The greatest news in human history was announced nearly two thousand years ago, and it still rings true today. Regardless of your past or your upbringing or the sins you’ve committed, there is Someone who can change everything about your life … and your eternity. We’re introduced to this Person in Mark 1:1–15, and he is none other than Jesus Christ, the Son of God. In this message, David Platt pleads with us to hear and respond to the opening summons of Jesus in Mark’s Gospel: “… repent and believe in the gospel.” As we begin a journey through Mark’s Gospel, we’ll consider twenty short pictures of Jesus in these opening verses. There is truly no one like him.
No One Like Jesus – Following Jesus, Part 1
If you have a Bible—and I hope you or somebody around you does—we’re going to be in Mark 1. Before we dive in today, I want to let you know where the next few moments are headed. I’m going to offer two specific invitations to everyone within the sound of my voice.
First, I’m going to invite you to receive Jesus’ invitation for you to experience new life in relationship with Him. So to be clear, this invitation is for everybody, whether you’ve grown up in church, or this is literally your first time ever in church, or your first time watching church online. It’s an invitation for those of you who may have questions about God. It’s an invitation for people who may feel far from God, because of your past, or maybe even your present. It’s an invitation for people who may have felt close to God at some point in your life, but that was a long time ago and a lot has happened since then. It’s an invitation for people who may even call yourself a Christian, but you know deep down in your heart that you’re not actually following Jesus. You’re a Christian in name only.
The point is this invitation is for everybody. It doesn’t matter your past, your present, your personality, your age, your background—this invitation is for you to experience life in Jesus by either beginning or renewing a relationship with Him. If you have any questions about where you stand with God, I want to help you settle those today.
Then the second invitation is for you to make a decision today to be baptized as a follower of Jesus. See, baptism is the first thing that followers of Jesus do. It’s like a “going public” celebration and a declaration that you’re not ashamed to be a follower of Jesus. I know there are many people here today who have not taken that step, for a variety of reasons. Maybe it’s because you have yet to become a follower of Jesus. Or maybe it’s because you became a follower of Jesus recently, or maybe even many years ago. But for whatever reason, you’ve not done this yet.
There have been times in the past here at MBC when we have baptized people on the spot and provided clothes and everything you need, right here in this moment. We stopped doing that when COVID hit, and with cases increasing with this variant, we’re not quite ready to resume that. But that doesn’t mean you can’t put a stake in the ground today and say, “I’m ready to follow Jesus. It’s time for me to be baptized.” At the end of our gathering, I’m going to share with you how you can do either or both of these things—to trust in Jesus to begin new life in Him and/or be baptized.
Before we get there, I want to start by introducing you to a few people:
- Joe was in high school when a friend first invited him to MBC. As a teenager, he was experimenting with drugs and struggling with depression.
- Similarly, Gabe. The first time he came to MBC, just one week before he had overdosed and almost died.
- Divani is from Guyana. She grew up in a Hindu home until she moved out of her house, then one day a friend invited her to church for the first time in her life.
- Colleen, on the other hand, grew up in church, only to turn her back, not just on church, but on anything associated with God.
- Juan, likewise, was involved in church for a time, until he decided that a relationship with God was fine for his wife and kids, but not for him, so he left.
- Sheila stayed in church, but she was constantly afraid of God, thinking she needed to do as much good as she could to appease Him, but she never felt good enough. Every week in church she felt like she was a failure.
- Michael would say that success and adventure were his idols. He lived to get whatever he wanted, according to however he thought and whatever he felt.
- Carla, who grew up in South Africa and moved here in pursuit of happiness in the American Dream.
- Christina was angry with God. In her own words, she was “lost in hopelessness and depression,” to the point that she eventually tried to take her own life.
- Nathan similarly said, “My life was a mess.”
- Alice, who grew up in our children’s ministry here, said she heard every week about God’s love for her.
- Then there’s Sabrina, whose special needs left her feeling different and unaccepted by others.
- Finally, there’s Kevin, who would describe his journey as one of debilitating anxiety.
What do these people have in common? One day, every single one of them encountered Jesus and He totally changed their lives in this world—and for all of eternity. Each one of them made the decision that I’m inviting people all across this gathering to make today. Which leads to the question: what is it about Jesus that has the power to change everything about your life in this world—and for all of eternity? That’s the question I want to answer in the next few minutes.
Today we’re beginning a journey through a book of the Bible written by a guy named Mark, who, under the inspiration of God’s Holy Spirit, recorded one of the four accounts we have of Jesus’ life. Today I want us to hear the breathtaking, mind-blowing, life-changing introduction he gives us to Jesus. Follow along with me as we read, beginning in Mark 1:1:
The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
As it is written in Isaiah the prophet,
“Behold, I send my messenger before your face,
who will prepare your way,
the voice of one crying in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight,’”
John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And all the country of Judea and all Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel’s hair and wore a leather belt around his waist and ate locusts and wild honey. And he preached, saying, “After me comes he who is mightier than I, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”
The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. And he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. And he was with the wild animals, and the angels were ministering to him.
Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”
There is so much in what we just read. Here’s how I want to summarize it. I want to show you 20 pictures of Jesus we see here. Now, don’t get worried that we’re going to be here all day; we’re going to go pretty quick.
I’ve been asked many times by non-Christian friends, “What makes Jesus unique, or different, or in any way superior to any other religious teacher in the world? Isn’t Jesus just one among many?” I want to show you in a few short minutes that there is no one—NO ONE—like Jesus. He alone has the power to change everything about your life. I’d encourage you to write these down, so you can think about them later. Or if you’re already a follower of Jesus, I’d encourage you to write them down so you can give an answer to anyone who asks you, “What’s unique about Jesus? Why is He worth following with my life?” What would you say? Here’s what I would say, based on Mark 1, starting in the first verse.
1. Jesus is the center of all history.
This whole book of the Bible starts with the beginning, which is the exact same word that starts the entire Bible: “In the beginning…” It goes back all the way to the start of time to show that all of history has been pointing forward to Jesus. And everything since in history points back to Him. We base our calendars—our understanding of years—around the life of Jesus.
From the start of the book of Mark, we are seeing the right way to look at history is with Jesus at the center of it all. You are not at the center of history. I am not at the center of history. Our generation is not at the center of history. The United States of America is not at the center of history. Throughout history, billions of people have come and billions have gone. Empires have come and empires have gone. Countries, nations, kings, queen, presidents, dictators, rulers have come and gone. And at the center of it all stands one Man, Jesus Christ. He’s the center of the whole story.
2. Jesus is the source of the greatest news in the world.
Jesus is not just the center of all history; He is the source of the greatest news in the world—the gospel. That word literally means “good news.” Throughout the Old Testament of the Bible, this word was used to describe a herald bringing good news of victory in battle or deliverance from enemies. In Luke’s account of Jesus’ life, he introduces us to Jesus, then he shows us Jesus standing in the temple at the beginning of His ministry, quoting from Isaiah 61 to describe the purpose for His coming:
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:18-19).
Picture it. In the middle of all these realities in a fallen world—poverty, captivity, blindness and oppression—Jesus says, “I have good news. Your poverty is not the end, your captivity is not the end, your blindness is not the end, your oppression is not the end. The good news is that ultimate liberty is coming. Eternal sight is coming. Forever freedom can be yours.” How is that possible?
3. Jesus is the only One Who can save us from our sin and the judgment we deserve.
Mark 1:1, “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus…” Do you know what His name means? It literally means “the Lord saves.” In Matthew’s account of Jesus’ life, God tells Joseph, “You shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). There is no one else who can do this.
Listen really closely here, particularly if you are new to church or not yet a Christian, because this is the “big picture” story of the Bible. We have all been created by God, formed and fashioned by God Himself, for relationship with God. It’s what you were made for. But we have all sinned against God. We have all turned aside from God’s ways to our own says. It looks different in each one of our lives, but our sin has separated us from God. Now if we die in this state of separation from God, then we will spend eternity separated from God in judgment that we deserve for our sin.
But the gospel—the good news of the Bible—is that God saves. God has sent Jesus to die on a cross for our sin, to rise from the grave in victory over sin, so that we don’t have to experience the judgment we deserve if we trust in Jesus. There is no one else who can save us from our sin. Think about it. You can’t save yourself from your sin. Like Sheila, who I mentioned earlier, no matter how much good you or I might try to do, we can’t cover up the fact that we have sinned against God. Look around you. Who in this world is going to save you from sin when everyone around you is a sinner?
4. Jesus is the only One Who can bring us the hope, joy and love we desire.
Jesus is the only One Who can save us from our sin and the judgment we deserve, and, number four, Jesus is the only One Who can bring us the hope, joy and love we desire. Mark 1:1 says, “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ…” Christ is not His last name. It means the Messiah. It’s a reference to all those times in the Old Testament, amidst evil kings who led God’s people in evil ways, when over and over again God said, “One day the Messiah will come, the One you long for. He will bring the perfect hope and joy and love you desire.” Mark is now introducing Jesus with the first verse announcing, “He’s here. He is the Son of God.”
5 & 6. Jesus is fully divine and Jesus is fully human.
This is the fifth and sixth picture: Jesus is fully divine and fully human. That’s what the Bible means by referring to Jesus as the Son of God. We don’t have time to dive in deeply here, but when the Bible uses this title for Jesus, it’s not a reference to a biological son, like you might picture the sons in my house. Instead, it’s a reference to how Jesus is the same nature as God. In Hebrews 1:2-3, the Bible talks about how God has spoken to us by His Son, Who is “the exact imprint of his nature.” He is fully divine.
Yet, He is also fully human, like you and me. Jesus is literally God in the flesh, unlike anyone else who has ever lived. We’ll talk about that more in a minute. We’re six pictures in with just one verse.
7. Jesus is proof that God keeps His promises.
Moving on to Mark 1:2, “As it is written in Isaiah the prophet…” Jesus is proof that God keeps His promises. Mark refers to one of over 300 specific prophecies in the Old Testament of the Bible, written over hundreds of years, that are fulfilled in detail in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. Mark is making clear from the beginning that God keeps all the promises He makes and that His promises ultimately find their fulfillment in Jesus.
8. Jesus possesses all power.
John the Baptist, who we’ll talk about more in a minute, describes Jesus as “mightier than I” (Mark 1:7). That’s a great phrase, a reference to the might and power and authority that belong to the One Who speaks and demons flee. Jesus speaks and diseases disappear. Jesus speaks and the storms stop. Jesus speaks and the dead come to life. Jesus possesses all power. We will see more of this in the coming weeks as we walk through the Gospel of Mark.
9. Jesus comes to meet you where you are.
Then, watch this in verse none: “In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan.” What a picture. Jesus doesn’t start in Jerusalem, which is where people would have expected because it was the center of the worship life of God’s people. Instead, Jesus comes out to the wilderness. Are you getting the picture here? Jesus is not a picture of God being distant from us; Jesus is a picture of God with us. He comes to us, right where we are, instead of waiting for us to figure out our way to Him.
10. Jesus comes to show you how to live.
The whole reason He’s being baptized here is to identify with those who will follow Him. Jesus doesn’t call people to do what He is not willing to do Himself. So He’s baptized by John. As soon as He comes up out of the water, the heavens are torn open and the Spirit descends on Him like a dove. This is biblical imagery of peace that again takes us all the way back to the beginning of the Bible, to Genesis 8. After the flood, what flies over the earth? A dove, as a picture of God’s peace in a world of turmoil.
11. Jesus brings complete peace.
In a world of war and conflicts, crises and tensions, pain and pandemics, Jesus brings peace.
12 & 13. Jesus is filled with God the Spirit and Jesus is loved by God the Father.
Again, this is part of the imagery in Jesus being called God’s Son. It reflects this relationship, “You are my beloved Son…” between God the Father and God the Son. It’s marked by perfect love.
I think about coaching one of my sons in football yesterday, then watching another son play tackle football on Friday night. He almost got an interception. Another is running cross country, getting his best time. All the while, I’m waiting on another adopted son on the other side of the world. I love my sons and my daughter so much. But even that love is imperfect.
Scripture gives us a picture of perfect love between God the Father and God the Son, Jesus.
14. Jesus is familiar with temptation.
After being baptized by John, Jesus is immediately led out by God’s Spirit into the wilderness where He is tempted. Again, Jesus is like us. At the core, there is no temptation that you face that Jesus did not also face. Sure, you might think of things specific to you, or even specific in our day. Jesus was never tempted to do something sinful on a cell phone or social media. That doesn’t mean Jesus wasn’t tempted to look at, think about, participate in or desires things that were not good.
15. Jesus is the only One Who can completely resist sin.
This story sets the stage for the rest of Jesus’ life, showing us that Jesus is the only One Who can completely resist sin. In the words of Hebrews 4:15, “In every respect [Jesus] has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” Who else do you know who has or can completely resist sin? No one.
16. Jesus is the only One Who can ultimately defeat Satan.
Satan is the author of sin, which leads to death. Can you defeat sin and death? When you die, can you raise yourself from the grave? Then after that, can you cast Satan, the devil himself, into eternal judgment? Who else in history can do this? No one. There is no one like Jesus.
17. Jesus is familiar with suffering.
These last four are so good. Jesus is familiar with suffering. It’s really interesting that Mark says in verse 13, “…he was with the wild animals…” Why would Mark point that out? Mark was writing to predominately Gentile Christians in the first century who were being persecuted by Nero, the Roman Emperor. One historian wrote of Nero’s savagery toward Christians, saying, “They were covered with the hides of wild beasts and torn to pieces by dogs.” So Mark includes this phrase as if to remind these early Christians that Jesus too was familiar with suffering, eventually to the point of death on a cross in love for them.
While those of us in this gathering today are not experiencing persecution like that, many in this gathering are walking through difficult days. Jesus is familiar with what those days entail. You are not alone in your suffering.
18. Jesus brings hope for people in all nations.
Jesus comes into Galilee proclaiming the good news of God. His ministry did not start in Jerusalem, but in Galilee, which was actually called “Galilee of the Gentiles” —a place where Jews and Gentiles lived side by side. Jesus came proclaiming good news, not just for one type of person in one place, like many Jewish people would have been expecting, but for all types of people in all places. There is no person or place in the world that is beyond the hope of Jesus.
19. Jesus is the King Who reigns over all things.
In verse 15, we see that “,,,the kingdom of God is at hand…” Translation: “The King has come, the One Who is ushering in an eternal Kingdom.” Earthly kingdoms come and earthly kingdoms go. Countries come and countries go. The Roman Empire was prevalent in the first century, but it doesn’t even exist in the 21st century.
So let us not be so arrogant as to think that any earthly kingdom or country today, including the United States of America, is going to last. One day every earthly kingdom and country will fall, then one Kingdom will remain, led by the King Who reigns over all things.
20. Jesus invites you into a relationship with Him.
This then leads to our last, and maybe the most breathtaking, picture of Jesus in Mark 1. Number 20: Jesus invites you into a relationship with Him. Did you hear that? Jesus invites you into a relationship with Him. Just in case that’s not taking your breath away, just in case that’s not knocking you out of your seat right now, let me put it all together.
The One Who is at the center of all history, the source of the greatest news in all the world, the fully human and fully divine, utterly unique One Who can save you from your sin and rescue you from eternal judgment, Who can bring you all the hope and joy and love you desire, Who possesses all power and keeps all promises, the One Who is filled with God the Spirit and loved by God the Father, Who has defeated sin and will destroy Satan, the One Who is familiar with all suffering and temptation, Who brings hope for people in all nations—the King Who reigns over everything in all the universe—He has invited you, right where you’re sitting right now, into a relationship with Him.
This is a stunning, breathtaking reality, when you realize Who is offering you this invitation. There is no room for casual acceptance here or monotonous religious motion in response to this Jesus. Jesus is worthy of everything you have and everything you are. Which is what Mark 1 is showing us in response to Jesus, calling you and me to repent, believe and be baptized.
“[R]epent and believe in the gospel,” Jesus says in verse 15. Repent means to make a change in your mind, in your heart, in your life, to decide that you’re going to turn. Repent means to turn from two things. One, to turn from your sin, to confess your sin to God, that you have turned aside from His ways. It’s to confess your need for His forgiveness of your sins, turning from yourself, including all of your attempts to save and satisfy yourself. It’s to say, “God, I need You.” It’s humility before God. It’s laying aside your pride in a world that says at every turn, “Promote yourself, advance yourself, please yourself, satisfy yourself.” Jesus calls us to deny ourselves and confess our need for Him.
Repent and believe. In other words, trust. This is the beauty. It’s not, “Do this list of things.” It’s just, “Trust My love for you.” Trust in Jesus as the Savior of your life. Believe the good news that Jesus has died on the cross for your sins, He’s risen from the grave, He’s defeated sin and death so that you can have eternal life. Believe God’s love for you. Trust in Jesus as the Savior of your life, trust in Jesus as the Lord over all, including your life.
It is not possible to be a true Christian in name only. If you are following this Jesus, it changes everything about your life. Which is the symbolism we see throughout Mark 1 when it comes to this act of baptism. The word literally means to be immersed in water, then to come back out of that water in a symbolic picture of a total life change. To be baptized is a symbolic picture of going from dirty to clean. It’s what’s depicted in this washing of water. You can be clean from all your sin through faith in Jesus.
It’s not that baptism is what cleanses you from your sin; it’s a picture of the cleansing that has happened as you’ve repented and believed in the gospel. You’ve gone from dirty to clean. You’ve gone from guilty to forgiven. Mark 1:4 describes a “,,,baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.” All who repent and believe in the gospel are forgiven by God for all of your sins. You’ve gone from old to new. The whole picture here in Mark 1 is Jesus bringing the beginning of new life for all who trust in Him.
Baptism also symbolizes going from death to life, from being spiritually dead in sin to being spiritually alive with Jesus, ultimately knowing that when you physically die, you will not experience everlasting judgment for your sin; you will experience everlasting joy with God through Jesus.
I ask every single one of you today, right where you are sitting, “If you were to die unexpectedly today, do you know for sure that you would go to heaven to be with God?” If you are in any way depending on yourself to get to heaven, you are missing the point. The only way to eternal life with God—now and forever—is through repenting and believing the gospel. Baptism is a physical illustration of this spiritual reality in your heart.
So I bring you back to the people I introduced you to earlier—people just like you, whose lives experienced total change when they repented, believed the gospel and were baptized.
- Joe, the high schooler struggling with depression and experimenting with drugs, couldn’t contain tears of joy when he rose up out of that water, symbolizing new life in Jesus.
- A similar expression was on Gabe’s face, who was a week removed from overdosing, praising God now for new, eternal life. By the way, Gabe is now intentionally training to help others who are walking through similar struggles.
- Divani, formerly Hindu from Guyana, said it took two times hearing the gospel in this church before she gave her life to Jesus, then He made her a new person. She hasn’t looked back since.
- Colleen, who turned her back on God for years, said in her baptism story, “Although I gave up on God, He never gave up on me. He met me at my darkest hour and gave me life.”
- After decades away from church, Juan returned to Jesus and found his family waiting in the church where he was baptized. He now comes to worship, not just with his children, but with his grandchildren, to worship Jesus.
- Sheila, constantly afraid of God, said on the day she was baptized, “I realize salvation is a gift of God’s grace. I put all my faith in Jesus’ work for me and now I can’t wait for the day when I see His face.”
- When Michael was baptized, he shared how he had found life in Jesus that far eclipses the idols of success and adventure in this world.
- Carla literally just about jumped out of the pool when she came out of the water, saying in her South African accent that I so wish I could imitate, “Jesus met me at my lowest point and His grace rewrote my story.”
- Christina, once lost in hopelessness and depression to the point that she tried to take her own life, said, “My life today is literally a testimony of Jesus’ victory over the grave.” Then she started preaching, saying, “If you’re here today and feel like you’ve lost all hope, the breath in your lungs is evidence that your life has meaning and value before God. Jesus cares for you and will fight for you, if you will only trust in Him.”
- Nathan, who admitted his life was a mess, said, “On the best day of my life, I read about God’s love through Jesus in John 3:16 and He changed everything.”
- Alice, testifying how she had heard the gospel from her family and this church family, said, “I know God is powerful and mighty; He will never fail me.”
- Sabrina, with her special needs, said, “I learned in Friendship Club that God loves me and made me special. I can trust in Jesus with who He has made me to be.”
- Finally, Kevin, amidst debilitating anxiety, said on the day he was baptized, “I hit a wall, then Jesus opened a door for me. I continue to have struggles, but I have found Jesus to be a source of absolute peace in the middle of them.”
Some of you are thinking, “One of these stories sounds like mine.” Maybe multiple stories. I hope you are hearing loud and clear in your heart today that Jesus didn’t just do that for them; Jesus will do this for you. Jesus knows exactly where you are and will do all of these things for you.
Some of you are thinking, “I don’t have some of the problems some of these other people have. Maybe I don’t need Jesus.” If that thought is anywhere close to your mind, I want to encourage you with everything in me today, don’t miss the point. We all have problems. We all have an infinitely serious problem. We have sinned against a holy God. We’re separated from Him and deserve judgment before Him. God has made a way for that problem to be solved through the gospel of Jesus Christ. When you repent and believe in Him as Savior and Lord, God will forgive all your sin and give you new and eternal life with Him.
I told you I have two invitations for you today. Invitation number one is for you to receive new life in Jesus. I wish I could sit down with every person and just look you in the eye. I would ask you, ”Have you trusted in Jesus as your life? As your life, not an add-on to your life. Is He your life, such that you know beyond the shadow of a doubt that if you were to die today, you would live forever with God?”
So many people I talk with are banking their eternity on an “I think so” or “I hope so” or “I think I’m a pretty good person; my good outweighs my bad.” But that’s not what determines your eternity. The determining question is: do you trust in Jesus as your life?
Again, this may be your first time in church or you may have grown up in church. Maybe you’ve even called yourself a Christian. But truth be told, if you were to stand before God right now, it would be clear that Jesus is not your life.
For many, you have all kinds of excuses for not making Jesus your life. You say, “I’ve still got questions.” That’s great. Today you can start to get them answered. Begin that conversation now. You might say, “I’ll do this later.” But I want to warn you, there may not be a “later.” I want to say this as plainly as possible. Not one of us in this gathering right now is guaranteed tomorrow. You or I could die at any moment—on your way home or in your home—and this opportunity will be gone forever. Even if you live for many more years, you don’t want to harden your heart toward God.
Hear the voice of God’s Spirit speaking to you like He is right now. Don’t think, “Maybe later,” in such a way that you never come back to this moment. I say to some of you soberly, “This could be your last opportunity.” Today is the day. Don’t make excuses. Today’s excuses will be tomorrow’s regrets. Five minutes into eternity, what are you going to be glad you held on to that kept you from Jesus?
The first invitation is for you to receive life in Jesus. Then the second invitation is for you to decide today to be baptized as a follower of Jesus. People make all kinds of excuses here, some saying. “I’m going to wait for this or that” or “I’m not ready.” But the reality is, if you’ve trusted in Jesus, you’re ready and it’s time.
Some of you have been saying for years, “Baptism is not really that important. It doesn’t make a big difference when or whether I’m baptized.” Are you serious? What are you saying about Jesus? Every single day, as you ignore the very first thing He calls His followers to do, are you following Jesus or not? That’s really the question that it all comes down to. Do you trust Jesus as your life or not? That’s the question and this is a defining moment. Today is a defining day for you to do what God is inviting you to do.
Two invitations—it’s time to respond. So let me invite you to bow your heads with me. With every head bowed and eyes closed, just so you can focus between you and God, I want to ask every single person, first and foremost, “Before God, is Jesus your life?” If the answer to that question is not a resounding yes in your heart, then I want to invite you, right where you’re sitting, to pray to Him right now.
Just humble your heart before God and say, “God, I want and need Jesus to be my life. I know that I have sin in my life that separates me from You. Today I am repenting and believing. I am turning from my sin and myself, trusting in Jesus as the One Who died for my sin and rose from the grave. I’m trusting in Jesus as the Lord of my life, now and forever.”
With our heads bowed and eyes closed, if you just expressed that to God in your heart, wherever you are, please just raise your hand. Obviously I can’t see everybody in every location. But it’s not about me seeing. It’s about you before God. Praise God. Praise God.
O God, I pray for all these hands—the ones I see, the ones I can’t. God, I praise You. Jesus, I praise You for saving them, for giving them new and eternal life with You today, for meeting them where they are and changing their lives as they repent and believe the gospel. I pray that You would give this group the courage to do what I’m about to invite them and others to do next.
Ss you put your hands down, here’s the second invitation. Maybe you just prayed that to God and you’re going to celebrate that today by moving toward baptism. Or maybe you were already a Christian before you came in here. You’ve trusted in Jesus as your life, but you have not been baptized and are currently walking in disobedience to Jesus. Today is the day to obey, to make this decision. I want to pray for you, then as soon as I say amen, in all of our locations as well as online, you’ll get instructions on how you can take the step toward baptism today.
O God, I pray that You would give courage for people to unashamedly say, “Jesus is my life.” I pray that, just like we’ve heard from all these others, through baptism, they will give testimony to Your power to save, to Your love that saves and satisfies us forever. Jesus, there is no one like You. We gather to worship You and in a fresh way, to turn from our sin and ourselves to trust in You. You’re the Savior of our lives. You’re the Lord over all, and we worship You.
As we walk through this book of Mark over the coming weeks, we pray that You would help us to invite more and more people—family, friends, coworkers, neighbors, acquaintances, even people we meet in the store or the restaurant—to come into these gatherings, to see Jesus and to be changed for all eternity. We pray that many people would come to faith in Jesus, that they would repent and believe the gospel and be baptized in the days ahead, in ways that resound to the glory of Jesus alone. In His name we pray all these things. And all God’s people said, “Amen.”