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Childish vs Willful Rebellion

Matt Carter    /    May 19, 2013


Matt Carter speaks on Mark 11:27 - 12:12

Series: The Gospel of Mark




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Sermon Transcript

The chief priests were in charge of the religious temple. When they asked Jesus what authority He was doing all these things, they were referring to Him turning over the tables and driving people out of the temple. To them, Jesus was just some back of the woods guy from Nazareth. He had no training and wasn’t a chief priest. They were basically saying, “Who do you think you are to come into our temple and do what you did?”


Jesus didn’t answer, but rather turned it around and asked them a question. He said, “I’ll tell you the authority I have, if you’ll answer one question. Was the baptism of John from heaven or man?” Was the ministry of John the Baptist from God or just man made? They were stumped. If they said John the Baptist’s ministry was from God, they would endorse Jesus’ ministry, because he endorsed and baptized Him. But if they said it was from man, it would upset everybody, because they all loved John the Baptist. Either way, they were in trouble. So they decided to say they didn’t know.


Jesus then shared the story about the man who planted a vineyard. Through this story, Jesus was referring to all the prophets who had come to Israel with a message from God, yet the people of Israel continued to reject, beat and kill them. He even talked of His own death through mentioning the vineyard owner sending his own son. He quoted Psalm 118, a Messianic psalm the chief priests knew. Jesus was saying, “You know that Messianic stone the builders, you guys, are going to reject? It will become the cornerstone and God is going to build this whole thing off the death of His son.”


This was a round about way of Jesus saying His authority came from God. The reason He could go into the temple, throw tables over and kick people out was because it was His temple. It was at that moment the chief priests looked at him and made the decision they needed to get rid of Him.


These were the Pharisees, chief priests and the elders, God’s men. They knew the law. Their issue with Jesus wasn’t that they didn’t believe His authority was from God. They had seen the power of Jesus in His divinity displayed over and over again. Their issue was with submitting to His authority.


If they admitted Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the Living God, they would lose their position, power, influence and control. Rather than submit to His authority and power, losing their own, they killed Him.


Make no mistake, when you make the decision to follow Jesus, He calls us to a lot more than Sunday morning worship attendance. When He calls us to Himself, He’s calling us to hand over the reigns of our life and to surrender our authority, power and control of our lives.


The Mark of a Believer


14 For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; 15 and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. 2 Corinthians 5:14-15 (ESV)


Three things define a follower of Christ:


  1. As believers, we are no longer controlled anymore by the love we have for ourselves. It is our love for Jesus that now controls our lives.
  2. Since Christ died for you, you are to die to yourself.
  3. Because you have died to yourself, you are now to live for Him.


The Pharisees and chief priests were unwilling to do this.


“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Matthew 5:5 (ESV)


When we hear the word meek, we hear weak. But this is not true. The biblical definition of meek means power under control. This word was used for a broken horse, which has all the strength and passion of an unbroken horse, yet submits that strength and passion to the man holding the reigns. Jesus was saying, “Blessed are those who have power under authority. For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” A believer gives the reigns of their power and passion over to Jesus.


One of the best biblical examples of what this looks like is the story of Mary. A teenager doing her own thing, with dreams and hopes of what her life would be like. Then all of a sudden an angel appeared and said, “Mary, you’re going to bear a son.” She looked at him, “How is that going to happen, I’ve never even been with a man?” The angel responded, “The Holy Spirit is going to come upon you and you will have a son. You will name Him Jesus, Immanuel, ‘God with us’ and the kingdom will be built through all of this.” It hit Mary in that moment that her life as she knew it was over. She knew what she would be called when she began to grow a child while not married. She read the stories of the Old Testament and knew the prophecies of the Messiah. She knew she would one day watch her son die. She knew she was about to hand over the reigns of her life to God. When that hit her, she responded, “I am the slave of the Lord and He can do with me whatever He wants.” That is the mark of a believer.


The chief priests’ response and ours, when we refuse to submit our lives to Jesus, is rebellion. There are two kinds:


  1. Childish Rebellion
  2. Willful Rebellion


Childish Rebellion


I’m going to use my children as examples. Each one rebels differently. Let’s use the proverbial cookie jar. My wife makes cookies and then says the kids can’t eat them until tomorrow. We leave the room. Ten minutes later one of them will walk in with chocolate on the corner of their mouth. We’ll say, “Did you eat a cookie?” This child will immediately start weeping. He’ll confess and say, “I did it, the devil made me do it. I’m so sorry!” Then he’ll just start confessing every sin he’s ever done.


This is childish rebellion. It’s a sin. But it’s coming from a heart of childishness and a lack of wisdom. It’s Peter, who on the night Jesus needed him most, completely failed Him. At the end of the day, the sin Peter committed was every bit as bad as Judas’ sin. He denied Jesus three times. When the rooster crowed, what he just did hit him and he began to weep. It crushed him to know he let the Lord down.


What was Jesus’ response? He pursued him, found him on the beach, cooked him breakfast and called him back to ministry. He rebuked and disciplined him, but he also restored him.


Sin is sin. Jesus had to die for Peter’s sins. But there’s so much grace when we love the Lord, but just mess up and repent.


Willful Rebellion


This is the premeditated, obstinate rebellion.


Consider the same cookie jar scenario, except with a different child walking in with crumbs on his chin. We’ll ask him, “Did you eat a cookie?” This child will look right into my eyes and say, “Yes.” I’ll ask him why and he’ll respond, “Because I wanted to.” I tell him I’m going to have to spank him. He’ll look at me and say, “Do your worst.”


This child will eventually repent. But I will have to go Old Testament on him first, wrath of God kind of stuff. He will eventually repent.


This kind of rebellion doesn’t come from a place of childishness. It comes from a willful, obstinate heart. He knew what we said, but he didn’t care, he was going to do what he wanted to do regardless.


God deals very differently with people with willful rebellion.


19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Romans 1:19-21 (ESV)


Because of creation, they know God. Yet, they choose not to honor and give thanks to Him as God.


18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. Romans 1:18 (ESV)


They know the truth, but they suppress it. They know God, but don’t honor and give thanks to Him. The result of this kind of sin is not breakfast on the beach with Jesus. The result is the wrath of God.


Which Are You?


Take a moment and evaluate your sin patterns.


Do your sins come from a place of foolishness or childishness? Are you sinning from a lack of wisdom, but you do repent? Then pray for wisdom not to put your hand in the cookie jar. Pray God will give you the strength to continue to repent. John Piper says, “As long as you seek genuine repentance in your life, you’re alright.” The second you no longer repent, you’re in trouble. Pray God’s goodness, like a fetter, will bind your wondering heart to His. And remember there is no condemnation for those in Christ. You can never mess up too much to where He won’t love you. Trust in the love of God.


Or do you see the hooks and patterns of willful, obstinate rebellion against God? Do you not like handing over control to God? Having His authority reign in your life? This is dangerous. First step is admitting this is you. Confess that you see those hooks in your heart. Then beg God to change and soften your heart. Make war on your sin. Ask God to break your will. It’s a hard prayer to ask, but needs to be done. Ask Him to produce meekness in your life.


Regardless of where your stand, the Gospel is more powerful than childish and willful rebellion. The Bible is full of stories of God taking childishly rebellious hearts, putting wisdom in them and changing them for the glory of God. The Bible is also full of stories of God taking hard hearts of stone, willfully obstinate against the Lord, and melting them down, breaking them and using them for the glory of God.


Wherever you are today, repent and run to Jesus. Let Him give you life.