Scripture: Mark 10:35-45
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." 36 And he said to them, "What do you want me to do for you?" 37 And they said to him, "Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory." 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 to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?" 39 And they said to him, "We are able." And 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; 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." 41 And when the ten heard it, they began to be indignant at James and John. 42 And Jesus called them to him and said to them, "You know that those who are supposed to rule over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. 43 But it shall not be so among you; but whoever would be great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. 45 For the Son of man also came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."
Meditation: Would you rather be the leader or a follower,
first place or the last? Two of Jesus' disciples boldly
to promote them to first place in his kingdom. The desire for
seems to be inbred in all of us. Who wants to be last or least?
the unthinkable - he reversed the order to true greatness and
we want to be first and great, then we must place ourselves at the
of others by putting their interests first and by taking on their
and concerns as if they were our own.
Jesus wedded authority with unconditional love and service with total sacrifice - the willing sacrifice of one's life for the sake of another. Authority without sacrificial love is brutish and self-serving. Jesus also used stark language to explain what kind of sacrifice he had in mind. His disciples must drink his cup if they expect to reign with him in his kingdom. The cup he had in mind was a bitter one involving crucifixion - laying down one's life even to the point of shedding one's blood for the sake of Christ.
What kind of cup does the Lord have in mind for each one of us? For some disciples such a cup entails physical suffering and the painful struggle of martyrdom - the shedding of one's blood for the sake of Christ's name. But for many of us, it entails the long routine of the Christian life, with all its daily sacrifices, disappointments, set-backs, struggles, and temptations. The Lord Jesus has offered his life for our sake and he calls us to freely offer our lives in a daily sacrifice of love and service for others. What makes such sacrifice a joy rather than a burden is love - the kind of love which has power to transform and change our lives and the lives of those around us. Paul the Apostle tells us that this "love" is a pure gift "which God has poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us" (Romans 5:5). If we allow God's love to transform our lives, then no sacrifice will be too great or hard to make.
An early church father summed up Jesus' teaching with the expression: "to serve is to reign with Christ." We share in God's power, authority, and kingdom by loving others as he has loved us and by laying down our lives in humble caring service for the sake of our neighbor's welfare. Are you ready to lay down your life and to serve others as Jesus did?
"Lord Jesus, set me free from fear and pride that I may be a
of love and compassion for others. May the fire of your love
heart that I may give generously and serve joyfully for your
Psalm 33:4-5, 19-204 For the word of the LORD is upright; and all his work is done in faithfulness.
Daily Quote from the early church fathers: The way to glory and honor, by Augustine of Hippo, 354-430 A.D.
"Ponder how profound this is. They were conferring with him about glory. He intended to precede loftiness with humility and, only through humility, to ready the way for loftiness itself. For, of course, even those disciples who wanted to sit, the one on his right, the other on his left, were looking to glory (Matthew 20:20-23; Mark 10:35-40). They were on the lookout, but did not see by what way. In order that they might come to their homeland in due order, the Lord called them back to the narrow way. For the homeland is on high and the way to it is lowly. The homeland is life in Christ; the way is dying with Christ (Matthew 6:25; Mark 8:35; Luke 9:24; 17-33). The way is suffering with Christ; the goal is abiding with him eternally. Why do you seek the homeland if you are not seeking the way to it?" (excerpt from TRACTATE ON JOHN 126.96.36.199)
Scripture quotations from Common Bible:
Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright
1973, and Ignatius Edition of the Revised Standard
Version of the Bible, copyright 2006, by the
Division of Christian Education of the National
Council of the Churches of Christ in the United
States of America. Used by permission. All rights
reserved. Citation references for quotes from
the writings of the early church fathers can be
The Daily Scripture Readings and Meditations is in need of on-going development to expand resources and to reach people around the world. If you would like to contribute, you can make an online donation.