YouTuber John Stapleton continues with the Gospel of Mark 6-10 – Missions and Martyrdom.

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Discipleship

BIG IDEA: Jesus’ followers are on a mission for Jesus which sometimes results in martyrdom and suffering. Based on Mark 6-10.

Chapter 6:7-30 is a Markan sandwich that begins with A). Jesus sent the disciples out on a mission, followed by B). a flashback to the murder of John the Baptist, ending with A). the disciple’s return.

1. Mission: They went out and preached that people should repent. They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them. (6:12-13)

Their message of repentance echoes that of John the Baptist and Jesus (1:4, 15). Repentance is a change of mind and life back to God. Israel had gotten off course and so the second thing Mark wanted us to see at the beginning of his gospel is the need for repentance, which indicates an understanding of how bad sin is. 

2. Martyrdom: Pondering the Baptist, discovering the Messiah. 

Speaking of repentance, people absolutely hate this message. This is what ultimately got John arrested and killed. “John had been saying to Herod, ‘It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.’ So Herodias nursed a grudge against John and wanted to kill him” (6:18-19).

As far as the disciples, they are still following Jesus trying to figure out everything.

In the next major section, we will look at chapters 8-10. These chapters form another inclusion:

A). Jesus predicts his death,

B). Jesus is transfigured,

A). Jesus keeps predicting his death.

This arrangement shows us that Jesus’ identity as the Son of God is entangled in his pending suffering. That is how he shows himself to be the Messiah. 

After Jesus demonstrates his authority as God through various acts of compassion, Peter confesses him to be the Messiah. Following this, Jesus predicts his death for the first time. tHen, he instructs his followers to pick up their own crosses and follow him. 

The account of the transfiguration follows these instructions. Jesus is clearly revealed in heavenly glory along with Moses and Elijah – the law and the prophets (the Old Testament). Only 3 disciples get to see this and Jesus instructs them when the vision is over, to tell nobody about this vision until the Son of Man has risen from the dead. 

The dots are starting to connect for the disciples. 

They kept the matter to themselves, discussing what “rising from the dead” meant. And they asked him, “Why do the teachers of the law say that Elijah must come first?”  Jesus replied, “To be sure, Elijah does come first, and restores all things. Why then is it written that the Son of Man must suffer much and be rejected? But I tell you, Elijah has come, and they have done to him everything they wished, just as it is written about him.” (9:10-13)

They saw Elijah and remembered John the Baptist. Jesus confirms that they are interpreting the Bible correctly.

Jesus still continues to exercise his authority by healing as they road trip up to Jerusalem where he will be murdered. He predicts his death 2 more times and the closer to the city they get, the more scared the disciples become. 

CONCLUSION: People who follow Jesus shouldn’t be surprised when their life is as difficult as Jesus’ life was. 

March 15, Q&A

1). What are the most useless Bible verses?

The Bible says that “all Scripture is God-breathed and is useful” (2 Timothy 3:16). That tells me that God never speaks just to hear himself talk. Everything he says is deliberately intentional. He’s words are not only useful, “they are full of the Spirit and life” (John 6:63). The Bible is not simply a manual to moral living, it is life!

That is why we keep going back to it. It is all very useful, so keep prayerfully reading through it.

2). According to the Bible (and not Dante), what is Hell like? All this brimstone and torture sounds non-biblical.

I’ll let God speak:

  • Mk 9:43 | If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out.
  • Mk 9:48 | …where ‘the worms that eat them do not die, and the fire is not quenched.’
  • Mt 10:28 | Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.
  • Jud 7 | In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire.
  • Rev 20:11 | The devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.

My point is simply that the Bible clearly teaches about hell. This is not Dante’s idea, this is God’s idea. Hell is indescribable so the Bible gives us imagery to give us an idea. We should all agree that however horrible the symbolism is, the actual reality of hell is worse. From the verses I’ve selected, hell has worms that don’t die and fire that is never quenched. In addition, its the place that has God’s rule without God’s grace.

3). If Moses wrote the first five books of the Bible why didn’t he write about the pyramids since he knew the Pharaohs who would have been buried there, especially Joseph who lived hundreds of years before?

There are many things that the Bible could talk about, but doesn’t. That’s because the biblical writers cared about theology above anything else. Theology is more important than the things that spark our curiosity. In Genesis, the theology that we are to follow is God blessing Abraham and the nations through his family line. That’s the point.

4). Do you believe in the 10 commandments? Which do you find the hardest to follow?

Yes, I believe in the 10 Commandments, not as a list of morality to master, but as a mirror that reflects how I fall short. Paul reflects on this reality this way: “I would not have known what sin was had it not been for the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, ‘You shall not covet.’ But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of coveting” (Romans 7:7–8). The 10 Commandments exist to remind us that we are not good people. We hear it and become aware of all the ways we’ve rebelled against God. That doesn’t stroke our ego, but it’s not supposed to. After the people heard the commandments, “they trembled with fear” (Exodus 20:18). Isn’t it our default to assume we are good people who do bad things?

The hardest ones to follow are the first two which tell us to worship God, and to worship him the right way. If you keep the first two commands, you won’t break the others. That means every time you lie about someone, you don’t love God. Every time you covet, you accuse God of not being good to you. I could go on.

5). How come I want to become closer with God, but I find prayer tedious?

I would point you to Ephesians 6. Paul in this passage is giving us imagery that typifies spiritual warfare. After he talks about all the things we need to attack and defend ourselves spiritually, he tells us why: “Pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.” (Ephesians 6:18, NIV).

Prayer is not simply talking to God; it’s how we fight spiritually. That’s why it is so hard. The devil does not want us communicating with our heavenly Father, and so you could insert every excuse to not pray – everything from not wanting to, to having more important things to do.

6). Is the Book of Psalms the devotional heart of the Bible?

The Book of Psalms are easy to jump into when doing your devotions, but the entire Bible is devotional material!

You can learn from people’s stories through the narratives in the Bible. You have a pastor in the challenges and encouragements of Paul’s letters. Who wouldn’t want Jesus to speak to them in the morning through the gospels? My point is, feel free to enjoy the Psalms, as it is the natural “prayer book” of God’s people, but don’t let that be your prison – enjoy the volume of God’s Word devotionally!

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