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Mark’s first-century biography – page 27

They (Jesus and his disciples, c. AD 30) went on from there and passed through Galilee. And he did not want anyone to know, for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, “The Son of Man will be given over into the hands of men, and they will kill him. And when he is killed, after three days he will rise.” 

This was the second time that Jesus told his disciples about his forthcoming death at the hands of men – and his rising again. He intended to go down.

But they did not understand the saying, and were afraid to ask him. And they came to Capernaum. And when he was in the house he asked them, “What were you discussing on the way?” But they kept silent, for on the way they had argued with one another about who was the greatest. 

The disciples didn’t understand this business about going down. Each was anxious to be highest of them all. Their unwillingness to admit their ambitions indicated that they were aware that these were unacceptable to Jesus.
And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, “If anyone intends to be first, he will be last of all and servant of all.” And he took a child and put him in the midst of them, and taking him in his arms, he said to them, “Whoever receives one such child into my name receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me.” 

“Last of all”? “Servant of all”? Serve the servants? When I am first will I be doing that sort of thing? Yes. The receiving of a child “into my name” was, in the eyes of all of them then, something which involved time-consuming work without reward. But the one who did that would receive Jesus within – and his Father above. That’s because Father and Son love to receive people - and to see people welcomed into the name of Jesus.

‘Nothing is so sweet and beautiful, yet to ambitious men so surprising, as the humility of the Lord Jesus.’ (Walter Chantry)
John said to him, “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us.” 

John, a close disciple, started to think about whether he matched up to this new thinking about who was first in God’s sight. He recalled trying to stop someone who was helping people to come “into the name” of Jesus.

But Jesus said, “Do not stop him, for (1) no one who does a mighty work in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me. For (2) the one who is not against us is for us. For (3) truly, I say to you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink in my name because you belong to Christ will by no means lose his reward. (4) Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to stumble, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea."

“Do not stop him”. Why not? (1) The person who is doing good in Jesus’ name will not be rubbishing Jesus. (2) Anyone who does not oppose us is, in that way, helping us. (3) Even a cup of water given to you by another in my name will be rewarded. (4) Conversely, someone who stumbles one who believes in me will receive terrible things. 

"And (5) if your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. And (6) if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame than with two feet to be thrown into hell. And (7) if your eye causes you to stumble, tear it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell, ‘where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.’ “

(5) (6) (7) Moreover, if you stumble in your belief in me because of what you do, where you go or what you look at you yourselves are in danger of “fire” - even beyond death. Rid yourselves of what makes you think you’re “first”.

‘To avoid the later hell, I need to stop creating it now.’ (Anon.)
(8) “For everyone will be salted with fire. Salt is good, (9) but if the salt may become salt-free, with what will you season it? (10) Have salt in yourselves, and (11) be at peace with one another.”

(8) In fact, “fire” (here and now) will come upon everybody and will be "salt" - achieving “good” within each person. (9) But if such “fire” (salt) fails to change a person on earth nothing else will be able to do that. (10) Therefore each one of you must, first, be salt to your own selves. (11) In that way, you will be at peace with one another because you will deny self and serve one another. 

Peace comes when we follow Jesus and are, like him, willing to go down.  

Sinner Syvret

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