Remember as kids how we played, “King of the Mountain?” The toughest guy would bully his way to the top of the hill, and maintain his exalted position through intimidation, pushing and shoving.
Little did we realize the game was a portent of things to come. Adults, it turns out, also play “King of the Mountain”. For keeps. The game is usually played subtly through manipulation, applying financial pressure, maligning others’ reputations, mentally pigeon-holing people, pouting, withholding love, intimidation, etc.
The disciples also liked to play “King of the Mountain.” When Jesus informed them that He would soon be beaten up, openly mocked and murdered, their first thought was not of their great loss, but who among them would rise to become “King of the Mountain:”
After giving them the bleak news of his impending death, the Master inquired of them,
Jesus: “‘What were you arguing about on the road?’ But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest.” (Mk. 9:33b,34)
Later, Christ again tells them he is to be betrayed, mocked and condemned. Their response? Two of them plead with him to help them become “Kings of the Mountain:”
“Then James and John…came to him. ‘Teacher…We want you to do for us whatever we ask…Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory.’” (Mk. 10:35,37)
Jesus however, gave them no guarantee of such future glory,
“…You will drink the cup I drink and be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with.” (That is, you too will experience a cross in your life.) (Mk. 10:39)
Christ’s answer to the self-serving disciples does not go down easily for most of us. Surrounded as we are by strutting peacocks who are impressed by the sound of their own vacuous vapor, choosing to serve, rather than claw our way to “King of the Mountain” goes against every human inclination.
It just happens to be His way. The way of the cross.
“Should you then seek great things for yourself? Seek them not…I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me…” (Jer. 45:5a;Gal. 2:20a)
My prayer is that you are having a great week!