September 16, 2009

the argument

The context for our Gospel lesson for Sunday is kind of interesting. The Lectionary people have taken us forward from Mark 8.27-38 all the way to Mark 9.30-37. In between those two pericopes we have:
  • Jesus' proclomation that some standing with him will not pass away before the Kingdom is seen
  • The Transfiguration
  • The disciples' failure to heal a boy with an evil spirit
Their arguing seems to make a whole lot more sense to me now. Who will be a part of the "not pass away crowd." Only 1/4 of the group got to see Jesus chillin' with Moses and Elijah - shouldn't they be among "the greatest"? And why could none of them do what Jesus did? Surely the greatest should get the sweet superpowers. Right?

Notice that in his response, Jesus doesn't rebuke the group of 12 as sternly as one might expect. He doesn't negate their desire to be "the greatest" he just turns it on its head. The greatest is the least. The most powerful is the servant. One who extends hospitality useless useless child who can offer less than nothing in return - that's who wins the game.

Arguing over who the greatest might be will forever forget that Jesus called us to stand greatest on its head. But if, by some miracle, we were to remember that, imagine what the arguing might be like then. Well, I served lunch to 1000 homeless today. Oh yeah? I built a habitat house all by myself. Oh yeah? I opened my home to a family who lost theirs in a fire. Oh yeah? I'm being martyred tomorrow.

The bickering and one-ups-manship that tends to define "greatest" conversations is kinda silly in this new context. Kind of unneccesary. Still, we can forgive the disciples for arguing, for we would have done it too.

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