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 to them, “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).

Today’s world has endless troubles and tensions, with many countries debating who will be leader and exercise authority. It is the same in the religious world, although dissensions are usually kept under cover. Human organisations operate like a pyramid, the Pope and the papal system being a prime example of what Jesus said, “ … their great ones exercise authority” (verse 42).

Can it be different to this? For the disciples events show it can be. Their failure of faith at the arrest and death of their Lord humbled them and the book of 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), the vital role. This became the inspiration to their subsequent teamwork.

It was one of the lessons the Israelites in the wilderness had to learn in a painful way. It was only the younger generation which entered the promised land under Joshua who learnt it. Are we following Jesus looking primarily for the benefits, like the people were doing in following Moses in the wilderness? What a mistake – let us make sure we are those who serve, first our Lord, but equally, each other.