Title: The Picture of a True Disciple
Text: Mark 9.30-50
Introduction: Questions: What are we doing here? Stop! Maybe you’ve heard that question before, like in a Business Mtg or maybe in Bible Study. Well, it really boils down to a simple statement – something like, developing passionate followers of Christ for the Glory of God! We need something like that. I’m not suggesting that statement, but something like that – something that flows off the tongue easily and communicates a mission. Because really, what are we doing here?
Tarpley has a wonderful mission statement. It doesn’t flow and I changed it up just a little to make it easier for me to remember. The 3 G’s: Glory, Gospel, Grace.
Why am I mentioning this? Well, I think it’s time we turn our attention to getting ourselves organized. Clay, John, Robert – let’s meet and talk about this.
Now, look at the title of my message: The Picture of a True Disciple. It appears to me in this text, that Jesus was doing just that – developing passionate followers of Himself for His Father’s Glory.
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.
You might see it as:
- You’re the Messiah.
- You’re right and just so you know, this is what being the Messiah means.
- You’re wrong, we don’t understand this new way of thinking, and by the way, we’re excited about what this means for us!
- No, you’re wrong and if you want to follow me, then you won’t look like what you think I should be, but rather who I really am.
We see the 1st cycle, which we covered in recent weeks
- 8.31-9.1; the 2nd in
- 9.30-50; 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…
A True Disciple is one who is…
exp.: rd 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 – this is what we do: 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 week I read in the News of a Palestinian attack that killed one young man and injured 2 others. It was a drive-by shooting that happened last May 2nd. He was sentenced to life in prison for the death of this young Israeli student (Yehuda Guetta). Every week, it seems, Jews in Jerusalem and throughout Israel are targeted by Palestinians and other Arabs who live in Israel. These attacks are random and senseless.
App.: 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… a true disciple is one who …
- 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; however, same word in Gk. 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 35-37; 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. (38-40) rd 38-40; 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 old 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)
Conclusion: This week, another pastor has resigned his position amid allegations of immorality. When I say allegations, it turns out those accusations were proven to be true. I watched a video released by the Elders of their church with the announcement to their membership. 2) Two weeks ago, 8 staff members resigned from a megachurch in Chattanooga. That pastor hasn’t resigned because he doesn’t have a leadership in place to force his resignation – so his people are quitting around him. Same accusations – adultery, immorality.)
These pastors are poor examples of what a true believer looks like. Here is the question: Either these men are believers and they’ve failed, they have rebelled against God, Or they are non-believers and are acting according to their natural inclinations.
And this is why church discipline is so vital to a church’s witness.
- If they are truly lost and not saved, then their souls lie in the balance. Their eternal destiny is at stake.
- If they’ve strayed, or fallen, and they repent and return to the Lord, the witness to the Grace of God is amazing.
Don’t miss the message: it isn’t that these sins are unforgivable. The Mercy and Grace of God is great! Take advantage of this incredible offer: forgiveness. And, how do you know someone has experienced that repentance? They get radical about turning away from those idols/things/self and turning to Jesus. Jesus is saying that we need to get radical in our repentance.
And, that radical behavioral change shows a life that is a true believer. It demonstrates outwardly what self-sacrifice truly means:
- 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.