Sunday 25, Year B. Mark 9:30-37
As I have grown older, my fondness for the gospel of Mark has also grown, and one of the things I really like about this gospel is the humanity of Jesus, but especially the humanity of the disciples.
Yeah, they are in so many ways just like me: They’re a bit dense. They’re a bit slow, they’re very hard to understand. You know there’s this fear or they don’t understand. And what’s going on? And they’re too afraid to ask, too afraid to step forward. I recognize a whole lot of myself in all of those different experiences, and I think you know, we can give the disciples a bit of room to move in all of this because Jesus is a bit confusing at times.
You know, earlier in the gospel he was there having a go at the disciples because they’re not looking below the surface level of what he’s saying now he’s having a go at them because they seem to be trying to work out the deeper meaning. We know what he’s saying literally, but there must be something else.
There must be something under the surface that he’s kind of pointing us to and for the life of us we just can’t work that out. For a start Jesus is calling himself this strange figure of the Son of Man. So that’s enough already to throw them off the clue. They’re not quite sure who is he talking about. It’s going to become a very common way that Jesus refers to himself in the gospel of Mark and about another dozen times. But at this point it’s only here in 9:31 and in 8:31, that we heard last week.
That in reference specifically to these predictions of the passion, yet the first one last week, and there will be one more in Chapter 10:33, when he reminds them of what the son of man is, is all about. Not this figure of glory, not this figure that Peter. Had to declared Jesus to be the Messiah.
I mean there was that common understanding of what the Messiah was going to be. He was going to be this mighty military figure like King David who would overthrow the Romans. He would be the little one who would be able to rise to prominence and the Jewish people would finally be free of the Roman overlords. But Jesus is clearly saying no, that’s not what this is. About this.
About the son of man, the chosen one, the one that is there in the prophet Daniel.
Chapter seven that enigmatic figure, kind of representing all the best of Israel, of the best of the longings and desires, and the hopes. But here he’s going to suffer here. He’s going to indeed be put to death, but they will rise on the third day now within Judaism.
At the time there were lots of different ideas about the resurrection there was. Certainly common for the Pharisees and for many other Jewish people.
The sense that yes, at the end of the present age that God would through a sovereign act, bring all of those who had died to new life.
He would restore them, he would resurrect them from the dead, but no one had ever considered the possibility that one. Human being, even if he happened to be God, would be raised from the Dead 2 new life raised back to life before all the rest of humanity would be restored.
So there’s good reason why the disciples are confused. But they’re also very much like us in the way as they go back to Capernaum, and they turn up at this house.
This famous house in in Mark perhaps is simply just where they’ve always headed this place, where they’ve always had their home base. When they hear in Capernaum. But when they’re there in this House community.
In this church in this small gathering, then Jesus asked them this question.
What have you been talking about?
What are you arguing about on the road?
And again, the humanity of these very humble but very frail?
Very ordinary blokes, just trying to work out in this pecking order of ours.
Who’s the greatest?
Who’s the first?
Who’s going to come to the fore?
You know when Jesus marches us into Jerusalem and we were able to overthrow the Romans, who’s gonna be there?
Who’s going to have the authority and the might?
And Jesus just again gobsmacked by them if anyone wants to be first, you must make yourself the last and the servant of all. It’s such an upside down world that Jesus is inviting us.
Into this experience of not greatness through our own might, and through our own skills and through what we can prove what we can demonstrate, this might of service this might of giving ourselves completely, just as Jesus gave himself so completely.
It’s not an easy task that Jesus is inviting us in. Especially in these days, I think this lesson of service once again comes to us that we need to put others first. We need to choose which way to proceed in order to make sure that others are protected that others are taking care of. Make sure that others are cared for.
You know whenever we are trying to make a decision, and we realised that urge within us to put ourselves first to look after ourselves, to desire something that’ll satisfy us that will build us up in the Kingdom of God.
That’s always the wrong motivation. If it’s about service of all; if it’s about laying down our lives, then at least we’re getting closer to what?
Jesus is all about so we’re invited today, once again to really examine our motives to examine our desires to examine our heart to see how can we give ourselves more fully more completely to our God in this upside down world that he’s inviting us into that true reality of love.
The questions a lot of that indeed calls us. To serve and to love one another not in bigness, but in the littleness of allies. And it’s the disciples discover sometimes it’s OK not to understand it all on the 1st go, but to strive to make sense of thing, to strive to understand.
How is Jesus inviting us more deeply into his life today?