Today's Lectionary Text
Mark 10: 35-45
James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came forward 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 is it 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.” But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” They replied, “We are able.” Then Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you will drink; and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized; but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.”
When the ten heard this, they began to be angry with James and John. So Jesus called them and said to them, “You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.”
The disciples in the Gospel of Mark are kind of a mess. I mean, just look at this reading. Can you ever, in your wildest imagination, see yourself approaching Jesus with your brother and saying, “Jesus, we want you to do whatever we ask of you.” Wow. That takes some boldness. But that’s what James and John do. Then they go ahead and tell Jesus that what they want is to be seated next to him when he is glorified. In other words, they want to share in Jesus’ power and glory. They want to be the top dogs among the disciples.
Well, the other disciples are pretty ticked off about this. They want to be the top dogs, too. This is where Jesus schools them in a pretty clear way. He’s like, “Look here. That’s not how we roll. Sure, you can see the Gentiles falling down before their rulers who are tyrants. But that’s not the kind of rulers you all are going to be.” Then he says (and this is an actual quote now): “Whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all.” Well. I bet James and John weren’t so excited to be Jesus’ right-and-left-hand men then.
Isn’t the same true with us? I mean, following Jesus seems a whole lot more attractive when we think it doesn’t require anything but sitting back and receiving the security and glory that Jesus will provide for us. It seems a lot less attractive when Jesus tells us that following in his footsteps means we will not be powerful rulers, but humble servants. Yet that’s what he is saying here. So, what would it look like for us to trust Jesus enough for us to believe what he says...and live our lives endeavoring not to gather power for ourselves, but be the servants of all?
-Rev. Chris Jorgensen
Hanscom Park United Methodist Church
Prayer for Reflection
Holy and Living God, re-create our hearts today. Extinguish in us our desire for power over others, and seed in us a desire to serve. May it be so. Amen.
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