20190310 Sunday Worship Sermon
"The Gospel of Brokenness” (Mark 1:1-11)
Today is the first Sunday in Lent.
Lent is the season of remembering the life, suffering and death of Jesus Christ.
As we remember the suffering and death of Jesus, we spend time looking back on ourselves and repenting.
The season of Lent is especially a precious time for our spiritual growth and maturity.
I hope you will take this season of Lent as an opportunity for spiritual maturity.
In this meaningful time, the first Sunday in Lent, we read the Gospel of Mark.
The Gospels begin the story of Jesus Christ from four different perspectives, with four different introductions.
The Gospel of Matthew begins with the genealogy of Jesus Christ.
The Gospel of John starts with the story of the Beginning.
And the Gospel of Luke begins with Dedication Remarks to Theophilos.
Today, we read the introductory of the Gospel of Mark.
Mark begins the story of Jesus as such:
“The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God” (1:1)
Then, Mark introduces John the Baptist.
One day John appeared in the Judean wilderness.
John delivered God’s messages and baptized those who accepted the message at the River of Jordan.
Baptism is a ritual symbolizing the cleansing of sin and restoration of the relationship with God as His child.
Thus, people called him the “Baptizer.”
Those baptized returned to their town and spread the word about the amazing Baptizer they met in the wilderness.
Hearing the words, those who had spiritual thirst went to the wilderness.
His message is full of life and they felt the warmth of being reborn when they were baptized.
Not before long, many people followed John the Baptist.
Majority of those who followed John the Baptist came from Judah and Jerusalem.
Among them, there was one guy who appeared outstanding.
He had something special unlike the majority.
John the Baptist knew instantly that he would be the one "who will baptize with the Holy Spirit" (v. 8).
Yes, He was Jesus of Nazareth.
After Jesus went into the Jordan River to be baptized, mysterious things began to happen right after He came out of the water.
The heavens opened up and the Holy Spirit descended on him like a dove.
And a voice came from heaven.
Mark used special words, unlike Matthew and Luke, when delivering this story.
In verse 10 it is said, “Just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart” (10)
"Torn apart" is closer to the meaning of the original Greek text rather than "the heavens opened" in other translation.
Why do you think Mark used this word, “torn apart”?
The expression of “opened” as Matthew and Luke did seems more appropriate.
It sounds more natural as it seems ‘opened’ as supposed to be.
However, the word “tear” seems unnatural as it is associated with force.
“Being torn” resonates with pain.
There is pain associated with both tearing and being torn.
Mark recorded here how "the beginning of the Gospel,” that is, “the salvation through Jesus, the Son of God” started.
At the starting point of the Gospel there were John the Baptizer, Jesus Christ, and also “being torn.”
What is this of “being torn?”
The baptism of Jesus signified his decision to give himself to be torn for the will of God and for the salvation of mankind.
In the Gospel of Matthew, when Jesus came to John to be baptized, John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” (Matthew 3:14).
For Jesus was free from sins, hence didn’t need a 'baptism of repentance'.
Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.”
Jesus received the baptism of John with different meanings.
What could be the different meanings that Jesus thought?
What could be the ‘righteousness’ to be accomplished through this baptism?
According to the Gospel of John, when John first saw Jesus, he said "Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world." (John 1:29).
That is right.
When Jesus received the baptism in the Jordan River, he gave himself to bear the sins of the world.
It was his decision to entrust God with his life to be torn.
Hence, I would like to say, "The Cross started in the Jordan River, not in Calvary."
And this is how the Gospel started.
When Jesus gave himself out to be torn out, the gospel began.
When Jesus was taking the decision to give his life to be torn, the heaven responded.
Think about John the Baptist.
He led a life of brokenness after he came out to the wilderness of Judea.
The more people came to him to be baptized, the more he lived the brokenness.
As is written in today’s verses, John the Baptist wore clothing made of camel’s hair and ate locusts and wild honey.
It shows that he lived rough.
His only concern was the mission entrusted to him by God.
His life abandoned to brokenness, John the Baptist was beheaded in the end by Herod Antipas, who was the man of authority at that time.
Yes, John the Baptist yielded his entire life to brokenness for the sake of God’s Kingdom.
How about Jesus?
Following His baptism, Jesus went out to the wilderness and fasted for 40 days.
A fasting of 40 days could not have been done without a determination of life or death.
In other words, it was His way of being torn for God’s will.
There, Jesus was tested by Satan.
The three temptations that Satan proposed to Jesus were simply “to live for himself.”
But, Jesus defeated all three temptations.
This was His determination and proclamation that He would follow the path of being torn according to God’s will.
Soon after the news of John the Baptist’s arrest, Jesus returned to Galilee and began preaching the gospel.
Jesus went to every corner of Galilee, preaching the gospel of God’s Kingdom and healing the sick.
News about Jesus spread in no time and many people swarmed around Him.
Accordingly, Jesus spent days as He suffered the brokenness in the flesh for these people.
Jesus, who had been preaching the gospel in Galilee, decided to go towards Jerusalem.
Unlike Galilee, Jerusalem was not an easy place to do ministry.
There, the powerful both in religion and politics were forming an alliance to protect their vested rights.
Jesus’ going to Jerusalem was equivalent to asking for death.
However, Jesus headed to Jerusalem, as if He was ready to die.
And Jesus was put to death only a week after He entered Jerusalem.
The day before His death, Jesus had already foretold His own death while having the last supper with His disciples.
He took the bread, said the blessing, and broke it, saying, “This is My body given to you.”
Jesus said that His body would be broken like the bread.
As He predicted, Jesus was nailed on a cross the next day.
Matthew recorded that when Jesus died the veil of the temple of Jerusalem was torn.
Here, the veil means the curtain which separated the holy place and the most holy place from each other.
The veil represents the partition which separates God from the world of man.
When Jesus died on the cross, that veil was torn.
That means the wall between God and man came down.
The heaven which was torn open when Jesus was baptized was open to everyone through the cross.
His torn body opened heaven for us.
His body was broken and pierced as our redeemer.
What Prophet Isaiah prophesized materialized on the cross.
“But He was pierced through for our transgressions,
He was crushed for our iniquities;
The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him,
And by His scourging we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5)
Like this, the gospel started with the pain of being torn and was completed through the suffering of brokenness.
That is why there is the power of forgiveness, healing, and restoration in this gospel.
Once we receive the gospel of brokenness like that to be forgiven, healed, and restored, the gospel leads us to open up ourselves to the brokenness of Jesus.
The gospel that healed us shakes our conscience.
It demands us to tear apart what should be torn to grow as a disciple of Jesus and to fulfill God’s will.
First, the gospel demands us to tear ourselves away.
We must tear away from our own inner selves playing the master of our lives.
Jesus spoke the following;
“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” (Mark 8:34)
The Greek word that corresponds to “deny” means “acknowledge that it has nothing to do with me.”
It means to declare to myself who has played master in my life.
It means to abandon yourself and serve Jesus Christ as your master, and follow Him.
That may be painful.
Only by enduring that pain, however, the gospel can live and work in us.
Second, the gospel demands us to tear away from the things we have enjoyed until now.
There are some bad and sinful habits that stick to us tirelessly even though we are walking with Jesus after receiving Him.
We must get rid of them.
We must discard them.
We may not want to part with sinful habits we enjoyed in the past because we might feel the loss.
Sometimes it is painful.
The gospel demands us to bear that pain and tear them away.
Apostle Paul says in Ephesians.
“But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving...” (Ephesians 5:3-4)
Third, the gospel demands us to purge of ourselves.
Many people live for themselves only.
Some people take advantage of their family for themselves.
Compared to them, those who purge themselves for their family willingly are on a much better side.
However, the gospel demands us to take one step further.
It tells us to go further out to the point of purging yourself for your neighbors.
Paul Said in Ephesians;
“Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” (Eph. 5:1-2)
Paul tells us to live with Jesus Christ as our example.
As Jesus was torn for our salvation, we are to be torn ourselves for others.
To purge oneself for the others is “love.”
Thus, Paul tells us to “walk in the way of love.”
The Core of Love is to tear ourselves.
This does not mean abusing oneself.
Rather, it is to tear one’s materialism and dedicating one’s time, strength, talents and hearts.
Without pain, it is not love.
The gospel demands us to tear ourselves for God and for our neighbors until it hurts.
Brothers and sisters, is this gospel in you?
Do you believe in this gospel that the Son of God wearing flesh came to this world for us and was completed by tearing his everything?
Because of that gospel, has your brokenness been healed?
Have your broken soul, torn heart and mind, broken life from hardship been restored by the broken body and blood of Jesus Christ?
I hope that you can experience this grace by believing in the gospel.
Among us are many who already enjoy this grace of the gospel.
If then, let us ask ourselves.
“Is there brokenness in me?”
“Have I torn myself of being the master of my life?”
“Have I broken the old habits shackling the ankles of my spiritual life?”
Let us tear ourselves.
Let us break away those habits that make our souls hazy and destroy our life, like greed, arrogance, gossiping, dishonesty, hatred, condemnation, and idolatry.
Let us dedicate our hearts to God sincerely and seek his strength.
If there is the power of the gospel working in us, it can be torn away.
And finally let us move toward the brokenness the Lord wants to see in us.
The reason why the Lord forgives, heals, and restores us is so that we can give our life to the neighbors by tearing ourselves.
If the gospel of brokenness is alive in us, that brokenness is bound to come out in our words and deeds.
Brothers and sisters, is there this brokenness in you?
“Have you experienced the pain of your heart being torn apart for others?”
“Have you dedicated your time for others?”
“Have you used your money for someone else?”
“Have you dedicated your strength or gift for another person?”
Paul called it ‘love’.
If there is no pain when being torn, it is not love.
To love is to be so heartbroken that you cannot endure.
To give away a small portion of money out of abundance is not torn.
To give time that can be spared also cannot be considered as brokenness.
You have to tear away to the point of feeling its weight, to the point of feeling your loss, and to the point of feeling its discomfort, for it to be called love.
I hope that we have brokenness to dedicate to the Lord who submitted his everything to save us.
For the Lord and for the others, our torn hearts, our torn money, and torn body in dedication, are the most precious gifts we can give to the Lord.
I pray that you and I will experience the brokenness taught from the gospel becomes much clearer and greater during this season of Lent. Amen.