Friday, November 25, 2011
Can you drink this cup?
And as Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside, and on the way he said to them, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem. And the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn him to death and deliver him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified, and he will be raised on the third day.” Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came up to him with her sons, and kneeling before him she asked him for something. And he said to her, “What do you want?” She said to him, “Say that these two sons of mine are to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom.” Jesus answered, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am to drink?” They said to him, “We are able.” He said to them, “You will drink my cup, but to sit at my right hand and at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.” And when the ten heard it, they were indignant at the two brothers. But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:17-28
We are in transit from one part of our family to the other, from western to eastern Pennsylvania. Lots of people are on the road, going shopping and returning from family gatherings everywhere. The thing about families is that when we gather, we rejoice in the love we have, quickly renewing old ties and digging up old arguments. We find ways to enter the old games and comparisons despite our best, grown-up selves. And the gift of family is that we love each other despite and because of that very humanity. We can be vulnerable and broken with one another and know (or at least hope) we will eventually be forgiven.
Mrs. Zebedee knew her sons were special and wanted them treated appropriately. She wanted them to take first place without weighing the cost of what she was really asking. Few of us measure the cost of leadership, because to truly be a leader in God's reign is to be daily humbled, daily putting others first and ourselves last. Few of us can drink that cup, let alone subsist on a diet of humble pie. But Jesus promised them, and promises us that we do not have to ever walk alone, and we are constantly enveloped in God's love and protection as we face the "slings and arrows of outrageous fortune."
Today, I ask God to give me an extra measure of humility and patience. Help me, Lord, to swallow my pride and love unconditionally every person I encounter today, not counting the cost but offering more of myself in every moment for your glory. May love be so deep in us that we cannot be shaken from our resolve to love and forgive as we have been forgiven.