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Sacrificial Discipleship

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Oral Tradition
Regular, repeated teaching

Warning for Influencers

Continues thought from v 41...
Little ones referes to his disciples, not to actual children
Jesus’ emphasis on caring for ordinary disciples...”poor in Spirit”
This warning is against those who would, as the word actually means, cause to stumble…it is a warning to those who would cause new, immature, Christians who are learning how to walk with the Lord to stumble.
Jesus’ words reinforce the truth that God doesn’t take this kind of thing lightly.
This is why Pastors and teachers are reminded by james: [1] Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. (ESV)
Taming the Tongue
Long history of this in the church…of the faith of people being taken advantage of and young xians being caused to stumble due to arrogant, deceitful, prideful leaders
This is a warning to all of us…to nurture the faith of newer, less mature believers. Show them patience, give them good wholesome Biblical truth.
[1] Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. (ESV)
Remember Paul’s teaching in 1 Cor. about food sacrificed to idols. His point there?
Facebook and other social media has become a breeding ground for this kind of thing...
I want so desparately…and have tried in the past to get off of facebook. It was a fairly easy split to make…but the problem is my vocation doesn’t afford me that luxury. I came to this realization as I watched pastor after pastor announce that they were leaving facebook for good. On one hand I applauded their intent to care for their own souls by ridding themselves of this distraction.
But on the other hand, pastors (and other influencers and care-givers like parents and teachers) need to be living where their people are living. The reality is, most of you are living a great deal of your lives online. Remember that commercial a long time ago...”it’s 10 PM, do you know where your children are?” Pastors need to be asked the same thing…do you know where your sheep are? “Oh, they are grazing in that field over the hill there” But, you can’t see them shepherd… “Yes, I used to go over there but I found it to be too dangerous, too time consuming, and frankly the grass is just bad over there” Hearing that, we would think this shepherd to be insane…how could you allow your sheep to graze there without you?
Now, don’t hear this as prideful and speaking like a big facebook babysitter. But the reality is social media is full of harmful, shameful, dangerous things. Not only is a breeding ground for sin and temptation…it is also a marketplace for unorthodox teaching and the sharing of unbiblical ideas. We have to look out for one another…we have to be vigilent…and we have to make sure we’re not the ones contributing to what Jesus is talking about here.
We could all use a little less social media…maybe a lot less…but we need to be mindful and vigilent for one another. Like it or not this is where we live…to turn a blind eye to it is to neglect a huge area of ministry.

Warning for Sinners

Jesus makes a shift in his teaching away from a warning against endangering the faith of others to endangering self.
This teaching of Jesus can sound strange and confusing so let’s look at it.
Now, before we go on…let’s look at one textual issue…if you have an ESV, NIV, or CSB you will notice something about verses 44 and 46....they are not there. My Bible goes from verse 43 to 45 without skipping a beat. The NASB probably has brackets around those verses. Ok, what we have here is a perfect example of the difference between manuscript traditons used in translating the King James verses the newer translations. The newer translations omit these verses because the oldest manuscripts do not contain them. In other words…the best manuscrpits we have do not contain them. Remember, the King James is frozen in the 17th century…based on 17th century textual work…many people criticize newer translations for taking verses out of the Bible…thats actualy not true…the KJV added verses based on later scribal additions. Now, let’s come together on something. Although these differences exist and even the way things are translated can influence interpretation…the gospel is not at stake. None of these differences undermine the reality of the gospel and fulfilment of God’s promises.
Ok, let’s move on. Here Jesus is using hyperbole to underscore his point. Remember, hyperbole is intentionally exaggerated speech. “I’m so hungry I could eat a horse” “Its so cold even the polar bears were wearing jackets”
So no, Jesus is not advocating literally cutting off your hands and gouging out your eyes. He is making a point using strong and shocking language. The fact that he is not calling for actual mutilation does not in any way diminish his message…in fact it may even enhance it…because what he is calling for is even more radical.
He is drawing a sharp contrast between what we view as indispensible in our lives and the terrifying reality of hell.
Let’s understand here Jesus is talking about the reality of sin and its seriousness. The use of eyes, hands, feet are metaphors for what we view, what we do, and where we go. Jesus is talking about life here and bringing his disciples to the place where they are looking at life in the right context. He is pressing upon them the surpassing greatness of the Kingdom of God, even over those things that we see as absolutely essential to life.
Jesus is not mincing words here…and we should make no mistake about it…Jesus is teaching about a literal hell. Jesus’s doctrine of hell is spoken about more than heaven. The word used here is Gehenna…which is the Hinnom Valley just outside the walls of Old City Jerusalem.
Under Ahaz and Manasseh, this place was used for human sacrifice including child sacrifice to Molech.
Later, under reforms by Jeremiah and King Josiah, the place was no longer used to sacrifice but became the garbage dump where the city’s garbage would be burned in a fire that never went out.
It is no wonder this well-known place became a symbol of God’s wrath against sin.
Jesus quotes here even further emphasizing the grotesque and horrible nature of this place.
Hell is real...
Hell is not the absense of God, but rather the ever-present wrath of God
Why is Jesus issuing this warning to his disciples?
This is a sobering reminder for them to not take sin lightly.
This is not just a warning about future judgment, but a strong statement on their lives here and now.
It is a warning to his disciples against rebelling against God and it serves as a call to faith in the here and now…and doing battle against sin in order to remove any hindrances preventing one from entering the Kingdom of God.
Wait a second you may say…are you trying to sneak salvation by works in here? Absolutely not, obviously…we are saved by grace through faith…justified by the imputed righteousness of Jesus. But that justification produces fruit…that fruit is sanctification…the lifelong process of being made holy.
So, for Jesus to issue his disciples stern warnings about sin and judgment is right and proper…the call of a disciple is to be battling sin and growing in holiness. A justified person does that. If that’s not happening…then rightly so one’s justifificaiton should be examined.
John Owen famously said “Be killing sin, or it will be killing you”
Taming the Tongue
The truth is, sin doesn’t want to be killed…it doesn’t lay down its arms easily. It is a battle…and a tough one…but you have superior firepower…you have the Word of God and the Holy Spirit.
Jesus’ teaching here is a clear call to not take sin lightly. Sin is serious business…serious enough that losing everything of value in this life is worth it if it means gaining the Kingdom of God.
[1] Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. (ESV)
Listen, this is a warning against strolling through the gates of heaven with spiritual pride and arrogance.
Don’t miss this…Jesus knows full well what he is saying here…his perfect righteousness imputed to us…meaning credited to our account makes us right with God…justifies us…takes away the wrath of God against our sin that once led to our condemnation. Now, because of our union with him in faith we are no longer condemned. But SANCTIFICATION is a result of that justification…the lifelong process of being made holy. That does not happen instantly…we are declared righteous instantly on the basis of Christ’s work…but then begins the work of changing us and conforming us to that new identity. That takes time, that takes pain, that takes battle, that takes sacrifice.
If anyone is telling you differently…I refer back to the millstone around the neck warning. Do battle against sin because Jesus himself says this is serious business and not to be taken lightly.

Discipleship on the Altar

Jesus’ last statements are puzzling and difficult.
These statements are similar to others spoken by Jesus in the other gospels…but Mark’s arrangement is different and verse 49....only occurs in Mark.
So, we need to understand primarily how Mark is using this teaching...
Remember, was our watershed chapter…the continental divide...
Jesus’ mission now is Jerusalem-focused. So, situating this material where he does, Mark is making a statement as part of his broader argument about suffering in discipleship. Now, stay with me here.
At the end of Chapter 9 here…Jesus is leaving Galilee and in chapter 10 he will be heading down the Jordan into Judea toward Jerusalem. In Chapter 11, we’re already at the triumphal entry. So, the speed at which Mark is bringing us to Jerusalem is increasing here.
So, I want to invite you to read this last section of our passage with Jerusalem-focused goggles…and when we think Jerusalem we think temple…we think sacrifice…we think of the son of man going to be betrayed, killed, and 3 days later to rise again.
You’ll see a lot of interpretations, maybe even in your study Bibles about fire representing purification and salt similarly but also a preservative and flavor enhancer. Those symbolic interpretations are good…and I think true…and certainly more prominent in Matthew and Luke. But, Mark is casting this imagery a little differently.
gives instructions for the burnt offering...
Salt was also a major component of the sacrifice. In [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. (ESV)
So, Mark is inviting us to see this teaching in light of sacrifice…knowing full well he is taking us very shortly to Jesus’ own sacrifce with the ever-present undercurrent of a life of sacrifice demanded by Jesus for his disciples.
So, salt and fire then are symbols of the trials and costs of discipleship.
[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. (ESV)
Discipleship lays total claim…all consuming or it is worthless
Trials and battles sancfify
The disciple is one who takes up the cross of Jesus and follows on the way to Jerusalem (8:34), who nurtures the faith of another believer (v. 42), who willingly forsakes things precious but injurious to the life of faith is himself a holy sacrifice, a “living sacrifice” according to Paul ().
These are stern words this morning, indeed a reminder of the seriousness of the call to follow Jesus. It isn’t something casual…not something you can simple stroll in and out of. If your “”christian life”” is charactetized by strolling in and out…Jesus’ warnings should give you pause. This is an all or nothing kind of thing.
Yet the reality before his disciples then is the same reality before us today…we are not alone and we are not granted entrance to the Kingdom of God on the basis of our works…on the basis of our performance. We are granted entrance into the Kingdom and enjoy peace with God only thorough the perfect sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Only by faith in Jesus can we truly be his disciples.
Yet, don’t miss what Jesus is saying. True discipleship…true evidence of faith in Jesus will result in something…it will result in your ongoing sanctification. You are going to be changed…and that change will be painful…that change will be costly.
The call to discipleship is costly
Jesus’ warnings are serious
Run from those who are wearing the millstones around their necks, leading Christians away from truth. Run from those who teach a christianity of ease and comfort. Run from those who tell you sit back and relax. Jesus is calling his disciples to something much greater, much more costly, much more dangerous to life and limb…yet far more glorious and eternally significant than you could ever imagine.
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