17th April 2023
Read - Mark 9:38-41
Message Alan Burke
Remember where we were last week, what just had happened in v33-37. On the road to Capernaum the disciples, they had been arguing and debating amongst themselves about who is the greatest, when they arrive at Capernaum Jesus asks them what they were arguing and debating about. They respond with silence and Jesus doesn’t tear into them instead he tells them about servanthood, the greatest must be least.
Jesus himself for them as well as us exemplified what exactly servanthood looks like, the one who emptied himself of his glory, in his coming, took upon him the form of a servant, in his conception and birth, life, and death.
That day though, with his disciples sitting at his feet he focused on a child, taking a child and put the child in the midst of them and taught them, using the child as an object lesson, making the point to them, a point that we can easily miss, the God given dignity that every human being has no matter how young or old, how even the weakest and most insignificant human being must be served in the same way as the greatest is served. Such a teaching has huge implications for us in how we treat not only the young but the elderly, the vulnerable.
We could be tempted to think that the disciples vying for position of who is the greatest was over but it wasn’t, far from it. John asks, “Teacher, we saw a man driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us.” (V38).
Now let’s pause here a moment, there are the twelve on the floor at the feet of Jesus, there are others in the room, there is the child that Jesus is holding, likely his parents as well as others there with them. Luke’s gospel helps us here because so often we imagine the twelve and big crowds, maybe like at the crucifixion with his mother, his mothers sister, Mary the wife of Cleopas, and Mary Magdalene. But Luke 10:1 After this the Lord (speaking of Jesus) appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go (Lk 10:1).
Did you get that, Jesus appointed not twelve but seventy-two and sent them out two by two ahead of him.
So there were the twelve and there were other followers, there were other disciples, pupils of the Lord Jesus Christ. Bearing this in mind, this statement of John then comes, “Teacher, we saw a man driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us.” The idea of who is the greatest, who is part of their group, on their team, who deserves a seat at the head table is far from over because as John makes clear by what he says that the disciples, the twelve, took issue with those who were not part of the inner circle, who were not part of the chosen twelve doing a work in Jesus name.
We will come back to this on Wednesday but I want to draw an application out, and I know I mention this application a lot but it is because I am able to take such comfort from the disciples, we all can. The disciples are not held up to us as some kind of super followers of Jesus but they are those who just like us. What I mean by that is they are sinful men who get it wrong, who get caught up in things that they shouldn’t, they understand but they don’t, they like us have a lot still to work on. That being said remember their posture, yes what John has said reveals a lot, but so does their posture, they are sitting at the feet of Jesus desiring to lear and even though in the midst of it they are still getting it wrong, their desire is to learn.
Let’s take comfort in the disciples, take comfort when we get it wrong that our saviour isn’t waiting there to throw us out of his club, instead he desires that we may learn, that we may know more of the truth of who he is and what he has done.
Q22 How did Christ, being the Son of God, become man?
Christ, the Son of God, became man, by taking to himself a true body, (Heb. 2:14,16, Heb. 10:5) and a reasonable soul, (Matt. 26:38) being conceived by the power of the Holy Ghost, in the womb of the Virgin Mary, and born of her, (Luke 1:27,31,35,42, Gal. 4:4) yet without sin. (Heb. 4:15, Heb. 7:26)