Deuteronomy 10:1-11 (Part 2) – When We Utterly Fail Jesus Christ…

Posted: January 17, 2017 in Book of Deuteronomy
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Deuteronomy 10:1-11 (Part 2 of 2)

Tablets Like the First One

 

This week, we concluded our Christmas break from our small group. We call them Life Groups at our church, in part, because our church’s name is LifeSong. However, it is also because the church encourages us “to do life together.” As part of the life group meetings of course, we do some type of weekly Bible or Bible-related lesson or series of lessons. As part of my role as leader of our small group, I am, of course, in charge of leading our life group in our study sessions. While we were on our month-long break from life group for the Christmas and New Year holidays, one of the things that struck me was that over the past year and half, we have participated in book studies about books about The Book. We have read through authors writing about Scripture and how it supports the theme of their book. Immediately, don’t get me wrong. I love reading authors such as David Platt, Mark Batterson, Francis Chan and the like. These are some of the greatest Christian authors of our time. These guys really do get and really do write in a way that inspires us to take hold of the essence of Scripture and apply it to how we live our lives as the bride of Christ, his church. During the prayerful thought, it struck me that we have studied books about the Book and bits and pieces of books of The Book, but we have not studied, in depth, a whole book of the Bible. The life group that Elena and I have led these past four or five years since we became leaders have had an everchanging inventory of members. Some have left to become life group leaders in their own right. Some people have just come and gone. However, in the first group of people we had in our life group, we walked completely through the book of Matthew. It was one of the most powerful things I think we ever did in these years of leading. The message that kept coming to me during break was “get back to The Book, not just books about The Book.” So, the Lord led me to choose a book study about the Gospel of Mark. And, no, it’s not because the author had the same name as me! I really did not understand why Mark until yesterday, when I had the day off from work and had all day to prep for our life group study time last night.

 

You might wonder why I write about beginning a life group study on the Gospel of Mark while I am walking through Deuteronomy in my blog right now. Stick with me. You will see the connection to our passage today as I right about the Gospel of Mark. Since last night was the first night of the “new semester” of our life group, our participants did not have to do any preparatory study prior to the first meeting of the semester. Therefore, when I introduced what we were going to study this semester, the Gospel of Mark, I gave an overview of Mark and his gospel. In studying the background of Mark and his gospel, it really hit hard for the first time that the story of the author of this gospel is as amazing as is the gospel book itself. I had never really noticed that before. It is funny how you read the Bible or read something about the Bible a million times before but this time it just really hits you.

 

The story of the author of the gospel of Mark is the story of us. It is a story of redemption. It is also the story of Israel in this passage for today that we will be reading through for the second time, Deuteronomy 10:1-11 before we move on.

 

The first that we hear of Mark outside of his authorship of his gospel is in the aftermath of Jesus’ death and the growth of the early church in the Book of Acts. Mark is mentioned a good bit in Acts (Acts 12:12, 12:25, 15:37, and 15:39). Even his mother is mentioned in Acts. It is to her house that Peter goes after he is miraculously freed from prison. When know also from Colossians 4:10 that Mark is the cousin of Barnabus, one of the leaders of the early church and missionary journey partner of Paul. So, we know that Mark is well-connected with some the great players in the early church, Paul, Peter, and Barnabus, as was his family. In fact, when Paul and Barnabus leave on their first missionary journey. They take Mark with them. However, Mark must’ve been young and immature or at least young and immature in his faith and his willingness to be “all-in” for the cause of Christ. Because it was during this missionary journey that Mark failed miserably in the cause of Christ. Halfway through the journey, Mark bails on the missionary journey.

 

Luke, in writing this sequence in Acts, never tells us why Mark bailed out on the missionary journey. But whatever it was, it was big enough for him to go home to Jerusalem. What caused this crisis of heart, who knows? But it stands as a failure. Mark blew it. He did not have the guts or stamina or heart to continue with the missionary journey and tucked tail and went home. He failed. He screwed up. When it was time to put up or shut up, he caved in. He may have let concerns about home overwhelm his ministry efforts. He may have been afraid of the persecution and close calls that Paul and Barnabus and he were experiencing. Who knows? Bottom line is – he failed miserably.

 

So disappointed was Paul in Mark that when Barnabus wanted to again take Mark on the second missionary journey, Paul and Barnabus got into such a big argument about it that they decided to take separate missionary journeys instead of going together. Paul just did not want to be around Mark because of whatever had happened during the first missionary journey. It must have been a big ol’ shouting match between Paul and Barnabus. And a big enough of a disagreement for two friends, Paul and Barnabus, to split roads over it.

 

However, somewhere in between the beginning of Paul’s ministry that we see in Acts (where Mark disappoints him greatly) and the end of Paul’s ministry that we see in 2 Timothy, Mark must’ve done some spiritual growing up. In 2 Timothy, Paul is in prison and knows that he is at the end and he is passing on all his pastoral knowledge to his intern of sorts, Timothy. In 2 Timothy 4, when Paul is giving Timothy instructions about his next visit and he asks for his cloak and his writings and other things. However, he also tells Timothy to bring Mark with him. And you know why? Because, as Paul said, Mark was useful for his ministry. Timothy must have made up some ground in the background during Paul’s ministry to go from Paul not even wanting to be on the road with him to Mark being useful to his ministry. We know how passionate and on fire for Christ Paul was. For him to say that Mark was useful to his ministry is quite a compliment. Mark went from a spiritual baby to a spiritual grown up during that time. He was useful in spreading the gospel. He must have grown deeper in his understanding of the cost of following Christ and was now willing to pay that cost. He was spiritually mature now.

 

Additionally, in 1 Peter 5:13, Peter, when speaking to Mark, addresses him with a term of affection of that of a disciple. Peter says, “Mark, my son…” It must have been Peter that helped Mark grow in his understanding of Scripture, understanding of Jesus Christ and His purpose, his understanding of the radical and sometimes offensive nature of the gospel, and because of that the cost of following Jesus Christ. Peter and Mark and Mark’s family must’ve been tight for Peter to have immediately gone there after being freed from prison where his death was almost certain. And, it makes sense for Peter to have been the guy to get Mark to grow up spiritually. Peter was no stranger to the concept of complete and utter failure in the face of persecution. He denied Jesus Christ three times just to save his own hide. Peter spent the rest of his life in passionate thanksgiving for Jesus restoring him to a place by his side.

 

I think similarly Mark let his past failure and his redemption from it fuel the rest of his life in passionate pursuit of teaching people about the meaning of Jesus Christ. He knew he failed. He knew he blew it but yet he was restored. He was redeemed and forgiven and became a mighty man of God as a result. He went from bailing on a missionary journey, probably because of fear of persecution, probably because things were getting rough, to a man who was useful in Paul’s ministry and ultimately to a man who wrote the first gospel of the four gospels. He had an urgency to teach his audience, the new Christian converts in Rome, about the meaning and the work of Jesus Christ. He had to do it. He had an urgency to tell the story. Just as Paul failed Christ by originally trying to stamp out Christianity and that fueled him to be a passionate teller of the grace of Jesus Christ…just as Peter who had failed Jesus Christ by denying him Jesus three times and that fueled him to be a passionate and powerful expounder of the gospel to the Jews…so we find a man in Mark that was a passionate to explain who Jesus Christ is to people who had no clue as an act of thanksgiving for redemption from failure.

 

That’s what I thought about this morning as I read through today’s passage, Deuteronomy 10:1-11, for this second time. Let’s read it together now:

 

10 At that time the Lord said to me, “Chisel out two stone tablets like the first ones and come up to me on the mountain. Also make a wooden ark.[a] 2 I will write on the tablets the words that were on the first tablets, which you broke. Then you are to put them in the ark.”

 

3 So I made the ark out of acacia wood and chiseled out two stone tablets like the first ones, and I went up on the mountain with the two tablets in my hands. 4 The Lord wrote on these tablets what He had written before, the Ten Commandments he had proclaimed to you on the mountain, out of the fire, on the day of the assembly. And the Lord gave them to me. 5 Then I came back down the mountain and put the tablets in the ark I had made, as the Lord commanded me, and they are there now.

 

6 (The Israelites traveled from the wells of Bene Jaakan to Moserah. There Aaron died and was buried, and Eleazar his son succeeded him as priest. 7 From there they traveled to Gudgodah and on to Jotbathah, a land with streams of water. 8 At that time the Lord set apart the tribe of Levi to carry the ark of the covenant of the Lord, to stand before the Lord to minister and to pronounce blessings in His name, as they still do today. 9 That is why the Levites have no share or inheritance among their fellow Israelites; the Lord is their inheritance, as the Lord your God told them.)

 

10 Now I had stayed on the mountain forty days and forty nights, as I did the first time, and the Lord listened to me at this time also. It was not His will to destroy you. 11 “Go,” the Lord said to me, “and lead the people on their way, so that they may enter and possess the land I swore to their ancestors to give them.”

 

Here in this passage, we see how the Israelites are reminded of their failure at Mt. Sinai. They are to be of right mind when they take the Promised Land. They are to be humbly thankful that God did not take His wrath out on them. They were continually failing the Lord but He kept loving them and redeeming them and setting them on the right path. God is a God of second chances.

 

How many times have you and I failed Jesus Christ? How long did we ignore Him before we came to Him? And remember how thankful we were when we came to realize that we deserved to bust hell wide open but that Jesus Christ saved us from it. He gave us a second chance through his payment for our sins. That day of salvation should be what fuels us to live lives of boundless joy. It should be what fuels us to lovingly serve Jesus Christ in a world that needs to know his saving grace. It should fuel us to have urgency to not want to see or worst enemy end up in hell. It should give us urgency to tell people about Him as being the only way out of our sentence to the eternal fires of damnation. We should be so joyful at our own salvation that we should be thankful as the Israelites are being shown they should be thankful in this passage. We should have the clear and utter joy of being saved from what we deserve that we go from utter failure of Christ to being useful in His ministry as Mark did. We should live lives of doing whatever it takes to spread Jesus’ name far and wide as a simple act of thanksgiving for our own salvation. We should be like beggars telling other beggars where they can find food. It should be urgent to us. The message of redemption we have lived it and we need to share. Give us that Markan urgency. Give us that Markan priority. Give us that passion to live and tell of redemption and usefulness. Let us be those humble servants that know where were bound in the absence of Jesus Christ and now have to, just have to, have to tell of the redeeming grace of Jesus Christ in everything that we do and say.

 

Amen and Amen.

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