Places of Honour.

As Paraphrased in The Message – the daily office reading for today is from Mark 10:32-45

Back on the road, they set out for Jerusalem. Jesus had a head start on them, and they were following, puzzled and not just a little afraid. He took the Twelve and began again to go over what to expect next. “Listen to me carefully. We’re on our way up to Jerusalem. When we get there, the Son of Man will be betrayed to the religious leaders and scholars. They will sentence him to death. Then they will hand him over to the Romans, who will mock and spit on him, give him the third degree, and kill him. After three days he will rise alive.”

James and John, Zebedee’s sons, came up to him. “Teacher, we have something we want you to do for us.”

“What is it? I’ll see what I can do.”

“Arrange it,” they said, “so that we will be awarded the highest places of honour in your glory—one of us at your right, the other at your left.”

Jesus said, “You have no idea what you’re asking. Are you capable of drinking the cup I drink, of being baptised in the baptism I’m about to be plunged into?”

“Sure,” they said. “Why not?”

Jesus said, “Come to think of it, you will drink the cup I drink, and be baptised in my baptism. But as to awarding places of honour, that’s not my business. There are other arrangements for that.”

When the other ten heard of this conversation, they lost their tempers with James and John. Jesus got them together to settle things down. “You’ve observed how godless rulers throw their weight around,” he said, “and when people get a little power how quickly it goes to their heads. It’s not going to be that way with you. Whoever wants to be great must become a servant. Whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave. That is what the Son of Man has done: He came to serve, not to be served—and then to give away his life in exchange for many who are held hostage.”

The disciples again find themselves in quagmire with Jesus. Again they have been given instruction by Jesus about the very painful reality that he is facing. He has taken care to let them know what it would be like for him in the days ahead, and to prepare them for what they would encounter as those who were committed to his ministry. In the midst of this quite tender conversation,  Zebedee’s boys decide to ask a favour. “Do me a solid Jesus,” they said, “let us be in the places of honour when you enter your glory! If it’s not to much to ask.” Jesus is disappointed. Their peers are pissed. And the whole thing degenerates into on hot pissing contest. Jesus, despite his vulnerability, takes command and settles the whole thing down. He does so by reminding the disciples what they are NOT called to be. By extension it is a reminder of what we are NOT called to be.

They/We are NOT called to be rulers. They/We are NOT called to lord authority over others. They/We are NOT called to let the little power they had/we have go to their/our heads. They/We are NOT called to throw their/our weight around. They/We ARE call to serve. They/We ARE called to a life of service. They/We ARE called to give up their/our life for those who are held captive.

So where are we with that today? I think we are still often James and John. Still often looking for the places of honour. As we prepare to enter into Holy Week, I invite us to ask ourselves we we can drink the cup of Jesus’s Passion? I invite us to ask, if we are prepared to give up our comfort for the sake of another? Are we prepared to serve? Are we prepared….?

“…but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister: and whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all. For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.  


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