WHO C.A.R.E s…Jesus turns heads (Mk:1:14-45)

Fred flinstonesHoney, I’m Home!

We all love that “Fred Flinstones moment” if you remember those famous words from that Cartoon character- “Honey am Home”. That feeling when we show up home from a long day and open the door and everyone acknowledges us. When the kids run to us to greet us and are eager to see what we have for them, when our wives or spouses receive us with a warm embrace and help us get the luggage off our hands, when the house help turns up the stove or sets the table to acknowledge dinner should be ready in a few. Even the cat moves out from your shared favorite seat. We love it, when everyone C.A.R.Es that we are here. Imagine coming home to a place that no one cares.

When the children won’t turn their heads from the TV even to acknowledge, or when your spouse ignores your entry and won’t even say Hi, or even when the dog or cat, still remains seated as though you are not there…..

Who C.A.R.Es? So who cares that the promised Messiah is in town, Who cares that Jesus is God? This is the question I would like us to reflect on as we proceed with our study of Mark.

Listen/Read Text Mark 1:14-45

From the very brief Intro last week, the scene quickly changes- Jesus begins his ministry in his home area (Galilee). As we will see, He begins to turn heads and draw the attention of the Jews and gentiles alike but also of us. He draws the attention of the religious rulers, He draws the attention of the political and social world order, he draws the attention of the Spiritual world and unseen powers. As we read ask yourself- How has Jesus drawn your attention. Do you even C.A.R.E

After John the Baptist was put in prison, Jesus begun to preach.

If you remember last week, one of the lessons John taught us about preparing the way is getting out of the way. And God did put Him away in prison and eventually He was killed by Herod as we will see. But the point here is that God fulfilled John’s prayer that ‘He must decrease and that Jesus must Increase’. John could not share the stage with Jesus, So he was put away. Again How have you prepared the Way for Jesus

But more importantly is the message or the content of the Good News that Jesus went around proclaiming

“The time has come, The Kingdom of God has come near, repent and believe the good news”

“God’s time ‘Kairos’ not our 24 hour timing ‘Kronos’ had come. The long awaited season of God’s mighty Acts of Salvation as prophesied many years had come.  This was the appointed time in history. Mark summarizes his message in this statement – The Kingdom has come near, Repent and believe the good news. The rest of the book just as the other Gospels demonstrates the ushering of this Kingdom through Jesus Christ in his Acts and Teachings.

But what really is the Kingdom?

For some, the Kingdom is heaven, or a spiritual experience, something we must build, the thousand-year rule of Christ, or part of the end times. Some highlight the rule of God in our hearts. Others emphasize the realm or location of his rule. Each focus of belief identifies important issues but none of these defines the Kingdom adequately.

If heavenly only, then the Kingdom is an inheritance after we die. If spiritual experience, then the Kingdom is subjective and free to everyone’s interpretation. If it is something we build, then it is a product of our activity and effort. If it is the thousand year rule of Christ, then how do we understand all preceding years.

The Kingdom simply put is “God’s eternal Plan”

It’s more than just a realm or place. God’s eternal plan gives substance and meaning to everything else in history. It’s the big answer to the question in history “Why”. This plan expresses God’s thought and heart of the matter. This plan ultimately is God himself expressing His LIFE to the world.

In this sense then “The coming of Jesus into the world- Was God trying to say “guys here is my plan” In and through Jesus we see God’s intent and plan.

Jesus taught us to pray “Your Kingdom come, in other words- Let that eternal plan take its full course. We welcome you- Jesus, We welcome God’s Plan, We welcome God’s LIFE to be expressed in and through us.

But Jesus calls us to Repent and Believe in this Good News about the Kingdom. To repent is not just to say sorry and feel remorseful, but a complete turn of direction. Jesus calls us to turn away or Repent off our Plans and turn to God’s plan. In this message we are confronted with the question- Who C.A.R.Es about God’s Plan, when I have got mine?

God calls us to CARE- Allow me to elaborate about God’s Kingdom plan through these words CARE. And as you read scripture- at the heart God always calls us to Repent through these 4 conflicts.

C- Who is at the Centre? God is at the Center of His Kingdom Plans, not people. Not us. Our plans are different from his. We are at the center of ours. Our thoughts, purposes, and wills dominate. Whatever else our plans may be, they are not Kingdom plans. Everything about this plan must be ‘HIS’. So the call is to Repent from Mine, Ours, to His

A-What authority do we listen to- We are all confronted with the question “Who says so? This is a question of Interpretation and Revelation. Revelation is God’s way to let us know his plan. If he does not show the plan, we cannot know it. Revelation has authority; interpretations do not because they let people occupy the center instead of God.

Jesus, declared that He is the Way the Truth and the LIFE, no one goes to the father except through Him. Jesus came to confront all other authors and interpreters of the Way- He confronted those who believed in the law and the interpreters of the Law as the way. The Call was to repent from our human interpretations to God’s revelation, in other words stop debating about ‘which way’ by your ‘who says’ and turn to hear what the way has to say. There is so much wisdom going around- this world runs on experts- but Jesus says God’s Kingdom does not come to us through experts and intellects.

R- How do we respond, How do we respond to the Kingdom- God calls us to respond to His plan by faith not religion. The Jews just as we are had many religious expressions that too often were life-less. (yesterday at our couples retreat) But Faith is alive. Responding to God not in a religious way but acknowledging the real heart behind the command. Do you really believe in Jesus or do you just believe in Jesus?

E- What is the Express outcome- If we truly repent from our plans to God’s plan, wait on him for his revelation and not rely on our human interpretations and respond by faith and not by religion, the express outcome is Kingdom LIFE. The Kingdom surely has come. We no longer go about defining cultures and societies the way we have known them, but the Kingdom of God comes literally in our areas of influence. We become salt and light to this world. We are no longer just luhyas, Kikuyus, rich or poor, young or old, Kenyans or Americans- No we become agents of God’s LIFE. The body of Christ and that is transformation.

As I have said, these questions are very important both to us in this day as it was in those days. The rest of the Gospel is about this Kingdom plan and how it confronts us to ask the question do I C.A.R.E that the Kingdom has come. Again- Do I Care about my plans and not got plans, Do I care about God’s revelation or my own Interpretations or Do I Care that I respond by Faith and not religion and Do I care that I express God’s Kingdom and not just my church, my country, my community cultures.

 

So Who C.A.R.Es

Jesus goes on to call His first disciples? Will they CARE? Their journey was about to take many interesting turns. Jesus would affect everything they CARED about. Their families, their carriers and their lives.

In those times- the essence of schooling and education is that parents assigned their young men to a renowned wise man (rabbi) to learn. The teachers of the Law used this same way to teach about the laws. They had disciples who would walk along with them to learn as much as they could from their teacher. It was a common practice, even John has disciples at this very time. Having disciples meant a movement or people of a certain school of thought.

What is important about the calling of these 4 and then later 12 is that the Number was significant, just as the composition was significant. Jesus wanted to make a statement about his selection and number of these 12. What kind of disciples are fit for the Kingdom, What Kind of Disciple- CAREs about the Kingdom.

12 was already a common figure among the Jews. It represented the Nation of Israel, God’s chosen people from the 12 tribes of Israel. But while most were Jews their composition reflected a mixed up and scattered Jewish nation, like Mathew the tax collector- who was said to be working with the Romans and Simon the Zealot who was said to be against the Romans, to simple fishermen who did not matter much in society.

Jesus was trying to show a new way that God would raise up a new Nation of Israel, those who would be in this Kingdom not through the law, but through faith. Those who would believe in Him, not just those whose ID’s said they were Jews. In this way then we who have believed in Jesus enjoin as his disciples of Jesus. We stand for a different school of thought- and that is “WE CARE”. We care that Jesus is LORD, We Care that Jesus is at the Centre, We care that He is the Ultimate authority, We care that our relationship is a living relationship of Faith and not religion, We care that ultimately we are here to make everything around us about Him and His, not ours.

So think about it- What would you say if Jesus was to call you and say Come and Follow me?- Come lets help you repent of your CAREs and take mine.

Fishing was an important industry around the sea of Galilee. From this, these 4 disciples earned their living, framed their culture and got their bread. This is what had given them their identities, they were jews, they were fishermen. This is what they CARED about. They did their duties, they went to the synagogues, they recited the laws, they took care of their families- And Jesus walks in and asks them “Follow me and I will make you fishers of Men”

The Call to discipleship is a call of Repentance- Turn away from your CARES and let me give you my CAREs. That’s what God is calling us to through this new vision EMERGE, You care too much about your plans, your authorities, your routines of response and your little world. Repent and Care about God’s plans, His Revelation, His desired response and His plans for the world.

The disciples may not have known much, but I am amazed, that even before they had seen any miracles- They left their cares and followed Him. They left their families and their careers and followed Him.

Jesus then leaves for Capernaum, and when the Sabbath came he went to the synagogues to teach. Because the temple was too far for many of the Jews to go to that was down in Jerusalem, Many towns had synagogues that served as places of worship and schools. A group of 10 Jewish families could start a Synagogue (basically a life group) (NB- says something to us about Church planting)

During the week, boys were taught the O.T and Jewish religion. Girls were not allowed, Each Saturday, the Sabbath the Jewish men would gather to listen to a rabbi teach from the scriptures. Because there was no permanent Rabbi or Teacher, it was customary for the synagogue leader to ask visiting teachers to speak. This is how come Jesus often taught in the synagogues of various towns he went to. But while the Jewish teachers taught from the scriptures and quoted well known Rabbi’s, Jesus did not need to.

He taught with such Authority- Because He was simply the Author. In Luke we have an example- Read Luke 4: 16-22

Jesus again emphasizes on that Conflict- He proves his authority as much greater than those of this world or the teachers of the law or the experts. His Authority was from God. This is what differentiated his teaching with those of the teachers of the Law.

“In their simple minds, they would ask – “it is written’, How do you interpret’- Instead Jesus answered ‘What was written was written about me- So now I say’, I author, I command that….

But Jesus Authority was not just a matter of words and empty talk. His Authority was demonstrated with Power. Here we have the first experience of exorcism and then later on healing of the sick. A man who is demon possessed comes and shouts

Read 25-28

“What do you want with us Jesus of Nazareth, Have you come to destroy us- I know who you are the Holy one of Israel.

The Source of Jesus authority became clear when he performed exorcism. In this he also proclaimed  that the Kingdom of God was dawning and the defeat of the evil one was beginning. Not only did Jesus coming confront the political and social world, even the Spiritual world was confronted- How did they CARE.

They acknowledged Jesus, acknowledged that the hour of God’s plan had come and they were put on notice. They confessed it themselves. Demon possession was an ailment that was known in the Jewish society. Unfortunately many mental illnesses were also thought to be demon possessed. But Jesus here confirms the reality of a spiritual world of evil that is opposing God’s plan by suppressing people in many forms. It is a reality we must also confront- The devil and his demons are real.

But most importantly- The Authority and Power we have in Christ is also Real.

The effects of Sin in Africa just as it was among the Jews is that there is a lot of oppression and human life has lost it’s sacredness. The society is ailing from politics, wars, famines and diseases and also the spiritual realities of our African traditions. Many leaders and people have violated the sacredness of life that was entrusted to them for oversight.

For this reason, one of the greatest theologies that has affected the African church is the idea of Jesus as Healer. To many African Christians, Jesus is conceived as the great physician, healer and victor over worldly oppressive powers par excellence. This is one of the greatest understandings of ‘He came so that we might have life and life abundantly’

So these aspects of Healing and Exorcism, have become a major reason that drives many to Churches today and have also been misused. Just like in Jesus time, they drew crowds.

We cannot deny the existence of these spiritual forces and their oppression on mankind, but we also must guard at the intentions and purposes they are used for today.

Jesus can indeed heal- One of the best understanding of healing is captured by a lady Mercy Muhia who said in an interview that

“When Christ comes into your life, something fundamental happens within you, and he begins a process of restoration. Your body disintegrates- that’s fine and I think as life has gone on, I am more and more accepting that because we live in a fallen world, disease is a must. Loss is a must. But more and more, I think I am understanding what it means for Christ to really heal, that there is restoration of the inner man that is also taking place. We are broken, in our sinfulness we are broken, our relationships, emotions, wills, and those things that have brought about our brokenness. And I think Christ is able to heal that, to heal very completely.

One of the surprising differences about Jesus healing was that His priority was the inner man- a restoration of His LIFE to those whose lives were oppressed by physical disease. He forgave them, loved them and touched them then he healed them. He healed not just the outward but the inward. The seen and the unseen. He is the total healer not just of the symptoms, but also of the course.

So Jesus ordered the Demon to be quiet and asking him to come out- In every case demons were confronted, they lost their power and authority and bowed to the ultimate power. His exorcism was not so elaborate, but His word was enough.

Jesus begun his action of  ministry from Peter’s mother in law- She healed him of fever and she begun to attend to them. Later the people came in the evening after sunset. From vs 21, that day was Sabbath, their day of rest lasting from sunset Friday to Sunset Saturday. The teachers of the law said it was against the law to be healed on Sabbath. Because they did not want to break this law which even prohibited them to travel on Sabbath, they waited until sunset. So after the sun went down on Saturday, the crowds set to find Jesus so he could heal them.

They started to CARE about who this Jesus is, Crowds started gathering and Jesus was drawing attention. As He healed and exorcized. He silenced the demons. He silenced them to prove His authority and power over them, He also wanted the people to believe in Him not on the confession of the Demons but on what He said of himself and lastly he silenced them because He wanted to reveal His identity as the Messiah not in the demons timetable but in his own timetable.

So many people suddenly started to CARE- for various reasons he raised eyebrows, turned heads and the crowds in Galilee grew. So the next morning, when they found him in a solitary place, they told him everyone was looking for him- he opted to go elsewhere. For “That Is why I came”

So do you CARE that Jesus Came- Will you follow Him as a disciple and abandon your cares for His,

Have you acknowledged his Power and Authority – Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven has come.

Jesus healing was not only a demonstration of Authority but also of power. The Kingdom had come with Authority and Power.

 

Lets Pray

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