September 19, 2021: Pentecost 18

Let us pray: Dear Savior, the human ego is a dangerous thing.  It is the chief cause of us failing to love our neighbor as much as we love ourselves.  It splits people apart.  It causes discord.  Lord, admitting we’re not always right and humbling ourselves always brings peace and blessing to all involved.  Remind us of that today, as You reminded Your disciples.  Amen


Text:  Mark 9: 30-37

Dearly Beloved By Christ:

          They were popular comic figures back in the 1970’s.  The Smother’s brothers would banter on stage and it always devolved in one of them saying: “Mom loves you more.”  It was childish, silly, but it struck a chord with everyone.  It addressed the basic insecurity that everyone has, the insecurity over not being #1. We have the same thing occurring in our lesson.  The very fact that the disciples were arguing about “who is the greatest” shows their own insecurities.   They all had them from Peter, James, John, and down to Nathanael.  When Jesus quizzes them about their argument on the road, they all remained silent.  What does this tell us?  That they knew it was silly and that they were ashamed.  Yes, they knew it was wrong, but they did it anyway.  How often are you embarrassed by such things after the heat of the  moment, fueled by pride, has passed?


          When I was a kid we would often pick sides for a baseball game.  The captains would never pick their team with the worst players to the best. It was always the best to worst.  And pity the poor soul that got picked last!  That’s what was occurring here.  So, Jesus addresses such behavior: “If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all.”

          The disciples were ashamed because they had seen His miracles, heard His sermons, knew that this was the Son of God, and seen Christ take on the very nature of a last-place slave to all.  They knew He was describing Himself in these words.  None of them, at the time of their argument, considered Christ to be in last place. He was their Leader!  He was their Lord and Savior.  None of them thought about displacing Him.  They all adhered to: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength and mind.”   But among themselves, “Love your neighbor as yourself” got forgotten.   Here we get a honest glimpse into the inner workings of the human heart.  And it cuts, doesn’t it?


          “He took a little child and had him stand among them.  Taking him in his arms,  he said to them, ‘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.”

          The point is: God doesn’t love and care about some people more than others.  He doesn’t base His preference upon all those traits we humans take so seriously—looks, brain-power, athletic ability, special talents and the like.  “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son.”  Yes, “God desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” So, what does God look for in you?  Recall the greedy tax collector in the back of the synagogue who came to realize how pitiful he was before the Most High God and exclaimed: “God, be merciful to me, a sinner.”  Here Jesus touches on the same truth.  Repentance and faith in Christ and not reliance upon ourselves is what makes us special to Him. 

          Christ became a servant, a slave, to His Father’s will in order to save us.  That’s what propelled Him to the cross and caused Him to willingly die for us.  He was the last who thereby became the first.  The disciples needed that reminder and boy, did they get it right here!  God’s kingdom isn’t about personal self-aggrandizement.  It’s about humility and self-sacrifice born  of God’s grace in Christ. 

          So, the next time you find yourself feeling superior remember that.  Christ actually was superior to all of us, but He still died to save you from yourself, didn’t He?  Amen


Pastor Thomas H. Fox  

Leave a Reply