Digging in Deeper: Mark 9:36-37

“He took a child, had him stand among them, and taking him in his arms, he said to them, ‘Whoever welcomes one little child such as this in my name welcomes me. And whoever welcomes me does not welcome me, but him who sent me.'” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Are you a humble person? That’s kind of a tough question to answer honestly. I mean, on the one hand, you don’t want to say, “No,” to it because you’ll be outing yourself as prideful. No one wants that. On the other hand, if you say, “Yes,” you’re also outing yourself as prideful because surely no one who was really humble would claim such a mantle for themselves. But, if you say, “No,” and you really are a pretty humble person, you’re lying about it and humble people are fundamentally honest about themselves and so you’re either humblebragging or being dishonest which are neither one marks of true humility. Next question please? Well, how about this one: How can you spot a humble person? That seems like it should be an easier one to answer, but sometimes people who act the most humble in public are the least humble in private. Thankfully, Jesus gives us a pretty good litmus test here.

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Digging in Deeper: Mark 9:33-35

“They came to Capernaum. When he was in the house, he asked them, ‘What were you arguing about on the way?’ But they were silent, because on the way they had been arguing with one another about who was the greatest. Sitting down, he called the Twelve and said to them, ‘If anyone wants to be first, he must be last and servant of all.'” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Is there anything you do that you can say you’re the best in the world at doing? If you’re like me, while you may be good – even really good – at a few things, to say you’re the best in the world is probably not something you can claim honestly. Perhaps, though, you hold a Guinness World Record for doing something. You can search their archives for really obscure records and get them to come and watch you do it in order to claim the title. That would technically make you the best in the world until someone breaks your record. In spite of knowing we’re not the best in the world, though, most of us still want to be the best. We simply opt for a different level of greatness. If we can’t reach the pinnacle of world domination, then we’ll settle for being better than the people around us. This is a natural human tendency. It is a natural human tendency that Jesus here wanted the disciples to understand works very differently in the kingdom of God than it does in this world.

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Morning Musing: Mark 1:14

“After John was arrested, Jesus went to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Have you ever read something in one place, read something else in another place from a purportedly friendly source, and something about the two accounts didn’t quite sit right? We often see this today in modern politics. One person says one thing and another says something slightly different; different enough that the contradiction is glaring. Generally speaking, people don’t tolerate contradictions very well. Contradictions reveal either duplicity or hypocrisy, or both. This is bad enough when it comes to life in general. It’s even harder when we seem to find them in the Scriptures.

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Digging in Deeper: Mark 1:4-6

“John came baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and they were baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins. John wore a camel-hair garment with a leather belt around his waist and ate locusts and wild honey.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Several years ago I had the chance to participate in a weekend seminar with Pastor Mike Bonem. He is the author of the book, Leading from the Second Chair. Mike was then the executive pastor at Second Baptist Church in Houston, TX, one of the largest churches in the country. As the title of the book suggests, Mike’s message that weekend was about how to still be a leader when you aren’t the head honcho. Considering the state of our culture then and now, I struggle to imagine a more countercultural message than the one he was preaching. Nobody aspires to be the runner up. Nobody plans on making it almost to the top, but stopping just short of that. And yet, the very first person we are introduced to in the Gospel of Mark did exactly that, and Jesus called him the greatest man alive. Let’s talk about John the Baptist this morning.

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Morning Musing: Philippians 2:5-8

“Adopt the same attitude as that of Christ Jesus, who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God as something to be exploited. Instead he emptied himself by assuming the form of a servant, taking on the likeness of humanity. And when he had come as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death–even to death on a cross.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Yesterday, we talked about something that could completely changed the world if we put it into practice: Putting others first and ourselves second. If we just took that one idea and ignored the rest of the Scriptures, our world would never be the same and infinitely better than it is now. But doing that kind of thing seems extreme beyond the pale. I mean, who really has done that kind of thing in a way that mattered? And besides, as we finished up asking, what if the interests of the people around us are contrary to our own? Paul realizes these instructions were pretty big to try and follow and so he goes on to offer an example. It’s a pretty good example. Let’s look at it.

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