In-person worship services will be held as scheduled this Sunday. Please use discretion when determining whether roads are safe for your personal travel.
If you are unable to travel, consider joining worship online HERE at 7:30, 9, 11 or 5pm, on-demand at Resurrection’s YouTube channel, or on TV at KMCI 38 at 8am or 11am.
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35 James and John, Zebedee’s sons, came to Jesus and said, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask.”
36 “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked.
37 They said, “Allow one of us to sit on your right and the other on your left when you enter your glory.”
38 Jesus replied, “You don’t know what you’re asking! Can you drink the cup I drink or receive the baptism I receive?”
39 “We can,” they answered.
Jesus said, “You will drink the cup I drink and receive the baptism I receive, 40 but to sit at my right or left hand isn’t mine to give. It belongs to those for whom it has been prepared.”
41 Now when the other ten disciples heard about this, they became angry with James and John. 42 Jesus called them over and said, “You know that the ones who are considered the rulers by the Gentiles show off their authority over them and their high-ranking officials order them around. 43 But that’s not the way it will be with you. Whoever wants to be great among you will be your servant. 44 Whoever wants to be first among you will be the slave of all, 45 for the Human One [or Son of Man] didn’t come to be served but rather to serve and to give his life to liberate many people.”
James and John upset the other disciples by asking for the highest posts in Jesus’ [earthly] kingdom (which they anticipated). Jesus didn’t just say they should go through proper channels. He said the human, status-seeking model they had in mind completely missed the nature of his kingdom. Jesus defined greatness, not as high position, but as service. He said serving others is the path to greatness in his kingdom, and that “giving his life” would be an ultimate act of service.
Lord Jesus, let my way of life grow from a desire to serve people, not from a desire for power, privilege, or praise. Amen.
The paradox of Palm Sunday and this Holy Week journey we are on once again this year is always so powerful. Every year, I find myself so enamored with the story of what unfolded that last week of Jesus’ life.
This year, I am particularly struck by the both/and nature of the story, and what that calls me to live out in my own faith every day. As we sang Palm Sunday hymns just two days ago, I was thinking a lot about how Jesus led a parade of peace while Pilate came from the opposite direction, leading a parade of dominance and fear. Jesus’ life was ultimately a paradox, a calling to the both/and reality of humanity. I think about the many times in his teaching where he called people to leave room for questions and mystery. Even from the cross, in his final minutes of life, he was a paradox. The one who gave living water says that he is thirsty. Powerful to think that he knew our most basic yearnings as humans.
In this passage with James and John, he knows our desire for power and control. He knows our human need to be in charge. He hears their need and meets them with the reality of paradox. The one who desires to be great must become the least. How very tempting it is for us to want to be the greatest among all! Jesus hears their desires, leaves space for their misunderstanding and makes sure he spends time correcting them so they can know what it means to truly follow Jesus.
What places in your life this week could be a place where you admit you have striven to be greater than your brother or sister? Where are the places you could admit and confess this human part of you to Jesus, trusting that he will hear and see you and love you enough to remind you of the powerful paradox that our life of faith holds?
* William Barclay, The Gospel of Mark (Revised Edition). Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1976, p. 259.
** T. Desmond Alexander and Brian S. Rosner, ed. The New Dictionary of Biblical Theology. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000, p. 222.