29th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Isaiah 53:10-11 II:
35 And James and John, the sons of Zeb'edee, came forward to him, and said to him, "Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you."
36 And he said to them, "What do you want me to do for you?"
37 And they said to him, "Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory."
38 But Jesus said to them, "You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?"
39 And they said to him, "We are able." And 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;
40 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."
41 And when the ten heard it, they began to be indignant at James and John.
42 And Jesus called them to him and said to them, "You know that those who are supposed to rule over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them.
43 But it shall not be so among you; but whoever would be great among you must be your servant,
44 and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all.
45 For the Son of man also came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."
- (v.35) James and John are two of Jesus most intimate disciples. They were with him at the transfiguration. This may explain the way they ask Jesus for favors, like children who try to get a commitment from an adult before the adult knows what he is in for! Their request shows their ambition, and how little they care for the others.
- (v.37) It seems almost impossible that after Jesus predicts his suffering and death three times (since 8:31) the disciples still do not understand. How patient Jesus is with his disciples.
- (v.38) The "cup" and "baptism" are symbols of Jesus suffering and death. Here Mark ties together two events in Jesus life: his baptism at Jordan and his death on the cross. Paul will later teaches Christian baptism as a dying with Christ.
- (v.41) Jesus does not reprimand James and John immediately after their request for first places. Perhaps he wants them to see the consequence of their ambition. The result is the lost of peace among the disciples.
- (v.42) The term "lord it over" is a vivid way of describing leadership as raw power.
- (v.43) The term "servant," diakonos, literally means "the one who waits on tables."
- (v.45) This is a description of Jesus as a servant: to give his life as ransom for all. "Ransom" means the price of deliverance or liberation, as in the release of a slave.
One Main Point
Jesus teaches his disciples about what it means to be a Christian: it is NOT to "lord it" over others. It is to be a servant, the one who waits on tables. And honor is achieved through one's suffering as a servant.
- I imagine myself present with James and John in their "private" meeting with Jesus. As they have asked favors from him, so have I. What are the favors I have asked of Jesus? How would he answer me?
- In my community (family, social group, church, etc) how do I serve others? Would Jesus have to say to me, "It should not be so among you"?
- The disciples were shortsighted, ambitious, and selfish men. What love and confidence Jesus must have had on these men who went on to become pillars of the church. How do I look upon my brothers and their weaknesses? How should I look upon them?
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A synthesis by the Vietnamese Christian Life (Dong Hanh) Community