When we follow Jesus and are called into discipleship positions how are we to be? Jesus' words to his disciples on this question are tough to live by. He shares once again that he will be condemned to die by religious authorities who will give him to the civilian authorities who will mock, spit, scourge and kill him. And then he will rise in three days. This prediction of his death and resurrection leads James and John to request places of honor in the coming kingdom. Jesus says to them, "You don't know what you are asking." Will you drink the cup I drink? Will you be baptized with my baptism? He is inviting them into his life of ministry which places him at odds with the religious and political powers. Will they be able to be cleansed by the Spirit? Jesus does not promise them glory; he invited them into ministry. The other disciples are indignant that James and John could ask this, to be set ahead of the others. Jesus calls them together to explain again what it means to follow. To follow Jesus is to live in a new way. We aren't to be like those foreign rulers who live in a system of hierarchy. We are going to live different those who are great will be a servant. If you want to be great you need to be a slave to all. For Jesus came to serve not be served. Jesus came to give his life away to save many.
The Call to Discipleship in the Gospel of Mark, Day 49They were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking ahead of them; they were amazed, and those who followed were afraid. He took the twelve aside again and 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 handed over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death; then they will hand him over to the Gentiles; they will mock him, and spit upon him, and flog him, and kill him; and after three days he will rise again.’ 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.’ Mark 10:32-45
These are tough words for us. Jesus is inviting us to live in a new way where hierarchy and dominance are not the way we live with each other. Jesus is not inviting us to become doormats and be walked all over and used up. He is inviting those in positions of authority and power to behave differently. To seek to give their lives to raising up the lives of others. To provide comfort and healing, to help people experience God's love and presence, to resist and cast out evil, to feed the hungry, to still the storms and troubles of life, to welcome the children, the outcast, the sick. Glory is not about power and wealth; it is about opening your heart and wealth; it is about opening your heart and arms to a hurting world. Are you willing and able to do this?
Jesu, all that I ask to day is you make e servant. Show me what it means to love as you love, to hela as your heal, to serve as you serve. Amen.
Jesu, Jesu, Fill Us with Your Love