August 30, 2009

Follow the Leader!

Part 11—Jesus picks a team

Mark 3:7-19



          Remember when we were kids and we had to pick teams for games?  How many of you were among the first ones picked?  How many of you got picked somewhere in the middle?  How many were always picked near the end? 

          We’re picking teams today…actually, it’s already been done.  Jesus has picked a team, and you’re on it!

          Today, we’re going to read the story of Jesus picking His team, and what He picked us to do.


Offering and announcements:

We have 4008 copies of The Hole in Our Gospel on campus, thanks to Karl Ziegler who drove his trailer to Seattle and picked them up for us!  And it’s Karl’s birthday!  We will begin distributing the book soon.  Don’t forget that we’re doing a four week series on The Hole in Our Gospel from Oct 18-Nov 8, and then Rich Stearns, the author of the book and the president of World Vision, will be with us to wrap up the series on Nov. 15.  We hope everyone will read the book, come to the series, and participate in a Life Group.

Orientations for new Life Group facilitators for fall series; dates and times on back of tear-off.

Last week’s video created quite a stir!  You can see it on our website or own it on DVD for a small donation at the Info Center.

Next Sunday you’re going to hear from Mike and Lisa Fairburn who are launching a new daughter church from Life Center.

The following Sunday, Sept. 13, the African Children’s Choir will be here at all three services.

AdventureLand adjustments:  (bottom of middle page) beginning next Sunday, some classes will be shifted to maximize space to provide the best experience for all children.  All parents should have received a letter—please talk with your child’s teacher if you have comments or concerns.

          We asked you to donate school supplies and as usual, you were incredibly generous.  We partnered with Our Place, a ministry in the West Central neighborhood and together provided school supplies for 300 children.  Here’s a couple pictures of Life Center volunteers distributing the supplies.  We also sent $500 to the Salvation Army to help with their school supply drive.  Thank you!





          Jesus picks a team.  I’m sure He didn’t do interviews like that…or maybe He did?  We’re going to look at the team He picked and what He chose them to do.

          This summer we’ve been walking our way through the gospel of Mark, reading the story of Jesus and trying to follow our Leader.  Mark 2-3 contains five consecutive stories of Jesus encountering opposition from the Jewish religious leaders, and the stories end with these leaders conspiring to kill Jesus in Mark 3:6.  So we have arrived at a transition in the story.  First, Jesus and His followers withdraw to the lake, possibly in response to the threat on His life.  They have booted Jesus out of the temple and synagogue, so He moves to the lake and does his work there in the open air.  He takes it to the streets!  Second, Jesus’ focus takes a significant shift from working primarily with the crowds to training His team of 12 hand-picked men.  He knows that He is going to die, so He begins the process of passing the baton to carry on the message of the kingdom.  Here’s the story.

Mark 3:7-19 Jesus withdrew with his disciples to the lake, and a large crowd from Galilee followed. 8 When they heard all he was doing, many people came to him from Judea, Jerusalem, Idumea, and the regions across the Jordan and around Tyre and Sidon. 9 Because of the crowd he told his disciples to have a small boat ready for him, to keep the people from crowding him. 10 For he had healed many, so that those with diseases were pushing forward to touch him. 11 Whenever the evil spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out, “You are the Son of God.” 12 But he gave them strict orders not to tell who he was.

In these 7 verses, Jesus withdraws to the lake and a large crowd from all the surrounding countries and regions comes to him to be healed and freed.  In the next 6 verses, Jesus moves from the lakeside with the crowd to the mountainside where He picks His team.

13 Jesus went up on a mountainside and called to him those he wanted, and they came to him. 14 He appointed twelve—designating them apostles—that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach 15 and to have authority to drive out demons. 16 These are the twelve he appointed: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter); 17 James son of Zebedee and his brother John (to them he gave the name Boanerges, which means Sons of Thunder); 18 Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot 19 and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.

Here’s the first thing.


1. Jesus called a team. 13-19

          The Christian faith began with a group…a Life Group, if you will—a small group who banded together to follow Jesus.  Jesus didn’t come and fly solo; He chose a team.  He died alone on the cross, but He lived His life in community, in a group.  He surrounded Himself with a dozen guys with whom He shared every moment of life for roughly three years.  Jesus didn’t fly solo.  The Christian faith began with a group.

          And none of His team followed Jesus alone.  You can’t follow Jesus alone.  It’s impossible to follow Jesus alone.  If you are following Jesus and I am following Jesus, then we are following together.  Let me show you.

ILL: Do a brief “Follow the Leader” around the auditorium. 

Do you see what I mean?  You can’t follow Jesus alone.  You can only do it together with other people who are following Jesus.  Jesus didn’t fly solo and He never called any solo followers.  “Follow me…alone!  Don’t get messed up by these other bozos…just follow me alone!”  How do you that?  It’s impossible.

          We say it all the time: Christianity is a team sport.  We do it together. 

ILL: I’ve told you that I spent hours in high school throwing a football through a tire, hoping to be an NFL quarterback.  All I lacked was size, speed and talent—but I had the heart, baby!  I could practice by myself, but I couldn’t play football by myself.  You can only play football with others—on a team. 

The same is true of being a Christian.  You can only be a Christian on a team, with others.  You can practice alone (pray, read your Bible, journal, meditate—and I hope you do), but you can only play the game together with others.  Christianity is a team sport.  It began with a group.

          If you’re trying to be a Christian alone, you are doomed to fail.  Please…don’t do it.  You need a team.  You need friends.  This is why we insist that everyone be in a Life Group.  Life Groups are small groups of people who band together for friendship and spiritual growth.  We do life together.  We eat together, pray together, study and discuss together, laugh together, play together, cry together, serve together.  We follow Jesus together.  That is how it has always been done, going clear back to the very beginning when Jesus picked His team.  The Christian faith began with a group.  Don’t go it alone. 

          When we do The Hole in Our Gospel series, I hope that everyone will be in a group.  To help everyone get in a group, I want to address three types of people.

  • If you think you could lead or facilitate a group, sign up for the Life Group leaders training.  It’s great training and we won’t leave you on your own.  We do everything together.  We need lots of new leaders, so sign up!
  • If you are not in a group, sign up.  We’ll have sign ups in just a few weeks.  Or if you’re an extrovert, just call up some friends and start a group!
  • If you are in a group, open up!  I’m going to ask a favor of every existing group: I think this upcoming series is so important that I don’t want anyone left out.  I know many of you have tight-knit groups with very close established friendships, and you don’t want to mess up the chemistry.  My group is that way.  But I’m asking you to open up your group—everyone, please—and welcome some new people in so everyone can benefit.

Now, just to help you be willing to open up your groups, I want to point out one more thing about the team Jesus picked before I move on to point two.

          Christianity began with a group, and it was a very mixed group!  Jesus picked a very diverse team.  For example, Matthew was a tax collector.  I explained a few weeks ago that tax collectors were traitors; they were Jews who collaborated with the enemy, the Roman oppressors, to tax their own people and got rich doing it.  Jesus chose Matthew—a despised traitor.  And Jesus chose Simon the Zealot.  The Zealots were fiercely loyal Jewish nationalists who hated the Romans, who would go to any extreme, including violence, to resist Roman rule.  Jesus picked both a traitor to Israel and a radical Jewish nationalist—you couldn’t have found more polar opposites.  This is kind of like picking Rush Limbaugh and Al Franken for your team.  Far right—far left.  Or a Palestinian and an Israeli.  Polar opposites—what did they have in common?

          And for that matter, what did they have in common with four fishermen, and a half dozen other guys from diverse backgrounds?  They all one thing in common: they had each said yes to Jesus.  Jesus called, “Follow me,” and each guy had said, “Yes.”  And that was enough.  I’m not saying it was easy.  Read the story—they often fought like cats and dogs.  But they hung together because of Jesus—and learned to love each other.

          Christianity began with a group.  Get in a group.  And it doesn’t have to be a group that’s all like you—that all looks like you, thinks like you, talks like you.  God loves diversity!  Look around!  He’s very creative!  Mix it up.  Add someone new to your group!

          Jesus picked a team.  For what?  Two things.


2. Jesus called them to come into relationship with Him. 14

Mark 3:14 He appointed twelve—designating them apostles—that they might be with him…

          When Jesus called them to follow, He was calling them into a relationship.  And that is affirmed again here—He chose them “to be with Him”.  Out of all of His followers, He chose these 12 to be apostles, the ones He would trust with His message and mission.  At the top of your outline I wrote: Jesus is a gambler!  He risks His entire enterprise by entrusting it to a team of 12 men…and to us! 

ILL: Is there anyone here who owns a business?  One day, one of three things will happen.  You’ll close it, sell it, or pass it on.  If you close it, well, that’s the end of that.  If you sell it, well, it’s someone else’s problem now.  But if you pass it on, you’re still invested; you want it to succeed, thrive and grow. 

          How will you ensure that your successors will grow the business?  You will “be with them.”  You will spend lots of time training them, preparing them, embedding core values, casting vision, teaching them.  You will “be with them.”

This is what Jesus did.  He came and gave His life to redeem a fallen world, to bring us back to God and make all things right again.  And when He had given His life, He entrusted the future of His entire enterprise in the hands of these 12 men.  So their first job was “to be with Him.”  He wanted them to catch His heart, so He called them “to be with Him.”  He wanted to train and coach them, so He called them “to be with Him.”  Jesus developed and trained His disciples in the context of relationship—they hung out together. 

          Centuries later, the baton has been passed to us.  The mission Jesus started is now in our hands.  So our first job, like theirs, is “to be with Him.”  Jesus calls us to come into relationship first.  It is there, in relationship with Jesus, being with Jesus, that He changes, trains and develops us.  Before we try to change the world, we have to let Jesus change us.  Before we’re sent on mission, we have to be in relationship.  Before we go, we have to come.  Our first calling is “to be with Him.”  How do you do that?

ILL: How many of you are married?  Why did you get married?  We know why for the guys—but what else?  To be together.  You wanted a life partner, someone to share life with—all of it.  Whatever dreams you pursue, whatever goals you achieve, whatever you do, you do it together. 

          Laina married me “to be with me”—everything else is secondary.  I married Laina “to be with her”—and for sex—everything else is secondary.  Your first calling as a married person is “to be with him”, “to be with her.”  That’s job one.

And that’s the Christian faith.  Jesus calls us first “to be with Him”, to live our lives in relationship with Him. 

ILL: Laina and I do this in two ways.

          First, we live together.  I know this is a shock to many of you!  We do life together.  We sleep together, run together, eat together, talk about our devotions together, ride in the car together, go to lunch together, go shopping together, talk together, work out together, watch TV together, read together, pray together.  We even go to church together.  We’re together a lot, living.

          Second, we spend focused time together.  We have a date each week where we sit and talk.  But we also talk on the phone every day; often I’ll spend my whole drive home on the phone with Laina, and we’re talking about our days.  Or we’ll linger over dinner and talk.  Or we’ll pray together.  But these are moments where we are focused on each other; we’re not doing something else together.  We’re simply being together.

I like to think of my relationship with Jesus in the same way.  I live with Jesus all day.  He’s with me wherever I go; I can talk with Him anywhere, doing anything, and often do. 

ILL: Shortly after Laina and I were married, I was trying to develop a conscious awareness of Jesus’ presence with me during the day.  So I did some little things to remind me.  In the morning, before my devotions, I’d pour myself a cup of coffee, and then I’d pour one for Jesus and set it on the arm of the chair across from me—just to remind me that He is there.  He never drank His coffee!  Or when I left for work, I’d open the passenger door of the car for Jesus to get in and ride with me.  I’m sure the neighbors thought I was a total whack job!  Then I’d drive off talking to Jesus about what we were going to do at work.

So I tried to learn to live with Jesus all day long.  Practice the presence of God.

But I also learned that I need time alone with Jesus, when I’m not doing something else; I’m just being with Him.  This is what my devotions, my daily time with God is.  PBJ time: prayer, Bible and journaling.  Each day, I read my Bible (I follow our Bible reading plan), ask God for one thing, write that down in my journal and pray it back to Him.  Then I like to just sit and be still for a few minutes.  I think, I pray, I listen.  “What do you want to say to me?  What do you want to do in my life?”  Often I get busy, and I blow through my Bible reading, and don’t stop to reflect and journal—read it, check, thanks God.  Or I’ll journal but not stop to pray and wait and listen.  The point of this time is to be with Jesus, not just do an activity and check it off.  At the end of my devotions, I like to ask, “Have I been with Jesus?”  If I don’t feel like I’ve been with Jesus, I am not done.  That’s the point of my daily time with God.  Have I been with Jesus?

          I know I talk about this all the time, and some of you may be sick of it, but I’m going to keep at it until you live this way, until being with Jesus is a habit in your life.  I’m convinced it is important because much of the change in my life has happened when I’m with Jesus.  This is how Jesus developed and trained His team: through being together.  Being with Jesus changes you.  It marks you and shapes you. 

          In Acts 4, the Jewish leaders arrested Peter and John after they had healed a paralyzed man and then proclaimed to an astonished crowd that Jesus had done it.  They arrested and questioned them, and Peter answered,

Acts 4:9-10 Do you want to know how he was healed? 10 Let me clearly state to all of you and to all the people of Israel that he was healed by the powerful name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, the man you crucified but whom God raised from the dead.

Peter is saying this to the very people who framed and executed Jesus.  “You crucified Him, but God raised Him from the dead.”  Courageous stuff!  Where did Peter get this courage?

Acts 4:13 When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.

Who are these guys?  Ordinary men…who had been with Jesus.  And it was being with Jesus that changed them.  Wouldn’t you love this to be said about you?  “This guy is amazing!”  He’s been with Jesus.  “This is a remarkable lady!”  She’s been with Jesus.  Have you been with Jesus?  It will change you.

          This is our first call.  Before we try to go and do something for Jesus, we first need to be with Jesus.  He called them “to be with Him.”


3. Jesus called them to go on mission for Him. 14-15

Mark 3:14-15 He appointed twelve—designating them apostles—that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach 15 and to have authority to drive out demons.

          Jesus picked a team, first to be with Him (so He could train and develop them), and then second, to send them out to do His mission.  In the first part of our text today, we read that Jesus preached and healed and freed people.  Now He picks a team to send out and do what He is doing.  He picks a team to multiply His mission.  In John 20:21, the resurrected Jesus tells His team, “As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.” 

          Every member of Jesus’ team was a missionary.  The words “mission” or “missionary” come from the Latin root that means “to send”.  Jesus sent them to do His work, and I believe that Jesus sends every one of us to do His work.  Every Christian is a missionary.  “As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.”  Every member of Jesus’ team is a missionary.  How many of you are missionaries?  We are sent by Him into our world to do His work.  We are, in the famous words of the Blues Brothers, “on a mission from God.”  (Blues Brothers film clip: 6 seconds??)

          We’re to be with Jesus so that He can send us on mission.  We’re to come so we can go.  Sadly, many Christians do neither.  They don’t spend much time with Jesus, and they don’t do Jesus’ work.  I don’t want you to be that kind of Christian.  I want you to be with Jesus and be on a mission from God.

          Also, many Christians focus only on the first half—being with Jesus—and never get to mission.  We spend lots of time in church, in Life Group, in devotions, in prayer—all designed to be with Jesus and help us change and grow—all good.  But sometimes we can spend so much time with Jesus and Christians that we begin to live in a Christian ghetto.  We’re insulated from the rest of the world that desperately needs the good news of God’s kingdom.  I don’t want you to be that kind of Christian.  I want you to be with Jesus and be on a mission from God.  And we don’t want to be the kind of church that spends all its energy and money on itself.  We don’t want to be an inward focused church.  Jesus calls us to come so we can go.  He wants us to be an outward-focused church, a church for others, a church this is on a mission from God.

ILL: When Oliver Cromwell ruled England, the nation experienced a crisis: they ran out of silver and could not mint any coins. Cromwell sent his soldiers to the Cathedral to see if any silver was available. They reported back that the only silver was the statues of the saints, to which Cromwell replied, “Melt down the saints and get them back into circulation.”

This is what needs to happen if we get stuck on Jesus’ first purpose—being with Him—and don’t go do His work in a broken world.  “Melt down the saints and get them back into circulation!”  I want you to be with Jesus and be on a mission from God.

ILL: Joe Aldrich was President of Multnomah Bible College, and is now with the Lord, was in circulation.  When he and his wife went to Dallas Seminary, they decided they wouldn’t live in the “cemetery” housing. Instead, they lived in the red-light district.  He wrote: “If you want to get an introduction to life itself, that’s the place to be. We made a commitment to take one non-Christian person, couple or individual, out to dinner once a week. Did we ever get a liberal education! But what fun; we had people coming to know the Lord right and left in that place, because we simply loved them. We opened our home to them.”

Joe was on a mission from God!  I want you to be with Jesus and be on a mission from God.