When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had arrived, they came and started to argue with him. Testing him, they demanded that he show them a miraculous sign from heaven to prove his authority.
12 When he heard this, he sighed deeply in his spirit and said, “Why do these people keep demanding a miraculous sign? I tell you the truth, I will not give this generation any such sign.” 13 So he got back into the boat and left them, and he crossed to the other side of the lake.
14 But the disciples had forgotten to bring any food. They had only one loaf of bread with them in the boat.15 As they were crossing the lake, Jesus warned them, “Watch out! Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and of Herod.”
16 At this they began to argue with each other because they hadn’t brought any bread.17 Jesus knew what they were saying, so he said, “Why are you arguing about having no bread? Don’t you know or understand even yet? Are your hearts too hard to take it in?18 ‘You have eyes—can’t you see? You have ears—can’t you hear?’[a] Don’t you remember anything at all? 19 When I fed the 5,000 with five loaves of bread, how many baskets of leftovers did you pick up afterward?”
“Twelve,” they said.
20 “And when I fed the 4,000 with seven loaves, how many large baskets of leftovers did you pick up?”
“Seven,” they said.
21 “Don’t you understand yet?”he asked them. – Mark 8:11-21
We were in the “Soup” after chapel. The “Soup” was the affectionate name we gave to the cafeteria at the seminary I attended. One fellow always managed to get my goat. He’d make a comment that I found troubling, and I would take the bait. Arguments ensued. I think he enjoyed it. I did not.
We were at a meeting at which we were discussing church politics and our varied reasons for suggesting particular people for office in the church. I saw the conversation going in a direction that was not pleasing to me so I got pretty vociferous in expressing my views. It wasn’t my best moment.
Are you seeing a pattern here? As much as I abhor argumentativeness, I fear I’ve manifested more than my share of it over the years. Lord, forgive me!
I’m no different from the disciples in this way. It’s all too easy to argue about things that may not be all that important. We can so quickly get hooked into disagreements because one person or another may say it. On this occasion it was a discussion about food. But I suspect it quickly became an argument about who was to blame, and who should have brought the food, who should have double-checked their provisions, and who needed to figure out what to do next. I strongly suspect there was more than a little jockeying for place, power, and priority.
In the case of the disciples and the food for dinner, they would need to go to Jesus and seek his help. He will provide. It need not be an issue of blame or self-justification.
In the case of the seminary “Soup” discussion, we might need to overlook an offense and entrust the brother to God’s Holy Spirit. In the case of our church politics conversation, a kinder approach would likely have sufficed. A question about a teaching can be more easily settled by a respectful conversation than an accusatory pronouncement. Placing blame never really settles anything.
Grace is needed in every case on the part of all. That delights God, honors Jesus, and serves our neighbor. Isn’t that what we’re called to do as Jesus’ followers?