TUESDAY, April 15th
35 James and John, the two sons of Zebedee, came up to Jesus, saying, “Teacher, we want You to do for us whatever we ask of You.” 36 And He said to them, “What do you want Me to do for you?” 37 They said to Him, “Grant that we may sit, one on Your right and one on Your left, in Your glory.” 38 But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?” 39 They said to Him, “We are able.” And Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you shall drink; and you shall be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized. 40 But to sit on My right or on My left, this is not Mine to give; but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.”
When I was about five or six, I was visiting Coney Island with my dad. We stood before The Cyclone, a legendary, rickety roller coaster that seemed as benign to me as the rollercoasters I saw people riding on TV. Until I actually got in the seat and began the horrifying ascent towards the sky, feeling every rail tick and crick by, I realized how deluded I really was about the actual experience; I endured ten minutes of sheer and constant torture that culminated with me back on the ground, vomiting up all of my previously-eaten ice cream. Of course before all this began, before I hopped in the saddle, my dad would ask me with a bemused, knowing look on his face… “Are you able to do this?” “Positive” I said. “I am able.”
Fresh off the heels of Jesus’ grim pronouncement, the Zebedee brothers are looking out for number one: themselves. It is opportunism, profiteering, and self-seeking at its worst. Add to the mix that they really “did not know what they were asking.” Jesus seems to patiently go along with their little pipe dream of glory, without bursting their bubble: “Are you able to do this?” When they say succinctly, “We are able”, I get the sense they still don’t know what they’ve really signed up for. The roller coaster life of discipleship – the actual experience of it – would be no joyride, and it would indeed culminate with their “drinking the same cup” and “being baptized with the same baptism” of Christ.
Knowing in retrospect what He’s talking about, would you still get on the ride?
There is another thing about this passage too important not to mention at least briefly, in closing. Keep it in mind because it will come up again later. Jesus asks, “What do you want me to do for you?” This deliberately worded phrase is repeated again later on. Amidst all the talk of glory and titles, Jesus is waiting tables. He is service-minded. He will mention later on about how the true path to glory is not in “subjugating” or “wielding power over others” (literal translations) but coming in and among as waiters, attendants, servants, slaves. One of my professors at Regent, J.I. Packer describes being a servant as “devoting time, trouble, and substance.”
If I can summarize what servanthood means for me today:
It is stepping outside of myself to do for others what has no benefit for me; simply giving for the joy of giving. The result is something no self-seeking can attain – deep and abiding Joy, selfless Joy.
May we find another Way, another Path to glory this week that is not through accolades, ambition, and accomplishment, but rather the way of constant downward movement, subverting our own impulses to power, and taking the posture of servants instead.
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!