They were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking ahead of them; they were amazed, and those who followed were afraid. He took the twelve aside again and began to tell them what was to happen to him, saying, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death; then they will hand him over to the Gentiles; they will mock him, and spit upon him, and flog him, and kill him; and after three days he will rise again.”
James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came forward to him and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” And he said to them, “What is it you want me to do for you?” And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” They replied, “We are able.” Then Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you will drink; and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized; but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.”
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 as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:32-45
I spent a good deal of my time on the road, and it is often, midst the journey, that I contemplate my life and where I am going. This past week while at the House of Bishops meeting, I was sick, and so had more time on my hands, far away from home. I spent too much time in my room thinking about life choices and directions with a fevered brain. It is easy to get misguided or deluded on the road, to romanticize home, or seriously contemplate a new way of living. It is easy to avoid reality and miss the signs and directions right in front of us. We can get lost, even with the best intentions.
Jesus is on the road with his friends and followers and they don't like hearing what he is saying. They direct the topic away from the horrible challenges ahead, denying what they are hearing, and focus on being competitive, sliding backwards into juvenile behavior. They then moved from competition to anger, after hearing what Jesus had to say - neither behavior being particularly helpful. It is nice to know that those closest to Jesus didn't get it right. Jesus brought them back to reality - a life of service and he brings us back to reality - our lives are intended and measured by our willingness to serve. Here, as we face into Holy Week and Easter, is a good time to remember how easy competition and anger arise and how hard it is to remain willing and loving servants.
Today I ask to help me continually offer my life for others, and leave aside the worry about titles and station. May we all prepare our hearts for this blessed Holy Week coming, by setting aside competition and living humbly day by day. May God's love be known as we serve those around us today.