- James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to him and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” He replied, “What do you wish me to do for you?” They answered him, “Grant that in your glory we may sit one at your right and the other at your left.” Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Can you drink the cup that I drink or be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?” They said to him, “We can.” Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink, you will drink, and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized; but to sit at my right or at my left is not mine to give but is for those for whom it has been prepared.” When the ten heard this, they became indignant at James and John. Jesus summoned them and said to them, “You know that those who are recognized as rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones make their authority over them felt. But it shall not be so among you. Rather, 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”(Mk10:35-45). Taken from today’s gospel.
- The song of the suffering servant in Isaiah 53 presents the servant of God as one who accepted suffering in order to redeem others and then be exalted after he has given up his life for others. Jesus applied this prophecy to himself when he announced to his disciples that “the son of man is going up to Jerusalem where he will be handed over to the chief priests and teachers of the law…who will make fun of him…kill him; but three days later he will rise again”(Mk10:33-34). When he made this declaration his disciples who already believed him to be the messiah could not make the head and tail out of his speech. This explains why the sons of Zebedee came up to make a selfish request from him immediately after his announcement.
- The sons of Zebedee like the other disciples believed that the journey into Jerusalem would end in the establishment of the messianic kingdom. It was therefore necessary to negotiate for juicy portfolios in the political setting of the upcoming government. Jesus did not get angry with them. He gently taught them that the cross comes before the crown: “You do not know what you are asking. Can you drink the cup of suffering that I will drink?” For Jesus the suffering comes first then the attribution of place in the kingdom which is a role proper to God who will reward each person according to his/her deeds.
- Naturally the other disciples became indignant with the two politicians who wanted to outwit them. Yes, they all followed Jesus hoping to get a good position in the kingdom. Why should the two brothers be that smart? Jesus understood that the message has not yet been passed so he took time to explain his concept of leadership. Leadership must not be for personal advantage. It must be for service to others. He who aspires to be great would only be aspiring to be the slave of others. Position of leadership should be seen as position of serving and not exploiting others. This service is not without reward. The first reward is that others will be better because of the service they received. The second is that the servant, like Jesus, will become great and exalted far above those he has served.
- The life of Jesus shows that no cross comes without a corresponding crown. Jesus resolutely embraced the cross because he knows that apart from saving others through it he too will be exalted above every other name. He embraced the cross to teach us that even the sinless son of God cannot get his crown without his cross. He embraced the cross to prove to us that misfortunes are not necessarily a sign that God is angry with someone or that God has abandoned someone. He embraced the cross to show us that the cross can be a preparation for glory. He embraced the cross to show us that a good leader should be ready to sacrifice even his own life for the wellbeing of his people.
- Life would have been wonderful is we only have joyful situations around us. If God did not allow such to be the case it is because the cross is the way to meriting the crown. The sufferings of today are the seeds of tomorrow’s glory. Imagine the many difficulties that you have gone through in your life. Would you have been where you are today if you had not accepted to go through those difficulties? If you run away from difficult situations you will have very few opportunities for getting to the top where you will be crowned. If Joseph did not go to Egypt and went to prison he would not have met with Pharaoh’s servant and without that he would not have become a minister. Without becoming a minister he would not have saved people from famine. Tough times create tough people and only tough people can create easy time and it is only in easy time that we can find enjoyment. If you run away from difficult times today you will be missing the opportunity of creating a good time for yourself and for those coming after you. What would humanity have been if Christ had refused to accept his cross. Carry your cross today so that you will not miss your crown tomorrow because for every cross there is a crown. ©Vita, 17/10/21.