Disciples Behaving Badly

Disciples Behaving Badly

“Are you serious?” Jesus demanded. His closest followers, the ones who knew him best, were ambling along on the dusty road to Capernaum. Kicking up a different kind of dust, they were arguing about who was going to be the most famous, the biggest superstar, the one first on his block with golden sandals. Jesus was having none of this, so he called them out. “You’re all worried about who will make the biggest splash? Listen up, friends… Your care for others is the measure of your greatness. In fact, when you choose to deflate yourselves and serve the overlooked and undervalued, like this child here who is sitting on my lap, then that’s the same as serving me! And better yet, when you welcome me, you’re actually welcoming the Father, which is the biggest privilege of all! Have you noticed that I have chosen not to go big-time, that I hang out with the homeless beggars, the untouchable lepers, the too-touchable women of the night? So, if you want to hit the Big Time, go ahead and try. But you may end up losing me, and the Father, in the process.”

Since Jesus didn’t mince any words here, his scolding kept the disciples quiet for a while. Until John mentions that he put the kibosh on a miracle worker nearby, because the man doing these good deeds was not traveling in the same circles as the disciples. “Can you believe this guy, Jesus? This do-gooder is an outsider! Who knows what he actually believes, what doctrines he’s following? On top of that, he was using your name to do these miracles, and he probably doesn’t even know you from Abraham! So, I’m sure you’ll be pleased, rabbi, that I closed down his little storefront operation and told him to take the next mule out of town.”

John’s face fell as he found himself soundly rebuked once again. “Please John, think! If he’s doing my kind of work, caring for the broken or forgotten, or even offering a cup of cold water, he’s not the enemy, he’s a partner! And if he’s using my name… All the better! He’s on our side, John. Don’t bully him or anyone else who wants to do the right thing. Give them encouragement, not a hard time.” And then he turned to all his disciples and asks, “Why are you so narrow? I don’t have an in-crowd with a secret password. If they’re not fighting against us, there’s a good chance they’re working with us! Relax with the judgments, people.”

Soon enough, Jesus and his friends found themselves walking toward Jerusalem. On the way, they came to a Samaritan village that was less than hospitable, because it didn’t like the fact that Jesus was headed in that direction. John, that future Apostle of Love, eagerly asked Jesus if maybe they could send a lightning bolt down and incinerate the whole village, kind of like Sodom and Gomorrah. You know, to teach them a lesson.

As Jesus counts to ten and starts walking again, he murmurs under his breath, “Oy Vay!”

(refer to Mark 9 and Luke 9)