[right after telling the disciples of his death a third time, James and John, the sons of Zebedee] said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” (Mark 10: 37, NRSV)
I am convinced that more and more often in the Church James and John’s words are on our very lips. We lament the loss of the power-status the Church enjoyed a while ago. We lament, for example, opportunities for youth and families to experience sport on the weekends. We lament, for example, the coming loss of “Wednesday as Church Night.” We lament the loss of prestige and power.
“Grant us to sit… at your right hand and at your left, in your glory”.
Our laments are a modern echo of that phrase. We follow Christ, the Messiah, the Word of God whose very being created all that was, is or ever will be. We are soldiers of the cross, and we are marching to war.
The only problem with this request: we will see tomorrow and again throughout Holy Week exactly what God means by the Glory of God.
Christ did not go through suffering and death to be tested as a warrior before inheriting his glory on Easter Sunday. Christ did not earn his glory as he walked out of the tomb, leaving it empty. Christ’s glory is not solely found in the resurrection story.
Christ’s glory is found on the Cross. Christ’s glory is nothing less than his suffering and death.
I challenge the Church, rather than lament the loss of power and worldly glory, let us praise God that we are once again in a position where we may experience the true glory of a God who continues to suffer with the most helpless of the world.
Lord, grant us, one to sit with the orphan, another to minister to the dying, another to bind up the brokenhearted, and another to welcome the outcast, the true right and left hand of your glory. Amen!
~ Pastor John Sipf, St. Mark’s Ev. Lutheran Church (Verdon) and St. Peter’s Ev. Lutheran Church