In our sermon series on Mark this week’s sermon is called “The Work”. The Bible gives the first part of our reading the title of – JESUS ANNOUNCES THE GOOD NEWS. Now for those of you who are in a house group, you would have seen Rico Tice almost jumping out of his chair about the word ‘Gospel’ (that means the Good News) because it is the best news the world has ever heard, it is the best news you or I have ever heard. So what exactly do Christians mean when they talk about the “gospel of Jesus Christ”? When Christians talk about the gospel, they’re simply telling the good news about Jesus! And that Good news is that God loves them, that is why Jesus came. Jesus is God saying and showing Gods love, It’s a message from God saying, “Good news! Here is how you can be saved from my judgment!” That’s an announcement we can’t afford to ignore, can we?
Good news about Jesus Christ
So, what is the good news about Jesus Christ?
Since the earliest Christians announced the good news about Jesus, it has been organised around these questions:
- Who made us, and to whom are we answerable?
- What is our problem?
- What is God’s solution to our problem?
- How can I be included in his solution?
Christians through the centuries since Jesus came have answered those questions with the same truth from the Bible.
- We are accountable to God.
- Our problem is our sin against him.
- God’s solution is salvation through Jesus Christ.
- We come to be included in that salvation by faith and repentance.
The first thing to know about the good news of Jesus is that “in the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1). Everything starts from that point, so if you get that point wrong then everything else that follows will be wrong. Because God created everything—including us—he has the right to tell us how to live, but he chooses to let us have free will, and chooses instead to show us how we should live through the example of Jesus and the prompting of the Holy Spirit. You have to understand that in order to understand the good news about Jesus. To understand just how glorious and life-giving the gospel of Jesus Christ is, we have to understand that God is also holy and righteous. He is determined never to ignore or tolerate sin any sin yours or mine!
And for some that can be a barrier, a friend of mine thought she was never good enough for God to love her, she had been abused and in her teens had slept around, got drunk a lot, done drugs and fallen pregnant and lost the baby through her bad habits. She thought she was not worthy to be noticed by God yet alone forgiven and loved, but a friend of hers persuade her to go on an Alpha course and on what is called the Holy Spirit day, a lady came to her and said that she had a picture and a word for, she did not know this lady and this lady did not know her or her story, the lady said that she had seen Jesus holding a baby and saying its ok I love you and forgive you and your baby is with me. At which point my friend know that God loved her and that He was willing to forgive her and not surprisingly she give her life to Jesus.
God loves us, when God created the first human beings, Adam and Eve, he intended for them to live in communion with Him in perfect joy—obeying him and living in fellowship with him. Then Adam disobeyed God, and ate the one fruit that God had told him not to eat, there was only one rule and Adam and Eve could not keep it, that fellowship with God was broken. Moreover, Adam and Eve had declared rebellion against God. They were denying his authority over their lives.
It’s not just Adam and Eve who are guilty of sin. The Bible says, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Sin is the rejection of God himself and his authority over those to whom he gives life. Once we understand sin in that light, we begin to understand why “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). That’s not just physical death, but spiritual death, a forceful separating of our sinful, rebellious selves from the presence of God forever. The Bible teaches that the final destiny for unbelieving sinners is eternal, active judgment in a place called “hell.”
But Jesus Christ came, The word “Christ” means “anointed one,” referring to anointing a king with oil when he is crowned. So, when we say “Jesus Christ,” we’re saying that Jesus is a King! When Jesus began his public ministry, he told the people, “The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe the good news!” As Jesus died on a cross, the awful weight of all our sins fell on his shoulders. The sentence of death God had pronounced against rebellious sinners like us fall on Jesus and Jesus died. For you and me!
But the story doesn’t end there. Jesus is no longer dead. The Bible tells us that he rose from the grave. Jesus’s rising from the grave was God’s way of saying, “What Jesus claimed about who he is and what he came to do is true!”
What does God expect us to do with the information that Jesus died in our place so we can be saved from God’s disappointment in us? He expects us to respond and turn to Him with faith and repentance. Just as my friend has done, that moment of forgiveness change her life see stop getting drunk, sleeping around and doing drugs, then she met the man who is now her husband and she has two wonderful little girls and I must say the love of Christ radiates from her face.
Repent and have faith!
To repent of our sins means to turn away from our rebellion against God. Repentance and giving our lives to Jesus doesn’t mean there will be an immediate end to our sinning. It does mean, though, that we’ll never again live at peace with our sins. When I sin and I know you will be surprised well some of you will be surprised except Chris that I do sin I can no longer ignore it, I have no peace until I have said sorry to God and promised to repent of that sin.
Not only that, but we must also turn to God in faith. Faith is reliance. It’s a promise to trust in the risen Jesus to save us from our sins. If God is ever to count us as being acceptable, he’ll have to do it on the basis of someone else’s record, someone who’s qualified to stand in as our substitute, to stand in our place. And that’s what happens when a person is saved by Jesus, when a person gives their life to Jesus.
All our sins are given to Jesus who took the punishment for them, and the perfectness of Jesus is then credited to us when we place our trust in what he has done for us! That’s what faith means—to rely on Jesus, to trust in him alone to stand in our place, just as my friend did as I have done, God loves us all and wants to have a full relationship with each one of us and all our family and friends!
So when we read in our Bible that ‘Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God’ that is a massive understatement, Jesus came to save each one of us to show us the kingdom of God, God’s love.
And Jesus started his mission, His work on earth by gathering is team the disciples who would at first follow Jesus and then take that Good news to the world, and Jesus chose ordinary people fishermen, tax collector not the big boys in the temple but if it was today, the person working in IT, in Tesco’s, in the shop and the tax collector we still have them, even if we don’t have many fishermen, the person working to live, just like you. Jesus did not go to the highly educated to the rulers the powerful he went to ordinary people.
Then with his team in tact Jesus starts work, our reading in verse 22 says he (Jesus) taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law taught them. So not as someone who had been trained, Jesus teaching was different he was not singing from the same hymn book as all the others who taught in the synagogue, from the outset Jesus was different giving a different message, one from God not from men who wanted their own way.
And then in verse 23 we read ‘Just then a man in their synagogue who was possessed by an impure spirit cried out, ‘What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are – the Holy One of God!’ Bang – the secret is out! The Holy One of God, the one man set apart by God, and Jesus say in short shut up it is not yet time for everyone to know, and such is the power of Jesus that Evan the demons take note of what Jesus says.
And then Jesus heals many and many and many, we read in verse 30 Simon’s (i.e. Peter’s) mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they immediately told Jesus about her. So Jesus went and healed her, and what does she do. Peters mother-in-law starts working for Jesus she starts paying Jesus back for what he has done for her, just as my friend has done as she is now a vicar and working for God.
And our reading continued in verse 32 That Jesus healed loads of people and He also drove out many demons, but he would not let the demons speak because they knew who he was. Jesus was at work and still Jesus is keeping the demons quiet.
But Jesus is part human and part God, the Man God and just like us Jesus need rest we read in verse 35 Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, (He got up from sleeping) left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. Jesus prayed to his Heavenly Father, keeping that relationship a live, you have heard me say many times you cannot have a relationship if you do not talk and praying is talking to God, and we need to talk to God all the time, a very famous evangelist call Smith Wiggesworth was asked this question ‘you’re a man of faith and miracles, you’ve healed people. You’ve cast out more demons than we’ve had hot dinners. Tell us, how long do you pray every day?
“Well, he replied, “I don’t ever pray any longer than twenty minutes.” “What?” his questioners exclaimed. After pausing for effect, Smith Wigglesworth continued, “Yes, but I never go twenty minutes without praying”. Our prayer life is not measured in minutes. Prayer is a lifestyle. Prayer is a constant two-way communication with God. Prayer is essential to living in freedom with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Think about that. In verse 36 Peter is worried and we read and the disciples go looking for Jesus and when they find him Jesus says ‘Let us go somewhere else – to the nearby villages – so that I can preach there also. So he travelled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons.
Jesus was not going to stay in one town and let the people come to him, he went out to the people and Jesus has been doing that for over 2000 years now going out to you to me, wanting to help you and me, to save us from ourselves.
So Jesus starts His work on earth by getting stuck in as I said earlier When Jesus began his public ministry, he told the people, “The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe the good news!” As Jesus died on a cross, the terrible weight of all our sins fell on his shoulders. The sentence of death God had pronounced against stubborn sinners struck. And Jesus died. For you and me!
But thank God the story doesn’t end there. Jesus Crucified is no longer dead. The Bible tells us that he rose from the grave. Jesus’s rising from the grave was God’s way of saying, “What Jesus claimed about who he is and what he came to do is true!”
What does God expect us to do with this information that Jesus died in our place so we can be saved from God’s righteous anger against our sins? He expects us to respond with repentance and faith.
To repent of our sins means to turn away from our rebellion against God. Repentance doesn’t mean we’ll bring an immediate end to our sinning. It does mean, though, that we’ll never again live at peace with our sins. We all sin but if we are comfortable with our sins then we are not in a relationship with God, it means we are pushing God into a little corner of a world built to our design not Gods.
So we need to repent and try to live as Jesus showed us and to also turn to God in faith. Faith is dependence. It’s a promise-founded trust in the risen Jesus to save us from our sins.
That is what is meant when someone says I was saved on this day, that they gave there life to Jesus and that they try as best they can to fellow His teachings and his way and to be led by the Holy Spirit.
If you have never given your life to Jesus and you want too, come and see me after the service or contact me and we can meet to say a simple pray together, or if your stil unsure come on the Alpha course starting this evening.
And with that faith comes work Jesus called all believers to ‘go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you’ (Matt 28:19-20). And that is the work Jesus started and the work through His love we are called to continue. Go tell everyone about Gods love for them.
A guy I know would sometimes stand on a bus and start preaching the Gospel, its all right I am not asking anyone to do that, but he did, and one day some said “I don’t need religion mate” and he said, “no what we all need is Jesus and His love”.
Lets pray: Oh Lord thank you that you care for us so much that you were willing to open your arms upon the cross for us, help us through your Holy Spirit to accept that love to show true repentance and to continue your work of telling others of what you have done for us. Amen