Sixteenth Sunday after Trinity 23.9.12 Mark 9.30-37

13 09 2012

Status Anxiety

The descent from the mountain seems to be very steep. Jesus tries to explain things; the disciples don’t understand; they fail to ask a question and begin a status row.  ‘Okay’ says Jesus, ‘you lot need to grow up and learn how to welcome real children’.

Mark 9.30-37

After leaving the mountain Jesus and his disciples went on from there and passed through Galilee. He did not want anyone to know it; 31for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, ‘The Son of Man is to be betrayed into human hands, and they will kill him, and three days after being killed, he will rise again.’ 32But they did not understand what he was saying and were afraid to ask him.

33 Then they came to Capernaum; and when he was in the house he asked them, ‘What were you arguing about on the way?’ 34But they were silent, for on the way they had argued with one another about who was the greatest. 35He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, ‘Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.’ 36Then he took a little child and put it among them; and taking it in his arms, he said to them, 37‘Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.’

Reflections and Questions

‘they were afraid to ask him’ v 32

People often find that when they fail to understand they also fail to ask a question that will help them understand. That’s one reason why it is so important to make question-asking normal and easy.

What questions would flow from the congregation today if people were not afraid to ask?

‘arguing about on the way’  v33

Jesus saw them arguing – and perhaps thought it was a dispute about what he had been saying earlier, or maybe about the precise meaning of the phrase ‘The Son of Man’.  Sadly not. They were arguing about status.

Can you imagine people today, shortly after hearing some profound spiritual words, starting to squabble about status?  (I rather suspect you  can.) What will you say to them?

‘He sat down’ v35

Just when you thought Jesus was going to get on his high horse and give them all a rocket, he sits on the floor.

What impact do you feel this gesture has?

‘welcomes’ v37

The word ‘welcomes’ is repeated 4 times in one sentence: ‘welcomes… welcomes… welcomes… welcomes…’

A subtle point about hospitality being made here perhaps? How will you make it?