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Today: 19 September 2014
 


 

Arguments Jesus had 7: Who's the greatest?

First published 14 Sep 2014



Jesus was on the way to Jerusalem in expectation of a final confrontation between his own teachings and those of the religious authorities; a confrontation that would inevitably lead to his suffering and painful death. 

He took the twelve disciples to one side and explained what was going to happen when they got to the Passover festival in the capital city, and how it would be in accordance with prophecies about the Messiah.

Naturally, his closest friends were supporting and encouraging him through this most challenging part of the work he came to do... 

Well, actually, no. 

In fact, the 12 friends were having a big argument about which of them would get the best jobs when Jesus came into his Kingdom. (Read Mark 10: 35-45). 

James and John (Zebedee's excitable boys) were trying to get Jesus to promise them thrones either side of him when he became king. And the book of Matthew (read) tells us their mother was acting as their agent (tradition suggests she may have been the sister of Mary, Jesus’ mother Jesus). If so, this was a real 'keep it in the family' move! (“You know they're good boys, your cousins; you couldn't go wrong!”) 

You can imagine that when the other disciples heard what was going on, they became furious, and a big row erupted. I guess we might all have felt that way in their shoes.

But what could have gone wrong for such a row to break out? As usual, Jesus didn’t get caught up in the anger, but used the situation to drive home some lessons that are just as relevant to us today. 

What today's society thinks is important can be very different from what is important in God's kingdom 
James and John had recognised Jesus as the promised Messiah, who would bring in a new kingdom of righteousness. Perhaps up to this point they were looking to be part of a movement that would bring them honour and glory when Jesus became an earthly king. 

But Jesus explained to them all that the one who wanted to be thought of as the greatest in God's kingdom would be one who would serve others—showing the compassion of the shepherd rather than the management skills of the big boss.

And later they would see his attitude played out perfectly when Jesus (God with us) gave himself up to death as a ransom for them and, of course, for us, too. 

A follower of Jesus is a 'work in progress' 
Jesus doesn’t make this explicit in the text, but we have the viewpoint of history. These excitable brothers James and John had a transformation in their future that lay beyond his death and resurrection, and that just then only Jesus could see. 

James went on to become a pillar of the new church: leader of the believers in Jerusalem. Like Jesus, he would be put to death as the authorities tried to stifle the growing church. 

John would also be one of the pillars of the church—he would live to a great age and would be remembered as the one who constantly urged Christians of all ages: 'little children, love one another'. 

I thank God that I, like all those who follow Jesus, am a 'work in progress' as Jesus works in me to bring about his vision of who I can be. Are you?


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Read: Look at the bible passage again and try imagine being there and how you might feel

Pray: Jesus, make me one of your disciples, so that I can be a 'work in progress' and serve in your kingdom.

To think about:  This week, consider how your life might need to change to reflect the values of God's kingdom.



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