Majestic yet approachable God, I come in awe of You, realizing Your power and that You are also a kind and gentle Shepherd.
Read MARK 9:30-41
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
“What our Lord left behind him was not a book … but a visible community … He committed the entire work of salvation to that community” (Leslie Newbigin).
Great stories are driven by mystery. A question asked or a puzzle posed at the outset of a novel can keep the reader turning the pages. How will it turn out? Who is guilty? We read on because we need to know. For Mark, one of the central questions driving the narrative is “Will they make it?” the “they” in question being the disciples. Jesus has just three years to prepare them, and at the end of that short time he will hand over to them, and to them only, the onward progress of his ministry. Peter has emerged early as leader but he, too, gives cause for questions. Will he be a safe pair of hands by the time Jesus must pass the Church on to him? Mark wants us to know that Jesus was intentional and focused in finding time to spend with his disciples (30,31), but he also wants us to see that all was not easy. Even when Jesus took time to explain, the disciples were confused and afraid (32). Jesus’ model of self-emptying leadership is new and revolutionary, turning upside down the preconceptions and assumptions of Jewish and Roman cultures (35). The journey from Galilee to Golgotha is a journey of learning and discovery for the disciples.
The fact is, when it really mattered, they understood. On the day of Pentecost, Peter’s eloquence and passion in explaining to others what the new revolution was about was a testament to the effectiveness of Jesus’ teaching methods. Lessons that seemed strange at the time: a child as a model of leadership (36,37), and a simple cup of water as an illustration of mission (41), would later be remembered and passed on to thousands. Jesus was the ultimate investor in people.
According to Jesus, in life it is not upward but downward mobility that counts; not how many people serve you but how many you serve. How do you feel about that? Do you practice it?
Gracious Father, I know I can be so culturally driven, but You have called me to be countercultural. Forgive and redirect me when I get off the right path.
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