Untainted Man, Untainted Message

by J. Randal Matheny, editor
At times Jesus refused to give people what they asked for. Sign-seekers got a flat no. “Why does this generation seek a sign? Truly, I say to you, no sign will be given to this generation” (Mark 8:12 ESV). When the Jews demanded to know where he got the authority to teach and heal, and they hedged his question, he said, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things” (Mark 11:33).
Jesus was not every man’s gofer, nor was he the solver of every problem. When an heir complained to him of his brother’s avarice and asked Jesus to intervene, the Lord said, “Man, who made me a judge or arbitrator over you? (Luke 12:13).
He refused to negotiate with the rich young ruler (Mark 10:17-22). He was no pushover for James and John’s mother (Mark 10:35-40).
Jesus cursed a fig tree and made it dry up (Mark 11:12-14). He drove out the money-changers from the temple and bodily blocked people from carrying items through the sacred courts (Mark 11:15-17).
Time and again, our Lord slapped Pharisees, scribes and Saducees in the face by deliberately provoking them. He challenged their teachings, their avarice and their hypocrisy (see, for example, Mark 12:38-40). He put tough questions to them that they couldn’t answer and showed up the scribes as ignorant stuffed shirts (Mark 12:35-37).
Not only with the religious authorities did he got tough. He even turned down his family’s call to go out to them (Mark 3:31-35). In his hometown of Nazareth, he insulted the people (Mark 6:1-6).
Jesus was no pushover, no pansy, no people pleaser. He refused to bow to pressure, to conform to social standards of behavior and to tell people what they wanted to hear. He dismissed crowds when they would have forced him to dismiss the will of God. He accepted the crowd’s praise, but put his trust in no man, for he knew the fickleness of the human heart and the shallowness of man’s commitment.
In the gospel of Mark Jesus’ first words are his sermon summary in vigorous terms: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15).
Jesus’ last words recorded in Mark are the commissioning of the disciples to preach: “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation” (Mark 16:15, also verses 16-18).
Jesus came to change the world, not be changed by it. And he gathered men and women around him to be transformed by the gospel, not molded by the world, and to become the true change agents by going into the homes and highways, into towns and temples, and speaking the word of God.
In the midst of rotted values, moral corruption and false beliefs, Jesus brought good news. He kept himself and that news from being tainted. He expects no less of his people today.

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