The Francis Asbury Society

FACE TO FACE: Intimate Moments with God 10/20

Posted on | October 20, 2015 | Comments Off on FACE TO FACE: Intimate Moments with God 10/20

Scripture reading: Mark 10:35–45

Right Side Up

James and John said to him, “Grant us to sit, one on your right hand and one on your left, in your glory.” Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking.”(Mark 10:37–38)

The Poseidon Adventure (1972) was a hugely popular film that told the tragic fictional story of the SS Poseidon. Hit by a massive tidal wave, the luxury ocean liner capsized, trapping the passengers inside. Floating upside down and slowly sinking, the trapped passengers struggled to find the best way out, a challenge because everything inside the ship was upside down. The way up was down! The story is full of Christian symbolism. A priest led one group of passengers to use a Christmas tree as a ladder (!) to climb upward through the floor. Leading them in a direction that seemed counterintuitive to their ordinary notions of “up” and “down,” he eventually led them to the inverted boiler room in the belly of the ship. Banging on the hull above them, the survivors alerted rescuers who drilled a hole and led them to safety.

In Mark 10:35–45, Jesus, our great high priest, is describing a kingdom that to most of us appears to be upside down. James and John want to be great in the coming kingdom of God. James wants to be Vice President and John the Secretary of State! But rather than rebuking their desire, Jesus says simply, “You don’t know what you’re asking.” He is not upset at their ambition to be great in his kingdom, but he is deeply troubled that they have no clue what such greatness involves! “Are you able to drink the cup that I drink?” he asks them. They say they are, but Jesus knows that they still did not understand.

You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:42–45)

Huh? What kind of kingdom is this where servants and slaves are at the top of the food chain? Why would I want to follow a priest leading me downward when I want to go upward? And yet Jesus is not just telling us what to do, he is giving us a living illustration in his own life. Though he was the “Son of Man” (Messiah, King, Savior), he emptied himself of all the rights and privileges of his royal place so he could come as a servant to others, giving his life as a ransom for many.

The Gospel is the radical announcement that our world has been turned upside down by a tidal wave of sin. Therefore, all our natural assumptions about success, power, happiness, wealth and salvation are wrong. We think the way up is up! If we choose our own path we will perish. But if we trust in our Guide and follow where he leads, even when it goes against our natural notions of up and down, we will find safety and abundant life.

If life doesn’t seem to be working the way you thought it should, perhaps you are moving in the wrong direction. Jesus invites you to practice downward mobility by following him. In his kingdom the way up is down; the way to be great is to become small; the way to be first is to be last; the way to be rich is to give every- thing away; the way to find joy is to learn how to weep; the way to be strong is to become weak; the way to be wise is to become a fool; the way to live is to die; and the way to find yourself is to lose yourself.

See you at the bottom!
Christ wins our salvation through losing, achieves power through weakness and service, comes to wealth via giving all away. And those who receive his salvation are not the strong and accomplished but those who admit they are weak and lost.  —Timothy Keller
point to ponder • Do you trust Jesus to guide you even when it seems he is leading you in the wrong direction?

prayer focus • How to be a servant to someone—today.


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