Last Sunday, Sound City Bible Church finished up our inaugural sermon series on the gospel of Mark. I and the other pastors have thoroughly enjoyed teaching this series. My hope and prayer is that it has been beneficial for you, and has served to build you up in the faith of our Lord Jesus. Now that we’re wrapped up with Mark and turning our attention to our new series, “Welcome to Sound City Bible Church,” I thought I would share with you briefly five things that I learned while teaching through Mark’s gospel.
1. Book Surveys or Selections Can Be Beneficial
Last November, when we were faced with making a lot of decisions in a short period of time regarding planting this new church, the elder team decided that we wanted to keep Jesus at the forefront of our attention as a church. For us, this meant teaching through one of the gospels, a direct picture of the person and work of Jesus. However, we also knew that before we got too far into the year, we would need to do a “church foundations” series of sorts. So, instead of teaching all the way through Mark’s gospel line by line and verse by verse, we decided to do a seventeen week long survey of Mark.
It has been said that going verse by verse through books of the bible makes preachers and churches have to wrestle with passages and topics that they might not otherwise touch. While this is certainly true, I was amazed at just how many “tough topics” we ended up having to address even in our relatively brief survey, topics like Satan & demons, textual criticism, miracles, and Christ’s return.
2. Jesus is Extremely Fascinating
Okay, so maybe I didn’t just learn this one while teaching through the series, but it is one of the things that has struck me most deeply. As we studied this book, I kept finding myself drawn more and more to Jesus. I found myself asking questions like “why did he perform that specific miracle” or “why did he choose this time to say that to his disciples” or “how are the people going to react to him here?” Reading about Jesus made me want to not only know more about Jesus, but to know him more personally.
3. Jesus Referenced the Old Testament…a Lot
We all know that the New Testament was written shortly after the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. But sometimes we might forget that the only bible that Jesus preached from was the Old Testament. One of the books that was most helpful for me during this series is called “Isaiah’s New Exodus in Mark” by Rikke E. Watts. In this book, the author shows time and time again that Mark was intentionally referencing Isaiah in his gospel. Not only does Jesus speak the words of Isaiah, but many of his miracles are also specific references to Isaiah or other Old Testament prophets. As Christians, we should never be afraid of the Old Testament, but we should seek to understand how Jesus brings all of it to it’s proper fulfillment and conclusion.
4. Miracles & Parables Go Hand in Hand
Perhaps the biggest “aha” moment that I had during the series was when I began to see that so many of Jesus’ miracles were actually parables – teaching aids – being lived out in technicolor. The first of these moments came after I finished the sermon on Jesus vs. Demons. In that teaching, we saw how Jesus sent a large group of demons into pigs after delivering the man in the caves. A member approached me afterward and wanted to dialogue about why Jesus would do that. During our conversation, a light bulb lit up for me and I realized that Jesus is showing us how the forces of evil will be ultimately destroyed. Like Pharaoh in the Old Testament, Satan and his demons will be ultimately buried at the bottom of a lake, only in the future it will be a lake of fire (Rev. 19:20). That “aha” moment for me was helpful as we finished out the series, because I was able to more clearly show the ways in which Jesus’ other miracles were not merely random acts of power but were intentionally designed to teach us truths about him.
5. Shared Leadership Is Wonderful
I love teaching the bible almost more than anything. It’s a weighty responsibility, but it is also a joyful privilege. It is also a joy to have a group of pastors to share that responsibility with. Of the seventeen sermons in Mark (including Good Friday), I (and we!) had the great fortune of having Pastor Shane teach four of them. It is my conviction that while it’s good, healthy, and normal for a church to have a primary teaching voice, it is essential for the people to hear and learn from more than one of their pastors. By God’s grace, I hope to be serve as the preaching pastor at Sound City for years to come, but I am also excited to share that responsibility with other elders – to learn from them, to have my blind spots challenged, and for the church family to be built up from the Word of God as taught by a plurality of pastors. Over the next few weeks and months, we will get to hear from both Pastor Shane and Pastor Travis (not Pastor Joe yet, he’s going to take some more convincing!), but also some other godly pastors from other churches who we have invited to teach us over the summer months.
As we’re reflecting back, there is one other thing that is worth celebrating – eight people have professed faith in Jesus publicly through baptism as we’ve been studying Mark’s gospel! Let us never forget that the Word of God is powerful and effective and able to bring people to faith in Jesus.
I hope and pray that our time in Mark has been a blessing to you. I look forward to sharing more with you in the next few weeks about the other sermon series that we have coming up.