Jesus and his disciples are passing through Galilee. Along the way, he reminds them again that he is to suffer and to die. Their minds however are on other things. When they get to Capernaum, Jesus asks them what they’ve been discussing. There’s an awkward silence.
You see, the disciples had been debating or arguing about their rank and status in God’s kingdom. It’s the equivalent of Conservative MPS arguing among themselves about who should get the best jobs in Liz Truss’ cabinet. Who should be Chancellor of the Exchequer and who should be Foreign Secretary.
See how Jesus’ teaching about The Way of The Cross is juxtaposed with their argument. The point is this. If they were arguing and tussling over power, then, they had not yet grasped Jesus’ words. Their focus was on power and glory. Jesus had come to serve, suffer and die.
So, Jesus teaches them again. First he makes a statement
“If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.”
Then he uses a visual aid. He brings one of their children among them and says “you’ve got to become like this one.” Now the point of being child-like here is not about innocence, naivety or playfulness, nor it is about cuteness. It’s about status -a child was of lowest importance. It’s also about faith. Children, of necessity, have to depend on and trust parents.
One of the things we are meant to learn through Mark’s Gospel is that if Jesus’ way was the way of The Cross, then so to is ours. We are to die to ourselves if we are to discover life in him. Paul puts it like this:
What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.Romans 6:1-5