Damariscotta Baptist Church
Monday, May 21, 2018
Growing personal relationships with God and community

03/15/15 Sermon - There's No Such Thing as a Bad Question

Round #1

“There’s no such thing as a ‘bad’ question”

Mark 9:30-32

 

This may be Round #1 of my messages today, but the Scripture that was just read, is Round #2 for the disciples. This is the second time Jesus has directly instructed his disciples on what was going to happen to him, as Messiah. He has stated it clearly and distinctly. Based on what Jesus said, and what we know, post Resurrection, it is difficult for us to understand why the disciples didn’t get. It may even be difficult for us to understand why, even when they knew they didn’t understand, they didn’t ask Jesus to explain.

 

I have taught every grade from Pre-school to College, and at every level I would try to explain to my students that questions are our friends and there is no such thing as a “bad” question.

 

I would like to applaud one of my fellow teachers, Danny Hupp. I have had the privilege to sit in on many of Danny’s classes, and I wish you could see him in action. Whenever there is a discussion happening, the room is electric.

Hands are in the air and students can’t wait to ask a question or answer questions. In general, students are not afraid, because Danny makes sure that no matter what question or answer the student has, Danny makes the student feel like it is a good one. Danny affirms his students for being willing to ask the question or give an answer, and makes the student feel like they are investing in their education.

 

I am afraid, that is not the case for the majority of teachers. How many of you remember being in a class where you felt that if you raised your hand and asked a question, the teacher was going to evaluate your question prior to answering it and thus evaluate you as a student. I know I have. I remember being in many classes where that was the case. Depending on how intelligent my question was would depend on how intelligent the teacher and fellow students would think I am. This was my understanding until I became a teacher. Then I began to realize that the really intelligent students were the ones who weren’t afraid to ask questions. This meant they were thinking, they were engaged.

 

Mark has told us in this passage, why the disciples didn’t ask for more clarification, he writes, because they were afraid to ask him.

 

I wonder, were they afraid because they did not want to look unintelligent? Or were they afraid to ask, because they were afraid to find out the truth?

 

How many of you have been in that situation? Maybe you know enough for you to “imagine” what could happen, and often times, when we “imagine” we can go to the worst case scenario.

 

Val found out this week that his older brother David, could have bladder cancer. It turns out David does not want to have tests done to find out if he does have cancer or not. I think it is because, he is afraid the answer might be “yes” and then he would have to deal with it. By not taking the test, he doesn’t really know and therefore does not have face it, yet.

 

I wonder if that is how the disciples felt. You see, Jesus has already told them once about this suffering Savior scenario and they have had time to think about it. Can’t you just see them going to the worst case scenario in their minds and thinking, “Here we have stepped out of our life for almost two years, given up everything to follow Jesus, because we believed he was the Messiah.

 

Now the Messiah is supposed to mean, savior, savior from bondage, from the Romans. It is not supposed to mean suffering. Haven’t we had enough suffering? In fact, when we look back at our history, suffering is the Jewish nation’s middle name. The Messiah is supposed to save us from our suffering, not bring us to it!” If Jesus is killed, where does that leave us?”

 

With that type of thinking can you see how that would have made it difficult for the disciples to ask questions. What if they got the very answer they feared? Then what would they do? It was easier to go along with what they were doing and wait. Unfortunately, not one of the disciples, not even Peter, dared to find out more information. We can only ponder as to what would have happened if they had.

 

This all being said, I know there are Christians today, who are stuck in a similar place.

They have more questions than answers when it comes to their faith and Christianity. That’s when fear steps in and takes over and they are afraid to ask them. Just like the disciples they are afraid. Maybe they are afraid to find out the answer, because they are afraid the answer might require them to live differently and have to deal with the question, which  means they may have to change, and they like some things about the way they are living.

 

It may be that they are afraid that others will think their question isn’t “okay”, because they may think it is a question they are “supposed” to know the answer to,

that is if they are “really” a Christian.

Or maybe it’s Christians don’t ask questions because it may look like they are unfaithful, or that they doubt and “good” Christians aren’t supposed to doubt, because they have been taught that doubt is the opposite of faith. And a good Christian doesn’t want to look like they lack faith.

 

Well, I would like to correct that fallacy.  Doubt is not the opposite of faith. In fact, it takes doubt and challenges for our faith to grow.

From Hebrews 10 we are given that faith is

“belief in things not seen”,

If that is the case,  doubt seems to be an essential ingredient.

 

Let’s go back to today’s Scripture. Not only did the disciples not perceive Jesus’ cross, the resurrection was even more incredible. In all four gospels, the reaction to Jesus’ resurrection was not, “oh, yeah, I knew that, he told us all about it” or “that was just what he promised”. Instead, it was doubt. Why doubt? Because Jesus’ birth, life, death and resurrection is beyond comprehension. It defies everything the world has taught or could imagine. The resurrection is so earth shattering and mind boggling, that if we don’t have doubts, we are probably not paying attention.

 

Jesus’ kingdom is different from any kingdom the disciples had ever experienced. It is different from the world we live in today. Jesus said, “The Kingdom is ‘near’”, not here. Just like the disciples we only get to experience glimpses of his kingdom. So it would make sense that even 2000 years after Jesus’ resurrection, there would still be questions.

 

 

I would like to propose that asking questions is the mark of perceptive curiosity and lends itself to the ability to learn. Therefore, I would like to offer each of you the opportunity to ask questions. Do you have a question concerning your faith, God, the Bible? Something you wonder about? It doesn’t have to be earth shattering, maybe it is just something that has been bugging you regarding who Jesus is or about God, or why things are the way they are in your life or in the world.  

 

Here’s what I would like you to do.

 

 

In your bulletin I have provided a slip of paper labelled, “Searching Questions”. Take a few minutes and jot down any questions you may have regarding God. Remember, there are not “bad” questions. You don’t have to name your question aloud or discuss them with your neighbor. They will be just between you, God and me.

 

What would have happened if the disciples had been willing to ask Jesus their questions, when he was sitting and living with them.

 

If only they had recognized that Jesus wanted nothing more than to share their questions, their struggles and their doubts, so that he could have helped them understand his teachings and then could have drawn them closer to God.

 

Perhaps if they had asked, they would have understood more quickly and easily the message I will be sharing in Round 2 – That message is that greatness does not lay in power and knowledge, but in compassion, and is not achieved by status but by service.

 

While David plays, I encourage you to write down your question or questions and please place them in the offering plate as it passes by. 

 

Just as we offer our time, talents, tithes and offerings to God, I am going to ask you to offer your questions, your challenges and your doubts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Round #2

“The Servant of All?”

Mark 9:33-37

 

You have to like the fact that the disciples are so human. Here we have them walking down the road to Capernaum, and instead of discussing what they didn’t understand, when Jesus told them that he was going to be killed and after three days he would rise, they are arguing over who was the greatest.

And to demonstrate just how human they are, when Jesus asked them the question as to what they had been discussing, not one of them would answer him, they all kept silent. 

 

How many of the parents here have experienced a similar situation, or maybe when you were a kid your parents may have done this same thing.  You know the scene. The parent is driving down the road and the kids are in the back seat arguing, over something ridiculous. When you get home, the parent asks what you were discussing and the kids look at each other and know that if they answer, the parent is going to be disappointed, because what they were arguing about was something the parent would be disappointed in, so as not to look bad, not one kid says a thing.

 

Jesus knew what they had been discussing and by asking them straight out the disciples were busted!

 

If anyone speaks up and actually asks Jesus if he is the greatest then Jesus will not think he is the greatest if he had to ask. The disciples are probably already embarrassed having been caught in what would have been considered a social mistake.

 

Notice Jesus doesn’t try to make them all feel good and tell them that they are all his favorites.

 

Jesus doesn’t settle the argument by saying, “Well since you had to ask ‘so ‘n so’ is the greatest.”

 

Notice what Jesus does. He creates a teaching moment. He sat down and calls the disciples over to him.

 

He tells them one more thing that on the outset sounds backwards. Again, he turns their understanding upside-down. He tells them that in order to be first, they had to be last, of all and the servant of all.

Then he looks around and he gives an object lesson. He takes a small child, perhaps a child of one of the people who have been following him, and puts the child in his arms and says,

 

“Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me.”

 

For a first century Jewish male, this statement is counter cultural to the max. You see, in first century Israel, children were a liability, until they reached the age where they could contribute to society. Until they were fully productive their status in society was like that to a slave. The only difference they had from the slaves, was that one day, they would be “worth” something and so they were considered members of the household.  They were insiders that were treated like outsiders.

 

As far as Jesus is concerned, it doesn’t matter who the world says is greatest, or who we think is greatest, or who acts like they are greatest or looks to be the greatest.

 

 

 

Jesus is interested in who acts with the greatest

grace,

compassion,

and love,

towards everyone….regardless of their place in society.

 

Jesus was telling these Jewish men, to serve the likes of the little child,

serve the unloved,

serve the lowest,

serve those who at the time, have no means or ability to serve them back.

 

And by doing so, they would be great, in God’s kingdom.

 

 

Easy enough to say, not so easy to do.

 

 

And on our own, I would say it is near to impossible. But remember from last week, With God, anything is possible.

 

We talk about asking God to come into our heart, and to live in our lives. We say that in order to be a Christian that it was we are supposed to do.

Okay. If that is true, and for those of us in this room that have done just that, then we have the power and the ability to choose to be last, and be the servant of all. Of course that means God can’t just be “in our lives”, we have to get out of the driver’s seat and let God be in charge. We have to give up what “we want” and do what God wants.

 

And when we do, when we become less and He becomes more, when we use His power to serve everyone, not just the people we like or the ones that are easy to serve, but especially those people that rub us the wrong way, or are repulsive. Only when we become last, do we become first.

 

Upside-down to what the world would say, but then, it is the Kingdom of God we are talking about.

 

Let’s pray.