Year B – Proper 26 – Hebrews 9:11-14

11But when Christ came as a high priest of the good things that have come,then through the greater and perfect* tent* (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation),12he entered once for all into the Holy Place, not with the blood of goats and calves, but with his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption.13For if the blood of goats and bulls, with the sprinkling of the ashes of a heifer, sanctifies those who have been defiled so that their flesh is purified,14how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit* offered himself without blemish to God, purify ourconscience from dead works to worship the living God!

Summary— Old Covenant priests went regularly into the first section of the tent, performing their ritual duties; but, into the second section of the tent only the high priest could go, and he only once a year, in order to offer blood for himself and for the unintentional sins of the people.  That first section of the tent/temple indicated that the way into the holy places was not yet opened: it was a symbol of the last age; but, that symbol was destroyed in AD 70, because Christ, with whom we are united, had entered once for all the heavenly Holy Place, of which the earthly holy place had been only a shadow.  Now, in Christ, there is opened to us the way into the Holiest Place.

Insight— If the blood of goats and bulls, with the sprinkling of an heifer’s ashes, can ritually sanctify flesh that had been ritually defiled, how much more can the blood of Christ—the Lamb without blemish—really sanctify consciences that have been really defiled!  The result of ritual sacrifice was ritually pure flesh; the result of Real Sacrifice is a really pure conscience, worshipping the living God!

Child Catechism—
What does the blood of bulls and goats, purifying flesh, point to?
A: The blood of Christ, purifying my conscience!

Discussion— What does it mean that the blood of Christ purifies your conscience?

Prayer— O God, Your Son, the final High Priest, entered though the greater and perfect Tent, once for all, into the Holy Place.  He did not do so with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood, and He thereby obtained eternal redemption for us.  Grant that we would always live according to the new state of our consciences: purified from dead works to worship the living God, through the sprinkling of the blood of Christ.  AMEN.

Contributed by Scott Cline

Year B – Proper 26 – Ruth 1:1-18

In the days when the judges ruled, there was a famine in the land, and a certain man of Bethlehem in Judah went to live in the country of Moab, he and his wife and two sons.  The name of the man was Elimelech and the name of his wife Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Chilion; they were Ephrathites from Bethlehem in Judah.  They went into the country of Moab and remained there.  But Elimelech, the husband of Naomi, died and she was left with her two sons.  These took Moabite wives; the name of the one was Orpah and the name of the other Ruth.  When they had lived there about ten years, both Mahlon and Chilion also died, so that the woman was left without her two sons and her husband.  Then she started to return with her daughters-in-law from the country of Moab, for she had heard in the country of Moab that the Lord had considered his people and given them food.  So she set out from the place where she had been living, she and her two daughters-in-law, and they went on their way to go back to the land of Judah.  But Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Go back each of you to your mother’s house.  May the Lord deal kindly with you, as you have dealt with the dead and with me.  The Lord grant that you may find security, each of you in the house of your husband.”  Then she kissed them, and they wept aloud.  They said to her, “No, we will return with you to your people.”  But Naomi said, “Turn back, my daughters, why will you go with me?  Do I still have sons in my womb that they may become your husbands?  Turn back, my daughters, go your way, for I am to old to have a husband.  Even if I thought there was hope for me, even if I should have a husband tonight and bear sons, would you then wait until they were grown?  Would you then refrain from marrying?  No, my daughters, it has been far more bitter for me than for you, because the hand of the Lord has turned against me.”  Then they wept aloud again.  Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her.  So she said, “See, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods; return after your sister-in-law.”  But Ruth said,  “Do not press me to leave you or to turn back from following you!  Where you go, I will go; where you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God my God.  Where you die, I will die–there will I be buried.  May the Lord do thus and so to me, and more as well, if even death parts me from you!”  When Naomi saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more to her.

Summary – This lengthy passage is well-known.  A Hebrew man Elimelech (“My God is King”) leaves the land of his king to live in Moab, due to a famine.  There, his two sons Mahlon (“Sick”) and Chilion (“Wasting Away”) marry Moabite women Ruth (“Female Companion”) and Orpah (“Stubborn-ness”).  Elimelech, Mahlon, and Chilion die, leaving three widowed women.  Elimelech’s family is from Bethlehem (“House of Bread”), and his widow Naomi (“My Delight”) hears that there is now “bread” (food) in Judah; that the famine is over, so determines to return, leaving her daughters-in-law behind.  Despite her reasoning that there are no more “sons in her womb” to be husbands for her widowed daughters-in-law, Ruth promises to follow her wherever she would go.  Orpah, on the other hand, stays behind in Moab.

Insight – In the book of Job, we learned about God’s faithfulness to His servant Job, and Job’s faithfulness to the Lord, despite the many trials the Lord allowed Job to experience.  We saw that God had a bigger plan the whole time!  Now, we start with the book of Ruth, and we find that Naomi was bitter towards God and thought He had turned against her.  She lost her husband and her two sons!  In her sadness, however, her daughter-in-law Ruth pledges to go with her wherever she goes, live where she lives, and worship her God.  God in His mercy provided a “companion” for Naomi who was experiencing trouble, and as we will see in the rest of the book of Ruth, He provides so much more.  In all of these stories, we should remember that no matter what we are going through, God has a purpose, and we can trust Him with it.

Child Catechism – Who controls everything, including the difficult things?  My all-powerful God.

Discussion – What does Ruth mean when, at the end of her pledge to Naomi, she says, “May the Lord do thus and so to me, and more as well, if even death parts me from you!”?  How would death NOT part her from her mother-in-law?  What, then, is her inherent vow?  (Hint: her declaration here is related to the preceding phrase, “and your God, my God.”)

Prayer – Father, we thank you that though we may have sorrows throughout this life, we may expect your faithfulness and your blessings to us when we need them most and in ways we don’t always expect.  By your grace, may we be a faithful people, pursuing your glory in all things.  In Christs’ name, Amen.

Year B – Proper 26 – We All Believe in One True God

The marvelous hymn, We All Believe in One True God, by Martin Luther is based on the Nicene Creed. It seems to of been compiled around 1524 in Wittenberg Germany. The Lutheran Reformation held on to many of the traditional elements of liturgy, such as the use of Creeds and weekly Eucharist. Yet what Luther added to the previous liturgy of the Mass was hymns and the robasinging of the people God, which was quite minimal prior to this. So in this case we have a robust and beautiful hymn that reflects a traditional part of the liturgy and is set to a wonderful harmony. The Cantus’s version of the harmony is especially good.

We all believe in one true God,
Who created earth and Heaven,
The Father, who to us in love
Hath the right of children given.
He both soul and body feedeth,
All we need He doth provide us;
He thro’ snares and perils leadeth,
Watching that no harm betide us.
He careth for us day and night,
All things are governed by His might.

We all believe in Jesus Christ,
His own Son, our Lord, possessing
An equal Godhead, throne, and might,
Source of every grace and blessing.
Born of Mary, virgin mother,
By the power of the Spirit,
Made true man, our elder Brother,
That the lost might life inherit.
Was crucified for sinful men
And raised by God to life again.

We all confess the Holy Ghost,
Who sweet grace and comfort giveth
And with the Father and the Son
In eternal glory liveth;
Who the Church, His own creation,
Keeps in unity of Spirit.
Here forgiveness and salvation
Daily come thro’ Jesus’ merit.
All flesh shall rise, and we shall be
In bliss with God eternally.

Year B – Proper 26 – Mark 12:28-34

Mark 12:28–34 NRSV – “One of the scribes came near and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, he asked him, “Which commandment is the first of all?” Jesus answered, “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Then the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher; you have truly said that ‘he is one, and besides him there is no other’; and ‘to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the strength,’ and ‘to love one’s neighbor as oneself,’—this is much more important than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” When Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” After that no one dared to ask him any question.”

Summary – In the context various religious groups are questioning and even trying to trap Jesus. In this case a scribe is more sincere and ask Jesus to prioritize the Old Testament Laws. The Jews of Jesus day counted 613 laws. So Rabbis often tried to prioritize making some laws more important than others – for example keeping the sabbath for Pharisees or keeping sacrificial laws for the Sadducees. Jesus summarizes the chief commandments as first loving the Lord God and second loving your neighbor as yourself. As a result of the scribe’s approval of this, Jesus sees in him a genuine desire to accept the truth and commends him that he is “not far from the kingdom” which is another way of saying he is not far from accepting the King of the kingdom.

Insight – Have you heard the saying, Life is complicated? There are times when we really are confused about what to do. We sometimes find ourselves in situations and we don’t know what to do or where to turn. In many ways the Jews of the first century were in this kind of situation. The Sadducees had one view, the Pharisees another, the Herodians another, and the zealots another. Those who sincerely awaited God’s Messianic kingdom were pulled in many directions. It is just in this setting that Jesus simplifies our duties: love God and love your neighbor. Despite all the other lesser commands, the right categories are simply to love God and love neighbor. Everything else must fit under that. It’s not complicated. It’s simple. When we don’t know what to do, we should ask what duty do I have in this situation and those duties are summarized as loving God and loving others.

Catechism – What are the chief commandments? The chief commandments are to love God and to love our neighbor.

Discussion – How are these chief commandments to love God and to love our neighbor a way to fulfill other laws like the Sabbath (4th Commandment) or Honor father and mother (5th Commandment)?

Prayer – Lord God we do love you and we desire to love you more since you have given us such abundant love, mercy and grace through Jesus Christ who died for us and ever lives as our king. Grant that we are strengthened to love others and give ourselves in service to them, through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Year B – Proper 25 – Hebrews 7:23-28

23Furthermore, the former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office; 24but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever.25Consequently he is able for all time to save* those who approach God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. 26For it was fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, blameless, undefiled, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens.27Unlike the other* high priests, he has no need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for those of the people; this he did once for all when he offered himself.28For the law appoints as high priests those who are subject to weakness, but the word of the oath, which came later than the law, appoints a Son who has been made perfect for ever.

Summary— Under the Old Covenant and under the New Covenant our greatest need is the same: we must approach God (v.25).  In Adam (and in practice!) we have all cut ourselves off from God—we have broken ourselves from the source of light and life.  The only solution is intercession (v.25): somebody must go between us; somebody must reconcile us; somebody must bridge the gap and restore the relationship.  The difference between the Old and New Covenants is not the need, but the permanence of the solution: see, under the Old Covenant, high priests were prevented by death from continuing in office (v.23).  So, you could not really rest in the knowledge that your high priest reconciled you to God: no matter how much assurance you drew from his intercession for you, you knew that one day he would die.  He could not always live to make intercession for you, and you knew it.  You could not always depend on him—you knew that, eventually, he had to let you down: he had to give up the ghost at some point, and then his intercession for you would cease.  You lived with the unsettling knowledge that intercession between you and God was not guaranteed forever, for the simple reason that your intercessor was not guaranteed forever.  But then Jesus came, and He is able for all time to save those who approach God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them (v.25).  Praise be to you, O Christ!

Insight— According to verse 25, Jesus can save us forever because He can intercede forever.  The duration of Jesus’ intercession is the duration of our salvation.  If Jesus stopped interceding, we’d stop living.  So, even though there’s a sense in which Jesus has saved us from God’s wrath, there’s an enormously significant sense in which Jesus is saving us from God’s wrath.  For one thing, we are still sinning (1 Jn. 1:8), and still being forgiven (1 Jn. 1:9).  You have yet to be forgiven for the sins you’ll commit tomorrow.  But will those sins cut you off from God, again?  Not so long as you are abiding in Jesus (Jn. 15) who will be interceding for you, even as you sin (Heb. 7:25, 1 Jn. 2:1).

Child Catechism—
Why can Jesus keep us reconciled to God forever?
A: Because He lives forever, and always makes intercession for us!

Discussion— Verse 28 mentions an oath by which God appointed His Son the everlasting High Priest.  See if you can find that oath in Psalm 110, and discuss it.

Prayer— O God, You are He whom we must approach, but also He whom we cannot approach, of ourselves.  This is because You are also He whom we have offended, and He from whose wrath we must be saved.  One must intercede for us—One must make a way for us to approach You.  But the former priests were prevented by death from continuing in office; so, we could lean on their intercession for only so long.  Therefore You appointed by oath Your own Son to be our High Priest, and He holds His priesthood permanently, because He continues forever.  Consequently He is able for all time to save we who approach You through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for us.  Grant that we might always rejoice in assurance of the everlasting intercession of Jesus, through whom we pray even now.  AMEN.

Contributed by Scott Cline

Year B – Proper 25 – Job 42:1-6, 10-17

Then Job answered the Lord and said, “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.  ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’  Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.  ‘Hear and I will speak; I will question you, and you make it known to me.’  I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes. . . . And the Lord restored the fortunes of Job, when he had prayed for his friends.  And the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before.  Then came to him all his brothers and sisters and all who had known him before, and ate bread with him in his house.  And they showed him sympathy and comforted him for all the evil that the Lord had brought upon him.  And each of them gave him a piece of money and a ring of gold.  And the Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning.  And he had 14,000 sheep, 6,000 camels, 1,000 yoke of oxen, and 1,000 female donkeys.  He had also seven sons and three daughters.  And he called the name of the first daughter Jemimah, and the name of the second Keziah, and the name of the third Keren-happuch.  And in all the land there were no women so beautiful as Job’s daughters.  And their father gave them an inheritance among their brothers.  And after this Job lived 140 years, and saw his sons, and his sons’ sons, four generations.  And Job died, an old man, and full of days.

Summary – Coming on the heels of God’s rebukes to Job and one of his answers, this second “answer” of Job to God’s rebuke closes the section and, effectively the book of Job.  After his words, Job and God do not converse at all for the rest of the book, at least in the narrative given us.  This should tell us something about Job’s answer:  it was acceptable to God.  Job acknowledges the shortcomings of his attitude and words to God and repents of them.  Interestingly, Job draws a contrast between his prior knowledge of God, before everything that happened to him, and his later knowledge of God.  The prior knowledge was through the “hearing of the ear,” while the later knowledge was based on his “seeing” of God.  In verse 11, we also find that Job’s friends comfort him for “all the evil that the Lord had brought upon him.”  It is that calamitous and evil circumstance that showed Job God.  Finally, Job’s fortunes are restored more than he had before, enjoying the “covenant blessings” of seeing his grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Insight – Have you ever heard someone say, “I wish I could see God.”  Or “Why can’t God just give me a sign, so that I know He is there?”  But if we believe that God is in control of everything, then everything we see is a sign of His work.  It gets even more specific, though.  Are you blessed with Christian parents?  Are you blessed to have your education be in a Christian context at school or at home?  Do you have food to eat every day?  That shows us God.  Job shows us that even the worst things that happen to us allow us to “see” God!  What we need, is to accept that what we are experiencing is God’s handiwork.  If we can accept that, we can answer like Job: “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.”

Child Catechism – What should you do when you don’t understand what is happening in your life?  Trust in God’s perfect plan.

Discussion – Read about John the Baptist in Matthew 7:10-13 and Jesus in Matthew 26:57-68.  What was the main problem with those who dealt with (killed) each of them? (Parent hint: people didn’t recognize who they were)  Do you really think that if you could see God, you would definitely know He was there?  What are some ways you can look at the events of your life and see God?

Prayer – Lord, your power is beyond our searching and your plans beyond our thwarting.  Keep us from doubting your wisdom when we don’t understand your work. Forgive us when we attempt to judge things that are beyond our comprehension, and impart deep faith in our hearts that comforts us in our lives’ trials.  May we truly see you through your interaction with our lives.  Amen

Year B – Proper 25 – Mark 10:46-52

Mark 10:46–52 NRSV – “They came to Jericho. As he and his disciples and a large crowd were leaving Jericho, Bartimaeus son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the roadside. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Many sternly ordered him to be quiet, but he cried out even more loudly, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” Jesus stood still and said, “Call him here.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart; get up, he is calling you.” So throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. Then Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man said to him, “My teacher, let me see again.” Jesus said to him, “Go; your faith has made you well.” Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way.”

Summary – This is the marvelous story of Jesus healing blind Bartimaeus. This last healing miracle in Mark occurs in the historically significant place, Jericho, where another Joshua saw the power of God entering the Land. This poor man cried out for mercy to Jesus, recognizing that Jesus was the Son of David, the king. Others told him to be quiet, but that only made him more persistent. He cried louder. Then Jesus called him and healed him, emphasizing that his faith had made him well. So Jesus recognized faith in an unlikely person and through that faith granted the healing that he boldly requested.

Insight – Close your eyes and imagine never opening them again. What would it be like to be blind? It could be very fearful and feel hopeless. The healing of Bartimaeus is an illustration that undoes fear and hopelessness. It shows that, “You have not because you ask not.” Many are too timid to ask for a miracle of such power, but what else could blind Bart do? He knew that this was the Son of David, the anointed One. He would not be passing by again. He asked boldly because his sight and his dignity had already been lost, only his faith and hope remained. Therefore he asked with boldness and with no fear. He did not quiet down when others scolded him, but became bolder in this opposition. From this we see that the faith that grasps Christ is relentless and does not cower to peer pressure. The walls of blindness that kept many Israelites from seeing one greater than Joshua fell that day.

Catechism – What did blind Bartimaeus say? Son of David have mercy on me.

Discussion – In what areas are you afraid to have faith like blind Bart?

Prayer  – Lord, we thank you for your healing power through Jesus. We recognize Jesus as the King, the Messiah and we call upon him for mercy in our lives today. Grant that we may walk in the faith that boldly cries louder to you for your presence and power. In Jesus Name. Amen.

Year B – Proper 24 – Hebrews 5:1-10

1Every high priest chosen from among mortals is put in charge of things pertaining to God on their behalf, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins.2He is able to deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is subject to weakness;3and because of this he must offer sacrifice for his own sins as well as for those of the people.4And one does not presume to take this honor, but takes it only when called by God, just as Aaron was. 5So also Christ did not glorify himself in becoming a high priest, but was appointed by the one who said to him,

‘You are my Son,
today I have begotten you’;
6as he says also in another place,
‘You are a priest forever,
according to the order of Melchizedek.’

7In the days of his flesh, Jesus* offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to the one who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission.8Although he was a Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered;9and having been made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him,10having been designated by God a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek.

Summary— In this passage, the writer to the Hebrews persuades us that we have it better now than Old Testament Israel had it then because our High Priest is better than their high priests were.  Notice how the writer works through a list of facts about Old Covenant high priests in verses 1-4, and then works backwards through that list in verses 5-10, this time showing the superiority of Jesus—  Verse 1 corresponds to verse 10: some men were chosen to be high priests, and Jesus has been chosen to be The High Priest.  Verse 1b corresponds to verse 9b: High priests offered sacrifices (plural, meaning temporary), whereas Jesus became the source of eternal salvation.  Verse 3 corresponds to verses 8-9a: High priests were sinners, and so had to offer sacrifices for their own sins, whereas Jesus learned obedience and was made perfect.  Finally, verse 4 corresponds to verses 5-6: High priests did not ordain themselves, but where indirectly ordained by God according to Aaronic standards, and Jesus did not ordain Himself, but was directly ordained by God according to Melchizedekian standards.

Insight— Genesis gives us a genealogy for every one of its righteous characters, except one: Melchizedek.  He’s a mysterious figure.  As far as the record goes, he has no father.  Yet God made him a priest—and not just any priest, but the priest of Salem (then future Jerusalem), and what’s more, a priest superior to the alternative Levitical priests, since Levi was less than Abraham (being in his loins) and Abraham was less than Melchizedek (paying tithe to him).  And so Melchizedek is the proto-pattern of God’s breaking into a closed system to fix it.  He thereby lends his name to the order of priesthood to which Jesus would be ordained.  Jesus was not of Levi—He was of Judah—but according to the order of Melchizedek God ordained Him the new and final and ultimate High Priest, who always lives to make intercession for us.

Child Catechism—
What is one of the reasons that Jesus is better than Old Testament high priests?
A: Jesus did not have to offer sacrifice for His own sin.

Discussion— What does the writer to the Hebrews mean when he says that Jesus “learned obedience”?  Must learning obedience involve a movement from disobedience to obedience?

Prayer— O God, we sin, and so we cannot approach you except through the mediation of another.  For long years, Your people approached You through the mediation of weak men who offered sacrifices not only for the sins of the people, but also for their own sins.  Since Your people would otherwise have had no access to You, this was glorious.  But now, gracious Lord, we—Your people—approach You through the mediation of Your Son, Jesus Christ, and this is more glorious.  Grant that we might always avail ourselves of His ministry for us at Your right hand, even as we are now availing ourselves by praying through Him.  AMEN.

Contributed by Scott Cline

Year B – Proper 24 – I Will Sing My Maker’s Praises

The hymn, I Will Sing My Maker’s Praises, was written by Paul Ger­hardt and published in 1648. The music  (Sollt’ ich mein­em Gott nicht sing­en) was written by Jo­han Schop, 1641. Gerhardt was a writer of many devotional, evangelical hymns in the Lutheran tradition and was part of a revival of personal devotion. In later years many of the pietists disdained liturgy and the forms of worship which Luther himself retained or set in place. But Gerhardt believed that liturgy and personal devotional went together. His exemplary hymns reveal a Joyful, Scriptural, Devotional, Liturgical and Sacramental kind of piety and spirituality. In this case, he exalts the love of God which “abides for aye” – God’s great love abides forever.

I will sing my Maker’s praises and in Him most joyful be,
For in all things I see traces of His tender love to me.
Nothing else than love could move Him with such sweet and tender care
Evermore to raise and bear all who try to serve and love Him.
All things else have but their day, God’s great love abides for aye.

Yea, so dear did He esteem me that His Son he loved so well
He hath given to redeem me from the quenchless flames of hell.
O Thou Spring of boundless blessing, how could e’er my feeble mind
Of Thy depth the bottom find though my efforts were unceasing?
All things else have but their day, God’s great love abides for aye.

All that for my soul is needful He with loving care provides,
Nor of that is He unheedful which my body needs besides.
When my strength cannot avail me, when my powers can do no more,
Doth my God His strength outpour; in my need He doth not fail me.
All things else have but their day, God’s great love abides for aye.

When I sleep, He still is near me, o’er me rests His guardian eye;
And new gifts and blessings cheer me when the morning streaks the sky.
Were it not for God’s protection, had His countenance not been
Here my guide, I had not seen e’er the end of my affliction.
All things else have but their day, God’s great love abides for aye.

As a father never turneth wholly from a wayward child,
For the prodigal still yearneth, longing to be reconciled,
So my many sins and errors find a tender, pardoning God,
Chastening frailty with His rod, not, in vengeance, with His terrors.
All things else have but their day, God’s great love abides for aye.

Since, then, neither change nor coldness, in my Father’s love can be,
Lo! I lift my hands with boldness, as Thy child I come to Thee.
Grant me grace, O God, I pray Thee, that I may with all my might,
All my lifetime, day and night, love and trust Thee and obey Thee
And, when this brief life is o’er, praise and love Thee evermore.

Year B – Proper 24 – Mark 10:35-45

Mark 10:35-45   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.”

Summary – This passage highlights the zeal of the “sons of Thunder” (James and John). They wanted to be great in the kingdom, they wanted first place. Instead of reproving their obvious pride of position, Jesus draws out a rich lesson in leadership. He as whether they were willing to do the service that would yield to them that rank of leadership. Would they be able to drink the same cup as Jesus? Would they be able to be baptized with the same baptism as Jesus? This refers to Jesus death and the things he would suffer. Jesus assures them they will partake of his sufferings, but finally redirects the quest – “whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant.”

Insight – Like James and John we cannot always see our own motivations clearly. It is hard for us not to want to be in first place. Jesus set the example for us in that he came to be born into a humble family, though he was rightfully the Prince of All the World. He did not grasp or cling to his position of first place. He did not seize power by avoiding the cross and worshiping the devil in His temptation. He went through his life and especially his ministry being repeatedly rejected and verbally attacked. As he says, “the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.” Then, he finally yielded to being physically attacked and tortured to death, though he as the Son of God could have called it off at any moment with legions of angels.

Catechism – What did the Son of Man do? The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.”

Discussion – What are some ways we can serve and follow the example of Jesus?

Prayer – Heavenly Father, we thank you for sending Jesus to be a Servant to us and to show us how to love others. Grant us the grace to desire to follow him who gave his life a ransom for many. Help us serve one another in our families and the church. In Christ’s name we pray. Amen.