GOSPEL OF MARK – ROBBY GALLATY – Program 35
By: The John Ankerberg Show
|By: Pastor Robby Gallaty; ©2011|
|What is the gospel? How is the gospel sufficient for our lives?|
Centrality of Gospel in Christian Life
The title of the message this morning is this: The Centrality of the Gospel in the Christian Life. The death, burial, and resurrection form the central events of biblical revelation in both the Old and the New Testament. The Old Testament speaks of Jesus’ coming. The New Testament unfolds his ministry, mission, and message. And since Jesus Christ is the focal point of the Word of God, it’s important for us to understand exactly who he is. Wouldn’t you agree? In fact, in the first century, people thought that Jesus would come to destroy the Gentiles. Because the Jews had been oppressed by the enemy, the Messiah would come and literally wipe out and devastate those who are opposed to God’s people. But Jesus corrects their faulty view. In fact, as we see this morning, this is the third time that Jesus teaches the same truth. And it shows us that there are some people who merely listen to the words of Jesus but you may not actually understand the Words of Jesus. And my goal this morning is that you would leave today getting the gospel right.
If you have your Bibles, turn with me to Mark 10:32. As we’re starting to see, Jesus’ message cannot be segmented from his martyrdom. The gospel is not a set of rules for sinful men and women to obey in order to earn favor with a Holy God. As we’ll see this morning, the gospel is about what a righteous God has done to make a way for sinful men and women to restore a relationship with him. Notice what Jesus says in Mark 10:32:
“And they were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking ahead of them. And they were amazed, and those who followed were afraid. [Notice the contrast—afraid and amazed.] And taking the twelve again, he began to tell them what was to happen to him, saying, ‘See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death and deliver him over to the Gentiles. And they will mock him and spit on him, and flog him and kill him. And after three days he will rise [again].’”
There are three truths from the text—two in the text, one I’m going to apply from the text. The first one is this—write this down—we need to understand our apprehension to the gospel. We need to understand our apprehension to the gospel. Robby, where do you see that? This is actually the third time in the book of Mark in three chapters where we see the disciples having to be retold the same lesson. Go back to Mark 8:31. Jesus says it again. “And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again.”
Go over to Mark 9:30. Same thing: “They went on from there and passed through Galilee. [And He said] to them, ‘The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him. And when he is killed, after three days he will rise [again].’”
Jesus has to teach them the same lesson for the third time. Now, here’s a good question. Why does it say they’re going up to Jerusalem? It’s an interesting question. If you’ve ever visited Israel, you’ll notice that from the town of Jericho to the town of Jerusalem in just 20 short miles, it is a 3500-foot increase in just 20 miles. And during that 20 mile hike, the Jewish people normally, as they went up for the Passover or they went up for Pentecost, they would sing songs to one another. They would praise the Lord for what he has done. In fact, the Psalms of Ascent—have you heard of those? The Psalms of Ascent, Psalm 120-134, are 15 psalms that the people would sing as they went up to the mountain and praised the Lord.
Even though Jesus understood his own destiny with perfect clarity, it shows us that he is leading the way for the disciples. He’s not lagging behind like a prisoner heading to the gallows. He’s not lagging behind like a captive heading to execution. Jesus Christ as the captain of our salvation is leading the disciples to his death. It’s an interesting prophecy from Isaiah 50:7 when it says that he set his face a flint towards Jerusalem. We see Jesus doing that in the text. It shows us that Jesus is teaching a picture of discipleship. He is willingly embracing his suffering. And I believe that’s why it says in the text as Mark is writing an eyewitness account, that the disciples were amazed and afraid.
Now how can you be amazed and afraid at the same time? That word amazed in the language of the New Testament is the word that means astonished. It’s another word for bewildered. It’s the word that means to be immobile because of fright. They’re thinking to themselves, Jesus, if you’re right and if you go to Jerusalem and you will die at the hands of the priests and the elders and the rulers and the Gentiles, then why in the world are we going to Jerusalem? Why in the world are we going to see you die? Thomas, the great doubter in John 11:16, says the same thing to the disciples. If we’re going to go to Jerusalem, let us go up there and die with him.
The question is, why didn’t the disciples understand the true mission of Jesus? Why are they having such a hard time understanding this? We don’t know for sure but I’ll take a couple of guesses at it. Maybe the guess is that the presuppositions they learned as a child taught them that the Messiah was not going to die but control and rule. Maybe they had a hard time understanding because of the expectations concerning Jesus’ purposes for coming. We don’t understand exactly why they didn’t understand but we can take a principle from this section and here it is: if the disciples had a difficult time accepting the gospel, how difficult is it for us to believe and accept the gospel today? It shows us that human beings have a difficult time believing the gospel. We’re apprehensive in accepting the gospel. See, the disciples couldn’t understand how death can bring life. The disciples couldn’t understand how suffering and submission could bring victory.
And that’s what leads us to our second point. Not only do we see an apprehension to the gospel by human beings; secondly, we see the reminder of the sufficiency of the gospel. The gospel is sufficient to save. Jesus is reminding them about this over and over again. Let me give you four progressions in the text. This is what Jesus is saying. The first things he points out is this: Guys, notice my person in the text. Look at Mark 10:33: “we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man….”
Do you see that? Underline that. That is a common term. In fact, it’s the term that Jesus uses over all terms to describe himself. And, while there are a number of implications to this term, let me give you the most important implication. It’s a reference to Daniel 7:13 where it says that the Son of Man will come to unite the people of God, rule the earth and possess authority over all things. The disciples understood that the Messiah would do those things. But I want you to understand what Jesus does. He connects the word Son of Man with a suffering servant. This was impossible for the disciples to get their minds around. Jesus, you’re supposed to come and destroy people! You’re supposed to come annihilate people! You’re supposed to come and overpower people! You’re not supposed to die. You’re not supposed to suffer! And Jesus said that’s exactly what I’m going to do. That’s the person who’s coming.
Secondly, let me show you the purpose or the principle of the Son of Man. Verse 33: “the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death and deliver him over to the Gentiles.” That key word there is deliver. Underline or circle that. It means to be handed over. What’s interesting is in the language of the New Testament Greek, that word is a word in the divine passive. It’s a word that means someone else is doing the handing over, not the person that’s getting handed over. And in this case, whenever you see the divine passive, it’s always an indication that it’s God who gave Jesus over. This was not something that happened by happenstance. It didn’t surprise Jesus that he was being handed over. God—get this—handed Jesus over to the chief priests, the scribes, the Gentiles.
Then we see the procedure. We see the person, we see the principle, and then we see the procedure. How will it happen? Verse 33: “they will condemn him to death and deliver him over to the Gentiles. And they will mock him and spit on him, and flog him and kill him.” On the eastern coast of Scotland, in a part that’s called the Kingdom of Fife, there’s a plaque on the side of the road on the coast between Burnt island and Kinghorn. When you drive on this road, you’ll see this plaque and it reads this: To the illustrious Alexander the Third, the last of Scotland’s Celtic kings, who was accidentally killed near this spot on March 12, 1286. Friends, that was not the case with the Lord Jesus Christ on the hill of Calvary. There was no accident in the death of Christ; in fact, Jesus was the one who laid his life down himself and let me prove it to you.
Go to John 10:18. The words of the Lord Jesus Christ about his own death: “No one has taken it away from me [that’s his life] but I lay it down on my own initiative because I have authority to lay it down and I have authority to take it up.” Jesus is saying that I willingly submitted to the providence of the Father and the malicious plans of the men. What he’s saying is this: I willingly submitted myself to be murdered by the misguided religious leaders and the corrupt politicians. He’s saying I willing submitted to the will of the Heavenly Father and he is the One who will raise me up on the third day from the dead.
See, the murder of Christ was premeditated by God before the foundation of the world. Now feel the weight of that. The murder of Christ was premeditated by God before the foundation of the world. And I’ll prove it to you. Look what Jesus says in verse 34 of Mark 10. The Son of Man on the third day will what? Will rise. He says it three times to the disciples before it happens. He say, guys, this is what’s going to happen. I will die. I’ll be flogged. I’ll be spit upon. But on the third day I will rise again. It’s a great prophecy, a clear prophecy to the resurrection of Christ.
And I want you to understand something. Listen to me. When Jesus talks about his death and burial, he always connects the resurrection. It’s a good practice for you and I to get in. When we talk about the death of Christ, we need to remind ourselves to talk about the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ as well.
Now let me show you from Mark 10:32-34 how Jesus predicted it and how it came to pass. I don’t have time to read the verses. I will give you the references. Write them down. Jesus said—watch this—I’ll be delivered into the hands of the chief priests. It comes true in Mark 14:53. I’ll also be delivered into the hands of the scribes—Mark 14:53. They will condemn me to death—Mark 14:64. And will hand me over to the Gentiles—Mark 15:1. They will mock me—Mark 15:29; spit on me – 15:19; flog me—verse 15; kill me—verse 37; three days later I will rise again—Mark 16:1-2.
Don’t miss this. The driving message for the apostles, the driving message for the Lord Jesus Christ, was the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. In 1 Corinthians 15:3, Paul says, “For I delivered to you of first importance what I also received [and here it is], that Jesus Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, that He was buried and that He was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures.” If you back up in the same book, 1 Corinthians 1:18, Paul says, “for Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel and not with words of eloquent wisdom lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. For the word of the cross if foolishness to those who are perishing but to us who are being saved it’s the [what?] power of God.”
What did Paul say was powerful? The message of the cross. Paul says again in Galatians 6:14: “But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.”
The death, burial, and resurrection of Christ—friends, don’t miss this—is sufficient to save men and women from the bondage of sin, to remove them from the wrath of God, and set them as objects of his affection, but only if man realizes his insufficiency. Did you catch that? The gospel is sufficient for salvation when man realizes he is insufficient to save himself, which is the third point of the text this morning.
We need to be reminded and realize the insufficiency of man. Pastor, what are you saying? I’m saying that you cannot save yourself. Growing up as a kid, I caught myself wondering how good was good enough to be right in the eyes of God. I was a raised in a system of ritualistic practices and routines where I was going through the motions and I was taught that if I was good enough, I can earn with favor with God, that if I practice enough works-based righteousness and try to be right in the eyes of God that I could earn God’s favor somehow.
But the question is this—don’t miss this—how good is good enough? I started to read the Bible. I came across James 2:10. Listen to what James says: “For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it.” This is what James is saying: whoever keeps the whole law but breaks one, breaks the whole. In the Old Testament there are 613 commandments in the Old Testament. The Jewish people viewed the law as a unit. They viewed the Torah as a unit. If you break one law, you break all law.
Now I know what you’re saying. Well, Pastor, I’m not under the old covenant. And you’re right. In the New Testament, there are 1,050 commandments by the Lord Jesus Christ in the new covenant. Stricter rabbis would view the Old Testament Torah and say this: if a man performs all the commandments except one, he is guilty of each and every one. They would take it even further. If you break one, you broke all 613 commandments. To break one precept is to defy God, who commanded the whole. If you break one commandment, you’ve broken them all.
And that’s why we need the gospel: because you and I cannot save ourselves. You and I can’t be good enough as sinful human beings to stand in the face of a holy and righteous God. So what can we do, Robby? How can we be saved? Friends, that’s the gospel. That’s why the gospel is such good news.
I want to commend a book to you that explains the gospel. It’s by a man named Greg Gilbert. It’s simply titled What is the Gospel? A very simple book, easy to read. And in that book he outlines four progressions. When you’re sharing the gospel, when you’re preaching the gospel to yourselves, this is what you need to realize. There are four progressions. There’s God, there’s man, there’s Christ, and there’s response. That’s the gospel. God, man, Christ, response. If you tune in to nothing else, tune in here and write this down. This is the gospel. Gilbert gives four questions we have to ask concerning the gospel. First of all, who made us and who are we accountable to? The second question is why are we in trouble? The third question is what is God’s solution to the problem? And then, finally, how do I come to be included in that salvation?
First of all, let’s take the first one. Who made us? Who made us is God. God is the creator of all things. He created the heavens and the earth and all living creatures. It says in Psalm 19:1, “The heavens declare the glory of [the Lord], and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.” When you look above, you see God.
Genesis 1:26 says: “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’” So God creates man. He puts him over all things.
There was a time when Moses was meeting with God and he got bold on one occasion and he said, God, show me your glory. This is what he said, God, I want to see you for who you are. Write the verse down, Exodus 34:6-7: “And He passed by in front of Moses [that’s God] and proclaiming these words, ‘The LORD, the LORD, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to the thousands, and forgiving wickedness and rebellion and sin….’” Now we understand that about God. God is quick to forgive. God is abounding in love.
Notice what verse 7 says right after that. God does not leave the guilty unpunished. This God who is all loving, all enduring, all compassionate, punishes the unrighteous, which we get to the second problem. It’s the problem of sin. Why are we in trouble? God told Adam and Eve in the garden, he said, you can eat of any tree in the garden. Don’t eat of this tree. Right? You can touch any tree, you can grab any fruit. Don’t eat of this tree. The serpent, who was more cunning than any animal in the garden, came up and tempted them, and you know the story. Adam and Eve ate of the tree.
The Bible says that when the people who were made in the image of God go against God’s holy law in deed, in word, in action, it’s called sin. Sin separates us from God. See, Adam’s sin wasn’t just disastrous for him. It was disastrous for every human being that would come through him, all the human race that would come through him from that moment on. And my friends, that’s why Romans 3:23 says “All have sinned [what] and fallen short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:10, “There is no one righteous, no not one. There’s no one who understands, there’s no one who seeks after God. They’ve all turned away. They’ve altogether become meaningless. There is no one righteous, no not one.” Romans 6:23, “The wages of sin is [what?] death.” So because of the sin of Adam you and I have a serious problem in our life. It’s called sin. That means every one of us has an eternal issue we have to wrestle with.
Let me as you some questions. Have you ever told a lie before? Have you ever coveted your neighbor’s belongs or possessions? Have you ever stolen anything before? Answers off a test, change off a dresser? Have you ever looked at woman or man with lust in your heart? Jesus says that’s sin. Have you ever had anger in your heart? Have you ever called a man or woman a fool before? Jesus says that’s sin.
See, you and I are all in the same boat. We’re sinners who are desperately in need of a savior, and that’s the third part. What is God’s solution to the sin problem? Here it is. Jesus Christ wrapped himself in human flesh, came to the earth on a rescue mission to save those who are created in the image of God. He would live a sinless life. He would commit no sin. He was perfect in every sense of the word. He was perfectly pure in motive, in action, in deed. He was perfect in every sense yet he was persecuted by the ones he came to save. He was betrayed by the ones he loved. He was tried for a crime he didn’t commit.
And as we’ll see, as we saw this morning, he knew that. In fact, the prophets told about it in the Old Testament that it would happen. Jesus Christ would hang on the cross of Calvary’s hill, darkness would cover the sky and, as darkness covered the sky, it was symbolic of the judgment of God against the sin of the world. The wrath of God that was reserved for sinners was clearly placed upon Christ.
Isaiah 53:4 captures it best: Surely He has borne [watch this] our griefs and carried our sorrows yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God and afflicted. But He was wounded for [watch this] our transgressions. He was crushed for our iniquities. Upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace and with His stripes, we are healed.”
Friends, you and I should have died that day, not Christ. You and I were meant for the cross, not Christ. It was our sins, not his. It was God’s wrath that was meant for us, not him. The penalty that was reserved for us was absorbed by him. He was the substitute for our sins. That is the gospel. Friends, that is good news this morning, amen? That Jesus Christ bore the wrath of God that was meant for us.
But the story doesn’t end there. See, although he was persecuted, although he was beat to the point of death, and wore a crown of thorns on his head, they speared him in his side as he hung on that cross. They humiliated our Lord by stripping him of all his clothes as he hung there naked on the cross. They spit on him and mocked him and jeered him as he walked to the cross. They laughed at him and made fun of him and watched him die a horrific death on that cross. But that was not the end, my friends. It was just the beginning.
See, the story wasn’t over on the cross because now, on the third day, God would raise him from the dead. He would come back over 40 days and show himself to over 500 different people to prove that God raised him from the dead. And now he sits on the throne of God at the right hand of the Father and one day he will judge the righteous and the unrighteous. One day, every knee will bow and every tongue will confess in heaven, on earth, and under the earth that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father. And that deserves an amen today!
Friends, this is good news; because if you’re a believer here this morning and you’ve been given a diagnosis of six months to live, you can have hope because Jesus Christ rose from the dead. If you’re a believer today and you’re struggling with a difficult time in your life financially, emotionally, you can have hope because Jesus Christ conquered death. If you’re a believer and you’re standing in the face of martyrdom, you’re about to be murdered for your faith, you can have hope because Jesus Christ rose from the dead. If you are at the end of your life, you have nothing to fear because Jesus Christ rose from the dead. That’s why Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:54, “Death is swallowed up in victory. O Death, where is your victory? O Death where is your sting? The sting of death is sin and the power of sin is the law but thanks be to God who gives us victory in the Lord Jesus Christ.”
You know what sets Jesus apart from every other religious figure who has ever walked the face of this earth? It’s that God raised him from the dead. Go search it yourself. Don’t take my word for it. Krishna of Hare Krishna did not rise from the dead. David Koresh from Waco, TX, as they burned in that fire, did not rise from the dead. Marshall Applewhite, founder of Heaven’s Gate with the Hale-Bopp Comet, did not rise from the dead. Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism, did not rise from the dead. Charles Russell, the founder of the Jehovah’s Witness movement, did not rise from the dead. Buddha, unfortunately for the Buddhists, did not rise from the dead. Muhammad, the founder of Islam, did not rise from the dead. They all are still in the ground. But praise be to God, our Lord Jesus rose from the dead.
But that’s not the complete gospel. That’s not it. See, if you leave someone hanging there, you’ve missed the final and most important part of the gospel and it’s our response. What is your response to the gospel? Every person within the sound of my voice today whether by television, radio, or our four services today, have heard the gospel. And you have a choice this morning and here it is: Do you accept it or do you reject it? Now you’re saying, well Pastor, I don’t want to make a decision today. By not making a decision, you’re making a decision and the decision is to reject the gospel.
Here’s your two options. Let me give them to you. You leave this place this morning, you reject God as ruler and Lord, you run your own life your own way. And here are the two consequences. One, you’ll be condemned by God. Secondly, you’ll face judgment and death. The second option is this: it’s a free gift of grace. You acknowledge Jesus as Lord, you submit to Him as ruler, you rely on Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection through repentance and faith.
And here are the two results: you’ll be forgiven by God and you’ll receive eternal life. When Jesus started his earthly ministry, He said these words, The time is come. The kingdom of heaven is near. Repent and believe in the good news of God. See, repentance and faith are like two sides of the same coin. Repentance is a 180 degree turn. It’s a turning from sin namely turning to Christ and it’s not just a onetime turn at salvation or conversion, it’s a constant daily turning from sin. You’re constantly repenting. Secondly, you put your faith in Christ. You know what that means? You put your complete trust in the facts of the Word of God and you believe that Jesus Christ is who he says he is and that he will do what he says he will do.