Mark 10: 35-45 – Not to be served but to serve.

The disciples have difficulty in following Jesus. If the way of Jesus is marked by the extraordinary quality of his love and service, then they must follow him down the same path. However, the disciples are frightened and unable to accept the way of God to life, shown in Jesus, because they have their own ideas. They are not prepared to rethink the traditional Jewish idea that the Messiah would be a powerful political figure who would restore the Davidic kingdom. The two sons of Zebedee ask a question that illustrates that, as yet, they have not grasped what it means to follow Jesus. They want Jesus to do their will: ‘we want you to do us a favour.’

One of them wants to have the supreme authority and the other the next important place when Jesus comes to establish his messianic kingdom in Jerusalem. They are still thinking of the earthly, political power and riches which come to them in Jesus’ messianic kingdom. Jesus has shown them that he is the Christ and that the kingdom will be established through his death and resurrection but the sons of Zebedee have not understood. All Jesus can promise them is a share in his suffering and death. Jesus was not to decide who will receive these positions of authority; that decision belongs to the Father. Jesus did not come to establish his own kingdom, where he would be in a position to allocate authority; he established the kingdom of God.

but the other ten disciples are not happy with the possibility that the sons of Zebedee might be getting in early. Maybe they are being jockeyed out of position by these two. Jesus does not abandon his ignorant disciples but he teaches them about true Christian authority. There is no place in Christianity for an authority that lords it over others. Rather, it is a call to service. Jesus points to his own life and service unto death as the model for the Christian life.

To be a Christian means to always strive to live and love as Jesus did. the way we relate to and serve one another must mark us out. We must not be like those who do not wish to hear God’s ways revealed in Jesus. But is our being different obvious? The world lords it over one another. It must not be so among us.

(Adapted from This is the Gospel of the Lord – Year B, by Francis J. Moloney, p 192-3).

Blessings, Reverend Lyndon.