What a study of St marks gospel can tell Christians about the nature of discipleship

To explain what a study of St Marks gospel can tell Christians about the nature of Jesus we need to know what a disciple is. The word disciple means follower of Jesus literally ‘someone who learns’ or ‘is a pupil’. Jesus chose 12 disciples to replace the tradition of the Jewish religion represented by the twelve tribes of Israel. The twelve men Jesus chose represented ‘knew people of god’. They would help Jesus extend the kingdom of god on earth.

Simon and Andrew worked on a shore of the Sea of Galilee, which was the centre of a busy fishing industry. He said, “come with me and I will teach you how to catch men.” Jesus promised them a part in proclaiming the coming of Gods kingdom on earth if they were prepared to leave all that they had to follow Jesus and spread the word of god amongst the people of the world. The men took the gamble and decided to do this. Jesus found James and John, two sons of Zebedee when they were preparing the next fishing expedition at the lakeside we are simply told Jesus ‘called’ them (1:16 – 20).

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We identify Levi with Matthew with good reason, (3:18) even though we are not sure who Levi really is. In the eyes of his fellow Jews Levi was considered an ‘outcast’ because he worked as a tax collector. We would describe Levi’s position in society much the same as a ‘loan shark’ today. There was also the added stigma of him being a collaborator working as he did for the enemy, the Romans. We are simply told Jesus went up to Levi and said ‘follow me.’ Levi got up and followed him (2:13-17).

Jesus chose twelve disciples. He said to them “I have chosen you to be with me. I will also send you out to preach, and you will have authority to drive out demons.” (3:13-16).

Jesus called the disciples and sent them out two by two. He gave them authority over the evil spirits and ordered them, ” Don’t take anything with you on your journey except a stick. Wear sandals don’t carry an extra shirt. He also added ” wherever you are welcomed, stay in that house until you leave that place. If you come to a town where people don’t welcome you or will not listen to you, leave it and shake the dust of your feet. That will be a warning to them.” They went and preached the word of God and to tell people to turn away from their sins. (6:7-13).

To be a disciple you must be willing to face the challenge and cost of Christianity. You must be willing to put god before yourself and put yourself last in all things. Only in this way can people be free from self-centred tendencies and attachments, free to love others unconditionally and free to give others unconditionally in fulfilment of the greatest commandments

After the resurrection Jesus appears to the eleven remaining disciples as they were eating. He scolded them, because they did not have faith in those who had seen him alive. He said to them “Go throughout the whole human race and preach the gospel to the whole human race. Whoever believes and is baptized will be save: whoever does not believe will be condemned.” (16:14-16) That was the commission of the Eleven.

The cost of discipleship is challenged when Jesus says to the disciples ” If anyone wants to come with me, he must forget self, carry his cross, and follow me. For whoever wants to save his own life will lose it; but whoever looses his life for me and for the gospel will save it.” (8:34-35)

The rewards of discipleship are a hundred times greater then what you have given up. I know this because Jesus says to the disciples “I tell you that anyone who gives up his 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 he will receive eternal life.” (10:29-30)

A rich man came up to Jesus and said “good teacher what must I do to receive eternal life?”

Jesus replied “why do you call me good? No one is good except god alone. You know the commandments: ‘Do not steal; do not accuse anyone falsely; do not cheat; respect your father and your mother.”

” Teacher” the man said, “Ever since I was young I have obeyed all these commandments” Jesus looked straight at him and said “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”. The man turned away.(10:17-22)

This story tells us in order to win eternal life, a person/disciple has to renounce his wealth – or anything more important then god in his life. (10:21-23).

Jesus sat near the treasury and watched the people as they dropped in their money. Many rich people dropped in lots of money: then a poor widow dropped in two copper coins, which were worth about a penny. Jesus called his disciples and said to them “I tell you this poor widow put more in the offering box then 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 that she had – she gave all she had to live on.” (12:41- 44)

In the widows offering Jesus explains what matters in matters is that people give up their attachment to all they have/possess in order to be free (10:28-31 – eternal life) and become fully human in the likeness of Christ.

 

Jesus is the main example of living in Gods way. He trained his disciples to follow him. The disciples often misunderstood the way Jesus thought them. Discipleship involves self-sacrifice, careful stewardship, humility, and service. The disciples had to consider what this would mean to their families, careers, and personal wealth and there knew way of life. A true Christian believes that they are called to be a disciple and follow the example set by Jesus of how a Christian should act.

Martin Luther king protested against injustice just like Jesus did who protested to the Jewish religious leaders about the unnecessary burdens they imposed on people. Martin Luther king protested against racial discrimination. When they were attacked violently by the white Americans they turned the other cheek and did not retaliate, following the example of Jesus. Although Martin Luther king succeeded his protest against racial discrimination, there was a price to pay. Martin Luther king was assassinated, like Jesus Martin Luther king gave his life for what he believed in. Christians risk the fate of Jesus – rejection and death.

Oscar Romero was another Christian who was killed for protesting against injustice. He believed that a Christian should protest against injustice, but he also believed that the protest should be non violent (like Jesus). When Oscar Romero was appointed archbishop he started to preach that it was wrong for the landowners to make so much money and do so little work, while the workers got so little money for working on the land. Romero kept on preaching even though the government had tried their best to persuade him not to. In the end, those who Romero was preaching to, had only one way left to silence Romero, so they had him killed. He followed the example of Jesus right till the end.

Mother Teresa dedicated her life to helping the poor. She made vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. She also made an extra vow – to give whole-hearted and free service to the poorest of the poor. Mother Teresa made regular prayer her and receiving the Blessed Sacrament her first priority. She also opened up clinics for lepers and makes it clear that they are no social outcasts. Mother Teresa turned away from being rich for she trusts God to provide everything she needs. She is ready to suffer and works with complete faith in Jesus Christ and shows her love for god by showing her love for all, showing that she has many Characteristics of disciple ship.

These people show that the teaching of discipleship is an important part of a Christian’s life, just like the Disciples did. They know to be a good Christian you have to follow the way of life Jesus taught the disciples to live and they way he lived himself. They also show that the teaching in discipleship is followed in the life of a true Christian today. It affects the life of a Christian today because they are ready to preach the word of god. To follow example of Jesus and to preach for what they believe in. – These people show service to others, learn about God, stand up for their beliefs, be an example to others, care, help sacrifice, put others first and lead by example.

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