From Pastor Kenny's Desk
October 21, 2018
Zebedee’s children James and John approached Jesus. “Teacher,” they said, “we want you to grant our request.” “What is it?” Jesus asked. They replied, “See to it that we sit next to you, one at your right and one at your left, when you come into your glory.”
Jesus told them, “You do not know what you are asking. Can you drink the cup I will drink or be baptized in the same baptism as I?” “We can,” they replied. Jesus said in response, “From the cup I drink of, you will drink; the baptism I am immersed in, you will share. But as for sitting at my right or my left, that is not mine to give; it is for those to whom it has been reserved.” The other ten, on hearing this, became indignant at James and John.
Jesus called them together and said, “You know how among the Gentiles those who exercise authority are domineering and arrogant; those ‘great ones’ know how to make their own importance felt. But it can’t be like that with you. Anyone among you who aspires to greatness must serve the rest; whoever wants to rank first among you must serve the needs of all. The Promised One has come not to be served, but to serve – to give one life in ransom for the many.”
~ Mark 10:35-45
The easy lesson to draw from this sacred text is be careful for what you wish for. James and John have no idea what Jesus means by the cup he will drink and the baptism with which he will be baptized. All they know is that they want to have places of honor and are sure they are up for whatever it takes to get there. Would they have been so eager had they known Jesus was talking about drinking a cup of suffering and being baptized into the cross?
The larger message of this passage however is more profound and comes in the verses that follow as Jesus continues to explore and expound upon the nature of the kin-dom of God’s he teaches. In this place power is demonstrated through service, greatness is shown in vulnerability, and achievement comes through compassion.
Let's briefly set up the story: Jesus has announced for the third time his intention to carry his mission to Jerusalem and anticipated that this will culminate in his death. As with the previous two announcements, it is followed by the disciples' failure to understand, not just his words but his very mission and character. The first time, Jesus disclosure comes immediately after Peter confesses him to be God's messiah. But Jesus redefines what it means to be the messiah proves too much for Peter, who immediately rebukes him. Peter imagines that redemption will be achieved by strength, not by the apparent and appalling weakness, humiliation and brutality of dying on a cross.