Mon Jul 1-Finding Our Place at the Table

Matthew 20:25-28 (CEB)

25 But Jesus called them over and said, “You know that those who rule the Gentiles show off their authority over them and their high-ranking officials order them around. 26 But that’s not the way it will be with you. Whoever wants to be great among you will be your servant. 27 Whoever wants to be first among you will be your slave— 28 just as the Human One didn’t come to be served but rather to serve and to give his life to liberate many people.”


Our scripture comes as an answer to a question from James and John’s (sons of Zebedee) mother. She asked if Jesus could let her sons sit beside him and have the place of honor in Heaven. Now, when we have any meal with our granddaughters, there is always a conundrum about where people are sitting. If our son’s fiancée is present, then she gets top billing, and the girls want to sit near her. Otherwise, it depends on the day where anyone wants to sit. Sometimes it hurts people’s feelings a bit, but that’s how kids are – they are just honest about who their favorite is for the day! And let’s be honest, sometimes we want to be recognized as the favorite or the best. We want our flowers, but is that really what makes us happy? Maybe for a brief period, but then we realize there is so much more we can be doing or sometimes it’s just great to be in the room with others we hold up as our examples.

Our scripture talks about how we should all be servants – helping others in whatever we do. Sometimes we are in charge of what’s happening – we are hosting an event, we are leading a meeting, we are the CEO, and people look to us for direction. That doesn’t mean we can’t be helping others as we do this. Jesus was indeed the most powerful person in any room, although some people did not realize that. The mother of these disciples knew it, but Jesus told her and all of the disciples that they were looking at it all wrong.

Somedays at my work, every single child cries about something we work on – maybe because they are hungry or tired or maybe because the task we are doing is a bit uncomfortable or scary for their little body and brain. Does that make me happy? No, it doesn’t, but do I know that we need to do these things with them so that they can grow and develop? Of course! I frequently tell parents that kiddos can’t see the big picture, so they are certainly happy just to roll or crawl on the floor because they can get to what they want. They don’t realize the bigger picture of how much fun (and more efficient) it is to walk and run to get to things.

The disciples had a hard time seeing the big picture as well. The paradox of being the servant to accomplish our calling is sometimes a difficult concept to grasp. Jesus knew the path he had to take – did it make him happy? We know from scripture that he asked if there was another way, but in the big picture, he was happy to fulfill what God wanted him to do.

Now, God doesn’t usually ask us to go through what Jesus went through, but God asks us to serve others as we go through this life. Does that mean we don’t get to enjoy it? Again the answer is no. I am always filled with a sense of happiness and gratitude when kiddos progress – even if we don’t get to walking by the time kids are three and have to move on to a preschool program, I know we have made some gains that I can generally feel good about.  Again, not always, but there are sometimes things that don’t go as we had hoped and planned. That is part of our lives as humans, and so we celebrate those things that do go well.

by Janet Waryck

For Pondering and Prayer

Sometimes God asks us to do difficult things to fulfill our purpose. Are we always happy about doing them? Does it give us a sense of happiness to know that we were able to do something to further the kingdom of God?

Prayer: Please show us your will for our lives. Help us to have a servant heart. In Jesus’s name we pray. Amen.

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