Sure, why not

Pentecost +21b – Sunday 21st October 2012
Mark 10: 35-45

Laid BackI’ll get into trouble for this, but I’m going to tell you anyway. My wife says our son is so laid back he’s almost permanently horizontal.

He has one stock answer to any question you ask – “Sure, why not.”

Do you want pizza for tea? Sure, why not.
The deacons are coming round for a meeting, is that ok? Sure, why not.
Do you want to go to the gym tonight? Sure, why not.
Booked you an appointment for the dentist. Tuesday 10 o’clock. Ok? Sure, why not.
Off to the cinema, fancy coming? Sure, why not.

It can be quite annoying. Not annoying in the sense of grr, grr. But annoying in the sense that how can he take everything in his stride?

Not quite sure that James and John were quite so laid back, I think different emotions hid behind their encounter with Jesus. They wanted to portray an image of bravado and swagger, they wanted to appear full of confidence, they wanted others to note their self-assurance.

Could they walk the walk, as well as talk the talk?
 “Sure,” they said. “Why not?”
Jesus said, “Come to think of it, you will drink the cup I drink, and be baptized in my baptism. But as to awarding places of honour, that’s not my business. There are other arrangements for that.”

a place of honourPlaces of honour. Is that what we’re about? No, no, no – I hear you say, to which I add my voice too. But there are times when we are caught up in honour rather than humility, we strive for greatness rather than gentleness. At handshake time on Sunday somebody said to me “Good sermon this morning” and inside I shouted “Get in!” Places of honour? We all like to think we’re worthy of greatness by our faith, deeds and actions, but we continually need to be reminded of the road we walk.

I like the observations that Mary Hinkle Shore makes over at Pilgrim Preaching. On this passage from Mark’s gospel she says:

The ten, like James and John seem eager for place, status, seats on thrones. How “established” that sounds. I once heard Will Willimon point out that in Acts, verbs for staying put (histēmi and related words) do not often occur in a favourable light. People with “place” are contrasted with people “on the way.” The contrast here in Mark is the same. Jesus is on the way to Jerusalem. The disciples want to sit down—in high places of honour.

Keep movingIn the gospels Jesus is continually on the move and we must remember that our faith is about a walk we vow to undertake. Sometimes we take great strides, sometimes it’s like we inch along. But don’t stand still. Keep moving.

And every time we talk to God, every time we engage with the Scriptures, every time we become the voice, the hands, the heart of Jesus Christ then we’re shuffling on. So, never mind what the reward is going to be one day. As Eminem would say, ‘Live for the moment’.

If you agree with me can I get an ‘Amen!’ Or at least ‘Sure, why not!’

Happy days

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About Neil Chappell

Husband, father, Congregational Minister and football fan all rolled into one convenient package.
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2 Responses to Sure, why not

  1. Pastor Tim Christensen says:

    “Sure, why not.” [chuckle…] I think you hit the nail on the head, Neil. Eugene Peterson, in his book ‘Tell It Slant: A Conversation on the Language of Jesus in His Stories & Prayers’ (Eerdmans, 2008), says of James & John from another passage (Luke 9:51-53): “They had encountered considerable antipathy in the [Samaritan] village; they were not welcome. The Zebedee brothers, James & John, were outraged. Nicknamed ‘sons of Thunder’ (Boanerges), these two didn’t take insults sitting down. The brothers were short-tempered firebrands. Angry at the inhospitality, they wanted to call down fire from heaven and incinerate the rude Samaritans. … Jesus said, ‘Nothing doing.’ His rebuke was peremptory and non-negotiable. It was no part of their task as disciples to destroy the opposition. Christ followers don’t bash the people who are not on our side, either physically or verbally” (pp.30-31). Not only does this help to define the character of the Thunder Brothers, it seems to me it’s that same power-posturing that’s at work in their trying to wheedle their way into positions of authority in this week’s passage. Those who want to wield authority are often most suspect in their motives but looking into the mirror, it’s also at the root of all power-grabbing schemes in our daily life as well.

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