(February 01, 2023) Richard Winter begins a series on Mark’s gospel…
In you had children in the 1990s, you may remember they were glued to the TV when Power Rangers were on – that group of ordinary teens who when faced with evil changed into a super group to fight the foe.
They taught that –
- Everyone is a hero in his or her own way.
- You can unleash your secret power!
- Taking a step back is not a problem.
- Focusing on the mission is vital!
- Evil forces are out there trying to take over the earth.
The series captured the hearts of a generation and many who go to Comic Con today dress as a Power Ranger.
- The story is rather universal.
- Good versus evil and good wins.
- There are losses.
- But you stay together as a team and don’t give up.
- When you face an enemy you power up, or as they would stay Morph Up.
It’s almost as if the Power Rangers’ theme and storyline was stolen from the Bible! What do I mean by that?
Evil needs to be fought!
The Bible is about universal sin and evil fighting against God! And His sons and daughters fight evil, and He has equipped us by giving His Holy Spirit and power, enabling us to ‘morph up’ and live life as ‘Power Ranger Christians.’
The New Testament is full of victories… men and women facing evil, sometimes winning and sometimes failing, what to do when you fail and how God makes it all good.
Scripture’s last words confirm that good triumphs over evil, that we win! That Christians ‘will reign for ever and ever’ (Revelations 22:5) Hallelujah!
One young man who knew and wrote about God’s power was Mark. In his gospel, he focuses on Jesus’ many miracles and healings, and His authority over sicknesses – and demons.
Mark’s gospel –
1. Author’s journey
Mark started out good, experienced failure, reentered as an active part of life in the church, and was fully appreciated for his service to Christ and His church!
- Most scholars believe Mark was the young man who ran away naked after Jesus was taken in Gethsemane (Mark 14:51-52).
- Believed to be the son of Mary, an apparently wealthy woman whose home Christians gathered in for prayer (Acts 12:12-13).
- Peter’s scribe. Papias, an early church father, said about Mark’s gospel: ‘Mark became Peter’s interpreter and wrote accurately all that he remembered, not, indeed, in order, of the things said and done by the Lord.’
- Ancient Christian writers ascribe him as John Mark – John was his Jewish name and Mark (Marcus) his Roman one.
- He was a helper (Acts 13:5) to his cousin Barnabas (Colossians 4:10) and Paul. Together they undertook the first missionary journey (Acts 12:25).
- Unfortunately, for some reason things went bad for Mark and he left before the journey was over. Could it have been that he didn’t like the travel, the food or the people being ministered to. ‘So I’m off home’? (Note: Being a Christian missionary is a tough job).
- Whatever Mark’s reason, it caused dissension between Paul and Barnabas regarding their next missionary trip. Barnabas wanted Mark to come (Acts 15:37-39).Paul said no, as in ‘He bailed out last time so no thank you.’End result was Paul and Barnabas splitting up, going in different directions.
- However, the relationship between Paul and Mark was obviously repaired. 2 Timothy 4:11 reads, ‘Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry.’ See also Philemon 1:24.
- According to tradition, he was the first person to bring Christianity to Africa, also founding around 49 AD the church in Alexandria (one of the most important churches in early Christianity).
- An obscure biblical figure, Mark was an important early Christian!
2. Some facts
- Earliest gospel.
- Written for new believers.
- Lacks the Jewish family tree of Jesus.
- Doesn’t mention the shepherds or angels in the fields.
- Doesn’t tell of Jesus’ childhood, His visit to the temple.
- Doesn’t record Jesus’ sermon on the Mount.
- Has four strategic confessions!
Confession is the telling of a personal truth… here’s Mark’s four –
1. The beginning of the story of Jesus the messiah (Mark 1:1).
2. Peter’s recognition and declaration that Jesus is the Messiah (Mark 8:29).
3. The high priest asking, ‘Are you the Messiah? and Jesus answering, ‘I am’ (Mark 14:61-62a)
4. A centurion, when Jesus died at Calvary, declared, ‘Surely this man was the Son of God! (Mark 15:39).
3. Basic beliefs
In his troubled time when Rome cruelly treated those they’d conquered, Mark set out to strengthen the foundations of the faith, revealing how God kept His promises and immediately shared about the messiah of action – what He did, rather than what He said.
We live in troubled times today! Many question if the story of Jesus the messiah can be believed, saying,
- We know God started this world but He’s not very present today!
- He doesn’t answer all my prayers.
- He’s called the healer… but not everybody gets healed.
- There are too many hypocrites in the church!
- I think God is letting us do our thing, whatever that is.
Mark’s revelations are basic to what Christians believe! We know that Jesus is still the messiah of action! And we pray that many will come to discover this so that they too will have faith in Jesus, and also declare that He is the world’s Messiah!
4 Logical truth
Mark has a logical way of presenting truth in a simple straightforward way…
‘The beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God, as it is written in Isaiah the prophet: “I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way”— “a voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.'” And so John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins’ (Read Mark 1).
To the world of his day, Mark’s opening words about John simply meant that the Lord was coming… and people should get ready!
Now this raises some issues for any who call themselves Christians today…
We are all in ministry, every church member, every Christian and every pastor! We need to know that we are all required to tell the world that Jesus is coming back soon. We are all to tell the same story… that it’s time our society, nation, the world clean ups its act in our minds, relationships and activities.
Incidentally, this cleaning up begins with us!
5. Mirror moments
Now some Christians are ready to say this is good news… but, sadly, others will reject it out of hand. I challenge you to make this a mirror moment! What do we (I, you!) see when we look in the mirror?
What do others see? More importantly, what does God see?
John the Baptist could have his own negative moments! Here’s what Mark wrote: ‘John wore clothing made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey’(Mark 1:6).
Many negative comments were probably made about him…
- Camel’s garment?
- Meals of locust and wild honey? Arhhhh!
- No credentials that we know of!
- No Jerusalem Bible College graduation (If there had been such!).
- Why he’s just a wandering preacher who says he’s not worthy of someone greater than himself…
6. Simple revelations
Mark tells that despite how John the Baptist humbly dressed and ate, humbly lived, humbly considered himself unworthy of Jesus.
How he humbly shared a clear message: ‘After me comes the one more powerful than I… I baptise you with water, but He will baptise you with the Holy Spirit’ (Mark 1:6-8). In effect this humble servant led us into the unfolding of redemptive history!
It’s been said that because of Jesus, history became His Story – the story is about redemption from sin!
Mark reveals that John personified a man in God’s service, giving us an example to follow. We must not follow the cult of personality pastors, rather those who are humble in the service of Christ.
7. Two signs
Note here there are two baptisms: water and Spirit – ‘I baptise you with water, but He will baptise you with the Holy Spirit ’(Mark 1:8).
Immersion in water is for the forgiveness of sins, a sign to you that you want to bury your old life with all its sin. It’s also the sign to those watching that you are joining Jesus in a public declaration of dealing with your past. And it has historically been the entrance activity for anyone to be admitted into the church.
But the baptism of the Holy Spirit is not something that covers the outside of your skin, it’s a baptism that is done on the inside…
The Spirit of God –
- Operates on giving us a new heart because ‘out of the heart the mouth speaks.’
- Knows that our behaviour is formed and decided inside us – our decisions, relationships, beliefs.
- Is aware that our understanding of who and what God is must be firmly settled in our heart.
- Wants us to be aware in our minds and hearts what God wants us to do in this world.
This is the reason why every person needs to be baptised in the Holy Spirit.
Mark thrusts before us the coming of the Holy Spirit and when He baptises you, He will touch your soul and –
- You will know who you are in God, know His plan for you.
- You will know you are forgiven, sanctified, justified and family.
- Your life will change to one where you think about holiness as the standard to live by because God is holy.
Water baptism is a sign that you have joined the community of faith called Christians. Holy Spirit baptism is a sign that you are empowered for ministry and witness.
8. Powering on!
If you were a TV Power Ranger, when faced with trouble you would power up by the term Morph On.
Christians – when we see evil in the world let’s Power Up! We are empowered by the Holy Spirit to live holy and fight against evil and the works of the devil. Just as the first Christians did after the Day of Pentecost (Acts2), you’ll see power in your life when the Holy Spirit resides within you.
If there was ever a time for the church to power up, it’s today! Let’s live that people see God’s Son, Jesus the messiah-Saviour, in our lives, thought, words, and actions.
Let’s be Power Rangers for Jesus, focusing on the mission of sharing the gospel, standing tall against evil forces are out there! Let’s ‘morph up’ with the fulness and power of the Holy Spirit!
May our desire, our prayer, be ‘Come Holy Spirit in your fulness and power… fill me, mold me, make me I pray. Amen.’
Dr Richard Winter pastors The Connection Church, Huntington Beach, California and will be sharing more about Mark’s gospel. Link: OnlinerConnect@gmail.com