If we look back two or three chapters in the Gospel of Mark, we can find readings similar to the themes in today’s Gospel lesson. Twice earlier in Mark’s Gospel Jesus had foretold his suffering. When Jesus told the disciples that, they didn’t seem to get the point of why he was telling them.
An earlier reference told how the disciples had been arguing over which of them was the greatest. Jesus told them, in effect, that it was not appropriate to ask such questions.
Jesus seems to have realized that his disciples were having difficulty getting the point of what he was trying to teach them. He had taught his followers that their discipleship was a serving ministry as well as a learning ministry. While they were with him he expected them to learn the message of the Gospel. Afterwards they would go out as apostles to serve and teach others in Jesus’ name. (Cf. Mk 9:33-37)
In today’s Gospel it was James and John who wanted to have the places of honor on Jesus’ right and left when he entered into his Glory. Jesus challenged them by asking if they could drink his cup or accept his Baptism (i.e. his suffering).
He pointed out that those places of honor were not his to give. He reiterated to them that their ministry was to be of service to one another, and to others. (Mk. 10:35-40) “Whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all.” (Mk 10:44)
We also can be tempted to desire honor for ourselves. It is a human trait to want to be recognized for what we have accomplished.
But Jesus’ call to any of us is a call to serve one another in whatever way is appropriate, recognizing one another’s needs.
When any of you is tempted to desire honor for yourself, remember the teaching of Jesus! Take this as a challenge! Seek to serve, and not to be served.
Look at the Baptismal Covenant on pp. 304-5 of the Book of Common Prayer, especially the last two. (BCP. pp. 304-5)
Seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself. [and]
Strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being.
This should help to give focus to the nature of Christian Service.
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