“Then He came to Capernaum. And when He was in the house He asked them, ‘What was it you disputed among yourselves on the road?’ But they kept silent, for on the road they had disputed among themselves who would be the greatest” (Mark 9:33-34).
Have you ever got into a fight or dispute with someone over something that turned out to be rather trivial? During such times, did you later look back and regret fighting over such things?
As Jesus gets nearer to the end of His earthly ministry, we see his disciples beginning to fight with each other and even other people over trivial things. For example, as the opening passage above indicates, they began to dispute with each other over which of them would become greatest in Jesus’ kingdom (Mark 9:33-34; cf. Matthew 18:1). Sadly, this was not the only time they would fight about this. Later, as Jesus and his disciples are heading to Jerusalem shortly before Jesus’ arrest, trial, and crucifixion, James and John create a dispute among the disciples by asking Jesus to give them a high position in His Kingdom and let them sit down one on His right hand and the other on His left hand (Mark 10:35-37; cf. Matthew 20:20-24).
In His response to the first instance above, Jesus reminds his disciples that they need to focus on serving one another and having the humility of a young child. “And He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, ‘If anyone desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.’ Then He took a little child and set him in the midst of them. And when He had taken him in His arms, He said to them, ‘Whoever receives one of these little children in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me, receives not Me but Him who sent Me” (Mark 10:35-37).
However, the disciples were not done finding things about which to fight. John, the “disciple whom Jesus loved” (John 13:23), tells Jesus of another dispute into which they had gotten themselves: “Now John answered Him, saying, ‘Teacher, we saw someone who does not follow us casting out demons in Your name, and we forbade him because he does not follow us’ ” (Mark 9:38). For no other reason than that person was not a part of their “group”, John, and the other disciples who were with him, were spending their time picking fights with others who were doing a good work for God!
Again, Jesus has to correct His disciples for their divisiveness. “But Jesus said, ‘Do not forbid him, for no one who works a miracle in My name can soon afterward speak evil of Me. For he who is not against us is on our side. For whoever gives you a cup of water to drink in My name, because you belong to Christ, assuredly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward. But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea’ ” (Mark 9:39-42).
Throughout the centuries Christians have, at times, found themselves fighting with each other in the wrong fight. Our fight is to be against Satan and his allies, not with each other (Ephesians 6:10-12). Today, I will guard against picking the wrong fight and not fight or be divisive with my fellow brethren who are trying to serve God. Instead, I will strive to be united with my brethren because they are my fellow allies in Christ. I will fight the good fight by standing with God against my adversary the devil!
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing” (2 Timothy 4:7-8).