Sermon Date: October 17, 2021
By Pastor Elaine Boone
“May the words from my lips and the meditations of our hearts always be pleasing to you O God”
Do you remember way back when the disciples were first called to follow Jesus? James and John, sons of Zebedee were among the first to be called. They followed faithfully, listened closely to the teachings of Jesus. But they do not seem to have taken very much in.
Here we are on the road to Jerusalem - Jesus has just finished telling the disciples that he will be put to death. And the vain and self absorbed and insensitive James and John want to be assured that they will be in positions of power.
They really do not come off looking well in this passage!
Do we laugh at their request? Are we embarrassed for them?
Perhaps in our secret hearts we know that we might be like James and John. We want a lot of things we would never admit out loud! Are we really so different from these greedy disciples? It is part of the human condition.
But what motivated James and John to ask for positions of power?
Maybe I was wrong when I said that they did not take in much of Jesus’ teaching. Maybe they were starting to get a bit scared about what lay ahead. Maybe they were starting to get a bit nervous about what might happen once they got to Jerusalem. Did they ask Jesus for positions of power because they were looking for the promise of a secure future?
We want to be secure - we want to be safe.
Maybe James and John were not power hungry - maybe they were acting out of a place of fear?
Is this the connection between fear and the quest for security?
What do our fears lead us to do? Sometimes our fears hold us captive literally and figuratively. We cannot move forward maybe we cannot move at all. We get stuck. Stuck in a soul sucking job, stuck in a bad relationship, stuck inside, stuck.
It takes real courage to get past our fears - to deal with our fears and get unstuck. And often we cannot do this alone. We need support. We need other people. We may need professional support from doctors and counsellors.
How do our fears drive the desire for security? We all want to be safe - to feel safe.
So how does this relate to James and John and Jesus’ teaching? Jesus taught that we are never alone. That God is with us. Jesus showed us that we do not have to live in fear. The disciples who lived in fear after Jesus’ death were able to move past their fears and to continue his work. And they knew that this work did not guarantee safety - many followers of “the way” would die for their beliefs. Following Jesus is not about being safe.
The Church makes us some promises. We do not always need to live in fear. We do not always have to chase our own personal security.
We have Jesus’ promise that we can and we will be able to live lives as faithful disciples while we try to follow him.
Jesus taught that following him means putting other people first. In our story today - James and John want to put themselves first. And then the other disciples get upset because they too seem to want positions of power and they do not want the brothers to get ahead of them.
We often want to put ourselves first - is that curable? Can we change this desire? Jesus teaches that we can. The promise of the Gospel is that in putting others before ourselves the reign of God continues to unfold.
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