Have you ever been in a situation where you were oblivious to what was really going on around you and only later discovered that you had missed or misread the whole incident?

In the Gospel story (Mt 20:17-28) we can only surmise that competition and politics are deeply rooted in man. Our attachment to the lure for power, authority and influence have made us at times do anything to pursue those goals. In the case of James and John, they used their mother in order to get to Jesus. What James and John did was quite divisive as they were practically telling Jesus to give them the best at the expense of the other disciples. It also revealed their relative ignorance of how God's blessings and honor will be bestowed in His kingdom.

An interest in being rewarded for good decisions, judgments and behavior appears to be a fundamental human concern. But the reality is that the rewards of our actions are not always equal with the intent. Many of us know from examples in scripture and from personal experience that doing good is sometimes repaid with evil.

The apostles in the Gospel story (Mt 20:17-28) were even more clearly concerned with getting their reward. They were perfectly willing to drink whatever cup came their way if they were to be rewarded with a seat in glory at the Lord's right hand. Apparently the two disciples, James and John, the sons of Zebedee, did not understand what Jesus had been saying. Three times he predicted his coming passion, death and resurrection in Jerusalem, but the two disciples were distracted by their position in the kingdom. In many of his teachings Jesus described a kingdom not of this world. Apparently the two disciples did not get it.

Jesus could only promise them that they would have the opportunity to drink of the cup from which he would drink, to follow him in a life of service, to give their own lives as he would give his. Clearly this was not the reward they sought. True honor in the kingdom comes from accepting the "cup" - the suffering involved in working to bring it about. The fee for entering the kingdom of Jesus is calculated in terms of service. The cost is a king's ransom, the very life of the king's son.

Lent serves as a "wake up" call, an opportunity to listen more carefully to what Jesus says and explore more intently who Jesus is and what his kingdom is really like. Let us examine ourselves and take time to take practical, humble steps to study and read, to learn and grow in humility as disciples of Jesus in the service of his kingdom. Discipleship is its own reward. The opportunity to walk with Christ, to imitate his example should suffice as Christians. We should not be focused on the glory of earthly rewards, but keep our eyes on the humble path that we are privileged to walk with God.

Rev'd. Fr. Colin Humes