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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...

On Your Mark by Dr. George O. Wood


Jostling for Prominence

When the ten heard about this, they became indignant with James and John. Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you.” (Mark 10:41-43a, NIV)

Mark records that James and John asked for positions at the right and left hands of Jesus when He came in His glory. Matthew adds another detail: Their mother was a co-conspirator in the request (20:20,21)!

The question we might ask is this: “How did the other 10 disciples hear about this, since Mark 10:41 makes it clear they learned about it later?” It had been a private conversation with Jesus, the mother and her two sons. So, who leaked the news?

It’s the first instance I know of regarding the Christian grapevine. There’s really not very much that happens in Christian community that can be concealed for too long a period of time. It is almost a miracle when a conversation, incident, transgression or confession stays permanently private.

So, someone leaked to the other 10. I doubt it was James and John because they probably were too embarrassed to reveal what Jesus told them — that they were not guaranteed the seats of prominence. I would not be surprised if it was their mother who told friends, and the whole matter got back to the other disciples.

The other 10 are ticked. Rightly so — but not for altruistic reasons. They are ticked because they didn’t beat James and John to the punch. They all wanted to be first. None of them at that point had a great sense of community, that “we are in this together,” that it doesn’t matter who is in first or second place so long as the Lord is honored and His work, built.

They were the first, but not the last, of Jesus’ followers to be upset because someone tried to get ahead of them in the kingdom of God.

Whenever there is jostling for prominence, people are not together. They are either alone or in separate enclaves — plotting, gossiping, complaining and venting their frustration and animosity.

In dealing with dissension among His own followers, Jesus calls them together so that He can talk to all of them at the same time. Rather than give a stern scolding directed specifically at James and John, He omits naming them and gives some general principles of what life in His community is intended to be. The gentleness of Jesus in resolving conflict should be noted. He sets forth principles rather than degrading James and John.

Too many times in the Christian community, when conflict arises, the attacks become personal rather than dealing cool-headedly with the underlying issue. We must hear Jesus saying to us: Are you going to resolve conflict like the world wants you to or like I want you to?

Jesus dismisses the worldly way wherein the “rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them.” He wants His followers to avoid two things: (1) an attitude of lording it over others. He doesn’t want us to be haughty, boastful or use whatever status we have to project that we are better than someone else. (2) He does not want actions that “exercise authority” in such a way that we become dictators, arrogantly bossing others and using our positions as justification for mistreatment of those we lead and serve.

A prayer of response
Lord Jesus, may I not use position in family, church, work or community to advance my own agendas or try to be “big boss.” Help me, Lord, to serve others with humility.

GEORGE O. WOOD is general superintendent of the Assemblies of God.

On Your Mark

Previous Years

2013 On Your Mark

2012 On Your Mark

2011 On Your Mark

2010 On Your Mark

2009 On Your Mark

2008 On Your Mark

Podcasts of On Your Mark are available in video and audio.
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