The concept of substance can be defined as the central character or quality of something. In the case of our text the central character or quality of life is the worship of God. “The act of divine worship is the inestimable privilege of man, the only created being who bows in humility and adoration.” – Hosea Ballou 1
I. The Substance of my worship is a tribute to God. Mark 1:9-11.
Thirty years Jesus stayed in his hometown of Nazareth and worked at the carpenter’s shop alongside his father. At Joseph’s death Jesus became the sole financial provider for his mother and siblings. His muscles ached from the constant pounding and lifting that was required to build furniture and other necessary items in the community. As much as his muscles ached, his heart ached too. He saw the sin around him and knew that he had come into the world to make a difference. He longed to start the task, but it was a matter of timing.
Standing at the edge of the crowd one day listening to his cousin John preaching, he knew it was time to leave the shop where he changed pieces of wood into beautiful objects. It was now time for him to launch out into the world to fashion people’s lives into something beautiful. Stepping out of the crowd he made his way to an astonished John for baptism. It is not that Jesus needed to repent, but as a tribute to his heavenly father’s love for the world. For Jesus the substance of life was a matter of decision. He had waited long for a sign to emerge as the Messiah, and John’s preaching was that sign. Now was the time to accept his role. The substance of life included identification with the world that he came to save. At that moment there was a movement toward God from the people. It would take him from the security of home to an itinerant lifestyle, but he was ready.
He heard the Father’s approving voice as he was baptized into his messiah ministry. It was a voice he would need to hear often inside his heart as he prayed at dawn or midnight. He needed the reassurance of the Father’s direction throughout the years to follow that made his life a stylish substance of significance and not just a momentary flash on world’s stage. This is Jesus’ tribute to God in obedience.
If we are to live lives of significant substance, it must start with the Father. It begins with our surrender to the Father’s offer of salvation . . . accepting his will . . . receiving his stamp of approval on our lives. The substance of life originates with the father’s messiah son through our repentance of sin.
II. The Substance of my worship is forged in the temptations of life. Mark 1:12-13.
Jesus leaves the exhilarating experience of the baptism with its positive manifestations to retreat into the wilderness, there tested and tempted by Satan who is the very essence of everything God opposes. The personification of evil opposes the fact that the Father wants to love the world through Jesus. Satan wants Jesus to use his power to become a dictator force obliterating every aspect of goodness.
Lloyd Ogilvie comments, “We begin the Christian life with the liberating experience of God’s grace penetrating to the depth of our souls. But he does not leave us there. The wilderness temptation follows as surely as night follows day . . . He will not leave us half-healed; excited but unchanged. He knows that unless we are liberated at the core we cannot stay alive. We cannot live anew life with old values, motives and attitudes. God wants more than a foot in the door of our hearts; he wants to come live in us and take complete control of our total being.”2
Through the temptations of life I can have victory through Jesus Christ and the life I live will have substance . . . quality of living!
III. The Substance of my worship is a testimony of God in my life. Mark 1:14-15.
The Scripture moves from the temptation scene to Galilee. The preceding events of this chapter move the reader from the baptism to the temptation to the main event . . . the testimony of truth that the messiah is now present and repentance and belief are necessary for a life of ultimate substance – Salvation! The components of salvation include:
a. The good news of truth. Until Jesus came people guessed and groped after God, but when Jesus came they could know God in his fullness.
b. The good news of hope. Defeatism and pessimism rules, but when Jesus comes he brings hope to life through victory and a positive outlook for eternity. Henri Nouwen wrote, “The person of hope lives in the moment with the knowledge and trust that all of life is in good hands.”3
c. The good news of peace. “Peace is not the absence of tension; it is the presence of Jesus.” (Jarrell W. Garsee).4
d. The good news of promise. Jesus is ready to give his word to us, but we must be ready to accept it.
e. The good news of eternal life. As the old Richard and Karen Carpentar song says, “We’ve only just begun.” Christians understand that we are marching to eternal life that lasts forever!
f. The good news of salvation. It is life that is victoriously lived over conquered sin.
g. The good news is truly a testimony to God.
Sermon brief provided by: Derl Keefer, Adult Development Ministries Coordinator in the Sunday School Department, Nazarene World Headquarters, Kansas City, MO
1. C.B.F. Hallock, Five Thousand Best Modern Illustrations (New York: Richard Smith, Inc., 1931), 758.
2. Lloyd Ogilvie, Life Without Limits (Waco: Word Books, 1975), 26.
3. Wallis Metts, editor, Inspiration for Daily Living (Lincolnville, Illinois: Publications International, LTD, 1999), 17.
4. Come Ye Apart Magazine (Kansas City: Nazarene Publishing House, December-February, 1997-1998), 31.