“Keep Peace Between One Another”
“Have salt in yourselves, and keep peace between one another.”—Mark 9:50.
1. Why is it good for members of a working group to keep peace with one another?
IT IS always good for the members of a working group to be at peace with one another. Disagreements, rivalries, disunity can endanger the common project to which they are committed. A “cold war” carried on between them without lethal weapons can result in defeat for them all. Peace among themselves will result in all coming off winners, gainers, happy in a work well done.
2. What kind of teacher said the words: “Keep peace between one another”?
2 Teammates, members of societies, married couples, natural families are certain to benefit from heeding the words: “Keep peace between one another.” Who said those words? A teacher of earlier times, who had a vision of eventual world peace. He did not confine himself to some school or college classroom. He got right out into the open, mixed with the people, taught persons privately and in public gatherings. As his textbook he used a collection of sacred writings, the inspired Scriptures that had been written in his native language, Hebrew. His teachings have survived for more than nineteen centuries till now, these having been translated into more than a thousand languages. The facts identify this renowned teacher, no, not as Buddha or Confucius, but as Jesus Christ, the “son” of King David and the patriarch Abraham.
3. Who were the ones whom Jesus told to keep peace among themselves, and why is this surprising?
3 Who were the ones whom Jesus Christ had to tell to keep peace among themselves? We are surprised to find that it was a group of chosen men who had accompanied him for two years or more in his itinerant teaching work. He had designated this group of twelve men as his apostles. This designation indicated his purpose in choosing them, for the term “apostles” means “sent-forth ones.” They were to become teachers like him, and he had in mind to send them forth even beyond the borders of their native land, there to make people of all nations his disciples. It was his thought to organize a worldwide congregation of his disciples. The apostles were to be like foundation stones for that congregation.
4. Were those apostles not already acquainted with Jesus’ teachings on peace, and so why now this counsel on peace?
4 The apostles were well acquainted with Jesus’ teaching on the subject of peace. During the preceding year they had heard his famous Sermon on the Mount not far from the Sea of Galilee, in which he spoke of certain happinesses. One such was this: “Happy are the peaceable, since they will be called ‘sons of God.’” (Matt. 5:9) Why, now, in the seaside city of Capernaum, did Jesus feel obliged to say to this select group of disciples: “Keep peace between one another”? (Mark 9:50) Why say that now to his most intimate associates? Something must have provoked this counsel. Something must have been disturbing their good relations with one another against the best interests of their common cause. In order for us to get the reason for Jesus’ pointed words, we need to move backward in the account of that occasion, as given in Mark’s Gospel, Mr chapter nine. Then we shall be able to appreciate why Jesus’ words to the apostles are good counsel for us also today.
5. What had happened on a lofty mountain near Caesarea Philippi, and, afterward, what case of demon possession was handled?
5 Jesus and his apostles had been up north, around Caesarea Philippi, near the headwaters of the Jordan River that flows south from there into the Sea of Galilee. Up there, on a lofty mountain, likely Mount Hermon of the Anti-Lebanon range, Jesus experienced a miraculous transfiguration that was a foregleam of the glory that he was to have in God’s kingdom in due time. Only the apostles Peter, James and John witnessed this transfiguration of their Master. On descending from the mountain, Jesus encountered a case of demon possession that the other nine apostles had been unable to cure during Jesus’ absence. At the appeal of the frantic father of the afflicted boy, Jesus expelled the especially stubborn demon. In this way the father’s faith in Jesus was grandly rewarded and strengthened.—Mark 9:14-29; 2 Pet. 1:16-18.
6. After arrival in Capernaum, how did the apostles react to Jesus’ question to them?
6 From that neighborhood southward through Galilee down to the city of Capernaum was a distance of about twenty-five miles (40 kilometers). Quietly, keeping to themselves, Jesus and his twelve apostles made it on foot to the city that Jesus had made his headquarters, so that it came to be called “his own city.” (Matt. 9:1) What happened on their tramp to that seaside city, we gather from the account in Mark’s Gospel, which says: “And they came into Capernaum. Now when he was inside the house he put the question to them: ‘What were you arguing over on the road?’ They kept silent, for on the road they had argued among themselves who is greater.”—Mark 9:33, 34.
7. Why had their argument naturally involved Kingdom concerns?
7 Evidently, on the road, the apostles had trailed behind their Leader, Jesus. Yet, in some way, he discerned that an argument had arisen among them, with some heated expression of that fact. It was proper for him to see to it that an argument was settled among his followers. His approach to the matter indicates that he knew the subject of their discussion. From what Jesus had just previously said to them, according to Mark 9:30-32, they knew that things were coming to a head with regard to their Leader. They believed him to be the Messiah, the prospective King of Israel. They had heard him give many parables concerning the Kingdom; and just before his transfiguration in the lofty mountain, they had heard him say to all twelve of them: “Truly I say to you, There are some of those standing here that will not taste death at all until first they see the kingdom of God already come in power.”—Mark 9:1.
8. In that connection, why had the apostles indulged in comparing themselves with one another?
8 Along with their hopes of an early establishment of the Messianic kingdom, they had reason to think about their respective official positions with their Leader in that kingdom. In such a connection, the natural tendency of a person politically minded would be to aggrandize himself rather than his opponents or rival candidates. Similarly, the apostles began to compare themselves with one another. The discussion revolved around, not just who is best suited for this or that position, but who qualifies for the greatest position next to the Messiah himself.
9. Why did none of the apostles answer Jesus’ question?
9 It was not a case of who appreciates the Messiah most and therefore wants to be closest to him in the Kingdom. It was a case of who wants to rank next highest to him. Among imperfect men, how could anything but selfishness enter into such a discussion? No wonder the ambitious apostles “kept silent” after Jesus put the question: “What were you arguing over on the road?” They felt that their discussion did not merit any commendation. They sensed that they had shown selfishness, self-seeking, self-glorification, in this matter. So not one of them answered Jesus.
10. What did Jesus reveal by his approach to the problem, and what governing rule did he state?
10 However, Jesus did not need to have any admission from any one of them. Their meaningful silence betrayed embarrassment on their part. It showed that they felt ashamed. But Jesus, who to an extent could make out what people’s thoughts were, detected what the basis for their discussion was, the point at issue. He revealed his awareness of this by how he proceeded to the problem. “So he sat down and called the twelve and said to them: ‘If anyone wants to be first, he must be last of all and minister of all.’” (Mark 9:35) By this statement Jesus disclosed what would be the rule that governed with reference to position in his kingdom.
11. So, in what respect were those associated with Jesus in his kingdom to differ from politicians in the kingdoms of this world?
11 His kingdom was to be different from the kingdoms of this world, in which selfish ambition motivates a politician, together with the inclination to be served rather than to serve others in office. This type of action betrays a feeling of self-importance, a lack of humility. Jesus himself did not show such a disposition. Disciples who were to be associated with him in his kingdom had to manifest the same mental attitude that he had. That is why the later apostle, Paul, wrote to prospective heirs of the heavenly kingdom and said: “Keep this mental attitude in you that was also in Christ Jesus, who, although he was existing in God’s form, gave no consideration to a seizure, namely, that he should be equal to God. No, but he emptied himself and took a slave’s form and came to be in the likeness of men. More than that, when he found himself in fashion as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient as far as death, yes, death on a torture stake.”—Phil. 2:5-8.
12. How did Jesus illustrate the governing rule that he himself had stated to his apostles?
12 On Jesus’ part, was this not a making of himself “last of all and minister of all”? What finer example could there be of humility on the part of any creature? And yet, by taking such a lowly position and a ministry that cost him his earthly life, he was rewarded with the first position in all creation. This exaltation of the Son of God made him second to the Creator himself. This was in harmony with his never having given any consideration to a seizure so as to be equal to his heavenly Father, the Most High God. For one thing, Jesus was sensible enough to know that such a thing was unattainable.—Ps. 148:13.
13. According to Jesus’ governing rule, who makes himself the most valuable member in an organization, and how so?
13 Thus Jesus did not make himself an exception to the rule that he stated to his apostles. He provided his own self as the perfect example for all those who are to be joined with him in the heavenly kingdom to imitate. In fact, all those who will become the earthly subjects of his kingdom will have to imitate him in his humility and serviceability. Who, then, ranks first in an organization as to real worth and importance? Is it not the one that is humble enough to accept all forms of service and that seeks to be of service to all others? If anyone sought to be first in a selfish way, he would not stoop to render any and all forms of service to all others in the organization. To be willing to render even the most menial service to anyone else, he would have to view himself as being the “last of all” in the organization. But this does not lower his intrinsic value. Due to his rendering service to all without exception, he makes himself the most valuable member.
14. How would such a serviceable one be, in effect, “first” of all?
14 So this lowly, serviceable one would be most missed if he were obliged to be absent. The lack of his service would be felt. As measured by serviceableness, he would really be “first” of all, even though he might not rank as such in position. If we rate in that way in God’s eyes, this is of far more importance than how we rate among men of station in life.
RECEIVING OTHERS ON THE BASIS OF CHRIST’S NAME
15. Using a young child for an illustration, what did Jesus say about one’s receiving others?
15 Our being considerate of others, regardless of how inferior they may be outwardly, plays an important role in the matter of getting along together well. To impress this point, Jesus went on to illustrate. Just how he did so, the account in Mark 9:36, 37 tells us, saying: “And he took a young child, stood it in their midst and put his arms around it and said to them: ‘Whoever receives one of such young children on the basis of my name, receives me; and whoever receives me, receives, not me only, but also him that sent me forth.’”
16. How did Jesus display love of children even in his home in Nazareth?
16 There are cases on record to show that Jesus loved young children. As the eldest son of his own earthly family, he doubtless had to do a lot in caring for his younger half brothers (James, Joseph, Simon and Judas) and his two or more half sisters, there in Nazareth of Galilee. (Matt. 13:53-56) He did not despise these because of their imperfections and shortcomings. He gave them no cause for stumbling over him because of any failure to share in supporting the family, but worked diligently as a skilled carpenter. (Mark 6:3) He learned how to appreciate the innocent qualities of children and also the childlike qualities in full-grown persons. Nicely he used children in his illustrations.
17. What question arises respecting childlike persons in the matter of one’s being approachable?
17 When we are deeply occupied with work, we may not want to be bothered with children. Persons who feel self-important or who sense the weight and dignity of their responsible position may consider themselves above paying attention to simple-minded children, or to childlike grown-ups. But what if such childlike persons are Christians or intelligent persons who want to become Christians? Shall we who are already disciples of Christ make ourselves approachable to them and attentive to their needs?
18. Why would such a receiver be receiving Jesus also?
18 If we refused to aid the childlike ones, we would lose a great privilege and blessing. If mature Christians like Jesus’ apostles refused to receive a newly baptized Christian who is figuratively like the young child about whom Jesus put his arms and used as an illustration, they would not be receiving Jesus himself. Why would that be true? Because Jesus said that anyone who receives “one of such young children” receives Jesus also, because he does so “on the basis of [Jesus’] name.” This means that Jesus looks upon it as if he himself were being received as the Messiah or Christ. The converse of this would be true also!
19. One’s receiving a childlike one in such a way affects one’s relationship with whom, and why?
19 When we perform a humbling task “on the basis of [Christ’s] name” or out of regard for his name, this makes it easier, more pleasant for us to do. The act has a noble incentive. Furthermore, it has a bearing upon our relationship, not only with Jesus Christ, but also with his heavenly Father. This is indicated by Jesus’ additional words: “And whoever receives me [that is, by receiving “one of such young children”] receives, not me only, but also him that sent me forth.” (Mark 9:37) The Sender of Jesus to the earth to become the Messiah was his own heavenly Father, Jehovah God. Jesus Christ and his heavenly Father are not to be dissociated. They go together, inseparably, inasmuch as they are one in purpose and in activity. So what a person does to the Son, Jehovah God accepts this as also done to him. He shows that he accepts the reception as if given to him by blessing the receptionist.
20. How does this principle apply in the case of our dealings with fellow Christians, and what quality is essential for us to have part in the Kingdom?
20 This principle is something important for us to remember in our dealings with fellow Christians, especially so in the case of those who are mere “babes,” as it were, as regards Bible understanding or membership in the Christian congregation. The apostle Peter said to those to whom he wrote his first inspired letter: “As newborn infants, form a longing for the unadulterated milk belonging to the word, that through it you may grow to salvation, provided you have tasted that the Lord is kind.” (1 Pet. 2:2, 3) We can share the “word” with those who are like “newborn infants,” that they may grow to salvation and hold onto it as mature Christians. Consequently, those who show themselves accessible, willing to receive “one of such young children on the basis of [Christ’s] name,” show that they themselves are childlike. Their being so is essential to their having any part in the Kingdom.—Matt. 18:2-4; Luke 18:16.
21. How do humbleness of mind and attitude and absence of rivalry and competition benefit a congregation?
21 Just as in a natural human family, when the members of a congregation are humble in mind and attitude like young children, the relationship of each one to the other takes on a peaceful quality. The absence of selfish rivalries and throatcutting competitions induces a tranquilizing atmosphere that is soothing to the nerves. If we are willing and ready to serve in even the lowliest of tasks, just so we can minister to the needs and comfort of others, it makes for the upbuilding and strengthening of the entire congregation and moves it to positive works of goodness.
22. What is a powerful factor toward our ‘keeping peace between one another’?
22 Thus not even the youngest, the most backward or the most retarded in Bible truth and Christian experience gets overlooked. Such a one is warmly taken into the embrace of the congregation “on the basis of [Christ’s] name.” In a congregational environment of that kind the spirit of the Lord God Jehovah prevails. It is a powerful factor in aiding the congregation members to “keep peace between one another.” Brotherly unity results.