Sunday, 20 March 2011
Jesus Is Alive - Mark 15:40-16:8
Matt McCulloughMP3
Mark concludes his story with an earth-shattering claim that launches the life of the church: Jesus was really dead, but now he’s alive. He leaves us to ask two questions. Is it true? And if it is true, if Jesus really is alive, what are the implications?

Sunday, 13 March 2011
Why Did Jesus Die? - Mark 14:53-65, 15:1-39
Matt McCulloughMP3
Mark’s Gospel has been building to the death of Jesus all along, but it’s also raised a crucial question: why must Jesus die? Mark’s telling of Jesus’s trial and crucifixion removes a couple possible explanations. Jesus didn’t die because he was guilty: the trial of Jesus shows no one found any legitimate legal reason to kill him. And Jesus didn’t die because he was powerless: Mark’s readers know Jesus is innocent and has power to overcome his captors, but he doesn’t defend himself. So why then? Jesus died to establish a kingdom you could live in. Mark’s chief irony and his central message is that Jesus comes to power and invites us into his kingdom through his death.

Sunday, 6 March 2011
Jesus, Our Substitute - Mark 14:1-52
Matt McCulloughMP3
Describing the events leading to Jesus’s arrest and crucifixion, Mark tells us a great deal about what Jesus came here to do: He came to be abandoned so we won’t have to be. Jesus was abandoned by everyone–Judas, Peter, his disciples, even his Father–and, remarkably, he chose to have it that way. Why did he choose this path of excruciating isolation? Because through his death–the ultimate abandonment–he established a covenant relationship that will never break.

Sunday, 27 February 2011
Jesus on the Future - Mark 13
Matt McCulloughMP3
In the longest section of teaching recorded in Mark’s Gospel, Jesus turns to questions asked by the religious and the philosophical since the beginning of time. What does the future hold, and how should we live now in light of that future? The details of Jesus’s predictions–about the destruction of the Temple in the near future and about his final return in power and glory–have always baffled interpreters. But the bottom line couldn’t be more clear: because Jesus is coming back in victory and judgment, and because we don’t know when, our responsibility is to trust Jesus and stay ready.

Sunday, 20 February 2011
Religious Hypocrisy and the Love of God - Mark 11:27-12:44
Matt McCulloughMP3
After a parable of judgment that sets the stage for his confrontation with Israel’s religious leaders, Jesus fields challenges from each primary group of leaders: the Pharisees, the Sadducees, and the scribes. In each case, Jesus’s answers turn the tables on his challengers to expose their hypocrisy. In the end, Jesus proposes the only solution to religious hypocrisy: a love of God for God’s sake and with everything you have.

Sunday, 13 February 2011
The King Has Come - Mark 11:1-25
Matt McCulloughMP3
Chapter 11 marks Jesus’s arrival at Jersalem, an event laced through with prophecy fulfillment. Here, by an “enacted parable” and by a dramatic confrontation in the Temple, Jesus shows more of what he’s come to do. As King, he’s come to purge and to restore.

Sunday, 6 February 2011
Kingdom Citizenship - Mark 10:13-52
Matt McCulloughMP3
To this point Mark’s narrative has promised that Jesus would, paradoxically, establish the kingdom of God through his death. So what does this mean for who belongs to the kingdom and how? Mark answers this question by contrasting stories on faith with stories on self-reliance. In short, the kingdom belongs to the desperate, not the self-reliant, because it belongs to those who rest only on Jesus.

Sunday, 30 January 2011
Marriage by Design, Marriage in Reality - Mark 10:1-12
Matt McCulloughMP3
Still on the road towards Jerusalem, Jesus shifts the focus of his teaching on discipleship to the subject of marriage and divorce. As so often before, he explodes standard religious convention. Jesus answers a question from the Pharisees about divorce with an explanation of God’s original design for marriage. Marriage viewed from the perspective of creation, in the eyes of God, is an unbreakable bond. But how do we square Jesus’s marriage ideal with our experience in a world deeply marred by sin?

Sunday, 23 January 2011
Living the Cross-Centered Life - Mark 9:30-50
Matt McCulloughMP3
As Jesus makes his way towards Jerusalem and the death that’s waiting there for him, he narrows his focus to teaching his disciples what it means to follow a Messiah who suffers. The cross sets the pattern for Christian discipleship, and this text offers concrete examples. A life modeled on the cross is a life that puts the interests of others above its own, and it’s a life that fights a radical battle with sin.

Sunday, 16 January 2011
Belief, Unbelief, and the Saving Power of Jesus - Mark 9:14-29
Matt McCulloughMP3
In this story of demon possession and exorcism, Mark returns to one of his favorite questions: what must we do to claim the saving power of Jesus? It’s a story that illustrates what we know from our own experience: unbelief comes from many sources and in many forms. But in the desperate plea of a helpless father Mark illustrates another, even more powerful truth. It’s a decision to rest on Jesus–not mathematical certainty–which constitutes the faith that leads to deliverance.

Sunday, 9 January 2011
Glory, Shame, and the Christian Paradox - Mark 9:1-13
Matt McCulloughMP3
Just after Jesus has told his disciples that he must suffer and die, and that following him means they will suffer too, Jesus reinforces their confidence in him with a glimpse of his glory, a mysterious event called the transfiguration. In this story and in Jesus’s discussion with his disciples about this event, Mark helps us understand a central Christian paradox: as Son of God Jesus is undeniably glorious, but his glory as Messiah comes through a death of unimaginable shame.

Sunday, 2 January 2011
Jesus Is the Christ - A Review of Mark 1-8
Matt McCulloughMP3
The stories of Jesus’s life and teaching in Mark’s Gospel are designed to answer three main questions: who is Jesus, what did Jesus come here to do, and what does that require of us? Already, in chapters 1-8, we’ve seen the shape of Mark’s answer to those crucial questions emerge. First, Jesus is the divine Son of God, as shown in his unmatched words and actions of authority and power. Second, he came to fix what was broken, to establish the kingdom of God by his life, death, and resurrection. And, finally, Jesus demands absolute submission from us: a repentance from all competing allegiances, a rest in the sufficiency of his power and love, and a willigness to follow him with a life of self-denial.

Sunday, 19 December 2010
Christmas and the Story of Salvation - Isaiah 9:1-7
Matt McCulloughMP3
To fully appreciate why Jesus’s birth matters so much, we have to understand where it falls in the overarching story the Bible tells about God’s work of salvation. Isaiah 9 offers one of the most important clues, hundreds of years before Jesus was actually born. The prophet claims that the people who walked in darkness have seen a light because a child was born. In other words, we’ve got to understand the meaning of this darkness and we’ve got to understand the meaning of this light if we’re to understand the meaning of the child.

Sunday, 12 December 2010
The Christ, the Cross, and Christian Discipleship - Mark 8:31-38
Matt McCulloughMP3
This exchange between Jesus and his disciples represents a turning point in Mark’s Gospel. Just after Peter’s climactic confession of Jesus as the Christ, Jesus explains what kind of Christ he would be and what that implied for all who would follow him. Jesus explains to his followers–and to us–that there is no Christ without the cross and resurrection, and there is no Christian discipleship without suffering.

Sunday, 5 December 2010
Seeing and Believing - Mark 8:1-30
Matt McCulloughMP3
In this cluster of stories Mark helps explain why people respond to Jesus in very different ways, some in faith and others with persistent unbelief. Contrasting the disciples’ struggle to believe even after all they’d seen with Peter’s dramatic confession of Jesus as the Christ, Mark shows us that spiritual sight is never the same thing as physical sight. Faith–seeing with new eyes–is a gift of God.

Sunday, 28 November 2010
Jesus’s Radical Message of Sin and Salvation - Mark 7
Matt McCulloughMP3
In chapter 7, by relating Jesus’s confrontation with the Pharisees along with his ministry among the Gentiles, Mark exposes the two sides of Jesus’s radical message: the problem of sin is universal, but the promise of salvation is universal too.

Sunday, 21 November 2010
Rooted in God’s Word - Psalm 119
John KrampMP3
In this psalm, a memoir of life lived through God’s word, we are challenged to cultivate both depth and breadth in our understanding of scripture and to apply God’s Word to the raw circumstances of real life.

Sunday, 14 November 2010
Overexposure and Underappreciation - Mark 6:1-56
Matt McCulloughMP3
In chapter 6 Mark illustrates how we should respond to Jesus by contrast to two more examples of unbelief. People in Jesus’s hometown were offended by his claims to authority because they’d been inoculated through overexposure. They were familiar with Jesus as brother and son and carpenter, but he seemed too familiar for them to accept his radical words or actions. Jesus’s disciples struggle with another sort of unbelief, which Mark illustrates with the stories of Jesus feeding 5000 people and Jesus walking on water. Confronted with vivid danger, the disciples respond in fear because, as Mark explains, they failed to appreciate the significance of Jesus’s miraculous provision in the past.

Sunday, 7 November 2010
Jesus Is More Powerful - Mark 4:35-5:43
Matt McCulloughMP3
Mark demonstrates in these stories that Jesus is more powerful than nature, evil, sickness, and even death. In each case, the person or group afflicted with their malady is paralized by fear. Jesus’s response to them is his message to us, “Do not fear, only believe.”

Sunday, 31 October 2010
The Kingdom Is Like… - Mark 4:21-34
Matt McCulloughMP3
In this batch of parables Jesus explains what the kingdom is like by analogy to familiar images, all of which aim to show why the kingdom doesn’t look like most expected. The kingdom is like a lamp which, though hidden initially, is ultimately brought in to be revealed. It’s like a seed that grows even though the farmer merely goes to sleep and wakes up again; in other words, kingdom growth is inevitable because God alone makes it grow. And the kingdom is like a mustard seed, small in its beginning but unmatched in its end. If this is what the kingdom is like, how do we respond?

Sunday, 24 October 2010
The Gospel Divides - Mark 4:1-20
Matt McCullough
[We regret that we are unable to provide a recording of this message.]
In this text Mark gives us our first extended look at Jesus’s teaching, and at his signature teaching method–the parable. This first parable–which involves a sower, a seed, and a variety of soils–gives insight into the reason Jesus used parables at all, to bring both grace and judgment. But it’s especially meant to show why people responded in such different ways to Jesus’s message. Some rejected him because their hearts were hardened by sin, and his word never penetrated the surface. Others rejected him because their initial faith was shallow and couldn’t outlive suffering. Still others rejected him because what Jesus called the “cares of this world” choked out the word once planted. These things seemed more vivid and real than the promises of the gospel. And then some respond in faith from hearts of rich soil in which the gospel takes root and grows strong. Our Christian life, then, is about cultivating this kind of soil, adding more and more depth to our faith and weeding out the cares that threaten the gospel’s supremacy in our hearts.

Sunday, 17 October 2010
What Do We Do With Jesus? - Mark 3:7-35
Matt McCulloughMP3
There is more than one way to respond to the claims and work of Jesus. Mark gives us three options. We can respond by calling him a crazy eccentric, an evil demon, or Lord.

Sunday, 10 October 2010
Jesus and Religion-as-Usual - Mark 2:18-3:6
Matt McCulloughMP3
Mark begins to document the opposition that builds against Jesus, ultimately leading to his execution. Why did the religious leaders, who were experts of the law, fail to understand the signficance of Jesus and his kingdom? How do we avoid similar error?

(We apologize that this recording is missing the first two minutes. -Ed)

Sunday, 3 October 2010
Will You Be Forgiven? - Mark 2:1-17
Matt McCulloughMP3
At the beginning of chapter 2, Mark reveals new dimensions of Jesus’s identity and mission. Mark’s stories show that Jesus has the unique ability to forgive sins, and that this is precisely what he came here to do. The only question, then, is whether you will come to Jesus for forgiveness.

Sunday, 26 September 2010
Jesus’s Liberating Authority - Mark 1:16-45
Matt McCulloughMP3
In this passage Mark tells a group of stories designed to show that Jesus came preaching the kingdom with a remarkably distinctive authority. But these stories also reveal a paradoxical truth: submission to Jesus’s loving authority sets you free.

Sunday, 19 September 2010
Who Is Jesus? - Mark 1:1-16
Matt McCulloughMP3
If we are to understand why Mark labels his story about Jesus as “good news,” we must first see how he answers the three questions at the heart of his story: Who is Jesus? What did Jesus come here to do? And what does that require of us?