Scripture: Mark 10:35-45
35 And James and John, the sons of Zeb'edee, 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, take first place or the last? Two of Jesus' disciples boldly asked Jesus to promote them to first place in his kingdom. The desire for greatness seems to be inbred in all of us. Who wants to be last or least? Jesus did the unthinkable – he reversed the order to true greatness and glory. If we want to be first and great, then we must place ourselves at the disposal of others by putting their interests first and by taking on their cares 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 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 servant of love and compassion for others. May the fire of your love inflame my heart that I may give generously and serve joyfully for your sake."
Psalm 33:4-5, 19-20
4 For the word of the LORD is upright; and all
his work is done in faithfulness.
5 He loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the steadfast love of the LORD.
18 Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love,
19 that he may deliver their soul from death, and keep them alive in famine.
20 Our soul waits for the LORD; he is our help and shield.
21 Yes, our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name.
22 Let your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us, even as we hope in you.