Welcome to Easter Sunday. I love the video we just watched. I think it explains the way many people view Easter. Maybe the candy, the egg hunts and the ham is good enough for you. Maybe all Easter will do is change what you wear and what you eat today. Today, we want to go a lot deeper. If you want more, if you want Easter to change your life, that is what Sam and I want to talk about. Today, we want you to think about the Jesus question, “What do you want me to do for you?”
If you want more, it begins with faith. Faith is the foundation to everything spiritual. Scripture says,
Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. NIV Hebrews 11:1
Faith is believing and having trust in something but there is no proof. Now everyone here has faith. I know you do. For example, every day you believe, you trust, that the sun will rise in the morning. On your way here, you had faith, you trusted that the traffic light would stop traffic. In this parking lot, you had faith that your brakes would work. You pulled into the parking lot, you believed, that your brakes would stop your car.
Last summer I had a scary moment. I was road biking with Sam and we were about ten miles south of Dillsburg heading towards East Berlin. I got a flat tire, I changed it and the new tube popped when I pumped it up. So I called a friend to come pick me up in his truck. We could see him coming but as he got closer, it seemed like he was speeding up. And, he was heading right for us. I thought he was goofing off and didn’t really think about it. He got closer and closer and then pulled his huge truck away. When he finally stopped, he jumps out and says, “I was goofing off, I speed up, but when I hit my brakes, they went to the floor! I almost ran you over!” I’m like, “I know, I watched the whole thing happen!” My faith in my friend dropped a little bit that day.
We all believe in, we trust in, something. Here is the big deal point. When we have faith in God, and what He did, it can transform your life. To talk about this, we are going to look at Mark 10 and walk through three stories.
Story #1: Mark 10:17-22
As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 18 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good-except God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, do not defraud, honor your father and mother.'” 20 “Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.” 21 Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” 22 At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth. NIV
This man is a good man. He is doing well for himself. He is successful and following all the church rules. Isn’t this the kind of guy you want your daughter to date? So he comes to Jesus and asks,
…he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
The rich young man didn’t have faith in Jesus. He had faith in his own strength, his ability to follow the rules, his efforts to create wealth. That’s why he was asking, “What must I do.” In other words, are there any other hoops I have to jump through cause I can do it.”
So when Jesus said, “You lack one thing, go sell everything,” he was shattered. Was it all about money? No. It was about faith he lacked. He had faith in his strength, he didn’t have faith in Jesus. He couldn’t let go of what he had accomplished. The first point today about faith is: Faith frees you to be saved by God’s grace. It frees you from thinking, “It’s up to me to make it happen.”
I want tell you, when you think it’s up to you, you are a train wreck. You feel guilty that you can’t make it happen. You feel tired because you keep working at it. And the worst part for many people who go to church is they are busy earning their way to heaven so they want to make sure others earn their way too. They use their church knowledge to weigh and measure other people’s holiness. That’s called judging.
It’s important that you not misinterpret yourselves as people who are bringing this goodness to God. No, God brings it all to you. The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what he does for us, not by what we are and what we do for him. MSG Romans 12:3
It’s important to understand, God brings all the goodness to you. It was His idea. He personally made it happen. The rich young ruler didn’t understand that. He wanted to save himself, he wanted to do things his way, he thought, it was about what he was bringing to God. Huge mistake.
John 3:16-18 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. NIV
Please hear me, faith frees you to be saved by God’s grace.
Story #2: Mark 10:35- 45
Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to him. “Teacher,” they said, “we want you to do for us whatever we ask.” 36 “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked. 37 They replied, “Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory.” 38 “You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said. “Can you drink the cup I drink or be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with?” 39 “We can,” they answered. Jesus said to them, “You will drink the cup I drink and be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with, 40 but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared.”
41 When the ten heard about this, they became indignant with James and John. 42 Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 43 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” NIV
What do we see? Two brothers trying to use Jesus, to leverage their relationship with Jesus, to get status and power and be in the inner circle. For Jesus, this had to be hard. He is about to give up his life for the advancement of God’s kingdom, and these two guys can only think about their status, their power and being in on the inner circle. They could not be more out of step with Jesus. He is giving it all, He’s going to the cross to be crushed and they are trying to take it all to rise to some ‘level.’
Here is the second point about faith: Faith frees you to serve. It frees you from living a life of bondage where it’s all about you and what you can get from others.
1 John 2:16-17
Practically everything that goes on in the world – wanting your own way, wanting everything for yourself, wanting to appear important – has nothing to do with the Father. It just isolates you from him. 17 The world and all its wanting, wanting, wanting is on the way out – but whoever does what God wants is set for eternity. MSG
Jesus was helping the brothers understand, their godless way of walking through life isolates them from God. That way of living is bondage. You always need to be in control. You always live in frustration and disappointment because people and events will never be good enough.
Please hear me, faith frees you to serve others.
Let me stop here and ask you, what would happen if Jesus stopped you on your way home today and asked you, “What do you want me to do for you?” How would you answer that? Would you tell Jesus, “I want to go to heaven, what else do I have to do to make it? How can I perform better for you?” Or would you tell Jesus, “I want you to do what I say, give me status, power and help me climb to the inner circle.”
Story #3: Mark 10:46- 52
Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (that is, the Son of Timaeus), was sitting by the roadside begging. 47 When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 48 Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 49 Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” So they called to the blind man, “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.” 50 Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus. 51 “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him. The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.” 52 “Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road. NIV
This is such an awesome moment and there is so much I want you to see here, but let’s start with this…in this story I see another thing that Faith really does. We saw earlier that in faith we can be saved and have eternal life. Now we see that through faith in Jesus we can be healed.
Through Faith in Jesus we find life changing healing. There is something different about this interaction isn’t there? This guy is in a really bad spot. He is blind. He is outside the city sitting by the road begging. In those days this guy and anyone who had physical issues like this was considered an outcast…he would have been thought of as less. When today Jesus comes by, and when he hears that its Jesus walking by he begins to scream and yell for him. People all around this guy try to shut him up, but he knows something in his heart. He knows this is God’s son and Jesus has the people around him bring Bartimaeus to him, and Jesus asks him the same question that moments ago he asked James and John, but this time there is a much different result…
51 “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him. The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.” 52 “Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road. NIV
All through Mark 10, Jesus is telling people who he is, twice Jesus explains that He is here to save the world, to die for our sins and no one seems to hear him. No one seems to get it, but here, Bartimaeus does…he knows this man is God’s son, and because of his faith Jesus says you are healed. What an incredible moment. We have 3 men come to Jesus who seem to be in pretty good spots in this world, one rich young successful, good man…and two disciples. None of these three seem to get what they want from Jesus, but this poor outcast in society does, and why? Because he believes in who Jesus really is. In so many ways we all have areas in our lives that need healing, for some it is physical, for some its emotional, for all of us it’s spiritual, and Jesus can take care of all of it, and it happens when we believe in who He is and what He can do. In faith we can have true healing. James 5 nails it…
James 5:15 And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. 16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. NIV
So we can see that in faith we can receive eternal life. That is huge! In faith we can be healed, just like the blind man we can receive sight! Which is amazing! Can you see why faith is such a big deal? Well, there is one more thing about faith that I think is a big deal that I wanted you to see today. Faith brings salvation. Faith brings healing. Faith also brings a level of peace that we can’t get any other way.
Through faith we find rest and peace for our souls. You know in my own life I have an amazing ability to work way too hard at things. I can run myself into the ground. I can just push too hard on things, and ironically the harder I try, it seems like the bigger the mess I can create for myself. Then I read things in scripture about what a good Christian should have and see in their life…you know things like this…
Galatians 5:22 …the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. NIV
I often read things like this and see that with God in my life there will be things love, joy, and peace and patience and I have to say that I don’t always see those things in my life and I am starting to understand why that is…it’s all about faith. It’s about whether I can let go of things and give them over to God or not. It’s about whether I’m allowing him to run the show or not. You see a person that lives in faith has these things in their lives because of their deep belief that God truly has their best interest in mind…let’s go back to Mark 10 for a minute. I find this interesting. The rich young ruler ran up to Jesus wanting something from Him. James and John came to Jesus wanting something from him…and neither one of them get it. Doesn’t it seem like they are trying a little too hard? Bartimaeus on the other hand is sitting along the road, outside of the own and Jesus comes by him. Isn’t there something different here…Jesus as he comes by, and when Jesus calls for him, that is when He makes his way to Jesus. There is a big difference there if you really think about it.
We live in a culture today where we running as fast as we can, to as much as we can as often as we can. We struggle to be at peace, we struggle to find rest. Frankly even if we did rest we wouldn’t want anyone to know it…what a social nightmare that would be if someone knew we weren’t as stressed and busy as everyone else! We have things to do, and frankly we don’t have a whole lot of time to do those things so we can often come to God with an agenda…with our list of things for him to do for us. We don’t rest. We aren’t content. We don’t stop and listen to God. We simply have too much going on, and I think in many ways this is another example of that. I find it frustrating that I struggle to slow down and allow God to move into ALL the areas and aspects of my life. Don’t get me wrong I will give him the big stuff, but I still all of 40 years into my life still find that I can run so hard that I don’t allow him into all the areas of my life as I should. I find it amazing how cluttered and busy we all stay and I’m starting to understand something in my own life, and I believe it is what Jesus was trying to point out here. That the reason it is so hard for us to stop and slowdown and to get in step with God is because we struggle to believe that God is in control. It is a faith thing. This is why the rich young ruler walks away sad. Running and pushing his way to God but not willing to give all of it to Jesus. This is why James and John seem so out of step with what Jesus was trying to tell them, they were pushing for status and success and eternal comfort rather than just depending on Jesus. And this is why Bartimaeus receives healing. He wasn’t running to Jesus, he was sitting outside of town where all good outcasts would be. It’s when he knows Jesus is there that he begins causing the stir…but he doesn’t go to Jesus until Jesus invites him to him. He is more instep with Jesus than the others, and his faith heals him. Let that rest on you for a moment.
So many of us are pushing, and working, and restless. We can’t find peace, we don’t find rest and we can’t seem to slow down enough to allow God into all aspects of our lives. The irony is that it takes faith to slow down and rest. It takes faith to put God first in your life, to literally allow him to guide your day, each day. It takes faith to give all your hurts and pain and desires over to him and it takes faith to be content in whatever the outcome may be. We live in a culture that keeps us busy, cluttered, and racing each other through life…and in that whirlwind of life…that in ability to stop and rest and quiet your soul to engage God in a real way will eventually crush you. You can be successful for a while in your own strength but you simply won’t engage into all that life could be if Jesus was in it…remember John 10:10? Jesus says, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” Running through life at a million miles an hour, stressed out every day, wondering how the bills will be paid and how to get the kids to all of their activities…just doesn’t sound like life to the full. Do you see it? We can hold on too tight. We struggle with our faith that God is actually in control of all things and miss all that life in Jesus can be!
You know Jesus asked a very important questions to the disciples, who he hoped would understand who he is and then he asked the same question to a blind, beggar in the streets outside of Jericho. That question is a question that I believe Jesus is asking each and every one of us. The question is so important, but if you can’t slow down, if you can’t find the quiet and peaceful moments long enough to hear from God, you may never even hear the question let alone be ready to answer it. Jesus question is this?
“What do you want me to do for you?”
I want you to think about this. How would you answer that question if Jesus was asking it to you? What would you want him to do for you? Save you? Heal you? Help you find rest? He can do all of that for you and so much more, but it really comes back to this…FAITH. It’s through faith that we are saved. It’s through faith that we are healed. It’s through faith that we can actually accomplish rest in a way that we never would have if we tried to stay in control.
So today I want you to think about this for yourself. I don’t know what got you here today, and it really doesn’t matter. The fact is you have faith, and you are putting it somewhere. So, whether you are here just for the Easter holiday service, because you just want to get your mom and dad off your back about this whole church thing, or because it’s the thing you do every Christmas and Easter…regardless of all of that I want to ask you to open your heart up to this, God loves you. He sent Jesus to die for all of our sins…and we have nothing to do to receive his help but believe in Him. It’s in faith in who Jesus is that we can have eternal life, healing, and rest…it just doesn’t come any other way.