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Sermon24-8 Mark8 Guide

Mark 8:21-25, theme verse Mark 8:21

The praise and honor and glory be to our heavenly Father who seeks true worshipers who worship Him with the Spirit and truth.

Today in the third Sunday of 2024, I pray that God may bless you all in His love, grace and blessings. Last week, we learned that the first Gospel of Mark begins to proclaim “the beginning of Gospel of Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God” and the gospel of Jesus Christ was the good news that “the kingdom of God arrived so that we have to repent and believe in that Gospel.” And then, when Jesus appointed twelve apostles to proclaim and teach this secret of the kingdom of God, yet, since they did not understand it well so they were rebuked several times, hearing “Do you not yet understand?” Even after the incident of being rebuked, as Mark recorded the incident the blind in Bethsaida could be healed to see clearly after two anointing of Jesus, Mark tried to explain that the understanding of the kingdom of God was so difficult for His disciples. So, after reviewing all the stories regarding the kingdom of God in the gospel of Mark, we would like to try to understand what it is and learn few lessons together.

1)    Regardless of any book, the first verse or introduction begins with a brief introduction of the book's contents so that if we look at the beginning of the four Gospels, we can clearly understand what the Gospel focuses on. The Gospel of Mark begins by declaring, “This is the beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God” so that we can clearly see that the Gospel of Mark is a story about the gospel proclaimed by Christ. And then after Mark briefly recorded the story of John the Baptist, who prepared the way of the Lord, and the Lord's baptism and trials in the wilderness, that is, the Lord's preparation for His ministries, he immediately proclaims that the good news is that “The kingdom of God has come, so repent and believe in the gospel.”

2)    In other words, the gospel is the good news that “the kingdom of God has arrived.” Here, the kingdom of God refers to the kingdom where God’s reign is established, and people are called to obey that reign of God. But, in the gospel of Mark, rather than explaining the meaning of the kingdom of God explicitly, Mark conveys its meaning implicitly through the various ministries of Jesus and his teachings.

3)    So, if we look at the overall work of the Lord introduced in the Gospel of Mark as summary, (a) first, Mark recorded Jesus’s teaching  about the kingdom of God, I mean, about who will enter the kingdom of God and what the characteristics are through the parable of the mustard seed, the parable of the four seeds that fell on the ground, and those who repent and support it like children will enter it, etc.. (b) Secondly, Mark showed that when God’s reign is restored, demons will be driven out, sick people will be healed, and even those who were hungry will eat their daily bread. (c) And thirdly, Mark recorded that Jesus revealed His divinity as even the winds and waves of the Sea of Galilee obeyed His words, and He had the power to forgive sins. (d) And then fourthly, Mark recorded that Jesus called and equipped His disciples to continue this kingdom ministry, by giving them the power to cast out demons, training them to do the healing ministry, while teaching them the secrets of the kingdom of God so that they could preach the secret of the kingdom of God. And after performing these amazing works, when many people came to see the Lord, the Lord said that the reason why He came is to proclaim the kingdom of God in many areas. As such Mark wanted to reveal that the kingdom of God had arrived not only in Judea but also in the entire world by recording that He performed His kingdom ministries, not only in the Jewish region but also in the lands of the Gentiles. And in addition to all these earthly ministries, Mark ended the Gospel of Mark by recording Jesus vicarious Atonement ministry on the cross as the foundation for opening this kingdom of God.

4)    So, we can summarize the characteristics of the kingdom of God mentioned in the Gospel of Mark that Jesus Christ came to bring the kingdom of God to this earth and set it foundation through His various atonement ministry. And He prepared His disciples to delegated this kingdom ministry to them. And those who have received forgiveness of sins and humbly accept the kingdom of God like a child can enter. And In this kingdom of God, not only are demons driven out and sick people healed, but also our daily bread given.

5)    And in this kingdom of God, there is a moral law, I mean, How to live in the kingdom of God, which was taught by Jesus in chapter 12 verses 28 to 34, saying, “The most important is, ’Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” He taught us that the great commandments are summarized as love of God and love of neighbors, as a summary of the Ten Commandments, following the Shema from Deuteronomy 6: “Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one.” Here, love for God will be expressed as worshiping God in fear, and as commanded in the first to fourth commandments of the Ten Commandments says to worship the only God rightly and holy on holy day. Also, as commanded in the 5th to 10th commandments, loving neighbor means to respect human dignity, created in the image of God, by cherishing human life, family, possessions, and honor, and even without covetousness.

6)    And the Lord taught us who is great in the kingdom, while scolding the disciples for their vain quarrel over who was higher, saying, “Whoever would be great among you, you must be your servant and you must be slave of all (Mk10:43-44)” And in addition to that, as the Lord said, “For even the Son of Man came out to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many (Mk 10:45)”, He said again that “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all (Mk9:35).” As such the Lord taught us that loving one's neighbor means serving people so that those who are great in the kingdom of God are those who serve most.

7)    By the way, why do you think it is so difficult to understand the kingdom of God as it is said that many people and even the disciples did not understand the kingdom of God and they were so surprised and even afraid? If we think about them from three perspectives: (a) Firstly on the perspective of God, the gospel was brought to this earth by Christ, the Messiah, who is God, therefore as people trembled with fear whenever there was a divine appearance in the Old testament, as such since people witnessed His divine authority through the miracles such as exorcism or healing or calming the storm and His teachings about the secret of the kingdom of God, so that the people and even His disciples had to be surprised and even trembled with fear. (b) And secondly, in the human perspective, because of the finitude of human wisdom, even though Jesus taught the secret of the kingdom of God several times, yet His disciples could not understand his teachings well, hearing “Do you not yet understand?” But, actually since it was impossible for his disciples to understand the secret of God’s kingdom with human wisdom, that’s why the baptism of the Holy Spirit was mentioned through the mouth of John the Baptist in the beginning of the Gospel of Mark. (c) And thirdly, the reason why people could not fully understand the secret of the kingdom of God can be found in the characteristics of the kingdom of God itself, I mean, because the characteristics of the kingdom of God are completely different from those of this world. In other words, since human beings ate the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil in the Garden of Eden, human beings tried to reach the ultimate goodness by their own effort based on their own judgement of good and evil, but the Bible said that they failed. And then even though God opened new era by sending His Son as the Messiah who brought the kingdom of God where God reigns, but, human beings who used to do by own thoughts and effort, they could not understand it, since the life in the kingdom of God was totally different from that of the world.

8)    And one more reason people could not understand the secret of the kingdom of God proclaimed by the Lord was that the secret of the kingdom of God was very radical and challenging as the Lord challenged His disciples to deny themselves, I mean, their wisdom and strength, and to take up their own cross, I mean, to abandon their families or house or even their lives. And also even though following the the kingdom of God promised eternal life in the age to come and even a hundredfold blessings now in this time, but it was not easy to understand it, since the way and time in God’s Sovereign ruling and providence are unknown to human beings, as Mark recorded these uncomfortable truths clearly in his Gospel.

9)    So, the Lord rebuked his disciples several times, saying “Do you not yet understand?” when they did not understand, even though He taught several times as today's text begins with. However, coincidentally, after Mark records the incident that his disciples were rebuked for not understanding the Lord's will, the fact Mark recorded this incident that the blind man was completely healed and saw everything clearly only after the Lord laid his hands on him twice seemed very meaningful to me, as Mark criticized his disciples who could not understand even with several teaching of Jesus.

10) Through today's passage, we would like to learn few things. First, the human history in the Bible clearly shows us that human history by their own judgement of good or evil and their own effort to reach the ultimate goodness was the history of failure as we can see human history after being expelled from Eden ended up with the flood judgement due to the evilness of their thoughts and deeds, and also, as we can see new human race, who began with Noah's family whom God saved by grace from the flood judgment, even  receiving more common grace and the commandment of the prohibition of murder and the prohibition of eating the blood of animals, arrogantly built the Tower of Babel to oppose God, so that after their languages were divided, they ended up being scattered all over the world, and also as we can see even though God called Abraham to establish a nation of priests through Him, by giving them the Ten Commandments and regulations for the tabernacle, to allow them to live holy lives under God’s reign as God's people, but since they continued to practice idolatry, injustice, and immorality, against God’s law, they ended up with being destroyed and taken captive to Babylon, the Old Testament clearly shows us that the human history was failure, and also even though God has opened a new era by sending his Son as the Messiah, which was the kingdom of God where God reigns in that kingdom, but, since the life style in this kingdom of God was so different from that human beings used to live for few thousand years already, so it was too difficult to understand the secret of the kingdom of God.

11) Secondly, the thing we would like to think about is whether even we can understand this gospel, because the kingdom of God came from God, who is omnipotent and omnipotent and whose wisdom is infinite and secondly because the kingdom of God come to this world through the Son of God died for us on the cross. But, ironically, the stubbornness and even foolishness of His disciples recorded throughout the Gospel of Mark actually gives me hope in some ways, because the Gospel of Mark clearly records that the understanding of the kingdom of God was not the result of disciples’ wisdom or power. Instead it is said that the kingdom of God is planted by God, a Farmer as a seed, in other words, God, who is the farmer, sew the seeds of the word in our hearts, His chosen ones’ hearts and secondly, as we can see in today's text, it is said that the Lord did not abandon the disciples who did not understand, yet stayed with them until the end to enlighten them, just as the Lord laid hands on the blind man in Bathsaida twice and completely healed him as today’s text said. And even after his ascension, He sent the Holy Spirit to dwell in the disciples’ mind, so that they grew in the kingdom of God with the power of the kingdom of God, so that when their time finally came, some 10 years after the death of Jesus, and others 40 years after, as the Lord died in the cross, they were crucified, as God raised their faith so that they could carry their cross until the point of martyrdom. That's right. Since our Lord knows very well that we cannot understand the secret of the kingdom of God in our own human wisdom and strength, that is why the Lord is still with us through the Holy Spirit, and al He clothed us with the power of the kingdom of God and made us grow until we understand, believe and practice the secrets of the kingdom of God, as His disciples. I believe this is the message that Mark wanted to convey to us in his Gospel, and the mystery and power of the kingdom of God. Therefore I pray our Lord may give us grace and wisdom and strength to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow the Lord from wherever we stand, to wherever He leads us.

Key Questions as Small Group Activity

Q1 In today’s text, we can know that the kingdom of God is the reign of God which comes from the seed of the Word which was planted in our mind. In other words, the kingdom of God cannot be started or completed by own faith or strength, instead it sprouts from the seed God planted to grow and ripen the fruits. After thinking about this, I hope you can share your thought with grace each other.

Q2 But, it is said that the kingdom of God could be inaugurated after the Son of God came this world to be crucified in the cross. Why do you think only this way the kingdom of God can arrive here? After thinking about why, I hope you could share your thoughts with your team members to share few lessons together.

Love you. Thank you. God bless you.

Prayer Note

Dear ( God’s attribute which you found Today ) God!

Thanks for ( something you received through the sermon or  even during the week )

Praise, gratitude and glory be to You, Lord!

Today, I realized my sin (pains) that ( the sin God reminded through the sermon ),

please forgive (or heal) me and help me not to repeat ( the sins you recognized   ).

I learned that ( something you learned through the sermon                                    )

Please help me to live in that (  learned way of life                                                )

I pray in ( Jesus’ attribute you find ) Jesus’ name. Amen.

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