Mark 9:30-42 (Wednesday Evening Bible Study)

Mark 9:30-42

  • Mark 9:30-32
  • 30 Then they left that place and made their way through Galilee, but he did not want anyone to know it. 31 For he was teaching his disciples and telling them, “The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men. They will kill him, and after he is killed, he will rise three days later.” 32 But they did not understand this statement, and they were afraid to ask him.
    • This passage marks a milestone. Jesus had now left the north country where He was safe and was taking the first step toward Jerusalem and to the cross which awaited Him there
    • For once He did not want the crowds around. He knew quite clearly that unless He could write His message on the hearts of His chosen disciples, He had failed
    • He had to make sure, before He left this world in the body, that there were some who understood, however dimly, what He had come to say
    • This time the tragedy of His warning is even more poignant
      • The Son of Man is being delivered into the hands of men
      • He was not only announcing a face and giving a warning, He was also making a last appeal to the man in whose heart was forming the purpose of betrayal 
      • Still the disciples did not understand. The thing they did not understand was the bit about rising again; something they never grasped the certainty of the resurrection until it had actually taken place
        • When they did not understand, they were afraid to ask any further questions. It was as if they knew so much that they were afraid to know more
          • Medical diagnosis that we know is bad, but are afraid to ask more questions because we don’t necessarily want to know more
            • Sometimes we are amazed that they did not grasp what was so plainly spoken, yet we do the same thing
            • The human mind has an amazing faculty for rejecting what it does not want to see
            • People still accept the parts of the Christian message which they like and which suit them, and refuse to understand the rest
  • Mark 9:33-35
  • 33 They came to Capernaum. When he was in the house, he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the way?” 34 But they were silent, because on the way they had been arguing with one another about who was the greatest. 35 Sitting down, he called the Twelve and said to them, “If anyone wants to be first, he must be last and servant of all.”
    • Nothing so well shows how far the disciples were from realizing the real meaning of what the Messiah was going to accomplish than this. Repeatedly He had told them what awaited Him in Jerusalem, and yet they were still thinking of His kingdom in earthly terms and of themselves as His chief ministers of state. There is something heartbreaking in the thought of Jesus going toward a cross and His disciples arguing about who would be greatest
      • Yet in their heart of hearts they knew they were wrong
        • When He asked them what they had been arguing about, they had nothing to say. It was the silence of shame
          • It is strange how a thing takes its proper place and acquires its true character when it is set in the eyes of Jesus
          • So long as they thought that Jesus was not listening and that Jesus had not seen, the argument about who should be greatest seemed fair enough, but when that argument had to be stated in the presence of Jesus it was seen in all its unworthiness
          • How much different would we live if we thought of everything we were doing as being done in the sight of Jesus (my toes hurt)
    • Jesus dealt with this very seriously. It says that He sat down and called the disciples to Him
      • Rabbis sat to teach when the subject was of great importance
      • Jesus deliberately took up the position of a Rabbi teaching his pupils before He spoke
        • Greatness in His kingdom would be found not by being first, but by being last; not by being masters, but by being servants
        • It was not that Jesus abolished ambition
          • He recreated ambition
          • For the ambition to rule, He substituted the ambition to serve
          • For the ambition to have things done for us, He substituted the ambition to do things for others
            • The really great people, those who are remembered as having made a real contribution to life, are the ones who said to themselves, not, “How can I use the state and society to further my own prestige and my own personal ambitions?” But, “How can I use my personal gifts and talents to serve the state?”
            • JFK “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country”
            • Instead of coming to church to get something, come to see how you can give/serve
    • The divisions and disputes which tear the Church apart would for the most part never occur if the only desire of its leaders  members was to serve it without caring what position they occupied. When Jesus spoke of the supreme greatness and value of the one whose ambition was to be a servant, He laid down one of the greatest practical truths in the world
  • Mark 9:36-37
  • 36 He took a child, had him stand among them, and taking him in his arms, he said to them, 37 “Whoever welcomes one little child such as this in my name welcomes me. And whoever welcomes me does not welcome me, but him who sent me.”
    • Jesus is steal dealing with the worthy and unworthy ambition
      • Children have no influence at all; they cannot advance a career nor enhance a person’s prestige; they cannot give us things
      • Children need things; they must have things done for them
      • So Jesus says, “Whoever welcomes the poor, ordinary people, the people who have no influence and no wealth and no power, the people who need things done for them, is welcoming me. More than that, that person is welcoming God.”
        • It is the person who needs things that we must seek
    • There is a warning here
      • It is easy to cultivate the friendship of the person who can do things for us, and whose influence can be useful to us
      • And it is equally easy to avoid the person who inconveniently needs our help
      • It is easy to want favor with the influential and the great, and to neglect the simple, humble, ordinary people
      • In effect, Jesus says here that we should seek out not those who can do things for us, but those for whom we can do things, for in this way we are seeking Jesus
  • Mark 9:38-40
  • 38 John said to him, “Teacher, we saw someone driving out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him because he wasn’t following us.” 39 “Don’t stop him,” said Jesus, “because there is no one who will perform a miracle in my name who can soon afterward speak evil of me. 40 For whoever is not against us is for us.
    • There was one very common way to exorcise demons. If you could get to know the name of a still more powerful spirit and command the evil demon in that name to come out of a person, the demon was supposed to be powerless to resist
    • Jesus declared that no one could do a mighty work in His name and be altogether His enemy. Then Jesus laid down the great principle that “Whoever is not agains us is for us.”
    • A lesson we should all learn
      • We all have a right to our own thoughts
      • We all have a right to think things out and to think them through until we come to our own conclusions and our own beliefs
        • We are never going to agree with someone 100% of the time. There are going to be differences of opinion, and that is ok
          • It is necessary to remember that truth is always bigger than any individual’s grasp of it
          • No one can possibly grasp all truth
          • The basis of tolerance is simply the realization of the magnitude of truth itself
            • We should never “tolerate” something that is obviously against Scripture
      • We must concede the right to do our own speaking
        • There are of course limits.
          • If someone is spreading doctrines calculated to destroy morality and to remove the foundations from all civilized and Christian society, they must be combated. But the way to combat them is certainly not to eliminate them by force but to prove them wrong
          • Voltaire~ “I hate what you say, but I would die for your right to say it”
      • We must remember that any doctrine or belief must finally be judged by the kind of people it produces
        • The question must always ultimately be, not, “how is a Church governed?” But, “What kind of people does a Church produce?”
      • We may hate a person’s beliefs, but we must never hate the person
        • We may wish to eliminate the teaching, but we must never wish to eliminate the teacher
  • Mark 9:41-42
  • 41 And whoever gives you a cup of water to drink in my name, because you belong to Christ —truly I tell you, he will never lose his reward. 42 “But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to fall away —it would be better for him if a heavy millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea.
    • The teaching of this passage is simple and straightforward
      • It declares that any kindness shown, any help give to the people of Christ will not lose its reward
        • When Jesus saw someone in need, He helped that person in the most practical way, and the duty of help has been passed down to us
        • It is to be noted how simple the help is. The gift is a cup of cold water. We are not asked to do great things for others, things beyond our power. We are asked to give the simple things that anyone can give
          • A missionary tells a story about telling a class of African schoolchildren about giving a cup of cold water in the name of Jesus. She was sitting on the veranda of her house. Into the village square came a company of native bearers. They had heavy packs. They were tired and thirsty, and they sat down to rest. Now they were men of another tribe, and had they asked the ordinary non-Christian native for water they would have been told to go find it for themselves, because of the barrier between the tribes. But as the men sat wearily, and the missionary watched, from the school emerged a little line of tiny African girls. On their heads they had pitchers of water. Shyly and fearfully they approached the tired bearers, knelt and offered their pitchers of water. In surprise they bearers took them and drank and handed them back, and the girls took to their heels and ran to the missionary. “We have given a thirsty man a drink”, they said, “in the name of Jesus.” The little children took the story and duty literally.
            • Would that more would do so! It is the simple kindnesses that are needed
      • But the opposite is also true
        • To help is to win the eternal reward
        • To cause a weaker brother or sister to stumble is to win the eternal punishment
          • The millstone here is literally a millstone turned by a donkey
          • To be cast into the sea with that attached was certainly to have no hope of return
          • To sin is terrible but to teach another to sin is infinitely worse
        • God is not hard on the sinner, but He will be stern to the person who makes it easier for another to sin, and whose conduct, either thoughtless or deliberate, puts a stumbling block in the path of a weaker brother or sister

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