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The Supporting Cast


There were also women looking on from afar, among whom were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the Less and of Joses, and Salome…"
Mark 15:40

Each year at the Oscars, the film industry does a good thing by not only recognizing the star power of the "best actor" or "best director," but they also recognize the value of the supporting cast. Alongside the "best actor" and "best director" awards there are awards for "best costume design" and "best actor in a supporting role." One would assume that this is not just a matter of fairness, but a real attempt on the part of the actors guild to acknowledge the fact that there would be no movie royalty, no Tom Cruise, no Meryl Streep, no Robert DeNiro, no Cate Blanchett, without the help of the helpers. Every great movie, and every great actor needs a supporting cast of people who are great at their jobs away from the spotlight. Each year Hollywood reminds us during the Oscars that the brightest lights on the silver screen are able to show their brilliance because of lesser lights that often do not get the credit they deserve.

The Bible also recognizes the fact that there have been, and always will be a supporting cast of God's servants who work with excellence away from the spotlight without proper recognition or reward. These are the real heroes in life, the unsung heroes, who go about their business at home, at work, at church, quietly, faithfully, joyfully, and effectively. Countries are made strong, businesses are made profitable, and churches are made effective in the trenches of everyday life by an army of anonymous people who do their jobs with gospel intentionality. These are the real heroes. They do hidden and small things with great love, believing that it is a big deal, and that it makes a big difference.

Such people are found throughout the Bible. People like the unnamed women who spun the yarn in the construction of the Tabernacle (Ex. 35:25-26). People like the anonymous man who furnished the Upper Room for Jesus and His disciples on the eve of Jesus' arrest and crucifixion (Luke 22:10-12). People like the unnamed heroes in Hebrews eleven (Heb. 11:33-38). And people like James the Less, one of the disciples of Jesus of whom we know little (Mark 15:40; 3:18). By implication, he was less prominent among the disciples and less intimate with Christ than at least eight of the disciples listed before him. These examples point to the largeness of the supporting cast of God's servants who minister without fanfare. They are the forgotten followers who must not be forgotten by those whom they serve, and will not be forgotten by God himself.

On the one hand, the last sentence would remind us all to do a better job of noticing those who tend to go unnoticed in the help they render. On the other hand, the last sentence would remind those who go unnoticed that God does take notice. I like the way Paul in many of his letters acknowledges that his achievements are the result of more than a little help from his friends (Rom. 16:1-16, 21-24; 1 Cor. 16:14-19). Paul gladly acknowledges his supporting cast. The honorable mention of the supporting cast in Scripture reminds us that God is not unjust to forget our good works (Heb. 6:10). God has His own version of the Oscars (Rev. 22:12). May the forgotten not forget that!