WEDNESDAY, April 16
41 Hearing this, the ten began to feel indignant with James and John. 42 Calling them to Himself, Jesus said to them, “You know that those who are recognized as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them; and their great men exercise authority over them. 43 But it is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant; 44 and whoever wishes to be first among you shall 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 a ransom for many.”
Years ago in the 1960’s, Illinois was issuing automobile license plates, starting with the number “1”. Paul Powell, then Illinois secretary of state, had to decide who would get the much-coveted number. Much to the indignation of thousands, he decided to solve the problem by assigning it to himself. His reason? “I’m not about to assign it to someone and make about a thousand other people feel hurt.” So he conveniently assigned it to himself.
The opportunism and the resentfulness directed at it is not lost on us in today’s passage. By seeking to be “first in line” the Zebedee brothers took self-help profiteering to ugly new heights. And we all feel indignant about it. Because we wish we had done it first. They were only smarter and faster. Next time we will be.
And thus begins the vicious cycle of envy, jealousy, ambition, competitiveness, and finally unbridled will to power.
See how devilish we become.
C.S. Lewis, in remarking on his own beginning transformation into the Christian faith recognized the stark, unbudging evil within: “For the first time I examined myself with a seriously practical purpose. And there I found what appalled me; a zoo of lusts, a bedlam of ambitions, a nursery of fears, a harem of fondled hatreds. My name was legion.”
Of all the unchallenged evils within us, will to power seems to be the most tolerated, almost acceptable in society. After all we live by the maxims, “the early bird gets the worm”, “God helps those who help themselves.”
I warn against such unbridled self-preservation.
The Gospel of the Upside-Down Community challenges this notion of unabashed self-advancement, and replaces it with the counter-cultural notion of placing others first; not subjugating but serving, not wielding power but giving it up.
This Holy Week we are reminded that “even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” May you find deep dignity and gratification as you re-direct your self-will towards others instead and live a life of service and unselfishness.
This Holy Week, we at Harvest will be bringing to you daily reflections from Pastor Wayne’s study through Mark to aid you in your own personal reflection and prayers throughout this last week of Lent. If you are in the Houston area, join us for EASTER SUNDAY at Harvest at 9:30am!