The most important line in this Sunday’s readings is the last line of the Gospel and it sums up the focus of our lesson for that day and the readings: “For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
In the first reading from the book of Isaiah we listen to the description of the innocent servant who voluntarily takes on the suffering and punishment due to his people for their sins. Although this was written long before Jesus, only Jesus, the Christ, embodies all of the qualities and fulfills the definition of the suffering servant perfectly. For his self-sacrifice as an offering for sin for so many, the suffering servant will not go unrewarded but “…he shall see the light in fullness of days; through his suffering, my servant shall justify many and their guilt he shall bear.”
In the Gospel according to Mark the disciples, James and John, the sons of Zebedee, come to Jesus and say to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” This is very bold of the disciples but Jesus does not become angry at their command, but asks what it is they wish for him to do. They want to be seated at his right and left when he comes into “his glory”, when he ascends to the kingdom of God. Jesus attempts to explain to them that they do not understand what they are asking. Can they drink the cup that he will drink, or be baptized with the baptism Jesus will be baptized? In other words, can they offer themselves as a sacrifice for the sins of the world? They clearly do not know what it is they are asking, but we must see ourselves in the disciples because we are no more knowledgeable on the ways of God, really. We must ask and learn.
Jesus does an interesting thing. He shows that the “great ones”, those who are rulers, or governors, of people, make their authority over them burdensome. The people the “great ones” rule are treated as servants. Jesus did not come to be one of the “great ones”, he did not come to be served but to serve. That is a huge difference. “Whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all. For the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
To walk in the ways of Jesus means sacrificing ourselves for the sake of others. There is a saying in our Church, and many Christian churches, “God FIRST, All Others second, myself last and ALL for the GLORY of GOD”. This exemplifies the complete nature of Christ Jesus and what he expects from us. Jesus didn’t expect his disciples to remain unchanged in their calling, but expected them, was counting on them, to become more and better for His sake. That is what is asked of us, if we are following Jesus, if we love him, to become more and better. Our goal is to get to the Kingdom of God, despite our earthly distractions of buying bigger and better everything as we meet and surpass milestones or goals in our earthly lives. We need to set some milestones or goals for our life with Jesus…preparing for our retirement, as it were, from this earthly life. We are not yet what we are meant to be, which is Holy - Saints. We won’t get there based on the amount of money we have, good jobs we have, or fancy cars we drive. Those might get you special notice HERE, but won’t pave the way for God’s Kingdom. For that, you need to sacrifice yourself, self-LESS-ly and become a servant for others.
Our Psalm this week is Psalm 33: Lord Let Your Mercy Be On Us”.
Lead Sheet Music Recording (This is a really lovely Pslam setting, BTW.)
Please follow the hyperlinks to a music demo and lead sheet link.
Have a blessed week, searching for ways to serve selflessly.