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July 28, 2013

Chutzpah is defined as a self-confident boldness or an impudent rudeness; the phrase, “…the nerve of some people…” comes to mind whenever I think of chutzpah and one of my favorite and most useful Yiddish terms. I have seen ample examples of this usually less than charming trait (and have acted it out as well far too many times), but the most glaring occurs in the Gospel of Jesus recorded by Mark:

“And they were on the road; going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking ahead of them. And they were amazed, and those who followed were afraid. And taking the twelve again, he began to tell them what was to happen to him, saying, ‘See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death and deliver him over to the Gentiles.34 And they will mock him and spit on him, and flog him and kill him. And after three days he will rise.’
And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came up to him and said to him, ‘Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.’ And 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.’”
Mark 10:32-37 CEV (emphasis added)

Think of that! Jesus had just reminded them of what He was facing as they walked toward Jerusalem and immediately James and John give this display of chutzpah acting as if they either didn’t hear what Jesus had just said, or didn’t care! This was not a ‘nervy brashness,’ but rudeness on a scale not seen since. Amazing indeed Jesus’ response to quietly tell them that such was not His to give, but that they would drink of His cup (James was to be one of the church’s first martyrs and John would eventually be exiled to the island of Patmos). Here, as in so many other instances, Jesus responds to His disciples’ impudence or lack of insight with ineffable grace and love.
But Tony; well my response to rudeness directed at me is to become angry that someone would dare treat me in such a cavalier fashion. Silly isn’t it; that I would ‘get my dander up’ (and I do have a lot of that!) over such pittances when Jesus remained calm when faced with James and John’s temerity.
I saw an example of a disciple of Jesus living this out this past week when I attended an HOA meeting where he is on the board and had to sit and listen to members’ harangues for what turned into a two hour diatribe with several folks taking turns. He and the others on the board, sat calmly and listened to the complaints, over and over in one instance of the same issue that had been answered the first time, but they were so eager to expound their grievances, they either did not listen to what anyone else was saying, or just didn’t care. Yeah, my friend in particular was an example I would hope to emulate, especially as I prepare to begin my career in real estate.

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