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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Mark Batterson » Mark Batterson - Jesus: Jesus Plus Nothing

Mark Batterson - Jesus: Jesus Plus Nothing

Mark Batterson - Jesus, Jesus Plus Nothing

Laura and I have lived on Capitol Hill for 27 years. Last week we did something that we have never done. We climbed 343 steps to the top of the Capitol Dome. Is it okay if I do a little show and tell this weekend? Here's a shot of the rotunda top down. That's my shock and awe. You flip the camera and you get a shot of Brumidi's Apotheosis, pretty incredible. But then you walk outside and you get a 360 degree view of the National Mall. That's my better half. You can clap right there. And I'm not a photographer nor the son of a photographer, but here's my money shot, my money shot. And I don't know, I just think you know the shadow. There's the flag and the kind of the art, I just, was it okay? Okay. Pretty amazing place to pray over this city, which is what I did. Pretty amazing place to pray over our nation, and I think it was the unique perspective from the Capitol Dome that led to this thought.

And if you're taking notes, I want you to jot this down. Every geography has a genealogy. Every location has layers of history. And I'll peel back a few layers of history just to make the point. 500 years ago before Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 1492, a tribe of Native Americans known as the Algonquins resided in this region. The Potomac River was their fishing grounds. And at the foot where our Capitol of the hill, where our Capitol now stands, the Algonquins had what they called their council house. It was their Capitol before it was ours.

Now, fast forward to June 5, 1633. A 400 acre piece of property was deeded to a man named Francis Pope. Not to be confused with Pope Francis. It's not easy discerning the exact boundaries of his property because the deed mentions two oak trees as boundary markers. But according to the standard history of the city of Washington, published more than 100 years ago, Pope's property included Jenkins Hill, which we call Capitol Hill. Pope called the creek that was running through it, Tiber Creek, and he named his farm Rome, Pope, Rome. And some people thought it was just a playful pun, but Pope was a prophet. Quoting from the standard history, it is told that this dreamer, that he predicted that a greater capital than Rome would occupy that hill and that later generations would command a great and flourishing country in the new world. He had a dream in which he had seen a splendid parliament house on the hill, known as Capitol Hill, which he purchased and called Rome in prophetic honor of the great city to be.

That was 143 years before America declared independence. Fast forward one more time. September 18, 1793. Only a few thousand people lived in this city. It was farmland and swampland. But on September 18th, 1793, president George Washington led a parade of people across the Potomac River with music playing, drums beating, spectators rejoicing. They marched 1.5 miles to the hill where Francis Pope had that vision, but he's not the only one. Pierre Charles L'Enfant called it a pedestal waiting for a super structure. And when that parade of people arrived, George Washington stepped into the foundation trench. And as was tradition, the cornerstone of the Capitol was consecrated with corn, wine, and oil. An invocation was offered a 15 gun salute for the 15 United States. And last but not least, a 500 pound oxen was butchered, establishing the Great American pastime known as the barbecue. Can I get an amen right, right there.

Now, that is more history than you were asking for, and there will not be a quiz at the end of this message, but are you picking up what I'm throwing down? Every geography has a genealogy. I want you to hold that thought. Welcome to National Community Church in person. If you're online, give us your geography. We love our extended family. Thrilled that you would join us this weekend. We're in a series on Mark's Gospel, and I want you to meet me on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Mark chapter 12. We'll get there in a moment. That geography, and I'm talking about the temple. I'm talking about the Temple Mount. That geography has a genealogy. That location might have more layers of history than any place on the planet. And I'll try to make that make sense in about three minutes. Mark 12:1, "Jesus started telling them stories".

We can't just read right over that, right? Jesus was a storyteller. Elie Wiesel said "God made man because he loves stories". For better or for worse, all of us are born into somebody else's story. If you wanna change your life, you have to change your story. How do I do that? Well, I would argue that Scripture is our script cure. You don't just read the Bible, the Bible reads you, but listen to me it does more than read your mail. It overwrites our false narratives. It begins to rewrite our story. How? By inviting us into the story of God. Some of you don't like the story of your life right now. Can I tell you? God is writing a bigger story. God is writing a better story. But here's the catch. You have to give complete editorial control to the author, author and perfecter of your faith. And when you do, God begins writing his story, history with a hyphen in and through your life.

On that note, would you mark your calendar October 15, Dr. Dick Foth, kind of the grandfather of National Community Church, 81 trips around the sun. Dick is gonna be with us preaching that morning, but that night we have a special day. He's gonna tell stories for 90 minutes. And I'm so excited I feel like a little kid, like I cannot wait for story time with Dick Foth. So mark your calendar. John Quincy Adams said, "Whoever tells the best story wins". If that's true, Jesus is the winner winner chicken dinner, right? Dozens of parables in the gospels, most of them less than 250 words. But if you hear them once, you will remember them forever. And so, mark 12 records one of these stories, the parable of the tenants not to be confused with perhaps a better known parable of the talents.

And this story is genius. With one story Jesus recaps thousands of years of Jewish history, and I'll give you the recap. God plants a vineyard, which is a tip of the cap to the prophet Isaiah. And he plants this vineyard, and the vineyard represents Israel. Now, God, builds a watchtower builds a wine press and then when it's time for harvest, of course the owner of the vineyard, God, sends his servants to collect rent. Seems fair. But the tenants kill the servants. Okay? The servants represent the prophets that God so graciously and mercifully kept sending to Israel, return to me. Come back to me. I love you. I want relationship. And they keep killing the servants. And that's where there's a plot twist in the story. And if you're listening to it with Jewish ears in the first century, I don't think you predict this plot twist.

What does the owner do? He sends his son. But this should come as no shock. The tenants do to the son what they did to the servants. Do you see what's happening here? Jesus is not just reciting the entire history, their long history of rejecting the prophets, he is prophesying his own death and crucifixion. Then we get to verse 10, okay? And verse 10 is the punchline of the story. And I would argue that verse 10 is the linchpin of Mark's gospel. Here it is. "Have you not read this passage of Scripture. The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. The Lord has done this. And it is marvelous in our eyes". The cornerstone of a building, be it the Capitol.

Remember September 18th, 1793, be it the Capitol or be it the temple in Jerusalem, the cornerstone is the key to architectural integrity. The cornerstone is the foundation upon which all of the weight of the building rests. The cornerstone is what holds the whole thing up and holds the whole thing together. And Jesus is saying. Right by the cornerstone, no, no, no, not that cornerstone. What a moment. What a moment. The entire history of Israel, everything that predates, points to the person of, and Jesus makes quite the claim right here. He says, I'm the stone the builders rejected. I'm the cornerstone. In other words, he's saying, just get the full effectiveness. I am the fulfillment of the law and the prophets. I am the messiah. I am who I am. You're looking at 'em.

In Judaism, there's a hermeneutic called PRDS. Put it on the screen. It's four levels of study. In a sense, it's looking at scripture from four different angles. Level one is Peshat. It's a plain reading of scripture. Level two is Remez, which means hint. There are cues and clues within the context of scripture that we read, write over with western eyes. Level three is D'rash. And I would liken it to turning a kaleidoscope. It's connecting the dots to see things a little bit differently. And then level four is Sod, which means secret. Okay, this is gonna be a crash course in biblical theology. He who cannot draw on 3,000 years said Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, "he who cannot draw on 3,000 years is living from hand to mouth". I just, I kinda like that in particular.

And so what I wanna do is I wanna connect some dots across thousands of years of history, ready or not. Here we go. Jesus quotes the Old Testament 78 times. This, Mark 12:10, is one of those quotations. Jesus is citing Psalm 118, which is a Psalm of ascent. Now, when we went on road trips as kids, we used to sing 99 bottles of beer on the wall. Jewish kids would sing Psalms of ascent. But this psalm is unique because this is the entrance liturgy. As the people finally imagine all the way from Jericho to Jerusalem. I mean, you're pretty, you're pretty exhaustive but now you walk in and this is one of the wonders of the world. Like this is an unbelievable piece of architecture 2,000 years ago. And they finally enter into the temple. And this is the entrance.

In other words, this is their walkup song. Like in my head, I'm hearing serious Chicago Bulls eighties and nineties. And now like it gets my adrenaline going. As the Jewish people walked into the temple, it jogged their memories, it jogged their emotions. All of these connections with why? Because they're celebrating one of the greatest moments in the history of Israel. Their exodus out of Egypt after 400 years of slavery, okay? Are you with me? Jesus knows exactly what he's doing. Jesus knows exactly what he's saying. And this is where I wanna direct. I wanna double back to Mark 11 and double down. Jesus enters Jerusalem on a donkey. Yes, we call it the triumphal entry. And the people shout Hosanna, but this is not in a vacuum.

What they're really doing is singing Psalm 118, Lord save us. Three words in English, but in Hebrew what? Hosanna. And so they're singing Hosanna, and then they wave palm branches. Do you remember this? Well, it's verse 27 of Psalm 118. Join in the festival procession up to the horns of the altar. Well, what's that about? Well, this was a long standing tradition, what we call palm Sunday is the day of lambs. What we call palm Sunday is lamb selection day, which will make more sense in a minute. This is where I wanna peel back some layers of history. And I want, would you just lean in just like two inches, just lean in two inches, a lot less preaching, a lot more teaching, but there's gonna be a payoff, okay? The sheep that were sacrificed on the Passover, and that's why Jesus is in Jerusalem. It's one of three pilgrimage fest, week-long celebration. The sheep that were sacrificed on the Passover belonged to a special flock that was born and raised in Bethlehem. Things that make you go, hmm. At a place called Migdal Edar, the tower of the flock.

Now, those sheep were considered sacred. Why? Because it was those sheep that were set aside for sacrifice and were raised by Levitical shepherds. Now, sheep are fragile creatures, easily injured, which would disqualify them from being used in sacrifice because they had to be without blemish. And for that reason, when the sacrificial sheep were born, those shepherds would carry them into caves called mangers, where they would swaddle them in specially designated temple claws. And then those lambs were laid in feeding troughs to be examined. This should start to sound familiar. When the angels announced the birth of Jesus, it was to these Levitical shepherds. When the angels said that they would find the Messiah, wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. They were painting a prophetic picture.

And so once a year, right before Passover, these Levitical shepherds would lead their flock from Bethlehem to Jerusalem. They would enter Jerusalem through the sheep gate, 10 gates coming into the city, through the sheep gate. They would walk down the Via Dolorosa on lamb selection day, and those sheep would be sold for sacrifice. Now, after purchasing a Passover lamb, here's what the people would do. They would take their Passover lamb to the temple while waving palm branches and shouting, Hosanna, as those Passover lambs were sacrificed on the horns of the altar, the Pete priest would pronounce it is finished. Give us a chance to catch up to ourselves. When John greets Jesus, do you remember this? How does he do it? He could have said cous, they were cousins. I don't know how you greet your cousins. But I usually don't say behold the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. I mean, John, John is pointing to Jesus.

What I'm getting at is this, none of this is coincidence. All of this is providence. It is no coincidence when and where Jesus is born. It is no coincidence that Jesus enters Jerusalem on the day of lambs. It's no coincidence that Jesus was crucified during the Passover. And it's no coincidence that Jesus would say it is finished. All of these things are pieces of a prophetic puzzle that point to Jesus as the fulfillment of the law and the prophets, as the messiah, as the lamb of God, as the son of God, as the cornerstone. And you have to understand, when Jesus cites Psalm 118 in the context of this triumphal entry and all and synapses are firing and their memories and their emotions, and all of these connections, what a moment that must have been.

Okay. Zoom out. Many of us, myself included, have a tendency to read the Old Testament as a collection of stories about heroes of the faith. And so we study the lives of Abraham or Esther or David, and please hear me, there are life lessons to be learned. No doubt. But I would suggest that's reading it wrong. Not really wrong, but it's reading it incomplete because each personality in the Old Testament, I would argue points to the person of Jesus. Every person pointing to Jesus as a fulfillment. So each person is an archetype of Christ. Each person is a subplot in this story that points to Jesus. Sally Lloyd Jones said it this way. "There are lots of stories in the Bible, but all the stories are telling one big story". And all those stories are pointing to the cornerstone.

So you go all the way back to the Garden of Eden, and I'm kind of pushing our limits today, and I've been on a little study break, so haven't done this in a minute. And so you give me a little bit of grace and I'll give you a little bit of grace. And I know we're peeling back some layers, but I think it's worth it. So you go all the way back to the Garden of Eden, okay? And there's original sin and original blessing. So Adam and Eve eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Yes? And that original sin has a consequence. They are cut off from the tree of life. But before original sin, there is original blessing. And, you know, I think this sequence is significant that blessing is God's most ancient instinct. It's the very first thing God does after, it's who God is and it's what God does.

So it's no wonder, you know, even though Adam and Eve kind of blow the blessing, so to speak, that along comes Abraham and God establishes a covenant of what? A covenant of blessing. I will bless you and you will be a blessing. Oh, and then along come the priest and he says to Aaron, Hey, why don't every day. Parents get this in your spirit right now. What if every day you pronounce blessing on the people of Israel, may the Lord bless you and keep you, make his face shine on you and be gracious to you. May the Lord turn his countenance towards you and give you shalom. Then you get to the New Testament. Jesus shows up. And what happens?

John 1:14, from the fullness of his grace, you have received what? Blessing. Wait, wait, blessing after blessing. That's what I'm talking about. That's like the, oh, that sounds like a, like a three or four or five course meal. That's what I'm talking about. Like I, that might even be a amuse-bouche which I don't know how to spell, but that's like the blessing that comes outta nowhere, right? I'm getting a little carried away. But you gotta put your pinky up when you get that amuse-bouche, right? It's so small. Blessing after blessing. And in Ephesians 1:3 says what? Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who has blessed us in the heavenly rounds with every spiritual blessing in Christ.

And then you get to the Passover meal right before the crucifixion on the eve of the crucifixion. And what does Jesus do? He takes this Passover meal and he infuses meaning into it that was never the there before. This bread is my body, which is broken for you. In other words, I am the Passover lamb. No more just lambs going into no, no, no. Precious blood of Christ, the lamb of God. And then he says, this cup is the new covenant, new covenant in my blood. But what is the communion cup called? Little quiz question. I love this. It's kind of hidden in 1 Corinthians, the communion cup. Are you ready for it? Is the cup of blessing. Do you see what's happening here?

Okay, first Adam in the garden, because of his disobedience results in a curse. Second Adam, because of his obedience, the curse is broken at the cross. In the garden first Adam is heel is bruised by that serpent. But second Adam crushes the head that bruise the heel. In the garden you are cut off from the tree of life and Jesus turns deadwood, a Roman cross, a symbol of death and says, this is the tree of life. That is the tree of life. That is the second tree. But guess what? Jesus isn't just second Adam, he's second Abel. Why did Cain kill Abel? Not because Abel did something wrong. Cain killed Abel because Abel was so good that it made Kain feel bad. Jesus is second Abel. And just as the blood of Abel cries out from the ground, the blood of Christ cries out from the cross.

He is second Abraham. He is, before Abraham was, I am. Didn't he say that? He is second Moses. He is second Aaron, the great high priest. He is second Joshua. His name is Yeshua. So just as Joshua led the people into the promised land, no matter how many promises God has made, they are yes in Christ. I am the cornerstone. He is Jonah 2.0. Jonah spent three days in the belly of a whale. Jesus spent three days in the grave, but he got back up. He is Jonah 2.0. I think what I'm trying to say is the cross is where evil meets its match. The cross is where sin is forgiven and forgotten. The cross is where the curse is broken. The cross is where atonement at one minute with God happens. The cross is the crux of human history. And Jesus is the cornerstone.

I'm breaking a sweat. I could keep going, but I think you get the point. But wait, there's more. It's not just people like first Adam that point to second Adam. It's places like the place where Jesus makes this pronouncement right there on the Temple Mount. No, no, no. That's not the cornerstone. I am the cornerstone. Every geography has a? Okay, so stick with me. Let me show you a picture. On the Temple Mount inside what is now the Dome of the Rock. There is a cornerstone. It's called the noble stone or the purest stone. And according to Jewish tradition, this stone is believed to have been where the Holy of holies once was.

This is holy ground, to say the least. But it's not just the foundation stone where the Ark of the Covenant in the Holy of holies rested a thousand years before the birth of Christ. It is believed to have been the threshing floor of Araunah where David built an altar where David made atonement for a sin, where the death angel was stopped in his tracks. Oh, but wait, there's more a thousand years before David, this is believed to have been the summon of Mount Moriah where Abraham put Isaac on the altar. Are you picking up what I'm throwing down? Jesus could not be more clear. I am all of those things. I am the noble stone. I am the purest stone. I am the cornerstone. I am the rock of ages.

My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus' blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus' name. On Christ, the solid rock I stand. All other ground is sinking sand. All other ground is sinking sand. This is the moment that Isaiah pointed to, Isaiah 28:16. This is what the sovereign Lord says. "Look, I'm placing a foundation stone in Jerusalem, a firm and tested stone. It is a precious cornerstone that is safe to build on. Whoever believes needs never be shaken". Is your life built on the cornerstone of Jesus Christ? Is he your firm foundation?

Lemme see if I can bring this in thing. Thing in for a land of Jesus is prophet, priest, and king. Jesus is our mediator and our advocate. Jesus is grace and truth. Jesus is judge and jury. Jesus is alpha and omega. Jesus is King of kings and Lord of lords. Jesus is the name above all names. Wonderful counselor, mighty God, prince of peace, all of that to say this Jesus plus nothing is everything and everything minus Jesus is nothing. Jesus didn't pull punches. He said, I am the way, the truth and the life. He said, no one comes onto the Father, but by me. Whoa, wait Pastor Mark that sounds really exclusive. It is and it isn't. It's an open invitation. Whosoever will may come.

Now that said, I would say this. No one else lived a sinless life like the son of God. No one else died on a cross for my sin. And no one else predicted their own death and resurrection and then pulled it off. Either Jesus is who he said he was or he isn't. If he's not, go to brunch. What are we doing? We're wasting our time. We're praying to the tooth fairy. Oh, but if he is, if he is who he said he was, if he is the cornerstone, then he deserves and he demands my full surrender to his lordship. Now please hear me 'cause I don't, sometimes that can sound almost like threatening. No, it's a promise. It's a beautiful promise. Come to me all you who are weary and heavy laid, I'll give you rest.

Come on, come on. We talk a lot about seeking God, but the Bible is about God seeking us. There is this common misperception, this false assumption, this false narrative that all roads lead to God. And it's pictured as these paths that wind up a mountain. And when you get to the top of the mountain, God is there. The truth is the exact opposite. I've got some good news today. God came down the mountain. He came down the mountain. Dick Foth says it this way. God left his place and they came to our place. And then he took our place and then he invites us back to his place.

Francis Thompson called him the Hound of Heaven. He will pursue you up the days and down the nights, he will chase you through the labyrinth of life. You may give up on God, but he will not give up on you. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life. The word follow is the Hebrew word, it means to hunt. He is hunting you down. Why? To do what He did in the beginning. To bless you. To bless you, to bless you. Where you are broken to heal you, where you are lost to find you. I don't have time to preach it, but I've been praying. Mark 12:34 all week. Jesus said, "You are not far from the kingdom of God". Some of you are so close, you can almost taste it. You can almost touch it. And today is your day. Today is the day you take that step of faith and you receive the gift that he freely offered to you. In Jesus' name, amen.
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