Questions Day 19 (3/3/13)
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What do you want?
20 Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came to him with her sons, and kneeling before him, she asked a favor of him. 21 And he said to her, “What do you want?” She said to him, “Declare that these two sons of mine will sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom.”
22 But Jesus answered, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink? They said to him, “We are able.” 23 He said to them, “You will indeed drink my cup, but to sit at my right hand and at my left, this is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.” 24 When the ten heard it, they were angry with the two brothers. 25 But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. 26 It will not be so among you; but whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wishes to be first among you must be your slave; 28 just as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.”
The mother of the sons of Zebedee was a first century "Stage Mom". Now, I know that not all "Stage Moms" are overbearing, boundary challenged, and verbally coercive people, but that is how this term came to be associated with such behaviors. The teachings and presence of Jesus was noticed by the crowds and Jewish leadership, so it is little surprise that the mother of James and John approaches Jesus.
Here are two grown men, called by Jesus who wilt in the presence of their mother. I know how they feel. When I was appointed to Nocona UMC my mother would often stop by on her travels between McKinney and Wichita Falls. My mother continued to work with a Nursing project in Wichita Falls so every three weeks or so she would stop by. But the first time she stopped by after I was appointed to Nocona UMC she made a lasting impression.
I was 27 years old in this my first appointment as Pastor in Charge. I was viewed by many as just a kid, which statistically is true since 8 of the 9 S.P.R.C. members had grandchildren my age. Weldon Parr was mowing the church yard on a riding mower that afternoon of my mother's inaugural visit to Nocona. Weldon was mowing in line perpendicular to the road and sidewalk and there stood my mother -- hands on hips . . . immovable force -- right in the path of the mower. Weldon turned off the mower and politely said with an east Texas drawl, "Can I help ya Ma'am?"
My mother's response has become urban legend when referring to my ministry in Nocona. "My Son is your pastor and if he doesn't do what you all want him to . . . call me. I'll get him to do it." Then she handed him her business card! I could have used some help from Jesus that day too.
The culmination of Jesus challenge to James and John transcends the envious anger of the other ten disciples and ambitions of the sons of Zebedee. It is a challenge of serving others. It is a challenge of putting others before yourself. It isn't about a race to the top, but a call to stay at the bottom and serve. Jesus' words are strong, " whoever wishes to be first among you must be your slave; 28 just as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve." Slaves had no claim to rights or privilege and it is to this position that Jesus compares himself.
We embrace Jesus when we say things like, "My peace I give to you, not as the world gives to you do I give", but when it comes to this radical selfless positioning of ourselves we tend to balk a little. We can understand and even love the idea of the "other-worldy" nature of Christ's life, but we are resistant to the "other-worldly" agenda which puts us on our knees serving others.
What do you want?