|Seattle Space Needle from inside Chihuly Glass and Garden|
Peter began to say to Jesus,'We have given up everything and followed you."Jesus said, "Amen, I say to you,there is no one who has given up house or brothers or sistersor mother or father or children or landsfor my sake and for the sake of the Gospelwho will not receive a hundred times more now in this present age:houses and brothers and sistersand mothers and children and lands,with persecutions, and eternal life in the age to come.But many that are first will be last, and the last will be first." Mark 10:28-31C. Clifton Black pointed out something in his commentary on Mark that I had never noticed. There are two lists in this passage. The first contains what disciples give up for Jesus and the Good News: house, brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, children, and lands. The second list contains what disciples receive even here and now and in greater abundance: house, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and lands. In addition there will be persecutions and then eternal life in "the age to come."
The one item missing from the second list is "fathers." This is unlikely to be an oversight, especially given the role of father in first century Roman culture, the dominate and dominating culture of the day. Paterfamilias was the head of a Roman family. As "the oldest living male in a household, he had complete control of all family members." This is the underlying mindset of paternalism in which those in power--typically but not always male--hold undisputed control over a group or institution. The exclusion of fathers from the second list suggests that it is not to be that way with the community of disciples. This is certainly consistent with the other evidence from the New Testament about the egalitarian assumptions of the early Christian communities.
The life of disciples will not be easy. There will be persecutions but there will not be dominating power exercised from within the community. These lines come in the same section where Jesus says that disciples must be like little children, i.e., without the pretensions of power, wealth, and knowledge that "adults" might bring to their faith. The paterfamilias is not in charge but rather the Divine One who exercises power is a way much different from the way human power is exercised. Just as Jesus noted there was a human way of thinking and God's way of think, so too there is a way of being together in community that is different in the Reign of the Divine One.
Just to underscore this teaching, Jesus once again announces the Great Reversal that is part of the Reign of the Divine One. "Many that are first will be last, and the last will be first."