Mark 10:41

On hearing of this, the ten others were at first very indignant about James and John.

well of course
when on others we have called
behind yet another’s back
there is mistrust anger

here the aggrieved can remember
all the teachings about generous sharing
for here we are not shared with
to which comes the cry unfair

John and James are to blame
we would never have tried that
unless maybe perhaps
we’d thought of it first

inasmuch as we didn’t
our anger is exponentially increased
by adding righteousness to our claim
this unfairness is raised by god

To claim a special place is the same as denying a claim anyone else might make for the same place. James and John made a preemptive strike against the other ten (not to mention Mary Magdalene and other women or any of the children Jesus lifted and blessed).

And now we can play the game of “You and Them Fight”. Readers can even begin to imagine how they might have attacked Jesus to gain a privilege of place and turn this into a three-way tug-of-war instead of just two factions within the Twelve. To climb the ladder in a uniformed church or to have a successful schism is indication of condensing multiple interests into an either-or wedge issue or tug-of-war. With two there can be a winner and loser. With more participants it is more difficult to be clear about an ultimate duality.

How would your reading so far suggest that Jesus enter into this pull and push of authority? Is there a parable from the first half of Mark that might make a comeback? Will it turn into a different pairing of Jesus against the Twelve? Will this not be addressed until the ironic moment when those at Jesus’ right and left turn out to be thieves?

Trying to figure out “What Would Jesus Do?” is ultimately not predictable. Rather, listen to the last time Mark used ἀγανακτέω (aganakteō, indignant), 10:14—Jesus was indignant to the point of anger and said, “Allow the children to come to me. Don’t forbid them….”

Do we get indignant about someone beating us at our own game (Twelve’s usage) or toward anyone who is beating up on someone seen to be weaker (Jesus’ usage)? This is a Jerusalem bound question.

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