In Mark 9:30-37, Jesus’ disciples demonstrate concern over who is the greatest. The issue of rank among the twelve takes on new meaning as we consider the context of the passage.
Mark’s Gospel is one of immediacy. Without the account of John the Baptist’s birth or that of Jesus Christ, Mark moves immediately to Jesus calling the disciples, healing, casting out demons, cleansing the leper, teaching parables, and raising the dead. In Mark, Jesus also feeds the five thousand and walks on water. His ministry created quite a stir. So much so that the Pharisees and teachers of the law came from Jerusalem to investigate—as seen in Mark 7:1–13. This investigation was likely motivated by jealousy, insecurity, and fascination or curiosity.
In Mark 4, Jesus and the disciples are on a boat in the Sea of Galilee when a violent storm arises. Crippled with fear, the disciples wake their sleeping Savior. Jesus takes this opportunity to teach His followers, show His power, and apply mercy.
The Book of Acts contains the prodigious account of Paul’s missionary journeys around Europe and Asia Minor. These journeys allowed Christianity to spread to places where it had never been before. After Paul’s first mission, he and Barnabas traveled to Jerusalem to speak on an issue that had been plaguing their converts. Would Gentiles, those who had not been converts to Judaism, have to be circumcised and uphold the Law of Moses be Christians?