Mark 9: 30-37
In today’s passage, Jesus offered a window to imagine how the kingdom of God on Earth should look, where the first shall be last and the last shall be first, and she or he must be servant of all. Then, Jesus showed the disciples what he meant by taking a little child in his arms.
Although the disciples’ silence seemed ambiguous, I imagine their silence helps us understanding how Jesus and his teaching were too radical, so they just pretended not to understand what Jesus was saying and were afraid to ask him. Rather, the disciples chose to play a game, fighting about “Who was the best, the most faithful, the most-likely-to succeed disciple.
I do not think Jesus was holding the little children up as moral examples when he took them in his arms and blessed them.
For Jesus to hold up a child as an emblem of living in God’s household was to offer serious challenge to social norms of that day. So, Jesus was not talking just about children either. Jesus’s treatment of children shows his struggle with and resistance to imperial power, value, and social norms in his context.
The question Jesus asked the disciples on the way to the Capernaum, “What were you arguing about on the way?,” made the disciples silent.
What are we arguing about on our faith journey?
It is so hard to imagine that, at least, until we realize how often we would be silent if Jesus were to confront us and ask us what we have been talking and fretting about. I wonder if we would often fall silent if we were asked to explain how and what we are doing and saying accords with the way of life that Jesus sets before us.
Who is greatest? If you ask me that question, I do not know what the answer is. I am sorry I may not have right answer of how we operate a church or a business or a society by turning it over to those with the least to offer. However, I do know that God’s values are not our values, and that knowledge alone may be enough to keep us humble.
In the upside-down kingdom of God, the most unlikely people are most likely to be agents of God
—the ones who live in the world below our kneecaps, the ones who are stuck at the end of the line,
the ones who are undervalued or overlooked based on our social norms in our context.
In God’s world, things are different—an upside-down and topsy-turvy place where the last will be first and the least of all will be greatest.
Thanks be to God. Amen.