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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Saturday, August 17, 2019           

Today’s Scripture Reading | Mark 10:32–45

They were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking ahead of them; they were amazed, and those who followed were afraid. He took the twelve aside again and began to tell them what was to happen to him, saying, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death; then they will hand him over to the Gentiles; they will mock him, and spit upon him, and flog him, and kill him; and after three days he will rise again.”

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.” (NRSV)

This passage covers quite the spectrum of topics and emotions, beginning with the anger and fear of the disciples as they approach Jerusalem, knowing what Jesus will face once they arrive. It then moves on to James and John asking for some favors and closes with Jesus discussing power and servitude.

The topic of power and servitude is an important one and something that we can often forget about in our daily lives. We all can easily become overly obsessed with our social status, our job title, or whatever role we play in the hierarchy of our own little world. It feels good to be viewed as important, to be in charge of something, or to have a ranking of some sort. Jesus reminds us in this passage that the most important thing is to love and serve others.

As I write this, I am attending the national seminar of the Handbell Musicians of America. It is an interesting assortment of folks, from very experienced directors and ringers to handbell musicians that are early on in their careers. There are the more popular people (handbell celebrities of a sort), along with first-time attendees. It’s easy to sit and try to figure out where we rank or fit in with this organization, but this time together is also a reminder of how many wonderful handbell musicians take a lot of their time to love and serve others through their music, just as our handbell choir does here at Fourth Church.

As we go through this week, let us all think about where we have the ability or influence to serve others and show God’s love to all whom we encounter this week.

God of grace, help me to rely on you and to follow your guidance. Lead me to serve others with my gifts and abilities, and remind me that those gifts and abilities come through your love and grace. Amen.

Written by Briana Belding-Peck, Family Ministry Coordinator

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