Loving Jesus (More than the Benefits)

July 25, 2019

by Erin Bird

This week on the blog, I want to take you to the story found in Mark 1:21-28. (We will be studying the book of Mark in 2020 at Riverwood, so consider this a sneak peak.) If you would, please take a moment to read those 8 verses. (Go ahead, I'll wait.)

(No, really, go read it. It will take you like 37 seconds. If you are too lazy to open your Bible, just click this link. Even if you can recite this passage word-for-word from memory, go read it again.)

Ok, thanks for taking a moment to do that. Now that you know the gist of the story, let me ask you a question:

Why does Jesus tell the demon to be silent?

I mean, think about it. Jesus is teaching a gathered crowd of Jews on the Sabbath at the synagogue in Capernum, explaining the Hebrew Scriptures (the Old Testament) like they've never heard anyone else teach it. All of a sudden some guy possessed with a demon yells out, "I know who you are - the Holy One of God!"

And Jesus tells the demon to basically shut up, and kicks it out of the guy.

Why? I mean, the demon was telling the truth (which is amazing since Satan is known as the Father of Lies). Everyone else at that moment was in awe of His teaching, so they would have been very open to the idea that Jesus was the Messiah. What a prime opportunity to invite everyone to begin to follow Him. This moment could have kicked off Jesus' ministry in a big way!

So why silence the demon from exposing the truth?

Genuine Love & Devotion

Back in the 1980s, there was a popular Eddie Murphy film called Coming to America. In the movie, Murphy plays a pampered African prince who comes to the States in search of a wife. But he knows that if women find out he is a prince, they'll "love" him because of his status and wealth. So he sheds his title for a time so he can find an intelligent woman who will truly love him for him.

I think this is a part of what Jesus is doing when he exorcises the demon out of the man. He didn't want the people to follow Him just because they're wowed by His teaching. He didn't want them to follow Him simply because He could perform miracles. He didn't want them to follow Him because He could feed them. In other words, He didn't want them to believe in Him because of the benefits. He wanted them to want Him!

You and I really aren't that different than the Jews that were gathered that Sabbath day in the synagogue in Capernum. We, too, might be wowed by something about Jesus, but if we are honest with ourselves, we follow Him for what we get (or could potentially get) from Him. For instance, many of us, when faced with a difficult circumstance, will pray for money, or a job, or a spouse, or healing, and when we get it, we'll praise God. But what we really wanted was the money, the job, the spouse, or the health. We didn't really want Him.

"Seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you."

But as I said in my sermon two weeks ago, we should not simply chase the answer to our prayers, we should chase the One who can answer our prayers. That's why Jesus said in Matthew 6:33, "Seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you."

So let me ask you, do you want Jesus? Or just the benefits of following Jesus? Are your prayers all about what you are hoping to get from Him? Or are your prayers filled with adoration for Him?

Yes, Jesus can heal you. Yes, He can make you employed. Yes, He can repair your marriage. Yes, He can do all these things. But what you truly need isn't the job or the spouse or the newer car. What you need before everything else is Jesus.

So let us together treasure Jesus, the One who gave us everything when He gave His life on a cross for the forgiveness and remission of our sins.

Erin Bird Lead Pastor - Riverwood Church

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Riverwood Church, Waverly Iowa

We are on a mission to help people love like Jesus loved and live like Jesus lived.

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