Theme: You were made to be mighty!
Life Change Goal: As a result of this sermon I want my listeners to live mightily for Jesus.
Before coming to Connection Point, my family and I lived overseas for ten years. We spent a couple of years in Sudan and then returned to the U.S. for the birth of our daughter Haley. When we returned to the U.S., to be honest, I was lost. We had left for Africa, full of faith, zealous for God and what He wanted to do through our lives. We encountered 120 degree heat, frequent loss of electricity and water, bouts of diarrhea from drinking bad water… even the simplest tasks proved challenging. One morning, after it had rained for about a week, I tried driving to the school I was leading in my 4-wheel drive Toyota Hilux, only to get stuck in the mud, meaning I had to get out the winch from the front of the truck, wrap it around a cement telephone poll, turn it on, pull my truck 50-feet forward, trape through the mud with the winch hook in hand to the next cement telephone pole, to pull the truck another 50-feet forward, and so on, until I could get onto some pavement. My 15-minute drive to work, turned into an hour and half ﬁght with the mud in my neighborhood. After more than two years of living and working in this environment, I came back to the U.S. tired, troubled, I might even say in distress, discontent with life. I was no longer sure of what I wanted to do. I considered giving up on serving God by living and working overseas. I considered joining the FBI. Why? I have no idea. But that’s how it is when you are living in distress. You simply don’t think straight.
Have you ever gone through a time in your life when you were in distress? Maybe you’re living a life of discontent right now? Well the good news is, the Bible has a lot to say about the kind of life we are meant to live. The kind of men we are supposed to be. And that’s what I’d like to dive into this evening by looking at a passage in the New Testament book of Mark. If you have a bible along with you tonight, I’d like to invite you to turn with me to Mark chapter 2. We’ll be reading verses 23-26. I’m going to be reading out of the New Living Translation. Reading from Mark 2:23-26,
Mark 2:23-26 (NLT), “One Sabbath day as Jesus was walking through some grainﬁelds, his disciples began breaking off heads of grain to eat. But the Pharisees said to Jesus, ‘Look, why are they breaking the law by harvesting grain on the Sabbath?’ Jesus said to them, ‘Haven’t you ever read in the Scriptures what David did when he and his companions were hungry? He went into the house of God (during the days when Abiathar was high priest) and broke the law by eating the sacred loaves of bread that only the priests are allowed to eat. He also gave some to his companions.’”
You’ve got to love how Jesus responds to people sometimes. The Pharisees, the people who are supposed to know the Old Testament well, is asked by Jesus, “Haven’t you ever read the Bible? Haven’t you ever heard of David and his companions?” Basically, Jesus gives them a throat punch! Let’s look at who Jesus is talking about. Who are these companions of David? We’ll turn to 1 Chronicles 11 to ﬁnd out. His companions were called his mighty warriors, his mighty men.
Reading from verse 10, “These are the leaders of David’s mighty warriors. Together with all Israel, they decided to make David their king, just as the Lord had promised concerning Israel.” Here is the record of David’s mightiest warriors: The ﬁrst was Jashobeam the Hacmonite, who was leader of the Three—the mightiest warriors among David’s men. He once used his spear to kill 300 enemy warriors in a single battle. Next in rank among the Three was Eleazar son of Dodai, a descendant of Ahoah. He was with David when the Philistines gathered for battle at Pas-dammim and attacked the Israelites in a ﬁeld full of barley. The Israelite army ﬂed, but Eleazar and David held their ground in the middle of the ﬁeld and beat back the Philistines. So the Lord saved them by giving them a great victory” (1 Chronicles 11:10-14, NLT). Notice how the writer, the chronicler, is writing here. He wants the reader to recognize that these guys are epic, they’re mythic.
Move ahead to verse 20, “Abishai, the brother of Joab, was the leader of the Thirty. He once used his spear to kill 300 enemy warriors in a single battle. It was by such feats that he became as famous as the Three. Abishai was the most famous of the Thirty and was their commander, though he was not one of the Three. There was also Benaiah son of Jehoiada, a valiant warrior from Kabzeel. He did many heroic deeds, which included killing two champions of Moab. Another time, on a snowy day, he chased a lion down into a pit and killed it. Once, armed only with a club, he killed an Egyptian warrior who was 7½ feet tall and who was armed with a spear as thick as a weaver’s beam. Benaiah wrenched the spear from the Egyptian’s hand and killed him with it. Deeds like these made Benaiah as famous as the three mightiest warriors. He was more honored than the other members of the Thirty, though he was not one of the Three. And David made him captain of his bodyguard” (1 Chronicles 11:20-25, NLT).
So when it says David and his companions, to a good Jewish disciple, like Jesus’ disciples, it begins to recall in their minds these mighty stories, like going into a pit on a snowy day. I love that detail, on a snowy day, because when I kill lions when it is snowy, much harder. This is what Jesus is reminding the Pharisees of, these are the companions.
I. Jesus’ mighty men.
A. So we ﬁnd in our passage from Mark, Jesus and His disciples are walking through the grain ﬁelds and are plucking off the heads of grain.
1. The disciples know it is the Sabbath and that they are breaking the strict law of the Pharisees, but they ﬁgure they are with Jesus, and basically they’re hungry.
2. The Pharisees decide to call them on it and the disciples realize they are busted.
B. But then Jesus responds, have you never read what David and his companions did?
1. He basically justiﬁed the action, by saying, “are you still sticking to your old, narrow interpretations of the Law?”
C. So David and his companions (the mighty men) and Jesus talking about himself and His disciples.
1. Now, Jesus is related to who from the earlier story? (David)
2. Which means He is likening His disciples to who? (the mighty men)
3. So if you are one of these disciples, these young men, I would imagine you would … “I could take a lion down if I had to.”
D. Jesus is likening, David and his companions to Jesus and His disciples.
1. If you’re one of Jesus’ disciples you’ve got to be thinking, “Wow, I can be like that?”
2. How empowering would this be – Jesus is without directly saying it, “my friends that are with me here, they’re kind of like the mighty men.”
II. We are the mighty men.
A. Turn with me to John 14. Be careful if you follow Jesus, He has a terribly high view of humanity.
1. Jesus believes that people are capable of greatness.
2. John 14:12, “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father” (NLT).
B. Jesus is saying that, “you may be impressed with what I am doing, but I tell you that my followers will do even greater things than what you have witnessed from me”
1. God has tremendous faith in people.
Transition: Jesus believes that His disciples are capable of greatness.
III. We stay at a distance.
A. Now turn with me to Exodus 19.
1. There is a very interesting thing that happens at the giving of the Ten Commandments.
2. The giving of the Ten Commandments is about the saving of the whole world.
3. God’s intentions have always been global – to the ends of the earth.
B. In Exodus 19, the Ten Commandments are essentially a relationship agreement, “this is how we are going to live in harmony with each other.”
1. God is looking for a group of people who will represent Him, be the presence of God, the hands and feet, the incarnation of the divine to the world, to bring about the healing and repair of humanity.
2. In verse 5 and 6, “Now if you will obey me and keep my covenant, you will be my own special treasure from among all the peoples on earth; for all the earth belongs to me. And you will be my kingdom of priests, my holy nation” (Exodus 19:5-6, NLT).
3. Their task was to show the world God.
4. God says, “I have chosen you to show the world who I am.”
5. Now this is how we are going to do this, ﬁrst of all you can’t believe in other gods.
a) You have to actually believe and trust in me alone.
b) And then God runs through nine other commandments.
C. Now let’s look at chapter 20 verse 18, “When the people heard the thunder and the loud blast of the ram’s horn, and when they saw the ﬂashes of lightning and the smoke billowing from the mountain, they stood at a distance, trembling with fear. (Next slide) And they said to Moses, ‘You speak to us, and we will listen. But don’t let God speak directly to us, or we will die!’ ‘Don’t be afraid,’ Moses answered them, ‘for God has come in this way to test you, and so that your fear of him will keep you from sinning!’ As the people stood in the distance, Moses approached the dark cloud where God was” (Exodus 20:18-21).
1. The people remained at a distance…
D. This is the calling of God upon His people – to show the world God. And when God calls them to this task, obviously believing they are up to it, the text says that they stayed at a distance.
1. Now they obviously stayed at a physical distance but I would argue that it could represent a metaphor as well.
2. That we have been called to a divine task and there is something within us that says, “I am going to stand at a distance.”
3. “You don’t know God what I have done, I don’t have the skills that person has, I didn’t grow up in church.”
E. We stand at a distance instead of stepping into our sacred calling, to be priests and a people set apart to save the world because that is God’s plan.
IV. Men in distress.
A. This pattern can be seen in many passages of the bible.
1. Even David’s mighty men had their time of being far from God.
2. Turn with me to 1 Samuel 22:1-2, “So David left Gath and escaped to the cave of Adullam. Soon his brothers and all his other relatives joined him there. Then others began coming—men who were in trouble (in distress) or in debt or who were just discontented—until David was the captain of about 400 men.” (NLT)
B. The men who became legends and served as mighty men for the kingdom of Israel, had their beginnings as men in distress, in debt, and in discontent.
C. But God had a plan for these companions of David just as God has a plan for followers of Jesus, just as He has a plan for every man sitting in this room.
God does not intend for us to live as people far from Him, as people living in distress and discontent. His desire is for us to live a rich and satisfying life, to represent Him to the world around us. To be people of His presence. We have a choice this evening to embrace this God-given opportunity, to move close to Him, and become mighty men for the kingdom of God. Some here tonight are living that life and are serving as mighty warriors. However, there may be some here tonight living in distress, in debt, or in discontentment. If you are here, living in distress, living in debt, or living in discontentment, what could your life look like if you were living mighty instead of distress or in discontent? How could your marriage improve? How could your relationship with your kids be better?
I encourage you, embrace your identity as a mighty man of God and live for Him from this day forward. I invite you to stand as we close in song this evening. As you are standing, I’d like to ask:
1. Are you living in distress, in debt, or in discontentment?
2. But are you ready to live as a mighty man of God tonight?
3. If that’s you, the ﬁrst step is to decide you no longer care to live in distress, in debt or in discontentment.
4. With every head bowed and every eye closed, if that’s you tonight, I’d like to invite you to simply raise your hand, acknowledging, this is where I’m at, but I want to live mightily.
5. Then I’m simply going to take a moment to pray and ask that God give you the strength to live mightily in His Name.