Prediction of his death,
the Greatest among you
They went on from there and passed through Galilee. He did not want anyone to know it; for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, "The Son of Man is to be betrayed into human hands, and they will kill him, and three days after being killed, he will rise again." But they did not understand what he was saying and were afraid to ask him. Then they came to Capernaum; and when he was in the house he asked them, "What were you arguing about on the way?" Then they came to Capernaum; and when he was in the house he asked them, "What were you arguing about on the way?" But they were silent, for on the way they had argued with one another who was the greatest. He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, "Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all." Then he took a little child and put it among them; and taking it in his arms, he said to them, "Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me."
Prediction of his death, the Greatest among you
Mark 9:30-32 presents Jesus' second prediction of his suffering, death and resurrection (see 8:31-32; 10:33-34). On the fateful journey to Jerusalem Jesus 'was teaching' his disciples; Mark thus stresses both the importance of the lesson and the difficulty which the hearers experienced in grasping it. The disciples are warned of the fate that awaits their Master in the city. It is a revelation granted to them alone, but they do not understand and are afraid. 'The Son of Man is to be delivered into human hands': this is likely to be close to the form of the original passion-saying which underlies the developed version of the three passion-predictions. In Aramaic it would run something like: 'God will (soon) deliver up the son of man to the sons of men.' The disciples' thoughts are still human thoughts (see 8:33) and they cannot understand this teaching which is a revelation of God.
In vv. 33-34 their lack of understanding appears at its most blatant. They, disciples of a Master so soon to suffer bitter humiliation and death are all too humanly involved in petty squabbling over precedence. The caressing of the child -- 'taking it in his arms', is proper to Mark, a vivid touch in his style. This is a symbolic gesture in the manner of the prophets; but it also tells us much of the delicate sensitivity of Jesus. 'Welcomes': the loving service of the weaker members of the community, those who stand in greatest need of being served. A Christian is one baptised 'into the name of' Jesus (Mt 28:19; 1Cor 1:13, 15), so becoming his. That is why one meets (serves) Christ himself in the disciple, and the Father in Christ. This, then, is the dignity of Christian service. Mark has made the point that the revelation of Jesus cannot be received by one who is not ready to enter into the spirit of discipleship and therefore become 'last' and 'servant.' Perhaps the reader of today is once again attuned to the unambiguous message of this word of Jesus: greatness in his Church is found in diakonia, service, and only there. Our first step is to have relearned this. It is high time for us to act accordingly, at all times, and at all levels.
This is the Story of Jesus drawn from the four Evangelists
Gospel passages accompanied by a number of brief commentaries