Sermon for 21st February
Today’s reading continues on straight from last week; the disciples are still reeling from the revelation of how difficult it is to get into heaven. They are bewildered; confused and not a little afraid.
Immediately, they are off again. Jesus has set his face to Jerusalem, and now he is on the way, nothing will slow his progress. He knows what to expect when he gets there; it plays on his mind, and so once again he spells it out; tries to get these chosen men to truly grasp what will happen when they get there. Trying to prepare them. Trying to get them to understand: this is part of The Plan.
Remember last week?
“Jesus looked on him and loved him”. (Mark 10:21)
Jesus wants those whom he loves to be prepared. Now is the time not for parable, story or illustrations, but for hard truths.
Into this scenario then, we have these boys. James and John. Sons of Thunder. Reputed to be hot heads; bold, indiscriminate, fool hardy, brazen…
Think about it for a moment.
Jesus has just opened his heart to them.
“I’m going to Jerusalem to die”.
“I’m going to be betrayed; condemned; mocked and stripped and whipped and hung high…”
It is a moment of deep emotion; deep pain.
If it had been me listening I’d have been stunned; speechless; flabbergasted; horrified even.
But James and John choose this very moment to ask for a favour;
“I’m going to die”, “OK then – well when you get there, save us the best seat will you?!”
It’s no wonder the others were angry!
It doesn’t feel like the most considered response; and how dare they? Who do they think they are? Why are they any better than the rest of us?
Talk about ideas above your station!
As ever though, Jesus is able to use it as a teaching moment. Instead of anger, he responds with love, with questions, with gentle probing:
Do you think you can bear the things I must bear?
Can you go through what I must go through?
Well – even if you can; even when you do – this is not my gift to bestow; it is not my place to give.
And as for you, and the rest of you. Take a moment…
We all understand about hierarchy
The boss dictates to the employee
The master to the slave
The commander to his captain
It is the order of things
It is the way things are done…
But not in my world
Not in God’s Kingdom
If you want to be leader; commander; master, the boss. Well then you must always put yourselves last. Don’t ask to be the right-hand man! Don’t expect to take the position of privilege. Put yourself last. Let others go ahead. Serve others; support them; go the extra mile – do this for me, just as I will do it for you.
The Son of Man came to be the servant of all; to give his life so that others will be saved.
James and John made the mistake of concentrating on the glory – “when you come into your glorious Kingdom!”, even though they lived and walked along with Jesus, they still hadn’t grasped his message; his mission.
It was not about power.
It was never about power and glory
When we pray the Lord’s Prayer together we end with, “The kingdom the power and the glory are yours…” these things, power and glory are for God alone. Not for humanity.
James and John, walking with Jesus were still totally blind to this reality. This fundamental truth.
Jesus – Son of God – was to be a servant. Not a King.
They couldn’t see it.
Yet a poor blind man who could see nothing saw exactly who Jesus was. His insight was a truly wondrous thing. Much more wondrous than the healing he asked for was the blessing of knowing and recognising – of seeing without sight. This knowledge; this faith, was a great blessing; and as Jesus said to him, “Your faith has healed you.”
Faith – that thing so difficult to describe or explain.
Yet so powerful; so profound.
James and John – sons of thunder, would do well to watch and listen to the poor blind beggar who saw more of heaven than they ever could at that moment.
Jesus, spoke to them with great love: you don’t know what you are asking. If you want to be great; truly great, then put yourself last not first; if you want to finish first, then offer all you have, give it away, serve others. This is what I am here to do; this is the real mission.
Brother, sister, let me serve you
Let me be as Christ to you
Pray that I may have the grace to
Let you be my servant too
As we serve; so we must also let others serve us. As we give, so must we also receive. As we share, so must was also allow others to share with us.
Pause… Pray… who do you think you are?
As Jesus looks into your heart today, and asks you this question – how will you answer him? The greatest servant of all?
|The fallen Christ, Iona (c) JMW 2010|