The Making of a Disciple
Text: Mark 6:1-13
Proposition: Jesus uses truth, example and assignment to build the disciples into people of faith, hope and love in Christ.
Introduction: Quite a few years ago when this church first came to the community we went door to door giving out a simple brochure of who we were and at the same time offering a gift. We had gone to the local grocery store and bought 100 apple pies and left them at the store. The brochure we gave out to people had a fridge magnet with it that had a tear off tab that was redeemable for one apple pie at the local grocery store. There were a great variety of responses to that, some who didn’t want anything, some who were amazed at the free gift and took it and some who were prompted to remember that it had been a long time since they had been in a church and this kindness touched their hearts. The process was simple, we just introduced ourselves, explained very simply why were there and offered the gift. After that it was up to God how things were going to go. I can remember some people in a bar in the local hotel that were amazed that anyone would bring pie to them. I remember a young girl who broke into tears when the gift came to her, the group of men who were so amazed at the free pie that they asked if they could have two since there were a bunch of workers in the back. So what was this outreach all about? Was it about the people who went to knock on a strangers door, was it about the church they wanted people to know about, was it about the gift? No, it was about Jesus and looking for a way to introduce people to Him. What happens in the introduction is your job, what happens after the introduction is God’s job. There were many times that Jesus used truth, example and assignment to build His disciples into people of faith, hope and love. In the account before us this morning Jesus uses the truth of the Scripture, the example of Himself and the assignment of doing this in a place that was going to be unpredictable if not almost impossible. Jesus was going to take His disciples to Nazareth in order to prepare them for what would soon be their assignment. Have a look at Mark 6:1-13 with me. Truth and Example Invite the People to Hear and the Disciples to See. In Mark 6:1 Jesus leads the disciples to the small town of Nazareth. The last time Jesus had preached here the people were receptive right up until the point that Jesus said unbelief in Israel is why God sent Elijah and Elisha to Gentile people to do the miraculous things they did. (Luke 4) Their response was to try and grab Jesus and throw Him to His death. That was the last time He had preached in Nazareth and now Jesus returns there with His disciples. The first thing you notice is there are no crowds waiting eagerly for Him so He waits until the Sabbath when the people are gathered and then again preaches at the synagogue. Look at their response in verse 2, “And many hearing Him were astonished, saying, “Where did this Man get these things? And what wisdom is this which is given to Him, that such mighty works are performed by His hands!” They acknowledge both the wisdom and the power in Jesus yet strangely they wouldn’t see the truth of Who He is. Verse 3 describes their conclusion, “Is this not the carpenter, the Son of Mary, and brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon? And are not His sisters here with us?” So they were offended at Him.” Their logic is that Jesus is making Himself out to be someone great yet they believe He is just a carpenter, not educated, the son and brother of people they know. Their unbelief in Jesus is fueled by the assumption that they already know who He is historically and the call to repent was to them… offensive. You can only wonder at what the disciples thought of this reception. Jesus had just spoken truth, the people had clearly heard it and yet there was this stiff response. That’s when Jesus said, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own country, among his own relatives, and in his own house.” It says that, “He could do no mighty work there, except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them. And He marveled because of their unbelief.” I wonder why He marveled, it seems a strange choice of words since to marvel usually implies admiration. Could it be that even where unbelief was so strong still there were still some whom He could heal, some who though surrounded by unbelief, believed? Was it possible that Jesus wanted these disciples to see not only the unbelief but also the way He moved towards it and past it. The truth and example were there for the disciples to see, to be equipped with, to learn how to reach the lost. Next comes the assignment, it is time for them to go and reach others like these.
Assignment Is What Sends Us, Ambassadors of Repentance in Christ. Likely you’ve heard of news reporters being on assignment in some foreign country. They are there for a purpose. Likely you have heard of Ambassadors that live in foreign countries, they too are there for a purpose. You and I are disciples of Jesus Christ which means we are also here for a purpose, on assignment, ambassadors. Look what happens in verses 7 to 13. Jesus calls the 12 to Himself and likely explains what He is about to do. He sends them out in teams of two to go where they haven’t been, see what they haven’t seen, do what they haven’t done. You could say that what Jesus is doing is addressing the unbelief that is resident in the disciples themselves. He is going to change unbelief by an action of faith. So look for a moment at how this is put in place by Jesus.
- Things they are to take with them: all that they have heard and seen Him do up to this point; a faith that is willing to risk; a power that is greater than any unclean spirit; an authority to use that power; a staff that is good for walking but useless for sitting, a support that is there only while they move.
- Things that are not to take: no bag, no bread, no money, no extra things that would slow them down; no confidence in your own resources but a vulnerability that makes you completely dependent on God; they were not to procrastinate but to move, don’t take your time, make the time.
- Things they were to receive: stay in that place that receives you until the time comes to leave that area; receive the hospitality strangers offer you; be patient for in the hospitality is the opportunity to receive grace; it takes time for people to be who they are and for you to be who you are, pretense comes down slowly; receive trust and handle it carefully.
- Things they were not to receive: do not receive rejection as though it’s you who are being rejected, ambassadors are merely representatives not the country nor the king; shake it off like the dust you shake off your sandals; do not let unbelief distract you from what lies ahead.
- Things they were to say: they preached repentance, first they preached their own repentance, why they were there in this house, what turned their lives to a different direction unlike any other; repentance meant speaking the name of Jesus out loud and holding out the person of Jesus to them; repentance meant inviting people even right here and right now to believe in Jesus as the only way to truth and life. Calling people to repentance was like begging a person to leave a burning house.
- Things they were to do: cast out the demonic authority; anoint with oil the sick, offer healing; to extend to others what Christ has extended to you, to pray for them, to offer relief in Jesus name; to exercise faith and let God be the One to choose what that will look like.
We are on assignment, we are here not as tourists but as Reporters for Christ. We are here not representing ourselves but representing our King and His Kingdom, we are His Ambassadors. Jesus uses truth, example and assignment to build disciples into people of faith, hope and love. The truth you have and are receiving, it is there for you in the Bibles you hold, in this church, in the person of the Holy Spirit Who gives counsel and comfort and correction. Example is there in the Word and in the lives of the people next to you who are also evidence of Christ’s presence, power and provision. The assignment is in the cross of Jesus Christ Who has reconciled you to God… “Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we beg you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.” 2 Cor. 5:20