Sunday, December 1, 2013

real love is not afraid to bleed

And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’” And he said to him, “Teacher,all these I have kept from my youth.” And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.
And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” And the disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how difficult it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” And they were exceedingly astonished, and said to him, “Then who can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.” Peter began to say to him, “See, we have left everything and followed you.” Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.” (Mark 10:17-31, ESV)

This one apparently took me a long time to process, because it's been a little over a week since my last post. Ooops. Haha.

The first thing I noticed was that this young, rich ruler ran and knelt before Jesus. This must've been a strange sight at the time, because men of this kind of status didn't run, let alone kneel. If anything, people would run to this ruler and kneel before him, asking for who knows what. But today, it's role reversal. The ruler kneels to a lowly rabbi. This goes to show that this ruler knew that Jesus had something much bigger than himself, and he wanted it desperately. He wanted eternal life.

Jesus' response to the ruler's question, however, is interesting. He first addresses the fact that only God is good. Therefore, it isn't right for the ruler to call Jesus a "good teacher" until he is ready to acknowledge Jesus as God. Lost some points already.

But anyway, Jesus' statement of no one being good except God Himself sort of pre-proves His following point. He lists out the commandments, to which the ruler says that he has fulfilled since his youthful days. My guess is that this ruler must've been excited, knowing that he fulfilled all of Jesus' supposed "requirements" for eternal life. But I guess he also forgot that no one is good, except God Himself. He gets so caught up in being a good person, that he looks over his sins and, as Jesus is about to point out, his lacking of one thing.

Jesus' call out to this ruler must've been thought of as a bit extreme, and if anything, a bit offensive. To say that this rich, young ruler, who probably has every material thing he would want/need and then some, still lacked something must've been thought of as a bit crazy, or a bit stupid. But it says that Jesus looked at this ruler and loved him. So whatever Jesus is about to say next is flowing out of His love for this ruler. 

By Jesus telling this ruler to sell all he had and give it to the poor, He reveals the one thing the ruler lacks. This ruler lacks faith. Jesus even reassures him that he will have treasure in heaven, and therefore, beckons him to follow Him. But the ruler is disheartened, and walks away sorrowful, for he had "great possessions."

This ruler lacked the faith to let go of everything he had for the sake of Christ. He counted the cost of discipleship, but figured that it was too much to give up. He worshipped his wealth, rather than the Giver and Taker of wealth.

Jesus calls us all out in loving manner to be ready to give up everything to follow Him. He doesn't call all of us to sell everything we have and give it to the poor, but He certainly could, and if/when He does, we have to be willing to count the cost and decide whether He's worth it or not. Is He truly worth it though?

Jesus then looks at His disciples, and says this one key phrase that we repeat all the time. It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. How difficult it will be for the rich to enter God's kingdom. The disciples are amazed and shocked, asking Jesus how then  can people get saved if that is the case.

Jesus simply says that with man, this is impossible, but with God, all things are possible. How simple, and yet, how convicting. Salvation and entering the kingdom of God is humanly impossible. There is nothing we can do,  or say, or even dream of doing or saying, that can earn us salvation. This is impossible. But yet, with God, ALL things are possible. It is only by GOD'S grace can we be saved. There is nothing in our salvation that even hints at our doing and our behaviour. It is entirely God's doing.

But Peter, simply being Peter again, boldly says something that's kind of stupid, and misses Jesus' point entirely. Peter exclaims, probably with much pride, that all of them have left everything and followed Him. It's like Peter saying, "look, we dropped everything, no where's OUR reward?"

Jesus' response, time and time again, is so beyond understanding, even to this day. No one who leaves everything behind for the sake of Christ and the gospel will go unrewarded, both with earthly rewards, and heavenly rewards. It's interesting that Jesus puts a heavier emphasis on people rather than things, almost to suggest that when you are saved, you gain something much better than material stuff. On earth, you gain the entire body of Christ. You are now a part of that family, and so you gain many more brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and all of us are under our one Heavenly Father. And then in the age to come, we get eternal life.

But this all comes with a little catch. This all comes with persecutions. This is the cost that the ruler had initially forgot to count. This is the cost that we today must count if we are to follow Christ.

Reminds me of a line from a song by Rend Collective, aptly titled, "The Cost."

Check it here...

One particular line that sticks out to me is in the second verse, "I'll chase You through the pain, I'll carry my cross, because real love is not afraid to bleed."

Real love is not afraid to bleed, for the sake of Christ. This is the cost that we often forget when we think about following Christ. There are far too many Christians today who claim to be following Him today, but are not willing to lay down everything they have for the sake of the gospel. I'm not saying that I've perfected this either. It's like how Paul says it, I do not claim to have already attained, but I press on. This is why it's so important that we remember that our reward on Earth is the body of Christ, both in the sense that He died for our sins, and in the sense that we are a part of this family. Together, we can strive to lay down everything for the sake of the gospel. Together, we can strive to give up everything for the sake of Christ.

Jesus is assuring His disciples and us, with His last statement, that our surrendering to Him and not without reward, which is eternal life in the kingdom of God in the presence of Jesus Christ Himself. And that is worth everything we have now and more. That is worth giving everything up for. That is worth dying for.

The very last statement, the first being last, and the last first, suggests that it is the humble, obedient servant who doesn't get much recognition is the one who will receive the greatest honour and reward. We as Christians are not only called to be willing to lay down everything, but we are called to do so with a humble heart and an obedient attitude. We are not meant to be seeking the spotlight in order to show off our humility. It's like how Jesus would criticize the Pharisee for publicly praying for the sake of stroking his own ego. 

Put everything together then, we as Christians are called to surrender everything about us to God. We are called to do this as a community and a family, and we are called to do this humbly.

With all of this in mind, this is how we will obtain the reward of eternal life with Christ on high, in the kingdom of heaven. It is not about the suffering we face today, it is about the reward that will greatly outweigh that suffering that we will receive in due time.


Monday, November 18, 2013

the children with everything

And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them. (Mark 10:13-16, ESV)

The disciples just keep messing it up, don't they? Haha.

But it's weird, I kind of empathize with them. When they see kids approaching Jesus, they immediately start to rebuke them, thinking that they're probably just going to cause trouble for them. Even I think that when a group of high school kids come walking into the hmv that I work at.

But Jesus' reaction is indignation. Jesus is angered and annoyed because He views the actions of the disciples as unfair. Why?

Jesus' reason is because the kingdom of God belongs to the children, it belongs to those who receive the kingdom of God like a child.

Obviously, this doesn't mean you have to be a kid physically to enter the kingdom. So then, what does it really mean?

Understanding what a child means in a Biblical context can be a bit difficult, because the Bible mentions the child both in a negative and positive way. For example, 1 Corinthians 13 says that when Paul became a man, he gave up his childish ways.

But in Matthew 18, Jesus says, "Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven."

The thing is that a childish attitude is different from a childlike attitude. Children will often surrender themselves to their parents simply because they know that their parents know better. Even though they will often try to do things their way, they will mess up, and then realize that their parents were right all along. That is a child like attitude, one that submits and surrenders to the will of God.

In the original text, the word for "bringing" originally meant something along the lines of dedication, similar to when sacrifices were dedicated to God. The kids were being brought to Jesus so that they could be dedicated, so that their lives would in the light of Christ till death. The fact that these kids were so willing to do this goes to show that they were in for this, despite the fact that they probably had no idea what comes next. They wanted in on Jesus.

A childish attitude is one that we all exemplify all too well. It's when we think we know best, and we try to challenge the authority we're under. It's when we complain and whine that we want more of the gifts rather than the Giver of the gifts. All of these things were faults exemplified by the disciples, the pharisees, and the crowds around Jesus throughout Mark. 

And that's why Jesus calls us to receive the kingdom of God like a child. We are to receive by means of submission and surrender to God's will. After all, if His kingdom comes, then His must be done as well. 

I'll be the first to admit that it's tough being a child, still submitting to authorities like my parents. I love them to bits and pieces, but my sinful nature will always try and push me to a sense of prideful individuality away from them, because I like to think that by now, I know myself better than they do. But they still catch me off guard with the things they know about me that I miss. I still am trying to remind myself every day to submit to them still.

And if it's already difficult enough to submit to my own parents, how much more so it is to submit to God, who calls us to radical relationship and life with Him. But in this passage, Jesus puts an emphasis on the kingdom of God as our gift after this life. I've been putting so much stress on it with these past couple of posts, that beyond all the struggles we face in this life, we inherit an even greater gift that far outweighs and surpasses those struggles.

We constantly forget that our greatest gift from God is God Himself. It isn't money or wealth or good health or anything earthly for that matter. Like when Psalm 37:4 says "Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart" it's not that when we delight in the Lord, He'll give us what we want. Think about it. When you delight yourself in the Lord, your heart's desire is already the Lord Himself. That's what naturally happens. You can't possibly delight in the Lord when your heart's desire is elsewhere. Delight in the Lord, and you'll get the Lord.

Just as children can delight themselves in their parents, we too can delight ourselves in our Heavenly Father. And just as the child can get the gift of the givers themselves, we get the gift of the ultimate Giver Himself. The kingdom of God is God Himself.

And the truth is that He longs to bless His children, He loves to give them gifts. He loves to pour Himself out over us. Jesus, after His short speech, simply lays His hands on the children, and blesses them. Jesus wanted to do this the moment He saw them, which was why He felt indignant when the disciples stopped them, and told them to let the children come to Him, to not hinder them. Jesus wanted to bless them. God just as much wants to bless us today, since and IF we are His children.

If we are not His children, then we don't get it in on this. If you, the reader, are not in a relationship with Him now, please, let Him adopt you as His own now. He died and resurrected so that He could adopt you, despite your sin. He knows us inside out, and yet, He still CHOOSES to adopt us. There is no greater love than this.

Submit and delight yourself to God, and we will receive the God that longs to bless us.


Friday, November 15, 2013

nothing new

And he left there and went to the region of Judea and beyond the Jordan, and crowds gathered to him again. And again, as was his custom, he taught them.
And Pharisees came up and in order to test him asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” He answered them, “What did Moses command you?” They said, “Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of divorce and to send her away.” And Jesus said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment. But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh.What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”
And in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter.And he said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her, and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.” (Mark 10:1-12, ESV)

To be honest, I'm a bit nervous to do this blog, because I'm not married, let alone in a relationship, so to me, marriage is still a bit of a foreign thing. But here's what I know the Word says anyway.

Jesus is getting closer and closer to His death, but He continues His ministry anyway. It's interesting to note that His custom was to teach. Although He had done many miracles and healed plenty of people, His main ministry was in His teaching. Note back to my previous post about people wanting His miracles, but not Him. 

So the Pharisees show up, and again, they try to catch Jesus as an opponent to the Mosaic Law, by saying that it is okay to divorce as long as there is a document to it. But Jesus appeals to the creation story to explain that that was not the original idea. Jesus explains that in the beginning, the original setup was that if a man and woman marry, they are considered one flesh. They are united not only physically, but spiritually as well. Therefore, how can mankind allow a mere document separate what God has brought and tied together?

This next part about committing adultery when you re-marry is not a new idea. The only thing that is different here is that in Matthew, Jesus expands with a bit more context, saying that you can divorce if the spouse has already committed adultery. But even then, that was  a widely agreed fact. All of this was in the Old Testament as well. There is nothing new here.

What sort of confuses me is that Jesus quotes from the same book that the Pharisees read and studied their whole lives. How is it that they miss that original plan for marriage? Is it because they choose to supersede God's authority with man's laws?

Do not make the same mistake that these Pharisees often made and were ignorant of. Never think for a moment that anything you do can outdo or outweigh God's sovereignty and authority over all of creation, and that includes the gifts that He gives us.

I think the teachings on divorce here are easy enough to understand. If you get married, don't divorce unless it's on the grounds of promiscuity. Fair enough. But what I find so interesting here is that Jesus and the Pharisees read and know the same book. They just look at it through a different lens. 

The Pharisees appeal to the laws, where the book is just the Ten Commandments, but much bigger, as if the book was just a road map to morally upright life. Jesus looks at the book with a lens that sees and highlights God's control over all of creation, and His grace towards us despite our vain attempts to maintain a morally upright life. 

There is a big difference when we read the Word, expecting things that talk about us and what we do, versus when we read the Word, and seeing that all of this points towards God Himself, and how all things, the Law and the Prophets, only lead to Christ.

Yes, take the teachings of the Bible very seriously, for they lead us to a life of joy and fullness. But never forget that all of that and all that we do points to Jesus and His fulfillment of those teachings.

Even this teaching on divorce, Jesus has fulfilled, despite the fact that He was never physically married. He even takes it to the next step. How?

The Bible often portrays us as the bride of God, like in Hosea and Ephesians 5. Especially in Hosea, we are portrayed as the rebellious and adulteress wife, and YET, God, being rich in love, reaches out to us in humility and betroths us to Him. He brings together an adulterous wife to Himself, a perfect and holy Husband. The bride and the Groom become one flesh forever. This is a marriage that mankind or a legal document cannot separate. In fact, NOTHING can separate us from the love of God, as Romans 8 says.

All of these teachings point back to Christ. We cannot ever let them terminate on us alone. In our obedience to these teachings, we can worship Christ for the joy that He gives us.

So do not ever think that the Bible talks about us and our do's and don'ts. It is about what God has done for us. This is the Word of the Lord, right from Genesis all the way to Revelation. This is nothing new, but it is everything we need.


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

fighting the undying fire with the salted promise

“Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea. And if your hand causes you to sin, 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 if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame than with two feet to be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to sin, 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.’ For everyone will be salted with fire. Salt is good, but if the salt has lost its saltiness, how will you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.” (Mark 9:42-50, ESV)

This is one of the first texts I've studied in a while where it was all Jesus talking. So this is just straight taking from His words, and letting them affect our lives.

Jesus starts this whole temptation deal with what we'll call "external" temptation, which the temptation one receives from someone else. The entire Bible takes this idea of external temptation extremely seriously. Either it emphasizes the cost of doing so, like this passage does, or the importance of not doing so, like in 1 Corinthians 8. The cost of doing so, as illustrated by Jesus, is not a pretty sight at all. Millstones were big, and having one hung around your neck and then being thrown out to sea to drown is not very nice thing.

This is what it looks like to have a millstone around your neck.

Try swimming with that on you.

Of course, this is not a literal thing, as we will see with the rest of the passage. The point here is that Jesus takes temptation seriously, and if anyone were to tempt anyone else to sin, ESPECIALLY "these little ones," then that person had better be ready to face God's judgment personally.

The next thing Jesus talks about is "internal" temptation, which is temptation that comes from the sinful nature inside of you.

Jesus does not take this lightly at all either. It is interesting to note that every time Jesus explains the cutting off of a body part, whether it be the hand, foot, or eye, He explicitly explains that it is better to enter the kingdom of Heaven without these parts than to go to hell with them.

This puts the kingdom of Heaven into a somewhat different perspective. I've blogged before that the kingdom of Heaven is our ultimate reward, and it's true in every way. It's everything we will ever want and ever need forevermore. But with this passage in mind, the kingdom of Heaven must also be thought of in terms of sacrifice. We must be willing to sacrifice anything and everything for it.

Again, Jesus does not literally mean that we should cut off our limbs. Either way, even if we did, that does not stop the heart issue of sin. Sin begins internally, not externally. It goes to show that no physical act can truly rescue your heart from sin. While some external acts can help us, they do not save us or fix us, they only adjust our behaviours. This is not a solution, it is just a stopgap.

There is also a specific repetition of the unquenchable fire. Hell is a real place where the fire does not go out, and it will forever burn those who enter it. Their worm never dies, and just as the worm eats away at corpses, so will the worm of hell forever eat away the bodies that go there. None of this is pretty, and all of it is reality.

Jesus then goes into a brief talk about salt and fire, more so salt. The most likely interpretation of this is that everyone who follows Christ will come under fire by suffering and tribulation. But just as you season your food with salt, we too will be seasoned by suffering, not consumed by it.

I fully acknowledge that there are people out there that are facing trials all the time. But the true Christian will face these things with boldness and confidence, knowing that these things are incomparable to the glory that we will receive in the kingdom.

And that's where the salt comes in. If salt loses its saltiness, it is useless and will be thrown away. Salt is inherently a preservative. It is something that maintains. Likewise, our faith must be maintained, so that it may maintain us when the fire comes. If we lose that, then we lose everything, we lose all of ourselves.

Jesus' ending statement is a call for His disciples to have salt in themselves, and to be at peace with one another. This whole passage is probably a response to when the disciples were arguing over who was the greatest, and trying to stop the other guy who was casting out demons. It goes to show that a persevering faith in Christ seeks peace with the rest of the body, that a growing faith seeks to grow with the body. That way, truly, the whole body may enter the kingdom of Heaven fully united and at peace.

All of this talk about temptations and salt truly does put into perspective that the kingdom of Heaven must be thought of in the context of suffering. But again, never forget that it is also a promised inheritance. When it comes to facing sin, I am learning to not so much recite to myself that I must fight, I must fight, I must fight, etc. Rather, I'm learning to remember that God's promises are much greater than the promises of sin, that God Himself is better than the sins that I struggle with, so therefore, I should run to Him instead.

It is indeed better to enter the kingdom of heaven at the cost of some limbs, because the promise and the glory we will receive with Christ and in Christ is far better than the cost of those limbs. Never forget that our sacrifices struggles are not in vain, for they are leading and preparing the way for us towards a greater reality, which is the kingdom of Heaven. 

Therefore, cut off everything that causes you to sin. Put it all to death, because there is greater life waiting for us.


Thursday, November 7, 2013

get over yourself

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.”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. For the one who is not against us is for us. For truly, I say to you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ will by no means lose his reward. (Mark 9:38-41, ESV)

This one was a bit of a hard pill to swallow, because it's a pretty convicting passage.

The disciples must've been somewhat upset that this random guy that they saw was casting out demons successfully, considering that a couple of verses ago, they weren't doing that good of a job. On top of that, this guy wasn't following Jesus in the same way the disciples were, so they must've guessed that something wasn't right.

Now, as to who this stranger is, we don't know. What we can assume is that this person must've probably been with Christ or John the Baptist, because as Jesus said before, casting demons out takes power that comes directly from God Himself, and in this time, you must've been given authority by Jesus Himself, or John the Baptist. Again, no one really knows who this dude is.

But either way, this person had a close relationship with God the Father, so having held fast to his faith, he kept on doing what he must've been given authority to do. 

Jesus responds with a comment that doesn't seem to stick in today's Christianity. He says that "the one who is not against us is for us." 

The reason I say that this saying doesn't stick in today's Christianity is because there is so much division amongst Christians today. What Jesus is basically saying is that if someone is not in open rebellion against Christ, then he is to be considered a friend and neighbour in Christ, EVEN if their beliefs are slightly different that ours.

Right off the top of my head, the first thing that pops into my mind is the constant arguing between Calvinists and Arminians. If you don't know what those are, google them up. I haven't heard much from the Arminian side of things, but I have heard far too much from the Calvinists. I've heard people go as far as to say that Arminians are not Christians, they are heretical, and are therefore idiots. They will then go back to their Bibles, memorizing Romans 9 so that they could quote it against the next Arminian they come across.

This is stupid. This is blatant division that is deliberately being created by Calvinists. Now, I will say that though I don't call myself a Calvinist, I do theologically lean towards the doctrines of election. At the end of the day, does that matter? Not in the slightest bit.

Arminians will just as much proclaim Christ as Calvinists do. And for that, I am glad. Paul writes in Philippians 1 that he has seen people preach the Gospel with good will AS WELL as people preaching the Gospel out of envy and rivalry. Sure, he acknowledges their fault, but at the end of it all, Paul says that he rejoices because either way, Christ is being proclaimed.

If Paul can rejoice when people spread the Gospel out of envy and rivalry, we should not at all be bothered when people spread the Gospel from a Calvinistic point of view, or an Arminian point of view. 

This applies to many other common debates within the Christian sphere. At the end of the day, as Jesus says, if the other party gives you a measly cup of water because you belong to Christ, then they will not lose their reward.

I am not an exception to what I say, by the way. I am irked by and still struggle with "faults" that I see in other people. But at the end of the day, if they proclaim Christ, then that's fine with me. Christ prayed in John 17 that we would be one, as Christ and God are one. We cannot and will not be one if we spend more time arguing over these grey areas. It is through our unity that people will see the glory of God, because if God is powerful enough to unite a bunch of idiotic sinners, then surely, He can overcome the sinner's heart.

Now, I am NOT in any way saying that we should tolerate heretics. Heretics are wolves in sheep's clothing, and they must be called out. They are rebels against God, wearing Christian name tags, and must be identified and declared against, publicly if necessary. But there are many small things (again, Calvinism vs. Arminianism) that can be easily over looked, and if anything, must be over looked for the sake of the edification of the body of Christ. 

Brothers and sisters, we must be willing to drop every pre-conceived notion and prejudice so that we can build each other up. This is what Christ came to earth for, this is what He died for, and this is what He came back to life for. Get over yourself, and let God deal with each of us personally when it comes to our personal doctrines. In the mean time, however, strive to build each other up, and love each other, and include each other for the sake of the body.

We are His body now, and it cannot be broken by our debates and disagreements. 


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

last thing's first

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. And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, “If anyone would be first, he must 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 in my name receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me.” (Mark 9:33-37, ESV)

First of all, was it normal back then for strangers to just enter a random house in the middle of their trip? Jesus and His gang seemed to have did that a lot.

Anyway, as an intro into Jesus' next teaching, He starts with a question that can come off as ignorant, but really, it's a very smart way of calling someone out. Call them out by making them call themselves out.

When Jesus asks what they were talking about, they kept silent, because they knew that their topic of discussion was not a very positive one. It was a discussion that they were all ashamed of, so it seems like they know what was wrong here.

The disciples seemed like they were hoping for something outside of salvation in Christ. I guess they thought that since they were with the supposed political liberator of the Jews, they would also increase in status, honour, glory, etc. But Jesus counters this idea with the fact that if anyone wants to be first, he must be last of all AND servant of all. In essence, you gotta do what Jesus is doing right now.

Jesus, who already had all the glory and honour, stepped down from His throne and became a servant for all mankind.

I recently saw a news video about a high school football team that scored the touchdown of the year with one kind act. Check it out here...

What I find most interesting is when one of the kids starts to fess up that he wouldn't have normally done this for someone else, and how it genuinely made him happy to have made someone else happy.

And then this kid starts crying, and confessing that he used to think more about himself, and less about others.

I don't know if these guys were Christian or not, but ESPECIALLY if they weren't then it goes to show that there is something profound about considering someone else as more important than yourself. Profoundly awesome, that is.

Jesus then grabs a kid (again, a bit strange that they walk into a random house with kids in it, and then Jesus just grabs one for example) and explains that anyone who goes as far as to receive a child receives both Jesus and God, the one who sent Him. This sorta rings with the same vibe as when Jesus said, "for whatever you do for the least of these, you have done for me as well."

After all, children were sometimes marginalized in ancient societies. To receive a child was to receive the lowest of people, at the time. Jesus calls us to do just that, to receive even the lowest of people.

Back in the video, they helped a mentally disabled student. Let's face it, in high school especially, mentally disabled students were often HEAVILY looked down upon, and we gave them inappropriate nicknames for them, and we made fun of them behind their backs, etc. None of that is biblical, but it goes to show that we have placed disabled kids on a socially low level. What these students did for this disabled student is exactly what Christ called us to do; to receive with open arms even those most would consider socially off.

In light of all of this though, what Jesus wants us to understand most is that the first thing to being first is to be last. In this life, we must actively seek out opportunities to serve others. Within the body, we must seek to consider each other more important that ourselves, and to outdo one another in honour.

I love that last one, especially, as if honouring someone was a glorious competition. But this is how it's supposed to be. In this life, this is what it's supposed to look like.


Because in the next life, we will receive our eternal reward, which is God Himself. Just as Jesus said, if you receive the lowest, you will also receive the greatest. 

What the disciples argued about was backwards. We don't seek glory now, because we'll get it later. If we seek glory now, we will reap nothing after. But if we seek service now, we will reap glory after.

Receive what is low now, and we will receive the Most High, Jesus Christ Himself.