Bible Study — September 10 for Worship September 23

Bible Study – September 10 for Worship September 23

Mark 9:30  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 Capernaum; 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 anyone 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.”

COMMENTARY

In ancient Israel so many children died of early childhood disease, the culture didn’t really begin to even count them as persons until they had gotten past the measles, the mumps, chicken pox, and survived to the age of 9 or 10.  When Jesus said to the disciples, “you must become as a little child,” he was not only referring to the issue of trust, trusting God like a little child, he was also the referencing the willingness to be a non-person in the eyes of hierarchical society.  The disciples struggled with this first and last business.  Even at the Last Supper they were arguing about who would become the Prime Minister in Jesus’ new government.

To place our story in context, Jesus and his disciples were returning to Capernaum after the transfiguration and the healing of the epileptic boy.  While they were on the road Jesus reminded the disciples for the third time they were going to Jerusalem for the Passover.  Jesus would be arrested and executed.  His followers couldn’t seem to hear him, because their imaginations were full of power and glory.  We should also note that on the road Jesus used the messianic title “Son of man.”   Son of man is a term used in the Hebrew scriptures varying from an ordinary human to a divinely appointed ruler.  References can be found in Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel and some of the Psalms.  Most of the literature employing the term can be traced to the time of the exile or post-exilic work.

When the company arrived in Capernaum Jesus invited the disciples to join him in the house.  Jesus would not embarrass them in public, and he wanted an object lesson.  So he began with a question:  “What were you discussing on the road?”  As soon as they were confronted with the question, the disciples knew they had been caught.  So they remained silent.  Once again Jesus reiterated his teaching, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.”  Jesus was about servant leadership.

Leadership is for the purpose of serving the needs of others rather than self.  Too often we see leadership abused, leadership that is self-serving.  The Commonwealth of God inspires servant leaders, men and women who use their spiritual gifts to minister to the needs of others.

In the last line of the story Jesus commends his followers to embrace other people regardless of hierarchical status.  “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me. . .”  Once again Jesus bids us throw off the ways of the world where money, power and status count.   We are all children of God equally loved.  As our society becomes increasingly stratified by income and social status Jesus calls upon all those who follow him to subvert the system.  Come to the Sharing Table, where all are welcome and all are equal.

LET’S ASK SOME QUESTIONS OF THE TEXT

1. When the text reads, “they went on from there and passed through Galilee,” is it possible to determine where “there” was?

2. What prediction about his own fate did Jesus make on the road?

3. What do you think the title Son of man meant to Jesus’ disciples?

4. How do we know what the disciples were discussing on the road?

5. Where did Jesus question his disciples?

6. What did Jesus say about being first?

7. How did Jesus illustrate his point about status?

8. How old was the child?

9. What was the point of receiving a child?

LET’S ALLOW THE TEXT TO ASK QUESTIONS OF US

1. If you had been with the disciples and you heard Jesus say, “The Son of Man will be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him,” what would have been your impression of that statement?

2. Do you think anyone could have understood the additional statement, “and when he is killed, after three days he will rise?”

3. What do you think is the best interpretation of the term “Son of man” in our passage.

4. Have you ever found yourself “caught” be Jesus?

5. What do you think are the most important forms of hierarchy in our American society today?

6. For you what would be the best application of Jesus’ teaching “for anyone who would be first, he must be the last of all and the servant of all?”

7. What is your greatest challenge in becoming a “servant leader?”

8. How might the church be different, if the church took on the role of “servant leader?”

9. How has the status of children changed since the first century?

10. Do you think our culture still values children?

Week of September 17 – September 23:  Seventeenth Sunday After Pentecost – Mark 9:30-37 – First in Caring – Wisdom of Solomon 1:16-2:1, 12-22, Jeremiah 11:18-20, Psalm 54, James 3:13-4:3, 7-8a.

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