29 Sep

What Do Children Really Know?

written by Pastor No Comments posted in Blog

September 22 & 23, 2012

Mark 9:30-37

What do children really know?

Tom Willetts

 

Mark 9:30-37

Jesus Predicts His Death a Second Time

30 They left that place and passed through Galilee. Jesus did not want anyone to know where they were, 31 because he was teaching his disciples. He said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men. They will kill him, and after three days he will rise.” 32 But they did not understand what he meant and were afraid to ask him about it.

33 They came to Capernaum. When he was in the house, he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the road?”34 But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest.

35 Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.”

36 He took a little child whom he placed among them. Taking the child in his arms, he said to them, 37 “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.”

 

Do you remember the days in your life when you would pass notes in class to each other? I wasn’t very good at it. But some were. The best note passers could write an epistle on an page and fold that page down to the size of a peanut. All the while they appeared to be paying attention to the teacher – busily taking notes or completing the assignment. A focused and serious teacher were the easiest to pass notes on because they couldn’t conceive that anyone would be doing anything other than paying attention to them and the subject at hand. That is when the note passing was the best. With an uncanny intuition of opportunity and lightning speed the note would begin its journey across the room. Everyone had to be on their game – aware of the situation and the danger. If anyone was slow, or acted surprised or fatally curious – don’t read just pass – then the note was discovered and the great secret revealed and trouble for all ensued.

I get the sense in today’s scripture that the disciples have just been caught “passing a note” amongst themselves and that they haven’t been paying attention to Jesus’ lesson as Jesus would prefer. Surely their secret is revealed and Jesus – in always divine form – offers them a lesson.

They are traveling “in cognito” as much as possible. Remember last week Jesus announced that he was to be arrested, face trial, be killed, and rise again on the third day. That was quite troubling – Jesus recognizes this upset spirit amongst the disciples, so Jesus leaves “that place” and takes them on a retreat. Jesus repeats himself concerning the coming days, He said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men. They will kill him, and after three days he will rise.”  They still don’t understand what this means, but it doesn’t stop them from making preparations. The preparations are the note passing I referred to earlier. The subject of the note is this, “After Jesus is gone who is going to be in charge?” They don’t think that Jesus is noticing them talking because Jesus keeps walking and teaching until they arrive at his destination.

But nothing escapes Jesus. When he was in the house, he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the road?”34 But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest. They have been caught red handed. Who me? Who me? But just like the note passing – everyone is guilty. The result is just as obvious – the lesson changes from Jesus’ last days on earth to leadership.

My teachers used to do this same thing – this is serious. 35 Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.” More seeming non-sensical teaching. Who can be the leader as the servant? After all leaders are in front – they are on top – they are served – they are powerful – they are respected – they have power. Servants are in the rear – servants are at the bottom – they serve – they are powerless – they are abused – they are powerless.

This makes as much sense as Jesus predicting his death – we all know how that worked out. – OH – Do you get it? So maybe we should figure this out rather than pretend like Jesus is being non-sensical. Here is the example Jesus provides.

36 He took a little child whom he placed among them. Taking the child in his arms, he said to them, 37 “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.”

 

Leaders must be aware. Jesus was aware of what the disciples were talking about – the argument as they walked. Jesus was paying attention to them even if they were not really paying attention to Jesus.  Jesus is aware that a child is in the room and he welcomes the child among them and offers an example to them. Notice the child is treated with great respect – the child is not used or objectified – but rather lifted up. Jesus took the child in his arms – protection, respect, honor and most importantly – a loving relationship is provided to the child. Leaders must be aware of what is around them and that those around them constantly deserve protection, respect, honor and a relationship – whether they are little children or misunderstanding, self-interested disciples.

Leaders must have patience. I see the lesson of the patience of Jesus as he waited until they arrived at the destination – Capernaum, enter the house – in private and that he sat down to speak to the unruly disciples. Jesus surely heard the ruckus going on in the back of the pack as they walked along. Yet, he didn’t wheel around and begin a heated tirade against the disciples’ behavior. Jesus showed patience with the rumor mongering and power playing and posturing that was going on behind him. Jesus waited for the “teachable moment.”

Leaders must be willing to confront. This connects to the next point of leadership – confrontation. Everyone hates this in our culture. Most leaders would rather cut off their arms than confront a problem or they confront so poorly they rip the arms off those around them. Rarely is public confrontation healthy or productive. Someone always ends up beaten and battered and everyone who has witnessed the event feels humiliated and hurt – even if they weren’t really involved. The major reason that folks don’t want to serve on ministry teams or in leadership is because of confrontation issues – fears about, bad experiences of, being victimized by or shame at having acted poorly in a confrontation.

While these are all problems and concerns of confrontation it still does not negate the reality that troubling issues and real concerns must be addressed honestly and gracefully. Jesus confronted the disciples in private – with a calm compassion – and he spoke to the issue with a positive way forward for everyone to choose. The covenant between leader and disciple was maintained – the relationship was valued above all and yet, the point was made. No one felt bad or humiliated or belittled or attacked or offended, yet the problem was confronted and a resolution – a way forward, for all presented.

Leaders must be totally committed. Despite the disciples poor understanding, and selfish arguing Jesus never wavered from his total commitment to them and to the mission given him by God – go to Jerusalem – face arrest, trial and crucifixion and be raised again. Our mission is not this – but rather to go and make disciples in the name of Jesus. Jesus accomplished what we cannot accomplish and he showed us how to do it as well, but we even have problems with this – leadership and discipleship.

Here’s what we are going to do. All of our leaders must be aware. I don’t mean more meetings – I mean more listening and watching. As leaders we must know and care for each other and must know and care for all the people of the church and of our community.

As leaders we must be patient with each other and with those around us. We need to not assume or accept hear-say or get all bothered when others “don’t get it” or get selfish or even foolish. Remember, God is ultimately in charge and none of us fully knows the path or the future, just our small vantage point. Relax a bit with patience.

Confrontation is OK especially when it is done within the context of a covenant. We are going to be developing the covenant concept more in the future to help us.

Total commitment to the mission of Jesus Christ is essential. The only reason we exist is to share the Good News of Jesus Christ – invite others – learn and grow in that love relationship and faith community – and to be the hands of Jesus in the world. It’s that simple. Everything for Jesus’ mission.

On Tuesday church leaders are going to meet for our annual planning time. We will figure out the schedule of events and we will explore leadership – Jesus style as well. Welcoming Jesus as leader, welcomes God as leader. We all want that.

In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. AMEN.

Leave a Reply...

Name: *

Email: (will not be published) *

Website

Message:

Cincopa WordPress plugin

Find Us Here

2951 Trail Dairy Circle ~ North Fort Myers, FL 33917 Phone: (239)543-2686
September 2012
S M T W T F S
« Aug   Oct »
 1
2345678
9101112131415
16171819202122
23242526272829
30