Passing On A Legacy

Keith McFarren

November 18, 2018

Mark 13:1-8

 

 

 

 

     The thirteenth chapter of Mark is one of the most difficult chapters in the New Testament for the modern day reader to understand.  That’s because it is one of the most “Jewish” chapters in the entire Bible.  It is all about Jewish history and Jewish ideas and while throughout the entire chapter Jesus uses illustrations and pictures and ideas that were very familiar to people of first century Israel, those same illustrations and pictures and ideas seem very strange to people like us today.  But even though we don’t understand a lot of it we can’t just skip over the chapter because it is the source of many ideas about the future and it’s also about the second coming of Christ.

     The difficulty with the second coming of Christ is that people of our time have a tendency to go in two different directions with it or we look at it from two different viewpoints.  Either we completely disregard the second coming of Christ and take it with a grain of salt attitude or we go in the other direction and go completely overboard with it and become obsessed with it and it becomes the doctrine of our entire faith.

     The entire chapter thirteenth chapter of Mark must be read with one thing in mind.  That being that the people of Israel never once doubted that they were God’s chosen people and they never once doubted that one day they would occupy the place that they so rightfully deserved…that being a front row seat in God’s kingdom – the place that God had specially prepared for them.

     But they also knew that getting there would be difficult because they knew that they could never win their way into that special place that God had set aside for them by winning military battles and conquering one nation after another.  Instead, they were confident that in the end God would directly intervene in history and God would do whatever was necessary to win their place in his kingdom for them.  That time of divine intervention that they believed in was called “the day of the Lord.” 

     But in the meantime, until “the day of the Lord” arrived life would be difficult to say the least.  Life would be full of terror and trouble and setbacks, but eventually God would intervene and God would make everything right for them.

    

     That is what Jesus is talking about today.  Jesus is describing the life that is to come for his disciples and for all those people like you and me, who will follow him in the future.  He’s not trying to scare them but he’s trying to prepare them and help them understand that life is hard and at the same time he’s trying to help them understand what is really important in the world and what is not.

     As he tells his friends good bye and begins to prepare for the trials and the persecution he is about to face, there are a few things that he thinks are important to pass on before he goes.  He tells of the destruction that will someday come and the trouble that people who follow him are going to have to face, but at the same time, he also gives his friends some helpful advice.

     He tells them to be aware and watch out for those who will try to take the name of Christ and say that they are representing him or say they are more powerful and more trustworthy than him and then try to lead the people astray.  His greatest desire was for them and for all Christians of the future to keep believing and to keep following all that he had taught them and to keep the straight and narrow path he had set before them fresh in their hearts and in their minds at all times, and no matter what happens, no matter who comes representing him, despite all the trials and tribulations and despite all the upcoming destruction and persecution, always remember what he said and always remain faithful to his ways.

     I don’t like driving at night because I can’t see very well at all.  But I also have this fear of deer running out in front of me or rounding a corner or coming up over a hill and there in the headlights are a bunch of deer.  Instead of running away when they’re scared deer have a tendency to freeze when they are overtaken by fear. Instead of running away, they stand there motionless as though frozen in time.  One has to wonder how many deer have been killed and cars damaged and drivers hurt just because the deer were frozen with fear.

     People can also be frozen with fear, a fear that can also cause them to be hurt or killed.  But there are other types of fear that affect us as well, fears that are just as paralyzing.  We fear rejection and we fear humiliation and we fear being embarrassed by our failures.  These are the fears that can keep us from growing and developing as individuals; these are the fears that keep us from developing positive relationships with others in our daily lives.  

     Fear can also have an effect on the way we relate to God.  We do some stupid things and we say some stupid things.  And because of the things we do and the things we say we develop feelings of guilt and feelings of inadequacy and because of all this we oftentimes fear God’s presence in our lives.

     But the writer of Hebrews offers us some good news about how we might deal with our fears and our guilt and our feelings of inadequacy toward God.  Up until the time Jesus died on the cross, God had always been separated from common everyday people like us.  He lived inside the Tabernacle in a place called the Holy of Holies, behind a large veil or curtain and no one, absolutely no one was allowed behind the veil except the Priest on the Day of Atonement that happened once a year.

     God had been hidden and remote and no one really knew what he was like.  But when Jesus was crucified he took with him all the sins of the world, sins that were dragging it down toward destruction…and with his final breath, the veil that separated us from God was instantly torn apart… and the darkness in the world disappeared we were suddenly able to see God’s light and experience the love of God and to see that the way to God was now open to all people and that all people everywhere, no matter who they were, could enter into his presence.  What we could not do on our own, Jesus was willing to do for us. 

 

     But there is something else that Jesus did for us.  Jesus, following his baptism, went into the wilderness with Satan for forty days and forty nights.  The writer of Hebrews tells us that Jesus was tempted just like every other human being in every possible way (Hebrew 4:15).  “ The flesh may scream for satisfaction; the world may beckon seductively and the devil himself may offer undreamed – of power; but God, the one Jesus knew as Father, offered the reality of what it meant to be human” (William Barclay, The Gospel of Mark, Louisville, KY, WJK Press, 2001, 25).  Tempted by Satan for forty days, Jesus never once wavered.  He never once gave in.  Jesus was victorious over every temptation known to mankind because he was committed to living off God’s word.  He was successful because he was committed to trusting God and to loving God and to serving only one God.     

     The temptations you and I face every day, the critical decisions we have to make in our lives, may be a little different from the temptations Jesus faced, but they all focus on the same crucial areas of our lives: physical needs and desires; possessions and power and finally, they focus on our pride. 

     The temptations we face on a daily basis are not simply trying to entice us into committing this sin or that sin.  They are trying to distract us; they are trying to turn us away from God and to turn us away from the path of discipleship and servanthood.  They are trying to ruin marriages and jobs and friendships.  That’s why we’re always tempted when we’re so vulnerable – when we’re under physical or emotional distress – when we’re lonely or tired or weighing big decisions or faced with an uncertainty.

     The devil will do everything within his power to distract us; he’ll beat down our defenses and he’ll attack us from within and he’ll do everything he can to thwart God’s purpose for our lives.  Thomas Wright puts it this way, “If we have heard God’s voice welcoming us as his children, we will also hear the whispered suggestions of the enemy” (N. T. Wright, Matthew for Everyone, Part One, Louisville, KY, WJK Press, 2004, 26).   

     But being vigilant is the price of freedom.  Throughout his lifetime, Jesus faced one temptation after another.  Day in and day out he continually had to fight the battle and we are no different – like Jesus, we will always be tempted.  So he knows firsthand what we’re continually going through and he is willing and able to help us in our daily battles as well.

 

     Jesus is talking to his disciples about all the things that will happen after he’s gone.  He’s trying to pass on some important information by warning his friends about the future so that they can get their priorities straight and be successful in facing whatever it is that life throws at them.

     One way we can pass on what is most important to us is to consider the world after we’re gone and consider what we can do and should do to help those who will be here after we’re gone.  Some people in the secular world think of this in terms of leaving behind some type of personal legacy, perhaps money or property, something that people will always remember and look up to. 

     For the Christian, for you and me, we already have a legacy to admire and look up to and that is the legacy of Jesus Christ…and it becomes our job to help the people who are with us now and those coming behind us to see that legacy more clearly and to help them understand the effect that legacy can have upon their lives.

     As followers of Jesus Christ, it is our responsibility to constructively tell others about Jesus before it is too late, and to spur them on to Christian growth and Christian maturity.  It is our job to be cheerleaders for the kingdom of God…it is our job to be ministers of encouragement so that other people can learn from us about God’s unconditional, grace filled love.

 

     I saw a bumper sticker on a car the other day that said, “God said it and I believe it.”  As Thanksgiving quickly approaches I can think of no better reason to give thanks than to know that God is believable and that God is faithful and because he’s believable and because he’s faithful we can trust all that he has said and all the promises he has made. We can give thanks because he is trustworthy.  We can give thanks because our hope for today and tomorrow is grounded in him and all that he has done.

     He allowed himself to be tempted by Satan for forty days and forty nights so that he would know exactly what we are faced with on a daily basis and he promises to stand by us when we need help in dealing with the things that Satan throws at us.

     He told us how to live life to its fullest…to love God and to love our neighbor.

     He gave up his life for us so that all people we might have their sins forgiven.

     He gave up his life for us and rose from the grave three days later so that we might know that there is life after death and that an eternal home waits for each of us in heaven.

     And he told us that someday in future, at a time even unknown to him, he would come again.

 

     As Christians this is what we believe.  This is our faith.  This is what gives us hope for today and hope for tomorrow.  This is the legacy of Jesus Christ…a legacy that we follow, a legacy that we need to pass on to others…to family, to friends, and even to total strangers.

     When we follow the legacy of Christ and when we pass that legacy on to others, then we are in turn creating our own legacy…a legacy of our faith…a legacy of our beliefs…a legacy that will help others come closer to God…a legacy that will help others prepare for the future.  To pass on our legacy, which is also the legacy of Christ, we a passing on a legacy to help others weather the storms and face the trials and tribulations and temptations of life…a legacy that will strengthen their faith so that like us, they too will be prepared for the future that awaits them.   

Passing On A Legacy

Keith McFarren

November 18, 2018

Mark 13:1-8

 

 

 

 

     The thirteenth chapter of Mark is one of the most difficult chapters in the New Testament for the modern day reader to understand.  That’s because it is one of the most “Jewish” chapters in the entire Bible.  It is all about Jewish history and Jewish ideas and while throughout the entire chapter Jesus uses illustrations and pictures and ideas that were very familiar to people of first century Israel, those same illustrations and pictures and ideas seem very strange to people like us today.  But even though we don’t understand a lot of it we can’t just skip over the chapter because it is the source of many ideas about the future and it’s also about the second coming of Christ.

     The difficulty with the second coming of Christ is that people of our time have a tendency to go in two different directions with it or we look at it from two different viewpoints.  Either we completely disregard the second coming of Christ and take it with a grain of salt attitude or we go in the other direction and go completely overboard with it and become obsessed with it and it becomes the doctrine of our entire faith.

     The entire chapter thirteenth chapter of Mark must be read with one thing in mind.  That being that the people of Israel never once doubted that they were God’s chosen people and they never once doubted that one day they would occupy the place that they so rightfully deserved…that being a front row seat in God’s kingdom – the place that God had specially prepared for them.

     But they also knew that getting there would be difficult because they knew that they could never win their way into that special place that God had set aside for them by winning military battles and conquering one nation after another.  Instead, they were confident that in the end God would directly intervene in history and God would do whatever was necessary to win their place in his kingdom for them.  That time of divine intervention that they believed in was called “the day of the Lord.” 

     But in the meantime, until “the day of the Lord” arrived life would be difficult to say the least.  Life would be full of terror and trouble and setbacks, but eventually God would intervene and God would make everything right for them.

    

     That is what Jesus is talking about today.  Jesus is describing the life that is to come for his disciples and for all those people like you and me, who will follow him in the future.  He’s not trying to scare them but he’s trying to prepare them and help them understand that life is hard and at the same time he’s trying to help them understand what is really important in the world and what is not.

     As he tells his friends good bye and begins to prepare for the trials and the persecution he is about to face, there are a few things that he thinks are important to pass on before he goes.  He tells of the destruction that will someday come and the trouble that people who follow him are going to have to face, but at the same time, he also gives his friends some helpful advice.

     He tells them to be aware and watch out for those who will try to take the name of Christ and say that they are representing him or say they are more powerful and more trustworthy than him and then try to lead the people astray.  His greatest desire was for them and for all Christians of the future to keep believing and to keep following all that he had taught them and to keep the straight and narrow path he had set before them fresh in their hearts and in their minds at all times, and no matter what happens, no matter who comes representing him, despite all the trials and tribulations and despite all the upcoming destruction and persecution, always remember what he said and always remain faithful to his ways.

     I don’t like driving at night because I can’t see very well at all.  But I also have this fear of deer running out in front of me or rounding a corner or coming up over a hill and there in the headlights are a bunch of deer.  Instead of running away when they’re scared deer have a tendency to freeze when they are overtaken by fear. Instead of running away, they stand there motionless as though frozen in time.  One has to wonder how many deer have been killed and cars damaged and drivers hurt just because the deer were frozen with fear.

     People can also be frozen with fear, a fear that can also cause them to be hurt or killed.  But there are other types of fear that affect us as well, fears that are just as paralyzing.  We fear rejection and we fear humiliation and we fear being embarrassed by our failures.  These are the fears that can keep us from growing and developing as individuals; these are the fears that keep us from developing positive relationships with others in our daily lives.  

     Fear can also have an effect on the way we relate to God.  We do some stupid things and we say some stupid things.  And because of the things we do and the things we say we develop feelings of guilt and feelings of inadequacy and because of all this we oftentimes fear God’s presence in our lives.

     But the writer of Hebrews offers us some good news about how we might deal with our fears and our guilt and our feelings of inadequacy toward God.  Up until the time Jesus died on the cross, God had always been separated from common everyday people like us.  He lived inside the Tabernacle in a place called the Holy of Holies, behind a large veil or curtain and no one, absolutely no one was allowed behind the veil except the Priest on the Day of Atonement that happened once a year.

     God had been hidden and remote and no one really knew what he was like.  But when Jesus was crucified he took with him all the sins of the world, sins that were dragging it down toward destruction…and with his final breath, the veil that separated us from God was instantly torn apart… and the darkness in the world disappeared we were suddenly able to see God’s light and experience the love of God and to see that the way to God was now open to all people and that all people everywhere, no matter who they were, could enter into his presence.  What we could not do on our own, Jesus was willing to do for us. 

 

     But there is something else that Jesus did for us.  Jesus, following his baptism, went into the wilderness with Satan for forty days and forty nights.  The writer of Hebrews tells us that Jesus was tempted just like every other human being in every possible way (Hebrew 4:15).  “ The flesh may scream for satisfaction; the world may beckon seductively and the devil himself may offer undreamed – of power; but God, the one Jesus knew as Father, offered the reality of what it meant to be human” (William Barclay, The Gospel of Mark, Louisville, KY, WJK Press, 2001, 25).  Tempted by Satan for forty days, Jesus never once wavered.  He never once gave in.  Jesus was victorious over every temptation known to mankind because he was committed to living off God’s word.  He was successful because he was committed to trusting God and to loving God and to serving only one God.     

     The temptations you and I face every day, the critical decisions we have to make in our lives, may be a little different from the temptations Jesus faced, but they all focus on the same crucial areas of our lives: physical needs and desires; possessions and power and finally, they focus on our pride. 

     The temptations we face on a daily basis are not simply trying to entice us into committing this sin or that sin.  They are trying to distract us; they are trying to turn us away from God and to turn us away from the path of discipleship and servanthood.  They are trying to ruin marriages and jobs and friendships.  That’s why we’re always tempted when we’re so vulnerable – when we’re under physical or emotional distress – when we’re lonely or tired or weighing big decisions or faced with an uncertainty.

     The devil will do everything within his power to distract us; he’ll beat down our defenses and he’ll attack us from within and he’ll do everything he can to thwart God’s purpose for our lives.  Thomas Wright puts it this way, “If we have heard God’s voice welcoming us as his children, we will also hear the whispered suggestions of the enemy” (N. T. Wright, Matthew for Everyone, Part One, Louisville, KY, WJK Press, 2004, 26).   

     But being vigilant is the price of freedom.  Throughout his lifetime, Jesus faced one temptation after another.  Day in and day out he continually had to fight the battle and we are no different – like Jesus, we will always be tempted.  So he knows firsthand what we’re continually going through and he is willing and able to help us in our daily battles as well.

 

     Jesus is talking to his disciples about all the things that will happen after he’s gone.  He’s trying to pass on some important information by warning his friends about the future so that they can get their priorities straight and be successful in facing whatever it is that life throws at them.

     One way we can pass on what is most important to us is to consider the world after we’re gone and consider what we can do and should do to help those who will be here after we’re gone.  Some people in the secular world think of this in terms of leaving behind some type of personal legacy, perhaps money or property, something that people will always remember and look up to. 

     For the Christian, for you and me, we already have a legacy to admire and look up to and that is the legacy of Jesus Christ…and it becomes our job to help the people who are with us now and those coming behind us to see that legacy more clearly and to help them understand the effect that legacy can have upon their lives.

     As followers of Jesus Christ, it is our responsibility to constructively tell others about Jesus before it is too late, and to spur them on to Christian growth and Christian maturity.  It is our job to be cheerleaders for the kingdom of God…it is our job to be ministers of encouragement so that other people can learn from us about God’s unconditional, grace filled love.

 

     I saw a bumper sticker on a car the other day that said, “God said it and I believe it.”  As Thanksgiving quickly approaches I can think of no better reason to give thanks than to know that God is believable and that God is faithful and because he’s believable and because he’s faithful we can trust all that he has said and all the promises he has made. We can give thanks because he is trustworthy.  We can give thanks because our hope for today and tomorrow is grounded in him and all that he has done.

     He allowed himself to be tempted by Satan for forty days and forty nights so that he would know exactly what we are faced with on a daily basis and he promises to stand by us when we need help in dealing with the things that Satan throws at us.

     He told us how to live life to its fullest…to love God and to love our neighbor.

     He gave up his life for us so that all people we might have their sins forgiven.

     He gave up his life for us and rose from the grave three days later so that we might know that there is life after death and that an eternal home waits for each of us in heaven.

     And he told us that someday in future, at a time even unknown to him, he would come again.

 

     As Christians this is what we believe.  This is our faith.  This is what gives us hope for today and hope for tomorrow.  This is the legacy of Jesus Christ…a legacy that we follow, a legacy that we need to pass on to others…to family, to friends, and even to total strangers.

     When we follow the legacy of Christ and when we pass that legacy on to others, then we are in turn creating our own legacy…a legacy of our faith…a legacy of our beliefs…a legacy that will help others come closer to God…a legacy that will help others prepare for the future.  To pass on our legacy, which is also the legacy of Christ, we a passing on a legacy to help others weather the storms and face the trials and tribulations and temptations of life…a legacy that will strengthen their faith so that like us, they too will be prepared for the future that awaits them.   

Passing On A Legacy

Keith McFarren

November 18, 2018

Mark 13:1-8

 

 

 

 

     The thirteenth chapter of Mark is one of the most difficult chapters in the New Testament for the modern day reader to understand.  That’s because it is one of the most “Jewish” chapters in the entire Bible.  It is all about Jewish history and Jewish ideas and while throughout the entire chapter Jesus uses illustrations and pictures and ideas that were very familiar to people of first century Israel, those same illustrations and pictures and ideas seem very strange to people like us today.  But even though we don’t understand a lot of it we can’t just skip over the chapter because it is the source of many ideas about the future and it’s also about the second coming of Christ.

     The difficulty with the second coming of Christ is that people of our time have a tendency to go in two different directions with it or we look at it from two different viewpoints.  Either we completely disregard the second coming of Christ and take it with a grain of salt attitude or we go in the other direction and go completely overboard with it and become obsessed with it and it becomes the doctrine of our entire faith.

     The entire chapter thirteenth chapter of Mark must be read with one thing in mind.  That being that the people of Israel never once doubted that they were God’s chosen people and they never once doubted that one day they would occupy the place that they so rightfully deserved…that being a front row seat in God’s kingdom – the place that God had specially prepared for them.

     But they also knew that getting there would be difficult because they knew that they could never win their way into that special place that God had set aside for them by winning military battles and conquering one nation after another.  Instead, they were confident that in the end God would directly intervene in history and God would do whatever was necessary to win their place in his kingdom for them.  That time of divine intervention that they believed in was called “the day of the Lord.” 

     But in the meantime, until “the day of the Lord” arrived life would be difficult to say the least.  Life would be full of terror and trouble and setbacks, but eventually God would intervene and God would make everything right for them.

    

     That is what Jesus is talking about today.  Jesus is describing the life that is to come for his disciples and for all those people like you and me, who will follow him in the future.  He’s not trying to scare them but he’s trying to prepare them and help them understand that life is hard and at the same time he’s trying to help them understand what is really important in the world and what is not.

     As he tells his friends good bye and begins to prepare for the trials and the persecution he is about to face, there are a few things that he thinks are important to pass on before he goes.  He tells of the destruction that will someday come and the trouble that people who follow him are going to have to face, but at the same time, he also gives his friends some helpful advice.

     He tells them to be aware and watch out for those who will try to take the name of Christ and say that they are representing him or say they are more powerful and more trustworthy than him and then try to lead the people astray.  His greatest desire was for them and for all Christians of the future to keep believing and to keep following all that he had taught them and to keep the straight and narrow path he had set before them fresh in their hearts and in their minds at all times, and no matter what happens, no matter who comes representing him, despite all the trials and tribulations and despite all the upcoming destruction and persecution, always remember what he said and always remain faithful to his ways.

     I don’t like driving at night because I can’t see very well at all.  But I also have this fear of deer running out in front of me or rounding a corner or coming up over a hill and there in the headlights are a bunch of deer.  Instead of running away when they’re scared deer have a tendency to freeze when they are overtaken by fear. Instead of running away, they stand there motionless as though frozen in time.  One has to wonder how many deer have been killed and cars damaged and drivers hurt just because the deer were frozen with fear.

     People can also be frozen with fear, a fear that can also cause them to be hurt or killed.  But there are other types of fear that affect us as well, fears that are just as paralyzing.  We fear rejection and we fear humiliation and we fear being embarrassed by our failures.  These are the fears that can keep us from growing and developing as individuals; these are the fears that keep us from developing positive relationships with others in our daily lives.  

     Fear can also have an effect on the way we relate to God.  We do some stupid things and we say some stupid things.  And because of the things we do and the things we say we develop feelings of guilt and feelings of inadequacy and because of all this we oftentimes fear God’s presence in our lives.

     But the writer of Hebrews offers us some good news about how we might deal with our fears and our guilt and our feelings of inadequacy toward God.  Up until the time Jesus died on the cross, God had always been separated from common everyday people like us.  He lived inside the Tabernacle in a place called the Holy of Holies, behind a large veil or curtain and no one, absolutely no one was allowed behind the veil except the Priest on the Day of Atonement that happened once a year.

     God had been hidden and remote and no one really knew what he was like.  But when Jesus was crucified he took with him all the sins of the world, sins that were dragging it down toward destruction…and with his final breath, the veil that separated us from God was instantly torn apart… and the darkness in the world disappeared we were suddenly able to see God’s light and experience the love of God and to see that the way to God was now open to all people and that all people everywhere, no matter who they were, could enter into his presence.  What we could not do on our own, Jesus was willing to do for us. 

 

     But there is something else that Jesus did for us.  Jesus, following his baptism, went into the wilderness with Satan for forty days and forty nights.  The writer of Hebrews tells us that Jesus was tempted just like every other human being in every possible way (Hebrew 4:15).  “ The flesh may scream for satisfaction; the world may beckon seductively and the devil himself may offer undreamed – of power; but God, the one Jesus knew as Father, offered the reality of what it meant to be human” (William Barclay, The Gospel of Mark, Louisville, KY, WJK Press, 2001, 25).  Tempted by Satan for forty days, Jesus never once wavered.  He never once gave in.  Jesus was victorious over every temptation known to mankind because he was committed to living off God’s word.  He was successful because he was committed to trusting God and to loving God and to serving only one God.     

     The temptations you and I face every day, the critical decisions we have to make in our lives, may be a little different from the temptations Jesus faced, but they all focus on the same crucial areas of our lives: physical needs and desires; possessions and power and finally, they focus on our pride. 

     The temptations we face on a daily basis are not simply trying to entice us into committing this sin or that sin.  They are trying to distract us; they are trying to turn us away from God and to turn us away from the path of discipleship and servanthood.  They are trying to ruin marriages and jobs and friendships.  That’s why we’re always tempted when we’re so vulnerable – when we’re under physical or emotional distress – when we’re lonely or tired or weighing big decisions or faced with an uncertainty.

     The devil will do everything within his power to distract us; he’ll beat down our defenses and he’ll attack us from within and he’ll do everything he can to thwart God’s purpose for our lives.  Thomas Wright puts it this way, “If we have heard God’s voice welcoming us as his children, we will also hear the whispered suggestions of the enemy” (N. T. Wright, Matthew for Everyone, Part One, Louisville, KY, WJK Press, 2004, 26).   

     But being vigilant is the price of freedom.  Throughout his lifetime, Jesus faced one temptation after another.  Day in and day out he continually had to fight the battle and we are no different – like Jesus, we will always be tempted.  So he knows firsthand what we’re continually going through and he is willing and able to help us in our daily battles as well.

 

     Jesus is talking to his disciples about all the things that will happen after he’s gone.  He’s trying to pass on some important information by warning his friends about the future so that they can get their priorities straight and be successful in facing whatever it is that life throws at them.

     One way we can pass on what is most important to us is to consider the world after we’re gone and consider what we can do and should do to help those who will be here after we’re gone.  Some people in the secular world think of this in terms of leaving behind some type of personal legacy, perhaps money or property, something that people will always remember and look up to. 

     For the Christian, for you and me, we already have a legacy to admire and look up to and that is the legacy of Jesus Christ…and it becomes our job to help the people who are with us now and those coming behind us to see that legacy more clearly and to help them understand the effect that legacy can have upon their lives.

     As followers of Jesus Christ, it is our responsibility to constructively tell others about Jesus before it is too late, and to spur them on to Christian growth and Christian maturity.  It is our job to be cheerleaders for the kingdom of God…it is our job to be ministers of encouragement so that other people can learn from us about God’s unconditional, grace filled love.

 

     I saw a bumper sticker on a car the other day that said, “God said it and I believe it.”  As Thanksgiving quickly approaches I can think of no better reason to give thanks than to know that God is believable and that God is faithful and because he’s believable and because he’s faithful we can trust all that he has said and all the promises he has made. We can give thanks because he is trustworthy.  We can give thanks because our hope for today and tomorrow is grounded in him and all that he has done.

     He allowed himself to be tempted by Satan for forty days and forty nights so that he would know exactly what we are faced with on a daily basis and he promises to stand by us when we need help in dealing with the things that Satan throws at us.

     He told us how to live life to its fullest…to love God and to love our neighbor.

     He gave up his life for us so that all people we might have their sins forgiven.

     He gave up his life for us and rose from the grave three days later so that we might know that there is life after death and that an eternal home waits for each of us in heaven.

     And he told us that someday in future, at a time even unknown to him, he would come again.

 

     As Christians this is what we believe.  This is our faith.  This is what gives us hope for today and hope for tomorrow.  This is the legacy of Jesus Christ…a legacy that we follow, a legacy that we need to pass on to others…to family, to friends, and even to total strangers.

     When we follow the legacy of Christ and when we pass that legacy on to others, then we are in turn creating our own legacy…a legacy of our faith…a legacy of our beliefs…a legacy that will help others come closer to God…a legacy that will help others prepare for the future.  To pass on our legacy, which is also the legacy of Christ, we a passing on a legacy to help others weather the storms and face the trials and tribulations and temptations of life…a legacy that will strengthen their faith so that like us, they too will be prepared for the future that awaits them.   

Passing On A Legacy

Keith McFarren

November 18, 2018

Mark 13:1-8

 

 

 

 

     The thirteenth chapter of Mark is one of the most difficult chapters in the New Testament for the modern day reader to understand.  That’s because it is one of the most “Jewish” chapters in the entire Bible.  It is all about Jewish history and Jewish ideas and while throughout the entire chapter Jesus uses illustrations and pictures and ideas that were very familiar to people of first century Israel, those same illustrations and pictures and ideas seem very strange to people like us today.  But even though we don’t understand a lot of it we can’t just skip over the chapter because it is the source of many ideas about the future and it’s also about the second coming of Christ.

     The difficulty with the second coming of Christ is that people of our time have a tendency to go in two different directions with it or we look at it from two different viewpoints.  Either we completely disregard the second coming of Christ and take it with a grain of salt attitude or we go in the other direction and go completely overboard with it and become obsessed with it and it becomes the doctrine of our entire faith.

     The entire chapter thirteenth chapter of Mark must be read with one thing in mind.  That being that the people of Israel never once doubted that they were God’s chosen people and they never once doubted that one day they would occupy the place that they so rightfully deserved…that being a front row seat in God’s kingdom – the place that God had specially prepared for them.

     But they also knew that getting there would be difficult because they knew that they could never win their way into that special place that God had set aside for them by winning military battles and conquering one nation after another.  Instead, they were confident that in the end God would directly intervene in history and God would do whatever was necessary to win their place in his kingdom for them.  That time of divine intervention that they believed in was called “the day of the Lord.” 

     But in the meantime, until “the day of the Lord” arrived life would be difficult to say the least.  Life would be full of terror and trouble and setbacks, but eventually God would intervene and God would make everything right for them.

    

     That is what Jesus is talking about today.  Jesus is describing the life that is to come for his disciples and for all those people like you and me, who will follow him in the future.  He’s not trying to scare them but he’s trying to prepare them and help them understand that life is hard and at the same time he’s trying to help them understand what is really important in the world and what is not.

     As he tells his friends good bye and begins to prepare for the trials and the persecution he is about to face, there are a few things that he thinks are important to pass on before he goes.  He tells of the destruction that will someday come and the trouble that people who follow him are going to have to face, but at the same time, he also gives his friends some helpful advice.

     He tells them to be aware and watch out for those who will try to take the name of Christ and say that they are representing him or say they are more powerful and more trustworthy than him and then try to lead the people astray.  His greatest desire was for them and for all Christians of the future to keep believing and to keep following all that he had taught them and to keep the straight and narrow path he had set before them fresh in their hearts and in their minds at all times, and no matter what happens, no matter who comes representing him, despite all the trials and tribulations and despite all the upcoming destruction and persecution, always remember what he said and always remain faithful to his ways.

     I don’t like driving at night because I can’t see very well at all.  But I also have this fear of deer running out in front of me or rounding a corner or coming up over a hill and there in the headlights are a bunch of deer.  Instead of running away when they’re scared deer have a tendency to freeze when they are overtaken by fear. Instead of running away, they stand there motionless as though frozen in time.  One has to wonder how many deer have been killed and cars damaged and drivers hurt just because the deer were frozen with fear.

     People can also be frozen with fear, a fear that can also cause them to be hurt or killed.  But there are other types of fear that affect us as well, fears that are just as paralyzing.  We fear rejection and we fear humiliation and we fear being embarrassed by our failures.  These are the fears that can keep us from growing and developing as individuals; these are the fears that keep us from developing positive relationships with others in our daily lives.  

     Fear can also have an effect on the way we relate to God.  We do some stupid things and we say some stupid things.  And because of the things we do and the things we say we develop feelings of guilt and feelings of inadequacy and because of all this we oftentimes fear God’s presence in our lives.

     But the writer of Hebrews offers us some good news about how we might deal with our fears and our guilt and our feelings of inadequacy toward God.  Up until the time Jesus died on the cross, God had always been separated from common everyday people like us.  He lived inside the Tabernacle in a place called the Holy of Holies, behind a large veil or curtain and no one, absolutely no one was allowed behind the veil except the Priest on the Day of Atonement that happened once a year.

     God had been hidden and remote and no one really knew what he was like.  But when Jesus was crucified he took with him all the sins of the world, sins that were dragging it down toward destruction…and with his final breath, the veil that separated us from God was instantly torn apart… and the darkness in the world disappeared we were suddenly able to see God’s light and experience the love of God and to see that the way to God was now open to all people and that all people everywhere, no matter who they were, could enter into his presence.  What we could not do on our own, Jesus was willing to do for us. 

 

     But there is something else that Jesus did for us.  Jesus, following his baptism, went into the wilderness with Satan for forty days and forty nights.  The writer of Hebrews tells us that Jesus was tempted just like every other human being in every possible way (Hebrew 4:15).  “ The flesh may scream for satisfaction; the world may beckon seductively and the devil himself may offer undreamed – of power; but God, the one Jesus knew as Father, offered the reality of what it meant to be human” (William Barclay, The Gospel of Mark, Louisville, KY, WJK Press, 2001, 25).  Tempted by Satan for forty days, Jesus never once wavered.  He never once gave in.  Jesus was victorious over every temptation known to mankind because he was committed to living off God’s word.  He was successful because he was committed to trusting God and to loving God and to serving only one God.     

     The temptations you and I face every day, the critical decisions we have to make in our lives, may be a little different from the temptations Jesus faced, but they all focus on the same crucial areas of our lives: physical needs and desires; possessions and power and finally, they focus on our pride. 

     The temptations we face on a daily basis are not simply trying to entice us into committing this sin or that sin.  They are trying to distract us; they are trying to turn us away from God and to turn us away from the path of discipleship and servanthood.  They are trying to ruin marriages and jobs and friendships.  That’s why we’re always tempted when we’re so vulnerable – when we’re under physical or emotional distress – when we’re lonely or tired or weighing big decisions or faced with an uncertainty.

     The devil will do everything within his power to distract us; he’ll beat down our defenses and he’ll attack us from within and he’ll do everything he can to thwart God’s purpose for our lives.  Thomas Wright puts it this way, “If we have heard God’s voice welcoming us as his children, we will also hear the whispered suggestions of the enemy” (N. T. Wright, Matthew for Everyone, Part One, Louisville, KY, WJK Press, 2004, 26).   

     But being vigilant is the price of freedom.  Throughout his lifetime, Jesus faced one temptation after another.  Day in and day out he continually had to fight the battle and we are no different – like Jesus, we will always be tempted.  So he knows firsthand what we’re continually going through and he is willing and able to help us in our daily battles as well.

 

     Jesus is talking to his disciples about all the things that will happen after he’s gone.  He’s trying to pass on some important information by warning his friends about the future so that they can get their priorities straight and be successful in facing whatever it is that life throws at them.

     One way we can pass on what is most important to us is to consider the world after we’re gone and consider what we can do and should do to help those who will be here after we’re gone.  Some people in the secular world think of this in terms of leaving behind some type of personal legacy, perhaps money or property, something that people will always remember and look up to. 

     For the Christian, for you and me, we already have a legacy to admire and look up to and that is the legacy of Jesus Christ…and it becomes our job to help the people who are with us now and those coming behind us to see that legacy more clearly and to help them understand the effect that legacy can have upon their lives.

     As followers of Jesus Christ, it is our responsibility to constructively tell others about Jesus before it is too late, and to spur them on to Christian growth and Christian maturity.  It is our job to be cheerleaders for the kingdom of God…it is our job to be ministers of encouragement so that other people can learn from us about God’s unconditional, grace filled love.

 

     I saw a bumper sticker on a car the other day that said, “God said it and I believe it.”  As Thanksgiving quickly approaches I can think of no better reason to give thanks than to know that God is believable and that God is faithful and because he’s believable and because he’s faithful we can trust all that he has said and all the promises he has made. We can give thanks because he is trustworthy.  We can give thanks because our hope for today and tomorrow is grounded in him and all that he has done.

     He allowed himself to be tempted by Satan for forty days and forty nights so that he would know exactly what we are faced with on a daily basis and he promises to stand by us when we need help in dealing with the things that Satan throws at us.

     He told us how to live life to its fullest…to love God and to love our neighbor.

     He gave up his life for us so that all people we might have their sins forgiven.

     He gave up his life for us and rose from the grave three days later so that we might know that there is life after death and that an eternal home waits for each of us in heaven.

     And he told us that someday in future, at a time even unknown to him, he would come again.

 

     As Christians this is what we believe.  This is our faith.  This is what gives us hope for today and hope for tomorrow.  This is the legacy of Jesus Christ…a legacy that we follow, a legacy that we need to pass on to others…to family, to friends, and even to total strangers.

     When we follow the legacy of Christ and when we pass that legacy on to others, then we are in turn creating our own legacy…a legacy of our faith…a legacy of our beliefs…a legacy that will help others come closer to God…a legacy that will help others prepare for the future.  To pass on our legacy, which is also the legacy of Christ, we a passing on a legacy to help others weather the storms and face the trials and tribulations and temptations of life…a legacy that will strengthen their faith so that like us, they too will be prepared for the future that awaits them.