As Jesus and his disciples make their way back from the mountain-top experience of the transfiguration and the ultimate revelation of Jesus as the Messiah, it is little wonder that the disciples remain confused. Jesus has been teaching them and preparing them for the day that they finally grasped that he was the true Messiah – which Peter was able to confess last Sunday when they arrived at Caesarea Philippi. What is wrong in this picture is the whole expectation of what the Messiah would look, feel and act like. Clearly as the restored king of Israel, gathering armies and overthrowing the Roman occupiers and cleansing the temple – this did not look like what Jesus was now doing. As they make their way along the road and the poor disciples are struggling to work out is what Jesus telling us meant to be taken literally or should we be somehow going deeper to find a symbolic meaning in all of this? I imagine that Jesus brings the disciples together into a holy huddle to try and explain all this.
Once they arrive back in Capernaum, which is their home base for most of the public ministry of Jesus, Jesus is able to bring them back into the house and confront them with the discussion/argument that they have been having along the road. Conveniently a child is there in the house (a child of one of the apostle’s?) – the Greek term used suggests a very young child – and Jesus is able to embrace the child and use him as a teaching moment. Children had little value in ancient society – until they were old enough to be put to use around the house or out in the fields. Suddenly this worthless child becomes the paradigm of what being in the kingdom will look like.
Recorded at St Paul’s, 5.30pm (7’45”)
Sunday 25B. Mark 9: 30-37