Mark Sermon Series • 2019

The Widening Ascent of Christian Living


I’m sure you have seen one of these donation funnels before. The coin begins at the top circling in the widest part, picking up speed as it circles until it falls through the hole. A child might try to grab it before it drops, questioning the worthiness of the cause! One of the texts in Mark’s Gospel records Jesus’ rebuke of those who sought to trap him in his words. They wanted to know if they ought to pay taxes to Caesar; that is, the governing rulers of the time. Jesus answers wisely: “Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.” [Mark 12:17] Let the coin go!, but give to God your very lives.

Jesus helped his followers to think differently. How might we offer ourselves to God? Consider our lives being like a coin offered to the donation funnel [like the widow offering all she had to live on (Mark 12:41)], except, offering ourselves into the small opening at the bottom of the funnel. Think about that coin mysteriously rising, circling wider and wider as it ascends. This requires imagination for it defies logic. This is a crucial step in accepting the mysterious power of God. I’ll return to this idea.

As I study the Gospel of Mark, the most succinct of the Gospel accounts, I notice three themes rising again and again. First, the idea of turning around – the great reversal of the faith – which begins with REPENTANCE. Secondly, the call to BELIEVE in the coming of God’s Kingdom revealed in Jesus. Thirdly, the challenge to FOLLOW the way of Christ as his disciples. These three themes will be our focus as we study Mark’s Gospel during the Seasons of Epiphany and Lent in worship leading us into Easter.

We will be reminded that repentance is not a one time event, but an ongoing Christian discipline. We will be challenged to deepen our belief in Jesus as our Saviour. We will be asked to take seriously the call to follow Christ. I see the life of faith as a cycle: Repent – Believe – Follow, but also, through the power of the Holy Spirit, there is an ascent. We must be ever moving upward and outward in faith. Up toward a closer relationship with our Creator and outward in ever widening circles of love extended to our neighbours.

One day, like a coin miraculously circling more widely and ascending upward, we will be set free from the cycle, and welcomed into glory. But until that day, let us faithfully pursue the Christian disciplines of active repentance, believing, and following.