Page 9 - November 2022 - Truth & Tidings
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siahship of Jesus led them to anticipate   The ten other disciples were “displeased
        with joy the setting up of His kingdom,   with James and John” (v41), so the Lord
        and they wanted special places of honour   began to speak about Greatness. “Ye know
        in it. “Master, we would that thou should-  that they which are accounted to rule over
        est do for us whatsoever we shall desire   the Gentiles exercise lordship over them;
        …. Grant unto us that we may sit, one on   and their great ones exercise authority
        thy right hand, and the other on thy left   upon them” (v42). The disciples knew
        hand, in thy glory” (vv35-37).        how it worked in the world. The “great”
          Their desire was not wrong in itself but,   trampled over everyone else to reach that
        coming after the Lord’s predictions about   position and maintained it by forcefully
        His suffering at Jerusalem, it suggests that   subjugating those beneath them; those
        they still had not grasped His message.   who held positions of esteem were self-
        They still hoped that the kingdom they   promoting and self-serving. But for them
        awaited would be set up when they ar-  it must be different: “It shall not be so
        rived at Jerusalem and that the Messiah   among you. But whoever would be great
        would immediately defeat Israel’s enemies   among you must be your servant, and
        and establish His throne. They wanted to   whoever would be first among you must
        share in the glory they were privileged to   be slave of all” (vv43-44 ESV).
        preview on the holy mount (9:1-10; 2Pe
                                                Greatness is not in getting but in giving,
        1:16-18).                             not in being served but in serving. Great-
          The Lord’s response was a gentle re-  ness is directing abilities and energies
        buke: they had no idea what they were   toward serving others rather than promot-
        asking for. Would they walk close to Him   ing self. Who perfectly exemplifies this?
        in suffering so that they might sit close to
        Him in glory? Could they “drink of the   Well, “even the Son of Man came not to
        cup” by personal, deliberate acceptance   be served but to serve, and to give his life
        of the path of self-denial? Could they be   as a ransom for many” (v45 ESV).
        “baptised with the baptism” by enduring   Even this glorious person, the Son of
        the shame of association with their Lord   Man, came not to receive service from men
        in His rejection?                     but to provide service to men! And His
          They professed themselves willing and   servant heart would find full expression
        able (v39), and the Lord confirmed that   in the ultimate sacrifice that would crown
        they would indeed live lives of self-denial   His life of self-sacrificial service. He would
        and suffering. James would die a martyr’s   “give his life a ransom for many.”
        death and John would live a martyr’s life.   Here is true greatness and the route
        However, the Lord made no guarantees as   to true glory. We follow Him when we
        to exact positions in the kingdom. “But to   manifest the same character and make the
        sit on my right hand and on my left hand   same choices.
        is not mine to give; but it shall be given   Go, labor on: spend and be spent,
        to them for whom it is prepared” (v40).     your joy to do the Father’s will;
        The God who knows the true measure
        of the sacrifices of every saint will make   it is the way the Master went;
                                                                             2
        no mistake, although there may be many    should not the servant tread it still?
        surprises for us in that day.         ² Horatius Bonar (1808-1889)

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