Morning Musing: Mark 9:41-42

“And whoever gives you a cup of water to drink in my name, because you belong to Christ – truly I tell you, he will never lose his reward. But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to fall away – it would be better for him if a heavy millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

If you want to get in good with me, do you know the best way to do that? Love my kids. My kids rank pretty high on my list of priorities. In terms of the people I care most about in the world, there’s only one person who outranks them and I’m married to her. If you treat them in a way that reflects my passion for them, you’re going to be sitting pretty firmly in my good graces. In fact, if you love my kids well, even if I’m not terribly inclined to like you myself, I’m going to give you a pretty strong benefit of the doubt and you’ll have to work pretty hard before I write you off. The simple truth is – and if you’re a parent you know this – we love the folks who love our kids. On the other hand, if you’re ugly to my kids, I don’t much care how kind or generous or gracious you are with me, you and I are done. As we keep inching forward in Mark’s Gospel, what we see here reveals that Jesus feels the same way. His family just happens to be a whole lot larger than yours and mine.

Read the rest…

Digging in Deeper: Mark 9:38-40

“John said to him, ‘Teacher, we saw someone driving out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him because he wasn’t following us.’ ‘Don’t stop him,’ said Jesus, ‘because there is no one who will perform a miracle in my name who can soon afterward speak evil of me. For whoever is not against us is for us.'” (CSB – Read the chapter)

We are naturally tribal. Our world has always been divided into two groups: Us and them. Now, sure, the exact makeup of those two groups changes. There are all kinds of different “uses” and all kinds of different “thems.” A person might fall into both categories within the same group of people depending on which particular flavor of us and them is being considered at the moment. But while there is all kinds of variety when it comes to exactly who goes in which group and when, the basic dividing line between us and them remains consistent. It is natural. It always has been. When Jesus came and began teaching about the kingdom of God, He didn’t try and tell us to operate differently. Surprised by that? Jesus didn’t try to undo our tribalistic impulse. He simply invited us to think about ourselves as part of a much bigger tribe.

Read the rest…

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.

Read the rest…

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.

Read the rest…

Morning Musing: Mark 9:31-32

“For he was teaching his disciples and telling them, ‘The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men. They will kill him, and after he is killed, he will rise three days later.’ But they did not understand this statement, and they were afraid to ask him.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Have you ever missed something obvious? I mean, glaringly obvious. Like a large box in the middle of an empty room obvious. Sometimes we struggled to see what is right in front of us. The reasons for this are many. It could be we were distracted by something else. It could be we were just not paying attention to our surroundings at all. It could be that we just flat out missed it. Whatever the reason, though, discovering our obliviousness is always a little embarrassing. This is especially true when everyone around us caught what we missed. The feeling is abated a bit when aw hole group of people missed something, but it’s still pretty embarrassing. With this in mind, the disciples had to look back on experiences like this one with absolute mortification. Their ability to miss what seems like it should have been painfully obvious, though, gives us reason for confidence in something very important. Let’s talk about it.

Read the rest…