Peter nudges his brother, and Andrew nudges John who nudges his brother. James frowns. He could be the one to ask, he knows that, he’s a blustering kind of person. But in truth they are all confused. And if he means what they think he means then they don’t want to know. Better to stay in the dark. They want to hear stories of triumph and success, not suffering and disaster. What would death achieve anyway? What would be the point of simply surrendering to the Romans like that? Surely they should fight, rebel, attack, crush the enemy, not submit to their pagan, filthy, barbaric ways. And so, in order to avoid the issue they revert to their usual distraction – and argue about power and strength. Which one of them is the funniest, the smartest, the bravest, the loudest. And so they banter like real men. They don’t want to consider things like service and sacrifice and weakness. That kind of currency achieves nothing. Peter shoves James, who shoves him back, so hard that he collides with John who shoves them both. Argue argue, banter, banter, noise noise. Lots and lots and lots of hot air. And suddenly, he’s here. Not alone but with a small, smiling child. A little girl giggling and looking up at them, wide-eyed and innocent. The mother hovers by his shoulder, straining to hear what this unusual rabbi will say of her precious child, nervous too, that the little girl might say something wildly inappropriate.
‘The ways of God are not the ways of men,’ he is saying, ‘the son of man has not come to judge, but to save, to rescue… and to wash feet. Have a good look at this little child and learn from her. Curious, humble, inventive, learning day by day.’ He smiles at her and she presses her small hand into his. ‘The son of man will become the ultimate servant, giving up everything to redeem everything. The world has plenty of bluster and power, what it needs is kindness, humility, mercy and sacrifice. You don’t understand now, but later you will. And always remember, whenever you are kind to the small people of this world, you are kind me.’ And he smiles again at the little girl who beams back at him before skipping back to her mother, humming happily as she goes.
Drawing on Mark 9 vv 30-37