But Their Heart is Far From Me

People are great at appearances.  We do everything we can to make a good first impression.  No matter how many times you were told growing up, “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” the reality is that people do all the time.  We live in a world where appearance can be everything.  Society tells us that the outward and external is so very important.  And yet, even society can tell a fake.  You’ve probably met someone before who had the outward appearance of being rich, famous, and smart, the appearance of being a “somebody”, but really wasn’t.  Once you got to know them, you realized that they were a fraud. 

This is the issue that Jesus is dealing with from a religious perspective in our passage.  Jesus is confronted with the Pharisees and scribes who in the name of religion outwardly adorn their every action, but their hearts were hard and defiled.  We’ll look at how Jesus calls us to be concerned first and foremost about the condition of our hearts.

Passage: Mark 7:1-23
Author: Rev. W. Reid Hankins, M.Div.
Sermon originally preached during the Morning Service at Trinity Presbyterian Church (OPC) on 06/29/2008 in Novato, CA.

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They Supposed It Was a Ghost

If you go to an optometrist, it’s to help you see better.  The disciples in our passage, had trouble seeing.  They had trouble recognizing Jesus.  When they saw him in the waters, they thought he was a ghost.  Did they need to see an optometrist?  Well, no.  That wasn’t their problem.  It wasn’t their physical sight at the end of the day that kept them from recognizing Jesus.  Because at the end of the passage, they will physically see that it is Jesus.  He will call out to them, and then even get into the boat with them.  But even when that happens, and they see with their eyes that it is indeed Jesus, they seem to still have trouble truly recognizing him.  They saw him with their eyes, but they didn’t understand him with their hearts.  That’s what verse 52 tells us.  Their hearts were hardened.  So if they didn’t need an optometrist, does this mean that they needed a cardiologist?  No, their problem with recognizing Jesus was not something that any earthly doctor could solve.  They did need their hearts to be worked on, but that was something only Jesus, the Great Physician could do.  Not with craft of human hands, of course, but by the working of his spirit inside them.  And this is the same sort of heart surgery that each of us needs.

Passage: Mark 6:45-56
Author: Rev. W. Reid Hankins, M.Div.
Sermon originally preached during the Morning Service at Trinity Presbyterian Church (OPC) on 06/22/2008 in Novato, CA.

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You Give Them Something to Eat

This is a popular story.  It’s one of the few miracles that are recorded in all four gospel accounts, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.  And as we look at Mark’s unique account of this miracle, we find that he has an emphasis on the twelve disciples.  Mark is bringing us into the spiritual journey of the twelve, helping us to see how they are, and are not, figuring out who Jesus is.  We’ll see that Jesus is also teaching them some important ministry lessons as well.  And so as we look at this miracle from the perspective of the disciples today, I’d like us to consider our own role in ministry.  How is God shaping us and our ministry through this passage?  And more importantly, how is he shaping our perspecitve of who Jesus is through this passage?

Passage: Mark 6:30-44
Author: Rev. W. Reid Hankins, M.Div.
Sermon originally preached during the Morning Service at Trinity Presbyterian Church (OPC) on 06/15/2008 in Novato, CA.

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Like One of the Prophets

Who is Jesus?  As we’ve looked at Mark, we’ve already said that this is one of the central questions that’s being asked.  We find in this passage, that people at that time were asking that question and coming up with various answers, all associated with the prophetic history of Israel.  As we look at their answers, especially in the context of Christ’s message of repentance, we’ll find that Christ came as the ultimate, final, prophet.

Passage: Mark 6:14-29
Author: Rev. W. Reid Hankins, M.Div.
Sermon originally preached during the Morning Service at Trinity Presbyterian Church (OPC) on 06/08/2008 in Novato, CA.

Click here for the manuscript.

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