Sunday, September 13, 2015

What About Me?!?

Mark 10:35-45

The Request of James and John

35Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to him. “Teacher,” they said, “we want you to do for us whatever we ask.”

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

37They replied, “Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory.”

38“You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said. “Can you drink the cup I drink or be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with?”

39“We can,” they answered.
Jesus said to them, “You will drink the cup I drink and be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with, 40but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared.”

41When the ten heard about this, they became indignant with James and John. 42Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 43Not so with you, instead whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 44and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

James and John say –“We want you to do for us whatever we ask”
At first we might wonder what the brothers were thinking to ask such a thing but how many times have we treated the Lord this way. Asking for something out of our own self interests, more concerned with ourselves and our position than the position God may have us take. James and John each want to know, what about me Lord? They are asking the Lord what he can do for them, and they are also making the assumption that the Kingdom of Heaven is structured in the same way as the worldly Kingdoms on earth. They are in for a rude awakening! And so is world!

Jesus then flips the entire structure of power and position on its head! He lays out for them what the structure of the Kingdom of God looks like, and what you must do to be great in it, and the first thing is to forget about YOU! What a hard lesson this must have been for The Brothers of Zebedee, and what hard lesson it still is for us today!

He then talks about the power structures of man and he is saying we as humans often use our self appointed authority to oppress others. He is pointing out to the disciples that his followers are to be different. He says the highest positions and the greatest rewards in the Kingdom of Heaven are reserved for those that do the complete opposite. He says- “not so with you” Do you think he was just talking to the twelve here, or to me and you also?
Jesus says “”whoever wants to become great among you must become your servant” I don’t know about you but for me the word MUST jumped out at me. He didn’t say should or that we need to try and become servants, but that he who wants to become great in the Kingdom MUST become a servant.

Almost sounds like a command doesn’t it?

Are we good servants? Do we avoid inconveniencing ourselves for the work of his Kingdom, or is his work of the highest priority to us? Are we submitting ourselves to the Lord, or making him our servant? When we are successful are we using those successes to glorify ourselves or are we using it to glorify him only? Are there people we are lording our authority over, or do we humbly see ourselves as serving those people?

Next let’s look at the reaction of the other ten disciples;
The text says- “they became indignant with James and John” Why do you think that was? Was this only out of concern for the Lord or did they feel threatened? I think it’s easy to assume that many of them were imagining themselves in the same positions the brothers were asking Jesus for. I think it’s likely the other ten were also privately thinking “what about me” when they heard this request being made.

If Jesus had stopped at just calling the twelve and us to be servants in order to be great that in itself is revolutionary for there time and ours but he goes further, he says; “whoever wants to be first must be slave of all.” That’s a heavy term that comes with a lot of images.
Let’s look at how the Merriam- Webster Dictionary defines the word slave-
1) someone who is legally owned by another person and is forced to work for that person without pay
2) A person who is strongly influenced and controlled by something
Now I think we can all agree that Jesus is not saying we should be owned by another human being. I believe what he is saying here is that we are to be in constant service to the Kingdom and to others. He is saying we should completely turn over ownership and control of our lives to him as he has to the father!

He asks them- “Can you drink the cup I drink”
The son of man himself came in complete service to the Fathers will and to serve all of humanity with the gift of salvation. He says himself that even he came to serve and not to be served. The Lord could have, at any time, rightly exalted himself back to his proper position, but he didn’t, he chose daily to become small, to become poor, to hurt, and ultimately to be beaten and nailed to a cross only to serve us. Unlike the twelve here in this particular situation the Lord knew completely what he would have to give and what he would have to go through to make this new covenant, he knew with certainty the cup he was about to drink and he said yes!

The Lord knew with an exactness and completeness that we as humans will never comprehend just exactly who he was making that sacrifice for, and he said you’re worth it!

Jesus is asking us today- “What About Me?!?” What position am I placed in your life, what position am I in your day today?

Like it or not we are beings created for worship, and if we do not have God in his proper place today then we have replaced him with something else, maybe with ourselves. Whether its money, sex, power, material things, drugs, and alcohol or all of the above we have sold ourselves into slavery. We are owned by that idol and soon it will consume us entirely. It will blot out the sunlight of the spirit of God, harden our hearts and rob us of the gift that Jesus paid so much to serve to us!

There can be great freedom in slavery. There can be immense joy in turning over control of our lives, but that only comes when it’s his yolk we take upon us. The things of the world only leave us empty and thirsty for more!

                  Only Christ’s way is truly fulfilling!