SERMON ON MARK’S GOSPEL

 

The clock was ticking!

-

The year is AD 64  

And, the insane, and unspeakably crue,l Emperor Nero

is on the rampage!

Targeting the infant church…

finding in the Christian community a convenient scapegoat

for a smouldering city…

blaming this new religious sect…Christians

- for the Great Fire that devastated Rome.

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And the cry goes up…

Kill the Christians…

stamp out the church…

Hunt down the ringleaders…

Cut off the head of this strange new creature

The Christian Faith…

And watch it die.

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Paul and Peter would both be martyred there in Rome -

And then, what would happen to their memories…?

The faith had been passed down by word of mouth

From eyewitnesses to the great moments;

And now they were being killed, one by one by one…

“Something must be done to protect the heritage of faith

Before there were no eyewitnesses left.

The story must be written down…

The teaching of Christ saved…”

Word of mouth was no longer enough…

Someone must record these crucial events…

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Mark was in a special place of opportunity

He had been in on the whole thing from the start…

A close companion of Peter…as well as a fellow missionary with Paul…

He had been up close and personal with the events,

And especially with Peter

So

“ Now is the time, Mark,

to get it all down

·        the people and the places

·        the stories and the events

·        the characters and the incidents

Tell the story

Keep the dream alive

Preserve the heritage….

-

Take those eye-witness accounts

and keep the record intact.”

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So Mark’s is the first gospel written…

In response to a crisis, a deadly assault on the fragile church:

Sourced by impeccable sources

Illumined by little personal touches…

From the people who were there!

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And, written for more than just historical reasons…

Written for Gospel reasons…

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You this ~Gospel according to Mark..

This is not a biography

The Life of Jesus

But a testament….a signpost… a summons to faith!!

You were not meant to read it, shrug your shoulders

 then put it away!!

No!!

Read it - and be changed by it…

Dare to read it!

And let its truth burn like fire in your soul…

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Mark is a man in a hurry…

Elmore Leonard;

I leave out the bits people don’t read…

 

You sense

The urgency of it…

His account cuts to the chase…

Fairly races along…

at once..immediately….straightway…

Time is not our side…on this one…

The clock is still ticking…

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We perhaps forget

how hard it must have been for the early church

getting the message across

to a world that knew nothing about Jesus:

Little or nothing about the Jewish historical context

in which he lived and died…

And yet the unmistakeable summons was …

to follow him!

Abandon the familiar pagan rites and rituals

And follow this same, unknown, Jesus!!

What a tough sell that must have been!

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And how eager new disciples were to learn more and more

About what he said and did…

Where he said it

Who he said it to…

and what it all meant…

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As the original disciples were being killed off one after the other

The story told by Mark

And the subsequent gospel writers

Became a crucial tool in the evangelisation of the Empire

The testament of faith

The testimony of the Early Church

 a source book for the faith…

New followers wanted to know the story…

Tell us more about this Jesus you invite us to follow.

So Mark tells the compelling story of Jesus of Nazareth…

·        Teaching and controversies

·        Healing

·        Inspiring

·        His compassion

·        His courage in face of opposition and certain death

·        Dying and rising.

..

Straight from the heart and mind and voice of Peter.

.

From very early days

The Early Church accepted that authority –and,

Mark’s authoritative account became the basis for the other gospels…

Matthew and Luke and John wove Mark’s account into their own material and their own collections of sources –

told the story with their own emphasis-

but always honouring and embracing Mark’s original gospel account…

Used from the very start.

 

Naturally, as the leader of the disciples – Peter, the Influence of Peter…

Peter entrusted with building up the church…

Peter leading the church at the very centre of the Empire in Rome itself..…

Naturally, his insights, his memories, counted for something special

 his telling of the story was profound and significant.

--

And, so, this strange new kind of literature was born:

Not a biography, not a simple history

But a powerful instrument of change.

Synonymous with truth…

“Gospel” becomes a byword for integrity, honesty, trustworthiness…

This is Gospel!!

Enduring in power

A vital tool for evangelism…

Gospel demonstrating an impressive honesty-

 even about the hard bits and the failures..

Peter having to ‘fess up to his fear and failure…

his denials and his derelictions…

This great leader of the church not airbrushed…

Total, stark, sometimes embarrassing honesty…

..

Mark comes with

Good news for a world that needs deliverance and hope

Good news to be told…

--

He doesn’t mince his words

Nor does he apologise for this document

He tells us what it is…

This is the good news about Jesus Christ the Son of God.

Believe or don’t believe it

But this is what it is…

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And, if this is what it is…

We should give it some serious attention…

We should be thinking…

Really… well I’d better find out what this good news is

And who this Jesus is…

This Son of God…

 

It could make all the difference in the world.

 

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