Friday, October 12, 2018

Devotional: The Way to Greatness in the Kingdom, Mark 9:33-50

Mark 9.33-50 outline

The rest of chapter 9 begins a teaching section which goes through the end of chapter 10. Jesus rebukes the disciples’ use of worldly standards to define greatness and their desire for privilege which leads to the exclusion of others. This is the kind of attitude that leads to judgment and not blessing. Kingdom living is not about status, tribalism, or personal ambition, but it is about service, trust in God, connecting with those who are different from us, reaching out to the needy, and relinquishing personal pride and agendas. Jesus ends the chapter by exhorting the disciples that living in peace with one another, even with those who are not part of "our group," is one of the key indicators of real kingdom living. A relationship with Jesus connects us with God and should also connect us with the rest of God’s family throughout the world.

Jesus begins with a rebuke of the disciples (33-37) for their discussion about who was the “greatest.” I can imagine the disciples with their heads down, ashamed to look at each other as Jesus pointed out their selfish attitude. Instead of striving for privilege, honor, and status, to follow Jesus means to regard oneself with the status of a little child or a menial servant. There is nothing that carries more honor than serving the Lord of the universe and he regards serving the one with no status (a child) as serving him.

The next subject comes up as John (38-41), probably expecting an “attaboy” from Jesus, announces that he rebuked an exorcist for using Jesus’ name when he was not part of their group. Instead, he receives a sharp rebuke. We should not be so quick to condemn those who serve Jesus, but do it in a way different than we do. Other groups may worship in a different way, emphasize different things, and do things we don’t understand, but if they worship the same Lord Jesus Christ they are fellow-servants in Jesus’ house and we should be thankful for them. There are enough people who oppose us. We should be happy to have these allies.

This tendency to exclude others not like us is a very serious sin (42-50). Jesus says it that it would be better to drown in the sea than to exclude one of his children and it places one in danger of the fire of judgment. It would be better to lose body parts than to lose brothers and sisters in the body of Christ. The big issue is who “belongs to Christ.” (41). Our devotion to Christ is shown by reaching out to, including and serving those who belong to Jesus, despite their status or what they can give to us. That is how you become great in the kingdom.

No comments: