Mary and the Apostles, Part 2

Luke 1 & Mark 9-10

James and John, two brothers, gave up everything to follow Jesus. But their motives are exposed when they out-maneuver the other disciples and make a pre-emptive pitch to Jesus for the right and left thrones in the kingdom.

Contrast their approach against Mary’s mindset when she hears from Gabriel of the great honor bestowed upon her:

He said, She said

Mary said (I am) the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.

James and John said we want You to do for us whatever we ask of You.

Mary said For He has had regard for the humble state of His bondslave.

James and John said Grant that we may sit, one on Your right and one on Your left, in 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 to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?” They said to Him, “We are able.”

The six deadly words of ignorant pride: give us greatness…we are able.

How about the other ten disciples?

We now know what is in the hearts of James and John: aspirations of pride and greatness. So, maybe, the other disciples are humble, faithful followers??? Not a chance.

Hearing this, the ten began to feel indignant with James and John.

They said something like, ‘Hey, no fair! James and John cut in line.’

Jesus called them together and with great patience, tells them that greatness is to serve. 

Calling them to Himself, Jesus said to them, ‘You know that those who are recognized as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them; and their great men exercise authority over them. But it is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant. And whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all.

For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but serve, and to give His life a ransom for many, Mark 10:42-45.

  • Oh, how we long for comfort!
  • Oh, how we love recognition!
  • Oh, how we aspire to be honored!
  • Oh, how we want to be first!

After nearly three years with Jesus and they still didn’t get it. They so struggled with pride and position. They were men of humble means who for all their lives had been subjected to power-hungry leadership. First, subjected by men of great position among the religious elite of Israel and then the powers of Rome as well. 

Now, with Jesus as their leader, they wanted their turn to attain authority and domination. What a glorious payback, the apostle surmised, if they could assume leadership over those who forced them to grovel as lowly subjects in the village.

Jesus rocks their world and says, But it is not this way among you. Be a servant; be a slave; just like me! We do things differently because we are different. We do it backward. We aspire to be last. We put others before us. We give rather than take. 

It’s not what we attain that matters; it’s what we give.

Brother Lawrence in Practicing the Presence of God says, ‘We must not grow weary of doing little things for the love of God, who looks not on the size of the work, but on the love we give it.’

Father, this was a hard lesson for the disciples and it is a hard lesson for us as well. Like Mary, our souls exalt You, our Lord. Our spirit rejoices in You, God our Savior! For You have regarded the humble state of Your bondslave. You inhabitant the Praises of Your people; You give grace to the humble. You grant honor to the meek. Help us learn this lesson and more importantly, to live it out daily. Amen!