Mark 9:30-37 NASB
³⁰From there they went out and began to go through Galilee, and He did not want anyone to know about it.
³¹For He was teaching His disciples and telling them, “The Son of Man is to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill Him; and when He has been killed, He will rise three days later.”
³²But they did not understand this statement, and they were afraid to ask Him.
³³They came to Capernaum; and when He was in the house, He began to question them, “What were you discussing on the way?”
³⁴But they kept silent, for on the way they had discussed with one another which of them was the greatest.
³⁵Sitting down, He called the twelve and said to them, “If anyone wants to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.”
³⁶Taking a child, He set him before them, and taking him in His arms, He said to them,
³⁷”Whoever receives one child like this in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me does not receive Me, but Him who sent Me.”
Some further information
In the Kingdom of God there is no room for ambition, but only for modest service.
In Mark 9:30-31 Jesus foretels His own approaching sufferings.
He passed through Galilee with more expedition than usual, and would not that any man should know of it (Mark 9:30); because he had done many mighty and good works among them in vain, they shall not be invited to see them and have the benefit of them, as they have been.
The time of his sufferings drew nigh, and therefore he was willing to be private awhile, and to converse only with his disciples, to prepare them for the approaching trial (Mark 9:31).
He said to them, The Son of man is delivered by the determined council and foreknowledge of God, into the hands of men (Mark 9:31), and they shall kill him.
Had He been delivered into the hands of devils, and they had worried Him, it had not been so strange; but that men, who only had reason to love Him, and who should have loved Him, that they should act like this to the Son of man, who came to redeem and save them, is unaccountable.
But still it is observable that when the Christ spoke of his death, he always spoke of his resurrection as well, which took away the reproach of it from Himself, and should have taken away the grief of it from his disciples. But they didn’t understand what He was saying (Mark 9:32).
The words were plain enough, but they could not comprehend it, and therefore they supposed it had some mystical meaning which they did not understand.
And they were afraid to ask him; not because he was difficult of access, or stern to those who consulted him, but either because they were loth to know the truth, or because they expected to be chidden for their backwardness to receive it.
Many remain ignorant because they are ashamed to enquire.
In Mark 9:33-37 Jesus rebukes his disciples for magnifying themselves.
When he came to Capernaum, he privately asked his disciples what it was they disputed among themselves by the way (Mark 9:33).
He knew very well what the dispute was, but he would know it from them, and would have them to confess their fault and folly in it.
▪︎ Note that we must all expect to be called to an account by our Lord Jesus, concerning what passes while we are on our way with Him in our present life.
▪︎ Note that we must in a particular manner be called to an account about our discourses among ourselves; for also by our words we will be justified or condemned.
▪︎ Note that as our other discourses among ourselves by the way, so especially our disputes, will be all called over again, and we shall be called to an account about them.
▪︎ Note that of all disputes, Christ will be sure to reckon with his disciples for their disputes about precedency and superiority: that was the subject of the debate here, who should be the greater (Mark 9:34).
Nothing could be more contrary to the two great laws of Christ’s kingdom, lessons of his school, and instructions of his example, which are humility and love, than desiring preferment in the world, and disputing about it.
This ill temper he took all occasions to check, both because it arose from a mistaken notion of his kingdom, as if it were of this world, and because it tended so directly to be debasing of the honour, and the corrupting of the purity, of his gospel, and, He foresaw, would be so much the bane of the church.
See how they were willing to cover this fault (Mark 9:34); they held their peace.
As they would not ask (Mark 9:32), because they were ashamed to own their ignorance, so here they would not answer because they were ashamed to own their pride.
See how He was willing to amend this fault in them, and to bring them to a better temper; and therefore sat down, that He might have a solemn and full discourse with them about this matter.
▪︎ He called the twelve to Him, and told them, that ambition and affectation of dignity and dominion, instead of gaining them preferment in His kingdom, would but postpone their preferment; If any man desire and aim to be first, he shall be last; he that exalteth himself, shall be abased, and men’s pride shall bring them low.
▪︎ He called the twelve to Him, and told them, that there is no preferment to be had under him, but an opportunity for, and an obligation to, so much the more labour and condescension; If any man desire to be first, when he is so, he must be much the more busy and serviceable to every body. He that desires the office of a bishop, desires a good work, for he must, as St. Paul did, labour the more abundantly, and make himself the servant of all.
▪︎ He called the twelve to Him, and told them, that those who are most humble and self denying, do most resemble the Christ, and shall be most tenderly owned by Him.
This He taught them by a sign; He took a child in his arms, that had nothing of pride and ambition in it. “Look,’’ he said; “whosoever shall receive one like this child, receives me.
Those of a humble, meek, mild disposition are such as I will own and countenance, and encourage every body else to do so too, and will take what is done to them as done to myself; and so will my Father too, for he who thus receives me, receives him that sent me, and it shall be placed to his account, and repaid with interest.’’
Jesus rebukes them for vilifying all but themselves; while they are striving which of them should be greatest, they will not allow those who are not in communion with them to be any thing.
Now let us reflect on this
Jesus is quietly on his way to Jerusalem (Mark 9:30). As calm as possible, because it is not really a triumphal procession. He is on his way to suffering and the cross.
He announces this again here (Compare Mark 8:31).
Again He explains it to His disciples, but they still don’t understand anything about it (Mark 9:31,32). Yet they do not dare to ask. The gravity of the situation is clear – this is no pleasure trip for Jesus. It has to be done like this.
Along the way, the students are busy speculating. About anything and everything.
They understand that at the end of the journey there will be a denouement.
Do they deep in their hearts think of an entry into Jerusalem with Jesus as glorious king? They should be there!
But which of them will get the place of honor?
Who is the most important?
When Jesus asks about their reasoning, they are ashamed of their ambition (A stubborn sin, cf. Luke 22:24-30). They do not answer (Mark 9:33,34).
What a painful situation for Jesus!
He is on the way to the greatest humiliation (Philippians 2:5-11) and his disciples are seeking their own honor and glory. It shouldn’t be like that.
The twelve closest students should know that.
So Jesus puts a child before them.
A child who cannot make any decisions yet, and who is totally dependent and underage.
You should receive such a child as if it were Jesus Himself, be ready for it, serve it, very modestly (Mark 9:35-37). There is no credit for that. But that is not necessary either.
In the Kingdom of God, the humble servant comes first.
It is not about one’s own honor, but about the honor of God. There is no room for ambition.
Jesus Himself went to the limit in serving. Humiliated and mocked, cast out.
▪︎ As humble and helpless as He has become, so must His disciples want to become.
▪︎ As humble and helpless as a little child, who does what his father says.
That’s how Jesus was – He can be recognized in a small child.
And in Him the love of God can be recognized.
What does human honor represent?
Question for self-reflection
▪︎ Where and how do you serve your neighbor and God’s Kingdom? (Compare Matthew 23: 1-36)
▪︎ Ask the Lord to teach you true modesty.
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