Mark 10:41-45

by | Oct 23, 2018 | Meditations

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.” (Mark 10:41–45 NRSV)
If you haven’t noticed, it’s election season.  In my corner of the country sales ads have been almost completely replaced with campaign ads.  An overwhelming amount them are smear ads.  I’ve been amazed at how quickly those ads are made and run.  One day there’s an ad telling some horror story about the other candidate and it’s almost like it’s the very next day that a rebuttal has been produced and aired.  Candidates line up to tell you how terrible their opponent is, what you ought to fear if their opponent is elected, and how they can offer you security – if you only vote for them.
Fear-mongering must be an effective way of gaining power.  I mean, we’re all afraid of something. We’re all looking for security in one way or another.  I suspect that’s why James and John asked Jesus if they might sit at his right and left in his glory.  To sit at his right and left was to sit at places of power, but to have power is to have security.  Mark tells us that as they followed Jesus to Jerusalem they were afraid (10:32).  Afraid of what? The crowds? Jesus? What might happen when they made it to Jerusalem?  Whatever it might be, I suspect the assurance of sitting at Jesus’ right and left would’ve offered a feeling of security.
But Jesus never grants them the power or security they ask for.  Instead, he assures them they do not understand what they are asking.  Jesus will enter glory, though it will not look like the kind of glory they expect.  He will be lifted up, but it will be on a cross.  Two will sit – or hang – on his right and his left, but they will be criminals.  He will wear a crown, but it won’t be a gold crown.  He will be hailed as a king, but it will be out of mockery.
The way of the Cross isn’t the way of fear-mongering.  It neither denies fear, nor utilizes it as means to an end.  The cross offers no false sense of security, but rather assures us that if we follow faithfully, persecution IS in store for us.  The way of the cross is the way of service and self-sacrifice, and those things have no place in the world of fear-mongering and power politics.  Instead, it says that the first will, in the end, find themselves last and the last will find themselves first.  It says that if someone wants to be great, he/she must be a slave of all, because our King Himself came not to be served, but to serve, so how could any of us expect anything more.  It isn’t the way of fear, but the way of hope – hope beyond death, even beyond what we dread the most.
Let’s not give in to the politics of fear that our world lives by.  Instead, may we live by the politics of the cross – the politics of service, self-sacrifice, hope…

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