My devotions were in Mark Ch 9. This is the Transfiguration chapter, in which Peter, Paul, and John witness some of the glory of Jesus as He speaks with Elijah and Moses. When they come down from the mount, they encounter the rest of the disciples with a father and son. The father asks Jesus if He can cast the demon out of his son (quotable quote: “I believe! Help Thou mine unbelief!”). The disciples later ask why they couldn’t do the task themselves, and Jesus answers, “This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting.” (Mark 9.29)
This is some pretty powerful stuff the disciples are witnessing and doing and talking about.
Then, there they are, walking along. They arrive at their destination, and Jesus asks them, “What was it that ye disputed among yourselves by the way?” (v 33)
The disciples don’t answer. Verse 34 says, But they held their peace: for by the way they had disputed among themselves, who should be the greatest.
The disciples were immediately convicted. They knew they had done wrong. They knew that Jesus knew. Their pride was hanging out all over the place.
Look how gently Jesus handles their sin:
35 And he sat down, and called the twelve, and saith unto them, If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all. 36 And he took a child, and set him in the midst of them: and when he had taken him in his arms, he said unto them, 37 Whosoever shall receive one of such children in my name, receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me, receiveth not me, but him that sent me.
They’re still not getting it, evidenced by what John says next. He changes the subject!
“38 And John answered him, saying, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, and he followeth not us: and we forbad him, because he followeth not us.”
Jesus lets him change the subject, and answers wisely and gently. But then He brings the teaching back around to His initial probing: (v 43) And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea… He continues giving illustrations as to how it is better to cut off that which causes one to sin, than to sin, than to be cast into hell, “Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.”
He closes, wrapping up His lesson on pride in verse 50, “Have salt in yourselves, and have peace one with another.”
Jesus mentions twice in this chapter (once with just the three disciples, and once to all of them) that He is going to rise from the dead. They don’t answer Him, or ask what He’s talking about; they’re afraid (v 32).
Jesus lays some pretty heavy stuff on these men. He knows their hearts; he knows they have pride and sin in those hearts. But He chose them, and He works to soften those hearts. Just like He chooses us.
As you read through the gospels, notice how differently Jesus speaks to His chosen ones than He does to the Pharisees and Scribes (Matthew 23.27 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.).
It’s not that Jesus doesn’t love every person He ever created; He does! But He knows whose hearts The Father has chosen to soften; He knows just how to speak to each of those hearts to guide us and direct us to His glory and our peace. He knows His sheep, and He knows that His sheep hear His voice.
Listen to Him.
Jeremiah 10. 23 O LORD, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps. 24 O LORD, correct me, but with judgment; not in thine anger, lest thou bring me to nothing.
Isaiah 40. 28 Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding. 29 He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. 30 Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: 31 But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.