When Oliver Cromwell was presented with his official portrait in 1656, he angrily rejected it. Thinking it would please him, the court painter had omitted Cromwell’s unsightly facial warts.
“Take it away”, he demanded, “and paint me as I am, warts and all.”
In this week’s Gospel, Mark unabashedly paints Jesus’ disciples warts and all…bent by ambition and jealousy.
Why’d he do this? Mark had a very ancient (and biblical) way of understanding human nature, which actually aligns seamlessly with what Jesus went on to tell them about the upside-down nature of true greatness.