Companions of the Cross – Lesson 2 Mark 9:38-50
Companions of the Cross – Lesson II
Don’t Cause others to Stumble
† In Jesus Name †
May You so grow to treasure the grace and mercy of God that you diligently strive to make it known, reminding yourself and those around you to depend upon it in all times.
Being Christ’s Companion is Like a Treasured Cup of Coffee
Dr. Anthony Campolo told a story about one of his aha moments, where his faith became real.
He was on his way to an important board meeting in Philadelphia. One of the ministries he headed up was being considered for an extremely generous grant, the kind that allows for incredible expansion of ministry.
With that in mind, he was walking from the parking garage to the office building when he spotted a man. A man with dirty hands and filthy clothes. A man whose torn old clothing could have barely protected him from the bitter cold of a Philadelphia winter. A man with a cup in his hand held out as if hoping for a coin or two to be dropped into the cup. He was coming right at Dr. Campolo.
The guilt and shame became proactive; Tony knew he should try to help the man – after all, helping others is what he trained college students to do. As the man came closer, the cup held out. The nerves rose – there would be no way to avoid the man, he would be late for his meeting, and this guy so looked like he needed the kind of help that Christ would judge Tony for not providing.
As the man approached, he said, “Mister, Mister, here, have this cup of coffee!” As Tony looked him in stunned disbelief, as this poor broken man tried to serve him, the professor and leader, the man continued, “No I don’t want anything, I just had a cup, and it is such an incredible thing on a day like this, I had to share one with someone else”
As Tony brought the cup to his lips, indeed, it was the best coffee he had ever had. An incredible gift from the least expected person in the world. And he would share with the businessmen that morning, not his prepared notes. But the story of a man who just had to share what he’d been given.
Such a lesson is the key to this morning, to these passages that seem confusing, until you realize they are about the same thing.
Being a companion of the cross with Jesus. A treasure so incredible, that you have to share it, that you have to help others know it, that it is worth more than life itself.
A Treasure too great to Insulate
We see that in the first few verses. Last week we heard the disciples getting chewed out because they all want to be the primary disciple, the one who would take over when Jesus died. Now content to serve each other, Jesus opens the gates a little wider.
The disciples get jealous; they want to protect the only man in history who had no need, and no desire to be protected. They wanted permission to shut this man down, Tony could have been happy with some security team member intercepting the man he perceived to be a beggar, but would actually offer a hot cup of coffee instead of a cup of water.
We don’t have to protect the gospel; we don’t need to play god and protect God. Yes, He will call people to trust in Him through the ministry here. And for others we will simply plant the seeds. Allowing others to plant the seeds.
We can’t insulate the gospel, we can’t protect it, it is bigger than us. As one pastor said this week,
“The Church, the holy People of God, treads the dust-laden paths of history, so often traversed by conflict, injustice and violence, in order to encounter her children, our brothers and sisters. The holy and faithful People of God are not afraid of losing their way; they are afraid of becoming self-enclosed, frozen into élites, clinging to their own security. They know that self-enclosure, in all the many forms it takes, is the cause of so much apathy.
So let us go out, let us go forth to offer everyone the life of Jesus Christ. (Pope Francis)
Being a companion of Christ is too good not to share, and so why should we be concerned, when others try to share it? We can help them, together become more consistent with Jesus teachings, but to just stop them?
I am not talking about some required “you must tell your friends and family and force them here.” But a relationship with God is too incredible to stop us from sharing it, so why should we stop someone else?
A treasure too great to not help protect
The same kind of thing goes for Jesus next point, the one this sermon is titled about.
If we know the value of this relationship with God, then we aren’t going to intentionally case someone to stop trusting in God. It would be better for those 1000 pounds millstone to be chained to us, and Lal to drop us off on the way out on his next fishing trip.
The more we value God’s call, the more we will want others to know it, and the more we will want those who know it to treasure it, to value their relationship with Jesus more than any other. If that is true, how would we feel to cause them to be so scandalized that they fall out of the relationship?
As we grow in our understanding of the dimensions of God’s love, our attitude will change, and we will realize that the little children Jesus is talking about include the atheist, the adherent of Islam, the person’s who sins turn your stomach, and it includes you and I.
As we grow in knowing God’s love, it would cause us great distress to think we drove someone away from the relationship with God we treasure!
A Treasure too Great to Love Other – including ourselves.
The section about cutting off hands and feet, of gouging out eyes was always too much for me. Seriously first it seemed a bit over the top. Second, most of us would be crawling around here, for us all too quickly sin.
But the relationship with God is so incredible, that which He offers us is so overwhelming, that we would rather do those things rather than risk it. We would realize that the first commandment is right – as we know what God has done, it doesn’t make sense to have other gods, it doesn’t make sense to put our trust in idols, even in the idol of ourselves.
That is what this is all about – the love of a God who would come to u because He desires us to be His people. Who would rather than overlook our sins, decide to take on their burden and die so that we could be free of them. Who would rise, so that we have the hope of everlasting life, and who would send the gift of the Holy Spirit to us in baptism, so we could know that hope, so we could have a glimpse of it.
A treasure so incredible, so amazing, that we simply can’t help but want others to know it. We would encourage each other to rejoice in it, and guard against causing people to give up on God or His people, and we would rather lose ourselves than lose the relationship.
This is what God gives us… to all. The professor and the homeless guy, the businessman and the child, the pastor and the shut-in.
The hope we preach, that Christ is in you, and, therefore, you have the hope of sharing in His glory. And until that hope is seen, you dwell, guarded by Him, in His peace.
Posted on September 28, 2015, in sermon and tagged Abiding in Christ, absolution, brokenness, children, companion of Christ, Concordia Lutheran Church, faith, falling away, humility. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.