The Upside Down
PRAY: That God may open his Word to us by the power of His Spirit. That we may grow in our knowledge and love of Jesus. That we may share this joy in all our lives and to those around us.
READ: Mark 9:30-41
Don’t we all hope our heroes will win and bad guys will be defeated? In stories, and in life, there are certain hopes and expectations as human beings that we often hold too. We think that being “great” is to be influential and in charge. We except that knowing the “right” people makes us special. This is the “natural” order of life, and is the way the world was made. Or is it?
In Mark 9:30-41, Jesus presents his disciples an upside down view of this “natural” world. This new view of the world is not some unnatural horror from a Stranger Things episode, instead it is a redemptive view of the world that reconciles our “natural” fallen world with a loving and forgiving God.
What is your worldview? Three times, in this passage, Jesus challenges our worldview. First, Jesus addresses the expectations of leadership. The disciples had expectations of their leader, and were very confused at the idea that Jesus would be harmed or killed. He was the Messiah, after all, the promised savior of the nation of Israel. Wasn’t he there to restore Israel’s place in the world? Yet, instead of declaring victory over their human enemies, he revealed that he would be betrayed, killed by their enemies and on the third day rise again. This is a rather surprising statement, if one assumes that Jesus is there to overthrow Roman rule rather than conquer sin and death.
Following this incredible revelation, the disciples ironically, begin arguing about which of them was the “greatest”. A second time, Jesus, lovingly responds to their confusion by revealing the true order of influence. “The least will be the greatest,” he said. The disciples were so focused on their earthly concept of power, that they didn’t see the heavenly order of power; the one where children are received with the same honor as the Son of God.
Lastly, upon encountering a person casting out demons who wasn’t part of their “inner circle”, they were so offended by the idea that they tried to stop him. Jesus then corrects the common idea of the “inner circle” by erasing such boundaries. “But Jesus said, “Do not stop him, for no one who does a mighty work in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me.”
Three times the disciples seem to miss the message. While it is easy to be critical of them, the truth is we often act in exactly the same way. How often do you and I also buy into the argument of the “natural” order of things? How often do we ignore the “least of these” or pride ourselves on being part of some “inner circle”? The truth is that Jesus calls us to see not the natural order of things, but the redeemed order of things.
1. What are specific examples of the fallen “natural” order of things in your life?
2. In what ways might we reorder our thinking to have a heavenly view of order rather than an earthly one?
3. Where in life are you being asked to be a leader? In what ways can following Jesus’ example help us to be better “servant leaders”?