Jesus Is Lord

In our reading this morning did you notice how the Christians addressed God?  They say in verse 24 "Lord, You are God, who made the heaven and earth and the sea, and all that is in them," and then drop down to verse 29, "Now, Lord, look down on their threats, and grant to your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, by stretching out your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus." God is called "Lord" in both of these verses. The Christians address God as Lord because the term "Lord" acknowledged that someone had absolute ownership, absolute authority, and absolute power. These Christians were being threatened by the Jewish leaders to quit preaching, but they turned to God Almighty and cried out, "Lord, You own this world, and You have all authority (even over our rulers), and You have all power to make things happen, please make us bold to speak Your word and to bring healing to others." It was very appropriate in their time of need to call upon God by addressing Him as Lord. 

There was someone else in the Roman Empire during the writing of the New Testament that liked to be called "Lord" as well.  Yes, the Roman Emperor often liked to be addressed and to be worshiped in this way. Many Roman citizens viewed this man of power as a divine being. So, our Christian brothers were faced with a conflict.  Would they call Jesus "Lord" or would they call the emperor "Lord"?  They wanted to hold the emperor in honor, but they could not call him a divine being.  One scholar puts it this way:  "They would not allow the emperor to share an honor which, in their view, belonged to Christ alone.  To say "Caesar is Lord" from the later years of the first century onwards was to acknowledge his divinity, something which Christians could not do" (Bruce).  Jesus was divine and had the absolute ownership of their lives, the absolute authority over their conduct, and the absolute power to rule over their thoughts.  On Wednesday evenings, we've been studying in the Gospel of Mark, "Why was Mark written?"  An elder in 140 AD tells us that Mark wrote down what Peter had preached about Jesus.  Then another Christian in 160 AD reports that Mark wrote this gospel after Peter's death while Mark was in Italy.  This would put the writing of Mark around 68 AD, and we know that Nero had begun to blame Christians and persecute them for a great fire in Rome that destroyed one section of the city in 64 AD.  From that date forward, the question of Caesar as Lord or Jesus as Lord would have become a real issue for all Christians.  Mark writes his gospel to show the supernatural nature of Jesus, that He is the true Lord with absolute ownership, absolute authority, and absolute power!  Let's see how Mark shows His Lordship in four ways this morning.  As we look at each of their stories, we'll also notice two key words that are found in each one.

At the close of chapter 4, we find a story that shows us that Jesus is the Lord over nature.  After teaching the multitudes and the sun was beginning to fall, Jesus was weary and tells His disciples to cross over to the other side of the Sea of Galilee.  This was a journey of about 5 miles, and Jesus saw it as a great time to get some rest.  Nobody suspected anything unusual.  But a fierce wind developed in the mountains around the lake, and suddenly, a "great windstorm" occurred blowing the waves into the boat.  The boat was in danger of sinking, so the disciples awaken Him and ask Him rudely why isn't He concerned about their welfare.  Mark shows Jesus' humanity in His exhaustion, but then He notes the disciples' humanity in their desperation!  What were the disciples expecting Jesus to do?  Help them throw out water, or help them man the oars, or help them throw heavy gear overboard?  Whatever they thought, He did something very different!  Jesus says nothing to the disciples, but rebukes the storm and sea by saying, "Peace, be still!"  And just as suddenly as the storm had come up, a complete calm was experienced!  For the rest of their journey, all was smooth sailing.  Now notice the questions that Jesus asked them, "Why are you so fearful?  How is it that you have no faith?"  Now the first question reveals the first key word we mentioned earlier called "fear".  A sinking ship in a stormy sea would be a fearful experience for any of us, but then notice how Jesus tells them that the opposite of fear is faith, and this is the second key word.  "How is it that you have no faith?" Don't you realize that the Lord of all nature is riding in your boat?  Now verse 41 informs us that they were even more fearful?  It was not from the storm; it was from Jesus' incredible lordship. "Who can this be, that even the wind and sea obey Him!"  He is the absolute authority, and when He commands the winds and waves, they follow His orders!  This is no ordinary man in our little boat!  He controls the elements, He tames the tornado, He calms the chaos.  Jesus is the Lord over all nature!  How is it that so often. we too are so fearful and have no faith?  Maybe we had better be careful when we call on Jesus in our desperation.  He just might do something very unexpected!  This is no ordinary man who guides our little church!  Jesus is the Lord over nature! 

Then we go to the next story in Mark in the next chapter.  Now a storm at sea was terrifying enough, but Jesus and the disciples suddenly hit the shore where Gentiles live, and a demon-possessed man, with cuts and bruises all over him, whom nobody could tame (v.4), suddenly sees the group and begins running towards them.  "Out of the frying pan and into the fire!"  the disciples must have thought.  The limestone mountains around contained caves, so this graveyard was a perilous place, and here was this violent man coming toward Jesus crying out to him not to torment him!  Did you notice that Jesus didn't run and keeps calm during all of this?  "The demons in the man confess that Jesus is God's Son and asks Jesus not to torment them, nor to send them out of the country.  Now why would these demons make such a request?  Because these demons knew that they were in the presence of the Lord over supernatural beings.  Jesus had absolute power to make these demons do whatever He desired.  When you have power like that, you don't need to run and you can keep your cool.  The demons asked to be sent into a herd of pigs, and Jesus gave them permission to go.  They quickly enter into the pigs, and the animals kill themselves.  Their owners run away to tell others what happened.  Then a crowd comes to see Jesus, but they also see the former demon-possessed man now clothed, sane and sitting peacefully.  Now get this: their reaction was exactly like that of the disciples in the boat; the last part of verse 15 states:  "And they were afraid."  There's our key word again.  These people realized that this was no ordinary man in their midst.  He had brought decency to the demon-possessed.  He had brought peace to the violent one.  He restored tranquility to the tormented one.  They had also lost their source of revenue through His dealings with the demons.  One writer noted:  "Their routine of life had been disturbed, and they wanted the disturbing element removed as quickly as possible.  The one cry of the human mind is, "Please, do not disturb me!"  On the whole, people want to be left alone [and not have to deal with the Lord who has absolute power]" (Schubert).  They were scared to death at what might happen next; they had no faith in the good that Jesus could do for them.  So, Jesus honors their request to leave and starts to depart.  In contrast to the crowd, note how the healed man desired greatly to follow Jesus.  But Jesus tells him to go to his friends and neighbors and tell them what great things God has done for him!  From demonic to missionary, that's the radical change that the Lord (over supernatural beings) can bring about in a man's life!  Jesus still has power over all angels and all devils.  He is still the Lord over supernatural beings!

Now notice what comes next in Mark's account.  Jesus crosses the Sea of Galilee back to the other side, and a crowd is there to meet Him.  Suddenly, we see Jairus, a ruler of the synagogue come, fall down at Jesus' feet, and beg Him to come heal his dying daughter.  "It must have been difficult for Jairus to come to Jesus.  He was a ruler of the synagogue, and by this time, the synagogues were practically closed to Jesus and His ministry.  He had healed many people on the Sabbath and had offended so many Pharisees that they were [probably] desirous of shutting Him out of the synagogue....Jairus had to overcome his pride, and humbled himself before Jesus" (Schubert).  He had to overcome the prejudice of many of his colleagues who saw Jesus as a threat to the Law of Moses, and he had to acknowledge Jesus as the Lord over sickness.  "the fact that his daughter was dying drove him on to Jesus, and there is also evidence of some faith" (Ibid).  He said to Jesus:  come and lay Your hands on her, that she may be healed, and she will live."  At this point in the story, there is an interruption.  Mark tells us that there was a woman who had been suffering from a hemorrhage for 12 years.  This made her unclean in the Jews' eyes, so she was ostracized from social life.  She was like a leper and could not attend any worship services.  Mark says that this poor woman had spent everything she had on doctors, and Luke says that nobody could heal her.  But she had faith that if she could just touch Jesus' clothes, she would be made well.  She works her way through the crowd, and finally touches His clothes.  Mark states in v. 29:  "Immediately the fountain of her blood was dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of the affliction."  The Lord over sickness, disease, and deformity had performed a miracle!  Jesus suddenly asked who had touched Him, and the disciples wondered why on earth He had asked that question with such a pressing crowd around Him.  But Jesus knew the touch of one faithful person who had put their total trust in Him for a cure!  Now look at v. 33:  "But the woman, fearing and trembling, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell down before Him and told Him the whole truth."  Did you see our key word (fear) again?  She came fearing and trembling!  What would the Lord of sickness say to her?  Would he be angry at slowing Him down while on His mission to heal Jairus' daughter?  Would he scorn her, as a female, for touching Him?  Would he humiliate her over further by ridiculing her for wanting a miracle?  Whatever prompted her fear, we see that Jesus dealt with her gently.  He is dealing tenderly with her.  Notice also, He says that her faith, her trust in Him, has overcome her fear and brought her wellness.  Remember, how faith is the opposite of fear?  She had come with a heart of hope, and Jesus had fully answered her expectations!  Jesus was truly the Lord over sickness, disease, and deformity!

At this point in this story, another truth about Jesus' lordship is about to be revealed.  How was Jairus feeling about this interruption?  He was no doubt impatient.  Time was precious.  Then, the awful news arrived in v. 35:  "Your daughter is dead.  Why trouble the Teacher any further?"  His fear of losing his daughter was now a reality.  But Jesus must have been reading his thoughts, for notice what he tells him in v. 36: "Do not be afraid; only believe!"  And there's our key words again,  not fear, but faith!  Jesus did not let the crowd in on what He was about to do.  The mourners were already weeping over the child, but He told them to stop their wailing because the girl was just sleeping.  The mourners made fun of Jesus for they did not perceive that they were in the presence of the Lord over death.  Death for the Lord over death, is really just a temporary sleep.  So Jesus enters the room where the girl was, takes her by the hand, and tells her with tenderness, "Little one, it's time to get up!"  The 12 year-old sat up, got out of bed, and began walking around!  For the Lord over death, it was all in a day's work!  He has absolute ownership of life.  Jesus did not want any headlines.  He came to show the compassion of God, and this act of love needed no publicity nor was it done with a hidden agenda.  Someone has made this good observation in contrasting the mourners and Jesus:  "The people laughed Him to scorn because they thought His hope was groundless and His calm was mistaken.  But the great fact of the Christian life is that an utter impossibility with men is a possibility with God... The crowd laughed Him to scorn but that laughter turned to amazement when they realized what [the Lord over death] could do" (Schubert)!  And this was not the last time that we see Jesus conquering death, he raises a widow's son, He raises Lazarus, and raises Himself.  Remember His claim in John 10:17:  "Therefore, My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it up again.  No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself.  I have the power.  I have the power to lay it down, and I have the power to take it again."  And an empty tomb outside Jerusalem even today testifies to the truth that Jesus is truly the Lord over death!

Who is Lord, the absolute ownership,  the absolute authority, the absolute power?  Well, despite the persecutions that the emperor might inflict, Mark wanted his readers to see without a doubt that Jesus was Lord!  He was the Lord over nature, the Lord over supernatural beings, the Lord over sickness, disease, and deformity, and the Lord over death!  A Lord who amazingly came to serve: to lay down his life as a ransom to redeem people from sin's slavery.  You see, the real question this morning is this one:  Is Jesus the Lord over your life?  The winds and the waves obeyed His command, but will you?  The demons recognized Him as God's Son with absolute authority over them, but do you see Him that way as well?"  The Lord over sickness, diseases, and deformity desires to bring wholeness to your spiritually, but are you willing to come to Him?  If you have been dead in sin, Jesus is willing to bring you newness of life, but are you willing to seek Him out?  What were our key words again? [Fear and Faith] What are your fears?  Are you afraid of disasters?  Are you afraid of evil forces?  Are you afraid of cancers?  Are you afraid of death?  Are you afraid of what will happen to this church's future?  Are you afraid of another economic depression?  Are you afraid that our wicked culture will engulf your family's Christian values?  The Lord wants to help you overcome all your fears, but will you make Him your Lord?  Someone has correctly observed:  "The Christian has learned the basic lesson that he should not look at the things that are see, but at the things which are unseen.  That makes all the difference in the world.  That which, by human logic, is too good to be true becomes true with God" (Schubert).

Castleward is a stately Irish home that was built in the 1760's about thirty miles from Belfast.  The original owners of the house were Bernard Ward and his wife, Lady Anne.  One of the most striking features of the house is its two styles of architecture.  The rear of the house is built in Gothic style, while the front is neoclassical.  It's built that way because Bernard and Lady Anne could not agree on one style.  Not only did they differ in their archtechral preferences: they apparently had other differences, because Lady Anne eventually walked out of the marriage.  Someone has commented: "Depending on your point of view, the house is either a celebration of diversity or a monument to stubbornness."  Contrast that idea with this sister's prayer:  "Lord, I confess I don't like it, I don't want to do it Your way, but, Lord, please don't give in to me.  Just give me time, Lord, and I will submit to You."  Now there is a celebration of unity!  A hymn writer says it this way:  "Would you live for Jesus and be always pure and good? Would you walk with Him, within the narrow road?  Would you have Him bear your burden, carry all your load?  Let Him have His way with you.  Would you have Him make you free and follow at His call?  Would you know the peace that comes by giving all?  Would you have Him save you so that you might never fall?  Let Him have His way with you."  Let Jesus be Lord over you.  What conquers fear?  There's our other key word.  In every story, we saw that faith conquers fear.  Do we believe that Jesus is Lord?  Do we believe He has absolute ownership, absolute authority, and absolute power?  When Jesus commanded them, the winds and waves obeyed His will!  When Jesus gave His permission, the demons moved and changed residency!  When Jesus told a dead girl to get up, she did!  Jesus can make a difference in your life today, but He will not force His lordship on you!  Like the people who told Jesus to leave their area because they had no faith in Him to do them good, He'll go away if you don't want Him to stay.  As the Lord, he could command your obedience, but that would not be a willing devotion on your part.  He won't force you to make Him Lord, but He wants and longs to be your Lord, if you will let Him.  Look for the unseen and that which goes beyond human logic!  Don't make your house a monument to stubbornness!  Like that good sister, submit to His will and enjoy a celebration of unity!  Let Him have His way with you!  Let Him have total control of your existence!  Let Him be the absolute power, the absolute authority, and the absolute power in your life!

Faith comes by hearing, and Mark has shown us clearly that Jesus is Lord above all others!  The goodness of Jesus leads us to repentance, and we saw in everyone of Mark's stories how Jesus will always treat us with grace.  The demons confessed that he was God's Son, won't you make that same confession before others right now?  At the end of Mark's gospel, Jesus told His disciples these words: [this is the Lord Jesus Christ who is speaking]:  "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.  He who believes and is baptized will be saved:  but he who does not believe will be condemned."  "Believe in Me and be immersed in My name"  Believe, repent, confess, and be baptized!  Your baptism will show all that you truly want Jesus to be your Lord for the rest of your life. "He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned."  Won't you make Him your Lord today, while we stand and sing?