Today’s gospel starts with disciples obsessing over who will be closest to Jesus, leading to Jesus teaching his followers about God’s take on importance and power. Here Jesus makes it explicit that the reversal of values in God’s community is a direct challenge to the values of the dominant culture, where wielding power over others is what makes you great. When we pray “your kingdom come” we are praying for an end to tyranny and oppression. We pray this gathered around the cross, a sign of great shame transformed to be the sign of great honor and service.
READINGS AND PSALMS
- Isaiah 53:4-12
The suffering servant
- Psalm 91:9-16
You have made the Lord your refuge, and the Most High your habitation. (Ps. 91:9)
- Hebrews 5:1-10
Through suffering Christ becomes the source of salvation
- Mark 10:35-45
Warnings to ambitious disciples
Sharing in Your Glory: Success or Service?
“Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” Like James and John, we too are quick to assume that following Christ leads to success, power, and glory. Like James and John we ask for what we know and think we want—and we know that this world rewards success, power, and glory with even more of the same, and we want it! Yet Jesus turns our lust for success, power, and glory on its head: “Whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all.” This servant leadership that finds power in self-giving is to be a hallmark of Christian community. For this servant-leadership is both modeled on and empowered by the living Jesus himself. His greatness is exactly in his humility, his strength is in his weakness, and his whole life is given a ransom for our sake. Indeed, Isaiah reminds us that “The righteous one, my servant, shall make many righteous.” Those who end up sitting at his right and left hand in his glory will not be the privileged and powerful, or even the disciples, who shrink back from sharing in his cup of suffering. Those at his right and left hand will be condemned criminals, crucified alongside him as he offers himself as a ransom for many. Likewise, those who will be great among us will be servants, finding Christ’s strength in their weakness and giving of themselves fully, following their Lord through failure, weakness, and shame into true and eternal glory.