Learning the same lesson

Pat McFall


"What were you discussing out on the road?" Mark 9:33


Jesus asks this question as he and the disciples had arrived at Capernaum and settled into the place where they were staying. He didn't ask the question while they were on the road, he waited until everyone was settled in. In reality, he probably knew what they had been discussing on the road because they all traveled together but he wanted to give some wisdom, this was a teachable moment. The disciples of course don’t want to respond because they are embarrassed, they were vying for position and influence. They were ranking themselves and trying to see who was the greatest. But Jesus, taking a child and placing him in the midst of all of them, says, “If you want heaven, be like this child.” He gives them a lesson in God’s economy of leadership that the servant will be the greatest.

It won’t be the last time that he has to explain this to the disciples, and it won’t be the last time that he uses a child to make his point either. In the next chapter it seems like he is making the same point, “The kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children” (Mark 10:14). He says again that the greatest will be the least in heaven and the least will be the greatest (10:31).

The disciples are still struggling with the idea because two of them actually ask Jesus to be the best out of the Jesus Crew in 10:35. They are still so worried about their position, their value, their significance. Jesus reminds them, as he did when they sat in the house in Capernaum, that service is the entry point towards significance. That those with the smallest voice matter most to God. He says, as he has before that some people will flaunt their power and authority but you guys should be different. In fact, if you want to be a leader become a servant, a slave in fact. Why? Because Jesus came to serve and not to be served (10:45)


Sometimes I am learning the same lesson again and again. In the same way the disciples are needing to hear the same thing a few times over, I need that kind of clear correction and repetition in my life. I sometimes don’t want to admit it but it’s true. I forget things, or maybe I choose to forget them when it’s difficult. I try and justify thoughts and actions that I know are not Jesus-Centered. Then Jesus graciously corrects me with words that I have usually heard before. Words that are so simple and profound that I take them for granted. I am looking for the complex or flashy solution but to Jesus it’s simple. If you want greatness try the path of least-ness. God is so good that He won’t let me escape His process for my life. He may actually give me what I think I want in order to allow me to fail and run back to Him in utter dependance and at that moment His embrace won’t be a cold I told you so. It will probably look a lot like when he took a kid (in the middle of a crowd that thought the teacher was too busy for kids) and looked him in the eye, smiled and blessed him. In God’s economy the least matter.


Jesus, I am re-learning lessons that you have taught me before. I repent of looking for another answer when really I don’t like the one you’ve already given. Give me the strength to say yes to your process and the humility to serve as you have served.

Devotions for March 01

Numbers 28,29
Mark 8

Start Doing Devotions

Devotions are an important part of everyday life. Click here to learn how to do devotions.