Jesus’ answer to James and John was not what they expected and it revealed a couple important things about the man they had been following and the future that lay before them.
Today we hear about a man who has a question for Jesus. Within the first few lines we know some things about the man, even before he asks his question.
So why does Mark tell us this story?
They felt small and powerless and it seemed like their world was being torn apart. But mostly they were afraid, so they didn’t ask questions.
And all the while, James nods knowingly. “Not many of you should attempt to be
teachers” he warns … or preachers, or community leaders, or politicians, or parents … or Messiahs, because in those roles your words will be judged – parsed, twisted, and stretched, stripped of humor or nuance or context – and you will end up looking bad.
You may deserve it.
Our tongues have a way of getting us in trouble.
Both stories remind us that we can look in a mirror and still not see the truth. For that we need a community.
So Solomon has big shoes to fill. And a big job to do.
What kind of king will he be?
One answer is that after his father died, Solomon sat on David’s throne, married a beautiful princess from a neighboring kingdom, and settled in to rule the people of God. It sounds like a fairytale!
So why does Jesus talk about bread?
Well, if Fisher is right, he uses bread as a way of talking about our hungers and about God’s love. He is saying that he came down from heaven to show that love, to satisfy that hunger, not in some abstract way that touches only spirit or intellect, but in the tangible way that bread fills us, body and soul.
Instead his thoughts turn outward and upward. He is almost laughing as he shares with the Ephesians about a God who has …
blessed them with gifts;
called them to unity; and
given them a job to do.
So Paul is drawing on powerful images when he talks about how Christ “has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us.”
Specifically, he is asking the congregation in Ephesus to remember.
Not the shiny, happy, crafty, scrapbook type of memory,
but rather the jagged, jarring, jaundiced sort of memory that we’d prefer to forget.