A reflection on Matthew 20:20-28 by our Assistant Program Director, Angie Smith.
Today’s reading comes with another warning/command. There’s a lot of repetitiveness in the text today. It’s something that we’ve heard from Jesus in the past. We’ve also seen the disciples miss the mark. Our text is equal parts law and gospel.
First the law, “…but whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be your slave….” There’s no loophole. Jesus clearly articulates that following him requires mutual equal relationships. Many Christians shy away from slave/servant/master language because of the history of slavery throughout the world. However, the paradigm that Jesus sets up here and the Luther later echoes, is one in which no one holds a place of privilege. There’s a shift from the old way in which there were tyrants (classical models of slavery) to a life giving/giving of one’s life model. Faith is certainly a gift, but what we do with that gift matters.
Now for the good news-the disciples set the bar really low for the rest of us. Growing up I had this idea that the disciples never made mistakes. Sure, Peter and Judas had their flaws, but they did it for the sake of prophecy. In reality the disciples are flawed humans just like us! Jesus often has to correct their behavior.
There’s not a holy expectation that we get it right every time, there’s no need to try to be perfect. Rather, the holy expectation is that we do our best, confess when we haven’t done so, and keep going.
Let’s commit to doing our best-whatever that looks like. We are in this together and God’s here too.