A Father's Heart: Mark  9:33-42
By Ron Hutchison
July 18, 2007

Then He came to Capernaum. And when He was in the house He asked them, "What was it you disputed among yourselves on the road?" But they kept silent, for on the road they had disputed among themselves who would be the greatest. And He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, "If anyone desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all." Then He took a little child and set him in the midst of them. And when He had taken him in His arms, He said to them, "Whoever receives one of these little children in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me, receives not Me but Him who sent Me." Now John answered Him, saying, "Teacher, we saw someone who does not follow us casting out demons in Your name, and we forbade him because he does not follow us."  But Jesus said, "Do not forbid him, for no one who works a miracle in My name can soon afterward speak evil of Me. "For he who is not against us is on our side. "For whoever gives you a cup of water to drink in My name, because you belong to Christ, assuredly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward. "But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea (Mark 9:33-42).

There is one thing that I have learned in raising children - you make a lot of mistakes along the way. Unfortunately, sometimes you don't realize the mistakes you have made until years later when you see the consequences of those mistakes and when it is sometimes too late to correct. But you have to learn from those mistakes, and even if you can't go back and undo the harm your mistakes did, you still have the opportunity to perhaps help others avoid those same mistakes if they will listen.

Fathers, and young men who will soon be fathers, desperately need to be encouraged today. They need to be encouraged to do what is right, to put Christ and His church first, and to put their families before all else but their obedience to the Father.

In Ephesians 6:12 the apostle Paul wrote, "For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places." Every Father and Mother is in a battle today for their family. Our battle is not with flesh and blood. It is a battle with Satan and the rulers of darkness and spiritual wickedness. Satan has always been able to launch an effective battle against the home. We know he will not ultimately win the war, but all too often he wins a battle. Satan has found that his most effective way of winning these spiritual battles is to destroy the home, that great foundation of mankind that God ordained in the very beginning (Genesis 2:18-25; Matthew 19:3-9).

Satan's first attack on mankind came when he attacked Eve in the garden of Eden with his cunning lies. Up until this attack man and woman had enjoyed a loving relationship with each other and with God (Genesis 2:8). What a wonderful life that must have been! Then Satan entered the scene, attacking the home by attacking the woman with his lies. She ate of the forbidden fruit and gave to her husband and he ate of it (Genesis 3:1-6).

In reality, Adam failed his family by eating of that fruit, and he also failed the human family by allowing sin and death to enter into the world. Paul wrote,  "Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned; (For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come" (Romans 5:12-14). Notice that Paul says that sin entered into the world through "one man", not "one woman." Although Eve was the first to give in to temptation and was held responsible for the part she played in this terrible incident (Genesis 3:16), it was Adam who Paul says was ultimately responsible. This shows that Adam should have prevented his wife from eating the forbidden fruit. He was responsible for being the leader in the family and for saying "no" to Satan, but he did not fulfill that responsibility. Adam, the first earthly father, was designed to lead, yet he failed to lead his family in the right way. Sin was introduced into the world and has plagued mankind ever since because "...death spread to all men, because all have sinned." 

Just as Satan attacked the home by dismissing the man, and by tempting the woman in Adam's time, he continues his attacks today following the same pattern that he followed in the beginning.  When you watch television, notice how many of the commercials and television shows make the husband and father look ridiculous. See how many times the children are presented as wise and knowledgeable and how often the father in the family is made to look childlike and idiotic.  This is not just harmless fun. These are attacks on the father as the leader and head of the home.

The father and mother must not be made fun of. Both the husband and wife fulfill vital, God designed roles in the family. They do not need to be ridiculed as foolish, silly and childlike.  Such ridicule comes from Satan who despises God's plan for the home and wants everyone else to despise it too. If we want the church to be strong, we have to have strong homes, and strong homes begin with a husband and father who is willing to take his rightful place as leader in his home.

There are three things that I want to emphasize in this article:

1) God Wants Men With Servant's Hearts.

2) God Wants Men With Receptive Hearts.

3) God Wants Men With Giving Hearts.

 

GOD WANTS MEN WITH SERVANTS HEARTS

Let's read Mark 9:33-35 again: Then He came to Capernaum. And when He was in the house He asked them, "What was it you disputed among yourselves on the road?" But they kept silent, for on the road they had disputed among themselves who would be the greatest. And He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, "If anyone desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all."

The world is full of men who desire to be first. They want power - they want to exercise authority over others. They want things to go according to their way. It was these type of men who built the Tower of Babel, an extraordinary structure built by the descendants of Noah. God told Noah and his descendants to "...be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth" (Genesis 9:1). God's plan was for mankind to fill the earth, instead, man built a tower and ignored God's command to spread out and fill the earth - and so brought the curse of many languages on all of humanity (Genesis 11:9). It may be that those who built Babel, which later became Babylon, did so with sincerity of heart. It may be that they built this tower because they thought it would bring glory to God.  Yet our Heavenly Father told Noah and his descendants that this was to be a time where man was to spread out and fill the earth. To stay in one place was not God's will for man following the Great Flood - no matter how sincere the tower builders may have been.

Every time man saw the rainbow in the clouds he should have remembered the covenant God made with Noah, and what God commanded Noah and his descendants to do. The rainbow, which stretched far above anything man could ever build, reminds us that God is the Master Builder, the Master Planner, the Ultimate Father, and as servants of the Living God we must follow His lead. God wants men with servant's heart. God wants men who will serve. Greatness, the kind of greatness that God gives us, only comes to those who put away human pride, arrogance and self-will and humbly serve.

The world regards pride and power as a thing to be sought after, a thing to love, a thing to reach for in this life. This is worldly thinking that has no place in the Christian man's life. Pride is a disease that gnaws on the church. Arrogance is a cancer that wrecks families and causes trouble in the church. Our Savior said that if we want to be first or preeminent in God's Kingdom then we must be willing to be servants to both God and man (Matthew 20:25-28).

The less there is of "me", the more I will seek to please God. Consider the Apostle Paul, who said, "For I am the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me" (1 Corinthians 15:9-10). The less there is of "me", the more I will seek to please God. The more there is of "me", the more I crowd God out of my life. Paul considered himself to be the least in rank, in importance, in every way to the Apostles who actually walked and talked with Jesus while He was on this earth.  His attitude of submission to God and man is reflected in the name that he used as an Apostle: Prior to his becoming a Christian he used his Jewish name, Saul, which means (according to Hitchcock's Bible Encyclopedia of Names) "Death." Acts 9:1-2 describes Paul's actions before he became a Christian: "Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem." Saul lived up to the meaning of his name when it came to persecuting the church. He was a proud representative of the Jewish Ruling Council, the Sanhedrin, and he made it his purpose in life to destroy the church. Yet after he became a Christian he began to use his Roman name, Paul, which, according to Hitchcock's, means "small, little".  Saul killed the "me" and became "Paul, the small, the little". He understood what we must all understand. If you want to be great in God's sight, if you want to honor Jesus (the One who paid the ultimate penalty for your sin), then you must kill the "me".

Paul wrote, "And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong" (2 Corinthians 12:7-10). When the "me" dies, God can use us to accomplish His will.  When the "me" dies, Satan runs, because he knows there is nothing but trouble for him in that type of surrendered man.  When the "me" dies souls are saved, congregations grow, unity is promoted, the love of Christ is realized. When the "me" dies God can use that man, that father, that husband, to do great and mighty things in His Kingdom.

Even our Savior, the Son of God, surrendered His own will so that we could be saved. Paul wrote, "Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross" (Philippians 2:3-8). There was no one who had a higher position than Jesus. But He was willing to give all of that up, to become a servant, to become a mere human being, and die for our sins. We need men like that today - men with a servant's heart. This is the example our Savior set for us, the example Paul and the Apostles set for us, the kind of life that God calls us to follow - to be servants.

GOD WANTS MEN WITH RECEPTIVE HEARTS

Look at verses 36-37 of Mark 9: "Then He took a little child and set him in the midst of them. And when He had taken him in His arms, He said to them, "Whoever receives one of these little children in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me, receives not Me but Him who sent Me." (Mark 9:36-37). When Jesus took that child and set it "in the midst of them," the text tells us that our Savior took that child "in His arms." Although the New King James uses the pronoun "him" to describe the child, the Greek is neuter gender. We really don't know if the child was male or female. We know nothing about this child. We don't know what status the child had, if it came from a rich family or poor family, if it was male or female.  We don't know who this child belonged to or what the race of this child was. We don't know if the child was Jewish or Gentile. All we know about the child is this - Jesus took that child in His arms, loving it as if it were His very own. Our Savior then made a statement that should sink deep into our hearts, and that was this: "Whoever receives one of these little children in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me, receives not Me but Him who sent Me."

Jesus said it another way in Mark 10:13-15: Then they brought little children to Him, that He might touch them; but the disciples rebuked those who brought them. But when Jesus saw it, He was greatly displeased and said to them, "Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. "Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it." Luke 9:47-48 says, "And Jesus, perceiving the thought of their heart, took a little child and set him by Him, and said to them, "Whoever receives this little child in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me receives Him who sent Me. For he who is least among you all will be great." We enter into Heaven by becoming like little children, by hearing the good news that Jesus Christ paid for our sins on the Cross, that He died for us,  and that if we humble ourselves as a little child, then we can be saved.

Every Christian is a little child in God's eyes. He sees us as helpless without His help, hopeless without His hope, lost without His salvation.  We were received to salvation by a Father with a receptive heart. Our Father never looked at us, at our lost condition, and determined our worthiness to enter Heaven based on our color, position, or gender. Our Father looked at us, realizing we were lost, seeing us humbly submit (like a little child) to His will.

The Bible says in Titus 3:4-7 "But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life." We don't deserve the salvation that our Father has provided through His Son. We can't earn that salvation. God does not owe it to us because of something we have done on our own. We are helpless like a little child without God's salvation through Jesus Christ.

God wants men with a receptive heart. Fathers who will listen to His word. Fathers who will tell their children about Jesus. Fathers who will encourage all children, just as Jesus Christ embraced that nameless and faceless child, regardless as to their state in this life.

What a great responsibility we have to learn God's will and then to teach it to our children. Men, don't try to put all of that responsibility on your wife's shoulders. You must take your share of the responsibility to teach your children God's word. But first you must be receptive yourself. You must study God's word daily so that you can teach it to your children (Ephesians 6:4).

GOD WANTS MEN WITH GIVING HEARTS

Read verses 38 through 41 of Mark 9: "Now John answered Him, saying, "Teacher, we saw someone who does not follow us casting out demons in Your name, and we forbade him because he does not follow us." But Jesus said, "Do not forbid him, for no one who works a miracle in My name can soon afterward speak evil of Me. "For he who is not against us is on our side. "For whoever gives you a cup of water to drink in My name, because you belong to Christ, assuredly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward."  God, our Father, has given all of us so very much. James wrote, "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning" (James 1:17). Our Heavenly Father has a giving heart.  He has given so much to us, and continues to give to us. He is our example in giving.

We, as men, are called on by the Father to give much in return. To give of our time to our families and to serving in the church. When our wives or our children want to talk, turn off that ball game and talk. Spend time with those whom you love and who love you. Remember that life on this earth will not last forever, and that one day your children will grow up, move away, perhaps move on to another life. Enjoy them now while you can. Tell your wife that you love her, and show her that you love her. Show by your conduct that she is the most valuable person in your life. Show your children that you love them by giving them time and attention. Don't ever let anything in this world come between you and your wife and you and your children. They need you. They need your example. They need your teaching. They need for you to listen. They need to be able to rely on you. They need for you to be there for them. Don't let them down.

The church needs men with giving hearts.  We are not talking just about giving when the collection plate is passed. We are talking about giving yourself to the Lord. Taking the time to serve Christ. Putting the kingdom first (Matthew 6:33). Don't ever let anything come between you and your Lord.

Oh, you are going to make mistakes. You are going to make the wrong decisions and take the wrong actions because none of us live a perfect life. But be the kind of husband and father and Christian that when you realize that you have done wrong you repent of it and do better. Learn from those mistakes and try not to make them again.

CONCLUSION

God Wants Men With Servant's Hearts, with Receptive Hearts and with Giving Hearts.

God wants you and you need God. Men, have you been living the servants life? The receptive life? The giving life?  If not, then now is the time to make things right. Determine right now that you are going to be, to the best of your ability, what God wants you to be.

May we assist you in your obedience to Christ? If so, please email us at the address on the main page.


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