Today we begin a new message series called Jesus In Action. In this series we’re going to study Jesus’ actions in the Gospel of Mark. Mark is the shortest Gospel and gives a greater emphasis on Jesus’ actions then His words. Mark shows the power of the Spirit working through Jesus in many miracles. Mark was written for Christians in Rome in the early 60s AD. This was a time of severe persecution for the church. Many believers were tortured and martyred under the emperor Nero, including Peter and Paul. Mark was written to strengthen the faith of believers in that difficult time. Mark emphasizes Jesus’ power over both demons and sickness.
I believe that this series Jesus In Action is a timely series for the season in which we live. Jesus In Action is the solution for every problem that we face. Why? Because Jesus is till in action, doing the same things He did while here on earth through the Holy Spirit.
Today’s message is entitled “Follow Me” and we’re going to begin with the first chapter in Mark. Mark does not begin with the birth of Christ as Matthew and Luke do. Rather Mark begins with the ministry of the prophet John the Baptist. God appointed John the Baptist to prepare the way for Jesus the Messiah. John preached a message of the Kingdom of God and the need for repentance. John baptized people in water as they repented and confessed their sin. John was the last Old Testament prophet. John taught in …
Mark 1:8 (ESV) I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
Here we see at the very beginning of the book of Mark, two keys for believers to live in the power that Jesus had. The first is water baptism by immersion and the second is being baptized in the Holy Spirit by Jesus. Jesus emphasized water baptism in the Great Commission in
Matthew 28:19-20 (ESV) Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.
As we’ll see today, disciples are followers of Jesus. These disciples are to be water baptized after they have become believers and then taught to obey everything that Jesus commanded.
Acts 1:4-5 (ESV) And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”
The water baptized disciples were to wait for the baptism with the Holy Spirit. This Spirit baptism would give them the power to carry out God’s purposes. Finally, we see in Acts 2:38, the three marks of a true biblical church and of a Spirit-empowered disciple of Jesus.
Acts 2:38 (ESV) And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Here we have salvation through repentance, water baptism and finally the gift of the Holy Spirit, which is Spirit baptism. As we begin this study of Mark, we’re going to see how Jesus is our example to follow. God desires for us to learn how to follow Jesus in every aspect of our lives. Following Jesus is not an option for a believer. To be a believer, you must be a follower of Jesus. So, let’s begin our study of Mark chapter one.
Mark 1:9 (ESV) In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan.
We begin our study of Jesus by seeing him baptized by John in the Jordan river. Now, John was baptizing many people as a sign of their repentance from sin. Since Jesus had no sin, why was he getting baptized? We learn from the other Gospels that John did not want to baptize Jesus, because he felt that he was unworthy. Jesus, however insisted on being baptized, saying that “It is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” In other words, Jesus was baptized because he was setting himself apart for the work of God. This was the moment that Jesus’ ministry began. Jesus was also setting an example for all followers of his to follow him in water baptism.
Mark 1:10 (ESV) And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove.
The meaning of the word baptized in Greek means that Jesus was immersed underneath the water, as we do today. When John lifted him up out of the water, the Holy Spirit came down on Him. Jesus was at this point baptized in the Holy Spirit. He was anointed with the power of the Spirit to carry out God’s mission for His life. In the early church, water baptism and Spirit baptism were closely aligned. When people were water baptized, were also Spirit baptized and spoke in tongues. Our prayer is that as the church around the world grows closer to God, we will see more and more Spirit baptisms associated with water baptism. So far in this story, we have two members of the Trinity, the son and the Spirit involved.
Mark 1:11 (ESV) And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”
Now the Father speaks from heaven, the third member of the Trinity, three distinct persons but united in essence. The Father indicates His pleasure and approval of Jesus baptism in water and baptism in the Holy Spirit. These two experiences marked the beginning of Jesus’ ministry at 30 years of age.
Mark 1:13 (ESV) And he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. And he was with the wild animals, and the angels were ministering to him.
Immediately Jesus was led into spiritual warfare with Satan. He was away from other people for forty day, fasting in the desert. While there, Satan came to Him and tempted Him to sin against God. The temptations are recorded in other Gospels. Jesus successfully resisted every temptation through the use of God’s Word. In His weakened states, angels came to strengthen Him and minster to Him.
Before we continue through chapter one of Mark, let’s look at two verses at the end of the chapter. These verses will give us additional insight into Jesus’ obedience to the Father and what Mark summarized His ministry as.
Mark 1:35 (ESV) And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.
Jesus made it a practice to often get up early in the morning before the sun rose and get away from His disciples. While in a place where He could be all alone, He prayed and talked to His Father. This was where Jesus received direction, strength and comfort for the battles He would face during the day.
Mark 1:39 (ESV) And he went throughout all Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out demons.
This is the last verse in the first chapter of Mark. It summarized Jesus’ ministry of consisting of two main activities. First of all He taught God’s Word in the synagogues where people would listen. Secondly, Jesus cast out many demons that were oppressing the people. Jesus demonstrated the power of God and the compassion of God to help people. We learn from this study of how we should follow Jesus in obedience.
Jesus said in John 5:19 that He only does what He sees the Father doing. In other words, everything that Jesus did was in obedience to the Father. As we’ll see in the next point, Jesus calls people to follow Him. Those who follow Him in Jesus’ day and in our day are called His followers or believers. To follow Jesus is to obey His Words and to follow His example.
What are the starting points to become a follower of Jesus and to follow His example? We’ll see the first one in the next point. But in this point, every person who follows Jesus should be water baptized and Spirit baptized. The water baptism is to be a witness to others and a public commitment of yourself as a believer in Jesus Christ. Spirit baptism, as explained by Jesus in Acts 1:8 is an enduement or anointing of the power of the Holy Spirit to do the things that Jesus did.
Finally, prayer is an essential priority of every follower of Jesus. Not just prayer with others in church or groups, even though this is also important. But prayer alone with God on a daily basis. Read God’s Word systematically and pray daily for at least 15 minutes. Finally, when a person 100% dedicates their life to Jesus as His follower, you will enter into spiritual warfare and temptation with the evil one. But God is able to give you the victory, just as He did with Jesus. These are the beginning steps for every believer who wants to follow Jesus in obedience.
Mark 1:14-15 (ESV) Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”
As John had introduced and baptized Jesus, his mission was over and Jesus was now the focus. Jesus was teaching the gospel or good news of God. The good news was that the in Jesus, the kingdom of God was at hand. What that meant was that the time was now here when any person would enter the kingdom of God.
How could a person enter the kingdom of God? According to Jesus there were two requirements. The first was to repent. To repent is to turn away from the sin in your life and to turn toward God. Secondly, a person must believe in the gospel, which is in reality the good news about Jesus. The gospel only exists because of Jesus. So, to believe in the gospel is to believe in Jesus. As we study God’s Word today, we believe in the ministry and life of Jesus, His death on the cross and His resurrection. At this time in the book of Mark, this was three years in the future. Jesus then began to call twelve men to be His disciples.
Mark 1:17-18 (ESV) And Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” And immediately they left their nets and followed him.
The first two men that Jesus called were the fishermen brothers, Simon and Andrew. Jesus simply told them to follow him. What did that mean? It meant to leave their nets and vocation behind and literally follow Jesus wherever he went. How would they eat, where would they sleep? Somehow Jesus would take care of it. And the two and the other ten that Jesus would ultimately call, simply left everything to follow Jesus.
Now Jesus’ instruction or command was also really a promise, a conditional promise. Jesus said that if you follow me, I will make you a fisher of men. They would go from being fishers of fish to fishers of men. Leading someone into being a follower of Jesus would be what a fisher of men would do. Undoubtedly, neither Simon nor Andrew knew what it meant to be a fisher of men. But Jesus would teach them what it meant. They would learn by following His example. To follow Jesus in outreach is to allow Him to make you a fisher of men.
Now we have the three basic steps to being a follower of Jesus. Just as Jesus called His disciples, so He calls people today to be His disciples or followers. Every believer is a disciple or follower of Jesus. That’s what a Christian is. The first step for every person is to repent and believe the Gospel. Then in obedience, they are to be water baptized and Spirit baptized.
So, let’s think a little more deeply about what it means to follow Jesus. Following Jesus is not simply something you add to your life. To follow Jesus, you must leave other things behind. The disciples had to leave their nets and vocation. Now, Jesus does not call everyone to leave their vocation, but He does call us to leave everything behind that keeps us from following Him. To follow Jesus means to make Him and His Kingdom the top priority in our lives. We are seek the King and His Kingdom first in everything we do in life. Then we must allow Him to make us fishers of men, to be witnesses that lead others to Christ.
Now God gifts different followers with different gifts. Just as there are fishermen in the natural that are very good at catching lots of fish, there are believers who are very gifted at being fishers of men. These believers have the gift of outreach or evangelism. However, that doesn’t mean that each one of us should be seeking to grow as believers who lead others to the Lord. Every day, we should be asking God how we can be better fishers of men. Every day, we should be praying that our church could catch more people for Jesus. Jesus could have said Follow me and I will make you all kinds of other things. But He didn’t. His focus was on them becoming fishers of men, leading people to eternal life. We too must make it a priority in our lives and church to follow Jesus in outreach.
Mark 1:23-24 (ESV) And immediately there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit. And he cried out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God.”
Jesus was teaching in a Jewish synagogue when suddenly a man with a demon, an unclean spirit, began to yell out. As we can see from what was said, it is clear that the demon was speaking through the man’s voice. The demon knew that Jesus had come to ultimately destroy their power. In fact they knew far more about who he was than the people. He was indeed the Holy One of God.
Mark 1:25-26 (ESV) But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying out with a loud voice, came out of him.
Jesus commanded the unclean spirit to stop speaking and come out of the man. The demon sent the man into convulsions as it left him screaming. The demon that had been oppressing the man and taking control of at least his voice from time to time had been cast out. Jesus had demonstrated His power was greater than demonic power and had set the man free.
Mark 1:30-31 (ESV) Now Simon’s mother-in-law lay ill with a fever, and immediately they told him about her. And he came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and the fever left her, and she began to serve them.
Next we see an example of Jesus’ power over sickness. Simon’s mother-in-law was sick with a fever. Seemingly not a life threatening illness. Yet, the disciples were concerned about her and told Jesus. Jesus didn’t dismiss it as simply a flu that was not worthy of healing. He came to her, took her hand and lifted her out of her bed. She was instantly healed of her fever and back in full health so she could serve them. Not only did Jesus have power over demons, he also had power over every kind of sicknesses.
Mark 1:32, 34 (ESV) That evening at sundown they brought to him all who were sick or oppressed by demons. … And he healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons. And he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him.
The stories of Jesus healing the man with the demon in the synagogue and healing the mother-in-law with a fever spread through the city. After work that evening, many came to him bringing those who were sick and oppressed by demons. In the Greek language, there is a single word for the English phrase oppressed by demons. This is often poorly translated in many versions as demon-possessed. The Greek word is daimonizomai which literally means demonized. This word means that there are a range of degrees of demonic oppression possible on a person. We see this in the ministry of Jesus. People were set free from demonic oppression that resulted in physical impediments all the way up to a man controlled by thousands of demons. Jesus cast out or sent away every demon, commanding them to keep silent as they went. Jesus has power over sickness and demons.
Jesus said in John 14:12 that those who believe in Him would do the same works that Jesus did. We see both the twelve disciples and the group of seventy disciples having the same power as Jesus to heal and deliver from evil spirits. We continue to see the power of the Spirit bringing healing and deliverance to people throughout the book of Acts.
So, today, despite the blessings of the medical field, we still have sicknesses that need Jesus’ touch. Despite the fact that many in America no longer believe demons exist, they haven’t gone anywhere and are still oppressing people in many different ways. The power of Jesus to heal the sick and set free the oppressed is greatly needed today. Those who believe God’s Word and seek His gifts will learn to follow Jesus in power.
The power of the Spirit shows God’s love and compassion to people who are suffering. The power of the Spirit shows that God is stronger than Satan. Finally the power of the Spirit shows that God is real and helps draw people to believe in Jesus. That is why we must seek to follow Jesus in power as we pray for every need around us.
Today, we’ve started our study of Jesus in Action from the book of Mark. This is not just a historical study. It is challenging us today to be fully committed followers of Jesus. We’ve learned that we must follow Jesus in obedience through water and Spirit baptism. We must follow Jesus in outreach to be fishers of men in every area of our lives. Finally we must seek to follow Jesus in power, asking for the Spirit to work through us to bring healing and deliverance from those who are bound by Satan.