Mark 10:35-45 James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came forward to him and said to him, "Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you." And he said to them, "What is it you want me to do for you?" And they said to him, "Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory." But Jesus said to them, "You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?" They replied, "We are able." Then Jesus said to them, "The cup that I drink you will drink; and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized; but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared." When the ten heard this, they began to be angry with James and John. So Jesus called them and said to them, "You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many."
Even when writing 60 years after the event, the writer of Mark’s Gospel manages to capture the impertinence of the words of James and John: "Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you." (vs 35). How dare the students demand that the teacher become their servant!
Yet how often is this not still with us? We, the created, demand that our Creator do our bidding. Sometimes we dress up our demands in religious language, like adding “In Jesus Name” or “I claim it by faith”. And when God does not do as we demand, we curse God and say there is no God. The challenge for Lent is to learn to be content. We learn contentment by accepting that we are servants of our Creator. We are created to obey God’s bidding.
PrayerMaster, speak! and make me ready,
When Thy voice is truly heard,
With obedience glad and steady
Still to follow every word.
I am listening, Lord, for Thee:
Master, speak! O, speak to me!
Words: Frances R. Havergal, Ministry of Song, 1869.
The Last Sunday after EpiphanyListen to Jesus Christ
Scripture reading taken from A Guide to Prayer for Ministers and Other Servants p.100