Vol.IX No.VIII Pg.4
October 1972

Had We Been There - -

Robert F. Turner

If Jesus had had the spirit of some of us, his work may never have gotten off the ground. When multitudes began to press about in popular acclaim, his friends (literally, those with him or his relations Marshall) sought to restrain him saying, He is beside himself. (Mk. 3:21) With an air of mockery they later chided him for his quiet works, and said, If thou do these things, show thyself to the world. (Jn. 7:3-5) For neither did his brethren believe on him. Do you resolutely continue your work for the Lord even though your family discourages and ridicules you?

Suppose John the immerser who started it all had refused to step down? (Jn. 3:25-f) He began this movement and Jesus was but one of many he had baptized. His disciples seemed a bit puzzled that all men would go to Jesus, and John could have made a few choice remarks about Johnny-come-lately. The makings of a leadership feud are here. How would you or I handle this situation?

The disciples could have been jealous of John (Bar-Zebedee) whom Jesus loved (Jn. 21:20-f). They evidently recognized this special affection, and Peter singled him out by a question concerning his future. He was one of those brothers who had come to the Lord asking a favored place in the kingdom (Matt. 20:20-f), and feelings ran high at the time.

And John, in turn, could have blown his top when Peter was named to handle the keys. (Matt. 16:18-f) On that very occasion Jesus had to correct Peter, and called him Satan. Later John had a good case of Peter disqualified because of the denial—not to mention the cursing and swearing. (Matt. 26:69-f) If you were the favored John how would you have used this juicy ammunition?

Perhaps todays Paul and Barnabas would break up for life because of their contention over Mark. (Acts 15:37-41) Paul could say Barnabas loved kinship more than the Lord: and Barnabas could say Paul was unforgiving, and would not preach if he could not have his own way. Each would cultivate a sphere of influence antagonistic to the other, and both would bend the ears of the brotherhood as they sought to justify themselves. Can you differ in judgement, go your separate way, and soon afterwards write of Barnabas as a fellow-worker (1 Cor. 9:6), or commend Mark, over whom your judgements differed? (Col. 4:10) Do you feel sorry for Mark?

How could Peter ever forgive Paul who withstood him to the face? How pride must have suffered under these circumstances! (Gal. 2:11-f) Surely the church in Antioch must have had a split after this (had they been as we are) for two spiritual GIANTS differed publicly, and Jews and Gentiles in Antioch were a natural for party affiliation over this issue.

When one views the various situations of the first century in the light of the way we handle such today, it is remarkable indeed that the cause of Christ ever got started. Or is it possible that love for God and brethren can conquer such problems history awaits your answer and mine.