“Effective Gospel Ministry: Strategy and Response”
INTRODUCTION What is the Meaning of Mark 1.14-45
It’s a joy to invite you back to Mark chapter 1. Our text this morning will be the rest of Mark chapter 1, verses 14-45.
You remember that this Gospel was written by a man named John Mark. We learned that after doing a historical study. And it’s very likely that Mark interviewed Peter and then Mark wrote down what we have in his gospel.
You can imagine how that interview may have taken place. Mark wanting to know all of what Jesus did and taught, goes to interview Peter. And Peter, having been given as it were the keys to the kingdom, is wondering now how to do Gospel ministry. And Mark, perhaps, helps Peter by asking him the question, “well, how did Jesus do ministry?”
And then, Peter goes on to relate to Mark the various things that Jesus did and taught. Mark then would in turn clarify and ask questions about what Jesus did and taught and then they would come to a conclusion. And it seems, that the passage before us this morning is kind of an outlined in story form on how Jesus did ministry. Let me show you this briefly before we get in more detail into the text.
First of all, what Jesus does in His ministry is, verses 14-15 is to preach. Verse 14, at the end, Jesus went about preaching the gospel of God. Verse 15 is a summary of what he preached.
Now, verses 16-20 is the second activity Jesus does which is to make disciples. He calls Simon, which is also Peter, and Andrew in verses 16-18 as well as James and John in verses 19-20.
Now the question is if preaching and disciple making is really the way to go. And verses 21-28 confirm with amazing authority that indeed it is the way to do ministry. Jesus goes, verse 21 to Capernaum to teach and it says verse 22 that the people there were amazed because of the authority that he had in his teaching. And then right there in the synagogue he exorcises a demon and again it says, verse 27, that they were all amazed and it was because of the miracle he did, verse 40. After he did this miracle they were saying, “what is this? A new teaching with authority!” So they were amazed at his authority, i.e., His miracles were authoritative and his teaching was authoritative. So the response to Jesus ministry is that this is authoritative. The way he’s doing it is authoritative.
But, the question then becomes, who cares if it’s authoritative, is it effective? And sure enough, if you keep reading, you’ll understand why in verse 28 news about him was spreading everywhere and then in verses 29 to the end of chapter 1, you have responses to Jesus ministry and proof that it is effective.
Jesus heals Peter’s mother-in-law and then, verse 31, she serves them. There is a response.
And then, verse 33, the whole city gatherers at the door to get to Jesus and then after Jesus attempts to retire into a secluded place, people are searching for him verse 36 and then in verse 37 they find him and tell him that everyone is looking for him. There is another response.
And then, verse 38 and 39, Jesus clarifies purpose of his coming was indeed to preach. Verse 40-45 he heals the leper and this man’s response is to go out and to, himself, preach Jesus. There is another response.
So you’ve got Jesus strategy for effective Gospel ministry in verses 14-20 and then in verses 21-28 Mark proves to us that Jesus strategy of ministry, which he just showed us in the previous passage….that that strategy is indeed authoritative. And if you want to know if that authoritative gospel ministry is also effective, just read verses 29-45, where we have responses to Jesus’ ministry, where whole crowds of people seem to be thronging him.
So I’d like to preach to you from verses 14-45 of Mark chapter 1 on the message of this passage which is… Effective Gospel Ministry, its Strategy and Response.
So what we see is what an effective gospel ministry looks like, the strategy behind it and the people’s response to it. And I trust as we work down through this that we will see that the path that we are taking together as Northlight Baptist Church is indeed Jesus’ path.
TRANS: First of all then, verses 14-20, we have Jesus strategy for effective gospel ministry. What is Jesus strategy for doing ministry? And effective gospel ministry first of all must include preaching.
Jesus’ Strategy for Effective Gospel Ministry (vv.14-20)
Effective Gospel ministry must include preaching (1:14-15)
Verses 14, Mark quickly skims over how the arrest of John the Baptist happened in verse 14, just to make a brief note that he was in fact arrested, after that, Jesus came into Galilee.
Now, let me just make a point here and that is to say that as a preacher of this passage, I do not feel the need to fill in all the details that Mark leaves out. Mark leaves out a lot of details in a lot of different places that we see coming together in the other three Gospels. Now there is a reason why Mark has left out all those details. We may or may not discover together from week to week what those reasons are, but nevertheless, what we need to do is to be faithful to this passage of Scripture and let the emphasis of this passage of Scripture speak for itself.
So, when he comes to Galilee, Mark notes that he began “preaching the gospel of God.” And we have a little bit more of the contents of the preaching in verse 15. What was the content of Jesus sermons? Well, he is a unique person with a unique ministry so he will have unique preaching as well. However, we would do well to model our preaching after his.
When Jesus preached, he preached three different things in summary. He preached that the kingdom of God is at hand and he preached repentance and faith in the gospel. So let’s deal briefly with each of those in turn.
Preaching Kingdom Nearness
What does it mean that the time is fulfilled and that the kingdom, is at hand or some translated, has drawn near?
In God’s perfect timing, he sent for his son, Jesus of Nazareth, he sent him to earth to begin a new era of communication between God and man. This is what we saw last time when we saw the heavens were opened in Mark 1:10. We saw that word “open” is the same word at the end of Mark when the veil was torn in two. Just like the veil leading into the holy of holies was torn in two signified Jesus going into the presence of God for us, so also does the tearing of the heavens symbolize a new era of God’s communication with man. And now, the time has been fulfilled for this to begin. Just like when Paul says in…
Galatians 4:4 (NASB) But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law,
The time was fulfilled…. Meaning that God is orchestrating all of these events to get human history to point where he wanted it so that he could send his son. God brought together things culturally and politically and religiously so that the time would be perfect to send forth his son. So the time is fulfilled, the time is now.
And now, Jesus can say that the kingdom of God is at hand. Now why did Jesus say this? God has so orchestrated all of human history to the point where he could send forth his son and now when his son comes, his son can say that the kingdom of heaven is at hand. And so the reason why He can say that the kingdom of heaven is at hand is because he himself is the King! The kingdom is near because the king of that kingdom is near.
And we know that this is what Jesus is talking about because when he says that the kingdom of God is near what he means is that it is near in the sense of spatial distance. The three occurrences of this word, “at hand” in the book of Mark make this clear.
Mark describes the travel of Jesus and his disciples as they went to Jerusalem and it says
Mark 11:1 (NASB) As they *approached Jerusalem…. Approach is our word in Mark 1:15 and clearly they’re getting near to Jerusalem, Jerusalem is ‘at hand.’ They are not far away physically, they are in close proximity. Similarly, in Mark 14:42 when Judas betrays Jesus, Jesus says…
Mark 14:42 (NASB) “Get up, let us be going; behold, the one who betrays Me is at hand!” Judas was right there ready to betray him!
Clearly then, when Jesus says that the kingdom of heaven is at hand it is because Jesus himself is the king and he is near, physically speaking! The King has come to earth and so the kingdom of this king is near to those in that time.
And when we study together the kingdom of God in our Thursday night series, what we’ll discover together in the multitude verses is that the kingdom of God or the kingdom of heaven is God’s rule or is reign not only over all of creation but the Scripture passages primarily refer to the kingdom of God with reference to the Messiah’s eschatological kingdom, that is, Jesus reign over the earth for a 1000 years during the millennium. As members of the body of Christ, the church, we are members of the kingdom of God. We have been, Colossians 1:13, transferred to the kingdom of his beloved son. Yet clearly, there are many future aspects to the kingdom. And we’ll go over those a later time.
So Jesus is testifying that God has orchestrated all the events in human history to the point where he himself arrives on the scene as the King and is able to say because of that… that the kingdom of God is near the King over that kingdom is right before your eyes. And this is what the King of the entire universe says, “repent and believe in the gospel.” So, let’s deal with that repentance and faith/belief.
Preaching repentance and faith in the gospel
Repentance and Faith: Repentance and faith can be summed up in the idea of conversion. When someone repentance of their sin and comes to faith in Christ he has been converted. True gospel conversion is both: both repentance and faith. You can’t have one without the other. Repentance is an act of the will of somebody. It is your responsibility to change your mind about all of what you know and believe and think and act on about God and to abandon your sin, to turn away from it….not to embrace it, but to lay down your arms of rebellion.
When we’re talking about believing or having faith, were talking about a dependence, not a mere “tipping of your hat” to something or assenting to some facts, but an actual trust. You could describe faith like Spurgeon did when he said that a believer ought to be willing to take the thin thread of the gospel of Christ and swing out over the mouth of hell with it. Are you trusting in, are you depending on Christ and his gospel for eternal life?
And the gospel: and again, the gospel, what we saw last time is the good news about Jesus Christ and about God’s saving power accomplished through Christ for all who believe.
TRANS: So this is a summary statement of Jesus’ preaching ministry. He preached the gospel. And if a ministry is going to be a sound gospel ministry in the sight of God, it will focus on gospel preaching. That is, the requirement of faith in the gospel and repentance toward God. And this is what we emphasized as we went through that series of messages that we have on the church’s philosophy of ministry. We spent the first three weeks on this very topic of preaching. We were in 2 Timothy chapters 3-4. And we saw that if we live in an apostate culture that loves itself, its money, and the pleasure that money purchases that a gospel preaching ministry will, in response to that, preach the word! So we focused on a scriptural preaching ministry.
Now, that’s not the only requirement for an effective gospel ministry. Effective strategy for gospel ministry must also include, not only gospel preaching, but also disciple making. This is where we get into verses 16-20 where Jesus calls two sets of brothers.
Effective Gospel ministry must include disciple making (1:16-20)
First, Jesus calls the brothers Simon, that’s Peter, and Andrew to follow him in verses 16-18 and then the brothers James and John in verses 19-20.
Jesus calls Peter and Andrew to follow him (1:16-18)
Jesus calls James and John to follow him (1:19-20)
What we’ll do here is take both of these accounts together since they are quite similar in their structure.
Verse 16, Jesus was going by the sea of Galilee and he saw these two brothers and they were fishing. Jesus issues out a call to them, verse 17, “follow me and I will make you become fishers of men.”
Similarly in verses 19-20, Jesus sees two other brothers and they likewise are fishermen. They are mending their nets. And he, it says verse 20, calls them. And their response, just like Peter and Andrew, is to leave. Whereas Peter and Andrew left “their nets” James and John “left their father and hired servants” to follow Jesus.
So, put together the formula:
Jesus sees them. Verse 16 it says that Jesus saw Peter and Andrew and verse 19 Jesus saw James and John.
And Jesus saw them working in their employment. Verse 16 Jesus saw the two brothers “casting a net in the sea.” And Jesus saw the two brothers James and John verse 19 “mending their nets.” Jesus saw both sets of brothers working at their full time employment.
So Jesus arrives on the scene … in the middle of their lives, and comes to them and issues them a call. He sees these men and he sees them working their jobs and then thirdly…
Jesus calls them, not only to be disciples, but to make disciples. Verse 17 Jesus says to these men, “follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.”
First, Jesus calls them to follow him. We have a teacher approaching the students follow him. We have the master coming to the disciple and issuing a call. It’s not the students seeking the help like how our modern school structure works. It’s the teacher commanding the disciple.
And it’s a command to follow himself. Not to follow just what he says, the things that he teaches, but follow him. The way that the story unfolds, this command to follow Jesus is rooted in the authority of the one who’s issuing the command. Jesus goes out, searches for these men and he comes onto the scene of their world and the King issues the command: follow me.
What we see in the meaning of this word follow is exactly what we have in their responses when they do it. They leave. They left their nets, they left their place of employment, they left their father and their material possessions, their boat they left those things and they walked around with Jesus they lived with Jesus ate with Jesus and did everything that Jesus wanted them to do. They made a decisive break from their past life to live the life of Christ.
APP: Is that you? Have you decided to follow Jesus? No turning back no turning back. It is not uncharacteristic of Jesus to call on men to leave their places of employment so that they give themselves wholly over to following Jesus. He did that for Peter and Andrew, James and John, he can issue that same call to others.
And verse 20 when Jesus saw James and John, it says that he “called them.” Jesus’ call was what it was before, to follow him and that he would make them fishers of men.
And Jesus’ call is that they will fish for men, that is, they will make disciples. They will be disciple-making disciples. Jesus promises that if they follow him he will make them to be, fishers of men. They won’t be that way as soon as they begin following him, but they will be someday if they are true followers, they will be disciple makers. If you are following Jesus you will be, a disciple maker you will make disciples. That’s the nature of being a disciple of Jesus.
APP: Are you willing to make disciples? Are you willing to leave all the comforts of life to do it? If God so chooses … are you willing to leave your father or your mother and are you willing to leave your material possessions, your boat the employees in your business are you willing to leave all of that to follow Jesus? He may or may not require you to do that today but that very well may be the cost of discipleship. It was in the lives of these men.
So here we have the second of two parts to Jesus strategy for effective gospel ministry. He went around preaching in verses 14-15 and now in verses 16-20 he makes disciple-making disciples. He calls on his disciples to make other disciples, to be fishers of men. And isn’t it incredible that that was the second part of our series on our church’s philosophy of ministry! We said that we would be a ministry that focuses on the preaching of the word we also said that we would be a ministry that’s focused on disciples who can make other disciples. And we have to do this. Jesus did this. We want to be a ministry that Jesus wants us to be, we must focus on preaching and making disciples who make other disciples. For me personally, this is very confirmatory. We had two passages of Scripture in our church’s philosophy ministry and the focus of both of them is in this one passage for us this morning and it’s Jesus of all people doing it. Jesus will be with us; he promised to be with us to the end of the age. Do you know that he is with us?
TRANS: Well, is Jesus strategy of ministry authoritative? Is there any question about the authority of Jesus’ way of doing things in ministry? Well, what’s the response of those to whom he ministered? Verses 21-28 now we have the authority of Jesus strategy of ministry proven. Mark proves for us that the strategy of Jesus ministry is indeed authoritative.
The Authority of Jesus’ Strategy of Ministry Proven (vv21-28)
What we have in these verses is two parts, first of all, in verses 21-22, Jesus teaching was amazingly authoritative as well as, verses 23-28 Jesus miracles were amazingly authoritative. And Jesus miracles serve to demonstrate that Jesus teaching is indeed authoritative and that his gospel ministry is authoritative as well.
Jesus’ teaching was amazingly authoritative (1:21-22)
First of all, notice with me verse 22, the response to his teaching. You might want to mark this. When Jesus taught, they were “amazed.” And the reason that they are amazed is given to us: they were amazed at his authority. Jesus’ teaching was amazingly authoritative to these people. You see, the scribes would just quote other scribes to give what they were teaching more authority, more weight, but Jesus would speak by his own authority. For example, he would say things like, “you have heard that it was said,…” and then he gives some sort of teaching on a subject that everybody’s used to hearing from other scribes, but then Jesus would say… “but I say unto you.” That would be amazing to hear. And then if the guy did a miracle, you would say to yourself, “I better listen to him!”
Jesus’ miracles were amazingly authoritative (Mk. 1:23-28)
And Jesus does just that! A man possessed by a demon comes up to Jesus, verse 24, crying out what business do we have with each other… And asks if Jesus will destroy them or not and then testifies to who Jesus is, that is the holy one of God. Jesus rebukes the unclean spirit and he comes out of the man.
And, verse 27, now we see that not only is Jesus’ teaching authoritative, but we also see that his miracles are authoritative.
Notice how it’s put, verse 27, that after Jesus exercised the demon, the response is just like it was to his teaching, that they were all “amazed.” And what they were saying among themselves concerned the question about what all this meant and here’s the point…they tied the miracle to his teaching. His teaching came with “authority” it says in v. 27. And the authority here likely has reference to the miracle.
So, not only does his teaching itself have authority v.22, but he also accompanies his authoritative teaching with more authority, with miracles, v.27. And the miracles proved that his teaching was authoritative. Whereas the teaching itself v.22 was authoritative because he wasn’t teaching like the scribes were teaching, here, they were marveling at the fact that not only was he teaching, but he was proving the truth of his teaching by demonstrating miracles. He taught with authority, he taught and he did miracles to prove what he was teaching was true.
So Jesus has his philosophy of ministry of preaching and making disciple-making disciples and then he proves his authority. The response of people to his authority is that they are amazed. So as an application of this, I would say that we would do well to follow his pattern. We may not get the same kind of response that the people gave but nevertheless we are following in the steps of the Savior when we focus on preaching and making disciples. Jesus proved by his authority that his philosophy of ministry is right, preaching and making disciples! So, by God’s grace, we endeavor to follow Christ philosophy of ministry, his ministry of preaching and making disciples who make other disciples.
TRANS: So we have Jesus’ strategy in vv.14-20, the authority of that strategy proven in vv.21-28, and now in the remainder of this chapter we have responses. We’ve already had some responses, but in this next section it is more concentrated. The responses here are positive. Next week, we will see negative responses to Jesus ministry. So, in verses 29-45 we have responses to Jesus ministry.
Responses to Jesus’ Ministry (vv.29-45)
Serve Him (1:29-31)
First of all, verses 29-31, we have an example of a lady who received Jesus ministry and her response is one of service. When they came out of the synagogue after Jesus healed the man with the demon, they went over to Simon and Andrew’s house and James and John came along with them. And they told Jesus, verse 30, that Peter’s mother-in-law had a fever. And then, verse 31, in rapid succession now…Jesus came to her and he raised her up and he did that by taking her by the hand and at that moment the fever left her. Wow!… And then we have her response.
Jesus performed a miracle on her behalf she responds with gratitude and then she serves them.
As recipients of Jesus ministry in our lives, we should serve them. We should serve him and his people.
Seek Him (1:32-39)
And then, in this large section in the middle, verses 32-39, we have the response of seeking him. They are trying to find Jesus searching for him.
That very night after a busy day of ministry, after the sun had set, the people, no doubt hearing of all of what Jesus was doing, brought to Jesus everybody it says verse 32 all who were ill and demon possessed. Verse 33 the “whole” city had gathered at the door of Peter’s house. So the whole city all the people in the city are there and they bring to him all who were sick. See the huge crowd at this one door! They were all seeking after Jesus. And it says verse 34 that he healed them cast out their demons and he had control over those demons by not permitting them to speak verse 34. He did not want them speaking for him he did not want the testimony of demons so he commanded them not to speak.
And even though Jesus was likely ministering late into the night healing all those people he got up early in the morning, verse 35 and went away to find a private place and there he began to pray.
It’s important for those who are ministering for Jesus to get away and pray. But Jesus finds no rest, verse 36 because it says that the disciples were searching for him in verse 37 they find him they’re not the only ones wanting to see Jesus, everyone they say is looking for Him. And this is a response. Everyone is doing this…it speaks of the fame of Jesus ministry…it speaks of the response to an authoritative effective gospel ministry that people do hunger for this. And what is it that Jesus wants to give to them?
Verse 38, Jesus response to everybody looking for him and searching for him and gathering at his door is to say to them…let’s continue on to all the other cities around so that I can preach there also. Because that’s what I came for Jesus says. I came to preach. That’s what Jesus wants to give them.
So a particular gospel ministry, just a footnote on a church’s philosophy of ministry here, is that there are towns nearby that also need to hear the good news of Christ. So a Scriptural gospel ministry doesn’t restrict itself to one particular town, but it will go to other towns as well and share the good news. By God’s grace we will endeavor to do that.
We have the response of the crowds that they are seeking after him, but we have the response of an individual who received his ministry and that she served them. We need to be people who truly search after Jesus and serve him and his people. We can do this by sharing the word, by preaching the gospel to people.
And our final story, verses 40-45, serves as a third response. Not only serve him not only search hard for him and find him, but also, preach him.
Preach Him (1:40-45)
Here we have a story of a leper and Jesus healing the leper. He comes to Jesus and he begs him and he falls down before Jesus and he says with great faith if you’re willing you can make me clean. Of course this leper had a skin disease. Nobody is really sure exactly what disease this was. There are many kinds of leprosy. But it’s a painless disease and disfiguring. Places of the body would grow numb and even someone’s voice could become hoarse. It wasn’t until 1982 that drugs were developed to cure the disease.
They would lose their sense of pain in their extremities and b/c of that people would wear out their own limbs. And so a man like this implores Jesus for help,…with faith believing Jesus can heal him, if only Jesus would be willing to do it.
It says verse 41 Jesus stressed out his hand and touched him he said that he was willing and told him to be clean. And he did this all because he was moved with compassion. Jesus is moved over our deplorable state, not only our sin, but also all of our physical maladies.
And the leprosy left him and he was cleansed.
Now, here’s where the response comes into play. When Jesus sent this man away he warned him, verse 44, not to tell anybody about it. Jesus merely wanted the priest to see it just like the law commanded be done.
But, verse 45, this man did not obey Jesus! And can you blame him? How could you keep this awesome news to yourself? So this man verse 45 instead of obeying Jesus goes out and proclaims what happened freely and he spread the news around to such an extent that Jesus could no longer publicly enter a city but had to stay out in unpopulated places and people had to come to him.
APP: Let me make two points on that first of all, our disobedience hinders Jesus ministry. When we disobey, Jesus ministry is hindered. The leper didn’t know why he was not to proclaim what happened, he just knew that he had been cleansed and was told not to tell. But the mere fact that he was proclaiming it so much hindered Jesus ministry and that he could not go into the city. There were too many people thronging after him. But if the man would’ve obeyed, Jesus ministry may have been extended. Disobedience hinders Jesus further work in a geographical location. So, as one of God’s children, obey him so that he can have more ministry in our community here.
The second point is that for today, the opposite it’s true! This man responded to Jesus ministry by preaching Jesus. We have no restrictions on preaching Jesus today! In fact, the temptation is not to preach him today. The temptation is to hide him from people. We are commanded in the great commission to go out and preach the gospel and to make disciples of all the nations. We must do this!
As we do this, we may get people to respond! You can see in this passage whole city gathered at the door Jesus is healing everyone… everyone is looking for Jesus. There is massive response! When we have mass response to the gospel, what you have is a big change in a local ministry. If we do the great commission the way God wants us to, in the power of the Spirit, we will have more and more people coming in our doors. When more people, we will have more problems. When we have more problems and more people, we will no longer have our same little group like we had when we first started. Will you be okay with that?
Will you be okay with a great change to the dynamic of this ministry when the Lord brings people here to hear his word? These people might not be the most pleasant or the most gifted….are you ok with lepers coming into our midst?
CONCLUSION What is the Meaning of Mark 1.14-45
Jesus clearly had an effective gospel ministry. Everybody was searching for him everybody wanted more of him! They were listening to his teaching they were amazed with his authority. His way of doing things is right. He focused on preaching and making disciples who would make other disciples. That’s what we endeavor to do as a church here. And that philosophy of ministry was given an authoritative stamp when they observed his teaching and were amazed by its authority. And of course we saw that it was effective.
Are you willing to do ministry the way Jesus wants us to do ministry? Are you ok with the kinds of people that kind of ministry attracts? Can you respond to Jesus’ ministry in your life with service? With searching for him? And with proclaiming what he has done for you? Respond to Jesus effective gospel ministry in your life and do ministry the way Jesus did.