Service of God... or Ego? (10/17/21)

Rev. Jessica Palys


Have you ever been on a group road trip or carpooling and before you even got to the car, someone calls: Shotgun! Such a drag, isn’t it? Now you’re stuck in the back… maybe even in the middle back… today’s scripture is a little like that.

Today’s scripture passage marks the third time Jesus clearly and directly tells his disciples that he is on his way to Jerusalem to be handed over to the human authorities to be tortured, crucified, and to rise again. And today’s passage is the third time that they just absolutely miss it.

Two chapters back, Jesus asks his disciples who people say he is, and then begins to tell them about his suffering and betrayal - only to be rebuked by Peter. And then in the next chapter, Jesus tells them again and all they can argue about is who is greatest. And now, again, Jesus pulls them aside to inform them that they are already underway to Jerusalem where he will be handed over, tortured, and killed. And not 2 minutes later, two of his disciples approach with a favor.

While it’s difficult to imagine the patience Jesus must endure to bring the message of God’s kingdom to people who can’t seem to fathom it, it’s not hard to imagine what curse words Jesus might have said - at least in his head. I mean, I know he was perfect, but according to Mark’s gospel, he was also frustrated!

The only thing we know about James and John, sons of Zebedee, is that they were fisherman that were called to follow Jesus on the shoreline. After they were called, Zebedee remained in the boat with the ‘hired men’ - perhaps meaning Zebedee was wealthy enough to employ other people. Is that why they have the gall to try to procure their favor from Jesus, to secure their fate? Little do they realize that the one to the right and the left of Jesus in his ‘glory’ are criminals gasping for air on a cross.