Thursday, March 4, 2010

Do Me a Favor, Jesus!

I'm sure many of you are familiar with the story of James and John asking to sit at Jesus' right hand. In some accounts, it's their mother who asks for them. But in the book of Mark (Chapter 10) they ask Jesus themselves. I've read the account many times, but what I never really noticed before is what is immediately preceding this request.

See, the disciples are following Jesus to Jerusalem, and Jesus tells them: "When we get to Jerusalem, the Son of Man will be betrayed to the leading priests and the teachers of religious law. They will sentence him to die and hand him over to the Romans. They will mock him, spit on him, beat him with their whips, and kill him, but after three days he will rise again."

Then, right after that (in the very next verse!), James and John come up to Jesus and say, "Teacher, we want you to do us a favor. In your glorious kingdom, we want to sit in places of honor next to you."

Now this request isn't so shocking to me (we all like honor) as the timing of it. Jesus has just told them all of the horrible things that are going to happen to him in Jerusalmen -- Jesus is walking the road to Jerusalem -- to his horrible fate, and then James and John have the audacity to make their request for honor!! They are thinking of themselves and their honor in light of what Jesus is facing! How could they!!??

Well, it's easy to condemn them -- until I hold the mirror up to reality and realize that I'm no different. In the face of what others are suffering, I can still think solely of myself and how everything affects me. I'm quite sure I've listened to people telling me about the pain they are enduring and the difficulties they are facing all the while waiting for the opportunity to ask them for what I want -- what I need from them. Sure, I know it's wrong and selfish, just like James and John had to know it wasn't a good time to ask Jesus for their favor, but then, that's our ugly human nature. It makes us see only what we need.

As the old DC Talk song, "In the Light" says:

The disease of self runs through my blood.
It's a cancer fatal to my soul.
Every attempt on my behalf has failed
to bring this sickness under control.
Like the lyrics above suggest, I know that I am powerless to die to self on my own. Without Jesus it would be all about me all of the time. Sadly, even with Jesus, that sickness of self creeps up way too often. So, if any of you reading this have ever been hurt by my selfishness, have ever felt like I wanted to talk about me more than I wanted to listen to you, then I pray that you would forgive me. I am working on it -- but like cancer it usually requires repeated, often painful, treatments. I hope you will be patient. . . and as hard as this is to say, not be afraid to call me out on it when you see it creeping up again!

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