“They left that place and passed through Galilee. Jesus did not want anyone to know where they were, 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.’ But they did not understand what he meant and were afraid to ask him about it.” Mark 9:30-32
Suggested Reading: Mark 9:30-37, Ephesians 4:20-32
Jesus took His disciples away to a secluded place away from the crowds to teach them. He had a very important message for them; unfortunately, they didn’t really understand it until after His death and resurrection. He said, “The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men. They will kill him and after three days He will rise.” This was not the first time Jesus dropped this devastating prophesy on them. In Mark 8:31-35, Jesus had first told them about His impending destiny. Understandably, they were devastated, especially Peter who proceeded to rebuke Jesus for talking this way. Jesus responded to Peter harshly by saying, “Get behind me Satan! You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of man.” The disciples still didn’t get it that Jesus was born to die. They did not know how to respond and this time, they were afraid to.
Astonishingly, after their solemn meeting, the disciples began bickering over who would hold the greatest authority, second to Jesus, in heaven. Just prior to this meeting, Peter, James and John got a glimpse of Jesus in His heavenly form with the Transfiguration event as recorded in Mark 9:2-13. Apparently, the exclusivity of their invitation to that event went to their heads. Jesus was well aware of their discussion and begins to teach them. He takes a child into their midst and says, “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.” In Palestine, in the first century, children did not have the value that they have here in our western culture of the twenty-first century. Children were certainly valued by their parents, but were not ranked high in society as they are today. In Mark 9:32, Jesus says, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.” This was yet another occasion where Jesus put ‘the least of these’ far and above the pious, powerful and high-ranking religious people of the time. The teaching here is that to be great, in the eyes of God, one must be a servant of all, even those who society places at the bottom. Even though, Jesus had authority over heaven and earth, He epitomized the role of a servant through His life, death and resurrection. He was laying down the ultimate example of what it means to be a servant, even unto death.
In this Easter season, we rightly focus on God’s incredible gift of Jesus and the amazing sacrifice by His death for the redemption of our sins. That is certainly central to the message of salvation; however, the other important part is the standard that Jesus is asking us to live by. Do we love others so much that we would die for them? Here in the U.S.A., we don’t have execution squads that will kill us for our beliefs. We most likely will not be faced with a situation where we have to die for someone. However, Jesus is asking us to love as He did and to die to self and start living for others and the things that matter for eternity. (Ephesians 4:22-24) That is the true essence of discipleship in Jesus Christ. It’s not enough to look like a Christian, to know what Jesus taught, but rather live as He lived. Just think about how that changes….everything. What kind of impact would be made in our lives and the lives of others around us if we loved our family, spouse, friends and complete strangers the way Christ loves us?