Daily Reading & Meditation

Sunday (September 20): "Who is the greatest?"

Scripture: Mark 9:30-37

30 They went on from there and passed through Galilee. And he would not have any one know it; 31 for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, "The Son of man will be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him; and when he is killed, after three days he will rise." 32 But they did not understand the saying, and they were afraid to ask him. 33 And they came to Capenaum; and when he was in the house he asked them, "What were you discussing on the way?" 34 But they were silent; for on the way they had discussed with one another who was the greatest. 35 And he sat down and called the twelve; and he said to them, "If any one would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all." 36 And he took a child, and put him in the midst of them; and taking him in his arms, he said to them, 37 "Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me; and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me."

Meditation: Whose glory do you seek? There can be no share in God's glory without the cross. When Jesus prophesied his own betrayal and crucifixion, it did not make any sense to his disciples because it did not fit their understanding of what the Messiah came to do. And they were afraid to ask further questions! Like a person who might receive a bad verdict from the doctor and then refuse to ask further questions, they, too, didn't want to know any more. How often do we reject what we do not wish to see? We have heard the good news of God's word and we know the consequences of accepting it or rejecting it. But do we give it our full allegiance and mold our lives according to it? Ask the Lord to fill you with his Holy Spirit and to inspire within you a reverence for his word and a readiness to obey it.

How ashamed the disciples must have been when Jesus overheard them arguing about who among them was the greatest! But aren’t we like the disciples? We compare ourselves with others and desire their praise. The appetite for glory and greatness seems to be inbred in us. Who doesn't cherish the ambition to be "somebody" whom others admire rather than a "nobody"? Even the psalms speak about the glory God has destined for us. You have made them a little lower than God, and crowned them with glory and honor (Psalm 8:5).

Jesus made a dramatic gesture by embracing a child to show his disciples who really is the greatest in the kingdom of God. What can a little child possibly teach us about greatness? Children in the ancient world had no rights, position, or privileges of their own. They were socially at the "bottom of the rung" and at the service of their parents, much like the household staff and domestic servants.

What is the significance of Jesus' gesture? Jesus elevated a little child in the presence of his disciples by placing the child in a privileged position of honor. It is customary, even today, to seat the guest of honor at the right side of the host. Who is the greatest in God's kingdom? The one who is humble and lowly of heart – who instead of asserting their rights willingly empty themselves of pride and self-seeking glory by taking the lowly position of a servant or child.

Jesus, himself, is our model. He came not to be served, but to serve (Matthew 20:28). Paul the Apostle states that Jesus emptied himself and took the form of a servant (Philippians 2:7). Jesus lowered himself (he whose place is at the right hand of God the Father) and took on our lowly nature that he might raise us up and clothe us in his divine nature.

God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble (James 4:6). If we want to be filled with God's life and power, then we need to empty ourselves of everything which stands in the way - pride, self-seeking glory, vanity, etc. God wants empty vessels so he can fill them with his own glory, power, and love (2 Corinthians 4:7). Are you ready to humble yourself and to serve as Jesus did?

"Lord Jesus, by your cross you have redeemed the world and revealed your glory and triumph over sin and death. May I never fail to see your glory and victory in the cross.  Help me to conform my life to your will and to follow in your way of holiness."

Psalm 54:1-7

1 Save me, O God, by your name, and vindicate me by your might.
2 Hear my prayer, O God; give ear to the words of my mouth.
3 For insolent men have risen against me, ruthless men seek my life; they do not set God before them.Selah
4 Behold, God is my helper; the Lord is the upholder of my life.
5 He will requite my enemies with evil;in thy faithfulness put an end to them.
6 With a freewill offering I will sacrifice to you; I will give thanks to your name, O Lord, for it is good.
7 For you have delivered me from every trouble, and my eye has looked in triumph on my enemies.

Daily Quote from the early church fathers: Downward roots enable upward growth, by Augustine of Hippo, 354-430 A.D.

"Observe a tree, how it first tends downwards, that it may then shoot forth upwards. It fastens its root low in the ground, that it may send forth its top towards heaven. Is it not from humility that it endeavors to rise? But without humility it will not attain to higher things (Proverbs 18:12). You are wanting to grow up into the air without a root. Such is not growth, but a collapse." (excerpt from THE GOSPEL OF JOHN, SERMON 38.2)

Meditations may be freely reprinted for non-commercial use - please cite: 
copyright (c) 2015 Servants of the Word, source:  www.dailyscripture.net, author Don Schwager

Scripture quotations from Common Bible: Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 1973, and Ignatius Edition of the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 2006, by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.  Citation references for quotes from the writings of the early church fathers can be found here.

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