Bottom line: You and I are disciples also.
a. It is a slow and arduous learning curve. We make lots of mistakes. Sometimes we get sidetracked. Sometimes we lack faith. Sometimes we fail. It seems like 2 steps forward followed by one step backwards. Mark is showing us the reality of the battle, not the touched up picture. The Pharisees constantly worried about image – what other’s thought. The Pharisees constantly covered up their mistakes – but their hearts were far from God. Not so the disciple. God gave us the Gospel of Mark to show us that disciples are real, struggling people. They’re sinners in need of grace, all the time, and they know it. But deep in their heart they just want to be close to Jesus.
b. It is all about the cross. Jesus is not just going around making people feel better. True, he is God and he can’t help being awesome, but he’s on a mission. Man has soiled himself with sin and only the cross can clean his soul up. For the believer, life continues as I claim all I am in Christ. I embrace Christ’s righteousness as my own and fight the battle. I have a wilderness to tame inside me. I must mortify the old self and feed my new self. Thank God for his gift of the Holy Spirit.
c. Never forget Who Jesus is. Only one time in the Bible does Jesus call himself a ‘friend’ of the disciple. He says, ‘You are my friends if you do what I command you (John 15:14). He is an unusual friend. One we must obey and respect. So in Mark 7-9 Jesus is stern but gracious. He always expects greater effort. He always is at work in unexpected ways. We catch glimpses of his glory. But we are always playing catch up. We live with our inadequacies. But grace is always deeper than our failures. He is always nearby in time of need. He deserves our worship.
There are no disciples sitting on the bench. We are all in the game.