Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to him. “Teacher,” they said, “we want you to do for us whatever we ask.” “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked. They replied, “Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory.” Mark 10:35-37
I admit that, sometimes during my childhood, under some circumstances which might come about upon occasion, I was, at times, capable of being…the teacher’s pet. I do NOT admit to being crass about it, nor even intentionally manipulative about it. And I certainly never perfected the art in nearly the way(s) my younger daughter seems to have done so (sorry, Reno…cat’s out of the bag now I guess). But I will confess that, when one of my teachers may have favored me a little one way or another, I liked it…and may have even used it to my advantage at times. Whew! So glad to get that off my chest!
So, when I read about James and John and their not-so-secret desire for favored treatment with Jesus, I admit that I actually understand where they were coming from. Don’t act like you don’t get it. I know you do.
The truth about all of us is that we enjoy being favored. We relish special treatment. When the flight attendant comes to your seat in coach and informs you that you have been selected to enjoy a free upgrade into first class for this flight, you have no problem gathering your belongings and bouncing up to the comfy seats as if you deserve it. When the police officer pulls me over and has me on his radar doing 65 in a 55, and then tells me he is just going to give me …
Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth. Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!” The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” The disciples were even more amazed, and said to each other, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.” Mark 10:21-27
The story of the rich young ruler always convicts me. I suppose it should convict all of us in the American church, because we are so unbelievably wealthy, whether we know it or not. We all take our turns as the rich young ruler from time to time.
So, as I read this message with new found conviction, and as I start the process of genuine transformation this time around, what happens next in my mind is almost comical. It reminds me a little of this scene from the old Steve Martin movie, The Jerk:
That is exactly the conversation that goes through my head when I start “giving up” stuff for the Lord. When I look around and see how FILTHY RICH I am (by the world’s standards) and start asking myself what I would be willing …