Summary: Sermon #1 of the series on discipleship (from Mark 8 and 9) addresses the importance of beginning with a Born-again experience.

Mushrooms or Maple Trees:

Spiritual Growth as God Intended

Sermon #1

Sermon Objective: Being a Christ-follower requires an accurate (albeit maybe not always complete) understanding of Jesus Christ’s person and ministry.


Mushrooms and Maple Trees; they are strikingly different aren’t they? Each maple tree has a history. It has withstood storms, insects, wild life, and humans. Did you know a maple tree (particularly a sugar maple of a red maple) can grow to be 120 feet tall and 50 feet wide!? They grow gradually but they grow to be massive and majestic. They can dominate a skyline and fill it with majestic color.

Mushrooms? Well, not so much. A mushroom is a fungus. The fruitbody grows about 3-5 inches overnight and is withers away in a matter of days. Here today, gone tomorrow is a pretty good description.

Have you ever observed someone who “got religion” and was transformed with great zeal and rapid growth only to fall away just as rapidly? It is heart breaking isn’t it?

We have observed others who come to Christ and years later they are still following. Their growth is often more steady; it maybe a bit less dramatic but it is deep, permanent, and capable of withstanding life’s storms.

I am convinced that the Father prefers the latter scenario. Jesus’ training with the disciples lasted over three years and it took place in the rough and tumble of life. There was ongoing instruction, correction, and even rebuke. But the result was a team that was thoroughly equipped to withstand intense scrutiny and intense persecution while producing significant fruit. In short, they matured.

Jesus was developing Maple Trees not Mushrooms.

Billy Graham said, “Salvation is free; discipleship will cost everything we have.” As we begin our sermon series from Mark 8 & 9 called “Mushrooms or Maple Trees” it will serve us well to keep that thought in mind.

There are the questions that I pondered as I read Mark 8 and 9.

o What does a life look like that pleases God?

o What does a Christ-follower look like?

There is a shift in the Gospel in at 8:27. Once Peter’s confession is given the ministry of Jesus is redirected; streamlined; more tightly focused. The term “on the way” is used frequently now … we are headed somewhere … to Jerusalem. The chapters leading up to the Passion week (which begins in chapter eleven) move from emphasizing Jesus’ public ministry to chronicling Jesus’ instruction to the twelve.

He begins to answer questions that they have (and many they don’t) in a manner that forces them to face themselves and their future. He answers questions like:

o What does a life look like that pleases God?

o What does a Christ-follower look like?

Mark’s Gospel teaches us the benefits and how-to’s for deep, long lasting growth.

We are going to move from 8:27 through 9:50. We will read more and more of this each week. We are seeking to answer my question … “What kind of a life pleases God?” We will listen to Jesus’ instructions and inspect our lives. In the process, we will grow and be transformed; because we are Maple Trees not Mushrooms.

Read Mark 8:27 – 9:1

Question: What does a life look like that pleases God?

Our passage today illustrates / instructs us on what a life that is following him looks like. As I said, it begins to get very streamlined; more tightly focused, intense, and specific.

The answer has eight parts. But they are not in random order. You must begin with 8:27-33 if you are going to get the answer right.

A life that pleases God is:


Mk 8:27 Jesus and his disciples went on to the villages around Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked them, “Who do people say I am?”

Mk 8:28 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.”

Mk 8:29 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Peter answered, “You are the Christ.’”

Mk 8:30 Jesus warned them not to tell anyone about him.

Mk 8:31 He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again.

Mk 8:32 He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.

Mk 8:33 But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. “Get behind me, Satan!” he said. “You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.”

The setting is Caesarea Philippi. This is not by accident.

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Jason Baker

commented on Feb 26, 2009

Thanks for some good material.

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