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Who Do You Say I Am?
The Gospel of Mark
 Lots of Names

 

Let’s begin, this morning by reading the next two pericopes in Mark.  We are studying the Gospel of Mark this year looking for… Who do you say I am?... Who is Jesus?  We are moving a little faster than we did to start. We have reached all the way to Mark chapter 3 verse 7. 

Mark 3:7-12 Jesus withdrew with his disciples to the sea, and a great crowd followed, from Galilee and Judea and Jerusalem and Idumea and from beyond the Jordan and from around Tyre and Sidon. When the great crowd heard all that he was doing, they came to him.  And he told his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd, lest they crush him, for he had healed many, so that all who had diseases pressed around him to touch him.  And whenever the unclean spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out, "You are the Son of God."  And he strictly ordered them not to make him known.

Here is the next section…

Mark 3:13-19 And he went up on the mountain and called to him those whom he desired, and they came to him. And he appointed twelve (whom he also named apostles) so that they might be with him and he might send them out to preach and have authority to cast out demons.  He appointed the twelve: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter); James the son of Zebedee and John the brother of James (to whom he gave the name Boanerges, that is, Sons of Thunder); Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus, and Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.

You may have noticed that these two pericopes have lots of names.  There are seven names of locations; there are 12 peoples’ names; two nick names; and one title.  So, this morning, I guess we have to think about names.

Let’s begin with the seven locations…

Let’s plot these seven locations on a map of the Bible lands during the days of Jesus…

Galilee is the home base of Jesus.  His house is in Capernaum.  The Sea of Galilee is here.  That’s where Andrew, Simon, James and John used to be fishermen.  This is where this pericope takes place.  All over Galilee people come to Jesus.

Then there is Judea.  It is the heart of Israel.  It is where Jerusalem; the capital, is located.  It is where Jesus will ultimately end up on the cross.  People come from Judea to see the healer in Capernaum.   Jesus’s fame has spread to the capital of Israel.

Then we have Idumea, which in the Old Testament is known as Edom.  It is south of Judea it is 100 miles from there to Galilee.  People have traveled a good distance to be healed by Jesus. 

Then we go east across the Jordan, this is into the regions of Perea and the Decapolis the eastern most part of Israel.  People from the east have come to witness Jesus.

Now we to two cities; Tyre is as far west as you can go.  Any further and you are in the Mediterranean. Sidon is way in the north.  It is in the ballpark of 60 miles from Sidon to Capernaum. 

Mark is informing us, at this time in Jesus’s ministry, his fame has spread throughout the whole area.  Jesus is a big deal.  From the heart to the south to the east to the west to the north Jesus is huge.  Crowds of people are coming to be healed.  Multitudes are coming to see the miracle worker.  Jesus is preaching the kingdom of God to thousands.  That is what Jesus came to do!  There are so many people Jesus has to have his disciples do crowd control to keep him from being crushed. 

We have seven names of locations. 

Now let’s look at the title…

Mark 3:11-12 And whenever the unclean spirits saw Jesus, they fell down before him and cried out, "You are the Son of God." And he strictly ordered them not to make him known.

The title the Son of God is rich with meaning. 

First, the unclean spirits recognize Jesus.  In the spirit world, it is known who Jesus is.  Jesus is the one who is born of God!  Mark doesn’t do any of the birth stories like Matthew and Luke.  Nor, the preexistence of the Word, like in John.  But here Mark calls Jesus, the Son of God.  The demons knew from whom Jesus was born.  Jesus is the Son of YWHW!  The demons may have been doing the name-control- thing.  But Jesus shuts them up!

This is what we mean when we call Jesus the Son of God.  We believe that the Holy Spirit came upon Mary and that Jesus is born of God.  We understand that Jesus is human on his mother’s side.  Jesus came from heaven to be one of us.  Jesus who existed as God from all eternity, gave that up, to be baby human.  Jesus is the Son of God. 

But the term Son of God is rich in meaning in another way.  Listen to Psalm 2. 

Psalm 2:1-12 Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain?  The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against his anointed, saying, "Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us."  He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision.  Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury, saying, "As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill."  I will tell of the decree: The LORD said to me, "You are my Son; today I have begotten you.  Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession.  You shall break them with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel."  Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth.  Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling.  Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.

This is one of the royal hymns.  This song was sung at a King’s coronation.  When David was inaugurated as king they would have called David… the Son of God.  Note what happens in this psalm…

--Nations are thinking about rebelling against the new king.

--But the Psalmist warns the nations… No, YHWH has set his king in Jerusalem.  I will break them like a rod of iron smashing a bunch of pots. 

--Because I have set my Son on the throne! 

--Kiss the SON less he be angry… in the last story Jesus was angry at the hard hearts of the Pharisees. 

The Kings of Israel were called the Son of God… Jesus is the Son of God… He too is king!

Guess who else at the time of Jesus was known as the Son of God… the Caesars.  In 42 BC, Julius Caesar was formally deified as "the divine Julius".   After Julius Caesar was assassinated, his adopted son, Augustus, was given the title divi filius (son of the god).  This is interesting… Jesus is the true divi filius. 

So, when all the crowds are crushing Jesus from all over the country, the demons would call Jesus, “The Son of God”. 

The title is Jesus is the Son of God!

Now let’s keep going with our name theme... the twelve names.

Mark 3:13-19 And he went up on the mountain and called to him those whom he desired, and they came to him.  And he appointed twelve (whom he also named apostles) so that they might be with him and he might send them out to preach and have authority to cast out demons. He appointed the twelve: Simon, James the son of Zebedee and John the brother of James; Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus, and Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.

This is interesting.  Jesus went up on the mountain… what the mountain?  It doesn’t say which the mountain.  I think we may have to fill this in… Mount Sinai; theologically a mountain where something significant happens.  There Jesus calls to him the twelve known as the apostles. 

Now, there is the list of 12.   

--Simon, James, John and Andrew – these are the four former fishers of fish

--Philip and Bartholomew which is son of Tholomew is probably Nathaniel in the Gospel of John.

--Matthew which is Levi from our previous story of the tax collector

--Thomas which means twin, the one who touches Jesus in the upper-room

--James the sons of Alphaeus to distinguish him from the other James

--Thaddaeus also known as the other Judas

--Simon the Cananaean is also known as Simon the Zealot

--Finally, Judas the betrayer.

It is fascinating that Mark thinks it is important enough to list all twelve names even when most of them as individuals are not mentioned again in his gospel.  Names are important. 

Names are important...  Which brings us to the two nicknames…

Mark 3:16-17 Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter); James the son of Zebedee and John the brother of James (to whom he gave the name Boanerges, that is, Sons of Thunder);

I like nicknames.  I enjoy giving my people I am fond of with nicknames… G and B Ray, Lylahead and ODog and CoraBell… If I like you, I might give you a nickname… Tanya is wife. 

Jesus must have liked nicknames too.  Simon became Rocky!  James and John are the Thunder and Lightning… each of these nicknames described some fun characteristic of the person. 

All right.  We have looked at seven named locations, a title, 12 apostles and two fun nicknames… Now what am I going to do with all this?  I generally like to have a point.  I would like to have something meaningful out of these two pericopes, instead of just a bunch of names. 

And then it hit me… wait a second…

We have been talking about an Invasion.  Jesus came to this earth to reclaim it.  Jesus is leading a restoration invasion…

The places on the map of Israel are pretty close, not exactly but close, to the boundaries of Israel under David… look at two maps…  Sidon to Edom; Decapolis to Tyre… The names of these places could be pointing to the restoration of the kingdom of God!

Then the Son of God is the name of a king.  King Jesus is leading the invasion of this earth to restore the kingdom of God!

Then there are 12 names of the apostles.  12 for the 12 tribes of Israel, obviously.  Jesus is going to restore the people of God!  On the mountain… like Sinai! Where God officially formed his new nation!  Jesus went to the mountain to create a new nation.

There is the restoration of the kingdom of God with a King Jesus ruling over the new 12 tribes of a new nation.

And then I thought about the verse in Revelation…

Revelation 2:17 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it.

Mark is being amazingly cool.  Jesus is leading an invasion to bring the kingdom of God to this earth.  Mark encodes this restoration invasion into these two pericopes.

--David’s kingdom points to a time when the earth will be restored!

--Jesus, the Son of God, is the King who will rule on earth!

--There will be the restoration of all God’s people!

--Each of us will be given a nickname by Jesus to be who we are meant to be forever!

Is all this just coincidence?  I think not.  Mark is pointing to the time when we will be the people of God on the restored earth living with King Jesus being who we are meant to be forever! 

I join Paul in praise from these verses in 1 Corinthians 15

1 Corinthians 15:24-26,51-52,57-58 Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power.  For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death.  Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.  But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

 

We steadfastly join Jesus in the invasion of restoration!

 

Tim Stidham

March 19, 2016

Los Alamos Church of Christ



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