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Interesting post from Hxcboards

August 10, 2007

“Mark 1035Then 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. 45For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

This narrative occurs in the same chapter where Jesus had encountered the rich young ruler who wanted to know the way to eternal life. At this point, James and John had still misunderstood what Jesus’ entire ministry was about. They were still looking for greatness and recognition, but as He responded to them rightfully “you don’t know what you are asking.” There is a special significance here. At this point of the Markan story (indeed, up until the end itself), the disciples had not managed to grasp exactly what sort of fate awaited Jesus and those who followed Him. They had only recently recognised that He was the Messiah (Chapter 8), but were probably still stuck in the Jewish idea that He would be exalted in the nation and taken in glory. James and John request to be at His “left and right.” What they didn’t know, however, was that the people who were going to be on Jesus’ “left and right” were the thieves/insurrectionists crucified with Him. His followers still hadn’t understood at this point what the cost of their discipleship was, nor what was the way of it. As He tells them at the end of this narrative, “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.”What this implies, within the context of the passage, is that true greatness is found in servitude. Very similarly to Jesus’ encounter with the rich man in the same chapter, this is a lesson that one must be prepared to give up everything for the sake of others in order to find true riches. Even after Jesus had told them of how nigh-impossible it is for the wealthy to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, His disciples were still seeking greatness and power. What they needed to learn (and what many of us still need to learn today) is that true power is not found in seeking the kind of greatness the world knows, the kind of greatness found amongst lords and rulers, but rather it lies in servitude. Jesus links His “ransom,” His sacrifice, to exactly that which He expects of His followers; to lay down everything for the service of all humanity. This is at the heart of revolutionary Christianity; that all humanity is our master and also our slave. How is that for egalitarianism?And of course, we get the spiritual aspect of this teaching once again, since Jesus relates it to His crucifixion and His own service to the whole of mankind. Once again, the social ethic remains inseparable from the spiritual ethic.

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