Monday, 13 December 2021
Title: Paradoxical Principles.
By: Ong Hwee Soo.

Mark 9:35, 10:43-45

Throughout the Gospels, Jesus, the Master Teacher told many Parables to illustrate a paradoxical way of life. Jesus also made countless direct statements that were counter-intuitive, counter-cultural, counter-common sense, to emphasize the difference between worldly values and kingdom priorities. Christ’s paradoxical sayings on the surface run against conventional wisdom but they conceal and also reveal deeper truths.

One of the most profound paradox Jesus propounded was on the principle of greatness. “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” (Mark 9:35)

In the context of this verse, Jesus and His disciples who were travelling together had just arrived at Capernaum. “And when he was in the house he asked them. ‘What were you discussing on the way?’” (v33). They “kept silent” (v34), undoubtedly from embarrassment, “for on the way they had argued with one another about who was the greatest.” (v34). The disciples who were undergoing intensive training from Jesus, the penultimate epitome of humility and servanthood, were entangled in an overt dispute about their relative supremacy to each other.

In our first text today (9:35), Jesus radically redefines greatness. But His lesson had yet to take root in these dull, dense disciples.

In the next chapter, the brothers James and John came to Jesus privately, and unashamedly requested Jesus to “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” (10:37) At this juncture, Jesus and His disciples were journeying to Jerusalem, whereby James and John, together with the rest of the disciples had expected the Messiah to immediately establish His kingdom politically. Christ will hence enter His glory and the two brothers desired a prominent place in it. The duo had defined greatness as prominence as well as power, and they coveted the position of importance.

This text in no way exonerates the other disciples as they were no different. “And when the ten heard it, they began to be indignant at James and John” (v41), exposing the desires of their own hearts and also their self-righteousness.

Jesus did not categorically chastise them or forbid their ambitious desire to be great, rather, He distinctly redirected that aspiration, redefined it and refined it. “But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all” (v 43-44). Notice the word “must” in both of our texts today, which indicates it is an imperative. Jesus is demonstrating “the reversal of greatness and rank” (William L Lane: ‘Commentary on The Gospel of Mark’). This overturns our deeply embedded worldly concept of greatness.

Thus, we have two contrasting concepts: greatness as sinfully and socially defined, opposed to greatness as biblically defined. The battle rages in the arena of our hearts. Genuine greatness is achieved only by emulating our Saviour’s example and made possible by the Saviour’s sacrifice. “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (10:45).

In what ways have we strived to be Number 1 in our leadership roles? How has worldly perspectives of greatness caused us to view leadership as a position rather than a function of service? How may we reverse our ambitious appetite for personal power or our push for private agendas? What steps should we take to loosen our control and allow for more liberty of the Holy Spirit?

Biblical leadership is not about being in charge, but serving those in your charge.


Heavenly Father, helps us to Live the Life of Humility and the Life of serving others. Amen.

标题: 矛盾的原则
翻译:陈劲年姐妹【马可福音 9:35, 10:43-45】


耶稣提出的最深刻的悖论之一是关于伟大的原则。 “耶稣坐下,叫十二个门徒来,说:若有人愿意作首先的,他必作众人末后的,作众人的用人。 (马可福音 9章35节)

在这节经文的上下文中,耶稣与同行的门徒刚刚到达迦百农。 “他们来到迦百农,耶稣在屋里问门徒说:‘你们在路上议论的是什么?’” (33节) 他们 “不作声” (34节), 无疑是出于尴尬, 因为他们在路上彼此争论谁为大。 (34节)门徒正在接受耶稣教导有关谦卑和仆人典范的密集训练,他们卷入了一场公开的争论中,在议论谁为大。

在我们今天的第一节经文中 (第9章35节) 耶稣从根本上重新定义了伟大,但祂的教训还没有在这些呆滞、迟钝的门徒中扎根。

在下一章中,雅各和约翰两弟兄私下来到耶稣面前,并厚颜地请求耶稣 “赐我们在你的荣耀里,一个坐在你右边,一个坐在你左边。” (第10章37节)在这个时候,耶稣和祂的门徒正前往耶路撒冷,雅各和约翰以及其他门徒都期望弥赛亚立即在政治上建立祂的国度。基督将进入祂的荣耀,两兄弟希望在其中占据显着位置。两人将伟大定义为卓越和权力,他们觊觎着重要的地位。

这段经文决不能免除其他门徒的责任,因为他们也没有什么不同。 “那十个门徒听见,就恼怒雅各、约翰。” (41节)暴露了自己内心的欲望,也暴露了他们的自以为是。

耶稣并没有明确地惩罚他们,也没有禁止他们渴望成为伟大,相反,他清晰将他们的愿望重新定向、重新定义并使其完善。 “你们中间,谁愿为大,就 必 作你们的用人;在你们中间,谁愿为首,就 必 作众人的仆人” (43-44节)请注意我们今天这两节经文中的 “必” 一词,这表明它是命令式的。耶稣正在展示 “伟大和地位的逆转”(威廉·L·莱恩(William L Lane):《马可福音评论》)。这颠覆了我们根深蒂固世俗的伟大观念。

因此,我们有两个截然不同的概念:有罪的和社会定义的伟大,与圣经定义的伟大相反。战斗在我们心中的舞台上激荡。真正的伟大只有通过效法我们救主的榜样才能实现,并通过救主的牺牲成为可能。 “因为人子来,并不是要受人的服事,乃是要服事人,并且要舍命作多人的赎价” (第10章45节)