Jesus Again Speaks
(Matthew 17.22,23; Luke 9.43b-45)
30Jesus left with his disciples and started through Galilee. He did not want anyone to know about it, 31because he was teaching the disciples that the Son of Man would be handed over to people who would kill him. But three days later he would rise to life. 32The disciples did not understand what Jesus meant, and they were afraid to ask.
Who Is the Greatest?
(Matthew 18.1-5; Luke 9.46-48)
33Jesus and his disciples went to his home in Capernaum. After they were inside the house, Jesus asked them, “What were you arguing about along the way?” 34 They had been arguing about which one of them was the greatest, and so they did not answer.
35 After Jesus sat down and told the twelve disciples to gather around him, he said, “If you want the place of honor, you must become a slave and serve others!”
36Then Jesus asked a child to stand near him. He put his arm around the child and said, 37 “When you welcome even a child because of me, you welcome me. And when you welcome me, you welcome the one who sent me.”
For or against Jesus
38John said, “Teacher, we saw a man using your name to force demons out of people. But he wasn't one of us, and we told him to stop.”
39Jesus said to his disciples:
Don't stop him! No one who works miracles in my name will soon turn and say something bad about me. 40 Anyone who isn't against us is for us. 41 And anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name, just because you belong to me, will surely be rewarded.
It’s easy to compare ourselves to others. It’s especially easy in a world where we can post our latest photos and status updates for everyone to see. We’re constantly confronted with other people’s promotions, amazing getaways, and adorable toddlers. Sometimes, we even feel a need to compete.
This is exactly what we find the disciples doing in Mark 9: competing. They’re arguing about which of them is the greatest. Each of them wanted status in the coming kingdom, to be just a little more special than the others. There’s a dramatic irony at work here. As the disciples are preoccupied with being the King’s right hand, we – Mark’s audience – know that the King is about to suffer and die in Jerusalem.
“If you want the place of honor,” says Jesus, “you must become a slave and serve others.” True status in God’s kingdom comes with sacrifice. Caring more about others than we care about ourselves is how we come into deep relationship with Jesus and the Father. But in a world where we like to be the first and the best, putting ourselves last is not easy.
No one knows this better than Jesus. He is about to die on a Roman cross, all so that we could live. Now, Jesus invites us to sacrifice our lives so that others can live as well. It may be difficult. But we can do this knowing that our status in the kingdom is secure. And one day, we will be with Jesus, forever basking in His glory.
Incomparable God, your Son embraced humility for the sake of my salvation. Rather than compare myself to others, help me to serve them with humble love so I can point people to You. In the name of the Servant-King, Amen.