Mark 10: 35-39
The disciplines most often accepted during Lent have to do with denial, especially if we need an impetus to lose a few pounds, or behave in a more civilized manner, or give up a behavior (sometimes called a habit) that makes us unattractive to family or friends. Actually, the purpose of the sacrifices during Lent is to remind us that there is always the possibility of discomfort as a result of practicing our faith.
When Jesus began his deliberate journey which ended at Golgotha, he tried to explain to his close friends that this was not to be an easy time, yet James and John missed that truth because they believed that Jesus would still establish an earthly kingdom. Their attempt to become important, as told in another gospel, was made by their mother (see Matthew 20:20ff), which may have had more to do with a pushy mother than with a misplaced ambition. Only Matthew knows!
Jesus pointed out to those two ambitious disciples, that those who continued to follow Him would have to suffer, by using the analogy of baptism – which had a significant meaning in that situation. Simply put, Jesus told them that they would be submerged in the terrible experience of being the object of hate, anger, pain and death to which, Jesus knew, he would be subjected. Jesus knew that James and John were not yet aware that there was a cross in the future.
There are times when we need a calm and peaceful faith, where “life flows along like a song,” but the disciplines of denial which we practice during Lent are a way to remind ourselves that a life of faith is sometimes uncomfortable.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, who was willing to allow evil to limit the ministry of Jesus, I thank you that he accepted the pain of being faithful. Help me, in any discomfort of my personal sacrifice, to become less anxious for reward, and more willing to become a faithful disciple. AMEN.
Reverend Dr. Regi Thackston
Trinity UMC Pastor Emeritus