|Study tools: Towels and jar of water|
“[Jesus and his disciples] left that place and passed through Galilee. Jesus did not want anyone to know where they were, because he was teaching his disciples. He said to them, ‘The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men. They will kill him, and after three days he will rise.’ But they did not understand what he meant and were afraid to ask him about it”
(Mark 9:30-33, NIV, bracket mine).
It was about three years Jesus spent time with His disciples to teach them. These men to whom Jesus said, “Follow Me,” journeyed with the Master throughout Palestine land and all the way and personal encounters was a learning experience for them. This is amazing! Do we need to go to seminary school to study theology? Perhaps, but as for Jesus’ twelve apostles, their Apostolic Theological Seminary was outside classrooms. In the Gospel according to Mark, the writer emphasis on Jesus’ actions. Mark saw Jesus’ seminary as a school that taught by action more than by words. No classrooms and projection screen, just real life situations and on the road teachings. Here in chapter 9:30-37, Mark recorded a mini-lecture Jesus delivered to his twelve disciples…
Doctrine of Future Things 101. Jesus told in plain terms that He would be – delivered into the hands of men – will be killed – but after three days will rise again. Jesus, for the second time, explained the three steps climax to His earthly ministry. But the disciples, amazingly, “did not understand what he meant and were afraid to ask him about it.” Not just they don’t understand and didn’t ask for explanations, they were arguing with one another! Jesus knew that they were arguing about “who was the greatest” among them (Mark 9:33-34). To me, the disciples – like us – we so blinded by their own notion of what the Messiah was supposed to be like. The idea that Jesus could be rejected and killed was unthinkable. Perhaps the thought frightened them to the point that they were unable to ask Him what He meant.
Doctrine of Greatness 2.0. Jesus’ taught his disciples: “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all”; and “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me” (read Mark 9:34-37). Because Jesus selected them personally and because they studied at the Apostolic Theological Seminary, they become proud, boastful and self-centred. As for today you can almost hear people say, “I studied at the Methodist Theological School in Sibu!”; “I have Master of Divinity from Sabah Theological Seminary…”; “Ehemmm… I’m a graduate from Malaysia Theological Seminar.” These are just examples of how we can become proud because our distinctions from everyone else. We sometime forget that for us be spiritually great (Yes, Jesus encourages our pursuit to be great in God) is through choosing the lowest position and serving others. To enter the Kingdom of God we must have the humility of a child. Today – even in Christianity – we called someone great because of their educational background and those who great in public speaking automatically become our leaders. This is not so for Jesus’ followers! Greatness in God’s definition is to serve one another and to care about the little ones.
These and many more lesson Jesus taught His disciples one by one, through personal encounters and first-hand experience, by words and practically by His own actions. Do you want to enrol in Jesus’ Apostolic Theological Seminary? If you do, then take heed the Master’s words: “Whoever wants to be my disciples must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow Me” (8:34); and “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all” (Mark 9:35). Welcome to Jesus’ school!
First assignment: Read the Word
THINK BIG. START SMALL. GO DEEP.