Thursday 19 December 2013

Mark 9:30-50 - Selflessness

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In Mark 9:30-50 we get to share in some more of the teaching Jesus gave to his closest followers, the Twelve. Last time we saw Jesus in relationship to five powers and to his disciples; this time we see the greatest secret of his kingdom, something that confuses and ultimately defeats all five. For those who are in the kingdom and know the secret, everything is transformed.

The secret is that everything is back to front. The weak are strong, the hungry are filled, the lost are found and death brings life. If the disciples follow the pattern of the five powers they will fail, so Jesus teaches them about the 'back to frontness' of kingdom living. Notice in verse 30 that he wants time alone with them. He needs to get them away from distractions that will prevent them paying close attention.

He begins by telling them that he will be killed and will rise. Although they don't understand, they will remember this later. The death of Jesus at the hands of the religious and civil authorities is the heart of the kingdom. It is 'back to frontness' at its most extreme. We need to see this for ourselves. It is the greatest possible example for us that the One with ultimate power, the one who created the entire universe, would choose to die. Why? Because through the death of the One will come life for the many.

Jesus knew their hearts, and he knows mine, and he knows yours. They were arguing about which of them was the greatest. If my ambition is to be first I had better choose to be last and least. It's the way of the kingdom and the way of the King [Tweet it!]. He said, 'I am the way'. He illustrated the principle of being least by referring to a small child.

Nor should we be concerned about others doing what we are doing. It's not a competition. If we are doing kingdom work and they are doing what we are doing then they are doing kingdom work too. Let them be.

Nor should we ever cause others to stumble. And we are to get rid of whatever brings about our own stumbling.

Nor should we disagree with one another. The presence of peace between us is a flavour that will enhance everything we do. Jesus doesn't mean that we should never hold different opinions from one another. People differ in character, likes and dislikes, life experiences, woes and triumphs and much more. But we are not to let our differences become strife. Variety cemented by peace is a flavour that we need to have, a fragrance that will leak out into the world. In astonishment, people said of the early church, 'Look how they love one another!'

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