The resurrection shows us that the Kingdom of God does not operate by the rules of this world, rules based on power and might, rules based on showing favor just to get something in return. The Kingdom of God transforms everything and opens our eyes to a new way to be.
October 17, 2021
You Do Not Know What You Are Asking
Mark 10: 35-45
Pastor Heather McColl
Mark 10: 35-45
James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came forward to him and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” And he said to them, “What is it you want me to do for you?” And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” They replied, “We are able.” Then 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 hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.”
When the ten heard this, they began to be angry with James and John. So Jesus called them and said to them, “You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.
You Do Not Know What You Are Asking Mark 10: 35-45
I need to be upfront with everyone before I share this morning’s sermon. I need to share with you that for this particular sermon, the words would not come. I made the assumption that it was because I was out of practice after being on vacation for two weeks. I made the assumption that maybe the words would not come for this sermon because I needed a vacation from my vacation.
Yet as I spent time in prayer and mediation on these words from Mark, I realized that words would not come forward because they were already there. I didn’t need to add anything to them to make them stand out. I didn’t need to elaborate on them because there is the Gospel message right there in these few lines. I didn’t need to add anything to help us understand them better because we know what we are already supposed to do as the ones who have decided to follow Jesus.
We are called to be servants to all, no ifs, ands, or buts. We are called to see the image of God in everyone. We are called to treat each person with respect and dignity. We are called to be great by showing this world there is another way to be…a way not based on power and greed but a way based on love and grace. It is all right there.
In our text today, Jesus tells his disciples what they need to do as his disciples. Jesus tells them what they need to become as his followers to understand the Kingdom of God. Yet once again, like some many times before, the disciples just don’t get it. When Jesus talks of his death and resurrection, the disciples just don’t understand.When Jesus teaches his disciples about the ways of the Kingdom of God, they just don’t get it. When it comes to becoming followers of Jesus, the disciples miss the mark.
Now, I will be the first to admit that it would be so easy for, and it is easy for us to turn James and John into caricatures, to only see them and the rest of the disciples as foolish people who cannot even see, who cannot even recognize the Son of God even when he is standing right there in front of them. It is easy for us to tell ourselves that we would have gotten it right, that we would have never mistaken Jesus for anything other than the Son of God, that we would have recognized Christ in our midst every single time. Except I do wonder if that is true…because if you are anything like me, more often than I would like to admit, I have failed to embrace the opportunity to engage Christ through the people I encounter every day. Because more often than not, I am too focused on the details. I am too focused on my own worries and fears. I am too focused on the ways of the world that I miss the Kingdom of God at work in my midst.
And instead of being able to scoff at James, John and all the other disciples for not getting it, I realize that we have more in common than I would like to admit. As disciples, as followers of Christ, more often than we would like to admit, we might know the right words to say but when it comes down to understanding the ways of the Kingdom of God, we miss the point, that is…until we remember and experience the rest of the story, the resurrection.
And that is exactly the point. For us as disciples, for the rest of the world, for everything in God’s creation, the resurrection changes everything. Before that, Jesus can be seen as a great teacher, a great preacher, someone who challenges the powers that be. All good things but nothing which really sets him apart from other great teachers, other great preachers, from other leaders who challenged the powers that be at that time.
All that changes with the resurrection. The resurrection transforms how the disciples, how we as servants of Christ, view the world. It shows us that love and light will always have the last word. The resurrection shows us that death is not the end of the story. The resurrection shows us that the Kingdom of God does not operate by the rules of this world, rules based on power and might, rules based on showing favor just to get something in return. The Kingdom of God transforms everything and opens our eyes to a new way to be.
For the one we embrace as our Lord and Savior, did not come to be served but rather to serve and to give his life to liberate many people. Our faith, our calling as disciples of Christ is not, has never and will never be about just me and Jesus. It is and will always be about living in relationship with one another, serving each other, not for what we hope to gain but for the building up of God’s Kingdom here on Earth. Our faith, our calling as disciples of Christ is about our connection to each other, with each other as Beloved Children of God.
Now, I will admit that this is the moment when I am supposed to bring it all home with a great sermon illustration but again, I need to share that these illustrations would not come forward. Maybe because I knew that anything I said would come off as holy than thou, like I have it all figured out and you all just need to follow my example. Or maybe the sermon illustrations would not come forward because they would be all rainbows, puppies and sunshine, you know those sermon illustrations that help us feel good about ourselves without challenging us to see beyond what we already want to accept and know.
Or maybe the great sermon illustrations would not come forward because faith is a process and what works for me along my journey to become a servant of Christ will not work for you. Because I know a lot of people who demonstrate the love of Christ in all they do and say without ever stepping foot into a church while there are some people who claim to be servants of Christ but because of their words and actions, I often wonder if they have even encountered Jesus or are they just embracing the one whom they created in their own image.
So I guess the best that I can offer this morning is to share the question Jesus shared with the disciples in response to their request for him to do whatever they ask. Jesus simply asked them, “What is it you want me to do for you?
If our answer is to receive power and fame, we are in the wrong business. If our answer is to become a servant of Christ, then let me suggest that we read a little more in the Gospel of Mark, read it all the way through, until the ending when all seems lost yet somehow, someway, love and light finds a way to overcome.
Because when we understand that….then and only then will we really know what we are asking when we ask Jesus to transform us and help us become the people God created and calls us to be. May it be so.
See also: Theology Tuesday for Sunday, October 24, 2021 – You Do Not Know What You Are Asking Mark 10: 35-45.