Christ Lutheran Church
March 21, 2021
by: Rev. Dean Kavouras
The Road To Glory
Now while they were on the road ascending to Jerusalem, with Jesus teaching them on the Way, they were amazed, and those who followed were afraid. And taking the twelve aside he again began to instruct them about the things that would soon happen to him. "Behold! We are ascending to Jerusalem where the Son of Man will be remanded to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death and hand him over to the Gentiles. They will ridicule him and spit on him, and flog him, and kill him, and after three days he will rise again.
Then James and John the sons of Zebedee approached him and said to him, "Teacher! We want you to do for us whatever we ask of you." And he said to them, "What do you wish me to do for you?" And they said to him, "Grant that we may sit one at your right hand, and one at your left in your glory."
And Jesus said to them, "You don't know what you are asking! Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized in the baptism with which I am baptized?"
And they said to him, "We are able." And Jesus said to them, "The cup which I drink, you will drink, and the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized," but to sit at my right and at my left is not mine to give, but they belong to those for whom it is reserved." (Mark 10:32-40)
Today the Lord shows us the road to glory.
We all want to be glorified. We all want people to love us, respect us, receive us, and always hold us in high esteem – said another way we all want to be glorious.
Please don’t deny it because false humility is secret pride.
We are no different than James and John who wanted to be seated with Jesus one on his right and one on his left. They knew they could not take center stage. But they realized that to enjoy the Lord’s reflected glory would be glory enough. They would never want for more; and they were not wrong.
To share in divine glory (2 Peter 1:4) is the fullness of joy! And at our Lord’s right hand are pleasures forevermore. (Psalm 16:11)
You might pay money to have a star named after you; but nothing can satisfy the human heart except for Jesus. But he teaches us today that the road to glory, is the road to the cross. And that if anyone desires to be great, he must become the slave of all.
When the other ten heard the request they saw red!
Not because of the impropriety but because each of them was hoping to make the same request. But as wrong-headed as the request was; the Lord, like the High Priest in today’s epistle, responds gently.
Not because he had any sin, like the Old Testament High Priests did. But because he is God in the flesh. Because he gladly chose to live a life like ours in every respect; to throw in his lot with us; in order to show his solidarity with us.
Yes like us in every way; except without sin. Not without temptation.
But without sin.
And because his love is perfect and pure Jesus doesn’t spray pixie dust in our eyes like the world does. But he teaches us the real road to glory. How to finally put this vale of tears behind us, and attain gladness, calm, peace and rest.
But the road is not an easy one. Certainly not for Jesus, and not for us either. But it is the GOOD road, the RIGHT road, and the TRUE road that takes us where we want to go; and so let us learn from the One who is: “gentle and lowly of heart so that we might find rest for our souls.” (Mt. 11:29)
When the Lord says to James and John: “you don’t know what you are asking” pay close attention; because the Lord often uses the same words others use, but with a completely different meaning.
When the Lord speaks about his baptism, and the cup he will drink, the disciples are clueless. They meant one thing, but “the man of sorrows” was speaking of another. A baptism by fire; awash in his own blood.
And the cup they assented to drink from … killed Jesus deader than Socrates, for it did not contain mere hemlock. But the poison pill of all sin, of all time, or all humanity – yours included.
And that is why the Lord can truly say by Jeremiah, “I will remember their sins no more.” (Jer. 31:34) Because by the Lord’s death and glorious resurrection on the third day sin is atoned for, and “death has lost its sting.” (1 Cor. 15:55)
As for the coveted seats: those were already reserved for two others:
Let us always remember that there were 3 crosses on Calvary that day, not just one. Only the one in the center instantiates God’s love for us. Only it is the font of power, glory, life and salvation.
But there were two others. Occupied by two criminals: “one on his right and one on his left.”
One who repents at the cross of Jesus; and one who does not.
One who desperately curses the Lord of Glory; and one takes note of his unshakeable calm even at this blackest possible time, and pins all his hope in Jesus for which he was amply rewarded.
He prayed: “Jesus remember me when you come into your kingdom,’ and the Lord replied, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise." (Lk. 22:42-43)
Now those are not the seats the that James and John had in mind, which explains the Lord’s answer: “You don’t know what you are asking!”
None the less these disciples would, in time, be baptized into Jesus’s baptism, and drink the bitter cup of suffering and persecution for his Name.
By contrast, our baptism is much cleaner: at least outwardly.
It is a beautiful rite, in a lovely house of worship, in which the family, the church, and indeed the very angels of heaven all rejoice together.
But the unseen part is that in baptism we undergo violent death. We die to the devil, to the goddess culture and to the ever-present desires of sinful flesh.
And when we arise from the Holy Water we are instantly driven into the wilderness like Jesus was, to engage in “jihad,” holy war, against these mortal enemies day and night, and we must kill them over and over again! And that is hard. And that hurts.
And when we drink from the Lord’s cup in the Holy Eucharist, when the Lord intermingles his own Flesh and Blood with ours; even here war is afoot, as the very Life of Jesus enters our sin-ridden flesh, irradiating all that is dark within us – and then sends us into battle again.
Now knowing all that our Lord did for us; and still does for us as “our own High Priest;” we can begin to understand Jesus’ admonition to the disciples then, and to disciples now.
" … whoever desires to be great among you must be your servant, and whoever among you would be first must be the slave of all.”
And so let us ascend to the heavenly Jerusalem before our eyes. Let us meet Jesus here, commune with him, and return from it to a live of humble service; making ourselves glorious by becoming the slave of all.
“For even the Son of man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.” You are those many. Amen.