I’m a pretty organized person. I like deadlines and schedules and clear, stated expectations. It surprises people, therefore, when I tell them I have a little bit of the absent-minded professor in me. I don’t tend to be forgetful about major things, but it’s not unusual to find me searching for my keys, or wondering where I put that piece of paper that was just in my hand. I get so focused on what’s in front of me that I forget about what I just did.
I wonder if something similar happened to the disciples as recounted in the book of Mark. You are probably familiar with the discussion between the followers of Christ about who among them was the greatest. As if this wasn’t a ludicrous enough discussion considering they had the Messiah in their midst, a few verses before this we read in Mark that Jesus was called in to cast out a demon that the disciples couldn’t. They go from inability to accomplish their task to an argument over who is the best. It would be as if baseball players who all had a .000 batting average started comparing performance. How quickly they forgot that the question of who was the greatest had already been answered – and it surely wasn’t any of them.
Do we do something similar? Do we go from marveling at the fact that Christ would save a sinner like us, to demanding the privileges and responsibilities that we want? Are we astonished that the Creator of this world would have a relationship with us, yet vying for a position of authority in His Church? Are we overwhelmed by the forgiveness that we have received by a merciful and loving God, yet unwilling to forgive other fallen creatures that sin against us? Oh, how quickly we forget! We go from humbled and convicted to prideful and controlling, not recognizing the contrast between our dependence and our demands.
Perhaps this is why Scripture often instructs us to “remember.” Perhaps if we thought more about what God has done in the past, about His graciousness, His might, and His generosity, we would be less likely to act contrary to His character – now and in the future.