Mark is again polemicizing against the false teachers of his time, who understood Christ as a divine miracle-worker and themselves as his successors. Against this false Christology and false concept of ministry the evangelist sets the ideal of the suffering servant, of service and humility exemplified in the cross. — Reginald H. Fuller
If the Titanic had sunk of the coast of the Holy Land in the first century, the invitation over the loudspeaker would have gone something like this: “Please, proceed to the lifeboats in an orderly fashion. Fathers and patriarchs first.” Yes, you heard that right. The idea of chivalry, where the men were expected to die honorably as the women and children were spared the pain of death was not to come for about a 1,000 years.
The Garison Keillor line; “Nothing done for children is ever wasted,” would have been interpreted to mean: “The best thing you can do for the children is to make sure his grandpa and dad are alive for him to be raised by.”
It is not that our ancestors did not love their children. It is merely that they were quite pragmatic about life and youth. This is time before penicillin. it is estimated that more than half of the children born, did not make it to adulthood. Living memory probably still contains minds that remember polio, measles, chicken pox, whooping cough, and other little childhood malaises that are not necessarily deadly themselves but have a nasty history of causing other maladies that do kill you, like pneumonia. Add to that all the other diseases that we have conquered by hygiene, sanitation projects and medicine and you are looking at deadly obstacle course that a child, having survived birth — no small feat of luck there — would have to negotiate.
No, children were put second not because they were unloved but because their being alive in a few years was questionable. One got used to their deaths and therefor one got used to not get overly attached and therefore one got used to keeping them second place or lower in all things.
To this day, when pictures of starvation in Africa crop up in America, it is children with distended stomachs that are shown. The parents seem to have eaten, however. Now as in Jesus’ time, the children eat last.
I invite you to think of this when you read what Jesus says to the disciples: “Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.” You see, servants eat even after children. So read the verse before in that light: “Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.”
“He was despised and rejected by mankind,
a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
he was despised, and we held him in low esteem..” Isaiah 53:3
Being Messiah is not an easy job according to Isaiah. But that brings up the equally interesting question: If Messiah is not an easy job, how about those who would come after him? At minimum, we could say: Anyone who comes in the name of Messiah but neglects to be a servant or neglects to be, act, and appear humble, has missed the mark entirely.
Anyone who cannot see the importance in the littlest and lowest has missed the mark.
Anyone who seeks recognition and influence is missing the mark. Messiah and his people are found in serving and lifting up the lowly.
What is humility to you? How do you practice it?