Who is "With" Jesus?

[This is a message I preached to the young adults of Jenks Bible Church on Wednesday, January 9, 2019]

Image: Like many of you I grew up watching a lot of fantasy movies. Some of my favorites were the Disney films. But one movie in particular popped into my head as I was thinking about this passage. It’s the movie, “Hook.” This was Steven Spielberg’s retelling of the classic story of Peter Pan. 

            In the movie Hook you have Peter Pan depicted as a grown up. We see him working as a business man in the movie, clearly having lost the innocence of childhood. He also has forgotten about where he came from. He was once the leader of his pack back in never never land. But now there’s not even a shadow in his memory of his time there. 

            Well as we follow Peter Pan in the story we find him back in never never land, and he’s back with his ol’ gang, the Lost Boys. But they don’t recognize him, even though they learn he’s Peter Pan. And by this time the Lost Boys have a new leader whose name is Rufio. If you’ve seen the movie you know the story. Peter Pan enters the training program of the Lost Boys, and through a process he begins to remember who he was.

            Then comes the moment of truth. Can Peter Pan regain his leadership of the Lost Boys from Rufio? Peter Pan and Rufio fight it out. And Peter Pan gains the victory. Then in a classic display of loyalty, Peter Pan carves a line in the sand and stands on one side. And immediately everyone runs to his side. Peter Pan was saying, “Who is with me?”

            In the passage we look at from Mark’s gospel this evening, Jesus draws a line in the sand. He’s gonna make a strong declarative statement about what it means to be one of his disciples, and thereby show those who are on the inside and those who are on the outside. So, Jesus is gonna tell us the answer to the question: “Who is “With” Jesus?”

Need: Now, some of us may be saying, “I know what it means to be an insider with Jesus. I know what it means to follow him, to be his disciple.” To which I would respond, “that’s great. Knowing about something is this first step to knowing something. But there is a difference between knowing about Jesus and knowing Jesus.”

Subject: So, again, who is with Jesus?

Text: We’re looking at Mark 3:7-35.

Preview: And we get a good idea, first, of those who are outsiders, those who are not followers of Jesus. Mark leads us to consider a couple of examples of these people. That comes in vv. 7-30. But it’s not enough to know who’s on the outside. We need to know who is on the inside, who is really with Jesus. We learn about that in vv. 31-35. And once we know that we’ve got to bring this home to our lives today. We’ve got to make this practical, so we can live out these verses today.

Let’s look first at the outsiders: the crowd, Jesus’ family, and the religious scribes (vv. 7-12, 20-30). Let’s take a look at the first group of people who are on the outside. We’ll begin reading in v. 7. [read vv. 7-12]

            The reason the crowd was coming to Jesus was because they heard about what he was doing (v. 8)—all of his miracles, healings, casting out demons. They came to Jesus, then, for what he could do for them. Now what’s telling about this is not so much the reason that is included but the reason that isn’t included. What do I mean by that? Well, we’ve already learned, haven’t, we that the most important aspect of Jesus’ ministry was what he said—his preaching of the gospel. In chapter one, verse thirty-eight . So, the crowd is coming to Jesus not because he is the source of life but because he has the gifts of healing. The crowd is coming to Jesus for Jesus’ sake, but they are coming to him because they want his stuff.

I’ve told you the story of the young man who once proposed to a girl: “Darling, I want you to know that I love you more than anything else in the world. I want you to marry me. I’m not rich. I don’t have a yacht or a Rolls Royce like Johnny Brown, but I do love you with all my heart.” After a short reflection she answered, “I love you with all my heart, too, but tell me more about Johnny Brown.”[1] The crowd wants Jesus for his stuff.

            But in case we think that’s as dark as things get for the crowd, Mark throws in here an account of the demons. In v. 11 they surprisingly jump into the scene, probably shocking the crowd but certainly disturbing us readers. Why these demons? What do they have to do with anything in this story? Couple of things. The first is an implied comparison between the crowd and the demons. Notice the actions of both. In v. 9 Mark says that the crowd was “pressing toward him to touch him.” The Greek word for “pressing” here is from the word pipto. Not pepto, as in Pepto Bismal. But pipto. This is the action of the crowd. Can you guess which Greek word Mark uses to describe the action of the demons in v. 12? It’s from the same Greek word, pipto. So, both the crowds and the demons are described by the same word. Now I don’t know about you but last time I checked being compared to demons was not a good thing! 

            Neither is it good to be contrasted with demons, especially if demons are being presented in a better light than the crowd. They actually know who Jesus is, while the crowd has no idea. The demons say in v. 11, “You are the Son of God.” They know that Jesus is the Son of God!! Which means they know he is God, the one who has all the authority. To put it another way they know him as Lord. But the crowd doesn’t. They know him as a Lever that they can pull and out pops whatever they want. 

            I’ve been on Facebook for about 5 years now. If you know how long Facebook has been around then you know it’s not exactly saying much to say that I’ve been a Facebook user for 5 years. But that really has nothing to do with what I’m about to say, other than I have a Facebook account. 

            And over the last few months I’ve been getting these sponsored ads from this miracle-worker. Maybe I get a new ad every couple of weeks of so, I don’t know. And every time I get a new ad it’s a video of this man performing miracles in the name of Jesus. There’s this one where he is talking to a telemarketer over the phone. He says to the telemarketer that Jesus gave him a vision of this man, and in the vision the telemarketer has a hurt ankle. The telemarketer confirms that he has a hurt ankle. So, this healer begins to tell this man that Jesus wants to heal him. Lo and behold, the man reaches down and feels his ankle and it’s healed. The healer says, “Jesus loves you, man!” And the conversation is over. That’s one example. We could talk more about the healer being on college campuses, fast food restaurants, etc. 

Now, let’s just assume that these healings are real, though I have no way of verifying they are real; they could be staged for all I know. But let’s just assume they are real. One thing is left out in every single one of these videos. It’s the gospel. With all of these people he gives them what can deliver their body, but nothing that can save their souls. 

But another thing about this man’s ministry is this: he gives people the impression that Jesus is in the business of giving them what they want. The Jesus he is teaching is a Jesus who is a Lever not a Lord. And in that sense, the people who are following this man’s ministry are no different than the crowd. They want him as a Lever, not a Lord. And that puts them on the outside, not the inside.

Mark introduces another group of outsiders. Take a look v. 20. We’re gonna get a good look an unlikely group of people to be on the outside. This is Jesus’ very own family. [read to v. 21] If the previous group of people thought Jesus was a Lever, Jesus’ own biological family thinks he’s a Lunatic, pronouncing that “he’s out of his mind!” 

Why would they pronounce that on Jesus? Well Jesus is disrupting the status quo. All was quiet in the town of Nazareth—assuming that’s the setting of the stories in this passage—and everyone was happy. But Jesus’ ministry created quite a stir like a cat sent out among the pigeons. And in that culture where honor and shame among families is a high priority, Jesus’ family is concerned about preserving their reputation. 

Somebody said it well, “From his family’s perspective, Jesus is a religious fanatic who is hurting the family name, and He is also a danger to Himself. He has to be stopped. He needs a straitjacket and padded cell.”[2] The family, just like the crowds, has missed who Jesus really is. Instead of making him out to be Lord, they think he is a Lunatic. So, they too are on the outside. 

And finally, there’s the religious scribes. We may be led to think, if we had no prior knowledge of the gospels, that the scribes—these religious people—will surely recognize who Jesus is. Surely, they will be on the inside! Well take a look at v. 22. We read, “The scribes who had come down from Jerusalem said, ‘He is possessed by Beelzebul,’ and, “He drives out demons by the ruler of the demons.” Not exactly the response of people who are on the inside. To say Jesus was possessed by Beelzebul—likely a name that originates from the Canaanite god Baal—meant to say that Jesus was possessed by Satan. And with the second accusation, the scribes indicated that Jesus was collusion with Satan. So, not only were they accusing Jesus of being under the control of Satan, they went a step further and charged him with collusion with Satan. So, I would say the scribes are not on the inside. 

Jesus responds. And in his response he’s going to show how the scribes logic makes no sense. [read the rest of the vv.] What Jesus is saying is that it makes no sense to conclude that he is siding with Satan, when the evidence is clear that he is doing the very things that Satan would not want him to do—cast out demons. But Jesus goes beyond that to prove his point. He tells a parable about a man who binds a strong man and plunders his possessions. This parable makes the connection with Jesus’ ministry. Jesus, like the plunderer, has bound the kingdom of Satan, and he has taken from Satan the souls he has possessed. And all of this Jesus did in his authority as Lord, by the power of the Holy Spirit. 

We know that Jesus performed his ministry in the power of the Holy Spirit because he hints at in v. 29: “But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin.” It was the Holy Spirit who energized Jesus to perform the miracles and cast out the demons. So, Jesus was not in collusion with Satan. He was working in the power of God. And to go so far as to say that the miracles of Jesus were attributable to Satan would’ve been a serious offense against the Holy Spirit. So much so that Jesus says that if you’ve reached that point you’ve committed the unforgiveable sin.

Through church history brothers and sisters in Christ have been afraid that they have committed this sin. The fear of having committed this sin has led countless Christians into depression. But the counsel for every Christian who fears they are guilty of this sin is the same: you haven’t committed it. Why would I say that? Because the person who has committed this sin doesn’t care that they’ve committed this sin. They are perfectly happy with their willful rejection of the person and work of Christ. So, that’s one comforting piece advice for the 

Now, having said all that, we get back to the real issue. The scribes, just like the crowd and Jesus’ family, are on the outside. They have gone beyond the conclusion that Jesus is a Lever and a Lunatic. They believe his is what? If Jesus says his ministry is in the name of God and the scribes say, no, it’s in the name of Satan, what are they calling Jesus? A Liar. And so, we’ve seen three responses of outsiders—Jesus is a Lever, Lunatic, and Liar. We are left then to ask the obvious question: who’s on the inside? Who is “with” Jesus?

This is where we take a look at the second movement in this passage: the insiders: the disciples of Jesus (vv. 31-35, 13-19). [read vv. 31-35]

Jesus tells us plainly in these vv. Who is “with” him, those who are on the inside, those who are his disciples. They are those who do the will of God. And what is the will of God? The will of God is whatever Jesus says, because he is the one with all authority. He is God. And if Jesus has all authority then he can’t be, as C. S. Lewis observed, a Lunatic or a Liar, and might I add to that, a Lever. He has to be Lord. That is who Jesus is, and anyone who is on the inside acknowledges Jesus as Lord. But the proof of that confession is, as grandma said, in the pudding. Those who do the will of God. That’s who belongs to Jesus.

And we may ask: How do we do the will of God? Isn’t that the question so many Christians ask? What is God’s will? Well did you notice we skipped a passage. We need to go back there. Take a look at vv. 13-19. We read there the account of Jesus calling his first disciples. We read this [read the vv.]

If we had time we could do a thorough background study on these men that Jesus chose. And what we would find out is that all of them are not men of consequence. They don’t have the brightest intellects. They don’t come from the wealthiest families. Their occupations aren’t the most noble. They’re average people. 

But more important than their background and status is what joins them together as disciples. So, who is a disciple of Christ? Who does the will of God? Mark tells us in v. 14: “He appointed twelve, whom he also named apostles, to be with him, to send them out to preach, and to have authority to drive out demons.” We could boil these down to two things. One, disciples are “with Jesus.” They are with Jesus. That refers to the personal connection disciples have with their Lord. Wherever they go, whatever they do, in all that they think, Jesus is with them. There’s a very personal element to one who is a true disciple of Christ.

And the final component of discipleship is that of mission. Disciples not only spend time with Jesus, they also are on mission for Jesus. We could say it this way: Disciples are committed, then, to the Great Commission. In Matthew 28 Jesus said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded. And, behold, I am with you, even to the end of the age.” 

So, who is “with” Jesus? The one who follows Jesus wherever he goes and carries out his mission whatever the cost. Are you a disciple?

Let’s pray.

[1] Taken from Kent Hughes, Mark, Servant & Savior (Wheaton: Crossway, 2015), 106.

[2] Daniel Akin, Exalting Jesus in Mark in “Christ-Centered Exposition” (Nashville: Holman Reference, 2014), 74.