Dear First Lutheran Family and Friends,
In the middle of the night, there’s a cricket in my room. It chirps loudly and incessantly. It’ll go away … but it doesn’t. I lay there wide awake, hoping the cricket will go away because I don’t want to get out of bed. It doesn’t. After a while, I face reality, get up, and find the cricket … by the way, I throw it outside. Anyway, have you ever been in a place like that? You see or hear something bothersome or even a bit disturbing … so you ignore it … hoping it’ll just go away. Some call this tactic “denial” … “refusing to admit to the truth or reality about something unpleasant.”
In our gospel today, the disciples were in denial … and they weren’t swimming in a river in Egypt. Jesus, for the second time tells them, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill Him. And when He is killed, after three days He will rise.” (Mark 9:31) The first time, Peter rebuked Him and Jesus said, “Get behind me Satan!” (Mark 8:31-33) So this time, the disciples didn’t say a thing. They went into denial. In fact, immediately after ignoring the obvious, they got into a heated discussion about which of them was the greatest! Later, when Jesus asked them what they were talking about, their lips were zipped. Embarrassed, they went into … denial, “Maybe Jesus will move on to something else if we just ignore Him.”
Jesus didn’t ignore their silence … He didn’t deny their ignorance. Jesus met it head on saying, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” (Mark 9:35) While the “greatest” in the world might be the rich and the powerful who have many people falling all over themselves to serve them, that’s not the way it is in Jesus’ kingdom. Jesus uses the example of a helpless child who can do nothing to return any favors done for him to show the disciples what true greatness looks like. True greatness is serving someone in need who can’t possibly pay you back. True greatness is sacrificing time and talent and treasure, each of which are gifts given by God – for the sake of someone else in need. In this way, the “great ones” put themselves last before others by serving others. And when they do, they end up receiving Jesus. They end up receiving our Father who sent His only Son, Jesus into the world. Jesus gave up everything, including His glory in heaven and life on earth to serve us … hopeless, helpless sinners … and bring us into His kingdom for eternity.
Each of us is a disciple of Christ. He’s called to us through the Holy Spirit. And, we haven’t ignored the Spirit’s voice dwelling inside us since baptism. The Holy Spirit opens our eyes and ears to the world around us. Enabling us to hear God’s call in things we see and hear … the many in the world desperately in need of Christ’s love. They won’t go away … so, humbly and joyfully we hear, respond, and serve those Jesus calls us to serve.
In Christ’s Love,