A visiting preacher was staying on a farm with one of the local church families. He noticed that the youngest boy, Ethan, was incredibly skillful at killing flies. Every afternoon, he would spend time eliminating all the flies in the house. Curious, the preacher asked Ethan why he did it. Ethan was thoughtful for a minute before he replied. "Sometimes I do it because I can't stand the flies. Sometimes I do it 'cause dad pays me a nickel for every hundred flies I kill. Sometimes I do it because it's the right thing to do. And sometimes I do it picturing mom's smile when she tells me she didn't have to deal with a single fly while she made dinner." In Mark 9:36-41 Jesus Christ gives us another motivation for humble service- an eternal reward. Study the passage to see how you can gain eternal reward.
Thank the Lord for His Word and ask Him to help you understand and concentrate as you study it.
Read Focus Verses
Read Mark 9:36-41 and pay attention to what Jesus teaches in these verses.
Reading the verses right before today's passage, Mark 9:30-35, gives us context so we can more fully understand today's passage.
What has Jesus just taught the disciples?
What does Jesus use as an object lesson in verse 36 of today's passage?
Jesus and the Child
What does the end of verse 36 say about Jesus and the child?
What does Jesus say in verse 37?
What does John say about the person the disciples had met previously?
What had the disciples said to that man?
What did Jesus say about that in the first part of verse 39?
How did Jesus explain why the disciples shouldn't have tried to stop someone who was serving Christ in a different way than they were?
A Cup of Water
What little thing does Jesus talk about giving?
Why is this cup of water given in verse 41?
What is the result of giving this cup of water to someone because they belong to Christ according to the last phrase in today's passage?
Keyword - Reward
That last phrase is the climax of the passage and states the theme of these verses.
Mark the word reward in Mark 9:41.
Keywords - Jesus Christ
As we've seen all through the book of Mark, Jesus Christ is the main character and central theme.
Mark the Names of and references to Jesus Christ in Mark 9:36-41.
We're going to see Jesus interacting with children again in the next chapter - Mark 10:13-16.
What do we learn about Jesus in the way He interacts with and loves the little children?
A Child's Perspective
Have you ever noticed how perceptive little children seem to be about people? What do we learn about the Lord from the way the children interacted with Him?
Matthew 18:1-5 records more of what Jesus said to the disciples while He was holding this child and teaching them about true greatness in God's eyes.
A Child's Humility
What does Jesus say a child teaches us that we should imitate?
Two Views of Greatness
How is this humble, childlike greatness different from what the world calls greatness?
To understand what John and Jesus talk about in the next verses, let's go back and read the call that Jesus gave to the twelve disciples. Start in Mark 1:16-20.
Leave Everything and Follow Jesus
How did Jesus call these men to obey?
In Mark 6:7-13 Jesus gave the twelve disciples power to cast out demons.
Did Jesus say anything about the disciples being the only ones who could cast out demons?
What are some of the reasons you can think of that John may not have liked that there was someone else who was casting out demons in Jesus' Name?
A Different Call
Even among the twelve disciples, God had different plans for each of them. Read John 21:18-22 where Jesus is talking to Peter.
Fulfill Your Call
What did Jesus say to Peter when Peter wanted to know what God was calling John to do before Peter would do his part?
Think of the two people who have had the greatest spiritual impact in your life. Who are they?
Would they have had the same impact on you if they had each insisted on having the same impact as the other one had?
What If They're Wrong?
But what if we believe another person is doing the wrong thing or doing things for the wrong reason? Philippians 1:12-18 teaches us how to respond.
Rejoicing When Christ is Exalted
How did Paul choose to respond when some people were maliciously preaching the gospel to try to get him in more trouble?
Are They Saved
In Luke 13:23-30 one of the disciples asked something you might be tempted to wonder - how many other people are truly Christians? Notice Jesus' answer.
It's Not Your Business
In your own words, how did Jesus answer their question?
Refocus - Am I in the Right?
Instead of focusing on whether others are doing the right thing for the right reason, what does the Lord say His people should focus on?
In Matthew 10:40-42 Jesus expands on what He teaches in the final verse of today's passage.
To the Least
Jesus beautifully illustrates this in the parables He tells in Matthew 25:31-46. As you listen to it, consider what it means for a Christian's life.
Who Are You Serving?
When you serve one of God's people because they're His, who are you ultimately serving?
Motivated to Give
Right before today's passage, Jesus Christ has been telling us that the greatest in His kingdom are those who serve most. How does what He teaches in today's passage help motivate Christians in that service?
Reward for Giving
The reward promised to those who serve doesn't only act as a motivation for Christians to serve. Notice what else it motivates Christians to do as we see in Paul's example in Philippians 4:10-19.
Motivated to Receive
What did knowing that God rewards those who serve His people motivate Paul to do?
Willing to Receive
If you or someone you know is struggling to be willing to receive something someone wants to do for you to be a blessing to you, how can this truth impact your decision?
Lasts for Eternity
There's something nice about getting any reward, but Matthew 6:19-21 tells us something remarkable about these rewards.
Treasures in Heaven
What do you learn about the rewards God gives His people in Matthew 6:19-21?
1 Corinthians 3:11-15 helps us understand that while all true Christians will inherit eternal life, some will be given eternal rewards for the things they have done for Christ in their life.
What Will Last
Think about the verses you've studied and read today. What kinds of things can you do if you want to have treasures and rewards in heaven?
I Don't Have Much
How can today's passage encourage the Christian who feels he or she doesn't have much to give? (Hint: remember what Jesus used as an example gift)
What is the motivation of a gift or service for one of God's people that will receive a reward?
If you ever wonder whether it's worth it, consider what Jesus promises in Matthew 6:1-4.
God Won't Forget
Hebrews 6:10 reinforces this promise.
Notice, Remember, Reward
What do these verses promise to the Christian who faithfully serves another Christian for Jesus' sake without looking for the praise of other people?
Read Mark 9:36-41 once more in light of what you've learned.
Challenging Your Thinking
How do these verses challenge the way you think about what is most important in life?
Like a Child
Are you willing to believe and obey God in simple, humble faith like a little child's? What if other people mock or scorn you and call you simple?
Embrace Your Calling
Whether you struggle with criticizing what others are doing or struggle with feeling that it would be better if you could only do what someone else is doing, how does today's passage correct your thinking? How will you embrace the calling God has given you today (as much of it as you know right now)?
What Will Yours Be?
If you are a believer in Jesus Christ who has repented of your sin and trusted in Him for salvation, how will the way you're spending your time and energy fare in the trial by fire at the judgment seat of Christ? Do you need to change the way you're spending your life?
What is one specific thing you will begin doing today to lay up treasures in heaven?
We hope this study plan has helped you understand your calling to humble service as a Christian and how you can live to have rewards in heaven.
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