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Eating the Book: Mark 10:35-45

February 24, 2013

35 James and John, Zebedee’s sons, came to Jesus and said, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask.”

36 “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked.

37 They said, “Allow one of us to sit on your right and the other on your left when you enter your glory.”

38 Jesus replied, “You don’t know what you’re asking! Can you drink the cup I drink or receive the baptism I receive?”

39 “We can,” they answered.

Jesus said, “You will drink the cup I drink and receive the baptism I receive, 40  but to sit at my right or left hand isn’t mine to give. It belongs to those for whom it has been prepared.”

41 Now when the other ten disciples heard about this, they became angry with James and John. 42 Jesus called them over and said, “You know that the ones who are considered the rulers by the Gentiles show off their authority over them and their high-ranking officials order them around. 43  But that’s not the way it will be with you. Whoever wants to be great among you will be your servant. 44  Whoever wants to be first among you will be the slave of all, 45  for the Human One didn’t come to be served but rather to serve and to give his life to liberate many people.”

(Common English Bible)

“do for us whatever we ask.”

This statement feels like the kind of request my young son makes sometimes. “Do this!” Children sometimes want to give the parent direction (we give them directions so often, it’s understandable). Disciples act like children sometimes-children who do not see the whole picture.

“What do you want me to do for you?”

What do I want Jesus to do for me? Jesus asked this question more than once in the gospels, but I usually do not personally turn it around and look at it as if Jesus was asking me directly. I’m often quick to judge James and John (what arrogance/selfishness!), but are my requests really that different? How often do I come to Jesus asking for him to “do something” about this or that? On the other hand I know there are times when I try to accomplish and solve the issue myself without asking Jesus for help. Jesus’ question seems to be pointing me toward balance in this area.

“But that’s not the way it will be with you.”

There is a temptation to create Jesus in one’s own image. When this is done Jesus looks suspiciously like the things I desire, or support, or am comfortable with. How easy it is for me to want Jesus to be what I want him to be. Am I living more like the dominant systems around me, or like the Jesus who challenges them?

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