What can a study of St Mark’s Gospel tell Christians about what it means to be a disciple

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Last updated: November 18, 2019

Gordon Geddes and Jane Griffiths agree that “A disciple is someone who believes in and helps to spread the teachings of another.

It is someone who learns from a religious leader, and who wishes to live life according to the leader’s wishes and commands. ” The first four disciples were fishermen. “As Jesus walked along the shore of Lake Galilee, he saw two fishermen, Simon and his brother Andrew, Catching fish with a net. Jesus said to them, come with me and I will teach you to catch people. At once they left their nets and went with him.

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He went a little farther on and saw two other brothers, James and John. (1:16-19).Not one of the four fishermen hesitated to follow Jesus and this showed their great amount of faith. “The invitation to go with Jesus is the invitation to travel along the same road. Discipleship can involve suffering, rejection and death.

” (Robin Coope), In Marks Gospel we are told that to be a disciple involves sacrifice. An example of this is “The widow’s offering”. “This poor widow put more in the offering box than all the others. For the others put in what they had to spare of their riches; but she, poor as she is, put in all she had – she gave all she had to live on. (12:43-44). “by her selfless act the woman had shown that she really loved God with her whole heart, soul, mind and strength.

She could not have loved God any more. She also gave her all so that others could benefit from her actions. People show their real love for god when they act from the heart. ” (Michael Keene).The widow made a great sacrifice but there were some who were not willing to do the same, such as ‘The Rich Man’. Jesus said to him “you need only one thing.

Go and sell all you have and give the money to the poor, and you will have riches in heaven; then come and follow me. (10:21). He found this very difficult and couldn’t do it. The people that had made a great sacrifice will receive much more in the present age. “Many who are now first will be last, and many who are now last will be first” (10:31). There are qualities which are necessary to be a true disciple. “Disciples put the needs of others before their own” and “a disciple follows the example of Jesus. This sometimes leads to suffering and even death.

Real discipleship is rewarded with eternal life” (Gordon Geddes and Jane Griffiths). You have to be ‘childlike’.This means you must be willing to put all your faith and trust in God in times of personal difficulty.

“Let the children come to me, and do not stop them, because the kingdom of god belongs to such as these. I assure you that whoever does not enter the kingdom of god like a child will not enter it. ” (10:14) ‘The Calming of the Storm’ is a time when the disciples needed to show faith but failed. “Jesus stood up and commanded the wind, be quiet! And said to the waves, be still! The wind died down and there was a great calm. Then Jesus said to his disciples, why are you frightened?Have you still no faith? ” (5:39-40) To be a true disciple involves service. “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served; he came to serve and to give his life to redeem many people. “(10:45).

There are many examples of Jesus doing good for others. The story of ‘Blind Bartimaeus’ is an example. “What do you want me to do for you? Jesus asked him.

Teacher, the blind man answered, I want to see again. Go, Jesus told him, your faith has made you well. (10:51-52) Mark shows that the nature of discipleship demands good leaders. Jesus chose twelve ordinary men to become disciples.They were to set an example to others, learn from their mistakes and preach the gospel to the whole world. “Perhaps the most dramatic example of the disciples failing in their duty to Jesus was the denial of Peter on the night before Jesus died. ” (Gordon Geddes and Jane Griffiths).

“Jesus said to Peter, I tell you that before the cock crows twice tonight, you will say three times that you do not know me. Peter answered even more strongly; I will never say that, even if I have to die with you! ” (14:30-31). Peter breaks his promise and says “I swear that I am telling you the truth! May God punish me if I am not!I do not know the man you are talking about! ” (14:71). Peter denied Jesus but learnt from his mistake and was made leader of the church. God set an example by forgiving Peter because it is also a quality he would like his disciples to have.

“Being a disciple of Jesus is not easy in any generation, all Christians experience times of anxiety and even despair when they feel that they have let god down in some way. ” (Gordon Geddes and Jane Griffiths) Mark makes it clear that if you follow in the footsteps of Christ then you will receive great rewards. “Jesus tells them that those who have given up everything for his sake will be rewarded.The reference to a reward in this present age implies that even though they have given up their family they will experience a new ‘family’ and ‘community’- the church. ” (Michael Keene). In the story of ‘The Rich Man’ Jesus says, “I tell you that anyone who leaves home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and for the gospel, will receive much more in the present age. He will receive a hundred times more houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields – and persecutions as well; and in the age to come will receive eternal life.

But many who are now first will be last, and many who are now last will be first. ” (10:29-31) From Mark’s Gospel we can clearly identify that discipleship involves faith, commitment, willingness, trust, learning from your mistakes and putting god at the centre of your life. “As his ministry began to draw towards its close Jesus tried to warn his disciples that he was going to be brutally put to death. After one such warning Peter could not accept that any such thing would happen to Jesus, but Jesus strongly rebuked his disciple.

He then went on to spell out to everyone listening the cost that had to be paid by anyone who seriously wanted to be one of his followers. He was asking them to give up their security and their own interests, which might in many cases, lead to death itself. ” (Michael Keene) This shows how much commitment is involved in being a disciple. “The nature of discipleship is not one of privilege or position but one of humble service.

Discipleship means being prepared to follow Jesus. The true disciple will be rewarded with eternal life. “

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