In Mark’s gospel we are told how Jesus chose 12 disciples to come along with him in his mission. The disciples went through a lot of hardships, the sacrificed everything to be with Jesus, without delay. The disciples show a lot of faith throughout the gospel, however, they also show a lost of weaknesses such as spiritually blindness. Mark also tells us that there is ‘cost’ to being a disciple however, this cost is very little compared to the great rewards that determined and devoted disciples will receive in return. My essay will go into more detail about the nature of what it means to be a Christian disciple based on the teachings of St. Mark’s Gospel.
Definition of a disciple
* In someone who believes in and helps spread the teachings to others. They follow and learn the word of God.
* When Jesus asked then to join him in his mission the responded immediately, with no questions. “At once they left their nets and went with him.” (Mk1: 18)
* This also showed great faith in the disciples as they never questioned Jesus, it would have been a hard decision to drop everything in their lives and follow a man, whom they had never met before and devote their lives to his teaching and morals. Faith is also reflected in the tax collector, Levi. Levi was an outlaw in his society, and when Jesus was passing he told Levi to “… ‘Follow me.’ Levi got up and followed him” this shows how trustworthy Jesus was.
* Even today people are following Jesus. Everyday a new child is baptised into the Christian faith. These new children all become the disciples of God:
“In our baptism, God has turned to us so that we might turn to him. Daily we turn; responding to what God is doing in us. The Holy Spirit permeates the Christian’s existence, begins the Christian’s pilgrimage, and leads us daily, tugging at our lives until they be fully turned toward God. There is no conversion, repentance, good work, or good life which is not a gift of the Spirit.”
—William Willimon (Author of Remember who you are)
Demands of Discipleship
In Mark’s Gospel we are told that to be a disciple involves sacrifice.
* This can be seen in:
o The widow at the treasury (Mk12: 41-44)
This is the best example as her sacrifice was much greater, she gave all she had whereas, and the richer people gave all they could spare. She gave up all her money, which probably deprived her of food; she showed great faith and is a true example of a disciple.
o “Christ noticed that those who were wealthy cast much into the treasury (perhaps with considerable flare). In such cases quantity, of course, was to be expected, for to whom much is given, of them much is required.”
* The rich man is a good example of someone who was not willing to make the sacrifice. He put material wealth before God; he will not receive eternal life in the kingdom of God. (MK10: 17-27)
Mark also highlights the qualities required to become true devout disciples. This is clearly seen in the story of, ‘Jesus blesses little children’. (Mk10: 13-16)
In this story Jesus tells the disciples of how you must be ‘childlike to be able to enter the kingdom of God.
Mark also highlights faith as being the central importance for the disciples. There are many stories in the gospel that express Jesus’ response to a person’s faith.
* Jairus’ daughter and the woman who touched Jesus’ cloak (Mk5: 21-42)
* Paralysed man (Mk1: 1-12)
The calming of the storm is an example of a time when the disciples need to show faith. They failed and Jesus commented and rebuked them on their lack of faith in his ability to keep the safe, – “why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
* In the story of ‘the request of James and John’, Jesus had to explain again the true meaning of discipleship. It is not to achieve personal glory, but to put others first in all things. To be completely selfless.
* When Jesus predicted that he would be betrayed and put to death, the disciples did not understand what he meant and where afraid to ask him about it.
* In the garden of Gethsemane. Peter, James and John fell asleep three times: Jesus had asked then to keep watch for him while he prayed. When Jesus was arrested, all the disciples ran away in fear.
* At Jesus’ crucifixion, none of the disciples where there to support him.
To be a true disciple involves service. Mark reminds us that Jesus came to serve not to be served. (Mk10: 45)
The whole of Jesus’ ministry shows him working for the good of others.
(Healing shows mercy, feeding, rising people from the dead)
* Feeding of the 5000 (Mk6: 30-44)
* Jairus’ daughter (Mk5: 21-24 & 35-42)
* Mother Teresa and her work in Calcutta. – Shows selflessness and true discipleship.
Marks gospel informs us that discipleship demands good leaders.
Jesus chooses many disciples from all walks of life. He never chose perfect wealthy people, he chose the outlaws of society, the normal people, the fishermen and tax collectors. His ministry was inclusive.
The disciples were to:
* Set an example to others. Be role models and spread the word of God.
* The disciples were average humans, and often made mistakes. Disciples had to make mistakes, but also had to learn from them. Example, when peter denies Jesus then he is told to lead the church
* The disciples also have to go forth and spread the good news to the whole world.
The first disciples had to e willing to sacrifice their worldly possessions and even their families to be at the service of others, they were to become altruistic.