Friday, June 8th. Mark 10:35-45

James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came forward to him and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” And he said to them, “What is it you want me to do for you?” And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” They replied, “We are able.” Then Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you will drink; and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized; but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.”


When the ten heard this, they began to be angry with James and John. So Jesus called them and said to them, “You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.”  Mark 10:35-45


It has been many years since I read Robert Fulghum’s “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten” so I can’t remember if “standing in line and waiting your turn” is in there…but if it isn’t, it should be.


I think of that line on a daily basis.  Every morning when I drive to work I have to turn left off of Hiway 6 and get in line on the feeder road for I-10.  Every morning the line on the feeder road snakes its way back virtually all the way.  And every morning I am tempted to jump over to the right lane, fly past all of the waiting cars, and then find a Honda I can bully out of the way with my Ford.


Twenty years ago I would have probably made a game out of how close to the front I could push it.  Every commute was a NASCAR event back then.  But it seems that things have changed for me.  It would be great to call it “patience” or “maturity” but the truth is probably closer to “sloth” or “fear of getting a ticket or a fender bender.”


All I know for sure is that now I notice myself, on a daily basis, making room for the other cars.  A few minutes here or there don’t much matter in my line of work anyway.  I just notice that I notice such things now.


So I do understand James and John and their eagerness to budge to the front of the line.  What amazes me is Jesus.


Notice that he doesn’t shame James and John.  At all.  Even in front of the other disciples.  He doesn’t criticize their impertinence, he simply responds to their question with a question.  And his final answer, if you can call “I don’t know” an answer, comes across with a certain kind of…what is it?…sad resignation or knowing compassion?


Then comes the teaching moment.  Leadership in God’s kingdom isn’t about playing King of the Mountain or First One To the Interstate or even sitting in the seat of honor.  Leadership in the kingdom means serving, sacrificing, giving, even getting out of the way.  Which, when you think about it, means that everyone under the lordship of God is a leader.  Leadership is not a zero sum game.


So what’s our hurry?


Let us pray:  Dear Jesus, we so often forget the lessons of leadership which you taught us, not only by words but by your own example.  We confess that there is  more than a little James and John in us.  Forgive our impatience, even our impertinence, and teach us to lead by making way for others.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.


13 Responses to “Friday, June 8th. Mark 10:35-45”

  1. Judy Says:

    So many times now lately, your devotions (or Mark’s Gospel) seems to address ways I need to change in my life: less concentrating on “me” and more on “others”. Thank you for calling my attention to this.

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