Jesus talks today about serving. Have you volunteered at Church or given of your energies to help others and found great joy in it? But here Jesus is also talking about having to drink the cup of suffering. Will there be a time when he will ask of us a service that will require much energy, as in taking care of a loved one who is sick or giving of self where it seems that there is not much energy left to give?
This is a meditation on this Gospel from one of my sisters:
“For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
James and John they knew what they wanted. Along with Peter, they had witnessed the transfiguration of Jesus and seen his glory. Perhaps they sensed the privileged place of this revelation and, being human, they longed to lay claim to this place of honor more permanently in the kingdom of God. They had witnessed the healings Jesus performed, and they had seen him calm storms at sea and walk on water. Despite the Lord’s repeated predictions of his passion, they consistently mistook the place of power in Christ’s mission of self-offering and love. The reality of a suffering Messiah who would choose to completely empty himself rather than take up his reign in power was far beyond their human expectations. But can we blame them, knowing our own personal quests for honor and power?
As Jesus prepares to go to Jerusalem where he will drink his cup to the dregs, I can only imagine the pain in his heart. Like each of us, he must have longed for the support and understanding of his friends. He has tried to prepare their minds and hearts for the suffering to come. Perhaps with this latest request, he finds himself wondering if they have heard him at all. . . . How many times has he tried to tell them that true greatness is found in humble service? Yet he remains patient—the living icon of the humble, gentle Master who did not come to be served, but to serve.
“Can you drink the cup . . .?” The words of Jesus echo in my heart today. If we take this invitation seriously, we will come to understand the ardent desire of the Master who longs for us to live life fully with him. He invites us to look lovingly into this cup he holds out to us . . . to examine the contents along with our hearts so as to be able to answer “yes” with our whole being.
If you have enjoyed this meditation, you’ll find meditations on all the Gospels in the Ordinary Grace series Ordinary Grace Weeks 18-34