Steven Furtick — You Must Be Important
Have you noticed that, like, who we think is important sometimes, maybe God doesn't think is as important, in culture, I mean. Just like, have you noticed that? It seems like lately I'm praying more and more, "God, show me what's important from your perspective". I'm afraid that I'll live my life wasting my energy on things that seem important to me only to find out that they weren't as important as I thought they were. So, I'm just praying more and more in the moment, just a very short prayer, God show me what's important and I'm praying it at the start of my week more that "God, there's a lot I could do this week, but I need you to show me the difference between what's urgent and what's important". Because some things that will be an emergency for other people cannot become my priority just because they didn't make a plan.
And so, this week, I need you to show me the difference between what's urgent and what's important and sometimes it's urgent and important, but I need God more and more to show me what's, what's more important. Lately I find that it's not choosing between, you know, Netflix and Bible study, it's like which show on Netflix or Bible study. I'm just kidding. I just want to take it there. No, it's two things that are equally and to me equal priorities because I know that I need to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. I don't always know what that looks like in this moment. Because my role in the kingdom consists of multiple roles.
So, on one level, I am a pastor who needs to prepare a sermon. On another level, I am a dad with a kid who wants to throw the football and I know you think that you're more important that my son's desire to throw a football, but the fact of the matter is, you know, if I dropped dead, there'd be another preacher standing here this weekend, but he's only got one dad. It's true. It's so true some of the things that I thought were more important in my 20's, now that I'm like a wise sage at the age of 38, I'm realizing that I need God more and more to show me what's important now. What's important now? What was important to me in one season, may not need the same priority in this season.
And that even applies to people. I know that everybody is equally important. Touch somebody and say, "I know you're important to God". But God is an unlimited resource and He can love everybody equally. I'm not that much like God. I only have so much to give. Come on, there's only so many bags of chips in the vending machine of my heart and I can't just have everybody grabbing everything out of me all the time. Eventually I will run out, so I need to be led by the Spirit to know what's most important in this moment, in this season of my life, what is the priority of God for me.
In Mark's gospel, we are going to study today briefly a story that he thought was important to include to give us a full picture of Jesus as we're coming to know Him, savage Jesus. It's been shocking to us some of the priorities that Jesus had and how much different those priorities than maybe what we would have expected. When we see Him stopping to heal a woman in Mark 5:21 and following on His way to heal a little girl, we are shocked, confounded and in some ways challenged because the one He was going to heal was the daughter of someone who was important. His name was Jairus. He was a synagogue leader. The woman who came up behind Jesus isn't even given a name. Nobody really cared about women like that in this culture.
He stops en route to the miracle that is more important and more urgent because the little girl has hours to live. In fact, while He stops to heal this unimportant woman, the important girl dies. Jesus isn't concerned about this because He is healer, yes, also He is resurrection. His priority in this moment is to show the people a deeper revelation of who He is. The only way for Him to give them this revelation of the power of His presence is to upset their priorities and stop for something that they see as less important. So that when He gets to the scene, which was more important, the little girl is already dead. This provides an opportunity for Him to do something that He couldn't have done if He had gone according to their priorities.
Sometimes God will upset your priorities to show you His power in a new way and I know it's hard to clap for that, but if God has been doing some unusual things in your life lately and it seems difficult to get Jesus to follow your agenda, maybe He is re-ordering your priorities. Maybe what was important to you then shouldn't be important to you now and He's trying to show you an order of importance. That's how you can know when the presence of God is really increasing in your day-to-day life. It will shift your priorities. Goosebumps don't prove the presence of God. I get goosebumps off of Bruno Mars every time. Goosebumps and sometimes I kiss Holly. Feelings don't prove the presence of God. What proves the presence of God in my life is when my priorities begin to align with His. And this is going to require a collision because cultural priorities are much different.
Now we're ready for Mark 5, a story that Mark thought was important enough to include for us. Imagine you have to write a gospel account and you have to decide what's the most important teaching Jesus gave that you want to put in Mark 4 or what stories are you going to leave out? Because it's not like you could say, "Well, that wasn't any good when He healed that blind man". You know what I'm saying? Like it'd be hard to let something hit the cutting room floor, right? Yeah, well, I mean, He opened so many deaf ears, you gotta pick and choose which ones you're going to include. Like, stuff that Jesus did on His way to His appointments would have been our greatest accomplishment in our whole lifetime.
And now, Mark has to decide, all right, what are the most important stories? And so, in order to do that, he has to choose one theme and he has to get this theme across because Matthew, who wrote a gospel account is going to have a theme. Luke is, John is. Mark's theme, he decides, is going to be to show the authority of Jesus. The authority of Jesus. And authority is illustrated, not explained. Can I talk about that? People who always need to tell you they're in charge, aren't really in control. When you really have power, you don't have to shout. Just walk through my house and watch Holly look at one of our kids a certain way and you will see that power doesn't have to shout. I mean, there is a look she can give, and I don't know where the kids go after that. They crawl under parts of the house I've never seen, off of one look.
And this is a demonstration of Jesus' authority that I don't think you'll soon forget. Let me read it to you. Just relax and listen, okay. "They went," Mark 5:1, "across the lake to the region of the Gerasenes. When Jesus got to of the boat, a man with an impure spirit came from the tombs to meet Him. This man lived in the tombs and no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain. For he'd often been chained hand and foot, but he tore the chains apart and broke the irons on his feet. No one was strong enough to subdue him". And that's called foreshadowing, class. "No one was strong enough to subdue him".
And this is where we need a savage Jesus. Sweet tart Jesus can't help this man. Cutie pie Jesus can't bless this guy with a little cliché. Ichthus on the back of your car Jesus, jewelry Jesus around your neck can't do anything about this situation but you might come to a point in your life where you've lost sight of who you are and Whose you are and in those moments, you don't want a little puny Jesus who stands over on the side and waits 'til you rub your hands together and pull Him out of the bottle on Christmas and Easter or when you decide to bless Him with your presence at church. No, in those moments you're going to want a strong Savior with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. I'm talking about a savage Jesus. Somebody shout, "I got a great big God".
Night and day, verse 5, "Among the tombs and in the hills, he would cry out and cut himself with stones". And verse 6 is interesting. "When He saw Jesus from a distance," now this is the first time he's seen Jesus, but this is not Jesus first vision of Him. He saw Jesus from a distance. Jesus did His ministry in Capernaum. This account is from a gentile region, the region of the Gerasenes. No one knows exactly where that is, by the way. There's a lot of debate about it. I went over to a spot where they think this story might have happened last year and he showed me how Jesus would go up in the mountains and pray early in the morning and late at night. And across the Sea of Galilee, where Jesus has just traveled, the sound would have traveled.
So, if this man is crying out day and night, there's a good chance Jesus would have been up early while the man was up late and while the man was up late crying, Jesus was up late praying and maybe one morning after hearing the man cry one more time, Jesus decided today is the day for me to make my way toward this man and set him free. Could it be that God has heard your cry and He has heard the secret petitions and disappointments of your heart and He had you log on or show up today because today is the day that He came to see about you when you thought no one else was listening and you thought you were all alone, could it be that He heard you and now the man sees Jesus possibly before Jesus even lays eyes on the man and he ran and fell on his knees in front of Him, verse 7, "He shouted at the top of his voice, 'What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the most High God?'" Oh, by the way, your first response to God will often be fear.
When He shows up in your life in real power, there will be something in you that will resist that authority because it goes against everything that is engrained in our humanity to be in the presence of one who is greater than us and it often causes us to re-evaluate our priorities. Now, in this man's case, there is a specific reason that he falls on his knees and shouts, "What do you want with me Jesus, Son of the most high God"? In God's name, don't torture me. For Jesus had said to him, here it is, "Come out of this man, you impure spirit". And Jesus challenged the spirit that was within the man and the spirit within the man resisted the challenge of Jesus because anytime the enemy has occupied a territory for a while, he won't let it go without a fight.
And Jesus asked him a question not for information but for revelation. He doesn't need to know this, He knows all things but He asked the man because the man might know who Jesus is but this man doesn't know who he is and Jesus asked the man, "What is your name"? and the man responded, "My name is Legion for we are many and he begged Jesus again and again not to send them out of the area". The demons begged Jesus, "Don't make us leave". And this is where the story gets interesting. Verse 11. And I promise you the Bible is way more bizarre than you give it credit for. Exhibit A, verse 11. "A large herd of pigs," we know we're not in Jewish territory anymore, right? Because there would not be a large herd of pigs.
Jesus has left His home turf and He's crossed over. And now He's in gentile territory, the region of the Gerasenes and there's a large herd of pigs standing nearby on the hillside feeding and the demons begged Jesus, "Send us among the pigs. Allow us to go into them". He gave them permission. "Okay, you gotta leave the man, but you can jump on the pigs". And the impure spirits came out and went into the pigs and the herd, about 2.000 in number, rushed down the steep bank into the lake and were drown. I know you're worried right now that I'm going to find a way to preach about this in a way that applies to your life, but trust me, I've been doing this a long time. I've got a good track record and I promise you there is a connection between you and these pigs and if you give me a few minutes and pay close attention, I'll show you what it is.
Verse 14, "Those tending the pigs ran off and reported this in the town and countryside and the people went to see what had happened and when they came to Jesus, they saw the man who had been possessed by the legion of demons sitting there dressed and in his right mind and they were afraid. Those who had seen it told the people what had happened to the demon-possessed man and told about the pigs as well. And then, then, then, the people began to plead with Jesus to leave their region. Touch them again and say, "Can I get your autograph"? Touch them. Say, "You must be important". You must be important that Jesus would go through all this trouble to keep an appointment with you.
Oh, I'm so sorry. I messed up. I started reading in the wrong place in the Bible. It happens. I'm sorry. This is my third time preaching it. You will have to forgive me. I was supposed to start in Mark 4:35 and I started in Mark 5 and you can't understand Mark 5 without Mark 4:35-41. So, if you will forgive me for my slight oversight, I'm gonna do what I should have done before. I went to tell you about the storm that came before the miracle. This passage of scripture will preach all by itself because watch this, how many of you are going through a storm in your life today? Just raise your hand. Or somebody close to you is going through a storm? Raise your hand.
Now, see how easy it is to preach about storms? Did you see the high percentage of hands that went up? Except in Blakeney. They never raise their hands when I ask them to. But let me try this one more time. How many of you are going through a storm, you just came out of a storm, or you know there's probably a storm around the corner? Come on, be a meteorologist and touch your neighbor and say, "There's a storm out on the ocean".
So, so, let me read this to you 'cause it's important. Somebody say it's important. "That day when evening came". This is the same day, remember same day. Mark didn't divide this into chapters. We did that later. Mark's writing it all as one story. "That day, when evening came, Jesus said to His disciples, 'Let's go over to the other side.'" Note, He doesn't tell them why. He doesn't say because I've got an appointment on the other side. He doesn't tell them why. He just tells them, what. Can you obey what God says when you don't know why? Can you just get in and go even though you don't know where this is going? If you believe He has all authority, you don't need full details to be obedient. This is just for the obedient Christians, who are willing to cross over. Now, make a note of this, you can't cross over without conflict. And Jesus is moving the mission forward. He's leaving the comfort zone of, what did we call it? Capernaum. Oh, Nahum, comfort, Capernaum, Capernaum, it's the place of the comforter.
He's leaving the comfort zone and He's moving into enemy territory like some of you are doing right now in your life. You are beginning to move forward in the things of God. You're changing your circle. You're changing your values. You have begun to prioritize the presence of God. But let me warn you. When you make God your priority, the enemy will send a storm. You never cross over without conflict. Did you expect the devil would let you go without a fight? Did you expect that he would let you leave Egypt without sending his chariots to chase you down? You been serving the devil 42 years and now you decide to stand up and be a Godly man and you think it's just going to change overnight? As a matter of fact, I want to announce to you, the reason the storm is raging might not be because you're Jonah headed away from the will of God. It might be because you're crossing over into the calling that is on your life. That's what the conflict is all about.
I know I should just calm down and talk to you. But sometimes when you're in a storm, sometimes you need somebody to holler at you and say, "Hey, you're gonna make it through this". "How do you know"? "'Cause Jesus said we're going to the other side, so you can't die in this. That's what I came to say. I preached so many sermons about this storm and I've told so many people that they can survive what they're going through but there's a more important question than will you survive. The better question to ask is why did you survive the storm. Have you thought about, have you ever thought about how many things the enemy did even early in your life to try to stop you from having a relationship with God?
Remember this is Mark 4, not Mark 5. This man has not even seen Jesus yet, yet there is a storm that is sent to the Sea of Galilee to keep Jesus from getting to Him. I know. You're like, "Well, how do you know the devil started this storm? Maybe it was just climate change". 'Cause it said Jesus rebuked the wind and the waves. Jesus doesn't rebuke natural elements, He rebukes demons. The same demonic oppression that was oppressing that man was in that sea trying to stop Jesus from getting to the man. You were on the devil's hit list before you were ever born. There were things in your family line that were happening before you were born that were designed to keep you from being in church at this moment today.
Touch somebody and say, "You must be important because in spite of all the storms that had your name on them, in spite of all the winds and the waves and the hurricane forces, in spite of every attack, look at you in church. Look at you clapping. Look at you taking notes. Look at you praising God. Look at you believing for a brighter day. Look how you made it. You must be important. You survived.
You know how I know you're important? It takes boldness to call your sermon You Must Be Important. It takes boldness to call your sermon that, but I know it, not because of the car you drive, not because of the house you live in, not because I looked up how many Instagram followers you have. I know you're important because of your storm. See the size of your storm tells me something about your importance. The size of your storm lets me know the importance of your assignment. The devil doesn't start a storm for somebody who he's not threatened by. If you're going through a storm, there's something so big on the other side! High five three people and say, "You must be important because that big bad devil's been huffing and puffing, and he thought he would blow your house down but the trials you serve to prove your foundation".
Come on, my house is on the rock, I can't. Oh, I was so confused for so long, I thought the storm meant that God had left me, you know? But in this passage the storm means He's on the way. Did you hear what I said? If you're going through a storm right now or if one happens to hit on Thursday morning, I want you to know that the storm is a sign that grace is on the way. The Bible says the storm came up suddenly. The moment Jesus started in the direction of the man, here came a storm, not because God wasn't with him but precisely 'cause He was headed in his direction!