Lent Reflections @ CEC (3/26/20)
If you need all the answers to trust God, you are not really trusting God.
SCRIPTURE & DEVOTION: Mark 10:32-45
Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to him. “Teacher,” they said, “we want you to do for us whatever we ask.”
“What do you want me to do for you?” he asked.
They replied, “Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory.”
“You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said. “Can you drink the cup I drink or be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with?”
“We can,” they answered.
Jesus said to them, “You will drink the cup I drink and be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared.”
This is the third time that Jesus very specifically told his disciples what will be coming. The first time (Mark 8), Peter rebukes Jesus - saying, "Uh-huh, that is NOT how this is supposed to go down." Jesus basically tells Peter his words are from of Satan - the adversary. The second time (Mark 9), the disciples are so afraid they don't even ask him about it.
This third time, Jesus appears to be leading a group on a trip up to Jerusalem. It says that the disciples were astonished, while those who followed were afraid. Astonished about what? Were they astonished at the courage of Jesus, who was going to Jerusalem in spite of what he knew would happen? Astonished at all the people with them? And what were the people afraid of? If they were afraid, why were they there? I wish we had a little more information.
But it seems that Jesus wants to be very clear that His closest disciples understand what's coming. He is incredibly specific about what will happen - he will be delivered to the leaders of the Jews, handed over to the Gentiles, put to death, and will rise from the dead 3 days later.
There must have been some time for the disciples to ponder these things and formulate some of their own questions, for James and John come to Jesus with a question. The other disciples are not there, or at least not within earshot, because it says later they are indignant when they hear about this encounter.
The way they phrase their question doesn't seem at all humble. "Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask." I mean - just wow! And while I can't imagine myself actually saying those words - if I'm honest - I think perhaps there is that same underlying tone in some of the things I ask when I pray.
Jesus isn't put off. He asks the same question he has asked others - "What do you want me to do for you?" They reply: "Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory."
Don't you wonder if Jesus just shook his head? He had been their teacher for the past three years - and you could say that his teaching could be summed up in six words -
Love God. Love Others. Serve both.
Their request shows that they still don't understand. They missed it. They followed this Teacher and still missed the lesson.
And I am so much like them. My instinct tends to want to be served and not serve. My instinct is to preserve my security, my schedule, my ideas of how things should happen. Those instincts are strong and I need the Holy Spirit to continually remind me not to make audacious requests, the requests I make because I really don't get it. But I take comfort in the fact that Jesus didn't rebuke them - he didn't condemn them for asking. He wanted to know if they were "all in" and He knows that they are. They will drink from the same cup of death and go through the baptism of suffering. He engaged with them right where they were at.
He does the same with us. Paul tells us to present our requests to God - and the peace of God will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. We can trust that even if we present some audacious request to God, He will sort it out. He will bring about His perfect plan in our lives to draw us closer to Him and make His love famous to those around us.
Lord, thank You that as we come to You, we do not need to fear. Your perfect love casts out fear. We know that You are not shaking Your head, wondering why we still don't get it. You engage with us, You draw us, You love us with Your perfect love. Show us our hearts and align us with You.