
permissible on the Sabbath, to do good or evil,
to heal or to kill? And they’re like children
listening to a parent, or an uncle, or an aunt, this happened to us all
the time growing up, right? You were kind of, you know,
doing something wrong, and your mom or your dad,
or you have a question, and your mom or dad
ask you a question, and you know the
answer to the question, the question is so
clear, you know? But you know if you answer
the question out loud then you’ll be accountable
to your own words so you just you just pouted,
like, I’m not answering that. I know the answer, I
know the right answer, so that’s the
situation they’re in. They know the right answer, but if they answer
this correctly, they’re giving Jesus
permission to pursue this brand new path that’s so
uncomfortable, so disruptive. So Peter said, well Mark’s like, well what did they say? And Peter’s like well,
they didn’t say anything. They just stared. They knew if they
answered out loud they’re accountable
to their words. And how did Jesus respond? How does Jesus respond? If you’re considering
Christianity, how does your heavenly
Father respond to people who apply
God’s law in such a way that it hurts those God’s loves? How does Jesus respond
when religious leaders use the law of God to hurt
people made in the image of God? The text says he
looked around in anger. The Greek term here
in the New Testament is oftentimes translated
wrath, the wrath of Jesus. And why is he angry? He’s angry because
religious leaders used his Father’s
words and interpreted his Father’s words
in such a way that the Father’s words
were elevated over the people his Father loved. He goes on, he says “He looked
around at them in anger, “and he was deeply distressed
at their stubborn heart,” they wouldn’t even acknowledge
what they knew to be true. And Peter said, and
then it happened. He said to the man,
“Stretch out your hand, “and he pulled it
out of his sleeve, “and his hand was
completely restored.” And the response of the
Pharisees is so over the top in our way of thinking, but
it made perfect sense to them, because they could
see what we miss. “Then the Pharisees went
out and began to plot “with the Herodians how
they might kill Jesus.” Like, wait, hang on, hang on. Run him out of town, you
know, run him back home, you know, send him to
Jerusalem, you know, maybe arrest him, maybe
put them on a cart. Wait, you want to
murder a rabbi, because he healed
on the Sabbath? But they understood what’s
easy for us to miss. There was no way to blend. And this is what
they would try to do. This is what, unfortunately, religious people have
tried to do ever since. There was no way to blend
what they were trying to preserve with the kingdom
Jesus had come to establish. There was no way for them
to blend the kingdom, the mindset, the
framework, the view of God, that they were trying so
desperately to defend. They could not blend
that with the kingdom, the mindset, the worldview that
Jesus had come to establish, he had indeed come
to reverse the order of just about everything. The Sabbath, the law, the rules. God gave those for the
benefit of mankind. Not the Sabbath. They were given for
the benefit of mankind, rather than the
other way around. God is like a good parent. He loves you more than
he loves his rules, even those big 10. And then, Peter goes on. He drags us through another
couple of narratives, all of this is happening
way up here at the top of the Sea of Galilee, and then this strangest
thing happens, suddenly out of nowhere, first time they appear in
the story in Peter’s account, suddenly, Mary, the
mother of Jesus shows up outside of Capernaum,
with Jesus’s brothers, and there’s all
this controversy, and they kind of make their
way through the crowd, and they try to take
Jesus out of the crowd and take him home and
rescue him from himself. And then she says
something about her son that some of you
moms have said about some of your children too. Again, here’s what
we’re going to talk about this a little
bit in depth next time, don’t miss next time, because
this is the kind of thing, I’m sure when Peter
said it, you know, Mark’s like okay,
you want me to write, you really, you sure you want
to include this in the story? Peters like, I’m just
telling you what happened. Mary shows up, his
brother show up, they’re trying to get
Jesus to leave with them and go back home, and
when we asked Mary why, do you know what she
said about her own son? Mark’s like what? “He is out of his mind.” I quote, Mary says about
Jesus, “He is out of his mind.” This doesn’t look good on Mary, and this doesn’t
look good on Jesus. Why is it in the Gospel of Mark? Because it happened. And they didn’t
pull any punches, and they didn’t sand
off the rough edges. Peter says I know we
couldn’t believe it. And we will pick up
the storyline next time right there in part four
of “You’re Not Far.” But before we go, two
quick takeaways all right, this is so important. Look up here. If you are a sinner, and you are, if you are a sinner,
you are invited to follow Jesus beginning today
from wherever you start, with whatever you got going on. This is the lesson. If you are a sinner,
now if you are somebody who is willing to
acknowledge, like Levi, did, something’s wrong with me. Something’s up with me,
something’s broken in me. I fall short of my own standard. I can’t dig myself
out of my own hole. I can’t be the husband
I swore I would be, I can’t be the
wife I want to be. I can’t be the
parent I want to be. I can’t show the respect to my
parents I know they deserve, but I just can’t seem
to control my mouth. I need help. The invitation is
wide open to you. You are invited to begin today from wherever you
start following Jesus. So I can say it this way. If you lived in
the First Century, and you had going on what
you’ve got going on now Jesus would seek you out, and he would invite you
as you are to take a step, and to follow him. He would come to your door and
knock and invite him self in, and you may be uncomfortable
with what he found inside of your house but
he would not be, and he would be
comfortable with you until you became
comfortable with him. That’s what we’ve seen
modeled in the gospels, and specifically in
the Gospel of Mark. So follow. Second thing, if you’re
already a follower, yield to Jesus,
say yes to Jesus. When your will bumps up against
his will, you just say yes. And here’s the great thing, you’re not saying yes to a list, you’re not saying yes to a law. You’re saying yes to a person that left us with
one single, simple, all encompassing, but
terrifying command. He said you are to treat people the way that I have treated you, you are to love one another the way that I have loved you, follow me and follow me into
this different way of living, this different way of life,
this different worldview. Not a list, not a law. A person. A person who came for
you, who invites you, because he loves you. This is why we say all
the time at our churches, following Jesus,
following Jesus. Not believing, following Jesus
will make your life better, and it’ll make you
better at life. It’ll make you better
father, husband, it’ll make you better
employer, employee, it’ll make you a better
son, a better daughter, it’ll make you a better person, not simply because
you believe something but because you begin
to do, and to change, because doing makes
all the difference, and that is the
invitation to follow. The really cool thing,
and I’ll close with this, Levi, who really we know
more as Matthew, same person, Matthew, Levi, when
he says yes to Jesus, he eventually gets
the opportunity to write one of the gospels,
Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, same guy, Levi wrote
the Gospel of Matthew, Levi had employees, Matthew
had employees, he had scribes, so they followed Jesus around,
they wrote it all down, it’s an incredible gospel. And here’s one of the
things that’s unique to Matthew’s Gospel that he
wrote down that Jesus said, and maybe he wrote
this down and made sure he included this because
it was so important to him in light of his background. One day Jesus was
teaching and he said this, and this is for all of us. He said, “Take my
yoke upon you.” You have a yoke, you
have a way of life, you have a way of doing life, you have a way of
approaching the world. He said, I want you
to put yours down and take mine on you, it’s a better yoke than the
one you’re currently carrying. “Take my yoke upon you, “learn from me.” Just sit at my feet
and listen and learn, “for I am gentle, and
I am humble in heart,” and at the end of the day “you will find rest
for your soul,” you will find rest on the
inside, you will find peace. You can’t imagine even exists. And, if that version of faith. If that version of
religion stands in contrast to what you were presented
with by your pastor, your priest, or your parents. Perhaps they were trying to
pour the new wine of Jesus into an old container, and
at the end of the day to you, it just felt like a big mess. Because Jesus did not come
to tweak something old. He came to establish
something brand new. He came to introduce
something new, and to use his word,
something near, because the time had come. The kingdom of
God has come near. And your invitation, his
invitation to you and to me, is to turn, and to face
it, and to embrace it. And when we do, life
begins to change. Hear, embrace, hear and learn, hear and believe this good news. And don’t miss next week.

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