This sermon can be watched or listened to at www.templebaptistchurch.ca!
There are some regrets you’ll never have. Today I want to talk to about the greatest regret you will never have… saving children from evil. So my question is: what would you do to save your child? Imagine your child was sick or in trouble or if you don’t have children but there is a child in your life that you love: Would you go to your accountant and ask whether it fits in the budget to help them? Would you take out your calendar and try to schedule them in? Would you abandon your child? Sadly, there are some parents who would do these things. Maybe one of your parents did think you were too costly in time or resources? Maybe they abandoned you? But I am guessing you have determined to act differently toward your child. You would do almost anything to save him or her. My own mom did that for me. It took 8.5 years to get me as my parents struggled to have children. Towards the end of her pregnancy with me my mother developed preeclampsia. She had to spend time in the hospital even being confined there during her birthday to get the rest she needed to give birth to me. Sorry about the trouble I caused you mom. On behalf of all children everywhere, sorry about the trouble we caused you moms at times.
I know of another mother whose child was in trouble. Her daughter was deeply troubled. However, taking her to the doctor or psychiatrist didn’t help. Counselling didn’t work. Sending her to her favourite aunt wasn’t the fix. Her daughter was broken and living in torment. I know many of you would do almost anything to save your child, but what do you do when you have given all that you have, put them in the right school, paid for the extras, been there for them, but they still seem to be enslaved by something that is destroying them? You have tried everything. Kept them from bad influences. Put stricter rules on them. Tried to fill their life with better distractions like sports or music lessons. However, there is an undercurrent, like a riptide, that seems to be taking them further away from you and all that is good. Parents, do you know what I am talking about?
This is what it must have felt like for the mother who heard Jesus was in town. Some think that Jesus was there on mini-vacation. He had finished one of those prophetic messages showing that evil comes from within or as I put it last week, “sin is cancerous before it is contagious.” People thought that being clean was about hanging around with the right people and staying in the right places. Jesus taught that sin begins in the heart. He actually left the “clean” place to go to the “unclean” place to prove it. Jesus left Israel and went to the region of Tyre. Tyre was up north where the Gentiles lived. Jesus went up there to practice what He preached. Mark 7:24 describes Jesus entering a house secretively. I think of one of those celebrities who have to rush into buildings before the paparazzo sees them. Jesus was “incognito, but Jesus’ presence can never remain secret for long.” The woman realized Jesus was in town and she had come to her wit’s end so she turned to Jesus. Why Jesus? Well, what do you do when you have something broken that you can’t fix? You return it to the manufacturer. Who is the manufacturer of our children? Psalm 127:3 declares, “Children are a gift from the Lord.” This woman recognized that the designer of her daughter was in town. You take what’s broken to its Creator! Let’s read about what this mother did to save her daughter in Mark 7:24-37. Read Mark 7:24-30!
How did the mother know it was an evil spirit? She was discerning. Mothers know when something is wrong with their child! Also, “Many people in Jesus’ day would see an exorcist rather than a doctor. However, exorcists in the first century could make money as a sort of travelling carnival show. The traveling exorcists preyed on people who were hurting and in need.” Remember as we learned from the very beginning in Mark, Jesus was different. He cast out demons and wasn’t trying to make a profit. Mark 1:27, one of our memory verses, describes after healing the demonized man in the synagogue, “They were all amazed, so that they debated among themselves saying, “What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey Him.” We know that Jesus’ fame spread to the region of Tyre (Mark 3:8). So maybe this woman had gone to the false exorcists and now she was bringing her daughter to the only One who could truly free her – Jesus. What would you do to save your child? As Timothy Keller reminds us, “You don’t think twice, you do what it takes as a parent. You see, there are cowards, there are regular people, there are heroes, and then there are parents. Parents are not really on the spectrum from cowardice to courage, because if your child is in jeopardy, you simply do what it takes to save her.”
Nowadays, if we see somebody acting weird or depressed we immediately turn to medicine. I am certainly not denying that our minds can get sick just like our bodies can. However, there are some things science can’t explain as Neil Anderson points out, “How can a chemical produce a personal thought? And “How can our neurotransmitters involuntarily and randomly fire in ways that create thoughts we are opposed to thinking?” Atheists and agnostics need to wrestle with these questions. And for the Christian, I don’t think all evil thoughts are caused by sin welling up from our sinful nature. Why do you get a wicked thought that comes out of nowhere? It is like an outside force planted the thoughts there! Maybe they did? Satan doesn’t know all that you think and feel. Only God does! But your skin does not stop Satan and his minions. He can plant evil thoughts in your mind and feelings in your heart to tempt you.
We don’t know all the symptoms of the little girl but we do know that she was demonized. We also don’t know how she became demonized. Did she give the devil a foothold in her life? (Ephesians 4:27) Was she wounded and the devil exploited her wound? There is no mention of the girl’s father. Where is he? Did he die and this caused the evil spirit to gain some ground in the little girl’s life? Note: there is no mention of the little girl sinning or having a lack of faith. I have observed in my life and in others that early childhood wounds are what John Bevere calls, “the bait of Satan – offenses or wounds are a tool of the devil to bring people into captivity.” Satan loves to prey on the weakest member of the family. Who does Satan go after first in your family? The most innocent! Remember, Eve was deceived first (1 Timothy 2:14). I have witnessed how the kingdom of darkness in an effort to get to me has attacked my children. I have started to become wise to the devil’s schemes and know that when I am seeing God make spiritual progress in my life or in our church, the devil will attack my kids. They will act out! I’m not making excuses for PKs (Pastor’s Kids). I don’t let my children off with their bad behaviour because they are still responsible, but I have more compassion on them. I also realize that I can pray for them and bring them to Jesus, just like this mother did. Remember, “we as parents have spiritual authority over our children.” Our first step in saving our children is to bring them to Jesus!
I witnessed this first hand one year ago this Tuesday, May 14. I have permission to tell this story. A woman came to me with a desperate situation. Her young adult daughter was into substance abuse, had been involved in occultic activity, and had been in trouble with the law. She was cutting herself, had spent time in the psychiatric hospital and had even tried to commit suicide. She was experiencing what has become all too common, “For troubled minds have become the great plague of our day.” When I met with this mother and her troubled daughter in my office, I asked them if Jesus was their king? The mother wasn’t sure, even though she had some church background. As I was talking with them the daughter felt the urge to leave and suddenly got up and ran out of my office. She got half way back to her house when strangely enough she was swarmed by flies. She knew, as her mother knew, that if something didn’t change, she would soon give in to the temptation to murder herself. She came back and we prayed for a couple of hours through all that she needed to repent of and by the end she surrendered her life to Jesus as her king and the devil was evicted from her life as well as her mom and her sister who just happened to show up as well. One household saved in one night! A few weeks later all three were baptized. Soon afterwards, the sister’s boyfriend was saved as well. This family has been radically changed and following hard after their King. Will you bring your children and grandchildren and all your descendants to Jesus? Will you commit to praying for the salvation of the generations to come? Both the women in my office and the woman in the story fell at the feet of Jesus (Mark 7:25).
But some of you might be saying, I have done that and Jesus seems to be putting me off. This story is also instructive for you. Mark 7:26 says that the woman “kept asking Him to cast the demon out of her daughter.” This is a present progressive tense and implies that we must keep bringing our children to Jesus through prayer. Matthew’s account describes that the woman was so persistent that it was annoying the disciples and they once again wanted to send a seeker of Jesus away from Him (Matthew 15:23). You know those people who only pray for “one request.” They don’t want anything else but God to act in a certain way. You might find them annoying when they keep asking for their loved one to be healed but if it were you who were sick, wouldn’t you want somebody to intercede for you? That is what mothers do when they are desperate! If you have prayed about your family or any desperate situation you are facing, don’t give up. Don’t stop until God says to stop asking! (c.f. 2 Corinthians 12:9) Jesus might be delaying the answer you want for something greater that He wants. If you will persist and submit to what He wants, you will gain something better. As Warren Wiersbe explains, “Great faith is faith that takes God at His Word and will not let go until God meets the need. Great faith can lay hold of even the slightest encouragement and turn it into a full promise.” Persistence in claiming God’s promises will build your trust in Him and teach others to do likewise. How do you know that the delay from God is not to discipline and teach others?
That might not seem fair for you to have to be delayed and suffer, but the Lord has the best plan for you. The great 4th Century preacher John Chrysostom proclaimed, “By the constancy of her entreaty, she elicited the Lord’s compassion.” The Lord will still give you the most compassionate answer. I promise you that today!
But you might ask me, “Jon, what about how Jesus seemed to discriminate against this Gentile woman?” Jesus told the woman, “Let the children be satisfied first, for it is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to dogs.” (Mark 7:27) Imagine hearing that from Jesus. Wouldn’t you want to say, “Jesus, you talk about children being satisfied first, what about my child being satisfied?” Not this woman! She recognized she had no place at the table and she was not too proud to accept her unworthiness. She caught what Jesus was saying and more importantly who He was. As William Lane explains, “The table has been set and the family has gathered. Remember, Jesus is at the home of another where He is the guest. It would be inappropriate to interrupt the meal and allow the household dogs to carry off the children’s bread.” Jesus was following His own instructions that He gave His disciples in Matthew 10:5-6, 11, “Do not go in the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter any city of the Samaritans, but rather go to the lost sheep of Israel…and whatever city or village you enter, inquire who is worthy in it, and stay at his house until you leave that city.” Jesus was not calling her a dog, even a pet one, Jesus was ministering to the family He was staying with. This why Jesus uses the word “first” in the hyperbaton position for emphasis in the original Greek. As Robert Gundry points out, “’First’, implies that the woman may receive the salvific benefits of the Kingdom at a later date.” Jesus is never in a hurry! He doesn’t have to rush away from one family to care for another. You never see Him do so in the Gospels. He will take care of each family in His own time. This is helpful for those who think Jesus is too busy for you and needs to take care of bigger problems.
But notice the woman humbly responds to Jesus. “Yes, Lord, but even the dogs under the table feed on the children’s crumbs.” She essentially says, “You still feed your pet dog.” Remember there was no Purina brand dog food in those days; the dogs were allowed to eat the table scraps while the dinner took place. In this case, the dogs (think of the puppies or your pet dog) still needed to be fed. And she was kindly and respectfully replying to His parable, “It wouldn’t be too much trouble Lord or disrupt what you are doing with this family to help my family.” It wasn’t the cleverness that saved her daughter but her faith and understanding of who Jesus was. In fact, “her witty reply to Jesus indicates a degree of understanding, which puts the disciples to shame.” The disciples had failed to have ears to hear (Mark 7:16, 18). Jesus spoke in a parable to not offend His host but also instruct the spiritually discerning. Remember what I taught you about parables when we studied Mark 4, “Parables instructed real disciples, without harming the careless and without giving openings to hostile criticisms.” Jesus’ delay and her response taught the disciples that He could care for and save all peoples at once. Jesus didn’t even have to leave the table to evict the demon plaguing the mother’s daughter (Mark 7:29-30). As Lane reminds, “The authority invested in Jesus knows no regional frontiers.” Distance is no problem for Jesus to save a person for “the arm of the Lord is not too short to save.” (Isaiah 59:1)
I believe this is the point of the whole story. You see, I asked you at the beginning what you would do to save your child? Your answer is most likely ANYTHING! And this is exactly the heart of Jesus towards you and everyone else in this world. Jesus was willing to prove that unclean isn’t a person or place by going to the region of Tyre to save a Gentile woman. Jesus was willing to leave heaven and come and save you. He was willing to die for you and He did so that you could eat with Him at His table. Because of Christ’s sacrifice, we are welcome to sit at His table as His family. His grace ensures that we will never have to beg for scraps or leftovers. The Lord’s Supper reminds us of this truth. With its small portions, you are reminded of how you, like this woman, were once a beggar but now you have been fully freed from the torment of the Evil One and are welcome at the King’s Table. If you believe in Him, come and eat today.
 David Garland, The NIV Application Commentary on Mark (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996), 287.
 Jerry Johnston, Christians and Demons (Burlington: Crossroads, 2013), 21.
 Timothy Keller, King’s Cross (New York: Dutton 2011), 86.
 Neil Anderson, Spiritual Protection for Our Children (Ventura: Regal Books, 1996), 19.
 John Bevere, The Bait of Satan (Lake Mary: Charisma House, 2004), 7.
 Neil Anderson, Spiritual Protection for Our Children (Ventura: Regal Books, 1996), 61.
 Johnston, 58.
 Warren Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary – Volume 1 (Wheaton: Victor Books, 1989), 136.
 Thomas Oden, ed. Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1998), 101.
 William Lane, Commentary on the Gospel of Mark (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1974), 262.
 This interpretation is different from the commentators I studied and I haven’t heard this interpretation before. Some would question it as Matthew’s account records Jesus replying, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of house of Israel” (Matthew 15:24), thus implying that Jesus was prioritizing Jews over Gentiles. However, Jesus is specifically replying to the disciples who wanted to send her away and not the woman’s request. He remained silent to her request (Matt. 15:23). The woman demonstrated that she was part of “the house of Israel” by faith as we discover from the Apostle Paul in Galatians 3:27-29.
 Robert Gundry, Mark – A Commentary on His Apology for the Cross (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1993), 373.
 R.T. France, The Gospel of Mark – NIGTC (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2002), 298.
 Lane, 259.
 Alfred Plummer, The Gospel According to St. Mark (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1915), 43.
 Lane, 263.
This sermon can be listen to or watched at www.templebaptistchurch.ca!
Finish the sentence: “The Family that eats together, stays together.” However, the Family Meal has been replaced by the Happy Meal and the drive-thru! Somebody suggested to Lori and I a long time ago that we need to daily have a family dinner without the TV on in order to connect with each other. It seemed great advice at the time especially since we both grew up eating together with our families, but it can be stressful. Lori has to plan meals, get groceries, cook for about hour in the midst of the chaos of kids coming home and listening to the kid’s stories from school, encouraging them to do their homework, signing papers, overseeing chores, breaking-up a fight or two and healing bruises. At our house, certain kids are assigned the task of setting the table. Then when we actually sit down after repeated calls to come for dinner, and often one kid doesn’t like what was prepared for them. Some have trouble staying at the table. There is talking over one another and teasing the person next to them. And in a few minutes, the food is devoured and some nights we read a Bible story. Afterwards, there is the call to clear off the table that seems to have to be reiterated each night. Finally, the dishes need to be washed! Total time of eating 15 minutes; total time of family meal prep and cleanup 2 ½ hours. Does it sound like the Family Meal is worth it? According to TIME Magazine, “Kids who eat most often with their parents are 40% more likely to say they get mainly A’s and B’s in school than kids who have two or fewer family dinners a week.” But are you really going to go to all the trouble to eat together so that your kids or grandkids can get better grades in school. No! Is the Family Meal worth it? It seemed like it was worth it to Jesus. Let’s read about Jesus’ Family Meal in Mark 14:12-31 and why when Jesus calls us to His Table, we shouldn’t delay. There is something powerful that Jesus wants to do and to say to you at His Family Meal. Read Mark 14:12-31!
Why did I say that the Family Meal was worth it to Jesus? Jesus actually took the time to prepare for it and partake in this Family Meal on the night before His death. Notice how the disciples come to Jesus and ask Him, “Where do You want us to go and prepare for You to eat the Passover?” (v. 12) But Jesus responds that they were to leave Bethany and “go into the city of Jerusalem and find a man carrying a pitcher of water; follow him; and whenever he enters, say to the owner of the house, ‘The Teacher says, “Where is My guest room in which I may eat the Passover with My disciples?’ And he himself will show you a large upper room furnished and ready; prepare for us there.” This would have sounded peculiar to Jesus’ disciples’ ears for a number of reasons. To find a man carrying a pitcher of water would have been odd for that was “what women would do in those days.” And then the disciples would have been surprised to find out that Jesus had long ago called ahead and booked a place to have the Passover. He didn’t even need hotwire.com, or expedia.ca! You need to know that Jerusalem would have been filled to capacity during this Festival. Jesus always plans ahead. Jesus is always prepared before we are! Jesus is doing things behind the scenes that you are not even aware of! Are you stressed out about the future? Jesus isn’t! He has everything under control. The disciples found this out. All that Jesus predicted was to come true, which points to what Jesus had been predicting would happen after the meal. Recall last week how the woman anointed Jesus with expensive perfume in preparation for His burial. One of the reminders for you and me today is that if Jesus has proven to take care of things in your past, He will today and tomorrow as well. Jesus plans ahead because He knows the future. Will you trust Him?
What we read next in the story is both debilitating and liberating at the same time. Jesus essentially invites the disciples to give them some bad news. Have you ever been called to dinner and been given some bad news? Maybe it was an intervention? The family was trying to bring a problem to your attention that they all saw in your life and you couldn’t see. I remember hearing about a family who noticed their father was seemingly gaining weight but yet was eating less. They saw him steadily decline in health and so the family courageously gathered together and told their father that he must go to the doctor. The father hadn’t been to the doctor for 15 years so when the doctor saw him, the doctor said, “Hey, you’re great patient. I haven’t seen you for 15 years.” The doctor did an exam and found out he had a hernia which was causing a lot of his health problems. When the doctor did the surgery a few days later, he said that the hernia was the largest he ever seen in his entire medical career. Sometimes you need people to show you what is wrong with you when you have a blind spot. Is the pain of staying the same finally so great that you are willing to go through the pain of change?
Maybe what is ailing you is not just physical, but spiritual? Maybe you have done something wrong and you have been hurting others as well? We never sin in a vacuum. Our actions affect others around us. This is what Jesus is doing when He pulls His disciples together and confronts them. He lovingly tells them the truth and says in verse 18, “Truly I say to you that one of you will betray Me – one who is eating with Me.” Jesus identifies what the nature of sin is – betrayal of Him. It is taking the close fellowship that He is extending to us and choosing to reject Him for the sake of another. This should grieve us. I was grieved as I studied this passage at how I have broken fellowship with Jesus so many times and chosen to follow religious leaders instead. The disciples were all grieved too (v. 19). However, are we grieved at the thought of betraying Jesus or are we grieved at His death? The choice is whether we focus on ourselves or Jesus! This will determine which direction your life is going to take. It is like the difference when playing pick-up basketball without a referee between getting called for a foul by your opponent or calling your own fouls. 2 Corinthians 7:10 puts it this way, “For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death.” If I were to tell you right now that you are a sinner. You could either say, “No, I am not. I’m not perfect but I’m not that bad” or you could say, “Yes, you nailed it right on the head. I am a wicked sinner.” I have found in my life that when I own my sin and don’t try to defend myself, but confess (literally “agree with”) what Jesus says about me, I find hope.
The disciples we find out from another Gospel account went from grief to comparison to competition. Luke describes that right after Jesus’ prediction of His betrayal, “a dispute broke out at the dinner table as to which one of them was regarded to be greatest.” (Luke 22:24) I have heard such bickering at my own table with my kids. Why did the disciples do this? Because their grief was self-focused and when we are self-focused we look at our own shortcomings and we feel guilty. So we jump to compare ourselves to others, and validate ourselves in light of others’ failures. We think, “Yeah, I did this but look at Ross over there. Turn the spotlight on him.” Fan that into flames and you have one hot competition over who is the greatest. We are soon thinking that we are invincible. We could never imagine falling. Before we are too quick to say that we would never betray Jesus or promise that we would never deny Him, we need to remember that Peter, Judas and all the disciples made such promises. (v. 19, 31) The only promises that came true in this passage were from the lips of Jesus. Making such promises will lead to our failure. This is why your salvation is not based on you promising to follow Jesus. It is believing in Him and His promises. Jesus never asks us to promise Him anything but instead believe in His precious promises. Jesus lovingly calls us to reposition our grief on Him and embrace His promises. Three times He uses the word “Me” in verses 18-19.
Do you see why this story is at first debilitating? I don’t like bad news. Who does? But you’ve got to know what is wrong before you can get better. “Benjamin Franklin is quoted as saying, ‘Those things that hurt, instruct.’ It is for this reason that wise people learn not to dread but actually to welcome problems and actually to welcome the pain of problems.” I love how Frederick Beuchner puts it; “The gospel is bad news before it is good news.” You see we are undone by the gospel before we are helped by it.
Let’s look at how our Lord treated His disicples. Jesus despite knowing that He would be betrayed, He prepares a supper for His disciples, He washes their stinky feet probably covered with manure (John 13:5-19), He eats with them and even sings a song with them. As Warren Wiersbe remarks, “Imagine our Lord singing when the Cross was only a few hours away.” I am amazed at Jesus. Most of us won’t eat with people who we have an issue with. We also don’t feel like worshipping with them, but not Jesus. Jesus despite knowing His disciples would betray, deny or fall away from Him at the biggest crisis of His life still puts on a meal for them to tell them the truth. This is no small feat! Wiersbe teaches us, “In the East, to break bread with someone means to enter into a pact of friendship and mutual trust. It would be an act of the basest treachery to break bread and then betray your host.” As the Psalmist declares in Psalm 41:9, “Even my close friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted up his heel against me.” And yet this is how Jesus decided to love His disciples, His brothers. THIS IS HOW JESUS DECIDED TO LOVE YOU AND ME! HE KNEW FULL WELL THAT YOU WOULD BETRAY HIM AT TIMES, DENY HIM AT OTHER TIMES AND FLEE FROM HIM STILL OTHER TIMES AND YET HE STILL SPREADS THIS MEAL BEFORE YOU AND MORE IMPORTANTLY HE SECURED OUR SALVATION AT THE CROSS!
This is why at the dinner table; Jesus makes a covenant. We could say a last will and testament. Jesus is gathering the family and doling out their inheritance even if they choose to be a prodigal and squander it. He took the bread and remarkably gave thanks for God’s provision and then He passed on to them and said, “Take eat, this is My body.” (v. 23) Jesus was saying that He would be their provision and satisfaction. All that they need! God had told His people in Hosea 12:1 that they “feed on the wind; they chase after the east wind all day long.” (NLT) Can you picture that? How much of your life and mine has been feeding on things that are here today and gone tomorrow. But Jesus, at Passover, was giving His followers an old dish prepared in a new way. The disciples knew that the bread was to be unleavened as a reminder of how God was going to send His people on a new journey escaping their former slavery. The bread was to be free from yeast that corrupted the bread. Now the disciples were going on a new mission because “bread had become the symbol of Jesus’ mission as the Bread of Life. (John 6:41)” Remember, how Jesus fed the 5000 and 4000! Why bread? When you break bread with someone it is one of the most relational things you can do in life. You are literally sharing what you have. We just went to our favourite bakery yesterday to buy sweet rolls. We wanted to share our favourite bread with Lori’s parents who came up here all the way from Kansas. Jesus wanted to share the best with His disciples and so He purposely gave the disciples bread because He wanted to let them have the ultimate bread.
However, Jesus did not go through every aspect of the traditional Passover meal. He left out one crucial part. Do you know what that was? The sacrifice and eating of a lamb as mentioned in verse 12! Why no lamb? “There was no need of a lamb when the true Lamb that takes away the sins of the world was present.” Tim Keller puts it this way, “Jesus was the main course.” To live you must eat. (Notice, I didn’t say that we are to live to eat as some believe.) When we take the bread or any food it goes into our body and becomes a part of us. There has been much confusion as to whether this piece of bread actually turns into Jesus or not. It is does not turn into Christ. The simple truth is that it symbolizes that Jesus is to come inside us and as Larry Smith teaches, “Christ is to live His divine life in and through us by the power of the Holy Spirit.” The bread symbolizes Christ now becoming a part of us.
In order for that to happen Jesus had to be broken. Jesus was committed to making the ultimate sacrifice. This is why the cup is a new covenant in His blood. The Old Passover in Egypt meant “when justice came down, either it fell on your family or you took shelter under the substitute, under the blood of the lamb.” It is like a spiritual blood transfusion; Jesus’ clean blood for our sin-tainted blood. Jesus was committed to changing us from the inside out and giving us life no matter the cost. “When He announces that He will not eat or drink until He meets us in the kingdom of God, Jesus is promising that he is unconditionally committed to us, ‘I am going to bring you into the Father’s arms. I am going to bring you to the Feast of My Father, the King. I am going to do this if it kills me.” And it did!
So this is what is so liberating! Sin came into the world by eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Taking a bite of this apple represents this rebellion. Sin has become a part of us. We humans sinned according to the flesh and it has continued throughout human history. Even after the Israelites left Egypt and got to the Promised Land, God recalled in Hosea 13:6, “But when you had eaten and were satisfied, then you became proud and forgot Me.” (NLT) We all become proud and forget Jesus. From Adam and Eve until now, we all forget Jesus and become alone. But Jesus amazingly saved us by giving us His flesh. He is coming to you today and inviting you to the Family Meal as a taste of the King’s Feast in Heaven. Food brought death to humans; through Jesus’ supper it is bringing life (John 6:51). This bread and cup represents redemption for us as Jesus through the Holy Spirit becomes a part of us and is now to be our life.
What you must not do is try to prepare your own sustenance by trying to fix your life! You can’t make promises but you must trust in His! You must listen to what He says about you even if it is bad news first and then Good News. Jesus is saying still today, “Come to Dinner all those who have left Me, denied Me and even betrayed Me.” No more fighting! Come and eat! Come and drink and have your full of Me!
 Robert H. Gundry, Mark – A Commentary on His Apology for the Cross (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans
 M. Scott Peck, The Road Less Travelled (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1978), 16.
 Frederick Beuchner, Telling the Truth: the Gospel as Tragedy, Comedy and Fairy Tale (San Francisco: HarperOne, 1977).
 Warren Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary – Vol. 1 (Wheaton: Victor Books, 1989), 161.
 Wiersbe, 160.
 David E. Garland, The NIV Application Commentary on Mark (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996), 527.
 Alfred Plummer, The Gospel According to St. Mark (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1915), 170.
 Timothy Keller, The King’s Cross (New York: Dutton, 2011), 167.
 Larry Smith, Christ our Life (Katy: Christ our Life Ministries, 2005), 50.
 Keller, 163.
 Keller, 167.
THIS SERMON CAN BE WATCHED OR LISTEN TO AT WWW.TEMPLEBAPTISTCHURCH.CA!
If somebody were going to ask you what your mission in life, what would you tell them? You have probably heard that many organizations and businesses try to align their constituents and employees around a mission statement. Here are a few of the more famous ones:
Facebook: Facebook’s mission is to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected.
Google: Google’s mission is to organize the world‘s information and make it universally accessible and useful.
Microsoft: Microsoft’s mission is to enable people and businesses throughout the world to realize their full potential.
Twitter: Twitter lists its mission as “a work in progress” as it has yet to be fully developed.
So what is your mission in life? Jesus had a mission when He came to earth and if we are His followers, then we are to adopt His mission. In fact, you don’t have to be stressed out about creating your own mission statements. Maybe you have gone through that process at work? It is a lot of work because everybody has their own ideas. To align around a common purpose requires leadership and submission. And this is the major question for you and I today: do you and I believe Jesus can be trusted to lead us and will we follow Him? Jesus’ mission is found in Luke 19:10, “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” Jesus is calling us! Do you hear Him? What is He telling us to do? Let’s find out in Mark 6:7-13, 30-32! Mark 6:7-13, 30-32Read !
Now recall from last week that we studied how Jesus was rejected by His hometown. One of the ways that you can get distracted and not listen to Jesus calling you is to have the voice of your family and friends drown out Jesus. Are you listening to those who don’t believe in Jesus more than Jesus Himself? Remember, Jesus didn’t give up after being rejected by his friends and family. He went on teaching in the villages. Will you keep going? Will you not give up when your family and friends reject you? Sometimes the most loving thing to do for your family is to leave them and keep living and proclaiming the truth. Of course, if you are married, you are not to leave your unbelieving spouse. Paul makes this clear in 1 Corinthians 7. However, Jesus left his extended family and eventually, after seeing Him suffer and die, they believed in Him. His brothers who didn’t believe in him (John 7:5), after His crucifixion and resurrection believed in Him and became His followers. James, his half-brother, describes himself in James 1:1, “James, a bond-servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ.” James calls himself a slave of the Lord Jesus. Not many people call themselves slaves of their siblings in a positive sense. Instead, they usually complain, “My brother or sister treats me like a slave.” However, things can change radically in your family when they finally have an encounter with the resurrected Lord Jesus. They no longer see Jesus just as the rule-maker but as the Rescuer! But first, you need to go on mission with Jesus. You have to give yourself to people who are truly listening. I learned a long time ago from my first Senior Pastor, “Jon, make yourself available to everyone at first but give your time to those who are responsive to your ministry.” Jesus did that! Jesus gave His time to those who were listening! Greg Ogden in his book Discipleship Essentials reminds us, “By focusing on a few Jesus was able to ensure the lasting nature of His mission.” So are you listening? Jesus is calling!
What is Jesus calling you to do? He is not looking for volunteers! Anytime people volunteered to follow Jesus, He refused to take them as we saw with the formerly demonized man in Mark 5:19-20. Volunteers quickly unvolunteer when life gets rough. Jesus is calling. Jesus is calling you to live out the Gospel; to seek and to save that which was lost. Let me summarize it this way: Jesus is calling us to be on mission with Him to reverse the curse! The curse is found back in Genesis 3 when Adam and Eve rebelled against God. They ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and now they know not only God who is good but have experienced evil. Here are some of the consequences of that sinful choice; here is what was lost:
1) Broken relationships – Not fully being intimate but holding back or hiding from each other and God. (Gen. 3:10)
2) Broken families – The relationship between husband and wife and parents and children have forever been altered. There is now a striving for control, blame-shifting, pain and jealousy. (Gen. 3:13, 16; 4:3-16)
3) Striving to provide – We struggle and work to make ends meet. (Gen. 3:17)
4) Enmity with the “serpent” (the Evil One) – Satan has from the beginning tried to deceive us. He is our mortal enemy. (Gen. 3:14-15)
5) Sickness and death – We now wage war against our bodies. They fail us and we spend time and money trying to hang on to something that is eventually going to fade away. (Gen. 3:19)
But notice what Jesus does when He sends out the twelve disciples. They are reversing the curse:
1) Broken relationships now are literally “re-paired” – Jesus sends His disciples out in pairs. (Mark 6:7) This is the paradigm that ministry should follow. We don’t do ministry alone. We need partnerships. Ministry couples are one good example but if you are single and sense Jesus is calling you into vocational ministry ask for God to bring a godly friend of the same gender who can go with you. Warren Wiersbe remarks about the disciples going out in pairs, “They would not only help each other; they would also learn from each other.” This mutual learning and help would also be buoyed by accountability. They would have each other’s back and correct one another. They would also comfort each other when rejected. The result would be maturity and fruit. Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, 12 hinted at these pairings long ago, “Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there not another to lift him up. And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him.” I can just see these disciples reminding each other of the truths Jesus taught them. Now, we don’t know who was paired with whom. I personally think Jesus put Matthew the Tax Collector with Simon the Zealot. Why? First, it would get people’s attention that sworn enemies were now on common mission. Second, it would cause them to work out their differences. I know a father whose daughters were constantly fighting and forced them to share a bedroom. At first it was a little contentious but they seemed to have worked out their differences. Jesus is calling you out on mission to reverse the curse by re-pairing your relationships. Who do you need to repair a relationship with? Who do you need to go out on Jesus’ mission with?
2) Broken families are restored (Mark 6:6) – I already mentioned how Jesus Himself demonstrated a restoration in His own earthly family by leaving and actually proving His love for them through his teaching and sacrifice. Jesus wants to heal your broken family. What is Jesus calling you to be faithful in as a witness to your family? Care for the poor? Prayer? Integrity at work or school? Going to the most desperate places on earth? Your family might think you are crazy but your actions speak louder than you think. It could also be entrusting God to save your family through somebody else. Remember, the disciples left their families for short periods of time to care for other families. Notice what Jesus commands the disciples to do in Mark 6:10, “Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave town.” When you live with somebody for a while they get to see the real you. This is why disciples are made by observing everything Jesus commanded. (Matthew 28:20) These families would observe the disciples living out the commands of Christ. Disciples are made in homes. They see the real you. Reproduction requires intimacy. The disciples stayed in these homes and would have a great gospel effect on the family living there. They stayed for the Gospel to take full effect. Are we staying long enough? Think about how the disciples might have had an eighty-year impact on eight days of living out the Gospel in front of a family. The children and or grandchildren would observe and hear these missionaries who came to stay them and for the rest of their lives be changed by the Gospel. My own father grew up in a Missionary Director’s home and he still remembers as a young boy the impression the visiting missionaries to his home-made on him. He wanted to be a missionary and serve the Lord. I hope that we at Temple will always be hospitable. This is why sharing our lives is so important. I also think it explains why we don’t see as much fruit of the Gospel in Canada. We don’t share our lives to the level that they did in the New Testament and in many places around the world today. Hotels have replaced homes for hospitality. We cocoon ourselves from others even though we, in Canada, have bigger homes than most of the people on the planet. As followers of Christ we are commanded to practice hospitality (Romans 12:9). Temple used to do this very well. At the old church on Dunbar Street, many of you lived close to the church, some even moving to Preston. The neighborhood was influenced for Christ. I am not asking you to live like a commune but I am asking that you open your homes more to each other and to others. Of course, you need to be wise about this but maybe it might mean having some neighbours over for supper. It could be starting a small group to discuss the sermon reflection questions posted on the website or in the foyer. Some of you meet socially already. Ask yourself, how can you observe Jesus commands together? Table for Eight, which starts back up in March might be a way to open up your home to others in our church. When missionaries come to visit, pray about giving them a place to stay. Such actions can restore families; maybe yours. It gets the focus off yourselves and onto others. I remember when we hosted the children from the African Children’s Choir how it impacted my own children for weeks. Jesus is reversing the curse through you; through restoring broken families.
3) Instead of striving to provide, Jesus is calling us to seek Christ for provision. Notice that the disciples were not to take anything with them – no bread, no bag, no money in their belt (Mark 6:8-9). Jesus was saying as Alfred Plummer summarizes, “Make no elaborate preparations as if you were going on a long journey on your own business; you are going on a short journey on My business.” Lenski remarks, “The orders which Jesus issues are to teach the apostles absolute dependence upon their Lord who sends them out.” I think Jesus wanted to go further than just showing absolute dependence upon the Lord. The disciples were not to proclaim a prosperity gospel but a poverty gospel. “Weakness and poverty are effective means of proclaiming that men should repent.”  Furthermore, embracing grace conveys that you are declaring that you have nothing and that you can’t earn God’s favour. The disciples by taking nothing with them were embodying the mission of grace. “They did not travel 1st class. They did not come like an invading army living off the land.” “They were to be profitable servants, not pampered guests. When on mission don’t get loaded down with extra baggage.” We need to travel light! We usually take too much. Now, I know our family always takes too much on family vacation. Our van is usually “packed to the gills!” Maybe this hording comes from the sin of our first parents. They hid because they were naked and tried to cover up with things. Jesus says don’t take 2 tunics; just one! And on the other hand, we are not to beg for provisions. I don’t like to be guilted into giving money. This is why I don’t want us at Temple to constantly be asking for money unlike other ministries out there. Yes, we should let you know of our needs. But we don’t need to beg for money. The disciples were prohibited by Jesus from taking a beggar’s bag, which is the word translated in the NASB as “money belt.” God would provide for them. In some ways, as Neil Cole says, the disciple was to live off the harvest. If they represented Jesus well, they should experience some fruit. This fruit would be tangible because their new fellow believers would take care of their needs. It was built-in accountability to live out the message of Jesus. “No one will take seriously messengers who claim to bring an urgent message of life and death when it becomes evident that their first concern is to secure their own ease.” Jesus sent them to reverse the curse with the gospel message of grace – all is provided for through Christ!
4) Enmity with the Evil One is overcome by eviction of the kingdom of darkness (Mark 6:13) – Jesus calls us to reverse the curse by evicting the parts of the kingdom of darkness. Not much is stated here in the passage but I believe this happens through proclaiming the gospel and through prayer. I don’t have time today to give you a full teaching on spiritual warfare and releasing prayers but I hope to some day. Just remember that we are on the offense. Put on the full armor of God as Ephesians 6:10-18 declares and humbly follow Jesus into battle.
5) Sickness and death is now reversed by salvation and eternal life. (Mark 6:13) As I have been teaching you, Jesus wants to do more than heal your body; He wants to heal your soul. Physical healing points to the greater spiritual healing. George McLaughlin’s ability to walk out of the hospital this week is so that he can go and seek the lost. Jesus is calling you to reverse the curse by not just praying for the sick but also ultimately praying for their salvation.
Now I hope that you understand that reversing the curse is a process. The Kingdom of God is increasing while the Kingdom of Darkness is also increasing. Things are getting better and they are getting worse at the same time. In the end times, there will be an ultimate collision and battle and Jesus will come out the victor. I say this because you will notice in the text that sometimes the disciples were not received by those they visited. Jesus instructed them to “wipe the dust of their feet as a testimony to them.” (Mark 6:11) In attempting to be obedient to Jesus this week and live out this sermon, I did this. For a few years I have been involved with the Skeptics Symposium on Facebook. I was invited to this group by some atheistic university students. I have noticed that their initial receptivity to a healthy exchange of ideas has turned into a caustic attack on Christianity, so I bowed out this week after seeking counsel from my two discipleship groups and my father. Here is the letter I wrote:
I am going to bow out of the group for the time being and thought I would give an explanation. When I was first invited to join the group, I thought that our discussion was a quest for the truth and a great exchange of ideas. I appreciated the stretching and challenging questions that were posed to me. However, over the last while I have noticed the tone has changed from a healthy exchange of views, questions and dialogue to a mocking of the sacred and what I hold very dear. Christianity is not so much a religion but a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. How would you like it if somebody attacked your best friend?
Maybe what is worse is that there is no longer seems to be tolerance for a difference of opinion. There are some who do not believe in evil. That doesn’t make sense or jives with reality. It is illogical to attack Christianity for being evil when one doesn’t believe in evil.
Furthermore, to not believe in moral absolutes is dangerous. Without moral absolutes, hurting the weak, the poor or even a person with a different orientation is okay. Nazi Germany and extermination of many people proves what happens when relativism is fully embraced. This is unacceptable.
I believe that Jesus is the Truth meaning all truth comes from Him. My hope is that you were on a quest for truth. Maybe some of you still are? If so, my recommendation is that you pray and ask God to show Himself if He is real. When He does, please be prepared to acknowledge this encounter. True scientists do not eliminate the possibilities or explanation for a quandary before investigating it fully. If you want to fully investigate what it means to know Jesus Christ, He will find you.
In the meantime, I pray that you all would find peace,
It has been hard because I love them and I also want to rebut some of their false ideas. However, I knew that I needed to follow this verse as a testimony to them. The testimony to them acts as a test. Wiping the dust off your feet reminds them that Christianity is about a relationship with Christ. Rejection, which always comes with pain, reminds them that Christ came to be with them but there is pain and separation with broken relationships. This goes back to the first act Jesus calls us to reverse the curse. Maybe Christ is calling you to break off a relationship so that they might ultimately be saved?
Now there is a warning also for the missionary in this passage. Notice who Jesus also sent out to preach the gospel, evict the kingdom of darkness and restore the sick and dying to eternal life – Judas! Judas did all these things and even reports success, along with the rest of the disciples, to Jesus (Mark 6:30-32). And yet in the end Judas didn’t believe in Christ! We can’t just be missionaries for Jesus; we must act like we are married to Jesus – till death do us part, no, till death do us meet face to face with Jesus. That is when our mission will be complete! In the mean time, will you live for Jesus each day?
 Greg Ogden, Discipleship Essentials (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2007), 20.
 Warren Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary – Vol. 1 (Wheaton: Victor Books, 1989), 130.
 Alfred Plummer, The Gospel According to Mark (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1915), 69.
 R.C.H. Lenski, Interpretation of St. Mark’s Gospel (Columbus: The Wartburg Press, 1951), 240.
 David E. Garland, The NIV Application Commentary on Mark (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996), 241.
 Garland, 241.
 Wiersbe, 130.
 Neil Cole, Organic Church (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2005), 179.
 Garland, 248.
This sermon can be watched or listened to at www.templebaptistchurch.ca!
Have you ever been to a sporting event when the fans starting booing the home team? I actually played on teams when the home crowd rose up against us. There is very little more demoralizing than that feeling when those who are supposed to be loyal to you turn against you. However, the time that sticks out most in my mind when fans rose up against their team was at the Air Canada Centre two years ago. A dear friend of mine invited myself and my eldest son to go along with him and his own two sons to watch the Toronto Maple Leafs take on the Boston Bruins. My friend is an avid Bruins fan and gave my son a Bruins jersey to wear during the game. At the time, my son was just getting into hockey and since we don’t abuse our children and encourage them to be long-suffering Leaf fans, my son has followed the godly path of his grandfather and father in being a Bruins fan. However, Josiah did not have to suffer walking in the wilderness of not seeing the black and gold hoisting a Stanley Cup since 1972. He didn’t experience the pain of the Canaanites or should I say the name you know them by, the Montreal Canadiens, who have beaten us time and again. But Josiah did face persecution that night from Leaf fans. The tickets that we received were not next to each other. I sat on the second to last row near the rafters and Josiah sat in the row in front of me a few seats to my right. We were surrounded by Blue and White Leaf jerseys! The Leafs came out firing the puck and scored in the first period. I still remember seeing all these grown men getting in my 7-year-old son’s face and taunting him. Then in the second period, the Bruins tied the game up with a beautiful goal and Josiah stood up while the Leaf fans stayed glued to their chairs. Then the Bruins scored again. It got quieter and the Leaf fans started to turn to their beer for comfort. In the third period, the Bruins scored once more. It was at this point that the Leaf fans started booing their beloved Leafs. I heard them start to criticize how their players were not great skaters and when was management going to do something. It is amazing how people can turn on you so quickly; especially those are who supposed to be your home fans.
In the Christian life, often the toughest place to play out the gospel is home court – living out the Faith before your family. Do you know what I am talking about? Have you found it hard to share the Gospel with your family? Have you been rejected by those closest to you because you have proclaimed the truth? Jesus can relate! Let’s read what He experienced when He went to his hometown of Nazareth in Mark 6:1-6! Read Mark 6:1-6!
Now remember, Jesus had just been healing and rescuing people from the Kingdom of Darkness on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. The backdrop is that Jesus freed a man demonized by a legion of unclean spirits in enemy territory. Then He healed a woman who everybody shunned and a little girl everybody thought was dead. Demonized men, desperate women and grieving fathers know to turn to Jesus but not friends and family. I am amazed at Jesus because He goes back home; knowing that He would face hardship! As David Garland reminds us, “His family already tried to collar him and bring Him back to Nazareth.” Recall the passage that we studied back in the fall in Mark 3:21-31. His family thought He was insane! Jesus would not let Himself be abused by His family, at least not yet. And yet, Jesus was also submissive to the authorities God has placed over Him. Remember when Jesus was 12 years old and in the Temple debating with the religious teachers. Mary and Joseph lost their son in the Temple. They were too concerned about being with their friends. When they finally find Jesus, they scold him for not keeping up with them. Maybe you and I have done that – scolding Jesus for not keeping up with our plans? Jesus replies, “You should have known that I would be about my Heavenly Father’s business.” However, we find Jesus’ attitude was still submissive, “And He went down with them and came to Nazareth and He continued in subjection to them; and His mother treasured all these things in her heart.” (Luke 2:51) We learn that Jesus lived out an obedient life to his earthly parents in Nazareth. Young people if you want to follow Jesus, you need to be submissive to your imperfect parents like Jesus was!
And this also reveals that sometimes faithfulness to God goes unnoticed by those closest to us because when we read Mark 6:2 that His hometown, His hommies, were amazed at Jesus’ teaching, wisdom and working of miracles. They never expected such. Now this could be for three reasons: 1) Nazarenes were pretty crude. Apparently, this backwater town of Nazareth was known for not turning out Rhodes scholars. In John 1:46, Nathanael, when he heard that Jesus, the Messiah, came from Nazareth, questioned, “Can any good thing come from Nazareth?” Nazareth was not unknown. It was known for ill repute. I think that is just like God that He would send His Son to come out of a place known for not being good. God strikes a match of His light in the midst of pure darkness! Maybe you are to be that light in the dark place?
2) The second reason could be that Jesus’ hometown didn’t expect much from Jesus: familiarity breeds contempt. Gene Edwards had said, “Kith and kin cannot always tell when a man is grown, even when looking straight at him.” It is an indictment on Nazareth, not on Jesus, that they didn’t recognize Him as the Messiah. As John 1:11 states, “He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him.” Jesus was the best son. He was faithful in his duties and deportment. He loved others when they were unlovable. He had unmatched integrity because He was the Truth. And yet, they didn’t recognize what they had in their midst. Maybe you and I don’t always recognize when Jesus shows up and faithfully works behind the scenes? Our attitude could be that we think we already know Jesus so what can He teach me now. If you think you know Jesus so well, may I challenge to read through the Gospels? Read through the Book of Mark each week for the next month! Read it literally; at face value! Ask God to help you lay aside your preconceived notions of Jesus and let you see Him afresh. I guarantee it will change you and then you will change others. Though some people may not recognize you as being sent from God in their lives. Don’t lose heart! Keep being faithful. You are not serving your family, friends or employer as much as you are serving the Lord.
3) A third reason for Nazareth not recognizing Jesus for who He truly was could be that Jesus wasn’t trying to be a star but a Saviour. Obviously, the people of Nazareth thought of “Jesus as an equal.” They believed this not only because they didn’t have eyes to see it, but also because Jesus didn’t show off. When I was growing up in Chatham, Ontario, the favourite son of the city was the Hall of Fame pitcher Fergie Jenkins. Fergie was esteemed by the people of Chatham and yet a friend of mine took me out to Fergie’s fishing pond and I fished beside him not knowing who he was! Fergie just acted normally; not like a VIP! I also remember playing sports against Todd Warner, who was scoring goals like crazy in hockey as a young boy and started to get attention from the hockey writers. He went on to play for the Maple Leafs. Everybody knew and esteemed Todd Warner in Blenheim, Ontario. We do that to people. Parents even put their own kids forward nowadays to be the star player, pupil or musician. Strangely, Jesus never showed off, even though He could have. The apocryphal books such as The Infancy Gospel of Thomas that describes Jesus as a child are not true; they’re farfetched. Jesus did not turn clay birds into living ones, which the Koran borrows from this pseudepigraphal book. Jesus did not cause a boy who dumped the water Jesus was carrying to become a withered corpse. Jesus did not strike blind a complaining neighbor. These supposed incidents don’t even sound like the Jesus of the New Testament. The New Testament gives a true and realistic picture of Jesus. In Mark 6:5, the Gospel writer is honest enough to mention that “Jesus could not do many miracles in Nazareth, except heal a few sick people.” For the skeptics out there, this shows both the veracity of the Bible and humanity of Jesus. Jesus chose to cooperate with the faith of people, which in this case they had none. He was still able to heal some but not all. This takes nothing away from Jesus’ power or divinity. It was an indictment on the Nazarenes, not on Christ. As Gregory Nazianzen in the 4th Century taught, “Something essential for healing is required on both sides – faith on the part of the patient, power on that of the healer.” God has chosen to work with our faith.
I am amazed at Jesus. He truly was a servant. “He made Himself nothing” as the Paul states in Philippians 2:7 (NIV). Eugene Peterson describes the response of Jesus’ hometown this way in The Message, “Who does Jesus think He is?” Jesus thought of Himself as a servant. He didn’t need His family and friends and therefore was able to freely serve them. When you are no longer needy, you are free. You see this when a loved one finally tells an addict that they love them but they can no longer be around them until they change. This shows that the loved one’s addict doesn’t need them to be whole. God is the one who brings wholeness and is our only need. I hope that we as a church can become healthy enough to no longer be needy, except for our need of our Saviour. Jesus was never needy. He was not trying to prove Himself to others, only God, which is why He was able to become obedient even to death on a Cross. To follow Jesus as our King is never a pathway to self-glory but selflessness! The Kingdom ethic is not to draw attention to yourself but to God! Let your light so shine before men that they see your good deeds and WHAT? Glorify your Father in heaven! (Matthew 5:16) Our goal is cause people to be amazed by God. Christ did this! He worked covertly for thirty years as a carpenter in His hometown and nobody suspected that He was the Saviour of the world. Is that how you and I operate? Do we want people to think well of us and know how special we are? Do you use the word “I” a lot? I did this! I did that! Do we promote ourselves? Obviously, when Jesus returns to Nazareth He totally catches people off guard with His wisdom and power. The people ask themselves, “Where did this man get these things and what is this wisdom given to Him?” (Mark 6:2b) The answer: from God. Are you making yourself look good or God look good? Jesus made God look good even though He Himself was divine. I am amazed at Jesus!
Now many of you are hoping that if you follow Jesus and become selfless, then in your heart you will receive glory. I must warn you not to deceive yourself into thinking self-sacrifice is the pathway to glory. This is not necessarily true. The Nazarenes are quickly dismissive of Jesus. Home court advantage for Jesus rapidly turned into home court disadvantage. The Jesus Fans started booing! “Isn’t this the carpenter, the son of Mary, and the brother of James and Joses (or Joseph), and Judas and Simon? Are not his sisters here with us? And they took offense at Him.” (Mark 6:3) Why did take offense at Him? Two reasons: 1) The Nazarenes thought of Jesus as illegitimate. Notice how the people only mention Jesus as the son of Mary and not Joseph. Some scholars believe that omission was just because Joseph had already died. However, “it was an insult to not mention the father” even if he had died. People often dismiss others just based on their background or lineage. Maybe you have been rejected because you didn’t come from the right background? Maybe you have rejected somebody for the same reason? Remember, Jesus didn’t reject you!
The second reason why Jesus was rejected was because of what He did. Mark does not share those details but Luke does. The scroll Jesus read and taught from on that Sabbath gathering was from Isaiah 61:1. Jesus proclaimed, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed, to proclaim the favorable year of the LORD.” (Luke 4:18) Then Jesus sat down and pronounced, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4:21) The people still were okay with this pronouncement. But Jesus couldn’t leave well enough alone. He never does! Jesus never settles for letting people only appreciate Him. He wants them to fully follow Him. And following Him requires going to groups of people who others reject. Luke 4:24-27 records Jesus’ next words, “’Truly I say to you, no prophet is welcome in his hometown. But I say to you in truth, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the sky was shut up for three years and six months, when a great famine came over all the land; and yet Elijah, was sent to none of them, but only to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, but only Namaan the Syrian.’ And all the people in the synagogue were filled with rage as they heard these things, and they got up and drove Him out of the city and led Him to the brow of the hill on which their city (His hometown) had been built, in order to throw Him down the cliff.” Recall that Jesus was rejected by some based on His supposed suspect background. Now Jesus was calling people to preach the gospel to the poor, to set the captives free, give sight to the blind and release those oppressed. Jesus was calling them to go to the people they rejected and despised. Jesus was calling them to go to people like himself – poor and considered illegitimate – with His good news. The Nazarenes would have none of it and took Jesus out of the city to a hill to kill him. A foreshadowing of things to come!
You see, this rejection at Nazareth points to the ultimate rejection at Jerusalem. Jesus’ rejection by His family and mankind, His own, was so that you would be able to belong to His family forever. Jesus was rejected so you wouldn’t have to be. He was rejected by His own; his family and his home so that we could be welcomed into his family make our home with Him. Doesn’t this bring you comfort when you are rejected for your faith by those closest to you?
But it should bring more than comfort. It should bring commitment to keep being a light in the darkness; to bring good out of evil places; to be a selfless slave who is truly free to serve others; to quietly obey so that the Gospel surprises people with grace instead of the common currency of religious effort and self-promotion; and to make God look good and nobody else. Why? Remember, Jesus’ brothers mentioned, James and Judas or Jude. They ended up believing in Jesus, becoming leaders in the Early Church and writing two of the New Testament books. Christ is calling you to commit to go to your family who may at first reject you but some will believe! Will you follow Jesus to your Nazareth? Will you follow Him to the Cross so that He might save some of your kin through you? It is time to take advantage of your spiritual home court disadvantage – serve quietly and let the Gospel of Grace win the day!
 David E. Garland, The NIV Application Commentary on Mark (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996), 230.
 Gene Edwards, A Tale of Three Kings (Carol Stream: Tyndale Publishers, 1992), 8.
 Alfred Plummer, The Gospel According to Mark (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1915), 67.
 Gregory Nazianzen, “What Does ‘Could Not’ Mean in God’s Case?” Thomas Oden, ed., Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture – Mark (Downer’s Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1998), 79.
 Warren Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary – Vol. 1 (Wheaton: Victor Books, 1989), 130.
Most of us would rank friends and boyfriends or girlfriends up there, but probably the top place goes to our family. You are stuck with your family and that has its challenges when creepy Uncle Seymour comes to the family reunion but for the most part the constancy of your family is a good thing.
If family is such an important part of life, what does Jesus say about family? Luke 8:19-21 records Jesus’ surprising view of family. Read Luke 8:19-21! Notice first that Jesus’ family is trying to get on His Google Calendar and it was all full up. Verse 19, “His mother and brothers came to Him, and they were unable to get to Him because of the crowd.” What is Jesus doing here? What is He saying? This may sound weird to us but it was radical for His hearers in that day. In our time and our culture it is perfectly acceptable to branch off from your family and find your own career or ministry. But in that day you did not do that! Your obligation was to your family. To work in the family business! Everything you did was for the good of the family. So, when someone told Jesus, “Your mother and brothers are here.” They fully expected Him to be the good son and go out to them! But Jesus did something radically different! This speaks volumes at various levels and raises some questions:
1) Was Jesus neglecting His earthly family? Remember, “In the social world of Jewish Palestine, Jesus, as the oldest surviving male in His family (we may presume that His father Joseph had died), was responsible to defend the honour of, and provide leadership for, His patrilineal kinship group.” If you were the oldest son, you were responsible for the family. Therefore, was Jesus a neglectful son and leader? This is a crucial question that must be answered if we can fully embrace Jesus as the Lord of Lords, King of Kings, and Ultimate Leader of the Universe. I don’t think too many other questions matter because if you don’t take care of your family, you are not qualified to be a leader outside of your family. This is certainly true for elders and shepherds to be qualified in Jesus’ Church (1 Timothy 3:5; 5:8). Even leaders in government and business are often evaluated by how well they manage their families as in the case of Newt Gingrich in the Republican primaries. Therefore, how Jesus related to his family has ramifications for Jesus being a good Son, a good leader and even a Good Shepherd. Are you a good shepherd if you abandon the sheep to find a lost one? (Luke 15:4) The answer is simple: Jesus’ family should have moved with Him. Jesus did not reject His family; they rejected Him. John 7:3 says that His brothers did not believe in Him. Mark 3:21 reveals something worse – Jesus’ family thought He was out of His mind. Can you imagine if you were able to live with Jesus everyday and could learn from Him? His family did and yet they did not recognize who He truly was. Take note: lifestyle evangelism is not an immediate guarantee of others’ conversion. This should be comforting for those who are rejected by their family on account of Jesus and also instructive that we must take leadership in our families by following God even if they don’t go with us. Their following our lead to follow Christ may come later as was the case with Jesus’ brothers James and Jude (Galatians 1:19; James 1:1; Acts 15:13; Jude 1). We still need to take care of them through direct care or delegation of provision but we must follow our Heavenly Father first!
2) Why doesn’t Mary get “back stage passes” and ‘box seats” to see Jesus, especially if she is the “Theotokos – the Mother of God” as some Christian traditions propose? It is a great reminder that even if you were very close to Jesus at one time, you can’t let anything or anyone get in between you and Jesus. Though Mary was a great woman, she was still in need of Jesus to be her Saviour. (Luke 1:47)
We can learn a lot from verse 19 but the greater shock is found in verse 21. When Jesus was told His mother and brothers were outside wanting to see Him, He responded, “My mother and brothers are those who hear the Word of God and do it.” If you said something like that to your mother and brothers would it be well received? Was Jesus straddling the line of breaking the fourth commandment of “Honouring your father and mother”? Think about this! In the Bible and in many traditional cultures today, the individual exists to serve the name of the family. “In Jesus’ world, family unity and solidarity were far, far more important.” This shows that Jesus’ kingdom has a different set of values. Here is the pattern Jesus consistently followed and we need to as well:
(1st) God’s Family (2nd) My Family (3rd) Others
Even in the case where Jesus was a young boy, He prioritized His Heavenly Father and demonstrated that in part by being submissive to earthly parents (Luke 2:49 & 51). In Luke 8:21, Jesus was proclaiming the importance of following the Heavenly Father first. “That’s how important the kingdom is: it’s even more important than the claims of family, which are themselves the most important normal claims a person can have.” This is not an excuse to neglect our family at the expense of ministry, which is often more about our personal ambition and fulfillment than the Heavenly Father’s business. It is just the opposite, putting our Heavenly Father and our Forever Family first can be the best thing we can do for our biological family. They are meant to join the Forever Family as well.
Sadly, too many of us let our earthly fathers and mothers take a greater priority than our Heavenly Father. Ironically, this can be demonstrated by our rebellion towards our parents. “For example, some people may say, ‘I won’t bring my kids to church because my parents did that and I hated it!’ But this means you are being controlled by your parents. You aren’t making the choice based on what your children need but on repudiating your parents.” Jesus was not repudiating His family for rejecting Him; He was calling them to be a part of better family – God’s.
Are you prioritizing your ultimate Family? Don’t fall for the deception that you must put your biological family first. It is dangerous to do so. For example, “Research on child abuse has revealed that many of the people who physically abuse their children don’t do so because they hate their children. Often it is because their children are the ones on whom they rely for most of their love. And if their children don’t love them back by behaving properly, their anger explodes; they snap.” Sometimes we can love our biological family too much or more correctly not enough. A universal spiritual principle is if you love a fellow human being more than God you won’t be able to love them to the utmost. You become smothering or dependent upon them to reciprocate that love, which they never can do to your satisfaction. Love for others always comes from the love of God (1 John 4:7). As someone has said, “Love is giving people what they need.” What people need even more than your affection is God’s love! The love of the Father becomes love for your brother!
This is a core message of Jesus. “He persuaded His followers that they were all ‘brothers of one another.’” This is why to become a Christian was to change groups, plan and simple.” We have a new Family if we are followers of Jesus Christ – God’s Family! GOD’S FAMILY FOLLOWS THEIR FATHER! We hear and do what He says! How? What does it mean that we should love one another and put God’s Family first? Joseph Hellerman describes four New Testament values that will serve as our roadmap.
- We share our stuff with one another.
- We share our hearts with one another.
- We stay, embrace the pain, and grow up with one another.
- Family is about more than me, the wife and the kids.
Which of these do you need to start doing? YOU MUST HEAR THE FATHER’S WORD AND PRACTICE IT!
Why is this so important? Why is Jesus telling us to shift our allegiance to a larger collective, God’s family? It’s when Jesus put God’s family first that He saved His biological family! And what is different? Unlike our family which often exists for itself, God’s family is meant to exist for other, not itself. God’s family is grace-based, not trying pay each other back, nor trying to get caught up in approval. Our Brother Jesus’ work on the Cross means we are fully accepted by the Father! (No more “daddy issues”!) This is why unconditional love is M.O. of God’s family!
Making the Father and His Family first is crucial to be Christ’s followers. Remember what Jesus said in Luke 14:26, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters–yes, even his own life–he cannot be my disciple.” Others left everything to follow Jesus but initially His family did not follow Him. Jesus put God’s Family first and thus saved His family. Will you do the same?
 Joseph A. Hellerman, When the Church was a Family (Nashville: B & H Publishing Group, 2009), 55.
 The shepherd that Jesus describes in Luke 15:4 who leaves the ninety-nine in the open country (presumably in safety or under others’ supervision) to go after the lost sheep has ramifications later for elder brother described in Luke 15:11-32 who would not abandoned his duties at home to rescue his lost younger brother. Good shepherding and good brothering involves caring for the group and individual.
 Tom Wright, Luke for Everyone (London:Westminster John Knox Press, 2004), 97.
 Wright, 98.
 Keller, 128.
 Tim Keller, The Meaning of Marriage (New York: Dutton, 2011), 130.
 Hellerman, 117.
 Hellerman, 124.
 Hellerman, 145.
Today our youngest son Luke was scheduled to go under the surgeon’s knife. He is only three years old and we did not want to give him prolonged worry so the whole family was told not to talk to him about his upcoming surgery. This decision was not easy as Lori and I always want to be honest with our children but also not cause them undue worry. In the end the decision was left to me as the father and so I made the decision to wait until today to tell him about his surgery based on two facts: 1) I know my children can sometimes obsess about things (I wonder where they get that from, probably Lori); and 2) I had minor surgery a couple of times when I was a kid and my father still talks with regret about giving me too much advanced notice.
For those of you who have had scheduled surgery, you know that you cannot have any food from midnight to the time of the surgery. This is difficult for those of us who love food, but for a three-year old it is almost insurmountable. Good thing that Luke’s surgery was scheduled for 7:30 AM so that he didn’t have to go too long in the morning without having any food but it also meant getting up at 5:30 AM. Still a little bit groggy from a shortened night sleep, we arrived at the hospital in a neighbouring town and registered Luke as a patient. I knew we were in trouble when the receptionist put the wristband on Luke and he started complaining. Next we had to change him out of his street clothes and put a little red-stripped gown on him (he refused the pink one which I was proud of him for). However, that was a big fight too! In fact, the nurse caved and said he could leave his pants on. Then we went through the standard questions: any drug allergies? when did he last eat? any known medical conditions? We were finally sailing along until that last question. I said that his family physician in the pre-screening check-up said that she might have heard a heart murmur so she ordered an echocardiogram. The echocardiogram took place two days ago and we hadn’t heard the results. This information was met with more questions and when we met with the anaesthetist (anesthesiologist for my U.S. readers), she had some concerns. We needed to find out what the results of the test were before we could move forward. Finally, the decision was made to postpone the surgery.
Now there have been many times in my life that I would have gotten frustrated over such delays and setbacks. However, God has been giving me such rest in the fact that He is Sovereign! When there are times that I am being confounded, I am starting to acknowledge that God is in complete control of my life. I can’t believe how freeing this is! King David, who had many “detours” in his life, understood God’s Sovereignty when he declared in Psalm 31:14-15, “But I trust in you, O Lord; I say: ‘You are my God.’ My times are in your hands.” Oh this helps so much when our plans and agenda have to be interrupted!
My guess is that some of you reading this are on a detour! Could I remind you that the delay is the plan of God? He sees our problems as minuscule – nothing too big for Him. We see our problems as mountains, He sees them as mole hills. By the way, I never told you what Luke’s surgery was about. He needed to have a suspicious mole removed, which normally could be done in the doctor’s office but because of his age, he need to have general, not local, anesthetic. You should know that Luke loves this mole and even shows perfect strangers his mole by telling them, “I have a mole!” Therefore, he is attached to his mole both physically and emotionally. Nevertheless some of you might be thinking, you brought me along on this journey for the removal of a mole?? Yes, I did because from God’s perspective all of our “mountain” sized problems are really mole hills to Him. Besides, true mountains are only made by the Creator and mole hills are created by His creatures. Don’t you think God can turn your mountains into mole hills? This is not to minimize the “mountains” that you are climbing such as the devastating death of loved one, an unexpected report from a doctor, prolonged unemployment and mounting bills without money to pay them. NO, instead I am trying to remind us that there was a mountain that could have ultimately crushed us – an avalanche of our sin. However, that mountain was moved by Christ when He climbed the mountain and died on that Mount of Sin. Now, life’s “mountains” from eternity’s perspective have turned into mole hills. We will be able to climb, even move, mountains because God in Christ already has! (Matthew 17:20) So I ask you one more time, do you trust that God will turn your mountain into a molehill?
We just got back from vacation after two weeks away in the Canadian Maritime Provinces of New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia. (I decided to break the rules of blogging and not blog while on vacation because there are times God wants us to rest!) We saw amazing sights but more importantly spent time with amazing people. I hope to tell you more about our travels in the next few days.
In the meantime, I was reminded that it is so easy for people to get out of their routines and daily habits when they are away from home. For example, some struggle to read God’s Word daily while on vacation. A vacation from God’s Word and even Church is not really a vacation but a “staycation.” We were never meant to STAY where we are in our relationship with God but continue to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 3:18) Yes, vacation may be at a different place and pace but we are not to stop running the race towards Christ! (Hebrews 12:1-2)
So how do you keep running in the Christian life while on vacation, especially if you are in the car for long periods of time like our family tends to be? One suggestion if you have an iTouch or smart phone, get the free YouVersion and you can listen to God’s Word read to you. (This works also for all you commuters!) The rich voice reading God’s Word will draw the attention of the kids for a few minutes and may supplement the reading of another family member. I want to thank Vernor Drost, pastor of Smythe Street Cathedral in Frederiction, New Brunswick and long-time family friend, who introduced us to this helpful Bible tool. We are told “to devote ourselves to the public reading of Scripture.” (1 Timothy 4:13) This command applies not only to church but also at home and in the car when travelling!
Another new on-line Bible tool I came across recently was www.scrolltag.com, which is not free, but you may find it beneficial for making notes when studying your Bible. Of course, other Bible software like Laridian, Olive Tree, Bible Works and Logos are also ones you might want to check out. Some of these are free while others cost hundreds of dollars. However, the investment is worth it but you will need to decide what will serve you best.
Whether you are reading your own printed copy of God’s Word or the one on your iPad, keep hiding God’s Word in your heart. (Psalm 119:11) Remember, Jesus always travels with you! The question is whether you converse with Him wherever you go. One may take a break from conversing with friends on Facebook, Twitter and even blogging but let’s not stop conversing with our ultimate Friend Jesus! Jesus goes with you on vacation!
Last night we were finally able to make time to have our family photo taken by Jenn Heemskirk. For a non-professional, she does an incredible job and her goal in photography is always very missional – raising money for an after-care home for ex-prostitutes in India at Christmastime or raising funds so that she can go with others from our church to Peru with Kids Alive this Fall. I must admit that I would rather do a million other things than have my picture taken. However, I do enjoy the end product!
One of my questions about The Family Picture is why do we all have to match clothes with the same colour (or “color” for you Americans)? When I was younger, I used to fight the uniform look. Call me a contrarian or rebel, but I wanted to pave my own course and encourage “multi-colourism.” Isn’t this what Jesus loves? You might even know the song, “Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world. RED and YELLOW, BLACK and WHITE, they are precious in His sight!” God’s loves mosaics!
However, I do see the value of my wife’s need for us to match. Matching clothes communicates unity! Hey men, matching can be manly as sports teams wear the same jersey each game. In fact, if you wear another jersey you don’t get to be in the team picture. I would not want to see what would happen to a Vancouver Canuck if he tried to sneak in the Stanley Cup winning team picture of the Boston Bruins last month!
I believe that Jesus wants us to match. No, I am not advocating that we all wear uniforms like the Salvation Army does. (That is not a dig on the Salvation Army. Those uniforms are pretty cool and reminds us that we are soldiers of Jesus Christ – 2 Timothy 2:3-4, Philemon 2! I just don’t find in Scripture the mandate for the Church to wear uniforms.) We don’t lose our individual identity and personality when we come to Christ. Instead, Jesus wants to make us one! That was one of His last prayers on earth, “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you.” (John 17:20-21) Our oneness is demonstrated when we worship together, eat together, work together, pray together, and play together. Think about how people from different backgrounds, cultures and races come together under the common cause of Christ! This can only be explained by the power of the Gospel! Of course, some day there will be a Forever Family Photo! And yes, we will all wear white! The white robes symbolizing the purity God has given us through Christ! As the Apostle John writes in Revelation 7:9, “After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.” You can’t beat that photo background!
Today we were in a jungle. It was scary! There were lots of wild animals including monkeys, toucans, gorillas and even elephants. No, we were not shipwrecked on a mysterious tropical island in the South Pacific Ocean like the popular TV Show. Instead, we went to the Rain Forest Cafe to celebrate our youngest son’s third birthday. If you have been to the Rain Forest Cafe you know that every 30 minutes there is thunder and lightning and all the mechanical animals come to “life” and start going crazy. Monkeys howl, gorillas shake trees, rhinos seem ready to charge out of the bush. The older kids loved it but Luke put his blanket over his head while keeping one eye on the nearby big gorilla and said “I don’t wike it!” Isn’t it funny how we often try to do something joyous for others and they don’t quite appreciate it?
Nevertheless, we had a good time, even checking the avant garde washroom at Yorkdale Centre. (I know, we are simple folks and don’t get out enough!) After our amazement at the glass sinks in the washroom, we hurried the kids out of the restaurant and mall because Lori needed to get back and decorate Luke’s cake with his favourite hockey player – Bobby Orr and the Boston Bruins logo. The ride home was going well, at least better than the awful traffic into Toronto, when Lori said the dreaded words, “Where is the camera bag?” I said, “I thought you had it!” (Now some of you who have heard me preach before know that this not the first I have lost a bag under my care. Do not give me your diaper bag or camera bag to look after. Besides, men are not supposed to carry bags or purses! At least that is my excuse and I’m sticking to it.) We called the restaurant and asked if the bag was still there. They didn’t see it! (This also explains why there are no pictures attached to this blog as you usually find with our other articles.)
All the nice pictures and video we had taken were lost! When we got home, we checked our voicemail to see if the restaurant had found the bag! Nope! Still lost! Now what do you do when you lose things? We find instruction from Jesus! Apparently, losing things is not just something I do but what shepherds, housewives and fathers do as well. If you read Luke 15 you will find that when you lose something you are to diligently search for it until you find it and after finding it, throw a party! That is what God does when He finds somebody who is lost whether they are likened to a sheep, a coin or a son! God is the Shepherd who goes after the lost sheep, He is like a woman who sweeps her house until she finds a lost coin, and He is the Father who keeps watch for a wayward son and seeks the elder son who thinks his good works should gain the Father’s approval.
My searching for the camera bag included prayer. About an hour after we got home, the phone rang! The bag was found! It is time to party over what was lost but is now found! This will make Luke’s birthday cake taste even better! But this pales in comparison to the party there will be in Heaven if one of you who has lost their way is found! “In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” (Luke 15:10) If you want to know more about how to be found through the rescue mission of Jesus, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have you ever tried to take a kid fishing? TIP # 1 – Don’t bring your own rod or think you will be doing any fishing! TIP # 2 – Expect “bird’s nests” (those nasty tangled up balls of line)! TIP # 3 – Expect hooks in things other than fish (hopefully not you or the kid). And expect lots of squealing when they feel that first tug of a fish. Don’t forget to have the kid kiss the fish before he releases it back into the water or takes it home for supper! It will bond the kid to fishing for the rest of his or her life (or maybe not)!
Today, I was reminded of a very valuable lesson. KIDS MAKE THE BEST FISHERMAN! Why? Because of their faith! Faith? Yes, faith! No, I am not advocating that one just has to believe a fish into the boat! (Though that has happened in history! Check out Luke 5:1-7!) The faith I am emphasizing is the child-like faith that Jesus describes as necessary for belonging to the kingdom of God, “Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” (Mark 10:15) Child-like faith is what is needed to catch the most important fish – people! Catch people? Yes, catching people is exactly what a follower of Jesus does. As Jesus declares, “Come follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matthew 4:19)
My five year old son Noah came home yesterday with a big “catch.” He was praying that morning that his close friend ”John” (not his real name) would “give his life to Jesus.” Sure enough at Vacation Bible School, “John” gave his life to Christ that very morning. Normally, Noah is very shy but he even asked whether “John” had given his life to Jesus. “John” said, “I asked Jesus into my heart.”
The faith and prayers of a little child God hears and answers. Do you have that type of faith? If so, let’s go fishing!