Sunday, December 5, 2021

A Reflection by Rev Alistair McLeod for Sunday 17th October 2021.

October 18, 2021 by  
Filed under Weekly Reflection

Scripture reading;  Mark 10:35-45

I always want to find some way to redeem the enormous blunder made by James and John in this passage. Surely, they couldn’t mean what they seem to mean, couldn’t be asking what they seem to be asking. According to Mark’s chronology, Jesus has made it abundantly clear that his mission includes torture and death. He has already rebuked Peter harshly for trying to thwart that calling, telling all the disciples quite plainly that following him requires a willingness to suffer the same painful, ignoble, fate that he himself would suffer.

Then in last week’s Gospel reading, Jesus had to set the disciples straight about their thinking on authority and honour. They argued, as they walked, about who would be the greatest in the coming Kingdom. “Greatest what?” one wonders. The greatest sufferer? The first martyr? Jesus pauses to flip their world upside down (“Whoever wants to be first must be last and the servant of all”) before going back to the main message: What’s coming is death.

In today’s reading, it happens again. This time we aren’t given anonymous disciples participating in covert talk. Rather, James and John openly ask to be honoured with the best seats in the house. Again, Jesus takes the time to correct both misunderstandings: (1) This is about death, not glory; and (2) leadership in this movement requires serving, not ruling.

It is easy for us to focus on how misguided the disciples are in this story, but we, as Christians today, ought to focus on the second issue rather than the first.  We already know that Jesus is going to die near the end of this story.  We understand that, but what are we going to do about leadership, serving and sacrifice?

A Prayer for you

Lord Jesus, so often, you taught lessons involving care and love and loveliness, and all that was good – it was an easy read!  This business about taking up our cross and following you gets a whole lot harder though. Help us to see beyond our immediate understanding to see that, of course, following you to the letter might mean sacrifice, and perhaps even death, but that it also leads to resurrection glory which only you can promise.

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