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February 11, 2021 7:00 pm
Dr. Neal Cushman concludes the series entitled “New Testament Servants,” from Mark 1.
The post 924. John the Baptist: A Servant Chosen and Equipped appeared first on THE DAILY PLATFORM.
Welcome to The Daily Platform from Bob Jones University in Greenville South Carolina were continuing a four-part seminary series entitled New Testament service. Today's message will be preached by Dr. Neil Cushman, Dean of the Bob Jones University seminary. It is my privilege to be able to talk about John the Baptist and I've subtitled his life just a voice and that's how Isaiah 40 verse three describes them, and the gospel writers pick up on that subtitle, so to speak, but simply just a voice and what I like to do this morning is to isolate a particular portrayal of John the Baptist.
There's too much for me to try to cover what all of the gospel writers said about him and the things that are also included in the book of acts, so I'm going to confine this message to what Mark says and what is his particular portrayal of this profit and its contained actually in the very first portion of Mark and then Mark chapter 6 and those two passages actually tied together in one cohesive message so I'm really going to try to drive towards one single point rested to think about.
So when we look at the introduction to Mark's gospel that is contained in the first 15 verses and he starts off with a a title on the beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the son of God. It's a verb list title and right away he launches into two Old Testament quotations. He cites Malachi chapter 3 and Isaiah 40. You'll notice there and they slide that there's a textual variant there. If you have a modern version.
You probably see that it it says Isaiah rather than that the prophets which which we can see how that might cause some confusion because the actually the first quotation comes from Malachi and the second one comes from Isaiah, but it's a very simple answer when you consider the place of Isaiah among the prophets stands at the head just as the Psalms stand at the head of the writing so so somebody want to refer to the prophets.
They would often just refer to it as Isaiah so and as you look at this message here and there is something that stands out that is in common between the two texts and that is prepare thy way and and that is that is the they the mission of the prophet named John the Baptist his mission is to prepare the way for Isaiah. Our firm Jesus. Sorry. So the question comes how do you do this what is what is the way that one would accomplish this, and we we read this in and Mark's gospel John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins, and there went out unto him all the land of Judea, and they of Jerusalem and were all baptized of him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. And John was clothed with camel's hair, and with the girl of skin about his loins and he did eat locusts and wild honey quite a ministry description.
So here's here's a prophet whose assignment is to call Israel to repentance were talking here national repentance. Certainly, individual repentance is necessary for national repentance to occur, but were really looking at the entire nation falling to their knees, repenting of their sin and confessing that Jesus is the Messiah.
That is the mission of of John the Baptist and and it's interesting when you when you think about this and about this plan you.
You can just kind of imagine that you know God speaking. I imagine that he spoke to John and said okay this is what I want you to do. First of all I want you to have a suit made out of camel's hair, and that's what you're going aware from here on out. That's really going to wear a suit that's like putting on that pink insulation and wrapping it around your body and me getting to be into the rest of my life and probably get fleas and so forth.
So he's aware this is like really weird clothing but not only that his diet is is I think this is the Quito diet. He's, it's, he's going to have to eat locusts and get stung by bees because that's what happens when you go and you try to get wild honey.
So I scheduled he's gonna really live an ascetic life and we see that later on right you know that the followers of Jesus live live in other accused of being gluttons because are being compared to John's disciples so that doesn't sound too exciting, but the plans not over yet you got a go live in the wilderness you get to go to the towns. You don't get to go to the cities to go where there are no people dressed like this crazy person eating crazy food sleeping out in the wilderness where their liens and who knows what and that's your ministry and the nation is going to come to you.
That is just a crazy plan so we we weave when we think about that in the things that God asks us to do it.
We really should never question why right because it it actually it actually did work people did come from every direction and they came and many, many individuals repented, but clinic McKenna summarize this. Here we have, according to Jesus, the second greatest human being who ever lived right Jesus say that the second greatest human being who ever lived is going to live in the wilderness be all alone eat insects and get stung by bees and his job is to call the whole nation to repent lower-class middle-class upper-class governors, even the tetrarch's, the, the individuals who inherited the kingdom from Herod the great, and that is that the plan so now, think, think about this in terms of what he's not going to do and in life. As a result of his calling is not going to college is not going to seminary is not to get married is not to raise children. He's not to buy a house, or even rent one for that matter and and actually in terms of fulfilling his calling.
He's knocking to succeed because when he succeeds in what God wants them to do. But as far as the nation repenting, they don't individuals repent. But as it epitomized in the.
The religious leadership of Israel.
They do not repent and and facts. He's he's rejected in the end, to the extent that he is executed as a criminal. He is beheaded, but so was his Lord and and so were probably most if not all of the. The apostles such as interesting as I look at Mark NIC Mark's site. Isaiah 6 verses nine through 10. The these this passage is the is is paradigmatic of of Israel's rejection.
All of the gospel writers site.
Isaiah 6. This passage this was the calling of Isaiah. Of course, so, so nice. Just as in I is Isaiah's day the nation rejected Israel are rejected the Lord so they did in the life of Jesus and Paul even quotes this in the acts chapter 2028 so national repentance did did not take place, but also ate a final point, and that is that he wasn't in a live very long John the Baptist life was going to be brief. His ministry extended maybe two years and and as soon as John the Baptist was arrested that signaled really that the beginning of the preaching ministry of the Lord Jesus.
Another function of John the Baptist is he's tasked formally with introducing the Messiah to Israel. Jesus is baptized by John to validate John's ministry of baptism and to call the people to to reap, repent, and so that was of course the most important aspect of his ministry and it edit tied together with his mission to call the people of Israel to repentance, so as were reading through the. The first 15 verses of Mark's gospel we come to this very strange clause in verse 14. Now after that John was put in prison and what we read that and you know the story, but when we read that if whether the original reader of Mark's gospel we think to ourselves. Wow, what happens you know Heery had this ministries calling the people to repentance. Seems like things are going fairly well and now we find out that Mark has been placed in prison, and Mark doesn't give us any hint of of why he was arrested and what what supposed crime did he commit where today where did they take him who's responsible for his arrest. This is all kind of questions that go through the readers mind but but this technique that Mark uses here creates suspense.
We want to know the answer, and Mark makes us wait six chapters before he answers that those questions and where we find out, but I need to give you little bit more background material.
If you will bear with me here.
There are two overarching concerns in the Gospel of Mark. The first concern is relates to who is Jesus, and Jesus was the long awaited for Messiah, the son of God, and it was necessary for him as the son of God, to die a sacrificial death for the people, so Mark can be neatly divided into two segments relit related to those those two main points, Mark one through chapter 8 verse 30 which establishes Jesus as the son of God and Mark 831 through chapter 16 it was necessary for him to die. The climax of Mark's gospel occurs in the crucifixion chapter, but in particular, and oddly with this Roman centurion, a pagan who watched Jesus die and said surely this man was the son of God. Out of all the individuals in this gospel.
He is the only one who recognizes how those two things come together. The disciples themselves do not recognize how these two things come together until after the resurrection, if indeed Mark writes to churches in Rome.
This makes this statement all the more startling how could God's people did choose totally miss the message so Mark writes to prove that Jesus is the son of God or deity and that he came to redeem Israel and Gentiles through his sacrificial death, but Mark has another concern and that is the preparation of the 12 and as we read through Mark and were introduced to these these 12 men who would be entrusted with this crucial task of taking the message of Jesus throughout the entire world that they knew of it that time it was the task of Jesus to select these individuals and to teach them and to test them and to get them ready for this task over a three year period of time these individuals on the hall had no formal education far as we know they did not sit at the feet of Gamaliel or any other rabbi. These individuals never left Palestine.
They were monocultural.
These men were mostly from common or low occupations, and yet Jesus chose them. That is a phenomenal thing to think about you when you think about the requirements of the great commission, which was to take the gospel and depress out into every known place where people lived to share the gospel with them. That's quite a thought that these these untrained, unprepared disciples would have, but the day would come when they would be expected to walk to ride on donkeys and camels to take voyages on the sea and these ordinary men who had never left Palestine were supposed to leave home, enter new cultures and boldly tell people who Jesus is. Jesus told them that they be rejected. They would be mocked and they would be treated as the off scouring of the earth, they would be beaten and killed for bringing this message, but they did need to fear because he was going to be with them but sounds like an amazing plan. But Mark's portrait of the 12 is not favorable compared with the other gospel writers Mark portrays the disciples as failures. He shows us that they don't understand the most basic truths. Their understanding was so elementary that Jesus had to explain everything to them. Mark four verses 33 through 34 and even then they still couldn't understand the things that he was saying. Mark illustrates this problem by describing what happened when Jesus put the disciples in a life-threatening situation in Mark 435 through 41.
A huge storm threatens to sink their ship and they accused Jesus of not caring. They have no faith that Jesus can fix the problem in verse 40 even though they've seen until hundreds of miracles.
Up to that point in time.
So Jesus calms the storm and the disciples learn one more thing that Jesus can do and then they quickly forget that in other episodes they see him raise the dead, multiply bread and fish heal the blind make paralytic swapped not to mention provide for their every need. Every single day but the next time they find themselves in a crisis without Jesus in the boat in a storm.
They have no faith again and the one who promised to always be there for them. Mark six versus 45 through 52, Mark says. At the conclusion of that episode that their hearts were hardened just like Pharaoh.
It almost seems like the disciples misunderstand everything that Jesus says so Jesus comments are you so dull how you like a teacher to say that you do you still not understand are your hearts hardened and then do you still not understand again in chapter 8 I think we've noticed that the discipleship plan of Jesus is filled with encouragement and rebuke Jesus deliberately put the disciples in situations where they had to respond. Good or bad. We might be encouraged with Peter's amazing confession in a and Mark 827 through 30. But then when the when Jesus teaches his disciples about the crux of his mission. Peter rebukes the Lord. And Jesus retorts get the behind me Satan.
In fact, info on three occasions in Mark's gospel, Jesus instructs the disciples about his death.
In each instance it's followed by a major failure of the disciples and then a teaching about true discipleship in the second prediction the Mark nine passage, James and John want to sit on his right side in his left side and the kingdom and in Matthew's gospel mom gets involved, but Mark puts the blame squarely on James and John. They want to be bigwigs in the kingdom they want to roll and they want to be important at the hour of Jesus's death.
Following the betrayal of Judas, the 11 forsake Jesus and runaway Mark 14 Peter, the leader of the disciples is unwilling to stand for Jesus as he observes the Lord being mocked, being beaten, he can't even speak the truth in front of a little girl.
Are these the men who would change the world.
These the men who work in a stand before kings rather no one stands with Jesus and he goes to the cross as a solitary figure so it would appear that plan a training 12 disciples sending them out is not working, but we know the story, we know that Christ resurrects in the Holy Spirit comes upon the disciples and they change they become different. So, you might wonder about this point.
Again. So what does this have to do with Mark's theme in the training of the 12. Let me point out two correlations in Mark we look at the preaching of John the Baptist. What's his message repents for the kingdom of God is at hand. What's the message of Jesus repent for the kingdom of God is at hand.
What's the message of the disciples repent when they are sent out so Mark is trying to help us to see that the message is the same. The the responsibility of preaching the message is the same, but there's also a second correlation and that is when you do you will be rejected. So we see the rejection of Jesus in chapter 6 verses one through six, we see the rejection of the 12 chapter 6 verses seven through 13 and we see the rejection of John the Baptist epitomized in his execution. So this is the execution passage and it's hard to fathom that a birthday party would lead to the death day of John the Baptist, and certainly that happens because Herod and his guests are pleased by the, the dancing of a daughter who is part of it in illegal marriage and so she pleases them and she and her mom. Herodias makes one request because of the foolish oath of Herod and so John the Baptist is executed through the process. The ultimate rejection. So in Mark's gospel we see in the sandwich structure. Sorry about that picture get bacon and everything so Mark uses sandwich structure often to to to help you because when you have the part a and then you have the department be in between the a and that a prime Mark intends us to read those things together and to to be informed through those things together. So when we look at this passage in Mark chapter 6 we see the sending out of the 12 to preach and there there. Jesus tries to prepare them for rejection.
Then we see an embedded passage embedded story they the beheading of John the Baptist. The ultimate rejection. Then we come back and we finished the story of the 12 when they come back and return so what's what's the mesh.
The message here. Well it is that the servant of the Lord will experience rejection and and Shirley. If you are going to serve the warden you're going to faithfully share Christ and try to reach people try to help people you will experience rejection as a servant of the Lord that we know that the world will reject us. What a challenge about that to that. Maybe you can get a job.
It Starbucks at some point. For instance, and you so you you had to this job and you want to get to know your coworkers and and and you want to be what you want to be like you want to be friendly with them, but you also want to share the gospel with them. And so, as you do that sometimes it's easy to slide into kind of a postmodern way of sharing the gospel now just kinda sure my message and you can share your message and were all kind of right and sometimes we walk away from those encounters in wonder if we really did give the truth is quite a temptation for us to fall into that because if if we if if if we come in conflict with someone else's views, it's likely you will not be liked. We have to resist that temptation but also you and I will experience rejection with people in our churches people that we and that we love that we invest our lives and who we care for.
We will we will experience reject if you serve long enough, you will know the pain of them of a someone in your church who attacks your wife says some things about your wife or us or someone who says something about your your children or this some kind of harmful personal attack on you as as an individual and you love people that love you, but it's difficult to love people who reject you need to prepare ourselves.
This is this this message to Mark's audience who live in Rome is they rejected Jesus, they rejected John the Baptist.
They're gonna reject it's getting him and you need to be strong in the Lord you been listening to Dr. Neil Cushman. This concludes our four-part series on New Testament service.
Join us again tomorrow on The Daily Platform