July 25, 2008 - St. James the Elder

Today's Reading: Mark 10:35-45

Daily Lectionary: 1 Samuel 9:1-27; Acts 21:37-22:16

For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45)

There are two St. James; the one we remember today is the little brother of the apostle John. Together these are the Zebedee boys, and in today’s text they ask the Lord to sit at His left and right when He comes into His glory. The Zebedee boys think that the Lord’s glory is going to be quite a spectacle; they hardly expect it to involve being beaten and eventually killed. That, however, is the Lord’s glory.

The Lord’s glory is shown when He is nailed to the cross at Calvary on Good Friday. His glory is in His payment for the sins of the world. His glory is found in the forgiveness of sins, in Holy Baptism, Holy Absolution and the Lord’s Supper.

The Zebedee boys have been told that the Son of Man will have to suffer and die and that on the third day He will rise again, but as so often is the case amongst lowly men, they didn’t listen. You and I don’t listen either; like St. James we want the hot seat in the Kingdom of God. We want to be top dog with Jesus. We hardly want death by crucifixion.

Jesus tells them that they have no idea what they’re asking for. His right and His left when He comes into glory are reserved for two criminals. He will be numbered among them and the worldly standards for glory will not be met. But there on the Cross, sins will be forgiven and that is the Glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Jesus turns everything upside down, He makes the slaves the greatest and the rulers the lowest. He points to servitude and death and extols these things over and above what the world considers good and right. In the end Jesus picks the least, the last and the lost of the world in order to deliver His gifts.

Lowly bread, lowly wine, mere water and sinful men in a Holy Office with the Blessed Word of God. Nothing spectacular, nothing special – just Jesus delivered for you, for the forgiveness of your sins.

Jesus did not come to establish a worldly kingdom, to be the big guy in Israel. He came to die for you and me. He lived a sinless life, perfect and holy and then He gave that to us so that we might also be sinless, perfect and holy. In the name of Jesus, Amen.

O Lord, for James we praise You, Who fell to Herod's sword; He drank the cup of suff'ring And thus fulfilled Your word. Lord, curb our vain impatience For glory and for fame, Equip us for such suff'rings As glorify Your name. (LSB 518:21)