10:35 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.”
10:36 And he said to them, “What is it you want me to do for you?”
10:37 And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.”
10:38 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?”
10:39 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;
10:40 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.”
10:41 When the ten heard this, they began to be angry with James and John.
10:42 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.
10:43 But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant,
10:44 and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all.
10:45 For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.”
One of Jesus’s most frequent themes in the Gospel stories is that what humans consider good order ought to be turned upside down – that God does not look at things the ways humans do, that God always works to elevate the downtrodden.
God knows how human beings think and work. Human beings try to climb up, to make things work better for them. There is nothing wrong with that. But once they have made these improvements in life, they are not apt to share them. Some kind of seed of greed takes over and the improvements are hoarded and kept only for us, only for our family, only for our nation, etc.
And since God is a God of love and compassion, God has to be continually teaching us to share, so that all people and creatures on the planet can benefit from the ingenious improvements human beings are continually making.
It starts very early with the littlest humans. Anyone who has ever participated in daycare for toddlers sees it daily. It is an essential lesson, sharing. But it doesn’t take right away. It has to be repeated at great pains and at great length.
It is a mystery to me that many people believe local congregations should be expected to be places free of greed, selfishness, and one-upmanship. Why should Christians be immune to this human set of weaknesses? Even two of the favorite disciples in this week’s lesson, men who walked and talked and lived with Jesus himself ask to be elevated to the highest places in his Kingdom. Like toddlers, we need to be continually reminded to share. We need Jesus’s words in verses 44 and 45: “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 as a ransom for many.”
Who have you served this day? How have you shared? How has the Gospel been lived out through you?
Gracious God, Thank you for loving us. Thank you for being with us every day as we fail to live out the Gospel but listen to your reminder in these verses. Bless our ears so that we may not only hear but also do. Help us to live your Gospel today. Amen.