Why are the disciples afraid to ask? Is it because they cannot conceive that Jesus can suffer death after the notoriety of his ministry and miracles? It seems that their fear reflects more than that. If we pay attention to the scripture, Jesus not only talks about his death and resurrection. He also says, “The Son of Man is to be betrayed into human hands.”
I think what sticks out in the disciples’ minds is Jesus’ use of the idea of betrayal. Today, not so different from Jesus’ time, the people we love and trust are those most capable of betraying us. This means that our darkest times of feeling betrayed always stem from people with whom we are in intimate relationships.
It’s no wonder the disciples are afraid to ask Jesus for clarification—they know that someone among them will be responsible for events that lead to Jesus’ crucifixion. The disciples’ strong focus on their own fear makes us wonder, Do the disciples actually hear the rest of Jesus’ declaration? He tells them he will rise from the dead after he is killed!
When our fear and worry consume us, we may not see other options. Our fear constrains our vision and kills our hopes and dreams. Only when we confront our fears do we discover that everything we feared was an illusion, a product of our imagination. Because, at the end of the day, fear is only False Expectations Appearing Real (FEAR).
God sent Jesus to take away our fear. The victory of the Cross makes it possible for us to face and conquer our fears. We can choose what to listen to: our fears or Jesus’ message of new life built on love and forgiveness.
God, help us choose the way of Jesus over the way of fear. Amen.
Proverbs describes the noble wife and sets a standard that can seem impossible. This woman is capable and respected but also generous and wise. She serves but is not weak. Is she a “superwoman,” and do all women need to be “superwomen”? No, she is noble because she follows the counsel of the psalmist and is deeply rooted in the teachings of God. Therefore, she sets a standard for everyone to emulate, not just women. James, another teacher of wisdom, encourages believers to show these same characteristics by following the wisdom given by God. In Mark the disciples display a lack of wisdom by arguing over who is the greatest. Jesus reminds them that greatness in God’s eyes comes through service, not through seeking recognition.
• Read Proverbs 31:10-31. How have societal expectations shaped your life? How do you allow them to shape the ways you interact with others?
• Read Psalm 1. When have you had to choose between wickedness and righteousness? What influenced your choice?
• Read James 3:13–4:3, 7-8a. You can choose the way you react to conflict. How can facing your internal struggles help you deal with external conflict?
• Read Mark 9:30-37. With what are you too preoccupied? How do your personal worries constrain your perspective?
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