The Divine Urgency


The Divine Urgency

September 16th, 1990 @ 10:50 AM

And straightway coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon him: And there came a voice from heaven, saying, Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. And immediately the Spirit driveth him into the wilderness. And he was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted of Satan; and was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered unto him. Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.
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Dr. W. A. Criswell

Mark 1:10-15

9-16-90    10:50 a.m.


And bless you, the multitudes of you who share this hour on radio and on television.  You are now part of our precious congregation, the First Baptist Church in Dallas.  And this is the pastor bringing the message.  We are preaching from the Book of Mark, and the title is, the divine energy, The Divine Urgency, the intensest ministry of Jesus.

When Mark writes of our Savior, he does so in the shortest Gospel, but he also does so with the intensest presentation of the life of our Lord.  And you sense the impression that our Savior made upon John Mark in His use of a word euthus, eutheos, translated “straightway, immediately, forthwith, anon.”  He will use it between forty and fifty times in this brief Gospel.  And I want you to look at a typical use of it in the first chapter.

For example, in chapter 1, verse 10: “And euthus, straightway, coming up out of the water” [Mark 1:10].

Verse 12: “And immediately, euthus, the Spirit driveth Him into the wilderness” [Mark 1:12].

Third use of it, verse 18: “And euthus, straightway” [Mark 1:18].

Verse 20: “Euthus, and straightway” [Mark 1:20].

Verse 21: “And they went unto Capernaum; and euthus, straightway, on the Sabbath day” [Mark 1:21].

Verse 28: “And immediately, straightway, euthus, His fame spread abroad” [Mark 1:28].

Verse 29: “And forthwith, euthus[Mark 1:29].

Verse 30: “Simon Peter’s wife’s mother lay sick, and anon, straightway, euthus[Mark 1:30].

Verse 31: “And He came and took her by the hand, and lifted her up; and euthus, straightway, the fever left her” [Mark 1:31].

Verse 42: “And as soon as He had spoken euthus, straightway, the leprosy departed” [Mark 1:42].

Verse 43: “And He straitly charged them, and forthwith, straightway, He sent him away” [Mark 1:43].

That is in one chapter.  The impression you have in Mark’s story of the life of Jesus is one of movement, energy, power, thrust, euthus, immediately, straightway, forthwith.  It is fascinating, it is interesting, to see the impression that our Lord made upon those who saw Him and knew Him.  As the multitudes followed Him and spoke of Him and repeated what they had heard, and described what they had seen, it is, I say, dynamically pertinent, the impression that they had of Him.

And not only we, but our Lord Himself, was interested in how the people looked upon Him.  In the sixteenth chapter of the Gospel of Matthew, He says to His disciples, “Whom do men say that I the Son of Man am?” [Matthew 16:13]. Our Lord, asking the disciples, “What do people say about Me?”  And they replied, “Some say You are John the Baptist, raised from the dead.  Some say You are Elijah the Tishbite”; the fearlessness of our Lord’s ministry and the moral characterization of all that He did, the integrity—like Elijah.  “Some say,” they replied, “You are like Jeremiah, the weeping prophet”—as they saw Him cry over the tomb of, and the death of, Lazarus [John 11:35], and as they saw Him weep over the lost city of Jerusalem [Luke 19:41]—“You are like Jeremiah.”  Others said, “You are one of the prophets” [Matthew 16:14]—such as Isaiah, in His poetic imagery and in the eloquence of His prophecies.

Then the Lord said, “But whom say ye that I am? [Matthew 16:15].  What do you think?  What is the impression of Me that you have?”  And you have the answer here in the Bible.  You have four evangelists, four writers who describe Him.

Matthew says He is the coming King.  He is the Lord Messiah.  Page after page, in Matthew’s Gospel he will say, “Thus it might be fulfilled which was written by the prophet [Matthew 1:22] . . .” He saw in Jesus the messianic King promised in the Old Covenant [Isaiah 7:14].

When you turn to Luke, he would say Jesus is the great humanitarian.  The beloved physician, Luke, is the one that tells us about the Good Samaritan [Luke 10:30-37].  He is the one that records the Lord’s parables of the lost sheep, and the lost coin, and the lost boy [Luke 15:3-32].

When you turn to John, John is a mystic, and he says, “He is the Logos, the only begotten of the Father” [John 1:14].  Whatever Jesus did, John would see in it a far deeper spiritual meaning.  For example, when Mary of Bethany anointed Him [John 12:3], John will say she did it for His burial [John 12:7].  When John looked upon the cross [John 19:26-27], and saw the spear thrust in the heart of our Savior, and there followed the flow of blood and water [John 19:34-35], John sees in it blood of atonement and water of cleansing [1 John 5:6].

Then Mark, when he looks upon the Lord Jesus, he sees in our Lord a Roman model.  He is a conqueror.  He is victor and triumphant over sin and disease and weakness and death [Mark 11:1-11].  He is the mighty doer, the incomparable worker.  And when Mark looks upon our Lord, he is seeking to describe the intensest ministry of the Lord Jesus.

You see that in the compact life of our Savior.  For two thousand years now, our Lord has had an incomparably vast influence over this world, and yet He lived just thirty-three years.  And His ministry was encompassed in three short years.  And in Mark’s Gospel, he writes of our Lord, a few days in the great Galilean ministry [Mark 1:14-9:50] and a few days describing the atoning sacrifice and His resurrection from the dead [Mark 15:20-16:8].

The impression that our Lord made upon Mark was one of intensest ministry.  He was a great doer.  He was a tremendous worker with untiring zeal and toil.  Our Lord poured His life into the work to which He had come to accomplish in the earth.

Now, He was a faithful and devoted worshiper of God [Luke 4:8].  He was a Man of prayer [Mark 1:35].  He was a Man of devotion [John 10:37-38].  He was a Man of great spiritual sensibility [Luke 9:46-48].  All of that’s true.  But He was also a Man of action and of work, of intense ministry [Matthew 8:16, 15:30].  He is presented like that here in the Book of Mark.

For example, here in the sixth chapter, about the third verse: “‘Who is this?’  And they say, ‘Is not this the carpenter, the carpenter, the Son of Mary?’” [Mark 6:3].  The carpenter; He worked with His hands.  He was a carpenter.  Isn’t that unusual, that the Son of God should be a carpenter?

I have read, as you, in history, General George Washington came by on his horse and saw some of his soldiers slaving, working.  And over here was a corporal doing nothing.  He was presiding.  And the men were so toiling that General George Washington dismounted from his horse and got down there with those soldiers and helped them in that heavy burden.  And when he was done, why, he turned to the corporal, “Why do you not help?”

And he says.  “I am the corporal.  I am presiding.  I am overlooking.  I am guiding.”  And the corporal says, “And who are you?”

And the general says, “I am General George Washington.”  And he mounted on his horse and rode away.

A lot of folks are like that.  “These common tasks and assignments are beneath my dignity.”  Good night alive!  Jesus was a carpenter.  He worked with His hands, and did so for the thirty years of His life.  He worked.  And when He entered the life where He was seen, even as a youth, do you remember when His parents sought Him?  They found Him in the temple and asked, “How is it that we could not find You?” [Luke 2:48].

And He said, “Wist ye not, I must be about My Father’s business?” [Luke 2:49].

Paul writes in the Book of Romans, “Not slothful in business” [Romans 12:11].

He was with it, even as a youth [Luke 2:49].  Then when I come to the first chapter of this Book of Mark and look at the ministry of our Lord, in verse 35: “In the morning, rising up a great while before day” [Mark 1:35].  And then, in verse 32: “And at even, when the sun did set, they brought unto Him all that were diseased” [Mark 1:32].

From early in the morning until late at night, our Lord was intensely involved in His work and in His ministry.  And I presume you could not find a better characterization of the whole work of our Lord than in chapter 6, verse 56: “And whithersoever He entered, into villages, or cities, or country, they laid the sick in the streets; they besought Him that they might touch if it were but the border of His garment: and as many as touched were made whole” [Mark 6:56].

That’s the life of our Lord.  It was He that said, “We must work the works of Him that sent Me. . .for the night cometh, when no man can work” [John 9:4].  What we are to do we must we do now!  We must do now.  And in those brief days and years of our Lord’s ministry, He poured His life into the intensest kind of work.

Now when we look at that, when we make inquiry, why this intense work and labor of our Savior, the Lord Jesus?  There are two answers and the first is this.  He had an intense ministry because of the power and presence of the Holy Spirit upon Him.

It says here in this first chapter, “It came to pass in those days, that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized by John in the Jordan.  And straightway coming up out of the water, He saw the heavens open and the Spirit descending upon Him” [Mark 1:9-10].  And verse 12: “And immediately”—there is that euthus again—“the Spirit driveth Him into the wilderness” [Mark 1:12].

The intense ministry and life of our Lord is described, first of all, in terms of the power of the Holy Ghost that came upon Him [Mark 1:10].  And the Spirit of God moves.  It is dynamic!  It is intense!  The Spirit of God works.  Wherever you read of that in the Bible, you will find no exception to it.

The Bible begins, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.  And the earth was void and without form; and darkness was upon the face of the deep.  And the Spirit of God moved—And the Spirit of God moved on the face of the waters” [Genesis 1:1-2].

Wherever in the Bible you read of the Spirit of God, it will always be in that dynamic equation—moving, energy, life!  And you were singing a moment ago about Samson.  The Bible says, in the Book of Judges, that the Spirit of God moved Samson in the camp of Dan [Judges 13:25].  When you turn to 1 Samuel, when they set aside Saul to be king over Israel, it says, “The Spirit of God came upon him, and he prophesied” [1 Samuel 10:10].

When you turn to the Book of Isaiah, chapter 61, that first verse, it begins, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me; because God hath anointed Me to preach the glad tidings of peace” [Isaiah 61:1].  And when Jesus began His ministry in Nazareth in Galilee, He quoted that verse: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me; therefore . . .” [Luke 4:18].

When you turn to the life of the apostles, in the second chapter of Acts, the Spirit of God comes upon them, and they are emboldened, and enabled.  They are dynamic! [Acts 2:1-4]. When you turn to the chapters that follow after, there they are.  The place was shaken where they were gathered together [Acts 4:31].  And the Spirit of God came upon them, and they spoke and witnessed to the Lord Jesus Christ in great power and boldness [Acts 4:31].

There is no such thing as decadence and death, and indifference and inactivity where the Spirit of God is.  Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is always movement and power!  The opposite of the presence of God is decadence and death, and indifference, lethargy, and doing nothing, lack of response.  It is the opposite of the presence and power of the Holy Spirit.  Wherever God is, there’s movement, there’s work, there’s toil, there’s effort, there’s dynamic.

The text of James, the Book of James, who was the pastor of the church at Jerusalem: “Faith without works is dead” [James 2:20].  Now you say, “That’s ministerial; that’s scriptural, that’s preaching, that’s in the Book.”

My brother, that is universal.  There is no exception to that in human life and experience.  If a thing lives, if it is regnant, it is moving; it is practiced; it is something of doing.  And, I say, it is universal.  There is no exception to it.  A little phrase, “You use or lose,” one or the other.

Look at all of this music program here at this church, all of these that are in these orchestral assignments with musical instruments—same way with up here in the unional voice.  If you don’t use what you have, playing that trumpet, playing that violin, playing those instruments, singing that song—if you don’t do it, you will get to where you can’t do it!  You use it or lose it.

I took an examination in German when I was studying for my Ph.D. degree, my Doctor of Philosophy degree.  I had to in order to win that doctor’s degree.  I had to pass an examination in German.  That was something like sixty years ago. We just came from Germany, over there, remember that?  Just came from Germany.  They sounded like they were gibberish speaking over there, to me.  I couldn’t understand a thing they said, yet I had a doctor’s degree in it!  The reason is, for sixty years, I have never used it, never spoken it, never read it—had no occasion for it.  You use it or you lose it, one or the other.

Same thing about these athletic contests; I despise their playing on the Lord’s Day, as you know.  But if you are going to excel in athletics of any kind, you have to work at it.  You have to stay with it.  You have got to exercise.  You have got to do.  The whole universe is like that.

And the Book of God, and the life of the Christian, is no different.  If you don’t share in it, if you don’t respond to it, if you are not moved by the Holy Spirit of God to minister in it, you will lose its dynamic and its power and its actual reality.  You become an onlooker.  You become a stranger.  You become a visitor.  You become an alien.

One of the most beatenest things I have ever looked at in my life—crazy—there’s a famous novel, The Little Shepherd of Kingdom Come.  Well, I was preaching up there in the mountains of eastern Kentucky, and the preacher with whom I was involved, and was engaged, took me to Kingdom Come Creek, it was just right there where he was pastoring.  And I went to Kingdom Come Creek.  And the family about which that novel concerns lived there.  And he took me into the home.

While I was in the home, the man of the house showed me a picture.  He had taken a picture of a big walnut log that he had sold to England.  And the picture was that enormous walnut log that weighed fifteen thousand pounds was on a wagon, and it was being pulled by six yoke of oxen; that big, enormous log, on that wagon, pulled by those six yoke of oxen.  Then he said, “By the way, the wagon is right there.”

Well, I went over there, it was in a patch of high weeds, and I took my finger and punched a hole in it.  It had rotted.  And the man incidentally said to me, he said, “You know, isn’t that a shame?  I should have taken that wagon and put it under a shed, and I should have used it.  I should have used it.”  Instead, he put it out there on the side of the hill in the weeds and it rotted, unused.  All of life is like that.  You use it or you lose it.

And it’s no different in the Bible, and in the kingdom of our Savior.  If you don’t do your religion, it will finally be meaningless to you and to God.  And how much more to us, who are seeking to serve Him in this dear church!

But I must hasten.  Not only, we are making inquiry into why the intensity of the ministry of our Savior.  Not only because of the Holy Spirit.  Where the Holy Spirit of God is, there is movement; there is intense ministry.  Wherever the Spirit of God is, God does.

Second: He was moved by the need of the people.  You look at this, “And Jesus,” [chapter] 1, verse 41: “And Jesus, moved with compassion, put forth His hand, and touched him” [Mark 1:41].

Come over here to [chapter] 6: “And Jesus, when He came out, saw much people, and was moved with compassion toward them, because they were as sheep—did not have a shepherd” [Mark 6:34].

The other cause of the intense ministry of our Lord lies in the response of His heart to human need.  Our Savior was sensitive to us.  When He saw people that were sick, He sought to heal them [Matthew 12:15; Luke 4:40].  When He saw people that were hungry, He sought to feed them [Matthew 15:32].  When He saw people who were lost, He sought to find them [Matthew 9:36].  And when He saw people who were groping in darkness, He sought to teach them and to lead them to the light [John 8:12].

That’s God’s presence in our own hearts and in our own midst.  If you are a Christian and you have the Spirit of God in you, you cannot help but be sensitive to the needs of these who are sometimes sick, sometimes lost, sometimes in tragic providences.  It’s just all around you, just all around you.  I remember a day or so ago; there were five of our dear people in intensive care, in the hospital; five that I went to see; five of them in intensive care, facing death.

The whole world is like that.  And how does a man steel his heart against it?  “I will not look.  I will not allow it to enter into my thinking, or my life, or my way, or my doing.  However people are, it doesn’t matter to me.”

That’s why our Lord came from heaven.  In the tenth chapter of the Book of Hebrews is one of the most dramatic scenes in all creation.  Our Lord volunteers—He volunteers in heaven—to come down into this dark and lost world in order to be our Savior [Hebrews 10:5-14].  And that is what you have in the story of the gospel.  It moved Him to see the need of people [Mark 1:41; Matthew 9:36].

Dwight L. Moody, when he was an older teenager working in the store as a shoe clerk, his Sunday school teacher, named Kimball, came to see him and won him to the Lord, there in the shoe store.  Right after that, Dwight L. Moody moved to Chicago because he could make more money working in a store over there.  When he moved to Chicago he joined the church, and went up to the pastor and said he wanted to teach in the church.

And the pastor said to him, “You are uneducated.”  And that’s the Lord’s truth.  “You are uneducated.”  He wasn’t a school man.  “You are uneducated and on top that you stutter.  You can’t teach.”

So Dwight L. Moody—at that time they sold pews in the church, you’d buy a pew for your family—and Dwight L. Moody took what little money that he had and bought pews in the church.  And every Sunday he filled those pews with street urchins, and the poor, and the helpless, and the homeless.

That’s God in you.  You can’t help but be that way if you are touched by the hand of God; an intense ministry because the Lord was in him.  The Spirit was in him.  And because of human need all around you.

Now may I close with an appeal for us?  Our Lord said, “I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done” [John 13:15].

The Lord sent out the twelve [Matthew 10:1-6].  The Lord sent out the seventy [Luke 10:1].  And finally the Lord commissioned His people, His church; “Go ye therefore.  Go ye therefore, make disciples of all the people, baptizing them in the name of the triune God: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you” [Matthew 28:19-20].

That’s our present assignment.  And sweet congregation, I cannot describe to you the joy that I have in seeing the intense ministries of our wonderful church; 8:15 on Sunday morning, you will see this place filled.  Sunday school—eight thousand and more last Sunday; this precious hour, this great congregation in the house of the Lord.

And when I come down here tomorrow, there will be that academy with those 850 boys and girls attending school.  We can teach them the Word of God in our school.  We can pray in our school.  We can have chapel services in our school.  We can win to Jesus our Savior in our school.  And when I come down here and see those children in this school, my heart overflows, and when I see the many activities of our congregation every day in the week.  And then I think of our college, teaching those men and women how to be an effective minister in the pulpit, or how to be a fine staff member in the name of the Lord.

O God!  Beside thirty-one chapels that we have throughout this city ministering to the poor, to the hungry, to the needy, and the lost, O God, what a marvelous door God hath placed before us!  I thank Him forever and ever.

I have to close.  When I think of our mission offering and our mission ministry in Texas and around the world, I think, “Where did that begin?”  This modern mission movement, I go back; David Livingstone and John Moffet; go back beyond them, William Carey and our great Baptist mission movement.  Then I go back to that Austrian Baron von Welz, reading the Bible he became convinced that the Spirit of the Lord called him into those great responses; first personal witnessing, then giving money, finally giving his whole fortune, and finally he plunged into the jungle of Dutch Guiana. One year, and he died of the fevers and of the diseases and of the exposure and was buried there.  But God took that sacrifice and used it to found the great modern mission movement of this day.

And sweet people on television, when the Spirit of God knocks at the door of your heart, answer with your life [Romans 10:9-13].  “Lord, I believe in Thee.  I accept Thee for all You promised to be, and I give my life in faith and in trust to Thee.  And I ask You, Lord, to use me in Thy kingdom’s work.”  You will find a telephone number on the screen.  Call us.  There will be a consecrated man or woman to show you how to accept Christ as your Savior.  And if you will do it, I will meet you in heaven someday.

And to the great throng of people in the sanctuary here, on the first note of the first stanza, to accept Jesus, come [Ephesians 2:8].  To come into the fellowship of the church, come.  To answer God’s call in your heart, come.  As the Spirit shall press the appeal, make it now, while we stand and while we sing.