The 21st Sunday after Pentecost; Proper 24B (Oct. 18, 2015)

Lessons:Isaiah 53:4-12 Psalm 91:9-16 Hebrews 5:1-10 St. Mark 10:35-45 Semicontinuous Series Job 38:1-7 [34-41] Psalm 104:1-9, 24, 35b (24)

Prayer of the Day Sovereign God, you turn your greatness into goodness for all the peoples on earth. Shape us into willing servants of your kingdom, and make us desire always and only your will, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.

10:35 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.” 36 And he said to them, “What is it you want me to do for you?” 37 And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” 38 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?” 39 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; 40 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.”

41 When the ten heard this, they began to be angry with James and John. 42 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. 43 But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. 45 For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.”

St. Mark 10:35-45 New Revised Version Bible (C)1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.

You're Gonna Have to Serve Somebody

In 1979, Bob Dylan launched these words into the public square, and it seemed as though we heard them a few times every day for months on end:

You’re gonna have to serve somebody Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord But you’re gonna have to serve somebody

It was, as Dylan’s lyrics often are, a challenge to the status quo of our time. We imagine, at least those of us with some degree of power and influence, that we are free, autonomous people, not beholden to anyone or anything. But nothing could be further from the truth. Dylan rightly observes that ambassadors, gamblers, athletes, socialites, rock stars, business executives, doctors and chiefs all serve somebody. It may be the devil or it may be the Lord, but you’re gonna have to serve somebody.

In the tenth chapter of St. Mark, the Apostles imagine that they are free, autonomous people. And having chosen to follow Jesus, they imagine the day will come when they are enthroned in glory with Jesus, ruling over the nations, with armies and treasuries at their disposal. James and John as much as request that Jesus certify this for them. And the rest of the Apostles are angry, not because James and John got it so wrong, but because it occurred to James and John to ask Jesus, before it occurred to any of the rest of them to do it.

But Jesus has a different idea of what the kingdom of God is like. In Jesus’ vision, it has to do with drinking the cup of suffering and death. In Jesus’ vision, greatness is equal to servanthood. In Jesus’ vision, the first shall be last and the last shall be first. And why? Because the pioneer and perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:2) has shown us what the kingdom of God looks like. “For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.”

This is the life our Lord models for us, and this is the life to which he invites us. Each and every one of us.

You may be a preacher with your spiritual pride You may be a city councilman taking bribes on the side You may be workin’ in a barbershop, you may know how to cut hair You may be somebody’s mistress, may be somebody’s heir But you’re gonna have to serve somebody

We are all going to have to serve somebody. This week we join together in prayer that we might be found to be servants of the Christ, the one who shows us what it means to live as servants of others. We’re gonna have to serve somebody. May it be the Lord!


David J. Risendal, Pastor

Exploring This Week’s Gospel:

  1. How has Jesus described the kingdom of God in Mark’s 9th and 10th chapters?
  2. What are James and John hoping for when they question Jesus in this week’s text?
  3. How does the response Jesus gives them redirect them to a new way of thinking?

Connecting with This Week’s Gospel:

  1. When have I noticed myself straying from serving God?
  2. In what instances is it hardest for me to see myself as a servant?
  3. How does a willingness to serve open me up to a new way to live?