From the Desk of Will Spokes, Senior Pastor
For All The Saints
For all the saints
who from their labors rest,
who thee by faith
before the world confessed,
thy name, O Jesus,
be forever blest.
Thou wast their rock,
their fortress, and their might;
Thou, Lord, their Captain
in the well-fought fight;
Thou, in the darkness drear,
their one true light.
Welcome to the Red Mountain Sunday Recap!
The Sunday Recap is a brief fly-by of what we did during Sunday worship. If you were able to be at worship this week you may have noticed I skipped over two significant portions of our order of worship: the baptismal vows and the pastoral prayer. While I did not leave them out intentionally, I want to apologize for failing to include them. Please forgive me.
Because I forgot to ask Allen & Natalie Short and the congregation the baptismal vows, I am going to include them in our worship service this Sunday. Therefore, I thought I would include them in the Sunday Recap so you can read through them.
For The Parents:
Do you acknowledge your child’s need of the cleansing blood of Jesus Christ, and the renewing grace of the Holy Spirit?
Do you claim God’s covenant promises in her behalf, and do you look in faith to the Lord Jesus Christ for her salvation, as you do for your own?
Do you now unreservedly dedicate your child to God, and promise, in humble reliance upon divine grace, that you will endeavor to set before her a godly example, that you will pray with and for her, that you will teach her the doctrines of our holy religion, and that you will strive, by all the means of God’s appointment, to bring her up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord?
For The Congregation
Do you as a congregation undertake the responsibility of assisting the parents in the Christian nurture of this child?
Food For Thought:
We practice our death by giving up our will to live on our own terms....
We cannot be too careful about the words we use; we start out using them and they end up using us. – Eugene Peterson
Do you [put sin to death]? Do you make it your daily work? You must always be at it while you live; do not take a day off from this work; always be killing sin or it will be killing you. – John Owen
Sermon Text: Mark 6:1-13
14 King Herod heard of it, for Jesus’ name had become known. Some said, “John the Baptist has been raised from the dead. That is why these miraculous powers are at work in him.” 15 But others said, “He is Elijah.” And others said, “He is a prophet, like one of the prophets of old.” 16 But when Herod heard of it, he said, “John, whom I beheaded, has been raised.” 17 For it was Herod who had sent and seized John and bound him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, because he had married her. 18 For John had been saying to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” 19 And Herodias had a grudge against him and wanted to put him to death. But she could not, 20for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and he kept him safe. When he heard him, he was greatly perplexed, and yet he heard him gladly.
21 But an opportunity came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his nobles and military commanders and the leading men of Galilee. 22 For when Herodias’s daughter came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests. And the king said to the girl, “Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will give it to you.” 23 And he vowed to her, “Whatever you ask me, I will give you, up to half of my kingdom.” 24 And she went out and said to her mother, “For what should I ask?” And she said, “The head of John the Baptist.” 25 And she came in immediately with haste to the king and asked, saying, “I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter.” 26 And the king was exceedingly sorry, but because of his oaths and his guests he did not want to break his word to her. 27 And immediately the king sent an executioner with orders to bring John’s head. He went and beheaded him in the prison 28 and brought his head on a platter and gave it to the girl, and the girl gave it to her mother. 29 When his disciples heard of it, they came and took his body and laid it in a tomb.
30 The apostles returned to Jesus and told him all that they had done and taught.
The love of sin. (v. 17-20)
The snare of sin. (v. 21-26)
The wages of sin. (v. 20, 27-29)
In the hands of the right people, this passage would easily fit into a series of episodes from The Game of Thrones. As my eldest son (almost 12) said after I read him this story, "that's intense!" At first read it seems like an interruption in Mark's gospel. However, upon closer examination it's clear that Mark has put this story between Jesus' sending out of the 12 disciples to further his mission (6:7-13) and their return (6:30). Therefore he must want us to learn something from this story about what it means, or better what it costs, to follow Jesus.
This feature of the story is reenforced by the fact there are only two passages in Mark's gospel that are not about Jesus. Both of those passages are about John the Baptist. The first passage is 1:4-8 when John the Baptist prepares the way for Jesus' mission. The second is this passage in which John the Baptist prepares the way for Jesus' death. Therefore as intense as this passage is, Mark intends for us to see how discipleship connects us with Jesus death and resurrection! In other words, the Christian life is the path from suffering to glory through faith in him.
The story of Herod and John the Baptist illustrates what it looks like to follow Jesus even when it means bearing the brunt of other people's sin because that is what he did for us (2 Cor. 5:21). Herod and Herodias illustrate what the love of sin looks like. It puts off listening to God's word (v. 18). It is opportunistic (v. 21). They also illustrate the snare of sin. It never exists in isolation (v. 18, 21-26). Herod was not only an adulterer, he was also full of self-importance and pride (v. 21, 26). Finally, and most tragically, they illustrate the wages of sin, which is death (v. 27-29; Rom. 6:23). Ironically in this story the one who deserves to die doesn't and the one who doesn't deserve to die does. Herod believed John the Baptist to be a righteous and holy man (v. 20). This is the gospel. The righteous dies for the unrighteous (1 Pet. 3:18). It is in this way that Mark most clearly ties the story of John the Baptist to Jesus and his death. It is also where we find our deepest connection to Jesus as his followers. To be tied to Jesus' suffering also means we are tied to his resurrection! In fact, apart from his suffering there is no resurrection...new life!
"that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead." (Phil. 3:10-11)
Our fellowship with Jesus in no way minimizes the costs of following Jesus, far from it. Rather, it gives assurance to all who take up their cross and follow Jesus; that they are moving toward him in obedience but even more in intimacy and relationship with the one who came not to be served but to serve and give his life as a ransom for many (Mk. 10:45).
What was new or compelling to you? What stood out to you from this passage?
What questions does this passage raise for you?
Was there anything that bothered you?
Given the location of this passage between 6:7-13 & 6:30 what do you think it teaches about discipleship?
How does this story connect our story to Jesus and his story?
Suggested Resources & The Week Ahead
Do you find it hard to pray? Do you ever wonder how it works, whether it really makes any difference? Let me suggest to you two excellent but very different books on prayer. The first is called The Praying Life by Paul Miller. It is an excellent and honest book about the realities of life and the struggle to pray in them and through them. The second is called Prayer and the Knowledge of Godby Graeme Goldsworthy. While much more theological, this book is full of scripture and shows how true prayer depends on Jesus and his work. It also walks through the various sections of the Bible to show how prayer develops and deepens the closer we get to Jesus.
Songs for this week:
Christ the Solid Rock
The King of Love My Shepherd Is
Come, All Ye Pining Hungry Poor
Until next time,
For All The Saints
The golden evening
brightens in the west;
Soon, soon to faithful warriors
comes their rest;
Sweet is the calm
of paradise the blest.
But lo! There breaks
a yet more glorious day;
The saints triumphant
rise in bright array;
The king of glory passes
on his way.