Leaving there, they went through Galilee. He didn’t want anyone to know their whereabouts, for he wanted to teach his disciples. He told them, “The Son of Man is about to be betrayed to some people who want nothing to do with God. They will murder him. Three days after his murder, he will rise, alive.” They didn’t know what he was talking about, but were afraid to ask him about it. They came to Capernaum. When he was safe at home, he asked them, “What were you discussing on the road?” The silence was deafening—they had been arguing with one another over who among them was greatest. He sat down and summoned the Twelve. “So you want first place? Then take the last place. Be the servant of all.” He put a child in the middle of the room. Then, cradling the little one in his arms, he said, “Whoever embraces one of these children as I do embraces me, and far more than me—God who sent me.”
- Mark 9.30-37 (The Message)
"Here's your hat, what's your hurry?" I’m often reminded of this quip when reading Mark’s gospel, because the sense of being rushed, hurried along, and insistent on arriving at a significant destination characterizes the gospel. Time and again the author uses expressions that refuse to let the story lag, that don’t allow for a leisurely stroll toward Jerusalem; expressions such as: the spirit immediately drove him; as soon as they left; in the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up; immediately they left; immediately he called them; immediately he got in the boat… I think you get the point.
Every step along the way there are lessons to be learned by the disciples, ideals to be grasped, and consequences to be recognized. But Mark seems convinced that they won’t mean anything unless viewed through the prism of the cross, the ultimate expression of God’s love. That’s why nothing is more important than leaving the dust of the journey behind, and arriving at the point of the story; the cross.
On Sunday we will examine the possibility that our spiritual journeys are much the same. There are lessons to be learned along the way, but they won’t make much sense or be effective in our lives, until we are awed, overwhelmed, and transformed by God’s love. I hope to see you on Sunday.