Year B – Twenty-second Sunday after Pentecost
Community Lutheran Church, Sterling, VA – October 21, 2018
Good morning. We all wish to be right there beside Jesus himself. I most certainly want to be with him as well. He is after all, the person that we could never be. He is perfect in every way. I’m certain that we all would love to just get to know him better.
Looking back to what we’ve just heard from the gospel, we hear about how James and John, two of Jesus’ disciples, ask Jesus to grant them the privilege to sit on either side of him. It is true that throughout the history of Earth, we, as human beings, have always held onto the idea that there’s always someone who should be higher than all of us. We all need structure in our lives. It’s a requirement to us. Such people tend to be made known across the world as Presidents, Prime Ministers, Emperors, Kings, and Queens. We often look to these people to guide and govern us because we all know too well that humans are imperfect. We are all flawed, and without someone there to lead us, chaos often shows itself.
Jesus is known to be the King of the Jews. In other words, he’s higher than all of us. We should praise him and follow his lead. But we often forget that Jesus didn’t come here to rule over us, but rather, he came to serve us. I too forget this. I see Him as being the one who rules over all of human kind, and he is the only one who can lead us to paradise. While a part of this may be true, I forget that that’s not who he is. We all forget. James and John had obviously forgotten this. They were asking for his permission, but Jesus says to them that nobody needs approval from him.
Later, when the rest of the disciples hear about how James and John asked this of Jesus, they were furious. How could they go to him asking to sit by his sides? Why them? Why not everyone else? Jesus had then called to them. He saw the ten’s anger with the other two, but Jesus didn’t scold them for being angry. Jesus didn’t punish them. Jesus didn’t show any sign of anger or disdain. Rather, he was calm and collected, and he used their emotions as a way to teach them about their desire for power. We can read the story and we can see that James and John wanted to reach Jesus before the rest of them did. Maybe because they really wanted to be with Jesus when he performed his miracles, or maybe when he shares his wisdom and teachings. Or maybe, it was because they wanted to become the greatest out of the twelve.
Jesus tells them all that with power, comes corruption, which can ultimately lead to tyranny. It’s Jesus’ warning to them. He then goes on to say that in order to become great, they must do as he has done; serve your neighbors. Only by servitude can one become great. This is the main point Jesus is trying to get through to us. We need to block out that very desire to have power, to become the greatest among the rest.
We all desire to have a level of power, no matter how small it really is. To have the power to change things in this world to make life better for all. I have to be honest, I do really wish to have the kind of power to rid the planet of hatred and despair, but, as Jesus said, we need to become servants rather than powerful individuals.
I believe that if we all help to serve our brothers and sisters through Christ, we can change hatred into lovingkindness, and despair into joy. By serving together, we can make a difference. We can turn this world into a better place for all, while also becoming great in the eyes of Jesus.