The Request of James and John
35 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.’ 36And he said to them, ‘What is it you want me to do for you?’ 37And they said to him, ‘Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.’ 38But 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?’ 39They 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; 40but 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.’
41 When the ten heard this, they began to be angry with James and John. 42So 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. 43But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, 44and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. 45For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.’
Devotion by Anne Mooney
Years ago I was a member of a church that participated in a ministry called Angel Food Ministry. This was a non-denominational program like Family Promise that provided very low-cost food for families. Each month boxes of food could be ordered that carried a variety of items ranging from fresh produce, eggs, canned goods, meat, and boxed items. In addition, there would be extra meat items that could be ordered at a discount. An Angel Food truck would deliver the food to the church. Members had to be there early to put together boxes and sort the food for people to come and pick up. Often, the people who came for food boxes wound up helping to sort and distribute while they were there. Everybody was helped. Everybody served and everybody was served. I would walk out of there feeling like I had been on another planet. It felt like I feel after walking out of a really good movie where it feels strange to transition from movie world to the real world. For me, this Angel Food experience felt a bit like what I imagine the Kingdom of God to be like.
James and John, like most of us, wanted fame, power, and glory. Jesus had other ideas, however. He brought a message of inclusivity, relationship, justice, and service. When we seek power and fame, we limit the room we have in our hearts for God and for each other. We miss out on opportunities to connect with people in authentic ways that feel intimate and meaningful. Jesus lifted up the weak and vulnerable in society and he encouraged his disciples and us to do the same. He showed us a different way and challenged us to discover how to live that way, too.
Dear God, Help us remember that you call us to walk humbly, act justly, and love mercy as we go through our daily routines of life. Teach us to serve each other as you came to serve. Amen