Cornerstone EPC Sunday morning
Franklin, NC 28734 August 5, 2018
“Jesus’ Absolute Authority over Human Will”
John Lill, British classical pianist, was the 1970 co-winner of the Tchaikovsky International Piano Competition in Moscow. Years later he was a jury member—that is, a judge—at the 1989 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in Fort Worth, Texas. Mr. Lill, on the documentary film from that competition entitled Here to Make Music, commented on desired piano competition winners, notes that juries look for someone, “…with charisma, command, and total authority.” Certainly such pianists command a certain respect, if not outright admiration, from their audiences.
Yet no pianist can fulfill Mr. Lill’s criterion total authority. Only Jesus, God incarnate, has total authority (Matthew 28:18)—but does He ever have it. We see this in three spheres in Mark 1:16-34, and we shall examine these, God willing, in a three-part mini-series entitled “Jesus’ Absolute Authority.” Today we examine His authority over human will (16-20). Next week we shall note Jesus’ authority over unclean spirits (21-28), and in two weeks we shall examine Jesus’ authority over sickness (29-34). Let us now hear the Word of God, the Bible, and in the hearing let us note Jesus’ absolute authority over human will.
(HERE READ THE TEXT)
Jesus, as our passage opens, walks alongside the Sea of Galilee. He arrives at the Sea of Galilee having successfully endured severe testing (Mark 1:12-13) by thrice rebuffing the devil’s suggestions to act contrary to His Father’s will (cf. Matthew 4:1-11, Luke 4:1-13). Jesus also arrives having inaugurated his preaching ministry, declaring, “The time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the Gospel” (Mark 1:14-15).
Jesus comes to the Sea of Galilee on a mission. He comes to call men who will be with Him, who will study and learn His Person and teaching, and who will follow Him. We see in today’s text that Jesus calls two sets of brothers—fishermen all. First, He calls Simon (i.e., Peter) and Andrew, his brother. Then He calls James and John, the sons of Zebedee—who later will be dubbed Boanerges, which means Sons of Thunder. We have the precise words of Jesus to Simon and Andrew, but the Holy Spirit has not told us Jesus’ words to James and John. Yet it pleased the Spirit to tell us, through Mark’s pen, the responses of these men to Jesus’ call.
Note closely the response of each set of brothers—the response of all four men considered individually. Immediately they forsake all. They leave works—such as mending nets, casting nets, hauling fish to boat or shore, separating fish from fish, and the like. They also leave relationships. James and John leave their father in the boat and follow Jesus. This does not appear to be permanent, for we read later in this chapter of Jesus healing Peter’s mother-in-law. Yet the primary relationship for each of these men now is his relationship with Jesus. They leave former plans. Whatever hopes they had for their respective fishing businesses must now give place to Jesus’ design for them—to become and to be what He calls fishers of men.
Also, after forsaking all, they immediately they follow Jesus. They begin to learn and to obey His teachings. They now increasingly promote His Person and His cause—both in the world generally and in elect mankind particularly. Moreover, they follow wherever He may lead. They do not know where Jesus goes, nor what lies ahead for them each and all—but they follow. These men forsake all and follow Jesus immediately. There is no expressed doubt, no apparent lengthy deliberation, and no protracted farewell. The Holy Spirit leads Mark to write a Gospel of brisk, almost thriller-paced, action. The Greek words rendered immediately (euthus or eutheus [euquV or euqeuV]) occur forty-one times in Mark’s sixteen chapters. The word immediately rightly describes the swift and sure response of these four men to Jesus’ call.
Again, Jesus has all authority in Heaven and on earth. He calls us—consistent with the disciples’ responses to His call—to lay down our wills in favor of His will in, for, and through us. What are some ways in which we can do this? How can we follow Jesus even more closely than now?
First, we make our relationship with God our highest relational priority. We trust in Him alone—and in no else, neither in nothing else—for abundant, eternal life. We reserve our most ardent affections for Him alone. We do not seek from others that which only God can give. Second, we realize our highest pleasure in God alone. Our highest pleasure lies not in people, as we just noted. Nor is our highest pleasure in things—whether tangible things (such as money) or intangible things (such as influence with others). Our highest pleasure is being in God’s presence—along with doing and being in His will. We delight ourselves in His will for our station—that is, where we live, who stands as our nearest and dearest, and the like. Yet we also delight ourselves in His will for our activity—both in general obedience to His moral law and in specific acts consistent with our spiritual gifts. To this end, let us recall the oft-quoted dictum of John Piper, “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.”
Third, we love what God in Christ loves. We love our triune God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. We love our neighbor—especially our fellow Christian—as ourselves. We cherish God’s Word as precious treasure, and we hide it in our hearts. We acknowledge the rightness of His ways, delight to walk in them ourselves, and encourage others in the same.
Some of us may think these ways to follow Jesus more closely are good for us in the same way we think that distasteful food (e. g.: English peas, mayonnaise) or unenjoyable activities (e. g.: weight-lifting) are good for us. If we feel this way about walking with Jesus in faith and discipleship, then God changes our view so that we love the very things we once did not love—even outright hated—that God always loves. This is Jesus’ absolute, sovereign authority over human wills—even ours. May we glory in this and be further conformed to His precious will for us each and all.