Thursday, June 28, 2018

To Be Great Be the Servant

While Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside by themselves, and said to them on the way, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn him to death; then they will hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified; and on the third day he will be raised.”
Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came to him with her sons, and kneeling before him, she asked a favor of him. And he said to her, “What do you want?” She said to him, “Declare that these two sons of mine will sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom.” But Jesus answered, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink?” They said to him, “We are able.” He said to them, “You will indeed drink my cup, but to sit at my right hand and at my left, this is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.”
When the ten heard it, they were angry with 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 are tyrants over them. It will not be so among you; but whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be your slave; just as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:17-28 
This country was possible because of brutal slavery, indentured servitude and theft of Native peoples land. We might call some of those first settlers, who came in to Jamestown and other places, great men. In actuality, they were greedy business men who cared little for human life. They needed cheap labor. They took what they wanted and thought little of the consequences. The historical and political trauma they inflicted still lives with us today. We seem to be in another period when great means one who is shrewd in business, one who will do anything to win.
Jesus is confronted by the mother of James and John who wants the best for her sons. A dispute ensues. Jesus knows it is our nature to want to be first, best and to be great. He also knows the horror and the cost of this compulsion. Throughout history being great has been at the cost of people's destruction. We are to hear that we are called to serve and those who serve, who willingly take a back seat so that others may ride in front, who offer to share their food, their homes, their wealth so that all may rise, are those who are known as great in the eyes of God. 
Today I ask God to help me put others first and to serve them with great joy. May we understand we are drawn close to the heart of others when we let status go and embrace the holiness of being alive so that all may rise.

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