We close out the Gospel of Mark with the writer's depiction of Jesus. Mark doesn't write out long dissertations of Christ or go into great detail about the world and times around Jesus. He simply focuses on the man and God that is Christ Jesus, conveying his purpose in the simplest and most plain methods. Today, we example some of those unique moments found in Mark.
No Rest? No Problem
When we join a ministry team, inevitably we will be instructed to make sure to not get burned out. It's a common concern of Christians. There are so few to field the harvest, and we don't want anyone to get overworked and fall faint. It's a legitimate concern and one that Christ faced himself. However, his response to protests for him to scale back and rest are different than the message we are often told:
And the multitude cometh together again, so that they could not so much as eat bread. And when his friends heard of it, they went out to lay hold on him: for they said, He is beside himself. (Mark 3:20-21)
Jesus and his disciples had entered into a house to rest and get something to eat. However, the multitude knew Christ was in the area and desired to meet with him, to hear his words of wisdom and to witness and experience the miraculous. Notice in the above scriptures, Jesus does not say he needs rest or to be removed from the multitude. It was his friends, his disciples and close followers, who desired this of him. However, Christ kept on doing the work. When pressed about it, he proclaimed why he desired to help the multitude:
And he looked round about on them which sat about him, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! (v.34)
Christ was exampling to us what it takes to be fully invested. His friends wanted him to rest, but he saw the need and desire of those who pressed in on him. He would rather go hungry and sleepless than to see someone suffer or miss out on redemption. We must do the same. Rest is important and Jesus did find times to be alone. However, we must be available to the Spirit's desire to use us even when we don't feel like it or others may say we need to scale back.
The Seed and The Sickle
Mark doesn't record long dissertations of Christ like in the other gospels. However, the words of Jesus he does record are powerful and important. One of the unique sayings found in Mark is the parable of the seed (Mark 4:26-29) In this parable, Christ brings the idea and purpose of the Kingdom of God to a simple example.
He describes the Kingdom of God "as if a man should cast seed into the ground". The seed is the Kingdom. The casting is the action we take. The soil is the place and people to whom we cast the Kingdom. What action do we take to bring the Kingdom to the world? We witness and testify of what Jesus has done for us. We share God's Word and offer prayers when the opportunity arises. We invite to events and we act in love, kindness and the joy of the Lord.
What do we do once we've cast the seed? This is where this parable is unique from other similar examples like the parable of the sower. It describes the action of God. As we sleep and move on with our lives, God takes our actions of faith and begins to grow something. He works on people who seemingly ignore or barely acknowledge us. He transforms them as they ponder the message we brought. Suddenly, we see them showing up to our church services or walking into our Bible Studies. They call us up and tell us they want us to pray for them. We don't know what happened, but that's the miracle of God. We don't have to know how He does it. We just have to be ready to bring in the harvest. Praying with them right then. Taking them to the altar. Explaining whatever questions they may have. Offering to explain salvation (Acts 2:21-38, Mark 16:16, John 3:5, Matthew 28:18-19, Luke 24:47, Romans 10:9-13). That's bringing in the harvest and that's all Christ asks of us. Be a forerunner, get out of the way and then step back in to reap the harvest.
Why didn't Christ just speak the word of lay hands on them like in other times? What led him to do this? The best answer is found when we couple this healing with the other story.
The blind man who Christ healed of blindness. He literally spit on the man and then placed his hands directly on his eyes. This is another example of Christ getting up in that person's personal space and doing something that would normally make a person uncomfortable. This is the message to us both in the receiving of our needs.
God sometimes wants to invade our personal space and he will often do and ask of us things that would normally make us uncomfortable. However, look at the two men who Christ healed. Neither complain about Christ's actions. In fact, the second man let Christ continue the work after the first time he wasn't all the way healed. He allowed Christ to keep invading his personal space just as the other man did because he didn't care what it took. He wanted to be restored. There are people out there that don't care what it takes, they want to be healed, restored and redeemed. However, they can't seem to find Jesus on their own. Will we be the ones who bring them to him. Will we allow the actions of God to take control and step aside as he does the miraculous? Will we allow that miracle to speak into our own lives?
What It's All About
After Christ's resurrection, he drew his closest followers near to him and commanded that they would go forth and preach the gospel while he ascended into heaven. His Spirit would come back to dwell in them, but he wanted them to carry the message to those in need of salvation. Mark's recounting of this pronouncement is the most cut and dry statement. It is also the one account that actually qualifies what salvation does for us. Let's read and examine:
He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. (16:16)
That's pretty cut and dry. We must believe in Jesus Christ and we must be baptized to attain salvation. Denial of either of these will lead to removal from Christ in eternity. Baptized is pretty explanatory. It literally means to be submerged in water. It is a practice that was done before Jesus by John the Baptist and it was done by the Apostles as part of the salvation process throughout the book of Acts. It is even explained throughout the Epistles. Baptism is easy to understand and see. Belief seems vague until we return to the scripture preceding it:
Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature (v.15)
The belief Christ talks about in verse 16 is the message of His ministry. The apostles proclaimed that throughout the book of Acts and beyond. Those who believed, were baptized (Acts 2:41; 8:12, 13, 36-38; 9:18; 10:47-48; 16:15, 33; 18:8; 19:3-5; 22:16). Belief in the gospel is the belief in Jesus Christ and that he came to save us. It is to believe in the message and words of His servants. When we do that, salvation will come just as it did in Acts 2 when God's Spirit fell on those who believed and had been baptized. We will be filled with God's Spirit and speak with new tongues (Mark 16:17) as a sign.
However there is more to this empowering and saving event. Beyond speaking with tongues, we will be able to cast out demons from our lives and the lives of those around us. We will be able to take on the deadly and evil attacks of the world and come out unscathed (v. 18). We shall lay hands on the sick just as Jesus did and they shall recover. What a powerful qualifier to the power of salvation and belief in Christ and His message.
This all came to us at the inspiration by God to a man who was too wishy-washy to go on a missions trip. He was too consumed with his own self to get consumed with God's purpose. Yet, somewhere God got a hold of him. As a result we have the most plain and easy to understand versions serving in God's Kingdom, assisting others to get to Christ and in receiving and spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ. How thankful we should be that God doesn't give up but presses through to restore and use each of us for His Kingdom! How inspired we should be to do the same!
Next week we will be taking a break from this series and will be showcasing something that our Editor in Chief is involved in at POA. No spoilers intended, but it may have something to do with Easter.
Chris Farris is the author of The Way, a manual detailing how to implement the Beatitudes into your life. He review events and other media and offers other insights into writing and working for the Kingdom of God.