Summary: We must do battle against the attitude of personal status and group superiority.

Measuring Up

Mark 9:30-41

Rev. Brian Bill

February 11-12, 2017

Almost every time we visit my parents my mom gives me some yellowed files or beat up toys that I had when I was growing up. Several years ago I came across some old report cards. I knew I didn’t have the best grades but I had forgotten how bad they really were. My lowest grades in Junior High were in Band and Spanish – I haven’t made much improvement in language or the arts over the years. In High School it was Spanish and Zoology that caused me much distress.

You might get a kick out of one of my report cards from college. In one semester, my lowest grade was in Public Speaking! Some of you are not surprised by this one.

Since my Spanish in High School was “muy malo,” I decided to take Italian in college. That was a huge mistake. I realized I was in trouble when the professor told us after the first day of class he would not speak any more English. Everything would be in Italian from that point on.

I languished with this language, getting a “D” for the semester. The next semester I had a TA (Teaching Assistant) who wouldn’t speak English either (what’s up with that?). But then something very exciting happened. The TA’s went on strike! That meant I didn’t have to go to class. We were supposed to keep up with our work but I didn’t crack a book for weeks. When the strike was over, I went back to class and ended up with an “Incomplete” for a grade. The next semester I actually got an “F.”

I felt like a failure, and wanted to bail on college. I hung in there, eventually getting saved and then after four years at the University of Wisconsin, transferred to Moody Bible Institute, where my grades were much better (that’s probably because they didn’t offer Italian). Those feelings of failure, however, stayed with me for a long time, and came back to the surface when we were missionaries in Mexico, and I couldn’t learn Spanish.

Have you ever felt like a failure and just wanted to quit? Does it feel like you’re just taking the same class over and over, wondering if you’ll ever pass the course?

We left the discouraged disciples last week in a house where Jesus told them that they were powerless in the valleys of life because they were prayerless. Jesus huddles up with the disciples many times to impart truth, like a teacher with his students. They call him “Teacher” but they’re having a real difficult time learning the truths that He wants them to grasp. They would be embarrassed to show us their report cards.

The disciples had to repeat some classes because they just couldn’t get it. We’re in Mark 9 again this weekend. We’re going to first review a couple verses in chapter 8 and then bounce over to chapter 10. In each of these passages the Teacher teaches a lesson and his students totally bomb the class.

• Class #1: Let’s go back to Mark 8:31-32: “And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again. And he said this plainly.” Do you see the word “teach” here? He very clearly taught them that He would suffer, be rejected, be killed and rise again.

One of his students doesn’t care for this lesson because in the very next verse we read: “And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.” Things don’t go so well with Peter after he opens his mouth.

• Class #3: Now jump ahead to Mark 10:33-34 where we see the Teacher essentially teach the same content in class #3, only this time, He gives more details: “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death and deliver him over to the Gentiles. And they will mock him and spit on him, and flog him and kill him. And after three days he will rise.”

The students flag this class as well according to the very next verse: “And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came up to him and said to him, ‘Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.’” Their response is unbelievable! In the face of the greatest example of sacrifice and servanthood ever, these two brothers demand that Christ cater to their needs. I’m glad that attitude is not existent today, aren’t you?

• Class #2: And in our passage for today Jesus gives the same lesson to his students in class #2. Look at Mark 9:30-31: “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.’” This class begins on the road as they pass through Galilee. The idea is that they are not lingering, not taking in the sites. The disciples have no time to post selfies near the Sea of Galilee because Jesus doesn’t want anyone to know where they are.

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