FROM THE DESK OF WILL SPOKES, SENIOR PASTOR
Jesus, I My Cross Have Taken
Jesus, I my cross have taken,
All to leave and follow Thee.
Destitute, despised, forsaken,
Thou from hence my all shall be.
Perish every fond ambition,
All I’'ve sought or hoped or known.
Yet how rich is my condition!
God and heaven are still my own.
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!
What is grace? In the New Testament grace means God’s love in action towards [people] who merited the opposite of love. Grace means God moving heaven and earth to save sinners who could not lift a finger to save themselves. Grace means God sending His only Son to descend into hell on the cross so that we guilty ones might be reconciled to God and received into heaven. ‘(God) hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him’ (2 Corinthians 5:21).
What is a Christian? The question can be answered in many ways, but the richest answer I know is that a Christian is one who has God for his Father.
Confession of Sin:
Prayer of Confession
Merciful Father, forgive us the sins of our tongues—for deception and untruthfulness in our dealings with others; for resentment, coldness, impatience, and ill temper. Forgive us for the sins of our eyes—for impurity in our glances and imagination; for pining after more beauty, comfort, status, and wealth than you have given us. Forgive us the sins of our hearts—for hard-heartedness toward you and our neighbors; for pride, self-absorption, self-pity; and above all for rebelling against you and doubting your love. Father, remove our fear, envy and pride and melt our hearts with the good news of the Gospel. Transform us by your grace to live wholly for your glory. Take away our mourning and replace it with songs of joy, for it is in Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
Words of Grace
My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.
1 John 2:1-2
Confession of Faith: Westminster Shorter Catechism (1646)
Q. 34. What is adoption?
A. Adoption is an act of God’s free grace, whereby we are received into the number, and have a right to all the privileges of the sons of God.
14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.
Sermon Text: Mark 11:27-12:12
11:27 And they came again to Jerusalem. And as he was walking in the temple, the chief priests and the scribes and the elders came to him, 28 and they said to him, “By what authority are you doing these things, or who gave you this authority to do them?” 29 Jesus said to them, “I will ask you one question; answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things. 30 Was the baptism of John from heaven or from man? Answer me.” 31 And they discussed it with one another, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ 32 But shall we say, ‘From man’?”— they were afraid of the people, for they all held that John really was a prophet. 33So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And Jesus said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.”
12:1 And he began to speak to them in parables. “A man planted a vineyard and put a fence around it and dug a pit for the winepress and built a tower, and leased it to tenants and went into another country. 2 When the season came, he sent a servant to the tenants to get from them some of the fruit of the vineyard.3 And they took him and beat him and sent him away empty-handed. 4 Again he sent to them another servant, and they struck him on the head and treated him shamefully. 5 And he sent another, and him they killed. And so with many others: some they beat, and some they killed. 6 He had still one other, a beloved son. Finally he sent him to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ 7But those tenants said to one another, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’ 8 And they took him and killed him and threw him out of the vineyard. 9 What will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and destroy the tenants and give the vineyard to others. 10 Have you not read this Scripture:
“‘The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone;
11 this was the Lord’s doing,
and it is marvelous in our eyes’?”
12 And they were seeking to arrest him but feared the people, for they perceived that he had told the parable against them. So they left him and went away.
1. A Claim of ultimate authority (11:27-33; 12:1-8)
2. A threat to our independence (11:32; 12:12; 12:10)
3. A promise of grace (12:11; 12:6-10a)
Jesus has come to Jerusalem and the Religious Leaders have taken notice (v. 27). And not just any Religious Leaders but the chief priests and the scribes and the elders, that is, the Sanhedrin, the most powerful religious and political body in Judaism at the time, especially with respect to the Temple. Nothing happened in the Temple without their permission and endorsement. But something had happened. "And they said to him, 'By what authority are you doing these things, or who gave you this authority to do them?'" (v. 28) What are they talking about? What had Jesus done? Earlier in chapter 11, on his second day in Jerusalem, Jesus walked into 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. And he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. 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.” And 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." (v. 15-18) He was claiming authority over the affairs of God's house and God's mission to the nations. But as you might expect the Religious Leaders didn't like that very much so they came to Jesus and asked him in effect, "Who do you think you are?"
In response Jesus does two things. First he asks the Religious Leaders a question about John's baptism (1:9-11). Was it from God or from man? The Religious Leaders hem and haw and eventually say they don't know more out of fear and pride than ignorance. But why does Jesus ask about John's baptism? Because the sole purpose of John's ministry was to prepare the way for the one to come (1:7-8), which culminated in his baptism of Jesus. Jesus' baptism was the declaration of his identity as the beloved Son of God come to do his Father's will. Second Jesus tells a parable in 12:1-9 to help explain what he meant by recalling John's baptism. It's a parable that draws from passages like Isaiah 5 in which God describes his people like a vineyard that he tends and cares for. Therefore, Jesus is saying, God is my Father, I am his son, and the Vineyard belongs to me. In other words, Jesus is saying these people belong to me, this temple belongs to me, this city belongs to me, this land belongs to me, all of creation belongs to me. It is an ultimate claim of authority to proclaim good news to the poor...to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. (Luke 4:18-19)
But second, it's a claim that threatens our independence. Jesus' authority was a direct threat to the popularity and status and power of the Religious Leaders. They were afraid of the people (11:32; 12:12). Like the tenants in the parable of the vineyard, they were plotting and scheming to use God's gifts for their own purposes rather than for God's glory and the good of others. They were living like owners rather than stewards. What about us? Are we living more like owners or stewards of God's grace and gifts? Jesus' authority roots out pride and fear; the desire to live independently from him.
What does this independence look like? Jesus gives us a metaphor drawn from Psalm 118...the cornerstone. A cornerstone is the focal point of a building, the stone on which it depends for structural integrity. It serves as a metaphor for the center of your life; your efforts to build your life on something other than God. Therefore, Jesus is saying unless I am the cornerstone of your life it will collapse no matter how great it may be. How can you identify the cornerstones in your life? Look for pride...the things you look to to give you a sense of worth and value. Look for fear...the things you want and can't get; the things you have and are afraid to lose. This is the problem of the human heart. So how do we get out of this mess?
Third Jesus gives us a promise of grace. The owner of the vineyard sends several servants to recoup the fruit of his vineyard but they are all beaten or killed. Thinking the tenants will respect his son, he sends his beloved son who also is killed and cast out of the vineyard. At first this owner seems either callous or stupid. But Jesus says something marvelous is going on here (12:11), that God is up to something glorious, it's the radical, costly message of grace. Throughout the OT God had sent his servants the prophets to his people and they were rejected and sometimes killed...John the Baptist being a case in point (6:14-29). Jesus is the beloved son sent by a holy and loving God to rebellious sinners in order that we might be rescued. So now instead of the judgment of 12:9 falling on us...What will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and destroy the tenants and give the vineyard to others...it has fallen on Jesus. The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone, this is the Lord's doing and it is marvelous in our eyes!
For it stands in Scripture:
“Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone,
a cornerstone chosen and precious,
and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”
1 Peter 2:6
- 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?
- What "cornerstones" do pride and fear point to in your life?
- What is marvelous to you about this passage?
"Place" is a big deal at RMC. What does it mean to be a church for the city...a church that prays for the city and seeks its welfare and prosperity? One of the things it means is becoming a good student of the city: its trends and changes in order to adapt and serve wisely and sustainably. I recently came across a good example of paying attention to trends and changes in a city. In this articleThe Coffee Curse: Why Coffee Shops Have Always Signaled Urban Changethe writer looks back over 350 years of history at the role coffee shops have played in the city of London both past and present. I couldn't help but think of our city and coffee shops like Saturn or Urban Standard or Red Cat. Hope you enjoy it.
Songs for this week:
Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing
O Love That Will Not Let Me Go
Come All Ye Pining Hungry Poor
Jesus, I Come
Sermon passage for this week: Mark 12:13-17
Until next time,
Jesus, I My Cross Have Taken
Soul, then know thy full salvation
Rise o’'er sin and fear and care
Joy to find in every station,
Something still to do or bear.
Think what Spirit dwells within thee,
Think what Father’s smiles are thine,
Think that Jesus died to win thee,
Child of heaven, canst thou repine.