Weather Alert:

Church programs for Monday, Jan. 22 will resume their normal schedule at all locations this evening.

Programming Note:

Leawood’s Sunday night in-person worship has been moved to 4 pm for Sunday, February 11. 

Close this search box.

Jesus' death: the ultimate act of service

April 4, 2023

Daily Scripture

Mark 10:35-45

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.”

Daily Reflection & Prayer

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.

  • “To liberate many people” is from the Greek lutron, often rendered “ransom.” Taking the “ransom” idea too literally (e.g., “Who did he pay it to?”) misses the point. Scholar William Barclay wrote, “This saying of Jesus is a simple, pictorial way of saying that it cost the life of Jesus to bring men back from their sin into the love of God. It means the cost of our salvation was the Cross of Christ.” * How does it speak to your heart to see Jesus’ readiness to serve you, to win you to God’s love?
  • Mark 10:45 probably showed Jesus applying Isaiah 53 to himself (he also did that in Luke 22:37). “God’s power is at its greatest not in his destruction of the wicked but in his taking all the wickedness of the earth into himself and giving back love.” ** What does Jesus’ way of defeating evil as the Suffering Servant tell you about how God’s power works?

Lord Jesus, let my way of life grow from a desire to serve people, not from a desire for power, privilege, or praise. Amen.

GPS Insights

Picture of Emily Stirewalt

Emily Stirewalt

Emily Stirewalt is an ordained Elder in the Missouri Annual Conference, and has served since 2007. She is thrilled to be specializing in pastoral care of elderly adults now as Resurrection's Silverlink Pastor. She is married to Randall, a special education teacher. They have two daughters, Elliott and Marlowe. When Emily is not in a care home sharing communion or with her family on another Kansas City adventure, you can find her curled up on the couch at home binge watching "Friends" or "Golden Girls."

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?

© 2024 Resurrection: A United Methodist Church. All Rights Reserved.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

* 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.