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When I first started dating my wife, Abigail, things were going great. We started to get to
know one another, began going on dates, and I felt like our relationship really being to develop
into something great. Then came that point in our relationship, the point which comes in every
(good) relationship: the question. The question is this: will you meet my parents? For weeks and
weeks, soon after I heard the question, I drug my feet over not wanting to meet Abigails mom
and dad. I kept giving lame excuses time after time. Its not that I dont like meeting girlfriends
moms; its that I dont like meeting their dads! The moms are sweet and easy; but its the dads
who really scare me, especially since youre dating their cute, precious, wonderful daughter.
Well, after several weeks of putting it off, I decided to finally meet her parents. So, I went to her
house and met them; her mom and dad, both to my surprise, were so sweet and kind. I actually
found that I had a lot in common with her dad, of all people. He went to seminary; I go to
seminary; he liked jokes; I like jokes; I mean we were really hitting it off. So I walked away
from that experience feeling much better; but then I was invited back for a second time; then a
third time; then a fourth time; then, finally, a fifth time. On the fifth time, I decided to show off a
bit, especially for her dad. You see, Abigail and her family are from France, and I decided that I
should do the family prayer by praying in French. Well, I completely destroyed the prayer. It was
horrible! I completely forgot what I was supposed to pray and ended up praying something
awful. And I never will forget the look on her dads face when I finished that horrible prayer; it
was almost as if he was saying with his eyes, you idiot; I thought you and I had an insider
relationship; I thought you were in the circle of trust!
I think that sometimes in todays church, even as ministers training in a seminary, we
maybe sometimes need to be reminded and perhaps even get the definition a little fuzzy of what
an insider with Christ looks like. Its not that all of us here arent insiders; we are. Its just that
perhaps sometimes we forget the biblical definition(s).
Well, what is the definition for what an insider? Whats an outsider? How do we know?
I think that Mark has an answer for us today in Mark 3:13-35. Please turn there now.
Today we are going to see that Mark defines what it means to be an insider, what it means to be
an outsider, and what it means to be a disciple of Jesus.
So, what is the definition of an outsider?
Well, an outsider can be someone we often least expect. If youd move your eyes to 3:20-
21, we see that Mark gives us an explanation. (read text). You see, I think what Mark is doing
here he is saying this: Even family members can be portrayed as outsiders. I think the text is
telling us that even Jesuss own family members can produce resistance against Jesuss ministry.
Now, please move your eyes down the page to 3:31-32. Again, I think that Mark is telling us that
by those outside he means that even Jesuss family can be portrayed as outsiders. I remember
growing up not having a very good relationship with my half sister. Indeed, my half-sister Kasey
and I were not very good friends at all and it has only been in the last couple of years that we
have rekindled our friendship. We have had our ups and downs though. But you see, just because
Kasey and I are related by blood it does not therefore follow that her and I had a good
relatonship. I think Mark is doing something similar with Jesus family. That is, it is not always
the case that those closest to Jesus are insiders. Rather, as I said, outsiders are often those we
least expect.
Moreover, even religious leaders can be portrayed as outsiders of Jesuss ministry. If
you look at 3:22-23, we see (read text). Again, Mark appears to be doing something very
similar here with the religious leaders that he was doing with the family members above. The
scribers were the seminary trained leaders of our day; they knew the OT very, very well. They
knew all the theological answers, one might say. But you see what Mark does? He portrays them
as outsiders to Jesuss ministry. Man, this reminds me of myself in my undergraduate days prior
to DTS. I used to say and think to myself, Man, when I get those three special letters in front of
my name, then people will know Im legit and really a spiritual guy. You know what those
three letters are? REV. Reverend. I just throught, shoot, people will come to me with all their
questions. It turns out that I was wrong; thats not what makes one an insider with God. And
then, and I think this one will hit home with all of us, theres getting those three little letters after
your name post seminary: THM. Master of theology. It has a nice ring to it, doesnt it? I used to
think that once I get the ThM Id have all the answers. But you see, this does not prove that we
are insiders with Jesus. I think sometimes we may fall into this trap. But lets remember that
this is not what makes an insider with Jesus.
So, weve defined what it means to be an outsider with Jesus. But lets get more
practical and define what it means to be an insider with Jesus, okay?
Well, insiders are always disciples of the Lord Jesus. Thats right: insiders are always
disciples. Thats our main definition here. Moreover, an insider is someone who is obedient to
the Gods will. Look with me, if you will, at Mark 3:33-35. (read text). You see, I think that
Mark is explaining here that the real insiders or the real family of Jesus are those who are
doing his will. I remember reading an amazing biography about Brother Andrew. Brother
Andrew was so incredible; he has incredible stories of going into communist countries
attempting to take the Bible where Christianity was not welcome; and time and time again hed
escape the hands of anti-Christians trying to kill him or shut down his mission. I think he was
successful because he was obedient. You see, thats what disciples do; they practice obedience to
God; thats what defines an insider!
Further, doing the will of God is obedience to Gods commission. Look with me if you
will at Mark 3:14 (read text). There are two important things going on here. First, Mark says that
the disciples were with Jesus. This means that they were allowing Jesus to work in their lives by
spending time with him. Second, Mark explains that disciples or insiders with Jesus are
sensitive to doing the commission of God. They are obedient to the commission! Man, there
have been so many times in my seminary career when Ive felt like giving up. Greek is just too
hard, Id say to myself. Or, Im tired of writing so many papers! I know weve all be there.
There have literally been times in my seminary career when Ive said, God, just give me a job at
Target running the cash register because thats easy for me. I know as DTS students we are in
similar boats. But God has called us to be part of his commission. We have to stick it out. We
have to be insiders by doing Gods commission. Thats the mark of an insider.
So what does all this mean? Weve got some definitions on the table; but how should we
think about this tangibly? Heres the thrust: We must continue to be insiders with Jesus by doing
the will of God! I know a lot of Christians get caught up with the whole will of God thing. We
think that God hides his will from us or that we have to participate in pagan rituals in order to
ferret out what God has for us; would you say that caricaturizes our culture? I think it does. But I
want to suggest to you that God does not hide his will from us! This is clear from our reading of
Mark today, and it is especially clear in Mark 3:14 as well as in 3:33-35. You see, I think we are
doing Gods willand again, this isnt some Gnostic, dualistic, ritualistic, weird thingif we
are taking Marks advice in 3:14: being a disciple and making disciples. Thats how we know if
we are doing Gods will. Being a disciple means learning and spending time with God. Making
disciples means being a part of Gods plan for redemption. Man, one of the best experiences Ive
had is mentoring and discipling a handful of 7-8 grade boys at church. Those guys are little
rascals, Ill tell you. But I find that they respond to me pouring into their lives; they desperately
need me to keep them in check. I know this method works, and I know that this is what God
expects from all of usto be a disciple and to make a disciple.
In closing, I did go on to restore that insider relationship with my father-in-law that I
thought I had so botched up.
And I just want to encourage you all today as my fellow seminary students. I know we
are not outsiders with God; we are all very much insiders. But I hope I have encouraged you
and even reminded you of what an insider with Christ is.