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55: Behavior and Attitudes

May 14, 2009

Major Text: Mark 9:38-41; Matthew 18:6-11; Mark 9:49-50

Harmony Texts:

Matt. 18:6-11      Mark 9:38-50      Luke 9:49-50

Outline:

  1. Encourage One Another Mark 9:38-41
  2. Act Responsibly Matt. 18:6-11
  3. Do Not Stray Mark 9:49-50

Context/Discussion/Comments:

This section of scripture lacks some continuity with the lessons before and after this one. I will take a little more time in the next lesson to put things in perspective and, hopefully, make them a little more clear. We are most comfortable maintaining continuity with Jesus’ teaching concerning little children. Then Matthew’s gospel is preferred. But the authors of The Harmony of The Gospels put this section together having interruptions. We must remember that what is recorded in the gospels is not necessarily in proper sequence nor did certain events happen within a specific time period. Jesus, no doubt, repeated much of His teachings so the disciples would be sure to retain the message. In Mark, we have much that is previously recorded in the Sermon on the Mount. It is repeated here because the Sermon was given to a crowd. Here Jesus is repeating some of the same important things personally to His disciples.

Taking the sequence per the Outline, John is interrupting Jesus’ teaching and illustrations regarding children saying they told a man to stop casting out demons in Jesus’ name because he wasn’t a member of their little group. Jesus responds saying it is OK because if someone is for Jesus they can’t be against Him. Jesus is telling the disciples that they are not the only ones who believe and are capable of ministering. The twelve are special but not above the others who are also “chosen”.

Jesus continues to set apart the children saying that we have a responsibility to teach them about Him and then to train them so they will not fall away. We are to be a good example, live obediently, and avoid hypocrisy. Jesus has a special relationship with the angels overseeing children. This not only refers to young children who believe in Jesus but to all young believers regardless of their age. Jesus is speaking of the “babes in Christ” compared to the “mature in Christ”.

Next Jesus talks to His disciples concerning salt. Dead Sea salt was filled with contaminants so it lost it’s saltiness over time. He is saying “Do not stray”; do not let sin get a foothold; do not practice hypocrisy. Jesus is also saying we will be tested with fire so we become pure and never lose our saltiness. Trials sanctify and purify us so we can be His special ministers. Trials are a form of discipline so we will not stray. Accept them. When we shun sin and become like Him we can live in peace with Him and with our neighbors. When reading this passage, substitute “Christ-likeness” for the word “salt” to get the proper interpretation of what Jesus is teaching.

Lessons/Applications:

1. Be accepting of others ministering in the name of Jesus. Where you trained and with whom you trained does not give you special powers or privileges. God gifts us as He pleases. Before God, all are equal; all are to minister. Don’t deny anyone the privilege or the opportunity to minister according to God’s will.

2. Any discussions about which church is better than another is taboo assuming they profess Jesus is God Incarnate, that our sins are forgiven only through he blood of Jesus enabling us to have eternal life, and that the Bible is the inspired Word of God. We are to encourage one another in God’s work, not cripple one another. We are to minister in unity for the glory of God.

3. We who are mature in Christ are responsible for maturing those who are “babes” in Christ. What we say and do on a daily basis is very important. We are to follow Christ. We are to see that none fall away. Adopt a “baby” and disciple them to maturity.

4. Don’t fall back into old habits or lose your focus on Christ. Seek to follow Jesus, make a difference, accept His discipline, and live in peace. Allow His Holy Spirit to purify you, to make you like Him. Praise and worship Him with thanksgiving because you have become His salt.

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