During the process of taking a class on the gospels this semester, I have been thinking afresh about what it means to be a Christian.
To be a Christian is to be a ‘little Christ,’ as it is said, a Christ imitator or follower. Defined this way, being a Christian is not primarily about remaining loyal to a set of ideas, adhering to a set of principles, or believing certain doctrines. It certainly involves those things (don’t hear me wrongly). But what it is primarily is a claim to follow a person, the real historical person of Jesus of Nazareth, not a person in the abstract (e.g., Jesus merely a means to an end that is my salvation), but an actual human being.
If this is central to what it means to be a Christian, this pushes against many contemporary forms of Christianity that have lost sight of the centrality of this person in favor of making other good but not central things central.
To illustrate, I will use evangelicalism’s infatuation with Paul.
The following is a paper submitted to Dr. Joshua W. Jipp in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the course NT 6211, Synoptic Gospels and Johannine Literature, at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, October, 2014.
Conflict between Jesus and the disciples is a prevalent theme in Mark’s gospel. But why does Mark repeatedly highlight this conflict? What is its significance? What purpose does it serve in Mark’s message and presentation of Jesus? This paper will seek to answer these questions by tracing the theme of conflict through three narrative sections, noting its development and rhetorical significance at each stage.
Galilean Ministry (1:14-8:21)
A lack of understanding among the disciples characterizes the conflict between Jesus and the disciples during Jesus’ Galilean ministry. At their first appearance, the disciples are committed and eager to follow Jesus. Upon being called by Jesus, they abruptly leave their current situation and follow him (1:17-20; 2:14). Accompanying Jesus on his ministry tour, they are exposed to Jesus as a miracle worker and teacher. They even serve as an extension of his ministry (6:12-13; cf. 3:15).
What does it take to follow Christ? What does Christ have to say about the Gospel? The answers to these questions are hard pills to swallow, but a reality we need to be confronted with and must not ignore. This is the the second of four messages I spoke at Winterfest 2011 at Lake Lundgren Bible Camp, Pembine, WI. In this message we took a look at Luke 24:15-35, as well as several cross references, and examined what it means to follow Christ.
[NOTE: I apologize for some of the audio malfunctions. Some of the audio was lost in the file and so there are moments when the audio only plays out of either the left or right speaker and at times neither. After a certain point, the audio is fine.]