Day Twenty four: Saturday, March 10

Mark 9:33-50

Jesus came to Capernaum, and when he was in the house he asked them, “What were you arguing among yourselves on the way?

But they were silent, for they had disputed with one another on the way about who was the greatest.

He sat down, and called the twelve; and he said to them, “If any man wants to be first, he shall be last of all, and servant of all.” He took a little child, and set him in the middle of them. Taking him in his arms, he said to them, “Whoever receives one such little child in my name, receives me, and whoever receives me, doesn’t receive me, but him who sent me.”

John said to him, “Teacher, we saw someone who doesn’t follow us casting out demons in your name; and we forbade him, because he doesn’t follow us.”

But Jesus said, “Don’t forbid him, for there is no one who will do a mighty work in my name, and be able quickly to speak evil of me.For whoever is not against us is on our side.For whoever will give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because you are Christ’s, most certainly I tell you, he will in no way lose his reward.Whoever will cause one of these little ones who believe in me to stumble, it would be better for him if he were thrown into the sea with a millstone hung around his neck.If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off.

“It is better for you to enter into life maimed, rather than having your two hands to go into Gehenna,into the unquenchable fire,‘where their worm doesn’t die, and the fire is not quenched.’ If your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life lame, rather than having your two feet to be cast into Gehenna,into the fire that will never be quenched— ‘where their worm doesn’t die, and the fire is not quenched.’ If your eye causes you to stumble, cast it out. It is better for you to enter into God’s Kingdom with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into the Gehenna of fire, ‘where their worm doesn’t die, and the fire is not quenched.’

“For everyone will be salted with fire, and every sacrifice will be seasoned with salt.Salt is good, but if the salt has lost its saltiness, with what will you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.”

“Whoever wants to be first must last of all and servant of all.” When Jesus breaks the silence and initiates instruction on this truth, he repackages the language of desire into the vocabulary of requirement. It all points to the creation of a new community with altered priorities. This new community would be one where the least of humankind would count. And the least would not only count, they would be embraced. Jesus hooks his disciples’ interest in desiring greater things by using the verb “want”—“Whoever wants to be first…” But in so highlighting the desire for greatness, Jesus specifies a requirement for smallness—“That one must be last of all.” And lest the disciples interpret being “last” as some easy maneuver, some self-deprecating behavior, Jesus attaches an “and”: “And that one must be servant of all.” Jesus tacks on this expression of outward service as a must, to ensure that his people will not distort the truth and blessing of new community, twisting it to their own ambitious ends. (Peter W. Marty, The Lectionary Commentary: The Third Readings: The Gospels, p. 245)

Day Twenty-five: Sunday, March 11
Day Twenty three: Friday, March 9