There is a decided change in Jesus’ tenor as he takes the men back toward the Galilee. Instead of the main route that wraps closest to the water, he steers them toward back roads to spend time alone with them. Little do they know Jesus is starting their leadership training. Once again, he tells them he is going to be killed, promising he would rise again . . . but this time Jesus adds another piece of information—all this would come about through betrayal. Instead of asking Jesus the questions that are racing through their minds, the disciples are quiet.
Note: Jesus never condemns anyone for asking questions.
Upon arriving at Capernaum—ministry headquarters—Jesus turns and asks them what they have been discussing. Again, they remain quiet, but Jesus knows. Signaling that he has something to teach them, he sits down1 and says, “Whoever wants to be first must take last place and be the servant of everyone else.”2 Picture this – Jesus has just told them of his impending doom, and he knows they are jockeying for position. Yet he does not criticize them or even express the hurt he must have felt.
And do not miss the fact that though Jesus does not hear what they are saying to each other, he knows.
Hmmmm… I think of those who worry right now about their business – what will turn the tide and right the ship?
~those who wonder what the next scan will reveal about their condition, as though the scan holds all the power
~those who have loved ones far from God, caught in the lies of this mad culture
~others who face an uncertain future for a number of reasons
Jesus knows, he knows all about it.
What Jesus does next is so very telling.
While he could have chided the disciples for the misplaced priorities of position, he does not. Instead Jesus reaches over and grabs a young boy, literally taking him in his arms, talking about the priority he places on children. He reveals what is most important to him—that they will be with him forever, saying, “I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven. So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.” 3
Step back a moment now.
Maybe the best lessons I have taught are the ones that have come from my authentic self, combined with some sort of prop. For instance, filling a backpack with bricks, rocks, other bulky objects that literally weighed me down as I struggled to the front of the room. Why? It is one thing to talk about giving every one of our burdens to the Lord, entrusting to him in prayer that which is worrying us – and quite another to show its effects—stooped posture, sore back, difficulty to walk, etc. But then one by one, removing those burdens, giving them over to God in prayer, we once again can stand upright.
Friend, the Lord sees all.
Just as he knows what the disciples had been talking about—though he had not heard, though they would not tell him, he knew. So too he knows about your diagnosis, prognosis, financial pressures, concerns for the future, wayward children, and fear of the secular tide that seems to have a strangle hold on our country, and the persecution that has ratcheted up against believers in Pakistan, India and Nigeria.
But Jesus. As his disciples talk about position, Jesus taps a child to be an indelible prop in their minds for the rest of their lives. He begins their thinking about the true influence of humility, the divine priority of servant leadership. Oh, and one more thing, he illustrates that in his arms, we can find rest.
Oh those powerful words of our Lord recorded in Matthew’s gospel:
“Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”4
The mark of a true influencer is the One who imparts a message that is not of this world, one of humility, and certainly not one of pride… one that truly cares more about the other person than his own acclaim. The mark of a true influencer is the truth he leaves of a loving God and eternity that is… well, forever.
I can think of only one response: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LqBpifDpNKc
Endeavoring to follow my own writing, unpacking my backpack...
In the footsteps of Jesus, gospel of Mark, #32
1 – when rabbis sat down amid their disciples, it meant they were about to teach
2 – Mark 9.35b, NLT
3 – Matthew 18.3-4, NLT
4 – Mathew 11.28-29