God’s Guiding Word: Discipleship
Mark 9:30–50: When the disciples argue as to who among them is the greatest, Jesus teaches that one must be “the servant of all.” He uses the example of a child to counter the disciples’ quest for power. The hand, foot, and eye represent agents of temptation, and Jesus issues some hard sayings to emphasize the cost of losing faith.
30 Jesus and his disciples left that place and went on through Galilee. Jesus did not want anyone to know where he was, 31 because he was teaching his disciples: “The Son of Man will be handed over to those who will kill him. Three days later, however, he will rise to life.”
32 But they did not understand what this teaching meant, and they were afraid to ask him.
33 They came to Capernaum, and after going indoors Jesus asked his disciples, “What were you arguing about on the road?”
34 But they would not answer him, because on the road they had been arguing among themselves about who was the greatest. 35 Jesus sat down, called the twelve disciples, and said to them, “Whoever wants to be first must place himself last of all and be the servant of all.” 36 Then he took a child and had him stand in front of them. He put his arms around him and said to them, 37 “Whoever welcomes in my name one of these children, welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me, welcomes not only me but also the one who sent me.”
38 John said to him, “Teacher, we saw a man who was driving out demons in your name, and we told him to stop, because he doesn’t belong to our group.”
39 “Do not try to stop him,” Jesus told them, “because no one who performs a miracle in my name will be able soon afterward to say evil things about me. 40 For whoever is not against us is for us. 41 I assure you that anyone who gives you a drink of water because you belong to me will certainly receive a reward.
42 “If anyone should cause one of these little ones to lose faith in me, it would be better for that person to have a large millstone tied around the neck and be thrown into the sea. 43 So if your hand makes you lose your faith, cut it off! It is better for you to enter life without a hand than to keep both hands and go off to hell, to the fire that never goes out. 44 45 And if your foot makes you lose your faith, cut it off! It is better for you to enter life without a foot than to keep both feet and be thrown into hell. 46 47 And if your eye makes you lose your faith, take it out! It is better for you to enter the Kingdom of God with only one eye than to keep both eyes and be thrown into hell. 48 There ‘the worms that eat them never die, and the fire that burns them is never put out.’
49 “Everyone will be purified by fire as a sacrifice is purified by salt.
50 “Salt is good; but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again?
“Have the salt of friendship among yourselves, and live in peace with one another.”
Today’s Key Verse: Mark 9:35b
[Jesus said]: “Whoever wants to be first must place himself last of all and be the servant of all.”
When Jesus tells the disciples for the second time that he is to die and be raised to life three days later, why do they have difficulty comprehending his words? In Jesus’s day, children had no legal rights and were powerless and vulnerable, so there was no honor to be gained by welcoming a child rather than someone rich or famous. Why does Jesus use the example of a child? How does Jesus overturn an understanding of how power and greatness were viewed? Reread verses 35–37. What are your thoughts about the implications of these verses? By what standards is greatness measured in our society today?
I thank you, Lord Jesus, for welcoming me for who I am. You see deep into my heart. Grant me a servant’s heart and teach me to welcome others in your name as you have welcomed me. Amen.
Mark 10:13–34: Jesus blesses little children and encounters a rich man who asks him how to receive eternal life.