The Call to Commitment
A disciple is a follower. But a disciple of Jesus Christ must be committed to hearing the voice of the Master, asking questions which lead to learning, and obeying the Word. Jesus came with a plan for making disciples. He taught and nurtured His twelve disciples, and then He sent them out to teach and nurture other disciples, who in turn would teach and nurture others. He hasn't changed His plan. And the foundational issue is indeed specific commitment. Jesus knew that He had only a short time left before He must die. He had been rejected by many, and He would force Himself on no one. But choices must be made, and His disciples must be called to commitment.
I. The Second Touch. (Mark 8:22-9:1)
A. For the blind man.
1. When Jesus and His disciples arrived in Bethsaida, some people brought a blind man to Him and begged Jesus to touch him.
2. The touch of Jesus had healed Peter's mother-in-law, a leper, Jairus' daughter, as well as many others.
3. But total healing for this blind man would come only from a second touch-and this had not happened before.
4. Why now?
a. Certainly Jesus could have healed him with one touch, or one word, or one thought.
b. But He didn't.
c. What was the lesson that Jesus was teaching to His disciples?
5. Only a short time before Jesus had asked the disciples: "Having eyes, see ye not? and having ears, hear ye not? and do ye not remember?" (Mark 8:18)
6. As He had done with the deaf mute, Jesus led the blind man away from the crowd.
a. He put spittle on the man's eyes and touched them with His hands.
b. Then Jesus asked him if he could see anything.
c. The man must have been facing Jesus, yet he replied, "I see men like trees, walking".
d. He was not focusing his eyes on Jesus, but letting them wander to other things.
e. Once more Jesus put his hands on the man's eyes.
f. This time his eyes were opened, and he saw everyone clearly.
B. For the disciples.
1. Did the disciples understand that, like the blind man, the weren't seeing Jesus clearly?
2. Didn't they know how much He wanted to open their eyes if only they would focus on Him?
3. It's strange that the disciples didn't question Jesus about this unique healing of the blind man.
4. And Jesus didn't discuss it with them at this time.
5. They went on to Caesarea Philippi, a city of many pagan gods.
a. Here was a magnificent marble temple to Caesar, emperor of Rome and a god to the Romans.
b. Here also the ancient god Baal was worshipped along with a pantheon of Greek gods.
c. Jesus had started down the long road that would lead Him to Jerusalem and His death.
d. He denied all these pagan gods, and His disciples must do the same.
e. If they wanted Him to be their God, then all other gods must go.
6. As they approached the city, Jesus asked His disciples, "Whom do men say that I am?"
a. The disciples knew the answer to this question.
b. "John the Baptist: but some say, Elias; and others, One of the prophets."
7. Then Jesus asked the much more important question, "But whom say ye that I am?"
a. Peter answered for the Twelve, "Thou art the Christ."
b. The disciples had come to the fork in the road.
c. They were called not to see "men like trees walking," but to see Jesus clearly.
When our focus is on Jesus, when we realize who He is, then He is able to open our eyes, restore our sight, and help us to see "every man clearly."
8. When the disciples acknowledged Jesus as the Messiah, His teaching changed.
a. Now He spoke plainly, not in parables, and said to them:
b. "And he began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again." v31
9. When we make a serious commit- ment to Jesus Christ, Satan always appears.
a. So he did with the disciples.
b. Peter could not accept this new revelation from the Christ.
c. He took the Lord (probably laid hands on Him) and openly rebuked Him.
d. We can imagine that he said, "Oh no, Lord. Don't say things like that. things are going to get better. Someday you will be king and rule!"
9. Jesus immediately recognized that Satan had his hand on Peter.
a. "Get thee behind me, Satan: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men." v33
b. When Jesus gave Satan this command, He may have been reminding Peter to follow Him.
c. Jesus must always lead, and we must follow.
10. Then Jesus called the crowd and His disciples to Him and taught them the hard truth about discipleship.
a. "Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me." v34
b. What was Jesus saying?
c. Follow where?
d. Along the path He was taking.
e. Disciples of Jesus are called to
1) to suffer 2) to be rejected 3) to die 4) and to rise again
"Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels." (Mark 8:38)
II. The Confirmation. (Mk. 9:2-13)
A. The Inner Circle.
1. Peter, James, and John made up what I call the inner circle of disciples.
2. Jesus chose to permit them some special privileges that the others were not given.
3. Of course the principle still holds true that "...For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required..." Lk. 12:48
B. The Mountain Top Experience.
1. The mountain top has often been the place where God meets with man.
2. Jesus leads these three to the top of the mountain and there is transfigured before them.
3. Transfigured = means to change into another form.
4. His appearance was changed in such a manner that He began to shine brightly in all of His glory.
5. Moses and Elijah appeared there with Him and were talking with Jesus.
a. Luke 9:31 tells us what they were talking about.
b. "Who appeared in glory, and spake of his decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem."
c. They were discussing the final stage of God's redemption of mankind.
C. The Big Mouth Experience.
1. Peter is so excited at what he is experiencing that he blurts out a plan to build three memorials; one for each.
2. Immediately, a cloud overshadowed them and God spoke directly to Peter, James, and John.
3. "This is my beloved Son: hear him."
D. The purpose of this event.
1. First, it was a confirmation for Peter, James, and John that very soon they would see Jesus suffer, be rejected, and rise again.
2. Second, it was a confirmation of who Jesus was...the very Son of God!
3. It was also a confirmation to them that they must believe what Jesus had taught them for they would be the ones to carry out God's plan for reaching the world.
D. Dumbfounded Disciples.
1. After they heard the voice of God, Moses and Elijah disappeared leaving Jesus as the center of their attention. (Which is exactly what the Lord wanted in the first place)
2. Jesus instructed them that they not tell anyone about their experience until after His resurrection.
3. This truly confused them, and brought about a number of questions.
4. Jesus explained that Elijah came in the ministry of John the Baptist and next would come the suffering of the Son of man.
III. The Strong Teaching. 9:14-50
A. Why do we fail? v14-29
1. At the foot of the mountain they saw a great crowd.
2. The disciples were being questioned by some of the scribes.
3. When the crowd recognized Jesus, they shifted their attention to Him.
4. As He came to the disciples, a man explained that he had brought his son, possessed of an evil spirit, to the disciples for healing.
5. But "they could not" drive out the spirit.
6. Jesus had given them authority and power to preach, to heal, and to cast out demons, but they had not acted on faith and they hadn't prayed.
7. Note the boy's suffering as the evil spirit tried to destroy him.
8. But when Jesus commanded the spirit to leave him, the spirit had no power to resist.
a. He came out of the boy.
b. All power rests in Jesus.
c. Nothing is impossible with Him.
9. Why, then, do we fail?
a. We are free to ask Jesus to do those things through us which are within His will.
b. But, like the disciples, we often forget the source of our power and try to act on our own.
c. "...Why could not we cast him out? And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief:.." cf Mt. 17:19-20
B. Won't you believe? v30-32
1. Jesus left the crowds as they passed Galilee because he wanted time to teach His disciples
2. Look what He was teaching them:
"For he taught his disciples, and said unto them, The Son of man is delivered into the hands of men, and they shall kill him; and after that he is killed, he shall rise the third day." cf Mk 9:31
3. How could this be?
4. The disciples didn't understand, and they were afraid to ask.
a. In our walk with Christ aren't we at times like the disciples-afraid to ask because we fear the truth of what it means to follow Jesus?
b. Look what the disciples faced:
c. Discovering what Jesus meant by "betrayed" might uncover the Judas in their own hearts.
d. Hearing what Jesus meant by "killing' would destroy their dreams of a Messiah's kingdom on earth.
e. And resurrection? The idea was beyond their limited under- standing.
f. They didn't ask, because they didn't really want to know.
g. They didn't want to believe that Jesus' words were true.
C. Who is greatest? v33-37
1. Not only did the disciples not ask questions, but they erased from their minds all that Jesus had been saying to them.
2. They went back to the kind of Messiah they wanted Jesus to be-the kind who ruled the earth, on the earth, in a great kingdom.
3. Their pride wouldn't let them do otherwise.
4. As they were walking along they were arguing among themselves about who was the greatest.
a. Jesus was probably walking some distance ahead and wasn't included in the conversation.
b. Later, when they arrived at Capernaum, He asked what they had been arguing about on the road.
c. They wouldn't answer, but Jesus knew they needed more teaching.
5. He sat down and called them to Him.
a. "If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all." v35
b. Then taking a little child in His arms, He continued, "Whosoever shall receive one of such children in my name, receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me, receiveth not me, but him that sent me." v37
c. The idea was that to become 'great', one must be willing to be the 'least'.
D. Who is for us? v38-41
1. John brought a problem to Jesus.
a. A man was driving out demons in Jesus' name.
b. Wasn't this a special task given to the twelve disciples?
c. Jesus' reply surprised them, and it may surprise some people today:
2. Note: v39-40
3. The man casting out demons in the name of Jesus was probably a new believer, yet he was doing something the disciples had been unable to do.
4. John stopped him because he didn't want him usurping the privileges of the better trained disciples.
5. But Jesus condemned this show of pride.
6. Even the task of giving a cup of water in His name will be rewarded.
E. Why the warning? v42-50
1. The lesson wasn't complete.
a. Jesus continued by cautioning the disciples against causing "little ones who believe" to stumble.
b. The man who was casting out demons in Jesus' name was like a little child, just beginning his journey to understanding.
c. On the other hand, the disciples had been with Jesus a long time.
2. If they wanted what Jesus had to offer, the disciples had to relinquish their pride and go a different route.
3. His way for them - and for us - is the way of servanthood.
4. Jesus describes the torments of hell and the seriousness of eternal judgment. v43-49
5. Jesus advises His disciples to have salt in themselves. v50
a. Salt is the flavoring and the preserving agent in meat.
b. The disciples were in the midst of a dying and corrupt society.
c. They had a common task, and would be brought together in their suffering as a preserving agent for mankind.
d. Our society still dying and corrupt.
e. And Christians are still called to stand together and to be salt in our world.