Read an Excerpt
Nelson's Annual Preacher's Sourcebook Volume 3
By O. S. Hawkins
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2013 Thomas Nelson
All rights reserved.
THE GOSPEL OF THE SERVANT KING
The Kingdom of God Marches On
Mark 1:35–45 Daniel L. Akin
Jesus has just had an incredible day of teaching the Scriptures, casting out demons, and healing the sick. And even though the day is drawing to a close, there is more to be done for the kingdom to advance against the powers of darkness and the forces of evil. Three clear aspects emerge in our text, and it is instructive that we find the essential elements of prayer and preaching. Without both, the advance of the kingdom would have stopped dead in its tracks.
The Kingdom Advances through Prayer
Though He had been up late, Jesus still rose "very early" the next morning, "while it was still dark" (v. 35 HCSB). He left Peter's home alone, going to a place of solitude and privacy. A place for restoration and fellowship with His Father was what He needed and desired. Peter and those with him sent out a search party. Apparently the crowds had returned for more miracles. Peter's words almost have the sound of a rebuke: "Everyone's looking for You!" We are so much like Peter, not understanding the ways of God and how His kingdom will come. Yes, there will be healings and exorcisms. But, there must also be prayer.
The Kingdom Advances through Preaching
Jesus, as He so oft en does, responds to Peter in a different and surprising manner than we expect. He will not return to those who are looking for Him. Rather, He says, "Let's move on. Let's go to the next town. I will preach there also. This is why I came" (see v. 38). Neither the crowds nor the disciples understood why He had come into the world. But He knew! Jesus came to preach, to herald, to proclaim the gospel of salvation, a message that is both by Him and about Him. Indeed, He is the gospel!
The Kingdom Advances through Cleansing
As He was traveling and ministering, Jesus was met by a leper. This encounter is startling, provocative, and even offensive. In that culture, a leper was considered an outcast, a man deemed by the law as unclean and by the people as cursed by God. That he came near to Jesus, so close that Jesus could touch him, was to do the unthinkable. The touch of Jesus speaks more loudly than any words ever could, and His words must have thrilled this man's soul: "I am willing" (v. 41 HCSB). Unlike any ordinary man, the Lord Jesus is not polluted by the leper's disease when He touches him. Instead, the leper is cleansed by the gracious touch and contagious holiness of the Son of God.
Jesus's life illustrates the advancement of God's kingdom in the world through the ministries of prayer, proclamation, and the healing of the hurting. It is why Jesus came. He will take on Himself our sin, our sorrow, and our shame. In return He gives us His forgiveness, His holiness, and His righteousness—praise the Lord! What an exchange!
When Man-Made Rules Get in the Way of God's Gracious Plans
Mark 2:23–28 Daniel L. Akin
Few things are more destructive, seductive, and deceptive to a relationship with God than the deadly poison of legalism. It is destructive because it breeds death rather than life. It is seductive because it has a natural allurement for the flesh that causes us to look to ourselves rather than to Christ for our spiritual status before God. It is deceptive because it makes us think we are the spiritual elite when actually we are spiritual slaves.
Do Not Let Man-Made Rules Make You a Spiritual Slave (Mark 2:23–24)
As Jesus and His disciples were walking, the disciples began to pick a few heads of grain. In the eyes of the Pharisees, they were guilty of reaping.
1. The Pharisees had constructed a man-made mountain of rules that enslaved those who tried to follow them. No one could live up to the expectations, nor should it have been expected that they would.
2. In a reversal of Genesis 50:20, what God had meant for good they had turned to evil. The clash is not over the rules, but over who makes the rules.
Remember That the Lord's Day Is to Be a Blessing, Not a Burden (Mark 2:25–27)
Jesus completely ignores the Sabbath question and turns to an event in the life of King David. Jesus's point is simple.
1. While it was not normal or lawful for David and his men to eat the showbread, it was even more the case that God did not want them to starve. He was primarily concerned with protection and provision for His servant David, the anointed king of Israel.
2. Jesus concludes with the principle that should have guided Jewish observance of the Sabbath all along: "The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath" (v. 27). Jesus had a liberating vision of the Sabbath that frees us from legalistic constraints instead of binding us with unbearable burdens.
Let the Lordship of Jesus Christ Be Your Anchor and Guide (Mark 2:28)
Modern readers cannot easily grasp the striking declaration of verse 28. Jesus weds the "Son of Man" title to that of "Lord of the Sabbath" and declares that He is both.
1. Jesus puts Himself in the place of and with the authority of God.
2. As the Lord of the Sabbath, He determines what is lawful and unlawful on the Sabbath day. He makes the call, and His Word is final! With one bold declaration, He silences His adversaries and all opposition.
The Pharisees relied on their own traditions for guidance, and in doing so, they missed the Law-giver entirely. Jesus Christ is our anchor for spiritual authority in all things. As God, He is Lord of the Sabbath! It is a fact, regardless of our permission. The question is, have you surrendered to Him as your God and the Lord of your life? Man-made rules will never get you to God! Only the Lord of the Sabbath, the Son of God, will get you there. Trust in His work and not your own.
It Is Always Right to Do Good
Mark 3:1–6 Daniel L. Akin
In Mark 2:1–3:6 we see the build up to inevitable conflict. The hostility now reaches a climax, with anger and ill will on both sides. Jesus will not back down, though He understands where this will lead. Consumed with the will of His Father and emboldened by uncompromising conviction, He moves ahead with His face set toward the cross, convinced that "it is always right to do good!"
Doing Good for the Glory of God Will Invite Critical Scrutiny (Mark 3:1–2)
For Jesus, doing good for the glory of God is not restricted by date or location. This encounter occurs on the Sabbath in the synagogue. One cannot help but believe Jesus is deliberately provoking a confrontation with the religious leaders.
1. Be Sensitive to Those Who Need Compassion (Mark 3:1) Jesus sees a man with a withered hand. This man needed Jesus' attention, and his healing would be the occasion for God's power to be displayed. Jesus, with sensitivity and compassion, determined to act.
2. Be Ready for Those Who Always Criticize (Mark 3:2) The Pharisees had one goal: they sought to "accuse Him." They were enslaved to their own critical hearts, and they did their best to enslave others as well.
Doing Good for the Glory of God Will Require Personal Conviction (Mark 3:3–5)
There will be no retreat in His message and actions. With courage and conviction, He will press forward, obedient to the will of God regardless of consequences.
1. Be Right in What You Do (Mark 3:3–5) In this act of mercy, Jesus fulfills the Great Commandments. The Pharisees knew nothing of this love, thus were far from fulfilling the law of Moses.
2. Be Right in What You Say (Mark 3:4) Jesus raises the right question, and it is shocking and sad that the Pharisees could not respond. Their silence condemns them, and reveals a tragic flaw in their theology concerning the nature of the God of grace and mercy, love and compassion.
3. Be Right in What You Feel (Mark 3:5) Jesus is angered and grieved at their hardness of heart. Pride is dangerously deceitful, and it provoked our Lord to righteous anger.
Doing Good for the Glory of God Will Encourage Hostile Opposition (Mark 3:6)
For some, it is not enough to do the right thing. If you do not arrive at the "correct" destination by the "correct" route, you get criticized and misrepresented.
1. The Enemy of My Enemy Is My Friend The Pharisees and Herodians hated each other. However, their common disdain for Jesus united them. They "immediately" conspired together.
2. The Enemy We Fear Most We Will Seek to Destroy The Pharisees and Herodians wanted to destroy Jesus. Their hatred was coupled with fear, and this would lead to unspeakable evil: the murder of Messiah.
Jesus did a good thing in healing this man, and He did a good thing in saving our souls. Through word and deed, He teaches us well: it is always right to do good!
Do You Have Ears That Hear?
Mark 4:1–20 Daniel L. Akin
Mark 4 teaches us there is a spiritual connection between the heart and the ear. Four times in this text Jesus makes this connection clear. What is Jesus' point in emphasizing our need to hear?
We Must Sow the Seed of the Gospel That People Might Hear the Word (Mark 4:1–9)
The text says "He taught them many things by parables" (v. 2). Just as Jesus opens the parable with an admonition to pay attention, so He closes it with one: "Anyone who has ears to hear should listen!" (v. 9 HCSB).
If We Do Not Listen to the Word, We Will Not Benefit from the Gospel (Mark 4:10–12)
The Word of the gospel hardens the resistant and the rebellious while it is enthusiastically received by the receptive. Those outside are not denied the possibility of belief, but if they persist in their unbelief they will not receive more evidence or revelation.
The Fruitfulness of the Seed of the Gospel Depends upon the Receptivity of the Hearer (Mark 4:13–20)
Jesus' words note the essential and foundational nature of the parable of the soils. If they do not understand this one, they will struggle to understand the others.
1. The Soil of Some Hearts Is Hard (Mark 4:14–15 [cf. 4:4]) The sower in this story is Jesus, or anyone who shares the gospel. The seed is the Word of God. The path represents the hard-hearted individual. For whatever reason, these are hardened to the gospel. The book closes and the service ends, and so do their ears and hearts.
2. The Soil of Some Hearts Is Shallow (Mark 4:16–17 [cf. 4:5–6]) The next soil is welcoming but not substantive enough to maintain the growth of the seed. The people to whom Jesus is referring with this soil are those who hear the Word and immediately receive it with joy. However, these people are shallow and have no roots. They are here today and gone tomorrow.
3. The Soil of Some Hearts Is Distracted (Mark 4:18–19 [cf. 4:7]) This group of people undoubtedly hears and receives the Word better than the first two soils. However, they eventually get distracted by worry, wealth, and lust for other things. This life is more important to them than the life to come. Stuff is more important to them than the Savior.
4. The Soil of Some Hearts Is Fruitful (Mark 4:20 [cf. 4:8]) The final soil is noticeably different than the first three. It represents those who hear the Word, accept it, and bear fruit. Their hearing is active, not passive. They aggressively pursue the Word, allow it to take root, and rejoice in its abundant growth.
Christianity is a religion of the Word and therefore of the ear. Hearing God's Word is a dangerous thing. What you do with it is critical to your soul. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.
Jesus Is the Great Physician
Mark 5:21–43 Daniel L. Akin
This text has a "sandwich structure"—two stories wrapped in one big story. It makes comparisons and draws contrasts that are deeply personal to hurting people.
Jesus Hears the Cries of the Distressed (Mark 5:21–24)
Jesus cares for those in trouble. He is the omnipotent God. Disease and death surrender completely and immediately to His sovereign authority.
1. We Can Come to Jesus with Our Request (Mark 5:21–23) Jairus is a man of distinction with great humility. He comes to the only one he believes can save his little girl.
2. We Must Come to Jesus in Faith (Mark 5:23–24) Jairus's request was straightforward, delivered in dependency and urgency.
Jesus Responds to the Pain of the Diseased (Mark 5:24–34)
Jesus is not too busy to stop and help someone else who is hurting, especially one who is determined, humble, and hopeful in Him.
1. We Can Approach Jesus in Our Suffering (Mark 5:24–27) A woman sick for twelve years believes if she could just touch Him or His clothing she could be healed. Her theology may be weak, but her faith is strong.
2. We Must Approach Jesus in Faith (Mark 5:28–34) Though hundreds throng about, only one connects with Jesus in faith. She experiences physical and spiritual salvation.
Jesus Has Authority over the Power of Death (Mark 5:35–43)
Consider Jairus and the woman: (1) each knows only Jesus could help him or her, (2) each knows he or she is unworthy, (3) each falls down, and (4) each believes Jesus can heal.
1. We Can Believe in Jesus in Spite of the Circumstances (Mark 5:35–36)
Jairus's daughter is dead. Jesus responds as if to say, "Despite all appearances I am neither distracted nor disinterested in your need. Believe and watch what I do."
2. We Can Believe in Jesus Regardless of the Skeptics (Mark 5:37–40)
Hard-core realists and skeptics will always be with us. Have faith in the omnipotent sovereign Lord Jesus whose absolute authority and power knows no rival.
3. We Can Believe in Jesus because He Can Be Trusted (Mark 5:41–43)
Gender, namelessness, uncleanness, and impossible condition did not stop the girl from experiencing the healing touch of Jesus. We can believe no matter what.
What does this text teach about God? God honors the faith of all who come to Him through Jesus, regardless of social status, gender, or other distinction.
What does this text teach about sinful humanity? Our world is filled with pain and sorrow, and desperately needs the touch and grace of God mediated through Jesus.
What does this text teach about Jesus Christ? Jesus cares and willingly loses/gives up power for those who have none.
What does God want us to know? God honors imperfect faith from a sincere heart when the object of faith is Jesus.
What does God want us to do? God wants us to come with any request regardless of circumstances, because He can be trusted.
What Do You Get for Faithful Service to God?
Mark 6:14–29 Daniel L. Akin
What are the blessings for a life of devotion to King Jesus? We see an example in John the Baptist of one who lived such a life. We also see in his life that a servant is not greater than his master. If they treated Jesus with cruelty, they will do the same to His followers.
Expect That Some Will Fear You (Mark 6:14–16)
When doing the work of God, we can anticipate a variety of responses from those around us. Some may rejoice (Matt. 5:16). Others may oppose and reject us (Mark 6:11). Still others may actually fear us, not liking what we say or do, but being unable to deny God's work. How do we respond when others fear and resent us?
1. Let Your Good Works Honor You (Mark 6:14–15)
2. Let Your Good Works Haunt Them (Mark 6:16)
Expect That Some Will Try to Stop You (Mark 6:17–20)
Herodias would stop at nothing to get her way, even if it meant prostituting her daughter and taking the life of the man of God. In the midst of all the wickedness of the Herod family, we see a man consumed with a guilty conscience that will continue to haunt him for not doing the right thing.
1. Guilt Will Drive Some to Oppose You (Mark 6:17–18, 20)
2. Hatred Will Drive Others to Oppose You (Mark 6:19)
Expect That Some Will Attempt to Destroy You (Mark 6:21–29)
John had condemned Herodias as a treacherous and adulterous woman, and she will now have her revenge, showing what followers of Jesus may have to endure this side of eternity.
1. Accept That the Ungodly Will Use Ungodly Means to Get You (Mark 6:21–23)
2. Accept That the Ungodly May Get Your Head on a Platter (Mark 6:24–29)
Isn't it amazing that Jesus had declared John the Baptist to be the last and greatest prophet? And yet, John died in his early thirties, never performed a single miracle, and had a public ministry that lasted only about a year. Bad things do happen to good people. Life is oft en unfair. The righteous do suffer. And yes, sometimes good things happen to bad people. But never forget, God sees. He knows!
Death cannot silence a life. Murdering someone will not put an end to their witness and testimony. Remember the saying, "Being dead, yet he still speaks." Throughout history the message of the martyrs continues to ring loud and clear, none more so than John the Baptist. Herod and Herodias may have received his head on a platter, but our Lord received his soul into heaven for all eternity. John lost his head, but Herod and Herodias lost their souls. In the end, there is no question who won and who lost!
Excerpted from Nelson's Annual Preacher's Sourcebook Volume 3 by O. S. Hawkins. Copyright © 2013 Thomas Nelson. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
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