Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Sermon That Jesus Preached - Mark 1:14-15

"And after John had been taken into custody,
Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God,
and saying, 'The time is fulfilled
and the kingdom of God is at hand;
repent and believe in the gospel."
(Mark 1:14-15)

I've sat under quite a few sermons in my time. Some good. Some not so good. Many of those sermons have referenced the gospel. Sadly, few have explained it. 

Here in Mark 1, we have a cliff-note version of a sermon that Jesus once preached. It is said in the text that He came preaching the gospel of God, and in a mere 18 words we see that the heart of the gospel is covered. Well,should we expect anything less from the Son of God?!

The passage tells us that Jesus has come to Galilee and He's come on a mission. In Him, the "time" prophesied from Genesis 3:15 forward was being fulfilled. Jesus, the promised Messiah, has come. 

He is the One whom Isaiah said would bear our griefs, sorrows and sins. He is the sacrificial Lamb who would be "pierced for our transgressions and crushed for our iniquities." His mission was to come and ransom sinners from the prison of their sin. He came to die and He came to rise again from the dead, exactly as the prophets of old had foretold. His resurrection would usher in a kingdom where the sting of death would be eradicated and where the Satanic serpent's head would be completely crushed, just as Moses foretold (Gen 3:15). Jesus came to make paupers princes and sinners sons! Truly, in Jesus "the time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand."

Jesus came on a mission and He also came with a message. He came bearing the good news of a gracious God. He came telling sinners to "repent and believe in the gospel." Repentance and faith are His message and in these two words an eternity of truth is communicated. Here is the heart of a true gospel sermon and here are two vital elements that must be communicated in faithful evangelistic preaching.

Repentance points to the fact that we are sinners, justly guilty before a holy God. It conveys our need to recognize our sad sinful state and to turn from it. Faith points to the fact that our salvation from this sin must lie not within us, but without. It directs our gaze to Jesus who is utterly outside of us. He is the One we must turn to as we turn from our sin. The gospel is not a matter of pulling ourselves up by the bootstraps and suddenly walking in a circumspect fashion. No, it is a matter of recognizing that our boots are broken and that our straps are crap! They are both completely useless in the salvation of our souls! Our own efforts will lead us nowhere but to a bigger mess!

Repentance is seeing and fleeing our sin. 
Faith is believing in the message of Christ's mission and acknowledging that He alone can redeem us from our fallen fetters.

Repentance is turning. 
Faith is trusting! It is trusting totally in the work of Jesus to save us from our sins. It is an acknowledgment that our own works - even the best of them - will do nothing but damn us deeper.

"Repent and believe in the gospel." This is the message of the Man on the mission! It is the sermon that Jesus preached. These two theological truths go hand in hand and cannot be separated from one another nor from the true gospel any more than heat and light can be separated from a real fire! They are the two sides of the one coin.

Matthew Henry in summing up this sermon writes:
"By repentance we must lament and forsake our sins, and by faith we must receive the forgiveness of them as it is offered to us in Christ. Both of these go together. We must not think either that reforming our lives will save us without trusting in the righteousness and grace of Christ, or that trusting in Christ will save us without the reformation of our hearts and lives. Christ Jesus has joined these two together -let no man think to put them asunder."
Jesus came on a mission and He came with a message. He came as the fulfillment of the promise of a Savior for sinners. He came to establish a kingdom that would have no end. He came preaching that we must repent and believe in the good news of this great gospel. 

Beloved, are we resting in what He has done and trusting in what He has said? 
How are we responding to the sermon of the Savior?

By grace alone,

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