Jesus predicts his death a second time

This is written by Rebekah Holden. #actor, writer, producer, literature fanatic and period drama addict.

Mark 9:30-50

Jesus predicts his death a second time
30 They left that place and passed through Galilee. Jesus did not want anyone to know where they were, 31 because he was teaching his disciples. He said to them, 'The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men. They will kill him, and after three days he will rise.' 32 But they did not understand what he meant and were afraid to ask him about it.

33 They came to Capernaum. When he was in the house, he asked them, 'What were you arguing about on the road?' 34 But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest.

35 Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, 'Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.'

36 He took a little child whom he placed among them. Taking the child in his arms, he said to them, 37 'Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.'

Whoever is not against us is for us
38 'Teacher,' said John, 'we saw someone driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us.'

39 'Do not stop him,' Jesus said. 'For no one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, 40 for whoever is not against us is for us. 41 Truly I tell you, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to the Messiah will certainly not lose their reward.

Causing to stumble
42 'If anyone causes one of these little ones - those who believe in me - to stumble, it would be better for them if a large millstone were hung round their neck and they were thrown into the sea. 43 If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out. 45 And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than to have two feet and be thrown into hell. 47 And if your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell, 48 where

'"the worms that eat them do not die,
    and the fire is not quenched."

49 Everyone will be salted with fire.

50 'Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have salt among yourselves, and be at peace with each other.'

Reflection

35 'If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last'

In verse 31 the disciples had just been reminded of Jesus' coming death. They didn't understand and were too scared to ask so, instead, they got preoccupied arguing over who was the greatest.

In many ways I can relate to the disciples. Our culture constantly encourages us to be the greatest. People move to London for opportunities or to pursue a career. In my profession as an actor, everyone is each other's competition; it's not about helping others, but about being better than them and getting that big break.

However, Jesus is preaching about a different kind of greatness, one of humility and sacrifice. He asks us to live for him and he asks us to put others before ourselves. It was completely countercultural then and it's completely countercultural now.

I can't pretend that I always manage this. I often secretly hope (or perhaps not so secretly since I'm writing it here) that after a performance people will come up and tell me that I was better than everyone else. However, when I choose to serve other people, even if it's through the smallest gesture, it's noticed. Jesus doesn't want us to be sucked up into society's self-serving attitude and to blend in with everyone else. He does want us to stand out, but not because we are 'the greatest', because we are different; servant hearted and counter cultural.

What areas of your life are you striving for 'greatness' - career, family, amongst friends?

Are there areas of your life where God might be asking you to serve others?
 
Pray
Ask God to show you how you can serve those around you and live a life that is actively different.

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