FROM THE DESK OF WILL SPOKES, SENIOR PASTOR
Jesus Lover Of My Soul
Other refuge have I none,
I helpless, hang on Thee;
Leave, oh leave me not alone,
Support and comfort me.
All my trust on Thee is stayed,
All help from Thee I bring;
Cover my defenseless head
In the shadow of Thy wing.
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:
Grace is a New Testament technical term meaning love to the unlovely and seemingly unlovable, love that is primarily not a passion evoked by something in the loved one, but a purpose of making the loved one great and glad: love that to this end gives, never mind the cost, and rescues those in need, never mind their unworthiness. – J.I. Packer
Confession of Sin:
Prayer of Confession
We confess, our Father, that we do not live up to the family name. We are more ready to resent than to forgive, more ready to manipulate than to serve, more ready to fear than to love, more ready to keep our distance than to welcome, more ready to compete than to help. At the root of this behavior is mistrust and self-love. We do not love one another as we should, because we do not believe that you love us as you do. Forgive us our cold unbelief. And make more vivid to us the gift and power of your love at the cross. Show us what it cost you to give up your Son that we might become your sons and daughters. We ask this in the name of Jesus, our only righteousness. Amen.
Words of Grace
Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.
1 John 3:2-3
Confession of Faith: Westminster Shorter Catechism (1646)
Q. 36. What are the benefits which in this life do accompany or flow from justification, adoption, and sanctification?
A. The benefits which in this life do accompany or flow from justification, adoption, and sanctification, are assurance of God’s love, peace of conscience, joy in the Holy Spirit, increase of grace, and perseverance therein to the end.
Sermon Text: Mark 12:28-34
18 And Sadducees came to him, who say that there is no resurrection. And they asked him a question, saying, 19 “Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies and leaves a wife, but leaves no child, the man must take the widow and raise up offspring for his brother. 20 There were seven brothers; the first took a wife, and when he died left no offspring. 21 And the second took her, and died, leaving no offspring. And the third likewise. 22 And the seven left no offspring. Last of all the woman also died. 23 In the resurrection, when they rise again, whose wife will she be? For the seven had her as wife.”
24 Jesus said to them, “Is this not the reason you are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God? 25 For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. 26 And as for the dead being raised, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the passage about the bush, how God spoke to him, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? 27 He is not God of the dead, but of the living. You are quite wrong.”
1. The question the Sadducees ask (v. 18-23)
2. The rebuke Jesus gives (v. 24)
3. The assurance of the resurrection (v. 25-27)
Jesus is getting hammered by questions in this section of Mark. Passage after passage Jesus is engaged in serious debate with the religious and political leaders of his day.
In this passage the Sadducees come to Jesus asking about the resurrection. However, they do so by appealing to the law of levirate marriage found in Deuteronomy 25. The 1st Century, Jewish historian, Josephus explained the law of levirate marriage like this: "When a woman is left childless on her husband’s death, the husbands brother shall marry her, and shall call the child that shall be born by the name of the deceased and rear him as heir to the estate; for this will at once be profitable to the public welfare, houses not dying out and property remaining with the relatives, and it will moreover bring the women an alleviation of their misfortune to live with the nearest kinsman of their former husband."
There a couple things you need to know about the Sadducees. They only accepted the first five books of the Old Testament as God's word and they didn't believe in an afterlife. So their appeal to the law of levirate marriage was intended to make Jesus look stupid by means of a hypothetical riddle.
However, Jesus responds with a stinging rebuke. "You know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God." That's quite a thing to say to religious experts. It would be like saying Wall Street knows nothing about finance. However, their very question demonstrates Jesus' point. The law of levirate marriage wasn't about the resurrection. It was about God's tangible mercy to people in a desperate and vulnerable situation. "Levirate marriage was an ancient solution to the [hardship and vulnerability] of the widowed and childless woman…. A childless widow had no secure place in ancient society." Not only that Jesus' rebuke implicitly claimed that what the Sadducees thought they knew best, they in fact knew the least. They were misusing scripture and in doing so missing the God of the scriptures. They were vulnerable not at their weak spots but at their strong points.
How might this apply to us? The very things in our lives we are the best at, the proudest of, or care most deeply about may in fact be the greatest hindrances to understanding and enjoying the grace and mercy of God. Why is that? Because all of those things by default become our righteousness, self-salvation strategies. In our culture, they describe the things from which we derive our value and worth and security in the world. So what can be done about this problem? What would the Sadducees need to do to begin to see themselves and God the way Jesus does? They would need to see their need to repent not only for the bad things they've done but for the the reasons why they ever did anything good. In other words, they need to repent of their righteousness. Consider the Pharisee in Luke 18. Pharisees repent of their sins and yet are still self-righteous and look down on other people. However, a Christian is someone who not only repents of his/her sin but of his/her righteousness because only the righteousness of Jesus can save a sinner. Have you grasped this? Are you learning to repent of your righteousness?
But let's be honest. When you begin to see that your righteousness isn't perhaps as righteous as you once thought...it can be very disruptive and even scary. It can feel like you are losing control, even losing your very identity. If that's you, you are far closer to grasping the free grace of God in Jesus than you might realize. Therefore, Jesus gives us assurance in this passage that what God promised to do will lead to and end in resurrection life! Jesus quotes from Exodus 3 when God appears to Moses in the burning bush and specifically one of God's names..."I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob." This is covenantal language. Language that describes God's character as the God who makes promises to people who don't deserve them and he keeps them. For Jesus the resurrection is the logical outworking of God's covenant promises throughout scripture. Not even death can thwart God's love, grace, and commitment to his people. What matters most isn't or legacy or the name we leave behind but God's covenant promises!
However, death is real as we all know and so did Martha in John 11 when her brother Lazarus died. Jesus responding to Martha in her grief said, "I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?" You see Jesus doesn't just argue for the resurrection, he is the resurrection! He is the fulfillment of all God's covenant promises because his resurrection also presupposes his suffering and death which guarantees our forgiveness and reconciliation and welcome into God's family.
It is for this reason that Jesus declares in verse 25 that resurrection life will be very different than life this side of his return. Jesus' point isn't that we will turn into angels. His point is we will be like the angels in that we will experience the intimacy, love and joy of perfect communion with Jesus around his wedding supper (Rev. 19). Therefore, Jesus is teaching that marriage isn't an end in itself but a clue or a glimpse of the perfect spousal love of Jesus for us (Eph. 5:25-27).
Practically this means if you are married don't expect to be the perfect spouse and don't expect your spouse to be the perfect spouse. Instead think of your marriage as a gift from Jesus to discover in tangible concrete ways his spousal love for you: the cost of forgiveness and the freeness of grace. If you're not married, as wonderful as marriage can be, it is derivative of Jesus' love for you on the cross. In view of the gospel marriage is not the end all be all of life this side of heaven. Therefore, you can still long to be married without feeling like your life is on hold without it. Ultimately Jesus' teaching here on marriage and the resurrection is intended to fix our eyes on him and the gospel!
- 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 would you explain what it means "to repent of your righteousness?"
- Why is the resurrection important for dealing with the challenge of marriage or longing for marriage now?
- What promises from God do you see in this passage you most need to cling to this week?
The longer I live the more rich and meaningful the Psalms become! No one has helped me discover and enjoy God's gift of the Psalms more than Eugene Peterson. One of my favorite books of his on the Psalms is called Answering God. However, I recently came across a video interview between Bono (U2) and Eugene Peterson talking about the Psalms. I thought you might enjoy listening to their conversation. Fascinating! Here is a little teaser...Bono sings Psalm 23 a cappella.
Songs for this week:
Come, Christians Join To Sing
We Love Thy Holy Name
O The Deep, Deep Love Of Jesus
My Jesus, I Love Thee
Lift Up Your Head Ye Mighty Gates
Sermon passage for this week: Mark 12:28-34
Until next time,
Jesus Lover Of My Soul
Plenteous grace with Thee is found,
Grace to cover all my sin;
Let the healing streams abound;
Make and keep me pure within.
Thou of life the fountain art,
Let me take of Thee;
Spring Thou up within my heart;
For all eternity.