Jesus & People

Jesus and Family (Mark 3:20-21, 31-35)

Sermon Recap

Family life is hard because people are hard. Jesus’s family was hard too. In Mark 3:20-21, 31-35, we see how Jesus responds to his family, and learn from Him what the family means in God’s kingdom and how we should live toward them. 

1. Jesus Offends Family Values

In Mark 3:21, Jesus’s family showed how difficult they could be. Their family values are offended by Jesus. This is because the earthly family is 1) Natural, 2) Exclusive, and 3) Fragile. Jesus offends our family values, but 4) the shock is a wake up call. We may be tempted to cling to family first and Christ second. But in Matthew 10:34-39, Jesus makes it clear that this is the path of idolatry and death. We need Jesus to redefine the family. 

2. Jesus Redefines the Family

This is just what Jesus does in Mark 10:33-35. He helps us see that, in God’s kingdom, the family is 1) Spiritual, 2) Inclusive, and 3) Unassailable. The spiritual family doesn’t mean the natural family is unimportant, however. Rather, through faith in Christ, 4) your family participates in God’s family

In Christ, we are set free to serve our family all the more. We see this in John 19:26-27 as he spends his precious dying breaths making sure his mother is cared for. Because we have been adopted into God’s family (Galatians 3:26), we carry God’s holiness and Spirit—his presence!—with us into our earthly families. We serve them in service to Christ. 

Reflection & Application Questions 

  1. Our earthly families are natural, exclusive, and fragile, and Jesus offends these family values. Which of these values is the most challenging for you to let Jesus offend? Why?
  2. Why does Jesus offend/shock us? Why do we need the shock?
  3. In what ways are you tempted to make an idol of your family? Reflect on that question and confess your idolatrous temptation to God.
  4. Jesus redefines family in God’s kingdom as spiritual, inclusive and unassailable. Which of these is the best news to you today? Take a moment and thank God for this truth!
  5. What does it mean that your family participates in God’s family? How does your faith in Christ make this real in your family today?
  6. We are set free by Christ to serve our family in love and sacrifice. What is one way he is calling you to serve your family? How is this difficult on your own? How can you depend on God’s Spirit to empower you for service?

Jesus and the Condemned (John 8:2-11)

Sermon Recap

We have all been condemned at one time or another. By friends, family, teachers, spiritual leaders, or other authorities in our lives. It feels awful, but it’s a common experience. In John 8:2-11, we see how Jesus responds to those who are condemned. 

1. Condemned Sinner

The woman is condemned by the Pharisees as a sinner in John 8:4-5. They were right that those guilty of adultery are condemned by the law of Moses (see Deut. 22:22). And the woman, in her shame and sin, knows she deserves it.And despite our best intentions, so do we.

2. Condemned God

The Pharisees are seeking to condemned, not just the woman, but Jesus Christ, God in the flesh. They seek to condemn him by throwing his words back in his face, and getting him in legal and political trouble. And they want to condemn Jesus as a false teacher, showing he is either a legalist (who would condone the stoning) or an antinomian (who says God’s law doesn’t matter). 

3. No Condemnation in Christ Jesus

Instead of fall in the trap, Jesus stoops and begins writing on the ground. He disarms the crowd by saying, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her” (John 8:7). And he shows what the gospel does to us. It doesn’t leave us to antinomianism or legalism. It brings us to grace in Christ where we are taught by him to “go and sin no more.” 

Reflection & Application Questions

  1. What are some examples of condemnation that happen in our culture? (Think of social media, the legal justice system, accusations of sexual impropriety, and religious institutions)
  2. Why do we as 21st century people have such a hard time with the idea that sin deserves divine condemnation? Why do we avoid thinking of this sort of thing?
  3. How have you contributed to the unraveling of the love on which God founded the world?
  4. Do you tend to be more antinomian (anti-law) or legalistic in your spiritual life? Why?
  5. Why did Christ have to be condemned in our place?
  6. What does the fact that Christ was condemned for us mean for our relationship to God? What does it mean for our relationship toward others?

Jesus and the Ambitious (Mark 10:35-45)

Sermon Recap

James and John are ambitious to get position and honor in Jesus’s Kingdom. In Mark 10:35-45, he confronts worldly ambition and shows them the path to true greatness. 

1. The Posture of Ambition

Ambition is fundamentally self-seeking. James and John show that ambition is about 1) my will (Mark 10:35), 2) my glory (Mark 10:37), and 3) my ability (Mark 10:39). 

2. Jesus Names Worldly Ambition

Jesus names worldly ambition’s goal for what it is: illegitimate domination of others (Mark 10:42). This is fundamentally destructive to God’s world. He gave us dominion over His creation (Gen. 1:28), but we are not to be dominated by anything else in creation—including others.

3. Jesus’s Zeal for God’s Kingdom

Jesus set his face to go to Jerusalem to drink the cup of God’s wrath, his holy justice (see Isaiah 51:7; Mark 10:38). He was determined to be baptized, to die an atoning death for us (Romans 6:3-4; Mark 10:38). His desire was to be our ransom (Mark 10:45). Jesus wasn’t ambitious: he was zealous for the kingdom. 

4. The Gospel Turns Ambition into Faith

When we look to Christ, he turns our ambition into faith. He shows us how to yield to the Father’s will (Mark 10:40). He teaches us to seek the Father’s glory, not our own (John 8:50; Mark 10:43-44). In the face of worldly ambition, Jesus preached the gospel. He pointed to the good news of himself as King and sacrifice for us. 

Reflection & Application Questions

  1. Why were James and John ambitious? How are you tempted to ambition in your life?
  2. Ambition wants my will, my glory, and my ability. Where do you see these tendencies in yourself? 
  3. We live in a world full of ambition and attempts at domination—technologically, politically, socially, and economically. But we have no right to dominate fellow image bearers of God. How are we complicit in this undermining of God’s created order? What does repentance look like? (See Psalm 19:12-14) 
  4. What is Jesus’s answer to ambition? What is most amazing about this to you? 
  5. How does your ambition need to be turned to faith? How can you pursue this? Pray for this?

Jesus and the Doubting (John 20:19-31)

Sermon Recap

Every person comes face to face with doubt at some point in their lives. Our passage today sheds light on how Jesus addressed the biggest doubter in the Bible and what that means for us in our doubts.

The Heft of Doubt

It's hard to blame Thomas for doubting. He had given up everything to follow Jesus so when the other disciples tell him he's alive, it makes sense that he thought it was a cruel prank. Yet when Thomas finds out that these reports are true, there is only one response; "My Lord and my God." Our doubts matter because the answers to them are life-changing. To ignore them or belittle them is to do so at our own peril. We ought to explore them and ask hard questions because the truth matters so much for how we are to live.

Our Honesty in Doubt

We typically faith and doubt are opposites but they aren't. Faith and control are. Honest doubt is just like honest faith in that it's humble, recognizes its insufficiency, and allows for mystery. Control refuses to embrace any of those things but is proud in its powers, self-sufficient, and demands to have all answers on its own terms. This is why doubt often leads to faith and faith should allow for doubt to exist. It is when we try to take control of our own lives that we lose faith and become dishonest with our doubts.

Our Hope in Doubt

So how do you move forward in the face of doubt? First, listen to the testimonies of the eyewitnesses of the resurrected Christ. Jesus appeared  to them for this very purpose, so that  they would tell the world that he was Lord and King. Second, know that Jesus is patiently with you in your doubts, not abandoning you but giving you space to explore and listening to your prayers. Last, stop putting conditions on your belief and holding God hostage. If you find yourself saying, "I'll believe if XYZ happens...." then you want XYZ to be your functional savior,  not Jesus. Jesus will not have it any other way. Drop your conditions and find Jesus to be exactly who he says he is.

Sermon Resources

Podcast mentioned in introduction - Radiolab, "Rocked by Doubt"

“There is no such thing as a neutral inquiry when it comes to questions about God.”

- Mark Galli

“Honest doubt, what I would call devotional doubt, is marked, it seems to me, by three qualities: humility, which makes one’s attitude impossible to celebrate; insufficiency, which makes it impossible to rest; and mystery, which continues to tug you upward – or at least outward – even in your lowest moments. Such doubt is painful – more painful, in fact, than any of the other forms – but its pain is active rather than passive, purifying rather than stultifying.”

- Christian Wiman

“The way forward is the way of faith, a faith that does not deny questioning but orients questions toward understanding and grounds them in love. For faith is the pretext for questioning well, the atmosphere that sustains patient, longing inquiry.”

- Matthew Lee Anderson

Jesus and the Grieving (Luke 7:11-17)

Sermon Recap

In this passage, we see how Jesus treated the grieving widow in Luke 7. His love and compassion for her instruct us in how we love others in times of pain and loss.

1. The Widow Was Grieving Her Family, Future, & Friends

The widow lost her husband and now her son—her whole family. Losing the men in her life meant that she was now destitute, financially ruined, and could only beg to provide for herself in the future. Add to that the stigma that catastrophe brought in that culture (see John 9:2), and we realize that the widow had lost her community, her friends as well. The death of her son may as well have been her own.

2. A Priest Who Sees With Compassion

Jesus has a crowd following him waiting for him to preach, hanging on his every word. But he stops in the street when he comes on the funeral procession. He doesn’t brush by it or get back to business—he sees the widow. And he lets himself be moved with compassion for the woman. Jesus is our great high priest who sees us with compassion (Hebrews 4:14-15).

3. The Conquering King and Joy-Giving Prophet

Jesus could tell the woman “don’t cry” because he is a conquering King who defeated death and holds the keys to it (Revelation 1:17-18). And in his compassion and power, he revealed God himself—he is a prophet bringing joy to the people (v.16).

Reflection & Application Questions

  1. Jesus is prophet, priest, and king. Which of these is most encouraging to you? Which is most challenging for you to accept? Why?
  2. In Galatians 6:2, we are called to bear one another’s burdens. Who around you is carrying a burden that you can bear with them? What burdens do you have that you can invite others to bear with you?
  3. Jesus sees the widow in her grief; we can’t show compassion without really seeing people. What prevents you from seeing others? How can you grow in seeing others in their need?
  4. When you see others in need, do you let yourself be moved with compassion as Jesus was? What obstacles stand in the way of this for you?
  5. Jesus is King—so we don’t have to fear death! What fears come up consistently in your life? How does faith in Christ as King put aside our fear?
  6. What don’t you have in your life that you wish you did? Do you believe Jesus can give it? If you don’t have what you want, do you trust his wisdom to withhold it from you right now?