A snap-shot scene from the ministry of Jesus among his disciples is instructive for us as his followers today. It’s a scene that points to the transformation Jesus works in us and therefore among us as his church.
In Mark 9:33 we read that Jesus and his disciples were traveling in Galilee. Often, when they traveled, Jesus would teach the disciples. This time, the disciples were having a discussion among themselves, not realizing that Jesus could hear them. Nor were they aware that Jesus “knew the reasoning of their hearts (Luke 9:47).” They were arguing over who was the greatest disciple.
When they arrived at the house where they would stay for the night, Jesus asked them what they were discussing on the way. They kept silent because they did not want Jesus to know the nature of the discussion. But Jesus knew. He knew because he was with them, listening to them and reading their hearts. They never answered Jesus’ question, but he knew. So, Jesus taught them a lesson that would transform their thinking and set an entirely new rule of love, humility, and service for his church.
Now, we could think that the lesson from this incident is how to avoid being embarrassed, that before we start arguing and sharing our opinions we need to know who is listening, and that we need to be careful so we don’t get busted. But that makes Jesus into some kind of guardian of our behavior and speech, a mere moral overseer. When he is around, we play nice. When he’s not, we’re free to show our true selves.
The point of this moment in Jesus’ ministry is that he transforms his disciples. He knows the reasoning of our hearts; the pride and prejudice, the lust and greed, the anger and fear. When he asks, “What are you thinking and discussing?”, it isn’t because he doesn’t know, it’s because he wants us to know that he is here to change everything. His way is a new way. As his followers, it’s his way that becomes ours and that we own because we bear his name.
We are not merely avoiding the embarrassment of being busted for our selfishness. We are not positioning ourselves and proving we are right. We are Christians. We are taking on the very mindset of Christ. We are being exposed by him so we can be transformed by him. Our reasoning and our words are becoming different because he is with us, and in us.
What difference would it make in your life today if you understood and sensed that Jesus is listening to you, that he knows the reasoning of your heart, and that his intention is to transform you? How would that awareness reshape how you process the events of the day, and think about yourself and other people? Is your discussion along the way transformed because Jesus is in you? Is ours different because he is among us?
Jesus is with us, listening, and transforming. Let us be listening to him.