The High Road or the Low Road

Day 6

At your Christmas dinner, was there conversation, jockeying even, over who would sit at the head of the table? Was it a predetermined tradition, a free for all, or delegated to the established matriarchy or patriarchy? 

And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came up to him and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” And he said to them, “What do you want me to do for you?” And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?” And they said to him, “We are able.” And Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you will drink, and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized, but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.” - Mark 10:35-40 

Sitting at the head of the Christmas table is one thing, but sitting at the right and left of King Jesus in His glory is another thing entirely, though James and John treated it with similar import. Jesus quickly established that James and John had no comprehension of the prerequisite of their request. They didn’t yet understand how that seat of honor and glory would ultimately be attained by Jesus, Himself. That earned seat of honor came at the highest price, not the high road.

Jesus laid it all down. Lower still, Jesus endures the fiercest pain of the Father’s forsaking under the cataclysmic weight of my sin and yours. Going further to the lowest depths, the Word Incarnate “descended to the lowest regions of the earth,” tastes death Himself, and by His resurrection, takes back the keys of death that were rightfully His all along. There is no lower place one can go, and our Alpha and Omega descended to the greatest depth for our sake.

Jesus doesn’t ask us to take any roads He hasn’t already walked before us. Nor does He intimate that we can skirt the road to humility and take a shortcut to a seat of honor. Do you sincerely want to be a leader of the flock of Almighty God? True shepherds of His flock have the highest honor and privilege of laying down their lives.

Servant leaders model self-sacrifice, and are the first to charge onto the battlefield, not the last. True shepherds  never “lord it over their flocks'' by not going where they ask their followers to go. True shepherds don’t insult the King of Kings by presuming that He must be a suffering servant but we somehow take the high and comfortable road to that honor seat. James and John would soon drink the same cup, just as Jesus prophesied. 

Though we are not all called to martyrdom, imitating Jesus in His servant leadership may look like fasting and praying weekly, laying prostrate before the Father daily, and continually ministering to Him in the secret prayer closet. Going low may manifest as a tearful apology, an emptying of our savings account to care for the needy, or in a courageous and consequential stance against popular cultural compromises. It may look like hours-long ministry, laying aside every other care for the precious one in need in front of you. True shepherds will protect the flock at all cost, not themselves.

The only way to be exalted as He is exalted is to go low, as He has gone low.

During this 21 day fast, Christian Union echoes Jesus in calling those who want to lead as He led, to crucify our flesh for the greater gain.

What a glorious calling and privilege we have to serve the King of Kings, and to fast until our Bridegroom returns! But woe to the one who thinks he can attain glory by circumventing the road to suffering. As the King of Glory Himself didn’t attempt a short-cut past suffering, we too have the high calling to follow Him all the way down the low road of suffering, to many joyous blessings along the way, and ultimately to the seat in heaven prepared for us according to our true Christlikeness. 

Oh, and those keys of death that Jesus took back from the pit of hell on the way to His glory seat… He’s given them to us! Let’s get after it doing all that He has done, and even greater things, which He himself twice- verily promised we would do in His name. There’s much work to be done to bring Him His just reward. 

Our Good Shepherd, thank You for humbling Yourself from the height of heaven all the way to the cross. Author of Life, You descended all the way to flesh and death to be raised back again to eternal glory, rescuing us along the way! We worship You now for Your great demonstration of humility.  Brand on our hearts now the reality of the call to imitate You in Your suffering that we may truly share in Your glory. Weed out the unfaithful, and prune and abundantly flourish the faithful.

Karen S. Hetzler
Associate Director, Christian Union New York

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