Mark 6:7-18 (NIV) 7 Calling the Twelve to him, he began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over impure spirits. 8 These were his instructions: “Take nothing for the journey except a staff—no bread, no bag, no money in your belts. 9 Wear sandals but not an extra shirt. 10 Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you leave that town. 11 And if any place will not welcome you or listen to you, leave that place and shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.” 12 They went out and preached that people should repent. 13 They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them. 14 King Herod heard about this, for Jesus’ name had become well known. Some were saying, “John the Baptist has been raised from the dead, and that is why miraculous powers are at work in him.” 15 Others said, “He is Elijah.” And still others claimed, “He is a prophet, like one of the prophets of long ago.” 16 But when Herod heard this, he said, “John, whom I beheaded, has been raised from the dead!” 17 For Herod himself had given orders to have John arrested, and he had him bound and put in prison. He did this because of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, whom he had married. 18 For John had been saying to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.”
Children are not the only ones who enjoy playing games. The type of games we play may change when we become teens or adults. As we grow older we may enjoying watching games more than participating in them. There are card games, board games, football, basketball, baseball, soccer, golf, the list goes on. And, if we are honest, we all like to win or have our favorite team win. Games go back a long time. When you watch the summer or winter Olympics you are watching games that go back thousands of years. But what game, if we can call it that, goes back even farther, way back to the beginning in Eden? We call it the blame-game. Unlike most games we play it has serious and eternal consequences and it has no winners. It is most dangerous when it is played versus the bearers of God’s word. All of us play this game at times. So as we continue to follow our series, “The lies we believe”, we need to listen carefully to what God offers to us in Mark’s inspired words in chapter 6, verses 7-18, which we heard in the Gospel reading a few moments ago. Let me highlight a few verses again. (verses 7, 11, 12,16,17,18) So here we see WHEN THE BLAME-GAME IS PLAYED VS. GOD’S WORD BEARERS. I. Separation is caused. II. False innocence is assumed.
Jesus was teaching in the synagogue in his home town of Nazareth that he was the promised Messiah and sinners Savior. But his former neighbors rejected his teaching and him. They saw him only as the son of the carpenter and brother to his family whom they all knew were just ordinary people. In fact, we are told they were offended by him and his teaching. So he could not accomplish much there.
But that did not stop him from continuing his ministry of proclaiming the kingdom of God was near in him, the Savior, and all should repent, turn from their sins and to him for the forgiveness he would win with his perfect life and innocent death in sinners place. In fact, he stepped up that ministry by twelve times by sending out his disciples to preach the same repentance he was teaching. His instructions to them called for total dependence on him to provide for all they needed. They were to enter people’s homes when invited and to pronounce peace to that house in the one who was bringing peace to lost sinners, peace between them and his heavenly Father where otherwise there was only enmity because of sin. But if they and the message which Jesus had given was rejected, if they blamed the word-bearers for stirring up trouble by calling sin, sin, and making them feel guilty and ashamed, the disciples should shake the dust off their feet. This was a sign of total separation from them, God’s saving word, and from their Lord and Savior. That is why playing the blame game vs. the bearers of God’s word is so dangerous and has such far reaching consequences. It causes total separation from God is this life and, if persisted in, separation from God in hell forever. But note well that did not stop Jesus’ little congregation at the time from going on to preach repentance to others and carry out the other work Jesus had given them.
Now, playing the blame game vs. anyone is never a winning proposition for the blamer or the blamed. Some examples: One of you children blurts out some angry, bad words against your brother or sister, and mom asks what you said. And you shout, “Well, she started it.” Maybe she did or maybe she didn’t, but what good does the finding blame do? No one is sorry, repentant, confessing wrong, asking forgiveness. All the same applies when a husband or wife blames the other for spending too much money or even wasting it. Same with co-workers in the office when blame is passed around for gossiping. Instead followers of Jesus will want to admit their wrong, shoulder the blame when it is true, and not blame someone else when it is not. Paul wrote in Galatians 6, “Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted.” Trouble is we too easily believe the lie Satan places in us just as he did Adam and Eve after they fell into sin. God came looking for them to give them a chance to confess, repent, and look to God for gracious forgiveness. Instead, Adam blamed Eve and God for giving him his wife. Eve blamed the devil. And the blame-game has been played ever since. But the worst blame-game is when we believe the lie we can blame the bearers of God’s word to us and we have gotten away with something or we feel better about ourselves. But in reality it causes unbelief and thus total separation from our fellow believers and from our Savior in this life and eternally. We never want to be the blamed, whether guilty or not. But we also never want to be the blamer because that feeds the lie that my sin is always someone else’s fault and I don’t really need a Savior.
We have an example of that in Herod, the tetrarch of Galilee. He was living in adultery with his brother’s wife. John the Baptizer called him on it for his own spiritual good. Continuing in this life style with no repentance would lead him to hell. His wife, Herodias, did not like what John was saying so she blamed the word-bearer and asked for his death. Get rid of the bearer of God’s word and all is OK, right. So Herod had John arrested and killed. Now Herod heard about Jesus’ work, especially his miracles. He concluded, perhaps from a guilty conscience, that Jesus was the Baptizer back from the dead. Was he guilt laden, scared to death, or did he simply now have a feeling of false innocence that he had gotten rid of the voice that called for repentance. Whatever the case, the worst part of this blame-game he played vs. God’s word-bearer was now he would never have John proclaim to him the Lamb of God who alone would take his sins away and put him on the path that leads to real glory in heaven. Playing the blame game to feel false innocence is most dangerous and has eternal consequences.
That is what the world sometimes attempts with us as followers of Jesus and his word. Some attempt a false innocence for themselves when they blame us for all the bigotry, intolerance, and exclusion in the world because we bear the word of our God which will not accept life styles God does not accept. Now, as Peter wrote in his first epistle, we should always bear that word with gentleness and respect. We never want to witness God’s word and will to someone with a better than thou attitude or like we think we are better than they. No, we are all sinners alike and all need the same Savior. But when someone is living in sin, Jesus and our love for that person, needs to seek repentance. Only then can the good news of the Savior fill their hearts and lives. In the same way it is only then that the same is true for us and in Jesus, instead of a false feeling of innocence by trying to blame others for our wrongs, we can truly stand blameless before God each day of life and finally on the day of judgement. A false innocence assumed because we always blame someone else for our sins will prevent us from confessing our sins as we did earlier in this service. How then can the Holy Spirit fill us with forgiveness as he hear the saving Gospel and receive the body and blood Christ shed to win that forgiveness? So let’s be very guarded against playing the blame-game, especially vs. the bearers of God’s word, at home, in our church, or among friends. It is just another of Satan’s lies we sometimes believe. God help us to listen to God’s truth, law and Gospel, and stand blameless in his sight through faith in Jesus and then truly blameless with him in heaven forever.