The YWCA and the Girl Scouts of America, AARP and the USAA, the Republican Party and the National Rifle Association, the Elk’s and the Lion’s Club.  There are so many societies to sign up for.


The disciples have been considering a club of their own too, scribbling down bylaws and determining joining fees, debating eligibility requirements and restrictions on outsiders, and arguing about who is the greatest charter member among them.  Until Jesus reacts with arguably his harshest rebuttal in the entire New Testament, a scathing oracle of judgment most disciples, both ancient and modern, would rather just ignore.


Why is Jesus so angry?


Mark 9:38-50 John said to him, “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us.” But Jesus said, “Do not stop him; for no one who does a deed of power in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me. Whoever is not against us is for us. For truly I tell you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ will by no means lose the reward. “If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea. If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life maimed than to have two hands and to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame than to have two feet and to be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to stumble, tear it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and to be thrown into hell, where their worm never dies, and the fire is never quenched. “For everyone will be salted with fire. Salt is good; but if salt has lost its saltiness, how can you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.”


Congregational Responses:

Jesus has been teaching the disciples chapter after chapter and they still don’t behave.

His message has been about being greeters and they’re acting like guards.

There’s no place for competition in Church.

Oppressing those in God’s name that are already oppressed by the world.


Mother Teresa was speaking at a conference on poverty filled with the experts in their field, professionals who had paid their dues.  Outside the hall entrance, she noticed a poor man with a broken body.  Attendees kept passing him by, trying to get the best seat.  Mother watched and waited, and watched and waited for a response.  When no one stopped, she helped him to the hospital herself.  She sent word back with one of her sisters: if a conference on poverty full of people dedicated to this cause can’t stop and help a man outside the doors of the event, then there’s nothing I can say.


While there was nothing left for Mother to say, Jesus did have something to do. When the Pharisees argued that rule trumped relationship, Jesus healed the man’s withered hand on the Sabbath. When the price gougers were profiteering off of God at the temple, Jesus called them a “den of robbers” and kicked over their tables. When Peter tried to rebuke his call to suffering and refused to carry the cross, Jesus said, “Get behind me Satan.”


Why is Jesus so angry?


Because it is the pagan who often invokes Jesus’ name to exorcise the demon. Wrong credentials and wrong orthodoxy can sometimes lead to a righteousness of cause.  Because God is a not a possession whose exclusive rights are owned by a few.  Christianity is no boys club capped at a dozen. Because, most enraging, John and the others confuse membership with discipleship.  While membership may have its privileges, blocking the little ones isn’t one of them.


“The purpose of the Church cannot be to survive, or even to thrive,” says Brother Andrew, “but to serve,” even if Jesus has to scare the hell out of us to do it.