We read today how two disciples, the brothers James and John, created dissension by asking, “Grant us to sit, one on your right hand and one on your left, in your glory” (Mark 10:37). “When the ten heard it, they began to be indignant …” (verse 41) causing Jesus to say, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you, but whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all” (verses 42-44).
Throughout the world there is endless trouble and tension, not least over who leads. The same happens in religious organisations, although dissensions are usually less noisy. Human organisations operate like a pyramid with someone at the top of which Jesus said, “… their great ones exercise authority” (verse 42).
Can it be different to this? Subsequent events show how it was for the disciples. Their failure of faith at the arrest and death of their Lord humbled them. Acts includes powerful examples of their subsequent teamwork. Their final lesson had been at the last supper when they again disputed “which of them was to be regarded as the greatest” (Luke 22:24) leading Jesus to make the point, “I am among you as one who serves” (verse 27). Serving is the vital role to take. This became the inspiration to their subsequent teamwork.
It was one of the lessons the Israelites in the wilderness had to learn, and it was only the youngest generation who entered the promised land under Joshua who learnt it. Are we following Jesus simply for the benefits, like the people following Moses? What a mistake. Let us make sure we are those who serve, firstly our Lord, but equally, each other.