Today’s passage is Mark 9:30-37
Last Sunday we heard a beautiful sermon that reminded us of our unbelieving hearts and also reminded us of the fact that till the last moment of our lives we will all battle with unbelief.
But we saw God’s provision for our unbelief. In times of unbelief he expects us to depend on him because
1. We need God’s PATIENCE when we don’t believe
2. We also need God’s PROVISION when we struggle to believe
3. We also need God’s POWER to sustain our belief
In today’s passage we see another kind of struggle we all go through and that’s the issue of Pride, a feeling of deep pleasure or satisfaction on one’s own achievements and even possessions which is equally sinful in the eyes of God.
We all have this problem and in some ways we all struggle in this area.
Sadly, it’s become part of our culture and tradition where we’re taught by our parents and teachers to take pride in our achievements and in our material possessions.
We are told that if we are born in a certain caste, religion or country then we are superior to others. If we posses more knowledge and achieve higher ranks in school than we are the smartest and brighter than others.
And on top of it all our Consumerist society wants us to take pride in everything we own and have so that they can sell us more products and services to fire into flame our desire to take pride in our possessions.
In our passage today, Jesus is secretly passing through Galilee along with his disciples and for the second time in a row he is predicting his death and resurrection. The first time he did was in Mark 8:31.
What surprises me is the ignorance and the lack of attentiveness in the disciples, that even after mentioning it for the second time they were unable to understand what Jesus is trying to tell them. And instead of going back to Jesus and clarifying their doubt they keep quiet because they were afraid.
Here’s an eternal perspective on life placed right in front of them, the revelation of the Son of God who came down leaving his glory to offer himself as a sacrifice for the sins of the world so that they can get to be part of heaven by trusting in him and his finished work on the cross.
But instead they chose to focus on the earthly perspective and try to figure out who among them was the greatest so they can take pride in it and feel good about it.
God may have been doing great things through the disciples – healing the sick, performing miracles etc. But instead of focusing on Jesus and his words they became busy arguing among themselves about who among them is the greatest.
It seems like the world and its ideals were corrupting their minds and making it futile to understand what Jesus is trying to tell them.
My question is even if they had figured out who among them is the greatest what’s the big deal?
Where are the so called great men who claimed to be great men? Where is Caesar, Roman politician and military general. Where is Pontius Pilate, the governor of Judea who ordered to put Jesus to death? Where is Herod? also known as Herod the Great. And where are the leaders of the Pharisees and the Sadducees who claimed to be people who know everything.
In the last few days, as I was looking at the calamity that struck Kerala I was wondering what happens to people who took pride in their earthly possessions, acres of land, 2-storey – 3-storey properties.
You see, At the end of day every earthly position and possession comes to nothing in comparison to the greatness and Sovereignty of the creator God, the ultimate owner and ruler of this world and everything in it.
1 John 2:17
“And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.”
Let me give you another perspective.
Right now you may not be struggling with pride about your position because you’re not in any such position that is better than others. Or even pride in you possession because you really don’t have enough to take pride in it.
But what is that other thing which is of this world that is taking away your focus from Jesus and his words.
- It could be the pressure and worry of getting married
- It could be the pressure at work to perform better
- It could be the illness in the family that is taking a long time to heal
- It could be the struggle to perform and be better than others
- It could be the pressure of buying a house of your own
- It could be the pressure of pushing yourself harder at your workplace so that you can secure a superior position
- It could be the pressure of going abroad and settling there which you might think of as an ultimate goal in life
Jesus doesn’t offer a solution just to address that single issue of pride but he is challenging their world view which is what he wants to do in our hearts today.
When the disciples are arguing among themselves about who is the greatest, Jesus picks up the least among all of them, a small child and puts him in their midst, takes the child in his arms and says “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me.”
In Luke 9:48 we see an extended version of that conversation where Jesus also goes on to tell them “For he who is least among you all is the one who is great.”
In Judaism, children and women were largely auxiliary members of society whose connection to the social mainstream depended on men (either as fathers or husbands). Children, in particular, were thought of as “not having arrived.” They were good illustrations of “the very last” (v. 35).”
This is not how the society defines greatness. According to the world greatness is achieved by doing great things, achieving great knowledge, possessing great things.
But Jesus challenges our world view and the world view of the disciples, just as he challenges the world view of the rich young ruler who comes to Jesus and asks What should he do to inherit eternal life.
Jesus tells him to go sell all that he has and give it to the poor which he wasn’t really prepared to do and goes away.
In light of what we understand from this passage let’s evaluate our own lives.
We are in the church this morning. God is speaking to us through his word, he is giving us an eternal perspective and convicting our hearts of our sin and pointing us towards himself.
- What is it that is stopping us from responding to Jesus the way we are supposed to.
- What is it that is diverting our attention away from him.
- Why is it that we are unable to grasp and understand the heavenly truths about the true kingdom. The Kingdom of God.
- Why is it such a big challenge to catch hold the eternal perspective placed right in front of us.
- Why is it that we are unable to see Jesus as better than everything else in this world.
If we are honest the answer to these questions will reveal how badly we are stuck with the petty things of this world. Worries, anxieties and fears that has become part of our lives because our upbringing, our circumstances and the influence of society and the people in it.
An honest answer will also reveal our prideful heart that doesn’t want to submit to Gods authority and his eternal reign.
Every motive or desire or pursuit we have in our lives which is a pattern of the world Jesus will challenge them and ask you to do exactly the opposite of what the world says.
Our response will determine who we are siding and what we treasure.
In Mark 8:36 Jesus says “What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?”
John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
John 8:12 – “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
Many of the times we don’t see and realize the riches of who God is and what he has in mind for us in eternity. It’s time we change out thinking and fix our eyes on the heavenly things.
And just like David in Psalm 31:19 we sing
How abundant are the good things
that you have stored up for those who fear you,
that you bestow in the sight of all,
on those who take refuge in you.