MAKE ME A SERVANT
The other followers of Jesus were afraid. That makes sense. They were anticipating trouble in Jerusalem. Jesus was walking right into the teeth of the religio-mafia. They were probably afraid of what was going to happen to Jesus and then what might happen to them.
It was a time for teaching. Jesus took the Twelve off by themselves and said it as clearly as possible, “The Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the Gentiles, who will mock him and spit on him, flog him and kill him. Three days later he will rise.” (Mark 10:33, 34) That is serious and sobering news! It should shake them up and bring them to their senses as far as understanding what Jesus was all about. I would expect them to walk on for awhile in silence as they pondered this heavy news. I would expect them to ask questions. “What would you have us do when this happens, Lord? How can we best prepare for these events? What will all these things mean to us and to your kingdom? Is there anything you would like us to do for you?” These are good questions.
Then James and John came and actually asked a question. They requested a favor of Jesus. “Let one of us sit on your right and the other at your left in your glory.” (Mark 10:37) What? What did they just say? What are they thinking? Jesus just told them about the pain and suffering he was about to experience and these guys are thinking about how they could angle for places of superiority. Hopefully the other ten disciples were thinking about what Jesus had said! No. When they heard what James and John had done they became angry with them. Why? Why didn’t they just brush that off and continue thinking about what they should do to advance the kingdom of Christ? Because they were angry that the brothers had stepped up and sought the honors they all wanted.
I read this passage and am disgusted with the shallowness and selfishness of the disciples. Why were they so concerned about themselves? Why weren’t they thinking about the horrors Jesus was about to experience? How could they dismiss his pain and suffering while thinking about their own honor and glory? And then comes the unavoidable question, “Am I really any different from those guys?
Jesus said to them, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:43-45)
I am a pastor. Pastors have to work hard to avoid giving into the temptation to seek honor and praise. We have to intentionally work to be servants. It’s too easy for us to think that people owe us something. We often see ourselves as well-educated scholars who should be listened to because we have so many wise things to say. We deserve to be well-paid because we are like CEOs. Jesus came to serve. If I want to be like him, that is what I need to do.