In this week’s gospel reading we encounter the silent responses of the apostles to some words of Jesus. In the light of the cross, these words clearly indicate to us that Jesus had come to earth the die for our sins, an idea that was obscure and disconcerting to the disciples who expected Messiah to be a military ruler who would overthrow the Roman Empire and re-establish the Kingdom of Israel.
Though we understand the reference to the cross, we may still find Jesus’ words troubling and difficult to follow. This may be because the concept of servanthood runs counter to the self-centered, me-first ideals and norms of our culture. Jesus came to serve others by giving His life as a ransom on the cross. The supreme ruler of the Kingdom of God gave up His throne to humble Himself to die for those He created, for those who were disobedient, rebellious, unworthy and unlovable.
Most people would probably find His sacrifice quite acceptable to them until they find out that He expects the same kind of unselfish sacrifice from His followers. He is fine as Savior, but not as Lord. Our society maintains that the servant is on the bottom of the social scale. It idolizes the leaders, the rich, the movers and shakers, the talented, the famous and the beautiful. Yet the Kingdom of God is filled with those the world regards as losers and reject, exactly the kind of people whom God loves and can use.