“What is it You Want Me to Do?”
21 October 2018
The Rev. Todd R. Goddard, Pastor
West Walworth: Zion & East Rochester United Methodist Churches
Mark 10:35-45 (http://bible.oremus.org/?ql=406778512)
Prayer: Eternal God, we seek your truth through the Word made flesh, Jesus Christ, your son. Fill our minds and hearts with you Word. Amen.
James and John ask Jesus for just a moment of his time. They had their eyes on greatness. They were shooting for the stars. Like contestants on “Survivor” they were trying to pull a blindside on the other ten disciples.
Jesus had just watched a wealthy man walk away grieving because he couldn’t sell all he had, give the money to the poor, and come follow him. He had just taught that only God can save; mere mortals would have a better chance of success trying to push a camel through the eye of a needle than to try to work their way into heaven. He had heard Peter’s complaint about what enormous sacrifices the disciples had made to follow Jesus.
“Talk to the hand, Peter.”
Sacrifice? You don’t know sacrifice. Jesus then teaches his disciples for a third time the sacrifice he is about to make; to suffer, die, and be raised from the dead.
Holy non sequitur. Jesus is talking about the sacrifice he is about to make, all-the-while James and John are seeking for greatness. Passion and death, verses, new job titles and a bump in pay?
“What is it that you want me to do for you?” Jesus asks.
I don’t know about you, but if Jesus gave me such an open-ended offer like this, I’d probably start with world peace. For the main course, I’d add the elimination of poverty, the end of violence, and righting all the injustice of the world. For dessert, the thought about seating position or personal greatness wouldn’t have even crossed my mind. Hey, Jesus, I’ll take a cure for cancer for a hundred.
If only God would fetch our stick.
What would you ask for if Jesus made you this open-ended offer?
If you’re thinking along the lines of James and John for personal gain and self-promotion, expect to be treated like a tyrant by everyone else. The other disciples didn’t like James and John attempting to budge into line ahead of them, and my guess is you’d get the same cold shoulder.
Turn attention from this mortal world and focus attention on God, Jesus is telling us. Jesus sacrificed his life for the forgiveness of sins. Jesus rose from the dead to give the gift of salvation. That’s sacrifice. That’s what it means to serve.
The pathway to greatness in God’s kingdom is through self-sacrifice and service. If the journey of faith isn’t costing you anything, you’re not gaining a thing.
This encounter about greatness between Jesus and the brothers, James and John, causes me to ask what kind of sacrifice I’m making to be Christ’s disciple. I check my wallet and read my bank statement; what is it costing me? I look at my calendar and evaluate how and where I spend my time. Am I making a sacrifice of my time and priorities? How have I assisted the poor, and just as important, what efforts have I made to eliminate poverty from the planet?
Time for me to get off the couch and get to work. How about you?
Following Jesus requires effort, making a sacrifice, serving others, especially the poor, last, least, lost, and left behind. The effort to follow Jesus requires a greater sacrifice than just going to church on the Sabbath. Jesus gave it all for you, your’ forgiveness and salvation; what are you willing to sacrifice for him?