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shooting myself in the foot

He said to them, “What do you want me to do for you?” And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink......?   Mark 10: 36-38


One restaurant (probably more than one – but one, at any rate) in St Helier recently raised its prices. The decline in customers has been noticeable and serious.


Why so we so often shoot ourselves in the foot? The restaurant proprietor was seeking increased revenue. It was a plan to benefit the proprietor – but it was a shot into the foot. Is it always like that? Will my self-seeking never result in self-enhancement?


So frequently do the shots end up in the foot that the business and political world have coined a phrase with the same meaning – “adverse feedback loop”.


 In bold above is a seasonal example – a Christmas shot in my own foot.

It occurred in AD 33. James and John are walking alongside Jesus towards Jerusalem where Jesus is expected to arrested and imprisoned by his enemies who are those who hold politico-religious power there.


James and John are brothers. Three years earlier they partnered with their father in a successful fishing business on Lake Galilee. They had left the business with their father in order to follow Jesus Christ who had captured their interest and all their attention.


Now they need to make sure of their future “in glory”. (Many folk in Jersey this Christmas also want to secure their future in heaven and will do lots of things to hedge their bets in that direction, without (of course) giving up too much...)


They pluck up courage and, despite the fact that Jesus has ten other close followers (or, more likely, because of this competition for places), they ask Jesus for a gift. See bold blue above. A gift that would exclude others from receiving the same.....


Jesus’ reply seeks to advise them of the adverse feedback loop which they are, in truth, requesting. You do not know what you are asking.......    


If only they’d thought more deeply. If only they had worked out exactly what was the “glory” of Jesus Christ from some of the following (and there are many more of the same) –

·         Jesus was not born in a Jersey granite farmhouse or an exclusive apartment but in another’s stable;

·         Jesus was brought up in Nazareth a nasty town with a bad reputation;

·         Jesus was not brought up by an accountant but by an artisan;

·         Jesus was all his life reckoned to have been illegitimately born;

·         Jesus had to ask for a coin when he needed to show one to others;

·         Jesus was baptised along with thousands of sinful men and women; who were all seeking forgiveness for all they had done;


James and John probably thought that Jesus’ “glory” would be different from that. But it actually went further than that. He said to them, Are you able to drink the cup that I drink.....?     Jesus’ “glory” would be seen in what he was about to go through on behalf of others – in what he was about to suffer for others – in his own personal death as a disreputable criminal taking the place of his enemies who killed him.


That “glory” – the invaluable “glory” of placing others ahead of him even to his own death for those who killed him – was unique. And, in his uniqueness, he was disclosing the family character of his Father God.


James and John, by their covert request for places at Jesus’ side in glory, had disclosed their own self-interested orientation. They had no idea of their very own adverse feedback loop. “Are you able to drink the cup that I will drink – in order even to exist in the glory that will be mine? If you, both, are happy to die for your killers, you two can sit beside me.


Can any of us, when now looking at the Christmas baby, see their own adverse feedback loop? And avoid shooting ourselves in the foot? Or are we all determinedly blind this Christmas? Hoping to continue to profit?

 ‘Seeking and taking empties a life – giving fills it.’  (Anon.)
‘Who can deny that Jesus of Nazareth, the incarnate Son of the Most High God, is the eternal glory of the human race? (Benjamin Disraeli, British Prime Minister, 1804-1881)
Richard Syvret

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