FROM THE DESK OF WILL SPOKES, SENIOR PASTOR
How Sweet The Name Of Jesus Sounds
How sweet the Name of Jesus sounds
In a believer's ear!
It soothes his sorrow, heals his wounds,
And drives away his fear.
It makes the wounded spirit whole,
And calms the troubled breast;
'Tis manna to the hungry soul,
And to the weary, rest.
Welcome to the Red Mountain Sunday Recap!
The Sunday Recap is a brief fly-by of what we did during Sunday worship. Did anything land with you from worship on Sunday? What did it make you think? How did it make you feel? What did you find especially sweet or challenging from God's word? What did we sing, read, or pray that left an impression on you?
Food For Thought!
All other forms of religion – not to mention philosophy – deal with the problem of guilt apart from the intervention of God, and therefore they come to a ‘cheap’ conclusion. In them man is spared the final humiliation of knowing that the Mediator must bear the punishment instead of him. To this yoke he need not submit. He is not stripped absolutely naked. - Emil Brunner
Biblical faith can be illustrated by considering the faith we would need when about to drive a vehicle across a rickety-looking bridge. We would not ask, ‘Have I got enough faith?’ Rather the appropriate question is, ‘Can this bridge take the load?’ Once we can answer in the affirmative, the question about faith vanishes. Faith is just there because of what we perceive about its object. When faith is lacking the antidote is not introspective self-examination but contemplation of the object of our faith: Jesus the Lord, our sufficient Savior. - Graeme Goldsworthy
Confession of Sin:
Prayer of Confession
Father, Son and Holy Spirit, not one day of my life has passed that has not proved me guilty in your sight. Prayers have been uttered from a prayerless heart; my best efforts to love you and others are but filthy rags. All things in me call for my rejection but all things in Christ plead for my acceptance. I appeal from the throne of perfect justice to your throne of boundless grace. Grant me to hear your voice assuring me of the gospel of your Son: that by his stripes I am healed, that he was bruised for my iniquities, that he was made sin for me that I might be declared righteous before you, that my grievous sins, my many sins, are all forgiven. I am guilty, but pardoned, lost, but saved, wandering, but found, sinning, but cleansed. Give me perpetual broken-heartedness, keep me always clinging to the cross of our Lord and Savior in whose name we pray. Amen.
Words of Grace
He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
1 Peter 2:22-25
Confession of Faith: Westminster Shorter Catechism (1646)
Q. 33. What is justification?
A. Justification is an act of God’s free grace, wherein he pardons all our sins, and accepts us as righteous in his sight, only for the righteousness of Christ imputed to us, and received by faith alone.
Sermon Text: Mark 11:27-12:12
1 Now when they drew near to Jerusalem, to Bethphage and Bethany, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples 2 and said to them, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately as you enter it you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever sat. Untie it and bring it. 3 If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord has need of it and will send it back here immediately.’” 4 And they went away and found a colt tied at a door outside in the street, and they untied it. 5 And some of those standing there said to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?” 6 And they told them what Jesus had said, and they let them go. 7 And they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it, and he sat on it. 8 And many spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut from the fields. 9 And those who went before and those who followed were shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! 10 Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!”
11 And he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple. And when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve.
12 On the following day, when they came from Bethany, he was hungry. 13 And seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to see if he could find anything on it. When he came to it, he found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. 14 And he said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard it.
15 And they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold and those who bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. 16 And he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. 17 And he was teaching them and saying to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a den of robbers.” 18And the chief priests and the scribes heard it and were seeking a way to destroy him, for they feared him, because all the crowd was astonished at his teaching. 19 And when evening came they went out of the city.
20 As they passed by in the morning, they saw the fig tree withered away to its roots. 21 And Peter remembered and said to him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree that you cursed has withered.” 22 And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God. 23 Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. 24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. 25 And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”
1. Receive the King God sent (v. 1-11)
2. Embrace God's mission to the world (v. 15-19; esp. v. 17; Isaiah 56:6-8)
3. Look in faith to the new temple (v. 22-25)
With chapter 11, we begin the last section of Mark's gospel which will culminate in the death and resurrection of Jesus. Throughout chapters 8-10 Jesus has been journeying "on the way" to Jerusalem and he has told us three times what will take place. (Mk. 8:31; 9:30-31; 10:33-34)
See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death and deliver him over to the Gentiles. And they will mock him and spit on him, and flog him and kill him. And after three days he will rise. (Mk. 10:33-34)
In Mark 8:31 Jesus says he will be rejected by the religious leaders. Why would they do that? In short, Jesus challenges everything they ever thought about who God is and how he works in the world. This comes through perhaps no where more clearly than in Mark 11:1-25. Upon arriving in Jerusalem, the first place Jesus goes is to the Temple only to find it in total disarray. It had become a marketplace of religious wares. Think the New York Stock Exchange but add in livestock and you get the idea. Not only that, all of this was taking place in the Court of the Gentiles, the place where non-jews were permitted to come and worship. What was meant to be a place of worship and prayer for the lowest and the least had been usurped by the Religious Leaders for buying and selling items for Temple worship to pilgrims traveling to Jerusalem for Passover.
Jesus will have none of it. He drove out the money-changers, overturned tables, and indicted the Religious Leaders for forsaking God's mission to the world! And he was teaching them and saying to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a den of robbers.” (v. 17) In other words, the Temple, the place where God promised to meet with his people and to welcome the nations into a relationship with him had become spiritually barren. That's the point of the fig tree. Mark sandwiches Jesus' "cleansing of the Temple" with the bit about the fig tree to show what had happened to the Temple. "He intends readers to see in the fate of the unfruitful fig tree the judgment of God on the unfruitful Temple." (Edwards) The leafy fig tree showed all the signs of fruit but with no fruit...just like the temple. How did this happen?
God's people, particularly the religious leaders, had lost sight of God's heart for the nations. They had turned God's grace and promises into an exclusive club. For many people this is one of their greatest objections to Christianity, it's exclusive. The popular expectation of the Messiah in Jesus' day was that he would purge Jerusalem and the temple of Gentiles, aliens and foreigners. But notice Jesus does the exact opposite. He clears the temple FOR the Gentiles! The gospel is inclusive of all people who would turn to him in faith and repentance! But this doesn't come without great cost...the life of Jesus. And the chief priests and the scribes ...were seeking a way to destroy him (v. 18).
The implications of this for a church like RMC are trenchant and profound. What Jesus is telling us is the church exists not only for our own sake but for the sake of our friends and neighbors who have yet to discover the mercy and grace of God in Jesus Christ. The church's life and ministry is to be patterned after Jesus' life and ministry. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners (2:17). If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me (8:34).
Therefore, what do we need to do to grow as a Gospel-centered church aligned with God's mission? First we need to receive the King God sent. Jesus' entry into Jerusalem is built on the words of Zechariah 9:9 and the coming king, humble and mounted on a donkey. In other words, Jesus is no ordinary or predictable King. He possesses infinite majesty and yet is completely humble. Second we need to regularly reassess the life and ministry of our church for alignment with God's mission. In other words, a Gospel-centered church is fundamentally outward facing or selfless in its relationships internally and witness externally. Third we need to live by faith in God and his power to save and renew. Practically this looks like communing with God in prayer, marked by confidence and humility. Confidence that God can and will be faithful to take care of us and humility towards those who have wronged us because of God's grace and forgiveness toward us in Christ.
In other words, we need to look to the new temple, the Lord Jesus Christ who has opened the way to God for all people through faith in him!
- 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?
- How does a church deepen its commitment to God's mission to the world?
- What is the relationship between faith and prayer and what role do they play in the mission of the church?
The passage we looked at this week has some difficult sections especially with regard to prayer. Prayer is central to the Christian life and one of the greatest privileges a believer has. However, do we really understand prayer and the way God works through prayer? If you have questions about prayer, one of the best resources I could point you toward is this book. It addresses the theology of prayer but also many practical questions and roots both in the overall teaching of the bible on prayer. In other words, it helps us to see why we need the Gospel if we are ever to trust and delight in God through prayer.
Songs for this week:
The Heavens Declare Thy Glory
How Firm A Foundation
Nothing But The Blood
Jesus, I My Cross Have Taken
Christ Is Made The Sure Foundation
Sermon passage for this week: Mark 11:27-12:12
Until next time,
How Sweet The Name Of Jesus Sounds
By Thee, my prayers acceptance gain,
Although with sin defiled;
Satan accuses me in vain,
And I am owned a child.
Jesus, my Shepherd, Brother, Friend,
My Prophet, Priest, and King,
My Lord, my life, my way, my end,
Accept the praise I bring.