“On Your Mark”
The Way Up, Is Down (Chapter 9 Verses 33-37)
The next stop is Capernaum (v33), for the Lord’s last visit there. Jesus waits until they are in the house before he raises the issue of the disciple’s dispute. For the simple reason to deal with it in public would probably have exacerbated it, and as a public witness, it was already not good. I think disputes with regards to religious matters are inevitable, but it is how we deal with them and treat each other that is of most importance. More important even than being right. Great harm is done to the Christian Church by the way Christians treat each other, have you realized I wonder, that there is something more important than doctrine? More important than spiritual gifts? More important than even than being a martyr? Well there is (1Corinthians 13.1-3). If you have not got, and are not exercising the grace of love, then all the right-ness, all your giftedness, and self- sacrifice amount to, nothing! So do not argue about spiritual things, whilst your are in the Way, for it is Spirit quenching (1Thessalonians 5.19). Yes, talk, debate, and with passion by all means, but not with heat, anger, definitely not without love. Because when you do, you identify more with the Pharisees than you do with Jesus. One of the most significant marks of spiritual maturity is having the ability to disagree in love.
No wonder they had nothing to say (v34). Shame on them. The greatest? I guess their biggest shock was that Jesus knew. But then he hears all our arguments. How often we would be silenced if Jesus were to walk in the room, and how often we would be ashamed just as these men? We need to conduct ourselves as if Jesus were constantly in the room, because he is! Of course their concept of greatness does not match that of the Kingdom of God, they misunderstand. They are thinking in terms of the Jews who wanted to make Jesus an earthly King, with earthly glory and pomp. And perhaps they see themselves in some grand capacity as his right hand men? The greatness of the Kingdom lies in the humility Jesus has displayed to them. The Son taking the form of a servant in human form, and going the extra mile to the cross (Philippians 2.5-11). And that all for sinful people like them, and us. Or Jesus pointing to John the Baptist, “none greater born of a woman”, said Jesus. Why? His constant humility, always bowing, always decreasing, giving way, and pointing to the supremacy of Jesus Christ (Luke 7.28; John 1.29; John 3.30). You want to be the greatest in the Church? Then how low can you get?
(© James R Hamilton, written September, 1996)