Notes on Mark’s Gospel (1)

The way, the truth and the life!

“On Your Mark”

On Being an Over-Comer

How do you reach the mark, the goal set for you by Jesus Christ (Philippians 3.14)? How do I not only end the race but win it? How do I not join the failures, the defeated millions who never come to realize the potential that could theirs in Christ? How do I capitalise on the grace God has invested in me (Matthew 25:14- 30)? I want to be a winner! I don’t want to simply crawl unnoticed through the gates of heaven, I don’t want to just make it. I want a great, an abundant entrance! I want God to throw open wide the gates of his kingdom (2Peter 1:11), and welcome me, with well done! Imagine a scene at Westminster Abbey, the Monarch is about to arrive, there’s the hub-bub of noise, people chatting, moving, the folk of no great importance coming and going. But then the royal car arrives, the doors are thrown wide open, and one by one people stop talking, a great hush falls upon the place, and then just as the royal figure steps up to the entrance, as one all rise and a mighty crescendo, a fanfare of trumpets fills the whole abbey. A great, a super, abundant entrance!

Overcoming the Obstacles

We want to enter heaven that way. But how? Paul, the Apostle speaks of straining towards the mark, to the end of the race that is (Philippians 3.14), it’s his goal, his mission statement. He wants to achieve the prize that is his from the God who is calling him up to heaven. But between us and that same goal lies so much, there are the accusations, other people, Christians included. There’s the condemnation of Satan, there’s trouble, calamity, so much disappointment, fears about today and worries about tomorrow. And then, after overcoming all these, there is death, ugh! Well God promises in his word, none of these things can ever separate us from his love in Jesus Christ (Romans 8.35-39). He has promised overwhelming victory. It is there for the taking. But taken it must be, by faith. Not a passive faith, but a working, doing faith. When Paul says he strains, that means he works at it. He says elsewhere “I labour, striving according to His working, which worketh in me mightily” (Colossians 1.29), I work very hard at this, as I depend on Christ’s mighty power. Of course, Paul speaks there of his ministry, but the principle applies to every area of Christian living. As we work, strain toward the mark, depending on the power of Jesus, we get the grace, the power to overcome, to win, to reach the mark.

Secret Strength in the Seed

What were we given the Bible for? For some, it is no more than a textbook to be studied. For some, it is the gathering of, a quest for knowledge. For others, it is to pass exams. No, listen up! God gave us his word to teach us how to be reconciled to Him and to live unto Him. This is how you do it, become like Christ Jesus, God says. But that mark will never be reached without the word of God, the Bible. And that is why these notes on Mark’s copy of the good news are so important. Not that you become more clever, or are able to teach and correct others, or can pass anyone’s test of knowledge. But that you may become a winner, know that you have the assurance of God’s overwhelming victory of love. As we put the effort into it, day by day, no matter how hard we find it, as we strain toward the mark, God’s grace flows toward us, encouraging, strengthening, giving us victory in the midst of our failures, disappointments, all the calamities that life can throw at us. So get ready, on your mark, get set. For the next one hundred and forty-eight days we are going to have a life-changing encounter with God, he is going to speak to us, tell us things we never knew, experience things we never dreamed possible, at times it will be a strain, but at the end of those days we will not be the same people as before. That is guaranteed! Are you ready? On your mark!

(© James R Hamilton, written September 1996)

Sermon Audio

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