A reading from the gospel according to Mark 10:35-45
35 James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to Jesus and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.”
36 He replied, “What do you wish me to do for you?”
37 They answered him, “Grant that in your glory we may sit one at your right and the other at your left.”
38 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?”
39 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;
40 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.”
41 When the ten heard this, they became indignant at James and John.
42 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.
43 But it shall not be so among you. Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant;
44 whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all.
45 For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Good News: Jesus came to serve and to give His life for us.
In this gospel reading, we see disciples James and John requesting Jesus to allow them to sit at His sides. Unlike the ten other disciples, Jesus did not get mad or rebuke them but instead He took the opportunity to teach them a lesson about service. Here are the lessons that we can also learn from this episode:
1. To sit on the throne with Jesus means to rule with Him but to rule with Him, we must also go through what He had undergone: to serve, to suffer and be ready to die a violent death. He is our ultimate model. As the Son of God, he humbled himself and became a servant of all. May we imitate Him by becoming humble servants for others.
2. There is no need to get angry with others who want a position. Why did the other disciples get angry with James and John? We can assume that they got mad for the brazen ambitiousness of the two because they too wanted the same position. In any organization like the church, for example, there are many roles or positions that must be filled. Not everyone can become the leader. We should just focus on the role assigned to us. We can legally jockey for the top position if it is vacant but a real servant is happy to accept any role. Look at the apostles. Not all of them became leader or evangelist! Let us give thanks if we are given a role. God knows what is best for us. So don’t get mad. Get busy.
3. Be careful with what we pray for. It won’t be given to us if it is obviously for personal glorification. Let us rather focus on what is the will of God for us just like when we pray the “Our Father” when we mention His will being done on earth as it is in heaven.
4. Christian leadership is servant leadership. It is all about service to God and others and not about having power and influence over others.. While it is true that we must harness all our God-given potential for leadership, we must never lose sight of the fact that everyone was created to care for others. In short, the path to true greatness is self-denial in order to become the servant of all.