With that, go ahead and turn to Mark chapter 10. I want to preach this for a few moments. I believe a timely message that we've been in over the last couple of weeks. We've been talking about the chains that hold us back.
We started with week one. We started talking about the chain of condemnation. How we at times will allow shame and guilt to set in and really hold us from being all that God really has us to be. And we get chained to those things. We get chained to comparison, which we talked about last week.
How often times comparison is a very slippery slope when it comes to compromising. And so we compare our life and it creates coveting what the neighbors have. It creates conforming to the ways in this world.
It creates confusion about our role and God's role. And this morning, the title, and I want you to take some notes with me today, the title is Breaking the Chain of the Crowd. And again, I think that this is a very timely message because this is probably one of the ones that affect all of us on a very regular basis as we look out upon social media, we look out upon our culture, we look upon the news outlets, we look at our neighbors and our schools, co-workers, and there's always a crowd somewhere. Whether that's just one or two people around us, whether it's an entire organization or the entire social media network, there's a crowd. And I'm just going to tell you that often times the crowd is polar opposite of the cross.
That's just true, we see that. The crowd often times is a direct opposition to the cross of Christ. And so how then do we, as Christ's followers, not allow the crowd to truly chain us in all different directions, but instead how do we push forward in Christ?
This morning I'm going to give us two things that the chains do in our life and then two responses to it as we close out this morning. But first I want to read Mark chapter 10, starting in verse 46 to 52. And this is a great passage of scripture that shows a great picture of the crowd versus the one calling out in the middle of the crowd and how directly it impacts where we are today, very similar to where the crowd is constantly trying to dictate our response to the cross and to Jesus.
In Mark chapter 10, verse 46 to 52, it says, All the more, Son of David, have mercy on me. And Jesus stopped and he said, call him. And they called the blind man, saying to him, take heart, get up, he is calling you.
Throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. And Jesus said to him, a very interesting question, what do you want me to do for you? As if Jesus didn't know that he was blind and his answer wouldn't be, I'd like to see. But Jesus asked him the question. I find often that Jesus asks us questions, by the way, almost rhetorical, wanting us to answer.
What do you want me to do for you? And the blind man said to him, he says an interesting thing, he calls him rabbi, which indicates somewhat of a faith in Jesus. Rabbi, let me recover my sight. Jesus said to him, go your way, your faith has made you well. And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him on the way.
Before I go into the points and some context, because I won't have time for this later, I want you to notice something. Jesus says, go your way, your faith has made you well. Did you notice that Bartimaeus' way was Jesus' way? Jesus said, get up, your faith healed you, go ahead and go your way. Bartimaeus says, well, my way is your way, I'm going to follow you now. And he does, he gets up and he actually follows Jesus. Bartimaeus doesn't get up and just go a different direction, he actually gets up and says, I'm following you.
I'm following you. Let's put some context around this passage. First of all, Jesus and his disciples, why were they heading to Jerusalem? Well, they were heading there for the Passover. This is towards the end of Jesus' ministry. This is the last miracle that the book of Mark records before he is captured and crucified. Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem knowing, by the way, that he is going there to be crucified.
And so he's heading there. Jericho, this is the Jericho, the one where the walls came down and they built a new Jericho in front of the old Jericho, which is why one text in the Gospel says that they were leaving Jericho, the other one says they were entering Jericho. It's not a discrepancy in Scripture, they're both true. There's the old Jericho, a new Jericho, and Jericho of this time was beautiful. It was the second major city in the region and in the area. Jericho is only about 17 or 18 miles east-northeast of Jerusalem, so they're on their way to it. It's about six miles to the River Jordan where it bends in, and so just to kind of get a regional context here.
Spence Jones said it this way. They said that this is Jericho to Jerusalem as a very hilly region, and it's supposed that it was upon the rocky heights overhanging the city where the Lord's temptation took place. And so to kind of get a regional geographic, the Lord's temptation, he fasted 40 days into the wilderness, and at one point Satan brings him to a high place and he overlooks the entire region and city. Supposedly this is where this happens, in this area, in this region. Jericho at this time is known for its palm trees, it's known for its good scent, it's a beautiful city.
Unfortunately now it's an almost deserted area now. Bartimaeus says something interesting that also deserves context, not just regionally where they are and why it's going. Bartimaeus, for the first time in the Gospel of Mark, is noted as the first one to call Jesus the Son of David.
There's great significance in that. The Son of David is a title that the Old Testament prophets noted that the Messiah would come from the lineage of David, the Son of David would come, but it also represents somewhat of a political statement at the same time. And what's interesting is that this is the first time that Mark records somebody saying this, and yet Jesus doesn't correct him. He allows it to go as Jesus is knowing what is nearing and is knowing that his name and his purpose is now infiltrated into not only the disciples but beyond the disciples. Bartimaeus calls him rabbi which indicates some knowledge that Jesus is the Messiah and some faith that he is who he says he is. So to put this in context, it's not uncommon for a rabbi to travel not only with his disciples, but as they would travel they would gather a large crowd. You saw this happen throughout the Gospels. Jesus would start walking, talking with his disciples, and all these people would come.
Well, why is that? Well, because people recognize, whether they believed he was the Messiah or not, people recognize that Jesus was indeed a rabbi. And so wherever he went he would draw a crowd of disciples, his own, but also other people that would just want to hear his teaching.
And so this is what's happening. He's traveling, he's teaching, he's talking, the crowds are forming, the crowds are following him, they're about 18 miles away from Jerusalem. He knows that in just a short time he's going to celebrate Passover, that one of them is going to betray him, he's going to go to the cross.
All of this is in the very near future. And then out of the crowd is a blind beggar on the side of the road. A blind beggar who can only hear the commotion, finds out somehow that it's Jesus that is coming, and thinks to himself, this is the shot I have, this is it.
I have an opportunity right now. And he begins to shout out, Son of David, have mercy on me. What's interesting, I just described the crowd to you, and the crowd is made up of disciples. The crowd is made up of people who are following Jesus, they hear the teachings of God, mainly of the Old Testament at this point, and that very crowd turns to the blind beggar and tells him to be quiet. As if to tell the blind beggar that Jesus' rabbi we're following doesn't have time for somebody like you.
Isn't it amazing how the crowd likes to say those things? Maybe even to people like you. Why would Jesus have time for somebody like you? Isn't God busy enough as it is? He's balancing the entire world. There are more issues at hand.
Why do you think Jesus would stop for you? This is what the crowd is saying. They're telling this guy to be quiet. Let me give you two quick things about what the chains do when we're chained to the crowd.
The first one is this, write this down. Being chained to the crowd causes the temptation to please the crowd. An indication that you and I are chained to the crowd at large is that you and I now have a temptation to please the crowd.
Bartimaeus is a great example. If Bartimaeus wanted to please the crowd, then he would never have shouted out a second time. How often does the crowd dictate our response to the cross and to Jesus? Galatians chapter 1 verse 10, it says, And I would say that that's a fair question for all of us to wrestle with this morning.
I'd love for you to wrestle with that question. Is your life about seeking the approval of humanity? Or is it about seeking the approval of God? Does the crowd matter more than the cross?
Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. In other words, if you and I spend all our time trying to please the crowd, we will not be able to be a servant of God. So at the very time that our community needs us and our schools need us and your neighbors and your family need you and the Christ that you have, if we spend our time trying to please and fit in with the crowd, then we're not going to serve them. We're not going to serve God in a very good way. In Acts chapter 5 verse 29, Peter and the apostles answered the crowd who were telling them to leave and to remain silent and to stop sharing about Jesus.
Their response was we must obey God rather than men. And I would ask the same question, is our response to the crowd, I'm sorry that you feel this way, I'm sorry that you believe this way, but I have to believe God and I have to obey God rather than the crowd. Here's a few things that the crowd does. I encourage you to jot these down under temptation to please others. The crowd has different convictions than you have.
The convictions of the crowd are not the convictions of his cross. I love this time of year. The time of year when seasons change, the weather's changing. The time of year when Alabama loses on Saturday making way for the Ohio State to be the number one football team in the entire nation. It's a great time of year. I love so much of the fall. But I also hate it. Because at the same time that all the things I love, football, hockey, baseball playoffs, I don't know about spike balls, is that still happening? I'm assuming it is.
ESPN 8 probably channel, whatever. But at the same time, guess what else starts to happen? Oh, all the political commercials start to happen. After the first one, I was done. I saw the first one pop up and I'm like, oh, here we go.
Here we go. But it's an indication of the convictions of the crowd. Let me give you an example just because it's so very in our face all the time and this is the one that seems to be leading the charge at the moment. Most of the commercials I've been seeing right now have been, don't vote for this candidate because they want to ban abortion. Don't vote for this candidate because they are pro-choice and want abortions to be legal. It's like everyone I see, it's like those two things happening.
And I watch that unfold. And I have no problem being in front of a church and being part of a church that says, no, no, no, we are pro-life. We are not pro-abortion and we will never move that direction and that's who we are.
So I'm not here to tell you which way to vote or what to do. I'm just painting the picture of the convictions of the world versus the convictions of the cross. And you can take that same scenario and you can run it down the list of things that you constantly are seeing the culture say, no, no, no, this is our conviction. This is what we believe. And how often is what the culture and the world believes. I'm just telling you it's opposite of what scripture says and believes.
And now you and I are in this position where you got to make a choice. Am I going to worry about what the crowd thinks of me or am I going to worry more about what God thinks of me? And I've said this before and I know you believe this too. It doesn't matter to me whether you think that's true or not. I worry more about whether God thinks that's true or not. Because I have to stand before God, not before you one day. And I've got to stand before God on how I live my life, how I led my family, how I led this church. So you better believe I'm not going to let any one of you pull me away from that conviction because you are louder and use social media more than I do.
I could care less. You say whatever you want to say, you're not God and you're not the scripture. So it doesn't offend me at all because my convictions are not rooted in what you think of me. See also what the crowd does, the crowd has their own truth.
We see that play out all the time as well. Not just convictions but also truth. This is your truth, this is my truth. The crowd would say that truth is relevant. The crowd would say that truth is based on your own experience. And we would say no, truth is a person and his name is Jesus.
It's a big difference. But you can see what the world is saying. It's okay if you believe in God, I don't believe in him and that's my truth. Okay well your truth is going to send you to hell. Not to be sarcastic or funny but that's where your truth is heading. So do I just stand aside and let you go to hell? No.
There's no way I'm going to do that. So we keep speaking truth but if the crowd starts to influence us then what happens? Well we just stop speaking.
We shut down. The crowd has their own agenda. And I would say that all crowds have their own agenda. Whatever side you're on there's their own agenda. Whatever news outlet you like to watch, guess what, it has its own agenda. Whatever social media thing you want to look at, guess what, it has its own agenda. And we have an agenda. My agenda is to be salt and light in this world, that's my agenda. My agenda is to make Jesus known on the face of this planet, that's my agenda. That's what we're called to do.
The crowd may also come from within by the way. Ecclesiastes speaks about it, about being overly righteous, not to be overly righteous. Did you notice the very crowds that were following Jesus were the very crowd to tell the beggar to be quiet.
How ironic is that? We're following Jesus, we believe in his teachings, we've seen him do miracles. He's amazing, yay Jesus, he can do anything, you be quiet. No, he's going to be great.
No, stop talking. Don't bother Jesus with your blindness, he's got more important things to do. If we're not careful, we kind of act that way to the world. We're not meant to think that we're better than the world. We're meant to serve the world. We're not meant to be overly righteous where we think that we have all the answers figured out.
We're meant to serve the world. And finally the crowd says, come follow us. Jesus says, come follow me.
It's a very big difference, isn't it? The crowd's like, hey come follow us, we're all going this way. And then there's the challenge, well then do I please the crowd and just go along with the current?
Or do I go against it? Do I actually go the way of Jesus? You know there was one time early in the Gospels where great crowds were following Jesus, including his disciples. It says great crowds, so I'm talking tons of people are following Jesus. He turns around as they're walking and he gives them a very blunt, short message about the reality of what it means to follow him. Foxes have dens, birds have nests, but if you follow me you've got nowhere to lay your head.
Guess what happened? It says the entire crowd left him except for the disciples. The crowd loves to follow what's easy and loves to follow the current. But the moment that Jesus says, if you're going to follow me, this is what it means.
This is counter-cultural, this is against the world, this is against the grain. I'm amazed at how many Christians just folded up. And then they start to actually believe what the world believes.
It's a slippery slope, I've seen it happen. People who are drilled in their convictions in God all of a sudden start to get pulled by the world, and pulled by the world, and pulled by the world. And then all of a sudden they're over here going, I don't know anymore. What do you mean you don't know anymore?
You used to know. What changed? Because God didn't change. His Bible didn't change. It's not like God rewrote the Bible because he was afraid of culture. So why now have you seen people who are standing on God's word and so sure are now over here?
I'll tell you why. They've allowed the influence of the crowd to minimize God and maximize humanity. They've allowed God to become smaller and his word to become less and less true, because now we have friends and emotions and we look at the world and we start questioning, and now all of a sudden there's a slippery slope. And you, my friend, will be accountable for that. When you stand before God and he looks at your life and my life, I would much rather have God say, well done, good and faithful servant, than look at me and say, well you used to believe, but now you're way over here. And where did that get you?
The second one is this, number two. Being chained to the crowd causes fear and silence. Again, this is something that we see happen in very real time, that because we're more worried about the crowd and we start following the crowd, then what happens is that we are now afraid of the crowd and we're now silenced by the crowd. I think that the enemy oftentimes doesn't necessarily need to get the church to fall into sin and moral failure. Sometimes all the enemy needs to do is get the church just to be quiet and say nothing.
And I think we're always looking for the big sin or the big issue or the big failure. More times than that, the church is just afraid and the church is just quiet. In John chapter 12, verse 42 to 43, it says, Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believed in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it. People who literally believed in Jesus for fear of what the Pharisees would say would not confess that they believed in him.
And here's why. They were afraid to be kicked out of the synagogue. Remember, when Jesus comes, he is coming preaching a message that is so contrary to what they were teaching at the time. He's calling himself the Son of God. He's teaching them about loving one another. I mean, he's going down these paths of teachings that is direct opposite of what the Pharisees were trying to do. And so people who believed in Jesus, they were so afraid to be kicked out of the synagogue that they just remained silent. And then it says this, For they love the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God. Come on, that is a between the eyes verse gut check moment.
Again, these questions that keep raising is, Are we more concerned about glory from people as opposed to glory that comes from God? Matthew 10-28 is a very strong verse. It's kind of one of those shoot you straight kind of verses. It says, Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul, but rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. That is a very straightforward, powerful verse about are you going to allow somebody to influence you that has no control over your soul or are you going to follow the God that can actually destroy both your soul and your body?
Which one to you is more important? And here's what we are afraid of. Here's what silences us. We're fear of being canceled. I hate that word so much. I can't stand hearing that word.
We see it over the last couple of years. You're canceled. They're canceled.
Sometimes it's because they're stupid and you need to be canceled. But we're so afraid of being canceled because we're standing up for what we believe in the Bible. We're standing up for the hard things that nobody wants to stand up against. We're standing up for the right to life. We're standing up for human sexuality. We're standing up for honesty and integrity.
We're standing up for all these things that the world to some degree actually honors and celebrates. And we're pushing against the world and we're afraid that if we push too hard, you're going to get canceled. You're going to get isolated. You're going to get pushed out. We're afraid of being persecuted.
Guess what? Jesus said you're going to get persecuted. You can have all the fear in the world you want of being persecuted, but Jesus says in his own words, you will be persecuted on economy. But we're afraid of it.
We're afraid to be persecuted. We have a fear of being overlooked. Overlooked for that promotion. Overlooked for that friendship group. Overlooked for that invitation. Overlooked for that next advance, that next income stream. We get afraid of it. The next one is where, and this one I kind of don't think there's an age limit on, but we're honestly afraid of being made fun of to some degree. What are people going to think when they hear the name of Jesus speak? Come on, DC Talk. Come on, that's a good song, by the way.
What will people think if they hear about it? Or fear of being rejected. Rejection's a real fear, right?
Or fear that people are going to reject us because of our beliefs. And in all this, by the way, we always got to come back to the way that we do this matters. Because Jesus never told us to do this in anger, to speak against the world in despite, to speak against the world in fighting, in arguing.
He said to do it in love, in gentleness, and in mercy. So how we do this actually matters. I want to give us an illustration this morning as we get ready to close here. And so the people that have the chains come on up here.
Every week we're using chains. And I want to give you just a real quick visual that I think will help you. I like visuals, and this is a very simple one about the crowd.
Thank you. Hey, we got Ginny up here. So this is kind of the picture I had.
You guys can stretch out a little bit. This one here is one that's kind of been in my mind since I was kind of praying through and preparing these messages. But it's kind of this visual here of how the chain pulls and how the crowds pull us in different directions.
And it's a real easy kind of visual, right? Because God has what's for me kind of this way. And I try to go towards God, but then all of a sudden I feel this pull from Ken going, well, maybe I should go talk to Ken a little bit. You know, Ken's a Carolina fan. He's having a good day today, you know?
He's enjoying today. So let me go talk to Ken a little bit. And you notice something that the closer I get to Ken, the less pull from the crowd there is. Isn't that amazing? And I'll talk to Ken, and I'll say, no, no, I kind of want to follow.
This is my conviction over here. I start to walk, and then all of a sudden I feel the pull from Lee over there. I'm like, man, Lee's a smart guy.
He knows his stuff, and he doesn't kind of see things the way I see them, so maybe I should kind of go over here and chat with Lee for a little bit. And all of a sudden I get this pull from Ginny back here. Look at that smile. How can you refuse to hang out with Ginny? She's a nice person.
She's so nice. And so let me go over here and hear what Ginny has to say. And then Lori's over here. Lori's over here. I feel this pull.
And all of a sudden, no, no, let's see what Lori's got to say about this. And see, we spend all our time kind of just doing this. It's like, nope, nope, over here. And then you feel the tug over here and the pull over here and then the pull back here. And listen, this is exhausting. This is so exhausting. And yet this is how so many people are living their life.
They're just pulled in so many different directions of the crowd. And they can never be free to do and be what God has for them. Remember, Bartimaeus says, no, I'm going to choose to follow you. I can't follow Jesus if I'm worried about what Lee's thinking about me over here. I can't follow Jesus if I'm constantly running the can every time I got a question about morality.
I can't follow Jesus if every time I'm doing this I'm so chained to all this stuff that I can't possibly do and be what God has for me. This wears on you. In fact, this is so exhausting that what happens is it wears on you so much that you eventually just go, it's just easier to hang out with these guys. It's just easier to hang out back here.
Ah, there's no pull. There's no stress. It's not tiresome. But it doesn't make it right.
It doesn't make it true. It's just easier. Thanks, guys. You can leave the chains there. I got my workout for the day in. I hope that visual sticks with you on the pull of the crowd in different directions. So how do you get away from this?
Let me give you the final two points this morning. How do we navigate through this so that you and I can actually be and do what God's called us to do? The first one is just a reminder that is so true. Number three is that Jesus will always stop for those who call out to him in the crowd. If you're feeling pulled and tugged, the answer is not just to find it out by yourself. The answer is to stop for a moment and call out to Jesus.
That's the answer. And I love verse 46 or 49. It says, when Jesus stopped and Jesus called to him. And the same crowd that told the blind man to be quiet said, take heart, get up, he's calling you.
In other words, hey, it's your lucky day. Jesus heard you and he stopped for somebody like you. And honestly, when you start to look into the actual wording in the Greek of how this was, it's almost like that tone that the crowd has. It's not like the crowd were like, oh, good, we were hoping Jesus would stop for you.
No, the crowd was like, well, it's your lucky day. You yelled loud enough, now look what you did, you made Jesus stop. So you might as well get up to him. That's kind of the attitude, and so he does, he jumps up and he runs to him.
Hugh said it this way, I love how he worded this. We must remember that Jesus is on the way to the terrible cross. The last stop is Jerusalem, 18 miles away, yet Jesus has time for this poor beggar, and I love this last line, the son stood still. Jesus on the way to the cross stopped for a blind beggar on the side of the road. I kind of went through this little search real quick and I was like, well, who else did Jesus stop for? I just wanted to see kind of just the people Jesus stopped for.
And this is not an exhaustive list, but listen to this. He stops for the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4. He stops for a Gentile woman with a demonized daughter in Matthew 15. He stops for the woman with the issue of bleeding in Mark chapter 5. He stops and holds up a house party for a prostitute in Luke chapter 7. He stops with a man with a legion of demons in him in Mark chapter 5.
He stops for Zacchaeus, tax collector who climbs up into a tree to see him. He stops for children in Mark chapter 10. Mark chapter 10 is a beautiful passage where people were bringing their kids to Jesus, and Jesus stops and begins just to bless the children. He stops for Jairus' daughter in Matthew chapter 9. He stops for the crippled guy at the pool of Bethsaida in John chapter 5. He stops for Mary at the tomb after he's risen in John chapter 20, and the list goes on and on and on. And let me just encourage you, Jesus still stops for you today. Out of all the things I love about Jesus, probably at the top of the list is just the reminder that he stops for us when we need him. He doesn't just run ahead and say, hey, keep up. You're going to get lost in the crowd, you better keep up.
I love that he'll stop, and at times he actually stopped and went purposely to the person. Jesus still stops for us today. And the last point is this, number four, going against the crowd is going to require faith. Standing up for what our convictions are and who we are and our beliefs will require faith.
Verse 52, Jesus said to him, go your way, your faith has made you well. We either have faith in Christ or we have fear in the crowd. Faith in Christ or fear in the crowd. And we have faith in Christ that allows us to stand and to move forward. When we have faith in Christ, we, just like blind Bartimaeus, are healed, we are set free, our chains are broken, our sight is restored when we choose to follow Jesus. When we choose to follow the crowd, all of a sudden we have mixed convictions and mistruths and agendas. We start to judge, we start to feel canceled and persecuted and on and on it goes, or we follow Jesus on the way of the cross. In Exodus 23, verse 2, it says, don't pass on malicious gossip, don't leak up with the wicked person and give corrupt testimony. And listen to this last part, it says, don't go along with the crowd in doing evil, and don't mess up your testimony in a case just to please the crowd. This world needs our testimony of what Christ did in our life. Do not mess up your testimony by following the crowd instead of following Christ.
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