Good morning! It’s great to be home! Yes, Grace and I were in Hawaii visiting her sister. Yes, the weather was great and we had a wonderful time with our kids and grandkids. Yes, I did golf, but no hole in one this year. And finally, yes, the sermon today is about jealousy.
Let’s open our Bibles to Mark 3:20. We are in a sermon series through Mark called “In the Footsteps of Jesus”. Imagine how incredible it would be to begin your walk as a Christian by following Jesus as he went about his daily work. That’s what happened for the 12 apostles.
When Jesus invited the disciples to follow him, he was inviting them to learn how to do ministry by watching him. It was on-the-job training. His purpose wasn’t that they merely watch him. It wasn’t even that they help him. Jesus purpose was that the disciples learn to work together with him in doing his Father’s ministry.
This is an important point. Jesus doesn’t need our help to get his work done. He doesn’t want us to work FOR him, he wants us to work WITH him. He didn’t create Adam to care for the Garden of Eden because he was tired of doing all the work himself. He created Adam and Eve to participate with him in the work of caring for creation.
In the same way that Father, Son, and Holy Spirit enjoy the fellowship of working together, so God invites us to become partners with him in the redemption of the world. He isn’t calling us to work FOR him; he’s calling us to work WITH him at home, at work, in the world, with our kids, in the church, day by day, moment by moment.
Why is this so important to get straight? It’s because of a little green monster that lives inside each of us. It’s called jealousy or envy. Jesus has been living at Peter the fisherman’s house in Capernaum. He’s been busy healing people, teaching, and driving out demons. He’s been doing all the stuff the ancient prophecies said the Messiah would do. And people have been flocking to him – everyone except the religious leaders and his own family.
What’s wrong with them? They know the prophesies that were fulfilled at his birth! They know what the angels said! They know what John the Baptist said. They know about the miracles – still they refuse to believe. What’s going on here? Is it sibling rivalry or something more? In verse 21 his younger brothers/sisters and saying “He is out of his mind.” Mk 3:21
So here is God, in the flesh, walking among them, doing stuff only God can do, and instead of rejoicing and celebrating, they are consumed jealousy. They try to stop him, discredit him. “And the teachers of the law who came down from Jerusalem said, “He is possessed by Beelzebub! By the prince of demons he is driving out demons.” Mk 3:22
News about Jesus has spread all the way to Jerusalem, a three day journey away. When these religious leaders show up, they dismiss the good work Jesus is doing healing cripples and lepers and paraplegics, driving out of demons, instead they focus on discrediting him. “How is he doing all this stuff? It can’t be of God, therefore he must be empowered by the devil.”
These were men of the Word, if anybody should have recognized the Messiah, it would be them. Yet, envy has hardened their hearts, blinded their eyes and stopped up their ears. Fear and pride has made them unteachable. Is this still a problem? Is it a problem for us?
Maybe a better question is, “Have you ever been blinded by jealousy?” It’s easy for us to throw rocks at these religious leaders and dismiss them as self-righteous hypocrites. Some of them may have been. But not all of them! Most of them had given their whole lives over to serving God. These were not bad men. Yet there was this germ, this virus of depravity that was latent in their hearts and suddenly it began to sprout and grow within them.
This infection was so sinister that when God himself suddenly appeared in their midst, doing miracle after miracle they couldn’t see it. Instead, they accuse Jesus of being Satan himself.
Before we stone these guys, we should check out our own hearts. What kinds of things evoke jealousy in your heart this morning? Someone else’s wealth? Their clothes or appearance? The attention they receive? Do you envy someone else’s success?
Do you struggle with comparing yourself to others, particularly those who have more than you? Does it make you bitter? Do you have a habit of nit-picking or criticizing others? Why do you do that? What are you trying to prove? We know envy is wrong, yet we do it, why?
Jealousy can detort our perceptions so much that like these religious leaders, we end up calling evil good and good evil. God can be doing his thing right beside us and our pride and jealousy prevents us from seeing it. Instead of rejoicing when God blesses our neighbor, we grumble and murmur. Who usually pays the price for our stinky jealous attitude! Usually it’s our spouse, our kids, our co-workers. Is God’s grace to us amazing or what?
So what do we do? In the Psalms David tells us the way to defeat envy is with praise and thanksgiving. He says we need get our eyes off of ourselves and on to the Lord. He alone can deliver us. Count your blessings is easier to say than to do.
The truth is, its not only the demon possessed who need an exorcism. We need Jesus to drive out the jealousy, the envy from our hearts and replace it with his love and grace.
Notice how Jesus responds to these “holy guys” who are doing their best to publically humiliate him. What an act of grace it is that Jesus would allow these guys to call him Beelzebub, lord of the flies, king of the garbage dumb, prince of demons.
Jesus could have called down fire from heaven and toasted them on the spot, but he doesn’t. He fulfills what was said about him in the Psalms. “He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.” Ps 103:10 Is that good news?
Instead of answering them back in kind or humiliating them in front of the crowd, Jesus responds to their envy with grace, logic, and even humor. We have such a gracious God!
These guys prided themselves on their logic. Jesus answers in they can understand. “How can Satan drive out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand. And if Satan opposes himself and is divided, he cannot stand; his end has come.” Mk 3:23-26
There is an important point here we don’t want to miss. The kingdom of God is all about community and relationships. It’s about “we”. God exists in community of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, each one unique, each one supporting, glorifying, cooperating, working together with the others in perfect unity. Jesus came to invite us into a community of love, joy, working together with God even to the point of emptying ourselves for the good of others. There is no such thing as jealousy or envy within the Trinity.
That’s inconceivable in the mind of Satan. Satan is the ultimate narcissist. His idea of Kingdom is not WE, it’s ME. He despises community, cooperation, servanthood. He rejects sacrifice for the good of another. He rejects love and burns with envy and jealousy.
He hates everything, especially us and he will do anything in his power to trap and poison and infect our hearts with his demons of envy and jealousy. But I have good news for you. Jesus came to set us free from our bondage to envy.
Look at vs 27. “Jesus called them (the religious leaders) and spoke to them in parables: “No one can enter a strong man’s house and carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man. Then he can rob his house.” Mk 3:27
Commentators differ on what Jesus means in this parable. But the context is his power to drive out demons. Jesus has the power to enter Satan house and steal what Satan considers to be his own.
Imagine for a moment our bondage to sin. Jealousy and envy are like demons that have taken possession of our souls. We are powerless against these strong men. But Jesus has the power to cast out these demons and cleanse our hearts and set us free.
How does he do this? By playing king of the mountain? Exalting himself? No, by giving his life on the cross. He conquered Satan through his blood shed on the cross for us.
The power of the cross can forgive and deliver you from every sin you have ever committed. We access that forgiveness when we respond to the calling of the Holy Spirit to repent, confess our sin, look to Jesus as our Savior. We humble ourselves and become teachable.
This is one sin however that can never be forgiven, and that is to continue to resist the prompting of the Holy Spirit. To refuse to be teachable. To refuse to humble ourselves and repent our envy, pride, our jealousy, lust, whatever the sin may be.
If we persist in this way of life, we blaspheme the work of the Holy Spirit. We remain blind to the grace that God is offering us in Jesus. His grace is the only power that can displace the sin in our hearts and fill us with humility, love, compassion, gratitude and a teachable spirit.
Do you have an envy problem this morning? Is there something else that has taken possession of your heart? Are you willing to be set free? Are you willing for him to cast it out and fill you with his love and thankfulness? Will you pray with me?