Blog / Book of the Month / “Expectations” Mount Olive Lutheran Church Season Of Pentecost Sunday Sermon June 9, 2024 – Mark 3:20-35

“Expectations” Mount Olive Lutheran Church Season Of Pentecost Sunday Sermon June 9, 2024 – Mark 3:20-35

“Expectations” Mount Olive Lutheran Church Season Of Pentecost Sunday Sermon June 9, 2024 – Mark 3:20-35

Mount Olive Lutheran Church / Rev. Ted A. Giese / Sunday June 9th 2024: Season of Pentecost / Mark 3:20-35 “Expectations”

Then [Jesus] went home, and the crowd gathered again, so that they could not even eat. And when His family heard it, they went out to seize Him, for they were saying, “He is out of his mind.”

And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem were saying, “He is possessed by Beelzebul,” and “by the prince of demons he casts out the demons.” And He called them to Him and said to them in parables, “How can Satan cast out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but is coming to an end. But no one can enter a strong man's house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man. Then indeed he may plunder his house.

“Truly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the children of man, and whatever blasphemies they utter, but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”—for they were saying, “He has an unclean spirit.”

And His mother and His brothers came, and standing outside they sent to Him and called Him. And a crowd was sitting around Him, and they said to Him, “Your mother and your brothers are outside, seeking you.” And He answered them, “Who are My mother and My brothers?” And looking about at those who sat around Him, He said, “Here are My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of God, he is My brother and sister and mother.”

Let us pray: May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight O Lord. Amen.

Grace peace and mercy to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Good Christian Friends. When we get on an airplane we expect it to fly and when the flight is over we expect that airplane to land. If you brought someone to an airplane parked on the tarmac that knew nothing about airplanes, who had never witnessed an airplane take off into the sky they would not have the same expectations, in fact seeing how large and heavy it is and that it’s made of metal they may not expect it to fly at all. Why would they? And yet some expectations will never be met, no one expects to throw a paper airplane and have it land on the moon.

You deal with expectations every day, they may be as small as a paper airplane folded out of lined foolscap or as big as a Boeing 777 airplane; expectations can be a good thing when they are met and they can be a bad thing when they are unreasonable or beyond what is truly expected of us. Jesus likewise had to face expectations in the days of His public ministry; you can see this in our Gospel reading from Saint Mark’s Gospel today. One of the things Jesus did a lot of was casting out demons from people. In fact the Gospel of Saint Mark talks about this quite a bit. The strange thing about this however is that not everyone liked this, many didn’t expect Jesus to be able to do it. Some thought it was work that He, Jesus, shouldn’t have been doing. They made up all sorts of reasons why Jesus shouldn’t be expected to do this work ... saying that Jesus was mad, crazy, or insane, the He was in fact Himself demon possessed and that He did this work by the command of Satan and not by the command of God the Father. Jesus was like a giant hunk of metal flying in the sky safely carrying passengers to their destination landing perfectly without a scratch; Jesus, for them, was doing the unexpected.

As Christians we are to look at Jesus’ life, even the unexpected parts, and seek after Him as our example, as our salvation. Does this mean that we should all — every one of us — go to work casting out demons? No, in our vocations in life we have our God pleasing tasks to do: Bakers bake, Purchasing Officers purchase, Managers manage, Welders weld, and Mother and Fathers parent; we each have our work to do just as pastors have the work of pastor-ing, that is shepherding. The welder isn’t expected to bake whole wheat or rye bread and the baker isn’t expected to weld sheets of steel or copper pipes. All of this work, including the work of being a pastor, comes with expectations. This is why it should be no surprise that expectations are put on the office of the Holy Ministry, just as expectations are put on other vocations, and that not all these expectations are placed on it by God. There are people, for instance, who think being a pastor requires a mental illness and a weak mind. Atheists, in particular, believe pastors to be generally dim witted and dull proponents of a hokey religion even if they have achieved multiple university degrees. There are some who will look at members of the clergy as being the source of evil in the World, they say that God isn’t good and that anyone who does God’s work only contribute to war and bloodshed and to repression and hate. Even if you personally have a high regard for pastors does this train of thought sound familiar; again in our text today Jesus was accused of being at best a man of unsound mind and at worst an agent of Satan, why should pastors suffer less. Set aside the vocation of pastor for a moment and this raises a question for each of us, should we as Christians expect to be treated differently than Jesus was treated? Should a pastor expect to be treated differently than Jesus was treated? Also what is our relationship to the World and what expectations must we face in our daily lives? What does the World expect of you? These are all questions worth thinking about.

There are ideological corners of the Western World that expect you to celebrate independent individualism above all things. And you will met the World’s expectations of you so long as you keep your head down and march along with what they value most; so long as your personal brand of “independent individualism” marches in lockstep with the independent individualism most valued by the World.  Dear ones, no one marches without a destination; be careful who you follow, consider the expectations of the ones setting your feet to march.

In the Gospel of Saint Luke when Jesus handpicked and sent out two by two, Seventy-two of the men who followed Him as messengers to do things like heal the sick and cast out demons in His name, Jesus tells these servants of His that, “The one who hears you hears Me, and the one who rejects you rejects Me, and the one who rejects Me rejects Him who sent Me.”[1] And in Saint Matthew’s Gospel Jesus also said to His followers, “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on My account.”[2] In Saint John’s Gospel Jesus tells the disciples these words: “If the World hates you, know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the World, the World would love you as its own; but because you are not of the World, but I chose you out of the World, therefore the World hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will also keep yours. But all these things they will do to you on account of My name, because they do not know Him who sent Me.”[3] Here Jesus is explaining what to expect when you follow where He leads you, when you march behind Him.

This honest look at what it means to embrace Christ and those servants He sends to you as messengers is as important now as it was when Jesus first taught these things. What Jesus speaks to the Twelve Disciples, to the Seventy-two, to His original followers about what to expect as they went about Jesus’ work, in a general sense, applies to you as a Christian, for the World makes little distinction when it comes to pastoral calls or church membership. We are all treated the same when it pleases the World to ignore us or dismiss us or to persecute us. Remember when they come against you as a Christian they come against Jesus as the Christ, when they come against Christ they come against you as a Christian. On the one hand this sounds terrible however on the other hand this is very comforting because this is part of what it means to be the Body of Christ.

In our baptism we are joined together for all time as Christians, bound together with Jesus’ death and resurrection. When we’re baptized we’re blessed to receive the gift of forgiveness, salvation, and new birth into the Body of Christ and this is a blessed gift from God to us. But when it comes to the expectations of the World, ‘is your baptism a guarantee that your life will be easier?’ No! ‘Does baptism make it easier for a baker or a purchasing officer or manager or welder or a parent or a son or a daughter to meet the expectations of the World?’ No! ‘Does the Pastor’s ordination act as a guarantee that his life will be easier?’ No. What it does mean is that you and I are not alone in whatever comes our way. It means that in Christ we need first to meet His expectations of us and to put the expectations of the World second. When we remember this then our baptism does make facing the expectations of the World easier because we are not deceived regarding our priorities in life.

The World wants you to hold its priorities and expectations above the priorities and expectations of Jesus. And the World promises to make you its favourite if you march to the beat of its drum. Dear ones, Jesus makes a promise to us that in the Body of Christ He will not play favourites.[4] As proof of this our Gospel ends with this exchange, “a crowd was sitting around [Jesus], and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers are outside, seeking you.” And [Jesus] answered them, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” And looking about at those who sat around Him, [Jesus] said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother.”

This then is our family! In Christ Jesus we share a family together, Jesus is our Brother, in Him we share a heavenly Father – and Jesus doesn’t pick favourites amongst us and we are not to pick favourites amongst each other. As Christians we are to love each other and be patient and kind and gentle toward each other[5] looking out for the needs of the weak and troubled and not just those in our midst but all people in trouble and hardship. As a baptised Christian Jesus expects you to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength’ [and to likewise] ‘... love your neighbour as yourself.’”[6] In all of this Jesus expects unity of purpose and action, in today’s reading He paint a picture with a parable saying, “If a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand.” This is echoed when Saint Paul writes, “God has so composed the body, giving greater honour to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honoured, all rejoice together. Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.”[7] This is what is expected of us and yet this is also a challenge.

Put aside what the World expects of us as Christians, put aside what the World expects of Jesus, and consider if you as a Christian always rejoice when one of the members of the Body of Christ is honoured; think to see if you suffer when one of your fellow members suffers? Do you become fed up with the suffering of others? Do you become uncomfortable with the pain your brothers and sisters in Christ endure? If they are not your direct family members by blood does it become boring to pray for the needs of others week after week, month after month, year after year? Is it hard to have joy for the successes of others? Has it become difficult to share in the happiness of your fellow Christians?

Take comfort in knowing that where you stumble in this Jesus was, and is, sure footed; He was not cold to the sufferings of others, He embraced their sufferings even to the point of death upon the cross; He took the physical pain and the mental anguish upon Himself with every step toward the cross and with every stroke of the hammer that nailed Him there, with each thorn on the crown, with the last sigh of death Jesus perfectly shared in the suffering of His brothers and sisters. Jesus likewise joyfully celebrates with Christians in the Supper we share as one Body, Holy Communion! It is the feast of victory and in it each member receives the gifts of God for themselves! As much as Jesus shares in our sufferings He likewise takes delight in the well being of His own![8] He does all of this in perfection and as such we can daily return to Him when we falter knowing that because He both defied the unreasonable and sinful expectations of the World and meet all the virtuous and righteous expectations of God the Father we can find our forgiveness in Him. Remember Christ Jesus when you are disappointed with your fellow Christian or when the World is disappointed in you, or when the World places false expectations upon you, even tempting you into sin. Remember that Jesus is you Brother and that He loves you. In Him you have forgiveness and Life, He has met every Godly expectation with flying colours and while He lived a life, and died a death, unexpected by the World, He likewise broke every mould of expectation pressed upon Him by the World the day when He rose from the dead! This life death and resurrection is now yours, a gift given to your in your baptism, cherish it and each other and you will not be disappointed. And lastly remember what Jesus teaches in the Gospel of Saint John when He says, “In the World you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the World.”[9] Amen.

Let us pray: Lord, have mercy on us, Christ have mercy on us, Lord have mercy on us, “take our minds and think through them, take our lips and speak through them, take our hearts and set them on fire; for the sake of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Amen.

[1] Luke 10:16
[2] Matthew 5:11
[3] John 15:18-21
[4] Proverbs 28:21; Acts 10:34; Romans 2:11
[5] 1 Corinthians 13:4-5
[6] Mark 12:30-31
[7] 1 Corinthians 12:24-27
[8] Psalm 35:27
[9] John 16:33

Photo Credit: Main Photo of silhouette of man throwing paper airplain at the moon from pexels