Scripture: Mark 10:32-45
Key verses: (42-45) 42 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. 43 But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. 45 For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.”
Reflection: The gospels portray the original disciples in their profoundly human form. They, like us, are inclined to want the benefits of following Jesus without counting the costs.
In Mark’s Gospel, right after Jesus predicted he would suffer, die, and rise again, James and John had a bold request. “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” Wow!
I remember a time when one of my small children had a similar request, “Daddy, will you please say yes?” And that was before a question had been asked. Or the husband says to his spouse, “whatever I ask, say yes.” Bold!
If that weren’t enough, James and John wanted Jesus to guarantee them positions of status and power. Of course, this offended the other disciples and perplexed Jesus. Jesus told them, “You do not know what you are asking.” You will have to suffer as I will suffer. Are you able to do that? In their arrogance they said, “Yes, we are able.”
Then Jesus proclaims the great reversal: whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all.
Greatness, status, and power come not from privilege or position — not from the accumulation of shiny objects, or the envy of others. Greatness, in God’s kingdom, is through self-sacrificing service to all whom God loves. Those who want to be first must put others first.
Bold? Absolutely. Counter-intuitive? Definitely. Challenging? Jesus bet his life on it.
Prayer: Help us restrain our selfish yearnings, O God. Help us to understand what following you requires. Give us courage to serve, to sacrifice, and to give ourselves to others and to your work in the world. Amen.
Author: Von Clemans
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].