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The disciples in Mark 9 and 10 are meant to look rather absurd to you.  They act like they are magicians who just need to know the magic words to cast out especially difficult unclean spirits.  They argue with one another over who is the greatest among them.  They try to stop a man who was casting out demons in the name of Jesus because that man was not in their group.  They rebuke the kids of divorced parents who are there to be touched and blessed by Jesus.  They are astonished to see that the respectably rich do not have an easier time entering the kingdom of God than everyone else.  But, as if that were not enough, the passage for today shows James and John trying to jockey for the status of the greatest among the twelve and the other ten are only upset that James and John have done this because they wish that power for themselves.  The absurdity of the disciples in this scene should be obvious since Jesus has been teaching them over and over again that if anyone would be first he must be last of all and servant of all.  But before you climb up on your high horse and look down on the twelve, the reason that Mark gives you all of these stories is that you should be able to see your own pettiness in the disciples — it should help you to see your own selfish ambitions and the ways you maneuver for power and position and to see your own grudges and prejudices.  You should be able to find something you do not like as you look at the disciples as if into a mirror.  And then you notice that Jesus was walking ahead of them.


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