I spent a big chunk of last week writing a sermon to preach this Sunday and as it was near done on Thursday evening, I found out that I had been writing one for the wrong passage of scripture. -___- So Friday evening, after work, I began again. This effectively ruled out my intention to spend Saturday writing a blog… So, in an attempt to make up for that, I figured I’d at least share my sermon outline with you. It’s an odd combination of paragraphs and bullet points, but I hope you can follow along! It is grounded in Mark 1:1-8 and titled “Know Your Place.”
It’s well-known among my friends that I’m passionately lazy. Well, except when I want to prove that I’m right. then I can pursue an argument far beyond the point where I actually remember what I was arguing about. In fact, if I could earn a degree in procrastination, I’d start tomorrow. Sometimes I unknowingly trample on people’s feelings and many times, I won’t admit that I’m wrong without having an argument about it first. In short, I’m as arrogant as hell itself at times. It’s a real wake up call whenever I recall that my most prevalent sin, the one that I have to fight more than any other, is the same one that condemned Satan when he was one of heaven’s angels. I know that I’m not alone though, pride is something that we all wrestle with to some degree and the deepest root of all of our sins. CS Lewis said that pride isn’t simply satisfied in having something, it is only content in having more than someone else. Which means that in its most basic sense, whenever we sin, we our placing ourselves and our desires in a place where they are more important than God. Nobody here needs an examples of the types of evil that can come from that because we’ve all seen them and lived them, from the pain of stolen possessions and broken hearts and trust. This is why I won’t spend any of our valuable time expounding on it, instead I want to show you a man who had reason for pride and chose humility instead. A man who set an example that’s worth following, John the Baptizer.
Verse 1 & 2- John’s birth was prophesied! PROPHESIED! The ONLY person in the Bible to have his birth prophesied hundreds of years beforehand besides Jesus Christ. Apparently, he was kind of a big deal.
Verses 4 & 5- All of Judea and Jerusalem came to see him. It probably wasn’t literally every person, but it was clearly a multitude. He was all the way out in the wilderness and people would leave the safety of the city to walk some miles to see him. Pastors today can’t even get people to come to church if it’s just a few miles away and if they feel at all uncomfortable! And even then, I bet that very few of them would not be envious of his following, Apparently, he was kind of a big deal.
Verse 7- What was all the racket about? His message was this: You’re all following me, but there’s someone who much better than me coming, so you should be following him instead. What a weird thing for such a prominent man to say (well, if you consider that he wore camel’s-hair and ate bugs, it wasn’t so strange. But imagine Barack Obama standing in front of the country saying that there was a man so great coming that he didn’t deserve to touch his feet! That’s kind of crazy right?! That we should be preparing ourselves to follow this other man and not him? But we all wanted to follow him, right? How the heck is it okay for him to tell us that we shouldn’t be? There would be a lot of people ready to take him at his word and throw him out of office, yet these are the types of claims this man made. But there’s something very profound in him admitting this, I see it all the time:
When I have to get down on my knees and look a 5 or 6-year-old child in the face and admit that I’m wrong. Many times, that’s not even the end of it, I have to admit that they’re right. I’m 23 and they’re 5, my responsibility is to teach them and yet, sometimes they end up correcting me… This teaches that child something profound though: No one is perfect. Even the teacher who you love and seems to know everything.
As much as that kind of humility hurts, it’s necessary and beautiful. But John wasn’t professing flaws, why was he humble? He knew his place. Just like the prophecy in verse 1 said, he was simply there to prepare the way for something greater, and he knew it. Recognizing the greatness of Jesus kept his success in perspective. We all know that God exalts the humble, so let’s look at his reward.
Matthew 11- He is in prison (just a short time away from being beheaded). Humility and righteousness cost us dearly sometimes.
Jesus affirms him by essentially saying that John was the greatest man to exist outside of Jesus himself, wow. There’s no doubt that his humility played a huge role in Jesus’ assessment. But what about the fact that he was still killed by an arrogant and foolish leader who seemed to have everything people want in life? What about all the arrogant wicked people that we see succeeding today as we struggle?
Psalm 73- This Psalm answers that question powerfully. [Here’s a video extra for those of you courageous enough to read this far!]
And at the end, in verse 28, we are given 3 steps that illustrate the appropriate response to these realizations:
- Actively drawing near to God, regardless of circumstance.
- Making Him our shelter and hiding place when we are vulnerable.
- Telling everyone of the good things He has done.
Why these 3? Number one, because he is our source of life (verse 27). Number two, because He is the only place we can find true comfort and safety, and tree, because sharing is the apex of joy. In fact, a joy shared is a joy doubled!