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Mar 20, 2016

Called Out from the Crowds

Passage: Mark 3:7-19

Speaker: Scott Jeffreys

Series: Mark: An Action Packed Gospel

Follow me. That is the message of Jesus. If you do not follow him, nothing else matters. It does not matter what you think of Jesus (even if you think of him rightly) if you do not follow him. Nothing else matters except… follow me.

Today is Palm Sunday, also known as Passion Sunday, and it marks the beginning of Holy Week, which will lead us to Easter Sunday next week.

The Palms have to do with the branches waved by the parade of people in the streets as Jesus made his grand entry into the Holy City in a Ford Pinto (a donkey) one last time, to be crucified. Passion is an English translation of a Latin word that means sufferings. So on the one hand, Palm Sunday emphasizes the celebratory nature of Jesus’ final journey into Jerusalem and on the other hand, Passion Sunday emphasizes the sober reality of his march to a brutal death by crucifixion.

But none of this matters if we do not follow him.

The Connection Between the Two Texts

This morning we have read two texts. One text comes from our journey through the entire book of Mark. The other one is the Triumphal Entry text from the gospel of Matthew that is commonly read on this day. Why these two texts?

First, I did not feel like breaking from this series of sermons from the gospel of Mark; and then second I discovered these two texts have something in common and because they do both of them make the same point well.

What the two texts have in common are the crowds and the point they both make is that following Jesus is all that matters, not the crowds. If you do not follow Christ it does not matter if you are a part of the crowd at the lake waiting for a miracle, or if you are at the parade screaming you head off for the Lord to save you. Everybody wants to be saved, but few want to follow. Friends with benefits…

Hosanna means “Lord save us!” And what most of the people meant when they were shouting it was for Jesus to save them from Roman oppression, not die on a cross so their sins could be forgiven and they follow him. The crowds on Palm Sunday wanted a political Savior and when they found out that Jesus was not their candidate they decided to crucify him, not follow him.

Analogously speaking, in the same manner, what many people wanted in our text from Mark was not to follow Jesus, but to see a miracle or be healed by him.

But none of this matters if we do not follow Christ.

In our text today from Mark Jesus calls forth from the crowds twelve men to (1) be with him so that they may (2) go out and preach the gospel and cast out demons. In other words to do the same thing Jesus was doing.

The Twofold Response to the Call of Christ

The calling of Jesus Christ in our lives is twofold.

First it is a calling to be with him. To be with Jesus is to be with God. Jesus Christ is Emmanuel, God with us, God come to down to us, so that we may be with God in Christ.

God wants us to be with Him. That’s the purpose for which we were all created, to be in relationship with God, but Adam lost it in the garden and when he did he lost it for us all. Death and alienation from God set in after Adam’s sin, but the good news of the gospel is that in Jesus Christ God has come down to us to reconcile us, restore us, and be with us.

So in Jesus Christ, God is calling a people to be in relationship with Himself. You may think you have no friends and maybe you don’t, but Christ wants to be friends with you. Think about that. All of your imperfections. All of your failures. All of your sins. All of the stuff that turns everybody else off. Yet Jesus loved you so much that he went to the cross for you so that you can be with him. You are a friend of God.

“But God demonstrates his love for us in this: While we were yet still sinners, Christ died for us.”- Romans 5:8

But this being with him in relationship has a purpose. This leads me to my second point.

You have been saved by God in Jesus Christ in order to follow him and do God’s will in the world.

God accomplishes His purposes in the world through the disciples of Jesus. That’s how the relationship works. God could totally do it on His own but because He is in a relationship with us God chooses to accomplish His purposes in the world through us.

This is one reason why Jesus called the disciples to be with him, so that he might build them up and train them to do the work of God in the world. Being a disciple of Jesus carries with it responsibilities. We are called to share the gospel and to exercise God’s authority in the world over sin, death, hell, and the devil.

Our Response

“So Jesus went up to the mountainside, away from the crowds, and he called to himself those whom he wanted, and they came to him.” - v.13

I would have you notice two things about that verse.

First, Jesus called to himself those whom he wanted. It is by God’s sovereign grace that we are called to be His sons and daughters. It is not because of anything good in us but because of God’s sovereign grace.

As I think about this point I am reminded of what the Lord said to the Israelites right before Moses led the final push to the Promised Land, after 40 years of floundering in the wilderness. The Lord said, “Understand, then, that it is not because of your righteousness and integrity that the LORD your God is giving you this good land to possess, for you are a stiff necked people…but it was because the LORD loved you and kept the oath he swore to your forefathers, that he brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the land of slavery.” – Deuteronomy 7:8 & 8:4-6

We are not deserving of the call of God in our lives.

The other thing that I would have you notice about v. 13 of the text is the response. The text tell us that when they heard the call of Jesus they “came to him.”

Friend, you must respond in order for the calling to be effectual.

It doesn’t matter if you standing by the lake waiting to see Jesus to do a miracle or if you are standing on the sidelines cheering for Jesus to come back and wipe out the oppressive forces of godlessness, depravity, moral relativism, and diversity absurdity that have taken over our nation. None of it matters if you do not follow him.

If you do not answer the call you will remain dead in your sins no matter how many miracles Jesus does or if America ever repents.

You must come to Christ as a disciple, just as the twelve came to him. When that happens your calling will be made effectual and you will find life in Christ, both in the here and the now and in the life to come, and you will truly be saved- the way God intends for you to be saved and not the way the world says you are saved.

This is the whole point of Palm Sunday: To expose our sinful misconceptions about where our salvation lies so that we may be taken to the cross of Christ and find the narrow gate that leads to eternal life and enter.[i]

In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, amen.              




[i] Matthew 7:13-14