Sermon for Easter Seven, Sunday May 16, 2021
Sermon for Easter Seven – 5,16,10 -- Sunday May 16, 2021
Calvary/Marquette ● Soli Deo Gloria
Grace be unto you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
Mark 16:14-18 (NKJV)
14 Later He appeared to the eleven as they sat at the table; and He rebuked their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who had seen Him after He had risen. 15 And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; 18 they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”
In the Name of Jesus,
Dear Fellow Redeemed –
What is the one thing you can’t live without? I would guess that your answer may depend upon your age, and upon what you mean by “…can’t live without.”
The young people might answer: “I can’t live without my friends.”
The ‘middle aged’ might answer: “I can’t live without my home or my health insurance.”
Those of you who have lived longest might answer still differently: “I can’t live without my health or my faith.”
When we are young we are often focused on the here and now. As we grow older we begin more and more to look heavenward.
In the Word of God before us this morning, we are reminded, young and old, what is the one thing we can’t live without.
When we understand that Faith in Christ is the one thing we can’t live without…then we understand why Jesus rebuked His disciples, and we’ll be prompted to evaluate our own hearts.
When we understand that Faith in Christ is the most important thing then we understand why Jesus urges us to proclaim the Good News to all Creation and we’ll rejoice at the promise of God connected to that Good News of what Christ has done.
When we understand that Faith in Christ is the most important thing then we’ll understand why He brought forth signs to serve as credentials for those who believe.
Every Sunday ought to be a celebration of God’s grace. May God the Holy Spirit lead us to evaluate our hearts and recommit ourselves both in our homes and in our churches to strengthening and nurturing the one thing we can’t live without – Faith in Christ. Amen.
It’s difficult to say for sure exactly when this appearance of the Lord Jesus took place. It doesn’t matter because, these words of rebuke show that Jesus is greatly concerned that His people continue to believe in Him.
14 Later He appeared to the eleven as they sat at the table; and He rebuked their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who had seen Him after He had risen.
They were reclining at a meal when Jesus came to them. There is no word of greeting mentioned; only that Jesus rebuked them. The word means to reprimand, with the implication that the person is to blame. They had good reason to believe that He was alive – eyewitnesses who were fellow believers had seen him alive and talked to Him. They had the scriptures of the prophets (Psalm 16:10) and He Himself had spoken beforehand of His rising (e.g., Matthew 17:23).
They did not believe the word they were given. He admonished them for not believing or receiving the Good News into their hard, stone-like hearts.
Why did Jesus rebuke them? Did He intend these words as a punishment? Did He want them to promise to do better the next time? NO. He certainly wanted them to see their sin and repent, but God doesn’t punish His children for sin! He doesn’t goad us into doing better by guilt trip. He came to them like a loving father. He loved them and loves us. He wants us to see that nothing is more important than our faith in Him.
He wants us to treasure and nurture the gift of faith He has given, and never take it for granted.
Let these words prompt us to investigate our own hearts. Do we take every opportunity to hear the Word or have we begun to allow other things to distract us? Are our hearts becoming indifferent? If someone says at the dinner table, “Let’s have a devotion.” Does your heart say, “Do I have to…can’t we do this some other time?”
Are we doing enough for our children’s faith? Have they attended Sunday School regularly? If not, are the excuses valid? Next Sunday is the last Sunday of Sunday School for the spring…have you made plans to strengthen your children’s faith during the summer?
Love prompted the Lord’s rebuke. It is love that prompts me to ask these questions of you. I see signs of indifference among us. I pray that the Spirit correct these signs through a renewed commitment to and hearing of His Word. None of us can live without Faith in Christ.
What Jesus told His disciples to do next, shows us again what the most important thing really is…
15 And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.
What Jesus said to them, He also says to us. But I want you to understand that the command isn’t to go into all the world. The imperative is – to preach the Gospel. Jesus doesn’t demand that we move away today, but that as we go through life and from place to place that we preach the Gospel – not to every creature – but properly to all of creation.
Don’t let that word ‘preach’ cause you to think that this doesn’t apply to you. I know that we think the pastor should preach, but not in this case. You don’t have to wear a black robe to do this preaching! The word means to announce, to proclaim as a herald, a messenger. We are all messengers of Christ to the world, whether that be at home, in the neighborhood, at work or on vacation. Jesus didn’t ask that we proclaim only when the situation is comfortable and the setting joyful.
What is this good news? The Gospel of Mark begins by telling us (Mark 1:2) that the good news is all about Christ, the Son of God. Mark then proceeds to tell about what Christ did, namely live a sinless life and then lay down that life as payment for the sins of humankind.
This is the Good News that the world needs to hear, for through the message God the Holy Spirit grants forgiveness of sins and eternal life. God uses us to transmit the message that offers human beings the one thing they can’t live without.
All Creation needs to hear the message. So, let me ask, is there anyone you would hesitate to tell? Is there anyone you might bear a grudge against and therefore hesitate to speak to? Can you think of someone you think is undeserving of God’s forgiveness or yours? The Lord says – “All Creation.” God doesn’t forgive because we deserve it. He forgives because He is merciful and we need it.
Very often the Gospel is only good news when heard alongside the Law of God. It is only when we see our sin and guilt and the hopeless situation that we are in because of sin – that we can appreciate the rescue that God has accomplished and freely given us in His Son, Jesus the Christ.
The Gospel of Christ is the only message I know that comes with a guarantee. Jesus sends us out with this promise:
16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.
Guarantee…so you want a guarantee. It’s not impossible to get a guarantee today, but it seems there are always conditions. The car company will guarantee your car…up to so many miles. The computer you just bought is guaranteed for a year…but if you want help after that you’ll have to pay extra.
Most guarantees are limited, they last a year or two at best.
But God’s guarantee is different. Christ promises, guarantees us that the person who believes and is baptized will be saved. There is no limit of people who can benefit from this guarantee. The word saved means to rescue, to deliver from all danger of death and judgment. There is only one person who can offer such a guarantee -- to save sinners, rescue and protect them – Christ Jesus.
There is one more thing here I want you to notice – the passive tense is used – will be saved. Jesus doesn’t say that the person who believes and is baptized will save himself. He doesn’t pat us on the back and tell us to give it our best shot and maybe we’ll make it!
He promises that those who believe in Him and are baptized will be saved, will be rescued. If you believe and have been baptized, include yourself. He has saved you.
The God of the Bible promises to rescue those that trust in His Son and what He has done. The religions of this world offer no such promise. Most urge human beings to work it out themselves, to do their best…and if they do enough maybe they’ll make it.
But our sins, our daily defiance of His Law separates us from God. We can’t make up for it by ‘doing better next time.’ Our sinful lives, no matter how good we think they are, cannot sway God’s favor but only incite His Wrath. There is nothing we can do to change our status with God.
The Good News is that God’s Son has reconciled us to God. He lived the faultless life demanded of us. He laid down His life as payment for every sin. Those who believe and are baptized are rescued from their lives, from their sins, from the death they have deserved. God makes the rescue that Jesus accomplished our own through the gift of faith and baptism.
However, those who do not believe…who think that they can make up for their sin and guilt…will be condemned. It’s not that those who believe are better people; it’s that those who believe in Christ have forgiveness. Those who do not believe will be condemned because they have no forgiveness.
How can we be sure this message is true? The answer is simple for us – this is God’s Inspired Word, without error, it is truth. But what about those who lived when Jesus spoke these words? They didn’t have the written Word, they didn’t have Bibles.
How could they be sure that the Gospel of Christ, salvation by God’s grace through Faith in Christ, was true? Jesus promised that He would go with His disciples, and offer credentials through miraculous signs.
17 And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; 18 they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”
These signs were not new. Earlier in Jesus’ earthly ministry, He sent out 70 disciples. When they returned, they rejoiced because they were enabled to cast out demons and heal the sick. Jesus promised that these signs would follow, would accompany those who believe.
The Lord Jesus gave them the authority to --cast out demons.
The Spirit enabled them to proclaim the Good News ‘new tongues’ in languages they had not known or been taught.
The Lord Jesus delivered them from snakes and deadly poisons.
The Lord Jesus healed the sick through them.
These served as signs. A sign points beyond itself to something, to someone higher. These miraculous signs didn’t create faith, but served as credentials, as proof that the Living Christ was working with/thru them (cf. Mark 16:20).
Jesus didn’t tell His disciples to handle serpents or drink poison – they were not to tempt God. Rather, He promised to deliver them and bear witness to Himself by doing so. The sign got their attention, the spoken word would offer to and save their souls.
Do we need signs today? No, because we have the written word, which is able to save our souls, and the souls of those who hear us.
What is the one thing you can’t live without? Faith in Christ is the one thing you can’t live without. God help us to recommit ourselves today to His Word.
God help us treasure and nurture our faith in Christ and the faith of our children…so that they may LIVE! Amen.