Sunday 20 September 2015

Bible Book:

Mark 9:30-37 Sunday 20 September 2015

Psalm: Psalm 54


This is part of the longer exploration in Mark's Gospel of thenature of power and authority. The disciples are usually getting itwrong, which is a humbling thing for them to remember. They don'tunderstand what Jesus was on about and they were yet to know of thepainful reality of his teaching. Mark's Gospel has to be read notonly 'as is', that is the teaching and stories about Jesus, but asit was written and heard. The first hearers did understand and didknow. They knew about the betrayal, the death and the resurrection.They also had begun to understand what kind of Messiah Jesus wasamong them. I find it surprising that the Church's early leadershipwere willing to be represented in this way, but they must have beenbecause Mark's account of the gospel places them very firmly aspeople who kept getting it wrong.

I also find it moving that this far from obvious interpretationof what love looks like resonated so strongly with their experienceas a newly formed Christian community. Looking back on what Jesussaid and did made a profound sense to these early communitiesbecause it resonated with their actual experience. Some have arguedthat 'children' may refer to the 'new Christians' - an earlyvulnerable and naïve group of believers. But it also refers to asimpler understanding of children. I find it hard to believe thatJesus would have had any sort of sentimental view of children, andhis reference to them is perhaps a hard-nosed recognition thatchildren were powerless, often ignored, and at the bottom of anyhierarchy. These early Christians must have surely felt they wereoften all these things themselves. The encouragement in thispassage is that feeling that is the only way to encounter God, andan injunction to treat others with kindness and a welcome.

To Ponder

  • Where do you feel powerless and vulnerable? And how does thishelp you understand God better?
  • How can we welcome those who are powerless and vulnerable?
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