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.”