Faithlife Sermons

Mark 9:30-50

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The Cross brings us into the family of God


Hey Everyone. Welcome to Church Online. Thanks for joining us.
Tomorrow is Memorial Day. It’s the day when we, as a country, pause, remember, and honor those who sacrificed their lives so that we, as Americans, could have the freedoms we have. It reminds me of...
John 15:13 ESV
Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.
…because if you think about it, these soldiers didn’t die for their own benefit. They laid down their lives for a greater purpose - for us - to give the people of our country (and the world) hope: The hope of freedom.
And as I was study this week’s passage, I was reminded of the greater purpose of what all this - our faith, Christianity, the church - is all about. When the apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthian church, he said...
1 Corinthians 2:1–2 ESV
And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.
According to Paul, “The most important thing for you to know is Jesus Christ and why He died on the Cross.” And Jesus taught his disciples the same thing. And this is important for us today because with everything we’ve got going on in our lives, we mustn’t forget this greater purpose...
Continuing in the book of Mark, chapter 9, picking up in verse 30...
Mark 9:30–32 ESV
They went on from there and passed through Galilee. And he did not want anyone to know, for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him. And when he is killed, after three days he will rise.” But they did not understand the saying, and were afraid to ask him.


Remember from last week, Jesus has come down from the Mount of Transfiguration, found his disciples without understanding, power, and faith, and uses this opportunity to reveal to them (and us) how desperately we need Him! That this life does not work without Jesus!
Moving on, they pass through Galilee (the region Jesus grew up in). And once again, He talks to his disciples about dying and rising again. And the disciples still don’t get it.
But notice how it says, “He didn’t want anyone to know [where He was at], because He was teaching His disciples.” All thru the Book of Mark, Jesus has often said things like, “Don’t tell anyone who I am, where I am, and what I’ve done.” And then usually doesn’t why! But here… He gives a reason… He wants dedicated time to teach His disciples. And the sense is… what Jesus is teaching them is extremely important.
And what was He teaching? The same thing Paul taught the Corinthians... that He was going to die on the Cross and rise again. And why is this so important? The answer is found in the response, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him. And when he is killed, after three days he will rise.”
Let’s break this statement down so we can see what Jesus is truly teaching...
First, it says “The Son of Man” (Jesus) is going to be killed by men. We, humans, will kill the perfect and innocent Son of God. Obviously, this is wrong. It’s sin. It’s evil. And this one action summarizes our biggest problem: We’re all sinful people. We wrong God. We wrong one another.
Secondly, notice how it says, “[Jesus] is going to be delivered into the hands of men.” Who is delivering up Jesus to be killed? A study of the original language would surprise you. Because it reveals that God the Father is the One delivering up His Son to be killed.
Finally, it finishes with, “when He is killed, He will rise three days later.” I believe the best way to explain this is to look to something else the apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians...
2 Corinthians 5:21 NLT
For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.
When Jesus, the perfect and innocent Son of God, was delivered up to die on the cross, He was a sacrifice to pay for all of our sins. The sin that rightfully deserves the eternal judgment of God. That judgment was placed on Jesus, as our substitute, so we could be forgiven and go free. That was God’s plan to save us!
And the reason we know it worked is because He rose again!
Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages [the consequence] of sin is death.” When you sin, the punishment is death. And since every one dies, it proves we’re all sinners. And when we die, the grave puts chains on you and holds in you it’s prison. But because of Jesus’s perfect sacrifice, that sin was fully paid for! And because sin was paid, death could NOT hold Jesus in the grave.
And the good news (the gospel) is this sacrifice is available to us, it can be applied to our life, if we will turn from our sin and put our faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior.
And the reason why all of this happened is because God loves us...
John 3:16 ESV
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
That’s why Jesus died. That’s why He laid down His life. Because God loves us. And what He did in His love is the most important message in the world. And it’s the message Jesus needed His disciples to get during this dedicated time away - the message of Jesus Christ and Him crucified!
But even when we belong to Jesus as disciples, and even if we spend time along learning from Jesus, it’s easy to forget or overlook the message of Jesus. We quickly let other things become priority. That’s what happened to the disciples...
Mark 9:33–34 ESV
And they came to Capernaum. And when he was in the house he asked them, “What were you discussing on the way?” But they kept silent, for on the way they had argued with one another about who was the greatest.
What did the disciples focus on? “Which one of us is going to be the greatest in the Kingdom of God?”
Hey - we’re do this too, right? As Christians, we’re supposed to be all about Jesus Christ and Him crucified, but too often we’re about other things. And there’s the urge right now for me to list a bunch of unhealthy things I see happening in the church - that has nothing to do with the gospel, but we’re often consumed with - but throwing rocks at the temple of God isn’t the answer to the problem. The answer is making sure we all learn what Jesus wanted His disciples to learn: We need to learn and reprioritize the gospel - Jesus Christ and Him crucified.
Let me tell you family… if you get this right, it’ll radically change your life. As long as you get that from today, you can leave (tune out) right now. We must understand that true life isn’t found in the pursuit of personal ambition, despite what you may hear in our culture… It’s not about being the “greatest.”
Because what’s the secret motivation behind the pursuit of “being the greatest?” It’s the hope of separating ourselves from others. But Jesus didn’t die so we could separate - sin separates - Jesus died so we all be equally part of God’s family!
Mark 9:35–37 ESV
And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” And he took a child and put him in the midst of them, and taking him in his arms, he said to them, “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me.”
The idea of being a servant is not the same as being a slave. A slave is forced to serve. The term here communicates a willingness to serve sourced from humility. And it’s a sharing of God’s character, of being part of His family, because...
God is a Servant. And He is forced and obligated to no one. He chooses to serve because that’s who He is!
He’s also humble. He is exalted above all creation, but His heart is to be with His creation.
This is the family we’re being invited back into. The Kingdom of God is a family, equally loved, valued, and serving one another. We’re children, fully dependent on our Father (not our own greatness), and simply desiring to be loved by our family.
I see glimpses of this beautiful Kingdom reality in my neighborhood. We live over in a condo over in Milestone Commons and there are a bunch of kids in our neighborhood. And though we’d love a bigger house with a yard, we also love the community. Many of us are family. In fact, Kade (my middle son) says, “Dad, I don’t want to move. All my friends live here.” And every day, at 330pm, I experience that. 4 kids show up at my doorstep and Kade disappears for 3 hours to go be with his family. That’s the Kingdom of God.
Jesus died for this. So that we could be with Him and one another. Not to be separated from each other. But we don’t get that… like the disciple John, we say things like...
Mark 9:38 ESV
John said to him, “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us.”
Naturally practice separation in hopes of achieving greatness. But Jesus says...
Mark 9:39–41 ESV
But Jesus said, “Do not stop him, for no one who does a mighty work in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me. For the one who is not against us is for us. For truly, I say to you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ will by no means lose his reward.
When we take the focus off the greater purpose of Jesus Christ and Him crucified, we forget that God is inviting people into His family. We can’t do that! Because that’s what it’s all about. Jesus died so we could live forever with Him.
Whenever separation becomes the priority, we know that ain’t Jesus, that’s sin at work! John didn’t like the fact that someone outside of their group did something in Jesus’s name. Why?
Btw, don’t forget… this unknown person also accomplished something the group of disciples just failed at. They had just failed at exorcising a demon out of the desperate father’s son.
But why was John (and the disciples) upset? Because of sinful pride! They were like, “Hey! You’re not authorized to do that! You not one of us special twelve!”
Check it out, “How we treat one another is how we treat Jesus. How we understand relationships reveals our understanding of the cross.”
Here, John is pushing someone out of the Kingdom of God, who Jesus clarifies belongs in the family. Here’s a good practice for Christians:
Err on welcoming people into the family of God instead of keeping people out by default.
With that said, let me clarify, I’m not suggesting we welcome, accept, or justify sin. Sin is a problem. Sin sent Jesus to the cross - it killed Christ. It’s so bad it was that the God dying on a cross was the only option to save us, otherwise the Trinity would’ve chosen another plan. Therefore, the church doesn’t take sin lightly. We take it seriously. We echo the heart of Jesus who told the woman caught in adultery… “Go, and from now on sin no more.” (Jn 8:11)
Additionally, there is an exclusivity to the cross. All people are welcome at the cross, but only those who put their faith in Christ crucified are saved...
John 14:6 ESV
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
However, we must understand the purpose of Jesus dying on the Cross, was to bring people back into a family, not separate them. And Jesus desires for EVERYONE TO BE SAVED! Jesus paid the highest price for this option… which is why He says...
Mark 9:42 ESV
“Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea.
Another way to translate this is, “Whoever causes someone willing to put their faith in me to feel like they don’t belong is in trouble.” Why would they be in trouble? Because THE CROSS is no small thing! And if Jesus died to welcome people, who are we to push them out? When we practice that, we dishonor the greater purpose of Christ and Him crucified.
The Book of Hebrews warns...
Hebrews 10:29 ESV
How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace?
Scary language, but the principle is simple: Do whatever it takes to live for Jesus, which includes inviting people into the Kingdom of God by the message of the cross. That basically summarizes what Jesus says next...
Mark 9:42–48 ESV
“Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea. And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame than with two feet to be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell, ‘where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.’
Again… do whatever it takes to live for Jesus, even if it’s costly. But before we finish up, let me point out something that isn’t the main purpose of what we just read, but is applicable...
Here Jesus is talking about the reality of judgment. That those who die in their sin will face God’s holy judgment, which results in eternal separation from God. And remember, the statement started off with...
Mark 9:42 NLT
“But if you cause one of these little ones who trusts in me to fall into sin, it would be better for you to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone hung around your neck.
I think it’s acceptable to apply the passage this way, “Whoever hurts children will face judgment.” This week we experienced a horrific tragedy. It fell under the statement I made last week that, “Evil has no ethics,.” We saw that in Texas this week.
And while we still have many questions about “why” this happened, one thing the Scripture assures us, and this passage confirms is: God sees it and will judge it. No one gets away with any sin, especially those who harm children.
The real question is, who’s paying for the sin. Because at the end of this life, there’s only two options:
You pay for your own sin and face God’s eternal judgment based on your choices.
Or you repent, turn from your sin, and allow Jesus’s payment on the Cross be applied to you life.
And that’s the important message Jesus’ wanted His disciples to build their lives upon. He wanted them to let the gospel impact their personal lives, and then let it also impact others…
Mark 9:49 ESV
For everyone will be salted with fire.
This a confusing passage to understand, but one acceptable interpretation is Jesus is saying, “I need my people to be living sacrifices. My followers should be on-fire , and dedicated to God and ready to sacrifice for so others could know Christ and Him crucified.”
Additionally, salt is a preservative! Likewise, Jesus sent His disciples (and is sending us) into this world to preserve it by the message of the cross - the message of salvation!
But if we’re not doing that - if we’re causing separation instead - we’re missing our greater purpose...
Mark 9:50 ESV
Salt is good, but if the salt has lost its saltiness, how will you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.”
Our purpose, our mission, is to invite people back into God’s family by way of the cross of Christ!


So, as we close, I’m hope we understand the importance of this! The Cross of Christ is an invitation back into the family of God. That’s our mission. That’s our message! And, if we are doing or saying something else, it’s revealing our heart is out of sync with God’s heart!
So, where are you at today?
Does “Jesus Christ and Him crucified” define your life?
Have you even accepted His sacrifice to pay for your sins?
Or, will you face judgment on your own?
Because again… no one gets away with anything...
Hebrews 9:27 ESV
And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment,
At the end, when God sees you, will He see your sin or His Son? Will you be welcomed into His family or will you choose outer darkness? Let me assure you, He wants you in the family! He loves you. He sacrificed His only Son to make it possible. All you need to do is humble yourself, turn from your sin, and follow Jesus today.
And for those of us who already belong to God’s family… let’s stop making this life about us. The Kingdom of God is not about “Who will be the greatest?” Jesus has saved us for two primary reasons:
To invite back into His family.
To send us out to invite others.
During Thursday prayer this week, Pastor Jon read the following verse...
John 8:12 ESV
Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
As you know, we live in dark times. And people are experiencing hopelessness. But Jesus saved us so that no one has to walk in darkness. Therefore, consider how you can live as light in the world, as the salt of earth, helping people leave the darkness by the hope of Jesus Christ...
Maybe you need to humble yourself and serve other people, even if it adds nothing to your personal greatness.
Maybe you need to actively invite people into God’s family.
Maybe you need to stop pushing people out of God’s Kingdom!
One way we can invite people into God’s Kingdom is through baptism. Let me explain...
Here at TRC, we practice what’s called a “believer’s baptism.” What that means is when someone makes a choice to follow Jesus as Lord and Savior, we baptize them. This is different than what some people experienced when they were baptized as a baby.
This is telling the world, “I have decided to follow Jesus! As I go under the water, I’m leaving my old sinful life behind, and as I come up, I’m identifying with my new life in Christ. That my sins have been paid for and stay under the water (in the grave). And one day, like Jesus, I too will rise unto eternal life.”
Additionally, baptism declares to the world, “You’re invited too!” Just as God saved me, He can save you! So let me ask...
Have you accepted what Jesus has done for you on the cross?
Do you need to obey Christ and be baptized?
And is this an opportunity for you to preach the gospel to those in your life by sharing/inviting this baptism with them?
Let’s pray...
Father, we thank you for the cross. We thank you that You love us enough to send Your Son Jesus to die on it for us. Today, we put our faith in You. Help us to build our lives upon Your love. May we be people who are part of Your family. May we be people who invite others into Your family. Forgive us for our sins that have separated us and others from You. By your Spirit’s power, transform us to be the light and salt of the earth, that many would be saved in Jesus name. Amen.
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