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Free to Pursue

SUFFERING KING: THE BOOK OF MARK:
Free To Pursue: Mark 12:28-34
Pastor John Weathersby
Sunday January 31, 2021

We reflect what we focus on.

Focus in the world will bring to be, bitterness frustration and anger. Focus on God will bring about love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

The overarching idea of Judaism was all of God for all of life – and as we’ll see from Jesus, if we lived it the very Kingdom of God would be actualized. Our humanity which seeks for darkness cannot fully know it, absent Christ, but in Christ – we are free to attain for full Joy in the truth of God.

The question that should linger for us this morning, is do we feel free to that pursuit are we focused on it and purposed to it, is that our end – joy in God? I think either we are here for that today in worship or here today because somethings missing and maybe God is the answer – lets see this exchange between Jesus and Jewish religious leaders:

Mark 12:28–34 (ESV)
The Great Commandment
28 And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?”

Matthew give us perspective into the transition here more in:

Matthew 22:34–35
34 But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. 35 And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him.

This onslaught of questioning since his arrival in Jerusalem is back-to-back, the gospels show the entire jewish religious establishment leadership poking and prodding at Him with trap door questions looking for a weakness, with the Mark 11:18 energy

Mark 11:18 (ESV)
18 And the chief priests and the scribes heard it and were seeking a way to destroy him, for they feared him, because all the crowd was astonished at his teaching.

We have to remember of these Sanhedrin have no power to do what they want, which is to kill Jesus and rid themselves of this problem,

John 18:31 (ESV)
31 Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and judge him by your own law.” The Jews said to him, “It is not lawful for us to put anyone to death.”

And so, they work to align the world with their issue – to find a friend in the rule of Roman law by pitting Jesus against government and the people. Because they’re ALSO afraid of the people that hail him as a prophet and rabbi:

Matthew 21:46 (ESV)
46 And although they were seeking to arrest him, they feared the crowds, because they held him to be a prophet.

So these series of questions are designed to pinch Him between the people and the government giving Him no way out. This 3rd wave of questions comes from that scribe who we just read, came up and heard them disputing – and also saw that he answered well.

29 Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.
30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’
31 The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

In a world of new philosophies and advanced thinking – remember on a timeline Jesus is vastly closer to Paul in Acts 17, then to you and I in 2021:

Acts 17:16–30 (ESV)
Paul in Athens
16 Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him as he saw that the city was full of idols.
17 So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the devout persons, and in the marketplace every day with those who happened to be there.
18 Some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers also conversed with him. And some said, “What does this babbler wish to say?” Others said, “He seems to be a preacher of foreign divinities”—because he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection.
19 And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, “May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting?
20 For you bring some strange things to our ears. We wish to know therefore what these things mean.”
21 Now all the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there would spend their time in nothing except telling or hearing something new.
Freze frame, record scratch – how did Paul get here:

Acts 17:1–3 (ESV)
Paul and Silas in Thessalonica
1 Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews.
2 And Paul went in, as was his custom, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures,
3 explaining and proving that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus, whom I proclaim to you, is the Christ.”

He wen’t and he reasoned with them from… high philosophy, science, evidences – The Scriptures. Now let’s zoom back on the timeline where Jesus is answering the questions from this curious scribe.

How did Jesus answer Him – remember their motives are at least two fold show misalignment with the people and Rome – Jesus answers From The Scriptures (this was Jesus’ approach, Paul wisely followed suit):

Deuteronomy 6:4–5 (ESV)
4 “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.
5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.

The Hebrew original reading in Deuteronomy said all her soul and might, the Greek translation that perhaps several of the Hellenized Jews would be reading which included “mind”:

Mark 12:30 (ESV)
30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’

Jesus tells them all their heart, all tier mind, all their soul is to be focused and oriented on God – everything. Nothing preserved for this world, it’s systems, its allegiances, its motivations and purposes – everything is turned over to Love of God.

Everything.

This is carried forward from Moses in the Shema – a daily (morning and night) repeated prayer from the most devoted Jews.

He then, from the scriptures, sates:

Mark 12:31 (ESV)
31 The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

Flip to Luke 10:25. You’re in the “parable of the good Samaritan”.

Luke 10:25 (ESV)
25 And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”

These lawyers, man…

Jesus was transfigured, in Luke 9:51-56 Jesus wasn’t received by a Samaritan village, in chapter 10 he sends out 72 who return saying – in your name even the demons are subject to us. They’re pumped about that like a kid in a magic shop who just learned how pop-pop has been pulling nickels out of their ears, He says, be excited that your redeemed from sin and joined to God – he whispers to the smaller group of disciples (after encouraging them that God handed them to Him (Jesus) and only God can reveal this truth to people – setting up a nice strong reformed theology, if you don’t like that please remove Luke 10:21-22 from your Bible.

Luke 9:51-56 (ESV)
A Samaritan Village Rejects Jesus
51 When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem.
52 And he sent messengers ahead of him, who went and entered a village of the Samaritans, to make preparations for him.
53 But the people did not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem.
54 And when his disciples James and John saw it, they said, “Lord, do you want us to tell fire to come down from heaven and consume them?”
55 But he turned and rebuked them.
56 And they went on to another village.

Luke 10:21-22 (ESV)
Jesus Rejoices in the Father’s Will
21 In that same hour he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.
22 All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”

Then comes that lawyer challenging Jesus; rather than asking what is the most important commandment, he asks – what shall I do to inherit eternal life. If the answers to both are the same, what’s most important and how am I saved; perhaps salvation is of the highest importance?

Psalm 73:25–26 (ESV)
25  Whom have I in heaven but you?
And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
26  My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

Do you feel free to celebrate this? Or are you bound up by the arguments, philosophies, and truths of the world? Perhaps like Jesus modeled and Like Paul after him followed focus on the scriptures will give you that freedom to worship?

32 And the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher. You have truly said that he is one, and there is no other besides him.
33 And to love him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.”

What can I do to be saved, both offerings and sacrifice. Not works, rather giving yourself over wholly to God. Again, before Jesus said this the first time he said –

Luke 10:21–22
Jesus Rejoices in the Father’s Will
21 In that same hour he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.
22 All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”

Little children, church, will you celebrate the truth of Christ, revealed to you by God, through the hearing of His Word, as we do each Sunday? Will that motivate your life?

34 And when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And after that no one dared to ask him any more questions.

Luke 10:34–37 (ESV)
34 He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him.
35 And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’
36 Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?”
37 He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.”

This focus on God with all your everything frees you to these outcomes. You’ll love your neighbor as your own self, ONLY when you love God with everything first. If not, loyalties in the world will distract, cloud, and confuse your right Kingdom vision.

Don’t allow a distance from God through a cold heart to leave you like this lawyer: “You are not far from the kingdom of God.”

Come all the way home, to God in Christ – focus your everything on Him and you’ll be free to attain joy in God – So, how do we do that?

Focus and purpose.

Focus on God, keeps our minds on God which keeps us clearer on the differences between the World and the Word. Remember Jesus answers from scripture – when Paul goes into the philosophizing world, he brings Scripture – we too start here.

And purpose, purpose to grow, purpose for that focus – we don’t stumble into Christ likeness like we default to those attitudes we desire them – so frequent scripture reading, frequent prayer.

What is frequent, it’s frequent. Daily weekly there is no abra kazabra here, no right – but probably a wrong.

Do you need food to live? How much of your life is focused around food – an entire room, tools, a storage device, shopping trips, daily patterns – (body shape, if you’re like me).

Do you need God to live?

How do you make your life look like you need God to live, start there, and whatever you do, don’t leave it here: “You are not far from the kingdom of God.”

Pray, Observe, Apply.

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