Wednesday of the Second Week of Lent
(Jeremiah 18:18-20; Matthew 20:17-28)
Gospel commentators say that out of deference to the apostles Matthew puts the request for high places on the lips of sons’ of Zebedee mother. They note that in Mark the disciples themselves make the vain request and that Jesus’ reply is directed to them, not the woman. But let’s not allow concern for “who said what” distract us from the radicalness of Jesus’ teaching.
Jesus warns his disciples that seeking high places will not profit them a bit in God’s kingdom. In another section he denounces the scribes and Pharisees for loving such honors (23:6). He wants his followers to serve one another in humility. In fact, he says that their service must be like that of a slave who has no claim to rights at all. In his way of thinking, it seems, there is no overtime pay or discretionary days off.
Jesus’ vision of a disciple may sound preposterous if not cruel to us. But he proclaims the radicalness of the kingdom throughout the four gospels. We should not fret about how we are to bear the heavy cost. He promises a reward greater than any merit we might suppose for our faithful service.