His reaction to their lack of insight and understanding should reassure us. We too need time to grasp the full practical implications of accepting the gospel, and we should not be tempted to give up walking in his company because of our failure to understand and to reflect in our own lives the example which Jesus gives.
In making such a demand of self-giving service from his followers Jesus stands on their head all the values and ambitions of the world. The disciples must learn to stifle the desire for
worldly importance. Power politics and self-serving ambition have no place in the service of that kingdom which Jesus came to establish.
St James warns of the consequences of selfish ambition; it brings "disharmony" and robs a community of true peace. On the other hand the genuine attitude of service which the gospel calls for brings with it a sense of "meekness" and "compassion".
"Meekness" in the bible does not stand for weakness. On the contrary it is the fruit of a selfdiscipline which expresses itself in a gentleness, courtesy and humility. These are the necessary qualities which demonstrate our readiness to offer our lives in the service of others. They enable us to respond with a true sense of compassion for those in need.
Jesus above all was a man of compassion. He had time for people; he reached out to them in their need; he freed them from their disabilities and fears. He gave hope and new life to those who were racked by misfortune and grief. He was always ready to set aside his own plans in order to respond to the needs of others. His whole life was orientated towards others. It is his own example of service, expressed in sincere compassion for others, which Jesus expects us to follow whatever our rank or role within the church community.