The Evangelist, Mark, records for us that Jesus was on His way up to Jerusalem when He was telling His disciples things that “astonished” them and “frightened” His other followers. He clearly and specifically revealed to them what was about to take place. “We are going up to Jerusalem and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and teachers of the law. They will condemn Him to death and will hand Him over to the Gentiles, who will mock Him and spit on Him, flog Him and kill Him. Three days later He will rise.” (Mark 10: 33-34)
This was not the first time He spoke “plainly” to them about His suffering, sacrifice and passion! (See also Mark 8:31 and following.)
But then, remarkably, as if they hadn’t heard a word He had just spoken about everything that He would be undergoing, James and John came to Him quietly asking not about what He might need, but wanting something for themselves! They asked Him to “write them a blank check!” They asked Him to grant anything they wanted, and what they wanted was the privilege of sitting in honor and power with Him in His glory.
Jesus in turn asked them if they were able to “drink the cup [of suffering] I drink or be baptized with the baptism [of suffering] I am baptized with?” (v. 38) They replied that they could, but they didn’t really know what they were asking nor did they know what sort of suffering they would eventually undergo for the sake of Christ and for the sake of the gospel! (Tradition tells us that John was eventually exiled to the island of Patmos for the rest of his life and James was beheaded because of his proclamation of the gospel.)
The other disciples became aware of James and John’s request and a quarrel broke out among them about who was the greatest; who deserved the positions of greatest honor. Jesus finally “stepped in” to settle the dispute by explaining that “whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all.” (vs. 43-44)
We can’t imagine that in the face of His impending suffering and death the disciples only cared about which of them might be considered “first, greatest or best!” Yet, today, even though we know Jesus’ passion, death and resurrection for us – we still live as if we want to be first, best and greatest! What we do (and what we fail to do for others) demonstrates the sin of putting ourselves first. This sin of “Me first,” creeps into our marriages, our relationships and into our schools and workplaces. Jesus died to forgive us for this sin, and He gives Himself as our example and model. He cared for the “last and the least.” He loved and healed those who were physically, mentally and emotionally broken. He, ultimately, died for the sins of the whole world – yours and mine – even our sins of selfishness, pride and the craving to be “first, best and greatest!”
Forgiven in Christ, we can find true greatness, joy, peace, contentment and fulfillment by being “The Greatest of all Servants!” Look in Life at Holy Cross, today, to find many ways that you can volunteer to joyfully serve the Savior and those around you! You are Blessed to be a Blessing! You don’t have to do everything, but God is calling you to do something! What is it? May God give you joy and satisfaction in serving Him through serving those around you!
See you in church this weekend!
Blessings in Christ,