Sun, Jan 27, 2002

JESUS IN THE GOSPELS MARK 1:1

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Ministry of Pastor Joe Guglielmo teachings through the Bible, verse by verse for a better understanding of Gods Word.
JESUS IN THE GOSPELS
MARK 1:1
 

Please turn in your Bibles to Mark chapter 1 as we are going to look at this morning why Matthew, Mark, Luke and John each wrote a Gospel message. You see, why do we need four writers explaining the same story? Isn’t one good enough? You are going to see, as we finish up this morning, why there are four Gospels, or should I say one Gospel portrayed to us by four different writers with four different perspectives.

As you are turning to Mark chapter 1, listen to this true story that took place many years ago. It goes like this:

The renowned artist Paul Gustave Dore (1821-1883) lost his passport while traveling in Europe. When he came to a border crossing, he explained his predicament to one of the guards. Giving his name to the official, Dore hoped he would be recognized and allowed to pass. The guard, however, said that many people attempted to cross the border by claiming to be persons they were not.

Dore insisted that he was the man he claimed to be. "All right," said the official, "we’ll give you a test, and if you pass it we’ll allow you to go through." Handing him a pencil and a sheet of paper, he told the artist to sketch several peasants standing nearby. Dore did it so quickly and skillfully that the guard was convinced he was indeed who he claimed to be. His work confirmed his word!

- Our Daily Bread, January 6, 1993

We are going to see that this morning, that the works of Christ, and the Words of Christ, the Word of God, match up completely! And, can the same be said of us? Can people identify us by our actions? Can they tell we are Christians because our actions match up to the Word of God? They should!

In Revelation chapter 19 John is shown the glorious marriage supper of the Lamb and he is so overwhelmed that he falls to his knees to worship this angelic being that had shown him all these things. And in Revelation 19:10 we are told what took place. We read, "And I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, ‘See that you do not do that! I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren who have the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.’"

Notice what the angel is telling John. First of all, we are not to worship him for he too is a servant of God. An interesting point today when we see so many people worship angels. Also, this angel tells John that the very nature, the very purpose of prophecy is for only one thing, and that is to testify of Jesus Christ! That means from Genesis 1:1 to Revelation 22:21 is an unfolding story of Jesus Christ, He is the center, He is what emerges from the Scriptures, He is the main focus, the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy!

Thus, as you read the Scriptures you see how impossible it is for any man to arrange all those details ahead of time, it is beyond any mathematical probability, and thus, it points us back to God who inspired these men to write these things down. With that said, let’s read from our text this morning, using it as a stepping stone to see why four different Gospel writers were needed. Mark tells us in Mark 1:1...

MARK 1:1

The Word "Gospel" means Good News. And so Mark is going to be telling us about the Good News of Jesus Christ. You see, the bad news is that sin has separated man from God. The Good News is that Jesus has come to pay the penalty for our sins, to set us free and restore our relationship with God. It is as Paul said in Romans 1:16, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek." It is not just Good News, it is Great News!

As you study Matthew, Mark, Luke and John you will see different aspects of Jesus focused upon in each one, so that as you complete these Gospels, you have a complete picture of Jesus! That is why on Thursday’s we will cover all four Gospels before we move on to the book of Acts, so we get a complete picture of Jesus.

Now to show you how this is all played out, I want to take you to a very obscure portion of Scripture. A portion that I am sure you have not memorized or used for your devotions. But, as you will see, Christ is in the center of this chapter for all to see.

In Numbers chapter 2 the Lord tells Moses and Aaron how the camp of Israel is to be set-up during their wilderness wanderings. Listed in this section is the total number of men from each tribe, 20 years old and up, who could go to war, not including the tribe of Levi, the priestly tribe, and the women and children. The total number of men that could go to war were 603,550 men. That would mean the total number of people leaving Egypt were some 2 to 3 million!

So let’s look at how the camp was set-up for in it you will see the four Gospel’s emerge. And what a picture this truly is! Also, keep in mind what the Lord told Moses and Aaron in Numbers 2:2, "Everyone of the children of Israel shall camp by his own standard, beside the emblems of his father's house; they shall camp some distance from the tabernacle of meeting." That doesn’t sound too exciting yet, but it will be. Each tribe was to position itself under their banner, their standard, and not just camp where they wanted. There was order to it, and for a good reason as we are going to see.

JUDAH - ON THE EAST SIDE OF THE CAMP - NUMBERS 2:3-9

As you read through Numbers 2:3-9 you will see that on the east side of the camp the tribes of Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun would set-up camp. Now the tribes of Issachar and Zebulun were under the lead tribe of Judah, whose banner was a gold lion on a scarlet background. Thus, when the pillar of fire by night or the cloud by day, representing the presence of God, moved, Judah and those tribes associated with them moved first in the camp. Also, the total number of men able to go to war from these tribes were 186,400 men!

Now keep in mind that I said the way they set-up camp also is a picture of the different Gospel’s. Thus, the Lion, representing majesty, omnipotence, the king of the jungle you might say, or more appropriately the King of kings, is pictured in which of the four Gospels? It is the Gospel according to Matthew that links Jesus to the throne of David and presents Him as the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies. Matthew quotes or alludes to the Old Testament some 129 times, relating them to their fulfillment in Jesus.

Matthew presents Jesus as the Lion from the tribe of Judah, and thus, the genealogies mentioned in Matthew chapter 1 are very important to us, for they link Jesus to being a descendent of David, and thus, having the right to be king. In Matthew 1:1 we read "The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham."

So we see the Gospel according to Matthew presenting Jesus as the Lion from the tribe of Judah, the fulfilment of the Old Testament prophecies, the King of kings. Thus, Matthew, in writing to a primarily Jewish audience, shows to them that Jesus is the fulfillment of what the Old Testament prophets spoke of, He is the Messiah, He is King!

REUBEN - ON THE SOUTH SIDE OF THE CAMP - NUMBERS 2:10-16

As you read through Numbers 2:10-16 you will see that on the south side of the camp were the tribes of Reuben, Simeon and Gad, that is where they would set-up camp. Now the tribes of Simeon and Gad were under the lead tribe of Reuben, whose banner was a man on a background of gold. These tribes were the second to break camp. And the total number of men that could go to war from this group were 151,450 men!

The banner of this group was a man, speaking of humanity. Which of the four Gospels speak of the humanity of Jesus? It is the Gospel according to Luke for he presents Jesus as "the Son of Man," using that phrase some 25 times, and it speaks of the humanity of Jesus. In Luke 19:10 we read, "for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost."

Now when you look at the genealogy of Jesus in Luke chapter 3, Luke does not begin with David and Abraham, as Matthew does, but he takes us all the way back to Adam. Why? Because Luke is giving us the story of Christ the man, who is a descendant from the first man, Adam. Luke 3:38 says as he speaks of Jesus, that He is "...the son of Adam..."

So we see the Gospel according to Luke presenting the humanity of Jesus, the Son of Man!

EPHRAIM - ON THE WEST SIDE OF THE CAMP - NUMBERS 2:18-24

As you read through Numbers 2:18-24 you will see that on the west side of the camp the tribes of Ephraim, Manasseh and Benjamin would set-up their camp. Now the tribes of Manasseh and Benjamin were under the lead tribe of Ephraim, whose banner was a black ox or calf on a gold background. These tribes were the third group to move out when they broke camp. Also, the total number of men that could go to war from this group was 108,000 men!

Now the ox or the calf was a beast of burden. Thus, as you read the Gospels, which one portray’s Christ as a beast of burden or servant? It is the Gospel according to Mark that presents Jesus as a servant. We are told in Mark 10:45, "For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many."

Interestingly enough, Mark does not present Jesus as a king or as a man, but as a servant. A slave is not a king, nor is his humanity important. Now when you read Matthew and Luke you have the genealogies of Jesus, but Mark does not include that, why? Because you don’t list the genealogies of a slave or servant, for they are of no importance!

So we see the Gospel according to Mark presenting Jesus as a suffering servant, coming to serve man and not to be served!

DAN - ON THE NORTH SIDE OF THE CAMP - NUMBERS 2:25-31

As you read through Numbers 2:25-31 you will see that on the north side of the camp were the tribes of Dan, Asher and Naphtali where they would set-up camp. Now the tribes of Asher and Naphtali were under the lead tribe of Dan, whose banner was an eagle on a blue background. These tribes were the fourth group to move out when it was time for them to break camp. Also, the total number of men that could go to war from this group was 157,600 men!

Now the eagle speaks of supreme sovereignty as it sores through the blue skies, the heavens. Thus, as you read through the Gospels which one portrays Christ as God, portrays His deity, His supreme sovereignty? That should be easy for you for there is only one Gospel left, and that is the Gospel according to John. When you study the Gospel according to John you see the phrase "Son of God" used some 10 times. In John 1:34 we read John the baptist saying,

"And I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God." John proclaims loud and clear the deity of Jesus Christ. Also, in John 20:31 we read why John wrote these things. He said,"but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name."

Many people believe that only two of the four Gospels give us any genealogies of Jesus, Matthew and Luke are the two they say. I disagree. Yes, Matthew gives us the genealogy of Christ through His step-father Joseph, while Luke gives us the genealogy of Christ through His mother Mary. But John also gives to us a genealogy of Christ that is just as important as the other two, and it links Him to being God. In John 1:1-3 we are told, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made."

John takes us all the way back before "...the Word became flesh and dwelt among us..."John 1:14. It speaks of His eternal existence! I like the way The Living Bible paraphrases these verses for us. It says, "Before anything else existed, there was Christ, with God. He has always been alive and is himself God. He created everything there is-- nothing exists that he didn't make." I think that is pretty clear!

So we can see the Gospel according to John presenting Jesus as God, not a god, like some cults like to teach, but God Himself!

Thus, as you look at the four Gospels you are getting a complete picture of Christ. You see His royalty, that He is king in Matthew. You see His humanity spoken of in Luke. You see His servanthood spoken of in Mark. And you see His deity spoken of in John. But we are not done yet!

LEVITICUS - IN THE MIDDLE OF THE CAMP - NUMBERS 2:17

In Numbers 2:17 we read of the tribe of Levi, the priestly tribe, who were located in the middle of the camp, around the tabernacle. Now as they all set-up camp, they would all face towards the tabernacle in the center of the camp, thus, they would wake-up and go to bed seeing the presence of God by a pillar of fire at night or a cloud by day. And the camp was also a picture of the throne of God. Let me explain.

In Revelation 4:6-8 we read "Before the throne there was a sea of glass, like crystal. And in the midst of the throne, and around the throne, were four living creatures full of eyes in front and in back. The first living creature was like a lion, the second living creature like a calf, the third living creature had a face like a man, and the fourth living creature was like a flying eagle. The four living creatures, each having six wings, were full of eyes around and within. And they do not rest day or night, saying: ‘Holy, holy, holy, lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!’"

These four living creatures were represented by the banners of the four lead tribes, the lion, the man, the ox or calf, and the eagle. Thus, as they set-up camp they were painting a picture of the throne of God. And we still are not done yet with the picture we are painting!

When each group set-up camp they would do so according to the width of the Levites camp. Thus, they would not set-up camp northwest or southeast, but due north, due south, due east and due west. Also, you would always look at the camp of Israel from the east, towards the opening of the tabernacle. Now if you take the number of people from each tribe and place them in their proper position, north, south, east and west, you will find your vertical axis will have a slightly longer dimension on the bottom, that is the east side, than on the top or the west side, 186,400 to 108,100. The horizontal axis is almost equal, north to south, 151,450 to 157,600. Also, the tabernacle was in the center of the camp, representing the dwelling place of God.

So what? Big deal! It truly is, for if you went onto a mountain or if you could get into a helicopter to look down upon the camp of Israel, you would see a picture of a cross made by the various tribes which camped east, west, north and south. Not only that, but right in the middle of this cross is where the tabernacle was located, the presence of God. Thus, as you looked down upon this camp, you would see a cross with God dwelling in the middle of it!

You see, the shadows of the cross in the Old testament are brought to light with Christ as He is placed right in the center of this picture. The camp of Israel was only a shadow of what was to come, but the substance is Christ as Colossians 2:17 tells us! Now we are still not quite done yet, I have one more thing to share with you.

The Old Testament speaks of a man named Balaam, a heathen diviner who lived in Pethor, a city of Mesopotamia, and yet he did posses some knowledge of the true and living God. At this point in history, the Israelites were encamped in the plain of Moab which made the king of Moab, Balak, very uncomfortable. So he sends for Balaam to come and pronounce judgment, a curse upon the children of Israel. And God warns Balaam not to go, but he continues to pressure God, and God does finally let him go to Balak to do this deed.

And each time Balaam is going to pronounce a curse, he pronounces a blessing upon the children of Israel. And this of course makes Balak angry, but what could Balaam do, it is God’s will to bless His people. And also keep in mind that each of these times, four in total, this is done upon a high mountain looking down upon the camp of Israel. And what does Balaam and Balak see as they are up there looking down upon this camp? A picture of a cross with God dwelling in the middle of this cross. Thus, you can’t curse the cross, you can’t take away the cross, the cross remains no matter what you try to do with it or to it. It is as Paul said in I Corinthians 1:18, "For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God."

The power of the cross can’t be destroyed but what can be destroyed, what can change is our relationship with the One who hung on the cross, JESUS! You see, Balaam couldn’t curse the cross so we read what he did do in Numbers 25:1-2, "Then Israel remained in Acacia Grove, and the people began to commit harlotry with the women of Moab. They invited the people to the sacrifices of their gods, and the people ate and bowed down to their gods."

Notice what Balaam did. He told the king of Moab, Balak, to get the young women together and get them all dressed up in their miniskirts and fancy make-up and in these seductive outfits, go and entice the young Hebrew men. Let them show these boys a good time, showing how you worship your gods, which was done by all kinds of sexual immorality! And the plan worked beautifully, as it does today!

You see, no one can take the cross away, curse the cross, for it stands alone. So the enemy gets our eyes focused off the cross, entices us with all kinds of things, all kinds of sexual immorality, drugs, alcohol, work, and-so-on, and he wins the battle for our souls. The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life! It is as Jesus said in Matthew chapter 6,"For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also....No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon." Matthew 6:21, 24.

We need to keep our focus on the Lord, stand strong in the faith and not let the enemy tempt us away from the work we are to be doing. Yes, the Bible, from Genesis through Revelation is a beautiful picture of Christ and His love for us, but many times we are too busy or distracted to notice. Don’t let that happen to you! Set the time you need each day to spend with the Lord and His Word and you will not be disappointed!

Also, encourage each other in the race we are in. Work with each other. Challenge each other to memorize Scripture, to walk worthy of the high calling by which you were called, reading Scripture and-so-on. Read through the Bible this year from Genesis through Revelation and you will be blessed at what God will show you through that time. Stir up each other for good works, to grow in the faith as Paul tells us in Hebrews 10:24-25, "And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching." Be careful who you hang around, for some people, even Christians, will drag you down and not stir you up in the faith. I am not saying ignore those people, but they should not be your closest friends, for they will bring you down instead of you bringing them up.

Let me leave you this morning with this thought. Between an airplane and every other form of locomotion and transportation, there is one great contrast. The horse and wagon, the automobile, the bicycle, the locomotive, the speedboat, and the great battleship - all can come to a standstill without danger, and they can all reverse their engines, or their power, and go back.

But there is no reverse about the engine of an airplane. It cannot back up. It dare not stand still. If it loses its momentum and forward drive, then it crashes. The only safety for the airplane is in its forward and upward motion. The only safe direction for the Christian to take is forward and upward. If he stops, or if he begins to slip and go backward, that moment he is in danger. Let us forge ahead for the Lord!

As Paul said in Hebrews 12:1-2, "Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."

May we do that. May we finish the race that is set before us. May we keep our eyes focused on Jesus no matter what comes our way! Keep the cross in view, when you wake up and when you go to bed at night and all through the day, keep the Lord in your mind and your thoughts. Don’t let the enemy entice you to drop out of the race or not to get into the race! May we be able to say as Paul did at the end of his life, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing." II Timothy 4:7-8. You see, when people see you, are they seeing Jesus or are they seeing you? We must decrease, that flesh nature, so that He may increase in our lives! May that be our prayer, may we point people to Jesus and the cross of Calvary for the forgiveness of their sins. You can’t curse it, but you can ignore it or be enticed away from it. Don’t let that happen! May your work conform His Word in your life!

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