Discipleship calls us to walk a different path
by Sister Agnes Fischer
How lonely Jesus was! Striding on ahead and the Twelve unsympathetic and self-seeking, lagging to squabble about pre-eminence.
To be fair to James and John, they must have been a bit confused by the whole situation. Jesus is telling the disciples to ask for things, and then when they do, they get told off and they go down through 2,000 years of history as being, selfish egotistical people. It all seems a bit harsh, really. They were merely doing what Jesus had said: Ask for things.
The truth is, most times when we pray and ask God for things, we are not being particularly arrogant or selfish or egotistical. We are merely expressing to God what we think we need or what we think would be helpful in a certain situation.
So, when we read Jesus’ words by way of response, he is not telling them off. Instead, he is being gentle with them and he is using this opportunity to teach them what is important in the Kingdom of God -- a lesson they needed to learn, and a lesson we need to be constantly reminded of.
That can be a tough lesson for us to learn, can’t it? Sometimes, we might have spent so long being faithful to God or might have spent so much time and energy on our ministry that we think, like James and John, that we deserve a bit of a reward from God. And then, when the reward doesn’t come, or when life gets tough for us, we might grow a little angry towards God. We might think, “For goodness sake, God, I have given so much for so long. I have put in so much effort, don’t I get something in return?” But as much as we might wish it to be otherwise that is not the way of Christian discipleship. It’s not how it works.
Jesus says, “Whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all.”
Now this, of course, is a completely countercultural idea as much today as it was 2,000 years ago in Jesus’ time.
We must seek ways to serve others rather than trying to become an authority figure over them. That is the way of Christ. That is the way of Christian discipleship.
Life’s most urgent question is this: What am I doing for others?
Sister Aggie, thank you for vividly describing the scenario of the Gospel and Jesus’ actions. To serve as Jesus did is the essence of the Gospel. You prompt me to consider how well I am doing that each day.