When you focus on a few, there are going to be some who are disappointed that they weren’t chosen. But good leadership isn’t driven by pleasing people… If we study Jesus’s leadership, we will see that his investment in a few key people was a core strategy for his short three-year ministry.
Why does [Jesus] leave when there is so much momentum in Capernaum? At the very start of Jesus’s ministry, he is disappointing followers by not doing what they want and not meeting legitimate needs… Apparently the greatest leader to ever walk planet Earth understood that fulfilling his calling perfectly would leave many people disappointed.
The purpose of leadership is to mobilize people and resources towards a determined goal. Transformational leadership, however, is about cultivating future leaders who can carry on the mission for generations to come. Transformational leaders look at their core group of followers and are able to discern the future leaders that lie within. This is what Jesus was doing when he called out the twelve disciples.
In most human societies appropriate burial of dead bodies is a sacred tradition. It matters profoundly that we ensure the proper resting place for those who have died. Yet, after burials happen, we don’t generally mention them specifically.
Jesus had said this would happen. For quite some time he had predicted his suffering and death.
In the final events of his life, Jesus seemed to be orchestrating events that might otherwise have been out of his control.
So, though the crucifixion of Jesus is horrendous from one point of view, it is also wondrous from another perspective.
The ending of the Gospel of Mark presents multiple mysteries. Most English Bibles print several options for the concluding verses of Mark 16, usually with notes that explain the curious manuscript evidence. The oldest manuscripts of Mark end with verse 8, the last words being: “because they were afraid” (ephobounto gar in Greek). The women who had been the first witnesses of the empty tomb and who had been told of the resurrection of Jesus by an angel kept the news to themselves out of fear.
The example of Joseph reminds us that there are times when we must act courageously in our faithfulness to Christ. Like Joseph, we may even have to risk our reputation or position if we’re going to acknowledge Jesus as our Lord.
What enabled the women to remain faithful even at the risk of their own well-being? Why did they stick with Jesus while the men abandoned him? Mark does not answer these questions directly. But the text does suggest at least one reason why the women remained: they had each other.
Though the twelve who had followed Jesus most intimately abandoned him when he was arrested, many of his followers stayed nearby. These, according to Mark, were all women. “Some women were watching from a distance,” including “Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joseph, and Salome” (15:40). These women had been close to Jesus. Mark notes that they “had followed him and cared for his needs” (15:41). Additionally, “many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem were also there” (15:41).
What strikes me today as I reflect on this text, however, isn’t so much a matter of Christology as a matter of how God meets us at work. The centurion, in doing his job, had an unexpected encounter with God. This was probably the last thing he would have anticipated as he oversaw the crucifixion of Jesus. Yet, while doing his terrible job, there was God: God making himself known in suffering, God reaching out through the person of Jesus, God showing up when least expected.