The surprising kingdom of Jesus (Mark 3-4)

Publié le 22 janvier 2022 dans Traductions

Sermon preached by Pastor Samuel Niblack on 23rd January 2022

In front of our Bread of Life bookstore in the reception area, you may have noticed this sign that welcomes you: « Living the Gospel together: the historical reality of Jesus’ death and resurrection reconciles us with God, unites us in church and sends us with compassion to a world in need. » To live the Gospel together, we want to start the year by studying this historical reality, especially with the first biography of Jesus that was written, namely Mark. If you want to get a first glimpse of Jesus and the origins of Christianity, Mark is a very good source.  

Reading: Mark 3:7-9, 4:1-33

To live the Gospel is also to announce it. Sometimes we think that if we had the power and the wisdom and the relevance of Jesus, it would be easier to talk about our faith, to convince others. But even Jesus himself is not universally accepted. Far from it. In ch 3, his own family thinks he is crazy, weird, and religious experts and politicians start calling him a criminal. If Jesus is a wonderful king and if his Kingdom is glorious, why such varied reactions? Why do we feel that things are not moving forward? Why the hostile reactions of the family? Why the awkwardness with colleagues when we bring up the subject? Why are churches so small and not flooded with people?

Jesus calls 12 disciples to begin a 3-year internship as ministers, envoys of his kingdom. What is the first lesson Jesus gives to his disciples? It is the parable of the sower and other similar parables. The lesson is that his kingdom will advance in a surprising way. Jesus’ kingdom advances through his Word. This word will elicit various reactions, but we must not become discouraged or change our ways. 

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Jesus versus the Religious (Mark 2:13-3:6)

Publié le 15 janvier 2022 dans Traductions

Sermon preached by Pastor VIncent Bourrel on 16th January 2022

Jesus is very popular, as we see in v.13 “all the multitude came to him », cf 1.28, 37, 45 and 2.12. His priority as we saw last Sunday is to teach, and that is what he does (v.13). But we will see that a group of individuals does not appreciate Jesus’ speech and manners. They appear in v.16, they are the Pharisees. They are religious people who were scrupulous in observing the ceremonial laws.  

Reading Mark 2:13-3:6

Imagine you live in a small town where the houses are mostly made of wood. And as it happens, a colony of termites has started to eat all the buildings. Some neighborhoods are more affected than others, but all the houses are affected. Some inhabitants have already seen their houses fall into ruin and find themselves homeless, others put a lot of money and energy into applying toxic treatments that slow down the proliferation of termites and do not fare too badly.  

One day the mayor announces that according to the studies done, the only way to get rid of the termites is to burn down the entire city and then rebuild. The good news is that he has found a developer and the exceptional financing to rehouse all the inhabitants. This is a great opportunity for social aid. He offers each household a villa of their choice (corresponding to their needs, their tastes) with all the comforts in a beautiful setting.  

– Where do you think this news will be best received? People who have already lost everything, people whose homes are in bad shape, people who see the fight against termites as a losing battle. 

– Where do you think this news will be least welcome? Those who have been successful in termite control, who have worked hard for it? And of course the sellers of termite control products.  

Even if the villa they might occupy later on will be much more beautiful and healthier than the one they have now, it is difficult for them to give up everything they have, the merits of having resisted better than the others… They lose their superbness, the mayor’s project doesn’t take into account their merit, their efforts… they won’t hear anymore « look this house is still holding up pretty well, the owner has really applied the products well ».  

Religion is a bit like termite control. It is supposed to slow down their proliferation but it does not destroy them. Religious people are the ones who apply the most product, with the most application, the product protects the surface. It’s a varnish that makes it look good on the outside but the inside is just as rotten.  

(la suite…)

Jesus, the Healer (Mark 1:21-2:12)

Publié le 15 janvier 2022 dans Traductions

Sermon preached by Pastor Samuel Niblack on 9th January 2022

When I ask my children if they want to watch a documentary or an action movie, I think I know the answer! They’ll tell me that documentaries aren’t particularly exciting, whereas action movies are fast-paced and gripping. But even a documentary may be full of action and suspense. I’m thinking of a documentary about Philippe Petit, the French tightrope walker, who walked between the two towers in New York with no net. Before he could achieve that, there was a lot of suspense, almost espionage, to get into the two towers and set up the tightrope. A spectacle that drew crowds and disturbed the authorities. So a factual documentary can be an action-packed show!

Likewise, Marc gives us a very factual account that is an action-packed story. It’s definitely worth reading it. Even if you are not a Christian, it is still wise to learn about the life of Jesus and focus on the oldest and most reliable sources, the four gospels. Not all sources of information are equal. You have to look for reliable sources, and the best sources on the life of Jesus are Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. If you read Mark, you will see that it is very well documented, but also very exciting.

(la suite…)