4. Life was seldom smooth for Jesus. He was tempted by Satan in the wilderness and by Peter at Caesarea Philippi. He experienced rejection from the Jewish leaders, His own family, and His own church. At times in His ministry, He had huge crowds following Him and He enjoyed immense popularity, but most of it was superficial. He was welcomed into Jerusalem with shouts of Hosanna! and Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! (Mark 11:9). A few days later they were shouting, Crucify Him! (15:13-14).
Then there were His disciples. He was totally committed to them but they were . . . a work in progress (just like we are). They saw Him perform great miracles but at times showed no faith in Him. They were asleep when He needed them to be watching and praying with Him. And one of them betrayed Him. Another denied Him. All deserted Him. No, life was seldom smooth for Jesus but it was never too big for Him because it wasn’t too big for His Father.
5. He stood up for the humble and vulnerable but opposed the proud and self-righteous.
When the people were bringing their little children to Jesus for Him to bless, “the disciples rebuked them “(10:13). Mark tells us that Jesus was indignant and told them unless they received the kingdom like a child, they would not be able to enter it. Then He took the children into His arms and blessed them. When the woman anointed Jesus and everyone began to complain about the extravagance and waste of money it was and “rebuked her harshly,” He won’t hear of it and told her she has done “a beautiful thing,” and wherever the gospel was preached what she had done would be told (14:6-9). When Jairus got word that his daughter has died before Jesus was able to see her and others around him urged him not to bother the teacher anymore, Jesus told Him not to be afraid but to believe (5:35-36). He did all of these things because that’s who He is and what He does!
6. Jesus rewarded faith wherever He found it.
The four men lowered their paralyzed friend down through the roof of the house where Jesus was. Mark tells us, “When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven” (2:5).
Then there’s the man who had a son who was possessed by an evil spirit. Nine of the disciples had been unable to do anything for him. Jesus came down from the mountain with Peter, James, and John and the man asked Jesus to help him—if He was able. Jesus told Him, “Everything is possible for one who believes.” He told Jesus he believed but he needed help with his unbelief and Jesus responded by casting the evil spirit out of his son.
7. He invited everyone to follow but His terms were non-negotiable.
Mark has several ways to talk about following Jesus: repenting and believing (1:15), humbling ourselves and becoming the servant of all (9:35, 10:43-44), being salty (9:50), receiving the kingdom like a child (10:35), faith (11:22), forgiving others (11:25), loving God and others (12:29-31), and believing and being baptized (16:16). But perhaps the most emphatic is when he records Jesus saying, “Whoever wants to be My disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow Me” (8:34).
We are called by Jesus to take up the cross as He did. And while it’s certainly a call to an intense following, it’s also a call to intimacy—Jesus Himself couches our discipleship in terms of His own following of God. We won’t find life until we lose it by making the simple decision to put Him above all.
And now were back to where we started—talking about the simple life of (following) Jesus where less is more.