Dispatch Two Hundred Seventy

Posted: January 5, 2018 in Fifty-Second Bundle
Tags: , ,

MARK 9:30-37

30 They went on from there and passed through Galilee. He did not want anyone to know it; 31 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.” 32 But they did not understand what he was saying and were afraid to ask him.

33 Then they came to Capernaum; and when he was in the house he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the way?” 34 But they were silent, for on the way they had argued with one another who was the greatest. 35 He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, “Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.” 36 Then he took a little child and put it among them; and taking it in his arms, he said to them, 37 “Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.”

In his teaching Jesus employed three distinct strategies depending on what he perceived in his audience at any given time. There were a few whose abilities allowed them to grasp the highest truth of his gospel – that we have all been set free by the love of God to live the forgiven and forgiving life, to move in trust and with boldness into the farther reaches of our divine potential as children of God.

The largest majority were looking for tangible rewards, some gain that could be credited to their accounts at the end of the day or in the life to come. Jesus called upon them to set their hearts not on the treasures of earthly and passing value, but instead on the treasures of heaven and lasting worth.

Somewhere in the middle were those – and we place the disciples in this company for now – who were most interested in their own relative position of value and influence in the eyes of others. They wanted to be “the greatest,” that is, superior to the rest in importance, power, and glory.

So when Jesus told his disciples after they had been fussing and prancing about, that whoever wants to be first must be last and servant of all, it wasn’t the diamond truth of his gospel that he was giving them, but rather something that could catch hold of their interest and hopefully lead them to higher levels of understanding later on.

It wasn’t the diamond truth because it was still predicated on a self-centered motivation for recognition, for self-esteem that comes by the approving judgment and admiration of others. If you are taking last place because you believe that, when all accounts are justified, you will receive your promotion to the front of the line and the top of the heap, then ego is still in the way.


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