This past Sunday I preached at Shelby Christian Church in Shelbyville, KY for Biker Sunday. This is something they asked me to do for three years now, and I’ve finally been able to join them for their Biker Outreach, and it was great! Laura got to join me, as you can see, although I don’t think she was quite as thrilled as I was. It may come as a surprise to some of you that I’ve owned and ridden motorcycles for years, and it’s just been something I’ve enjoyed as a little hobby on the side.
One thing I’ve learned through the years being around different types of bikers—especially down in New Orleans—is that a lot of people will look at guys like this, and immediately turn and walk (or run) the other way. Understandable, right? Looks intimidating…even scary. Now, let’s say that we had fifty guys like this taking up our offering on Sun. morning, and they’re the ones who are walking out of this room with all those offering buckets. Everybody o.k. with that? Anybody feel uncomfortable? Do you think they would be trustworthy just based upon their appearance? And if you don’t use someone’s appearance as a measurement of trustworthiness, then what do you use?
How do you determine whether or not you can trust someone? Back when we first started Journey Christian Church in New Orleans, one of the first guys that started attending was Kenny Martin. Kenny was a pretty rough looking biker dude, and at first I was a little hesitant about what Kenny would do if he didn’t like a sermon or the music or something. But Kenny and I, along with another guy, started meeting every week, and then after Hurricane Katrina, we even hired him as our warehouse manager. How did I get to a level of trust where I would even hire Kenny? By spending time with him.
For someone who’s been hurt in a relationship, starting over and trying to build trust with someone else can be painstakingly difficult. For someone who’s been burned by a church before, even here, trying to trust other church leaders can take a long, long time. And sometimes, quite honestly, people feel like they’ve tried Jesus—when they’ve only turned to people who claimed to follow Jesus—and they got hurt, and they don’t want to trust Jesus ever again.
What we’re looking at today, as we continue our series from the Gospel of Mark, is about Building Trust—specifically building trust in a relationship with Jesus Christ—but this also translates into building trust in other relationships as well. So, let’s take a look at it, Mark 8:22-30. If you have your Bibles or a Bible app on your phone, go ahead and turn there if you would, and let’s stand together out of respect for the reading of God’s Word.
You may be seated. Here’s the question: HOW DO YOU BUILD TRUST WITH SOMEONE? And another question we need to take a look at is: HOW DO YOU BECOME A PERSON OTHERS CAN TRUST?
Well, let’s look at how Jesus did it. When Jesus asked the question in v. 27, “Who do people say that I am?” He was asking a question about people’s opinions. But when He asked the question, “But who do YOU say that I am?” He was asking a question about trust.
OK—here are people’s opinions—some say, You’re John the Baptist, others say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets. Everybody’s got an opinion about Jesus…just like they do today. Muslims think He was just a great prophet. Buddhists think He’s one of a number of gods. Atheists think Jesus might have been a good teacher, but that’s about all. Business leaders think Jesus was a good example of leadership.
Everybody’s got an opinion. But Jesus makes this personal, doesn’t He. So…who do YOU say I am? Do you really believe in Me? Do you really trust Me? And Peter answers with what has become known as “The Great Confession”: “You are the Christ” (v. 29). “You are the Messiah, the Anointed One of God.”
So how did Jesus get there with the disciples? What did Jesus do to demonstrate enough of His identity that Peter and others would TRUST Him? Well, here’s what we learn from the text, and here’s the key idea for us to wrestle with and apply to our lives:
Trust develops by observing ACTIONS done consistently over TIME.
What we learn from Jesus in this text is that He was trustworthy—the disciples could trust and believe that He is who He said He was. Peter said, “You are the Christ.” The disciples believed in Jesus, they trusted Him, because they observed His actions done consistently over time. They observed His actions done consistently over time.
Think about how this applies in any relationship. If you’re the type of person who consistently shows up late for meetings or appointments, then people begin to TRUST that most likely you’ll be late the next time you’re scheduled to be somewhere. People start to say about you, “Oh, that’s Frank. He’s always late.” So this is where you negative actions done consistently over time develop a trust that people have about you always being late!
If you’re the type of person who consistently is willing to help when you’re asked to do so, people begin to TRUST that the next time they need help, most likely you’ll show up and help. Do you see how it works both ways? People develop a trust of your character—good or bad—by observing your actions done consistently over time. And it’s the same way the disciples began to trust that Jesus really was the Messiah. And it’s the way you also begin to trust others.
Whatever you are consistently doing or demonstrating as your actions and attitudes, people begin to TRUST that that is the type of person you are.
Now, think about how important this is. If you don’t like who you are, or if you want to change how people perceive you, then you have to recognize that it will take time with different actions done CONSISTENTLY.
Take a look with me at how Jesus models this in our text. First, let’s look at the time part and work our way backward to actions done consistently.
I want you to think about the amount of time Jesus spent with His disciples. V. 22, “And they came to Bethsaida.” V. 27, “And Jesus went on with His disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi.”
This is just part of an ongoing travelogue of the disciples spending time with Jesus. When we go back through the first part of Mark’s Gospel, we see the first part of Jesus’ travels:
After reaching out to Peter, James and John, He takes them with Him to Capernaum (Mk. 1:27).
After some TIME there, He takes them throughout all of Galilee (Mk. 1:39).
They travel together back to Capernaum (Mk. 2:1), and then if you keep flipping the pages of Mark’s Gospel, Jesus goes by the sea, He goes to the home of Levi, He walks through a grainfield, He enters a synagogue, He goes up on a mountain, He teaches beside the sea, He goes to the country of the Gerasenes, He walks to the home of a synagogue ruler, He’s back in Capernaum, He goes away to a desolate place, back to the sea, over to Gennesaret, to Tyre and Sidon, back to the Sea of Galilee again, over to the district of Dalmanutha, back to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, and then to Bethsaida here in Mark 8:22.
And guess who was right there with Him through all of that time? The disciples. If you spend that much time with anyone, you’re going to really get to know who he is! You will see the consistency of the way someone lives his or her life over the course of time. You will see if someone is positive or has a chip on his shoulder. If a person is an encourager or a “Debbie Downer”—all of this is learned over the course of time spent with someone.
Now, I know this isn’t rocket science, but let me ask you this question: If you are going to put your trust in Jesus, how can you do it if you don’t spend time with Him?
And when I say, “Put your trust in Jesus”—I mean where we really live our lives to follow Him. “O.K., Lord. I know I’m supposed to be kind to this person, even though I really don’t like him. But because You tell me I’m supposed to love my neighbor as myself, I’m going to trust in You, and believe that You’ll bring things together for good!”
You see, the disciples observed Jesus over the course of time, and they saw Him live consistently.
So, it’s time to do a quick check up. If you’re going to trust someone, you have to spend TIME with him or her. If you’re going to grow in your trust of Jesus where He becomes a part of your life and not just a one-hour and ten-minute experience on Sunday mornings, then you have to spend time with Him.
Over the course of time, you observe actions done consistently. How is trust built? By observing actions done consistently over time! So let’s take a look at Jesus’ actions.
What were the disciples observing about Jesus when they were spending all this time with Him? Back in Mark 8:22-26 Jesus heals a blind man. In the first part of Mark 8, Jesus feeds the 4,000. In Mk. 7, Jesus heals a deaf man. He cast out a demon from a young girl. He walks on water in Mk. 6. He heals the sick in Gennesaret. And interspersed through all of these actions—and we could go on and on and on in listing them—Jesus shows compassion. He teaches about how we are to love God and love our neighbor. He allows children to come to Him, and He loves them. Although He possessed all the power in the universe, He humbled Himself and faced death, even the death of a criminal as He hung on a cross. And on the third day He rose from the grave, conquering death and the grave.
With all of these actions, with all the disciples had seen and heard, the Apostle John concludes His Gospel by writing, “This is the disciple who is bearing witness about these things, and who has written these things, and we know that his testimony is true” (John 21:24). John was saying, “We trust. We know that what Jesus has said and done is true. He is trustworthy.”
So let me ask you. Do you really trust your life to Jesus? Do you really believe He is trustworthy? I’m not talking about “going to church,” or “Well, of course I’m a Christian, I’m an American!” I’m talking about true, life trust, where you spend time with Him, and where He begins to shape and mold you so that YOU are becoming a trustworthy person. It’s easy, isn’t it, to point our fingers out how this person let us down, or that person let us down, or this church hurt us, or that church? And then because of those wounds, we never… trust… again. You become a closed person, empty, just going through the motions, but not really living life. Because living life includes trust—and you develop trust by observing actions consistently over time. I invite you, I challenge you, to take the next step in making that commitment to Jesus today. Put your trust in Him, and let Him change your life. Let’s pray.