The Request of James and John
35 James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came forward to him and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” 36 And he said to them, “What is it you want me to do for you?” 37 And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” 38 But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” 39 They replied, “We are able.” Then Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you will drink; and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized; 40 but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.”
41 When the ten heard this, they began to be angry with James and John. 42 So Jesus called them and said to them, “You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. 43 But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. 45 For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.”
The world was shocked on Friday by the attacks in Paris killing 129 innocent people and many injured. They’re going about their regular life, enjoying the concert, watching the soccer game and having dinner and drinks in restaurants and bars. They were totally unprepared for this kind of a violent act. Paris is a beautiful city. It is a beautiful city, but it is a really destroyed. Human spirit was destroyed. We were just there, 12 of us last year, in Paris. Same thing could happen to all of us. As Obama said, the attack was not just on people in Paris, but on humanity. Once again, we are forced to doubt whether there is any goodness left in humanity. Many of us lost faith in humanity. Now people will be more in fear. I read a New York Times and this guy went to see Aladdin show in the afternoon and he heard a sound and all of a sudden he was alarmed. We cannot even enjoy the show, safely, freely, we’ll be always surrounded by the possibility of tragedy. Fear. Now people will be more self protective. Borders are being closed down.
Is life all about self-serving? I wonder. Has humanity become so downgraded that the only thing that we care about is self serving and self protection? To serve ourselves, we don’t care about others. As a matter of fact, we don’t care about anything else, but ourselves? I realize that this is not something new. Many of us care only about ourselves. Was it like during Jesus’ time. No. You look at today’s scripture, we also see the self serving attitude of the disciples. Just before this passage, Jesus talked about how he will be delivered into the hands of leaders and he’ll be persecuted and then he’ll die in Jerusalem, but the disciples did not hear. All they cared about was themselves so they couldn’t really hear Jesus. When you’re so surrounded with yourself, you can’t hear anything. James and John came to Jesus and said to him, teacher we want you to do for us, whatever we ask of you, look at this passage, very careful to reflect on it. We want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.. The request itself is already self serving. How many people have this attitude towards God? God, I want you to do for me, whatever I asked you.
God become simply someone I can use to get what I want. How different that is from Jesus’ attitude, Jesus said, this is what I want. What do you want? That’s what you. That’s what Jesus prayed in the ceremony. He didn’t say, God, just give what I want. ISIS calls this terrible act as what Allah wants. Not only in Paris, on Thursday, 30, some people died. Same Group, same massacre. Whatever happened in Lebanon or in Paris is act of God. Religious fanaticism. There is no room in Christian belief. We don’t believe in this kind of religious fanaticism. Any kind of fanaticism, we reject. People are so self serving that they will use anything to do whatever they want. If it is necessary, they’ll even use God. James and John asked Jesus grant us to sit one at your right hand and one at your left in your glory. That was what they ultimately wanted. The seat of glory. Another self serving attitude. I wonder these days, is there anybody who goes beyond self serving attitude? I mean, there are only two seats in glory on Jesus right in and left hand. If two brothers, if one family takes them, all of them, whatever other disciples. Where do they sit?
So the other disciples. What did they say? This is what they said. When the ten heard this, they began to be angry with James and John. I read from Facebook, Barbara put up a beautiful poem by Ernest Hemingway and there was a reply and this guy said “Fear brings anger. Anger brings hatred. Hatred brings suffering. How true. Self serving attitude will bring hatred, and anger, and suffering.
Do we have no choice but to be self serving? Our culture has become like that? Do we have no choice but to be self serving? I don’t believe in that. I don’t think life is all about our agendas being served, even at the cost of sacrificing others. I don’t believe in that. I still believe in humanity. I still believe that there are people who serve others. Jesus taught us real ideology, not crooked ideology of self serving. We are not going to bow down to their fear tactics.
This is what Jesus taught us. The son of man came not to be served, but to serve. Jesus, the son of man did not come to be self serving, but to serve others and he said to give his life as a ransom for many. Even though it meant sacrifice for himself, he will serve. I hope that we don’t bow down to their threat. Jesus’ teachings are totally the opposite of self serving attitude. That is Christian attitude. Self serving attitude will bring about division, conflict, hatred and violence. Two disciple’s self-serving attitude brought anger in ten other disciples St Paul saw the secret about peace and harmony and St Paul said, self serving attitude would never bring about peace and harmony. I guarantee your self serving attitude will never bring about peace and harmony, whether it’s at home, or with friends, as a group, church, community or society or globally. Self serving attitude will not bring about peace and harmony. This is what Saint Paul said: For he is our peace, Jesus Christ is our peace in his flesh. He has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall. That is the hostility between us. Paul saw that it was possible only through self sacrificing cross and then in 15, he said. I paraphrased it, a part of it. Through the cross, he reconciled both groups to God by putting to death, that hostility, through the cross.
As long as the humanity repeats the self serving history, there will be no peace and harmony in this world. They will never be able to find John Lennon’s imagination. Imagine all the people living life in peace. This is what Jesus taught us. You know that, among the gentiles, those whom they recognize, that their rulers lorded over them and their great ones are tyrants over then, but it is not among you. Everybody else may live like that but not you! It is not among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. Jesus taught us that self serving attitude is not what the human should live with. That is sin. That is pathetic sin. We are to serve one another, not just Christians, the human humanity, all human beings should serve one another. That is our life. That is how to save the humanity. That is how to save all of us. That is the secret of living in peace and harmony. Cross and towel are two powerful symbols of Christianity. The Cross represents self sacrifice, and the towel represents not self serving, but serving other people. At the last supper, after eating the meal, Jesus wanted to wash the feet of the disciples and after that he dried them with the towel.
By doing that, Jesus showed the true discipleship. I hope that and I pray that and I have confidence that St Timothy will bring about surfing people. St Timothy will fight against self serving attitude,
and we’ll be the servants of God. From small things, we need to practice that. I guarantee that your life will be much, much happier. When you remain as self serving attitude, your life will become more and more and more miserable. But when you start adopting the self serving, then you’ll life will become happier and happier and happier. I guarantee that. This is a song, a beautiful song, and I hope that we can all sing together. I don’t know, this may be a new song for you, but it’s a very simple song, but the words are so beautiful.
A moment of prayer for the innocent lives taken away in Paris and in Lebanon, the family, friends. Let us really ask God to heal their broken hearts, and let us pray that we may not lose our courage. We may not bow down to the fear. Let us pray.