Thesis:All "discipleship" exists under the constraints of the Disciple Maker.
Introduction:In our study last week I attempted to establish this truth: there is an equivalent reciprocity in Jesus' future treatment of us according to our present willingness to be identified with Him. He said, in effect, that those who are, in this world, unwilling to identify with Him and His teachings will be denied the participation in His glory that such identity carries as its inevitable consequence. This declaration establishes the reality of a direct correlation between our Love/Faith choices/actions and our eternal experience. This correlation creates its own set of difficulties in that many have taken it to indisputably establish "salvation" as the outcome of human performance issues and to alter the perception of "grace" as a "giver without performance requirements".
It is, I believe, for this cause that Jesus made His final comment in this "discipleship" text. As His last statement regarding the issues of discipleship under the "self-denial, daily cross-bearing, active pursuit" thesis, Jesus simply declared that "some" of those hearing His teaching on that very day would not die before they actually "saw" the Kingdom of God. It is my contention that this parting "truth" is the biblical counter-balance to the error of taking the reality of a direct correlation between Love/Faith choices/actions and turning it into a full blown doctrine of meritorious salvation that inexorably promotes the conflict of pride in all of the relationships that it touches.
I. What Is At Stake.
A. In our text, the "at risk" issue is a person's participation in the glory of the Son, the Father, and the holy angels.
B. In some other more deliberately didactic texts, the "at risk" issue is the quality of one's experience of Life on the foundations of relationships.
1. Where "performance" issues rest most heavily, boastfulness is inevitable.
2. Where "boastfulness" issues rest most heavily, relational-Life is chewed up by death.
C. Thus, both in our current text as well as those other texts, "grace", as a divine initiation of good with no regard for whether a person deserves it or not, is inserted into the issues in order to eliminate all boasting and make harmonious relationships possible.
II. What Jesus Said.
A. First, He said what He did under the banner of "Truth".
1. "Truth", by its most basic definition, is the harmony that exists between all of the particulars that are "true".
2. By inserting the claim that what He said was "true", Jesus was compelling His disciples to put all of His statements regarding "discipleship" together in harmony.
a. This means that the statements that "discipleship" requires certain Love/Faith choices, that refusal to accept these requirements is foolishly inconsiderate, and that "some" were going to "see" the Kingdom of God all have to be "harmonized" into one's grasp of reality.
b. This means that those who hear His words must put their thinking caps on and use them.
B. Second, He said that only "some" of those who heard Him that day were going to "see" the Kingdom of God.
1. In the following paragraph, what Jesus predicted occurred.
2. In that paragraph, Peter, James, and John were "taken" by Jesus apart from the other nine and given the experience of "seeing" the "Kingdom of God".
3. This declaration means that a kind of "selectivity" was going to occur that would give some a very heady experience and not others.
4. This "selectivity" had one of two possible roots.
a. It was either rooted in a greater "performance" evaluation so that Peter, James, and John were considered "more responsible", or it was rooted in something else.
1) There is some indication, in Mark 9:34 (which, in Mark's record, follows the events of our text) that this was, indeed, the "considered root".
2) There is even more indication in Mark 10:35-45 that this was the "considered root".
b. If it was rooted in something else, that "something else" was Jesus' "gracious" selectivity.
III. The Later Facts.
A. The short-term facts argue that Jesus did not extend the privilege to the "some" because they were "more faithful".
B. The longer-term facts argue that Jesus did extend the privilege to the "some" because they were going to become "more faithful".
C. That Jesus did what He did to sponsor a greater faithfulness is the explanation of how His "Truth" fits together.
1. When a person beomes "more faithful" so that his experience of the coming glory is "greater", it, biblically, is always the outcome of the extension of gracious privilege (1 Corinthians 4:7).
2. For men, who seek their own glory, God's "favor" is always attributed to what they have done, but with God, Who seeks to give glory to men, His "favor" is never attributed to what they did, but what He did.
3. In our text, the future "glory" is directly tied to whether men deny, bear, pursue, but that whether is rooted in the gracious provision of God, not their initiative.