Six characteristics of holiness
Jesus and the disciples walk from Lake Galilee to Capernaum. Disciples would walk in a line behind their rabbi, not as a rabble. So as they are walking along there is a discussion (although the Greek word implies more heat than light) about who is greatest. Jesus in the natural would have heard snippets, but is very discerning too! He waits until they get to the house to rebuke them, rather than in public. The rebuke starts with a pointed question which they are uncomfortable to answer!
What follows are six characteristics of holiness, five given privately to the disciples and the last to the next crowd gathered.
Competing to be number one and comparisons with others are not helpful at all. We live for an audience of One, not as people pleasers, or for “likes”. Jesus says be humble, be a servant.
Loving welcome v36-37
Jesus takes one of the children in the home on his knee and challenges them to be as lovingly welcoming to a child as to a King. How we treat those that have nothing to give us or offer us, says a lot about us.
Not cliquey v38-41
Hot-headed son of thunder John is miffed that others, not in the inner circle, are doing miracles in Jesus name. There are two things to learn here. Firstly don’t put people in a box and leave them. The Son of thunder will become the apostle of love. God can change people in amazing ways. I’m 47 now but still thought of as the disorganised twenty-something in my home church. Boxes are not helpful places to put people in, they are for groceries! Secondly you don’t have it all, your church doesn’t have it all, your denomination or church stream doesn’t have it all. As Nicky Gumbel puts it, “It is a mistake to dismiss other Christians, other denominations or other organisations because they are not ‘one of us’ “. You may need to chew the meat and spit out the bones, but don’t miss the meat!
Jesus was asking the 12 to be tolerant of other believers but utterly intolerant of their own sin. He is not asking us to literally maim our bodies to avoid sin. He is speaking figuratively about what we do with our hands v43, where we go with our feet v45 and what we look at with our eyes v47. Be disciplined, uncompromising and radical with your own lifestyle and choices.
Jesus tells them to be at peace with one another: – Stop arguing and grumbling and be at peace with one another.
In the next section Jesus calls His followers to be faithful in marriage. In the Old Testament, divorce was a concession not a command. God’s intention is that a husband and wife come together in a life long commitment that makes them spiritually one flesh (Mark 10:8) – what God has joined together let no man separate.
How are you doing with these 6 characteristics of a holy life? Ask for the Lord’s strengthening and power.