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.”
It’s amazing to me how one thing triggers another in our brains. I can’t read this passage without hearing the voice of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., as he read this scripture before preaching his sermon “The Drum Major Instinct.” (I have a recording of this event on cassette tape. If you’ve never heard it, you might want to search for it on YouTube.)
Dr. King rightly comments that James and John are a lot like many of us. They wanted to lead the parade. They wanted to be important. He goes on to note that Jesus told them that as His disciples they should indeed strive to be first in something – in serving others. Servant Leadership is what Christ desires of us.
Help me today, Lord, to seek to serve Christ as I humbly walk alongside and serve Your people. Show me what You would have me do, and help me to experience the peace of Christ as I follow and serve in Jesus’ name. Amen.