Mark 9:30-37

They went on from there and passed through Galilee. He did not want anyone to know it; for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, “The Son of Man is to be betrayed into human hands, and they will kill him, and three days after being killed, he will rise again.” But they did not understand what he was saying and were afraid to ask him.

Then they came to Capernaum; and when he was in the house he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the way?” But they were silent, for on the way they had argued with one another who was the greatest.

He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, “Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.” Then he took a little child and put it among them; and taking it in his arms, he said to them, “Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.” Mark 9:30-37

On the way, they were arguing with one another who was the greatest.” Often, if we read the Bible at all, we race through it or we nibble on it. We hear pretty large chunks in church on Sunday that mostly pass without reflection or commentary. Or, in our personal spiritual practice, we read a verse here or a verse there, seeking pithy little nuggets of wisdom that might help us get through life. Or allow us to skip the challenging stuff.

But if we slow down, we might see what we might have otherwise have missed.

It is easy to pick on the disciples for arguing who among them is the greatest. It seems so trivial, so childish, so self-centered. And it is. But slow down and consider the context, consider how Mark frames their argument.

They just left a scene where Jesus healed a young boy after the disciples have proven their own incompetence and inability to do anything for him. They had just heard Jesus describe where his life would lead him – to betrayal, arrest, and death. Not exactly a rosy picture for anyone. And then, after noticing their arguing, Jesus picks up another child and puts her before them as an object lesson of where their concern ought to be. NOT on BEING the greatest BUT on DOING GREAT THINGS for the sake of the most vulnerable, least powerful, people of all.

The world would be a much better place if we took those words to heart. No longer would 25% of American children live in poverty. No longer would 33% of children grow up without a father. No longer would any parent fear a child getting sick when they don’t have the money to pay for their care. No longer would some children be treated differently than others because of the color of their skin or the zip code in which they live.

The world would be a much different place if the first question we ask would always be, “How will this affect children?”

Instead, what do we do? We crow about being the greatest even as we flee from paying the price, and making the sacrifices, that Jesus challenges us to.

Let us pray: Dear Lord, forgive our self-centered and self-interested desires to protect ourselves and our own interests without consideration for the most vulnerable, and least powerful, among us. Keep us ever mindful of children – all children – and what would be best for them. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

2 Responses to “Mark 9:30-37”

  1. Lyn Says:

    Thank you foe doing these devotions. When I see them in my email I get a smile on my face and in my heart.
    The line about not being the best but doing the best is a great mantra that I wish more people would take to heart. Imagine what could be accomplished if everyone lived this way.

  2. Keith Says:

    Amen.

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