On October 21, Pastor Jim preaches on Mark 10:35-45.
35 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.” 36 And he said to them, “What is it you want me to do for you?” 37 And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” 38 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?” 39 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; 40 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.” 41 When the ten heard this, they began to be angry with James and John. 42 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. 43 But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. 45 For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.”
One of my early college memories of Texas State, aka “Southwest Texas State,” aka “The Harvard of the Hill Country,” was buying my first semester’s books at the campus store. I took them to my new home in Jackson Hall, aka “The Tiltin’ Hilton,” and took a shot at reading them.
I opened the text book for “Political Science 101.” As I read, my heart began to sink. It might as well have been Portuguese. I couldn’t make sense of it. At that moment I decided that I just wasn’t cut out for college.
Thankfully, persistence won out over fear, and eventually I got with the college program. Actually, my favorite subject was political science. I remember how someone once defined politics as, “Who gets what and when.” I’ve remembered that and have remained an avid, though admittedly amateur, observer of power and politics.
Our present cultural climate provides unlimited opportunities for power watching. Washington, D.C.; state government; schools; clubs; families; and even Christian organizations are vibrant arenas for the pursuit of power.
Yet it’s nothing new. In Mark Chapter 10, two brothers who were nicknamed “Sons of Thunder” (How’s that for power language?) came to Jesus and asked that they, not the other 10 disciples, be allowed to “sit, one at [his] right and one at [his] left in [his] glory.”
James and John had no clue what they were asking. They also were clueless about leadership, at least as defined by Jesus, who “came not to be served but to serve, and give his life as a ransom for many.”
He told 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.”
It gives a new meaning to the phrase, “who gets what and when.”