Jesus said to them, ‘You don’t know what you are asking for. Can you drink the cup of suffering that I must drink? Can you be baptised in the way I must be baptised?’
‘We can’, they answered.
Jesus said to them, ‘You will indeed drink the cup I must drink and be baptised in the way I must be baptised. But I do not have the right to choose who will sit on my right and on my left. It is God who will give these places to those for whom he has prepared them.’ (verses 38-40)
Read Mark 10:35-45
I wonder what made James and John feel that they, more than the other disciples, deserved the places of honour in heaven that they were asking for. They surely could not have been surprised at the rather savage reaction of the other disciples when they heard what had been requested.
But what I believe neither group expected was Jesus’ response to the situation. Rather than lecture them in disapproval, he gave them a lesson about true greatness, both by what he said and in how he handled the situation. And, in doing so, he gave them a lesson about what a true leader is.
It’s a good lesson; and it is interesting to see that it has been ‘discovered’ in business circles, where people are beginning to talk in terms of servant leadership. Although our practice of it has sometimes left much to be desired, Christians have known about servant leadership ever since that day when two disciples sought a higher honour than the rest.
Our Lord, our Saviour, our Brother and Friend is a leader who washes feet; who loves us enough to give his life for us; who now asks us to do the same, as we lead others to him.
Lord, may I seek true greatness, and not that greatness which seeks honour and praise from people. Amen.
by Bob Turnbull, in ‘God’s Promises for each Day’ (LCA, Openbook, 1999)
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