Jesus begins this passage by pointing out that the story isn’t about the disciples—it’s about Jesus. The disciples don’t understand what he is saying and don’t ask him what he means (Mark 9:32). They want to present an image to Jesus (and everyone else around them) that they know what’s going on. But they can’t hide from Jesus. When they begin to argue about who is greatest among them (Mark 9:33-34), they lose sight that it isn’t about them—it’s about Jesus. Then they launch into telling Jesus about the man casting out demons in Jesus’ name who wasn’t part of their group (Mark 9:38), forgetting again that the story isn’t about them—it’s about Jesus.
How often do I want the story to be about me? About my abilities? About my servant’s heart? About my perseverance? I want the awards and the recognition, to be a part of The Group. How often do I want to put parameters around what it means to follow Jesus?
Jesus answers these questions for us:
“If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” (Mark 9:35)
“Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me.” (Mark 9:37)
“For no one who does a mighty work in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me. For the one who is not against us is for us.” (Mark 9:39-40)
As we follow Jesus, we want to make the work of God about us, but Jesus reminds us that in our quest to make the story about ourselves, in our quest to define what it means to follow him, it is not about us. Our service isn’t about making ourselves stand out as individuals or even as a church, but elevating Jesus’ name.
Jill Shimek lives in Columbia Heights with her curmudgeonly husband, Luke; their lovable dog, Kaylee; and her cat, Skywalker, who is an acquired taste (just ask Luke). She spends most-to-all of her free time knitting.