Job 38:1-7, (34-41) and Psalm 104:1-9, 24, 35c
Isaiah 53:4-12 and Psalm 91:9-16
Thoughts on the Word
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 baptised with the baptism that I am baptised 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 baptised, you will be baptised; 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 recognise 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.’
This weeks reflection will be short - but has an important message for us. James and John the sons of Zebedee approach Jesus and seek something for themselves. They wish to be recognised as the greatest, to be honoured by Jesus as first among the apostles. You see James and John wanted recognition of their position because they were prideful - their priorities had gotten confused. It is a warning for us, that pride and self righteousness are an ever present danger which can steer us away from the Kingdom of God.
Jesus however doesn't get upset with them - though the other apostles certainly do! Jesus lovingly points to there failing by making a comparison to the gentiles - this doesn't seem like such a huge deal to us, but for men who were devout Jews this would have been a stinging blow to their pride to be compared with the pagan gentiles. Jesus doesn't make this comparison to upset the apostles, but to demonstrate to them that they (and we) must not seek to emulate the leadership structures and rewards of this world. Our eyes must always be set on the kingdom, and the way we accomplish that is through following after our Lord and King.
Jesus, as he points out to his apostles, didn't come to be served - as you would expect a King to do - rather he came to serve. He served us all in the most ultimate way when he lay down his life for us. Jesus tells us that we as his followers are called to such service. We are called to loving sacrifice and service for the good of others, just as he exemplified for us. Furthermore we are called to do this humbly, and seek no prideful recognition of it, we should merely serve out of love of neighbour and expect nothing in return - then and only then are we serving the Kingdom through our acts, and following our King.
God bless you this week!