Title: The Picture of a True Disciple
Text: Mark 9.30-50
Introduction: Let’s take a moment and get some context, shall we? This passage is the 2nd cycle of three we will see in this section of Mark. The parts to the cycle are simply these:
- The Passion Prediction: Jesus will suffer and be mistreated by evil men; they will kill him, but 3 days later he will rise again.
- A Zealous Response: Peter, John, James & John;
- Teaching on True Discipleship – misunderstanding what following Jesus means, Jesus then teaches those with him what it means to be a true follower.
We see the 1st cycle, which we covered in recent weeks
- 31-9.1; the 2nd in
- 30-50; and the final cycle in
Let me show you a couple of interesting similarities in this section which will add to our context: When you conclude this section in 10.45 – there is the story of Jesus healing a blind man, Blind Bartimaeus. I was curious to see if a miracle like this was a part of each cycle. Well, the answer is no; however, I did notice there was a healing of a blind man just before these cycles began, in 8.31, There is the story of Jesus healing a blind man in Bethsaida starting in 8.22.
My 1st thought is to ask? Is this a coincidence or an accident? I don’t think so. So, I would bundle this all together in one section with the healing of a blind man serving as bookends.
There is another interesting similarity that adds strength to this idea. Luke brings this out in an undeniable way. He uses the phrase set his face toward Jerusalem. Mark’s reference here is a little more subtle, but very real just the same. Look at 8.27; on the way; we find it again in the 2nd cycle in 9.33-34; on the way; we find it once again in the 3rd cycle in 10.52, after he heals Bartimaeus; on the way; Chapter 11.1 they get to where they’re going – The Triumphal entry. They’ve been on their way to Jerusalem where Jesus will experience what he’s been trying to tell them.
That’s the big picture…
Transition: let’s zoom in now to this 2nd cycle and cover all three steps in one fell swoop this morning in v 30-50…
What we see in this passage is what a true disciple of Jesus looks like…
I. A True Disciple is one who is…
exp.: in v 30-32, Jesus is trying to keep their whereabouts unknown to the outside world so that he might be able to have a concentrated time of teaching. By the way – that is what discipleship is all about: teaching. Someone who commits his life to Christ is committed to learning everything he can about Christ and the life Christ wants him to live. Jesus teaches with his words and with his life. We’ll see that here… 1st lesson for these men…A true disciple of Jesus is…
- He is self sacrificing – like Jesus. (30-32) He isn’t seeking his own way, but rather, is willing to lay down his life. Some of you may be wondering just how this differs from a disciple of Mohammed.
Ill.: This morning I read in the News that a Palestinian attacked and injured 8 Jews in Jerusalem. Well, those ‘disciples’ of Islam lay down their lives with the purpose of killing others. Jesus, however, calls us to lay down our lives so that others may live. That’s a big difference! The Sacrifice of Christ will save millions – maybe billions of lives. We’re called to do no less than be just like him. He’ll tell them this in v 35. 2nd…
- He isn’t seeking power or prestige. (33-35); in 33-35 Jesus asks them point blank what they’ve been discussing. Vs 34 uses a different word – argue. Jesus has told them that he would suffer and be crucified. V 32 tells us that they just didn’t understand, but were afraid to ask. They then demonstrate that they don’t get it by arguing amongst themselves who is the greatest.
Illustration: in today’s society and in our culture – we’d be appalled at this. Oh, we’d still want to know, but we’d keep it on the down low because we know people would frown at our behavior. It wasn’t necessarily so in their day. Paul demonstrates this for us in his final letter to the Corinthians. Boasting or bragging was a part of their culture and society. It gave them position and power. That’s why Paul apologizes for his boasting. Christian values are different than those of the world. It was then and it is now. Thankfully, Christianity has had an impact on our society for good. Most people wouldn’t know it, but that’s why we frown up boasting and bragging.
Jesus then illustrates this for them through a little child. We see that in v 36; taking him in his arms. Children weren’t thought very much of in those days. But here, Jesus takes the lowly and uses him to teach his disciples what he means when he says he must be last of all and servant of all.
t.s.: So, Jesus is teaching the disciples (and us) that a true follower of his is self-sacrificing and isn’t someone who seeks power or prestige. 3rdly,
- He isn’t jealous of others who serve in Jesus name. (36-40) I don’t know why this one is so hard for us – maybe its just because we’re sinful creatures. I think of the two brothers, Cain and Abel. Why is it we don’t celebrate when one of our brothers or sisters is successful? Think on this for a moment: Do you ever find yourself wishing a particular person or group would fail? Have you ever sat watching someone be recognized for an achievement and you sat there in disbelief? Your group was far better, or did more or didn’t cheat! In our text, John seeks to impress Jesus with his zeal. But Jesus corrects John, just as he did Peter back in chapter 8. #4…
- He is concerned for the next generation of believers – to teach them correctly and not lead them astray. Rd v 42; v 41&v 42 go together; where 41 is aiding and helping believers, 42 is a word of warning against those who would hurt or harm them. The word sin here is σκανδαλίζω, and it is the word we get scandalize from. The idea is to cause someone to fall into sin. Some translation may say stumble – with the idea of causing someone to fall. To fall, to stumble is a euphemism for sin. The issue here is with the individual who would cause a believer to sin. And what Jesus says is that it would be better for that person if a great millstone were tied to his neck and he were cast into the sea.
Illustration: picture of millstone I took this picture going into the city of Jerusalem – the one from the time of Jesus, which is walled off. It would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea!
Ill.: Now I’m a sinner. I’m grateful for God’s mercy and grace in my life. And I know we all need God’s forgiveness. I think I have great mercy for people because I’ve needed great mercy. But, Can I say, that I detest three types of individuals: Those who hurt senior adults; those who run from or disobey the police; and those who hurt little children. You see that millstone? … That’s pretty harsh… Jesus is communicating to us how God feels about this – about our responsibility to care for and protect our little ones. #5
- He is committed to Christ as a living sacrifice – committing all of himself. Rd 43-48; his commitment to Christ is seen…
- In what he does (hand)
- In where he goes (foot)
- In what he sees (eye)
ill.: Gehenna (a.k.a: the valley of Hinnom) is the valley outside of Jerusalem where the trash was taken and sometimes bodies of criminals. It was, akin to what we would consider the city dump – basically. Ahaz and Manasseh sacrificed their children to the god, Molech in the valley of Hinnom. Josiah brought about reform and destroyed what his grandfather had established. In his reforms, he turned that place of idol worship into a dump. There was always a fire going of trash being burned. It came to be a symbol of hell – the place of the dead where the fire never dies. It would also correspond to an unclean place outside the camp in the days of the Tabernacle in the wilderness.
Back in that time – when the Tabernacle existed , Aaron and his sons were consecrated as priests (Lev. 8.20-24). They would have this ceremony where a ram would be sacrificed and the blood from the sacrifice would be touched to the ear lobe, the thumb and the big toe; first, for Aaron and then for his sons. The OT uses the ear and Jesus here says the eye, but I think the same thing is being said – a total devotion for the priest in everything he does – and, for the disciple, a total devotion of one’s whole self to God in everything he or she does.
There is one last part to this passage that sticks out for me: what does Jesus mean when he says: rd v 49-50; Mark Horn writes: Contrary to popular belief in modern NT teaching, the ancients were well used to salt as a flavor that makes food taste better. Then he quotes from Job 6.6: 6 Can that which is tasteless be eaten without salt, or is there any taste in the juice of the mallow? Job is one of the oldest books in the Bible! Horn continues: What is more, God revealed to the Israelites that He like grain offerings better with salt. Then Horn quotes from the O.T.: 13 You shall season all your grain offerings with salt. You shall not let the salt of the covenant with your God be missing from your grain offering; with all your offerings you shall offer salt. God is telling them to burn their sacrifice with salt on it. Salt isn’t being used as a preservative in that case! But why the salt and what is it used for? I think the answer in is that verse in Lev 2.13: 13 You shall season all your grain offerings with salt. You shall not let the salt of the covenant with your God be missing from your grain offering; with all your offerings you shall offer salt. We see this term used in Numbers 18 (.19) and in 2 Chr. 13.5. Both refer to an everlasting covenant. The salt symbolizes something that will last and never ends. It is a reminder of God’s faithfulness. The salt was a reminder for the Israelites of God’s everlasting faithfulness.
In the New Covenant – an eternal covenant established by Jesus, we’re to offer our bodies as living sacrifices: our heads, our eyes, our ears, our hands, and our feet. When we’re warned about losing our flavor – it is probably in reference to the living sacrifice we are.
- When we are not self-seeking – looking for power and prestige;
- When we are not jealous of our brothers and sisters in Christ, but rejoice in their good fortune and blessings;
- When we offer a cup of water to drink to those in need;
- When we care for the least of these – the little ones and protect them from those who would lead them into sin;
- When we are committed to Christ fully with our lives – with every fiber of our being, then we are salty and effective.
- Then, we are true followers of Christ.