“And he came to Capernaum: and being in the house he asked them, What was it that ye disputed among yourselves by the way? But they held their peace: for by the way they had disputed among themselves, who should be the greatest.” — Mark 9:33–34
Have you ever been caught not paying attention? It can be quite embarrassing, especially in a class or a teaching session when you are thinking or discussing something totally different. That’s what happens in Mark 9.
Jesus and His disciples are passing through Galilee and Jesus is confiding very important truth to His disciples about His betrayal, His death, and His resurrection (v.30-31). They don’t really understand what He is talking about and they are too afraid to ask (v.32).
When they arrive at Capernaum, we find one of the reasons they didn’t understand – they were busy having their own internal dispute. Jesus noticed it but did not ask about it until later. When He did ask, they did not answer because they were disputing who should be the greatest at the very same time Jesus was teaching on His death, burial, and resurrection!
Jesus then went on to teach about humility and how the one who wants to be first must be last and servant of all. He must humbly become like a little child.
What a tragic illustration of how we behave as well! We often get involved in internal disputes and competitions to be greater than others around us, when Jesus is trying to teach us to pick up our cross and follow Him.
What is Jesus teaching us today? Are we listening? Are we seeking to understand? Are we willing to suffer and to die like our Saviour? Or are we jockeying for position, disputing by the way who will be the greatest? May God forgive us for our pride, our competition, and our desire for greatness?