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Bishop Jackson’s Inauguration Prayer for President Trump

Here are the words of Bishop Wayne T. Jackson’s prayer, offered at the inauguration of President Donald J. Trump, January 20, 2017:

We thank You, Father, for letting us share this great moment together. Let us not take for granted the air we breathe, or the life You’ve given us. We were all created by You with one blood, all nations to dwell on this land together. We’re not enemies; we’re brothers and sisters. We’re not adversaries, but we’re allies. We’re not foes, but we’re friends. Let us be healed by the power of Your love, and united by the bond of Your Spirit.

Today, we pray for our 45th president, the vice-president, and their families. Give them the wisdom to guide this great nation, the strength to protect it, and the hands to heal it. We bless President Donald J. Trump. We ask that You give him the wisdom of Solomon, the vision of Joseph, and the meekness of Christ. Solomon, who kept peace among many nations, Joseph, who dreamed better for the people, and Christ who accepted us all. Oh Lord, mend our hearts, and stitch together the fabric of this great country.

In the spirit of the legendary gospel songwriter, Mahalia Jackson,

Deep in my heart, I do believe/ the Lord will see us through, I do believe / We are on our way to victory, I do believe/ we will walk hand in hand, I do believe / We shall live in peace, I do believe/ Oh, deep in my heart, I do believe / America, we shall overcome.

And may the Lord bless and keep America, and make His face shine upon us, and be gracious unto us, and give us peace. In the mighty name of Jesus. Amen.

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Read “5 reasons to pray for President Trump (even if you didn’t vote for him)” here: https://bobrogers.me/2017/01/20/bishop-jacksons-inauguration-prayer-for-president-trump/

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5 reasons to pray for President Trump (even if you didn’t vote for him)

trumpprayer

Article copyright 2017 by Bob Rogers

You and I should pray for President Trump, whether we voted for him or not. Here’s five reasons why:

1. Scripture commands it. Scripture commands us to pray for our leaders. The apostle Paul said, “I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions and thanksgivings be made for everyone, for kings and for all those who are in authority…” (1 Timothy 2:1-2, HCSB).

2. The Old Testament prophets modeled it. The Old Testament prophets modeled this kind of praying for us. Isaiah said that the Lord “wondered that there was no intercessor” (Isaiah 49:16), Jeremiah wept over the nation, and Ezekiel called for someone to “stand in the gap” (Ezekiel 22:30) on behalf of the nation.

3. The early Christians modeled it. The apostle Peter wrote, “Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the Emperor” (1 Peter 2:17, HCSB). If first century Christians could pray for a Roman emperor who threw them to the lions, cannot we pray for an elected president with whom we may disagree?

4. When the president does well, we all do well. The prophet Jeremiah wrote a letter to Jewish exiles in Babylon, encouraging them to pray for the king and city that had taken them into exile. He gave them a word from the Lord: “Seek the welfare of the city I have deported you to. Pray to the Lord on its behalf, for when it has prosperity, you will prosper” (Jeremiah 29:7, HCSB). The words “welfare” and “prosper” translate the rich Hebrew word shalom, which means peace and prosperity.

5. God calls us to live in peace, not division. Notice that when Paul urged us to pray for political leaders, he also gave us a reason: “… so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity” (1 Timothy 2:2b). During the presidency of Barack Obama, African-American pastor Tony Evans pointed out, “What many conservative Christians fail to realize … is that when our first black president, Barack Obama, is dishonored through caricatures, name-calling, or disrespectful talk by white Americans, it merely creates a greater chasm between the races.” (Tony Evans, Oneness Embraced, p. 52). Rev. Evans was exactly right– and the same principle that applied to Obama then applies to Trump now. Evans illustrates what the apostle Paul was talking about– angry words instead of words of prayer for President Trump create chaotic lives, not tranquil lives. One preacher pointed that that if we would pray for the president instead of complain about the president, maybe he would do better.

So I am praying for President Trump, just as I prayed for President Obama and those before them. Will you join me?

If you are wondering what to pray, here are the words prayed by Bishop Wayne T. Jackson at the inauguration of President Trump: https://bobrogers.me/2017/01/20/bishop-jacksons-inauguration-prayer-for-president-trump/

Here are some good thoughts on praying at the inauguration, from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association: https://billygraham.org/story/inauguration-prayers-billy-graham-franklin-graham/?utm_source=BGEA+facebook&utm_medium=post&utm_campaign=FB+General+Post&utm_content=BGEA+FB+Page&SOURCE=BY150FGEN

Top blog posts in 2016

In case you missed them, here were my top blog posts and top new blog posts in 2016, in order of the most visits:

TOP THREE POSTS OF 2016:

1. Blessing the food: ways to say “Grace”: https://bobrogers.me/2013/10/25/blessing-the-food-ways-to-say-grace-before-meals/

2. Four great truths from the creation account in Genesis: https://bobrogers.me/2013/10/14/four-great-truths-from-the-creation-account-in-genesis/

3. Why I am changing Bible translations: https://bobrogers.me/2012/04/17/why-i-am-changing-bible-translations/

TOP THREE NEW POSTS OF 2016:

1. In this weird political year, be a patriotic prayer warrior! https://bobrogers.me/2016/05/05/be-a-patriotic-prayer-warrior/

2. Twisted scripture: “by His stripes, we are healed”: https://bobrogers.me/2016/08/07/twisted-scripture-by-his-stripes-we-are-healed/

3. Twisted scripture: “God doesn’t put on you more than you can handle”: https://bobrogers.me/2016/06/10/twisted-scripture-god-doesnt-put-on-you-more-than-you-can-handle/

 

 

How to pray for corrupt politicians

prayforamerica

Article Copyright by Bob Rogers

Fiddler on the Roof is a film about changing culture and faith among Russian Jewish families in 1905. In one scene, the village Rabbi was asked if there was a blessing for the czar, who had persecuted the Jews. He replied, “The Lord bless and keep the czar– far away from us!”
We may chuckle at the story, but we still wonder how do we actually pray for bad leaders. We feel a tension between the Biblical command to pray for all those in authority (1 Timothy 2:1-4), and the fact that some of those in authority live ungodly lives and support unrighteous policies.

Cry out to God
Ezekiel cried out to the Lord in distress on behalf of the righteous remnant. “I fell facedown and cried out, ‘Oh, Lord GOD! Are You going to destroy the entire remnant of Israel when You pour out Your wrath on Jerusalem?” (Ezekiel 9:8;  see also 11:13). There is nothing wrong with crying out to God about your heart-felt concern. Ezekiel did. But don’t stop there.

Pray for God to work through bad leaders
Habakkuk cried out to the Lord about evil rulers.  In Habakkuk 1:2, the prophet described life under the wicked King Jehoiakim this way: “This is why the law is ineffective and justice never emerges. For the wicked restrict the righteous; therefore justice comes out perverted.” Sounds like a modern news report, doesn’t it? God’s first answer to this dilemma comes in the next verses, saying, “Look at the nations and observe– be utterly astounded! For something is taking place in your days that you will not believe when you hear about it” (Habakkuk 1:5). He goes on to describe how God would bring judgment on Jerusalem through the Babylonians.
God often uses nations and rulers for His purpose, even evil rulers. God can hit straight with a crooked stick anytime He wishes. He used King Cyrus of Persia (Isaiah 44:28-45:1) to bring the Jews home from captivity. Daniel 2:21 says, “He removes kings and establishes kings. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding.” Acts 2:23 shows how God even used evil leaders in the crucifixion of Jesus Christ: “Though He was delivered up according to God’s determined plan and foreknowledge, you used lawless people to nail Him to a cross and kill Him.”
Therefore, we can pray for God to work through bad leaders. John F. Kennedy had many extramarital affairs, but God used his courage to stand against communist Russia in Cuba. Richard Nixon was corrupted by the Watergate scandal, yet God used him to open doors with China. We may pray for bad leaders by praying for good to overcome evil, despite their failures and sins.

Watch and pray
Returning to Habakkuk, we find two principles of prayer: expectancy, and faith. First is the principle of expectancy: the prophet finally resolved to be a “watchman” in prayer: “I will stand at my guard post and station myself on the lookout tower. I will watch to see what He will say to me and what I should reply about my complaint” (Habakkuk 2:1).  Likewise, we are to watch what happens with rulers, and continually pray, expecting that God will do something. The second principle is faith. The Lord encouraged the prophet to keep watching, and waiting, and then God revealed one of the greatest doctrines of the Bible: “But the righteous one will live by his faith” (Habakkuk 2:4). This verse is quoted repeatedly in the New Testament, reminding us that our salvation comes by faith and trust in the Lord, and Him alone (Romans 1:17, Galatians 2:11 and Hebrews 10:38). As Jesus said, “Watch and pray” (Matthew 26:41; Luke 22:46).

Ask God what you can do
Contemporary Christian singer Matthew West sings about how he saw all kinds of suffering and injustice in the world which disgusted him. Then the singer cried out, “‘God, why don’t you do something?’ He said, ‘I did, I created you!'” (“Do Something” by Matthew West, from the album, Into the Light).
Isaiah gives a similar response to our prayers complaining about bad government.  Isaiah prophesied that the Lord would answer their cries when He saw social injustice in the land (Isaiah 58:3-10). The people were fasting and praying for justice. In this passage, God responded to the prayer by calling on His people to put feet to their own prayers. “Isn’t the fast I choose: To break the chains of wickedness… Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, to bring the poor and homeless into your house, to clothe the naked when you see him, and not to ignore your own flesh and blood? Then your light will appear like the dawn… and the LORD’s glory will be your rear guard” (Isaiah 48:6-8). God hears our prayers for justice to overcome evil, and He nudges us to get personally involved in fighting injustice. Pray for bad leaders by deciding to do something good yourself! You can vote for pro-life candidates, but don’t stop there; volunteer at a crisis pregnancy center. You can vote for candidates who support the police and who fight for racial justice, but don’t stop there; show your kindness and speak up against mistreatment of the police and mistreatment of those of other races.

Conclusion
So what does all of this mean to us today? It means that no matter who occupies the White House, the State House or the courthouse, God is on His throne, and He is in control. It means that while we pray for and support godly leaders, we also pray for God to work His will through ungodly leaders. It means that we put our trust in the Lord, not in earthly leaders. It means that instead of just complaining about evil, we need to ask God what good we can do ourselves. Then we need to get up from our prayers, and do something good in the name of Jesus.

In these strange political times, be a patriotic prayer warrior!

Christians are commanded in scripture (1Timothy 2:1-4) to pray for the president and all of our nation’s leaders. However, many conservative believers expressed more anger than prayer for President Obama, and many liberal people of faith are doing the same today for President Trump. The same was true when President Bush was in office. Yet it is my duty to pray for my president daily.

My friend and fellow hospital chaplain, Dick Allison, usually votes for Democrats. He tells me that during the Watergate scandal that plagued Republican President Richard Nixon, he would often complain about Nixon’s failures. He didn’t vote for Nixon, and he didn’t like him. One day he realized that he had failed to pray for Nixon. “Since that day, hardly a day has gone by that I have not prayed for the president, whoever it was,” says Chaplain Allison.

Picture 513
I have a fuzzy photo of President George W. Bush taken on August 21, 2006, when President Bush spoke in Savannah, Georgia. After speaking, he went through the crowd shaking hands, and I grabbed my camera and took this picture in such a hurry that it came out fuzzy. As Mr. Bush greeted the crowd and shook my hand, I said, “I pray for you every day.” He looked me in the eye, and exclaimed, “Thanks, it’s working!” A priest who disliked President Bush’s policies later told me, “It must not be working.” Because he disagreed with the politician, he dismissed the prayer. How short-sighted! Scripture commands us to pray for our leaders (1 Timothy 2:1-4), and the Old Testament prophets modeled this kind of praying for us. Isaiah said that the Lord “wondered that there was no intercessor” (Isaiah 49:16), Jeremiah wept over the nation, and Ezekiel called for someone to “stand in the gap” (Ezekiel 22:30) on behalf of the nation. Whatever our political persuasion, we can be patriotic prayer warriors. If the praying prophets of ancient Israel could pray for their nation, even when they had evil rulers, can we do less? Will we stand in the gap for America?

Why I am praying for President Obama

Picture 513
Copyright 2013 by Bob Rogers
Thursday, May 2, is the National Day of Prayer, a day when Christians gather to pray for the president and all of our nation’s leaders. However, many Christians express more anger than prayer for President Obama. The same was true when President Bush was in office. Just as much vitriol was poured out against him from the left as is now being poured out against President Obama from the right. Yet it is my duty to pray for my president daily.
This fuzzy photo is a picture of President George W. Bush. On August 21, 2006, I led a public prayer for President George W. Bush at a campaign rally. After the president spoke, he went through the crowd shaking hands, and I grabbed my camera and took this picture in such a hurry that it came out so fuzzy.
As Mr. Bush greeted the crowd and shook my hand, I said, “I pray for you every day.” He looked me in the eye, and exclaimed, “Thanks, it’s working!” A priest who disliked President Bush’s policies later told me, “It must not be working.” Because he disagreed with the politician, he dismissed the prayer. How short-sighted! Scripture commands us to pray for our leaders. The apostle Paul said, “I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions and thanksgivings be made for everyone, for kings and for all those who are in authority…” (1 Timothy 2:1-2, HCSB).
The Old Testament prophets modeled this kind of praying for us. Isaiah said that the Lord “wondered that there was no intercessor” (Isaiah 49:16), Jeremiah wept over the nation, and Ezekiel called for someone to “stand in the gap” (Ezekiel 22:30) on behalf of the nation.
So I must pray for President Obama, just as I prayed for President Bush.
After all, if first century Christians could pray for a Roman emperor who threw them to the lions, cannot we pray for an elected president with whom we may disagree? Notice that when Paul urged us to pray for political leaders, he also gave us a reason: “… so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity” (1 Timothy 2:2b). African-American pastor Tony Evans points out, “What many conservative Christians fail to realize … is that when our first black president, Barack Obama, is dishonored through caricatures, name-calling, or disrespectful talk by white Americans, it merely creates a greater chasm between the races.” (Tony Evans, Oneness Embraced, p. 52). Evans illustrates what the apostle Paul was talking about– angry words instead of words of prayer for President Obama create chaotic lives, not tranquil lives. One preacher pointed that that if we would pray for the president instead of complain about the president, maybe he would do better.
So I am praying for President Obama. Will you join me this Thursday and every day?

What really matters

Arizona Cardinals v Philadelphia Eagles
Copyright 2013 by Bob Rogers

Millions of people gather around their television sets to watch sports championship games. Some will be very happy after the game, and others will be very disappointed. But in the end, it really doesn’t matter.

Philippians 2:10-11 says that in the end, “At the name of Jesus every knee will bow… and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.”

In the end, it will not matter what team you follow, but it will matter whether or not you followed Jesus. In the end, it will not matter what nation you lived in, but it will matter whether you were you in the kingdom of God. In the end, it will not matter what terrorists you feared, but whether you feared God. In the end, it will not matter which church you attended, but whether you were part of the body of Christ.

In the end, it will not matter what your political affiliation was, but whether your affiliation was with Jesus. In the end, it will not matter where you worked, but whether you served Jesus. In the end, it will not matter what family or culture you were born in, but whether you were born again into the family of God. Because in the end, what will matter is not whether you got your name in the history books, but did you get your name in the Lamb’s Book of Life?

Guest blog: Thoughts on President Obama’s re-election

 (In the guest blog below, Bobby Braswell reminds Christians of some important truths we need to hear, regarding the re-election of President Obama. Rev. Braswell is the associational missionary of Middle Baptist Association in Sylvania, Georgia, where he ministers to pastors and churches in Screven County, Jenkins County and northern Effingham County. Bobby his wife Frankie (pictured with him here) live in Guyton, Georgia. They have two children: Emma, 22, and J.B., 20. You can read his blog at www.brotherbobbysblog.blogspot.com.)

Watching the returns and waiting to see who will become the next president is about as compelling as TV viewing gets. It’s no secret that millions of Christians went to bed with sour stomachs last night. Many, though I am sure not all, who would identify themselves as social conservatives and followers of Jesus were outspoken in our hopes that the incumbent president would have a new career beginning in January. Since that didn’t happen, what are some appropriate responses to a second term for Barrack Obama?

Pray for the president – 1 Timothy 2:1-2 (NKJV) 1 Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, 2 for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence.

Preach the Gospel – A concern I have had for some time is that a lot of Christians behave as though getting the “right person” elected is THE ANSWER for America. Hello! It’s not! It never was! God changes people from the inside out. He changes the heart. I am not aware of anything that the government can do that can bring spiritual regeneration to people. Only the Gospel of Jesus Christ can do that (Titus 3:5). People who have experienced the grace of God through Jesus Christ can be a powerful force for transforming North American culture by radical obediennce to the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20). That is really the only way that God has ordained to change societies. I want upright legislators and leaders, but if the Gospel is not the focal point of the energy of Christians we will share the largest part of the blame for the disintegration of North American culture (Matthew 5:13-16).

See People through God’s Eyes – I think a less angry, less shrill, less paranoid perspective of our fellow human being would be extraordinarily helpful. It is easy to have a hateful attitude toward people who don’t share our worldview and our faith, but where in Scripture are we given permission to think and act that way? And what is the good in that? The truth about me is that I was a wreck of a person before God’s grace found me, and I still struggle and fail and have absolutely no right to look at anyone else’s failures as being more scandalous or wretched than mine. We are all in the same messed up situation–that is not to minimize sin, or to deny it’s severity–just to say that I don’t belong to God by my right but by His mercy!

Share hope – I woke up today, November 7, 2012 with hope, because God is Great and greatly to be praised (Psalm 48:1)! I woke up determined to have my life count for a great purpose because God is a great God! I woke up today convinced that America’s greatness has more to do with the faithfulness of me and all the other Christians I know and churches they are part of and our obedience to God and commitment to the truth of Gospel than what transpired in the presidential election.

Two interesting maps of the USA

Here are two maps of the USA. The first compares the states that voted for Obama (blue) and Romney (red) in the 2012 presidential election. The second shows states that are very religious (dark green), average (green) and below average in religiosity (light green).

It is interesting that 100% of the “above average” religious states went for Romney, and 14 out of 16 “below average” religious states went for Obama. Exit polls show that people who go to church regularly supported Romney by large margins, and people who never go to church supported Obama by large margins.

Religion was not the only factor in the election, as there were many “average” religious states that went for Romney and two “below average” states (Wyoming and Alaska) that went for Romney. This is because there are two kinds of conservatives: social conservatives and fiscal conservatives. Wyoming and Alaska are definitely independent-minded, fiscally conservative states. But the map does indicate that despite all the focus on the economy in this election, the differences between the candidates on the social issues that religious people care about, especially abortion and traditional marriage, made a huge difference in how people voted.

Post-election thoughts

I wrote the following blog on November 7, 2008, when President Obama was first elected. It seems appropriate today to republish:
However you voted in the recent election, let us remember that rulers change on earth, but God still reigns over all. Isaiah was probably worried about the future when King Uzziah died after reigning nearly all of Isaiah’s life, but we read in Isaiah 6:1 that “in the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord…” He got a vision of God’s greatness, and forgot about the change in power on earth. Regarding our new president-elect and other newly elected leaders, 1 Timothy 2:1-2 commands us to pray for those in authority. Some people might object that they don’t agree with the politics of their leaders. I share that concern, particularly on the issues of protecting life and marriage. However, let us remember that in Paul’s day, their political leaders were throwing the Christians to the lions, and Paul still said we should pray for them. So should we.

Divided vote eventually unites church

Copyright 2012 by Bob Rogers
I heard about a church that called a pastor with a vote of 200-3. The pastor spent his first six months trying to find out the names of the three who voted against him. Then he spent the next six months trying to please those three. At the end of the year, the church voted to fire the pastor. The vote was three to keep him, and 200 to get rid of him!

There’s an old saying that you can’t please everybody, and that is certainly true in church, which is why we need to try to please the Lord first. However, if the church is evenly divided, it is wise to back off a decision and seek to bring spiritual unity before proceeding, especially when voting on a pastor.

A pastor told me an interesting story about a close vote to call a pastor in a rural Baptist church near Claxton, Georgia. The church voted 51% in favor and 49% against calling a man as their pastor. Ignoring conventional wisdom, the preacher accepted the call, and came to the church as their pastor. After a couple of years, however, he resigned. Upon his resignation, he said, “I have unified the church. When I came, half of them were against me. Now all of them are against me.”

Elections can either unite people or divide people. Unfortunately, our country is pretty divided over politics. But as Christians, God calls us to be uniters, not dividers. In fact, however we voted, we are called upon to pray for those in leadership. Scripture says, “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone– for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness” (1 Timothy 2:1-2, NIV). Someone might say, “Yeah, but our politicians are so bad these days.” I would remind that person that in New Testament days, the politicians threw the Christians to the lions, but the Christians still prayed for them.

We can do no less.

Why Jesus Is Dangerous

Copyright 2012 by Bob Rogers

Jesus is dangerous.

He is so dangerous that we read in Mark 3:6 that the Pharisees and the Herodians, who were total opposites and enemies of one another, plotted together to get rid of Him.

Of course, that a long time ago. Jesus is pretty harmless today, isn’t He? No, He’s not! Not the real Jesus. The real Jesus is more dangerous today than He was two thousand years ago.

As the Gospel of Mark tells his stories of Jesus in chapters 2-4, we see exactly why Jesus is dangerous.

I. Because He upsets our social status (Mark 2:17)

One of the most popular movies in 2011 was The Help. It is historical fiction, based on the novel by Kathryn Stockett. Set in Jackson, Mississippi, in the early 1960’s, it tells about life when black women worked as maids for white women all over the South, and were often treated as less than human. The help were never allowed to sit at the same table or even use the same restrooms as their employers. Yet the maids were the ones who actually brought up the white children. One of the maids repeatedly tells a little white girl who is neglected by her mother, “You is kind, you is smart, and you is important.” Even though the maid was being treated as unimportant herself, she reminds the little girl that she has value.

Jesus upset the social taboos of His own day when he went to eat dinner at the house of a tax collector named Levi. We read in Mark 3:15: “While He was reclining at the table in Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were also guests with Jesus and His disciples… When the scribes and Pharisees saw that He was eating with sinners and tax collectors, they asked His disciples, ‘Why does He eat with tax collectors and sinners?’”

Notice that the same phrase is repeated three times: “tax collectors and sinners.” When they used the word “sinners,” they were using it as a technical term. This was a category of people. “Sinners” were people who failed to follow the religious law. Pharisees said the word with disgust in their voices. And nobody liked tax collectors, because they cheated people and worked for a foreign government.

Yet Jesus was eating with “those people.” The Pharisees tried to pressure Him to stop. The Old Testament law said to keep oneself pure. How could Jesus associate with such people?

Jesus said in verse 17: “Those who are well don’t need a doctor, but the sick do need one. I didn’t come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Today, that would be like saying, “I came to call prostitutes, not Sunday School teachers.”

Do you see why Jesus is dangerous? Why, if we acted like Him, we might have to go down to Savannah and love on homeless people. If we acted like Him, we might have to go out in the streets of Rincon and hand out food to people, and tell them, “You is important—to God.” This gets way outside our comfort zone. Dangerous stuff.

II. Because He replaces our religion (Mark 2:27-28)

Later in chapter two, Mark says that Jesus makes a shocking statement about the Sabbath, showing Jesus replaces our religion.

The Fourth Commandment says to keep the Sabbath Day holy (Exodus 20:8-11), because God rested on the seventh day of creation. The word Sabbath means “rest.” The Sabbath was very unique to Jews. No other religion had a day of rest like the Jews, and keeping the Sabbath set them apart from all other people. We need Sabbath rest today. With the craziness of our busy lives, we could all benefit from times of rest, worship, and reflection. But over the years, the Jewish rabbis had made up hundreds of rules about how to not work on the Sabbath. The rabbis had rules about how far you could walk before it was considered work, and how much you could harvest or cook before it was considered work. Their rules went to ridiculous extremes. So Mark 2:23 says that Jesus disciples picked some heads of grain on the Sabbath and ate it, and the Pharisees cried foul. “You can’t do that! That’s working on the Sabbath! You harvested wheat!”

Jesus replied, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” This statement in verse 27 is only found in the Gospel of Mark. The Sabbath was supposed to help people rest, not to be a burden to them. But it had become a rat race. Lily Tomlin said the trouble with the rat race is that even if you win, you are still a rat. (David E. Garland, The NIV Application Commentary: Mark, p. 124)

Unfortunately, religion often becomes an end in itself. People think if they keep all the religious rules, they are right with God. Jesus upsets the apple cart, and says it’s not about religion. Then He goes even farther, and claims that He Himself has authority to change it all, as He says in v. 28, “So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” Remember, “Son of Man” is Jesus’ term for Himself. So Jesus is saying, “It’s not about religious rules. It’s about a relationship with Me.”

Do you see why Jesus is dangerous? If this kind of teaching gets out, people will think they don’t have to keep the religious rules. They might run wild! They might think they can work on Sunday and who knows what else they might do.

III. Because He passes over our politics (Mark 3:6)

We are in the middle of a presidential election. Later this fall, the Republicans and Democrats will be fighting it out. In Jesus’ day, they had political parties, as well. The Pharisees were the defenders of traditional values. They stood for the nation of Israel, independent from Rome. The Herodians were the supports of Herod the Great and his family who ruled after him. King Herod were under the authority of the Romans and supported the empire.

In Mark 3:1-5, what Jesus said about religion turned political. It was against their rules to heal on the Sabbath, but Jesus asked whether it was lawful to do good or evil on the Sabbath, and then He went ahead and healed the man. That was more than the Pharisees could take. So they went out and made an alliance with their political arch-enemies, the Herodians. Read it in Mark 3:6: “Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus.”

Wow! Jesus was considered so dangerous, that it could bring the Republicans and the Democrats together for a joint session and a unanimous vote. Kill Him!

No political party has a monopoly on Jesus Christ. Politicians should not think they can press a certain hot button and have the evangelical vote. Christianity cannot be contained as a wing of a certain party and told to behave and sit down. When the Republicans are wrong on an issue, Christians must speak out, and when the Democrats are wrong on an issue, we must speak out. We must pray for our president, but our ultimate loyalty is not to him. Our ultimate loyalty is to Jesus Christ, not a government. Jesus is Lord over the Sabbath, and He is also Lord over all political alliances. Christ passes over politics.

That’s dangerous talk. People might think they don’t have to obey the government if we keep talking like that. Didn’t the early disciples say to their government, “We must obey God rather than men!” (Acts 5:29). Jesus is dangerous.

IV. Because He scares us about our sin (Mark 3:28-30)

Jesus said something in Mark 3:28 that may be the most dangerous thing we have read yet. He said, “I tell you the truth, all the sins and blasphemies of men will be forgiven them. But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; he is guilty of an eternal sin.”

Wow! The unpardonable sin. That is a frightening thought, that we could commit an eternal sin that could never be forgiven. We read about it again in 1 John 5:16: “There is a sin that leads to death.”

There have been all kinds of speculation about what is the unpardonable sin. Many people think it is murder or rape or child molestation. Some churches teach that suicide is unpardonable, since it is self-murder and there is no opportunity to repent afterwards. But according to Mark 3, none of these are the unpardonable sin.

Look at the context of Jesus’ words. The Jewish religious leaders took another pot-shot at Jesus in Mark 3:22. They said the reason he had driven out demons was that Jesus was demon-possessed Himself. “By the prince of demons he is driving out demons,” they said. It was in response to being accused of being a demon that Jesus said that blasphemy against the Holy Spirit cannot be forgiven. Then just to make it clear this applied to the words of the religious leaders, read Mark’s comment in verse 30: “He said this because they were saying, ‘He has an evil spirit.’”

Thus, they committed blasphemy against the Holy Spirit because they said Jesus had an evil spirit. Clearly, the unpardonable sin is rejection of Jesus Christ.

That scares us. This goes completely against politically correct thinking. This means murderers and rapists and child molesters can be forgiven. It means a person can be forgiven of suicide. It also means that a law-abiding citizen who rejects Jesus Christ will not be forgiven and will go straight to hell. How narrow-minded is that? The world thinks we’re crazy with that kind of thinking, but that’s what Jesus says.

We would like to think that we can handle our own sin. We think as long as we’re not murders or something we don’t need to worry about our sin. But Jesus says we can’t handle it without Him. Without Him we’re hopelessly lost. Dangerous stuff.

V. Because He petrifies us with His power (Mark 4:41)

Yet there is one more reason that Jesus is dangerous. In Mark 4:36 we read that Jesus and his disciples got in a boat on the Sea of Galilee. The Sea of Galilee is 700 feet below sea level, and is surrounded by mountains. Mt. Hermon, located only 30 miles north of the sea, is 9,200 feet high. The cold air rushing down from the mountains hitting the warm air coming up from the water can turn into a sudden storm, and that is what happened to Jesus and His disciples that day.

Mark 4:37 calls it a “furious squall” that nearly swamped their boat. But verse 38 says Jesus was at the stern, sleeping on a cushion.

But what happened next was even more amazing. Jesus got up, rebuked the wind and waves, and said, “’Quiet! Be still!’ Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.”

You know what most Sunday School classes do with this story? They spiritualize it. The teacher says, “Jesus calmed the storm.” Then the teacher looks around the room and says, “What storm are you going through?” Then people talk about Jesus helping them through their problems. But this is not a story about Jesus making us comfortable when our problems make us uncomfortable. This is a story that says with Jesus, we’ve got an even bigger problem.

When the storm started, the disciples were afraid. Jesus even asked them in verse 40, “Why are you so afraid?” But when Jesus showed His power to still the storm, verse 41 says they were “terrified.”

There is a story of King Canute, the King of Denmark in the eleventh century. His courtiers were flattering him excessively, and he said, “Am I divine?” He walked to the seashore and said, “Stop,” but the ocean waves kept coming in. What he was saying was, “Only God can stop the sea, and I’m not God.” (Timothy Keller, King’s Cross, p. 50).

If Jesus is Lord over the storm, He’s Lord over everything. We can’t tuck Him away during the week and pull Him out on Sunday. He won’t stay tucked away. He is Lord over our social relationships and Lord over our religious rules and Lord over our politics. But He is much more! He is Lord over our eternal destiny and able to pardon us forever to Heaven or sentence us forever to an eternity in Hell for rejecting Him, because He is Lord over all.

The storm had a power they could not control, and Jesus had infinitely more power, and they had less control over Him. That’s dangerous. No wonder they were terrified. But here’s the difference. A storm doesn’t love you, but Jesus does.

A storm is indifferent; if you are in the path of the wind, you get blown away. But if you are in the path of the untamed love of Jesus, you are filled with His protection and care. A storm doesn’t love you, but Jesus does.

Likewise, social rules and social taboos don’t care about you. If you don’t fit in with the right crowd, then tough luck. But Jesus cares about you and accepts you; He will break the social barriers to get to you and love you.

Religion doesn’t care about you. If you don’t fit into the rules, you’re out. Religion doesn’t love you, but Jesus does. He didn’t design the Sabbath to burden you; He designed it to give you rest in His grace. He said, “Come to me, and I will give you rest.”

Political parties and political machines don’t care about you. When they don’t need you, they will discard you. Political parties don’t love you, but Jesus does. Make Jesus your resident president and you will never have to fear the unpardonable sin. In fact, you will be pardoned, forever.

Timothy Keller says that if the disciples had really understood that Jesus was both powerful and loving, they would not have been scared. They thought if Jesus loved them He wouldn’t let bad things happen to them. They were wrong. He can love somebody and still let bad things happen to them, because He is God, and He knows better than they do.

Keller says, “If you have a God great enough and powerful enough to be mad at because he doesn’t stop your suffering, you also have a God who’s great enough and powerful enough to be have reasons that you can’t understand…. If you’re at the mercy of the storm, its power is unmanageable and it doesn’t love you. The only place you’re safe is in the will of God.” (Timothy Keller, King’s Cross, p. 52)

Yes, Jesus is dangerous; you cannot control Him. But in the storm, there’s no safer place to be than in His arms. He’s dangerous, but because He’s so powerful, He is able to take care of you. Will you trust your life to Him?

Preached at First Baptist Church, Rincon, GA January 15, 2012 A.M.

Dr. Bob Rogers, pastor.