Friday, 15 October 2010
Mark 3: The Privilege of Being Asked To Speak
The church was packed on the day of the funeral.
Mark’s dad had been a prominent Pittsburgh businessman for over 40 years. As a steel executive he had been a leader, but taking early retirement had freed him to be a servant, too. He had devoted his considerable experience to help institutions and widows, and so they had come to pay their respects.
Many came, but only a few were asked to speak. The program included a CEO, a college President, both of whom he had mentored and positioned to lead. Last to speak were his own children. What qualified them? They not only knew about him, they knew him. They knew the real man and loved him.
Why did Jesus silence the demons?
I’ve always wondered that. Have you? It wasn’t that their testimony was untrue. They nailed it, “You are the Son of God ” Mark 3:1. They spotted him as the Son and King, the one Psalm 2 pointed to, before anyone else. If their testimony was true, why weren’t they allowed to give it?
Ponder with me:
- Maybe because it was a testimony of defeat, not of deliverance. They fell down in terror, groveling and blabbering before the One who came to defeat their leader, the strong man. They had no choice.
- But remember, Jesus silenced not just the demons, but the leper, too, after he had delivered him (Mark 1:44) and others he had healed. Why?
- Maybe because they had a testimony about what he had done, but not about him. They had received his gift, but hadn’t yet received him. Maybe.
- Who didn’t he silence? The paralyzed man whose sins he had forgiven was simply sent home, (Mark 2:11), and the demoniac in Mark 5 was actually told to “Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.”
Those who believe are asked to testify. This chapter shows us why.
Why does he tell us to speak?
Like the paralytic, our sins have been forgiven through faith in Jesus. Until our sins are forgiven, no matter what miracles we may have seen or even experienced, we have nothing to say. Forgiven sinners are asked to testify.
Unlike the demons, we have recognized the true King and bowed before him in obedience, not terror. By faith our eyes have been opened by the Holy Spirit, and our heart has been changed from rebellion to glad submission. We want to do his will. Loyal subjects are asked to testify.
Unlike his earthly family who thought he was crazy, we have believed his message. We have believed in him. Because of that we have become his true family. Sons and daughters are asked to testify.
Finally, Mark 3 hints at this: having believed in him, we have received the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is the one who testifies to Christ. Our greatest qualification is his eternal, indwelling presence. Those who have the Spirit are asked to testify–with the Spirit.
Motivated by privilege, not guilt.
This changes how I think of bearing witness to Christ. Like you, I can be motivated by guilt. When the pressure of my conscience builds up, I blurt a quick “testimony” to some nearby unbeliever, and then sink back into comfortable silence.
But instead I’ve been tapped by the Master of the Universe to come to the podium and deliver a eulogy to the Living Christ. Not only that, but I stand at the mic shoulder to shoulder with the all powerful Holy Spirit, whose Witness is true and whose name is Holy. My testimony and His are now inseparable. What a privilege!
My testimony and the Spirit’s are woven together. That’s why rejecting the Holy Spirit’s testimony, repeatedly and finally, is the only unforgivable sin. For if you reject the witness of the Spirit, you reject the Christ to whom he testifies and the forgiveness this Christ brings. No Christ. No forgiveness. No Spirit. No testimony.
We’ve had our hunger satisfied at the feast. Let’s tell what we’ve seen and heard and tasted.
He’ll help us.