Read Mark 9:30-41
As was indicated in the meditation yesterday, Jesus has begun moving toward Jerusalem, and on the way He twice more makes prediction of His death. Today’s reading is the second of those Passion Predictions, and still the disciples “did not understand the saying, and they were afraid to ask him.” Halford Luccock, an early 20th century homiletics professor at Yale, said, “One can readily imagine that the disciples found it extraordinarily hard to accept a conception of messiahship which did such violence to all their ideas of what the Messiah would do and be.” This time no one rebuked Jesus, as Peter did in chapter 8, rather they appear to have discussed it among themselves. Ultimately, this discussion gave way to a contest between them of who is the greatest.
There are two dynamics happening here which are profoundly human. First, their hopes for Messiah had been shaped by the teaching of the Jewish community for centuries. The Christ would be a deliverer; and their concept did not include Him being killed as a common criminal by the ones from whom they were seeking deliverance. And secondly, the curse of jealousy rears its ugly head. Peter, James, and John have been accorded what the others considered special privilege. Peter probably went to some effort to explain to Mark how that was not the case, and included this story in his teaching to help the young man understand the importance of humility in ministry. The Lord didn’t simply use words to make His point, but action, as is His wont. And it was not simply a lesson about attitude, it was an invitation to relationship. “And he took a child, and put him in the midst of them; and taking him in his arms, he said to them, ‘Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me; and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me.’” To be with Jesus is to humbly receive Him and yield our will to His. Just as a child submits to a parent, so we are called to submit to the Father—the One Who sent Jesus.