Jesus comes down from the mountain and is immediately met by needs. We go to the mountain not to stay there but to come down again and minister to human needs all around us. But that does not prevent the shock of returning to earth with a bump. This boy was in serious trouble (9:39). But the disciples could not help him (9:40).
Jesus exclaims, “O faithless and twisted generation”! It is rebuke to us many times that we do less than we could for Christ because we lack faith. Think of it: even the disciples are so rebuked. We too are “faithless” too often. May we today trust Christ with our sufferings, with our brokenness, with our joys, with our leadership decisions, with our families and with our work. All things are possible for the one believes: all things that God wills. What is lacking so often is not the willingness of God but the faithfulness of man and woman. Think of the great statement attributed to D.L. Moody: “The world has yet to see what God can do through one man fully committed to him. I want to be that man!” Determine today to be that man, that woman. What God can do through a man or woman, a boy or girl, who is fully committed to Christ.
Jesus again predicts his death (9:44) saying, “let these words sink into your ears.” May we listen carefully to God’s Word. To let his Word not bounce off our ears, but sink deep in. Without God’s work in our lives, we cannot perceive his meaning (9:45). Let us pray then that God will help us to understand his Word. It is good practice before reading the Bible to ask for God’s illumination, that we might understand what it is that we read.
Now, with Jesus predicting his death, they argue about who is the greatest (9:46)! How human they are, and how human we so often are. We want to be the best, the greatest, the greatest ever! But Jesus shows us the right way by using an illustration of a child. Nothing could rebuke our desire for greatness more than by telling us that real greatness is like a little child, a stumbling child, a lisping child, a weak child, a child with little brains, little wisdom, and little strength. What can Jesus mean? The child’s one characteristic is not his or her innocence (for children are not without desires for and acts of sin) but trust. A child trusts his or her parents. That is the natural condition. And greatness—as the disciples had discovered earlier—requires the humility, the childlike ability, to simply trust God, like a child takes his father’s hand.
A similar thing now from a different angle: a man is doing good work but is not part of the in group of disciples (9:49). How often this spirit enters into religious groups: who is in “our tribe,” who is “one of us,” who “thinks like us, speaks like us,” who can be part of “our tribe.” But not the well-taught Christian. It is not dumbing down doctrine to say what Jesus says in verse 50, but rightly understanding doctrine. The one who is not against you is for you. We have precious few who are for Christ—millions and millions of Christians, but sometimes it seems few—and if someone is for Christ then he is one of us, whether or not he knows our shibboleths.
It all comes to faith and being a faithful man and woman.
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