I have been fairly good at keeping football out of my blogs over the last year and a half but this week has seen Watford’s manager resign. This despite the fact that the team is doing well and sitting currently in second spot in the league. Were they to maintain that position through to the end of the season it would result in promotion to the Premier League and all the riches that come with such an achievement.
So why quit?
Rumours abound; but what is clear is that not everyone liked the manager’s decisions. Not all the players who thought they should be in team were being picked and there was grumbling… Player power is poisonous in a club – when players are more powerful than the manager things never end well. Whether that’s what happened this week or not, it reminded me of a great talk I heard at church a couple of weeks ago delivered by the Revd. Adam Prior and I am shamelessly going to rip off a portion of his talk this month.
And so we turn to Mark 5.
Here we meet Jesus in a sequence full of action and drama. He’s moving around the Sea of Galilee and has just cast a ‘legion’ of demons out of a man into a herd of pigs who then rushed into the sea and died. That caused a bit of a stir so he crossed back over the sea and a crowd soon gathered. That crowd was made up of all sorts of people from the great to the least in society.
As Jesus is walking in the midst of this huge scrum one of the big-wigs approached. Jairus was one of the synagogue leaders and therefore normally an influential and important man. That day though, he was a desperate man whose daughter was really, really ill. He threw himself at the feet of Jesus and begged for help. This was sensational for lots of reasons but none more so than the total humiliation that Jairus subjected himself to in front of all those people – but then, none of them mattered to Jairus when compared to his daughter.
Jesus responds and they start walking towards Jairus’ house. The crowd moving with them. But then, more commotion as a ceremonially unclean woman who has been bleeding touches his clothes and is dramatically healed. The delay over, the group continue to walk to Jairus’ house only to be met by messengers delivering the devastating news – the girl is dead.
Jesus doesn’t miss a stride and declares that the girl is merely asleep – the crowd laugh in derision but the disciples lean in a little in anticipation… And then Jesus does this:
“He did not let anyone follow him except Peter, James and John the brother of James.” (Mark 5:37)
Let’s pause there.
Three disciples went with Jesus into that house to see him raise Jairus’ daughter and that means that nine stayed outside with the jeering and laughing crowd taking the mickey out of the man that they had devoted themselves to.
We see Jesus do this again and again in the Gospels. If you’re like me, I sort of assume that I’d be a James or a John – not so much a Peter. But what if I was a Matthew or Andrew – Peter’s brother? How must he have felt watching his brother go off, again and again with Jesus, coming back with incredible stories; face beaming – “You’re not going to believe what just happened…!”
It’s an easy point to miss but those guys waited ‘outside the house’ a number of times yet most of them would be killed for their faithfulness to Jesus – because they understood that the Kingdom of God is more important than ANYTHING else and if that meant that they had to wait outside and hear about it second hand then that was ok with them.
Is that ok with you?
When you’re friend, or frankly even that person that you secretly can’t stand, gets to do that thing you really wanted to do instead of you – are you ok with that?
Are you thinking – ‘As long as the Kingdom is being built.’
It’s a tough one but it’s essential – the Kingdom has to come first for you and me whether we’re picked in the team or sitting on the bench waiting for our turn. We won’t always get to play and it’s when you don’t get picked that we have to trust in the Manager who always knows best and cheer on the team He’s picked and then join in the celebrations afterwards as His Kingdom wins.