"By all Your saints in warfare, For all Your saints at rest, Your holy Name, O Jesus, Forevermore be blest! For You have won the battle, That they might wear the crown; And now they shine in glory, Reflected from Your throne.
"O Lord, for James we praise You, Who fell to Herod's sword; He drank the cup of suff'ring, And thus fulfilled Your Word. Lord, curb our vain impatience, For glory and for fame, Equip us for such suff'rings, As glorify Your Name."
James and John told Jesus, "Teacher, we want You to do for us whatever we ask of You" (Mark 10:35b). The brothers wanted to sit at Jesus' right hand and at His left hand when He reigned in glory. There would be glory to come, but the brothers did not understand that the cross must come first. Would James and John be able to drink the cup of suffering from which Jesus would soon drink? Could they share in the fiery baptism of pain that was to come? The brothers said that they could endure these things, and Jesus told them that they would share in the suffering. According to tradition, John was not martyred, but was imprisoned or exiled for his faith in Jesus. James, as our hymn recalls, "fell to Herod's sword" during persecution against the church (see Acts 12:1-2).
If we are honest, we must admit that we often hunger for glory just like James and John. We pray that the Lord would "curb our vain impatience for glory and for fame." Even if we are not exactly seeking fame, we don't mind being the center of attention. We are often reluctant to look to "the interests of others," as the Word instructs us (Philippians 2:4b). To follow Jesus is to look to the interests of others and not just to our own interests. To follow Jesus is to deny ourselves and take up the cross of suffering that may come, as it came to James and John.
Jesus used the brothers' request for glory to introduce a lesson for His disciples. Greatness among Jesus' followers is not defined by lofty positions of glory and fame. Greatness is found in servanthood, in denying self and putting the needs of others ahead of our own. One day we will share Jesus' glory, but not because we won that glory for ourselves. We will inherit the glory of an eternal kingdom because our Savior put our needs ahead of His own. He laid aside His divine glory and humbled Himself to the point of death on a cross. Rising in triumph over sin, death, and Satan, He won the battle so that we could wear the crown. Glory will come, but now we follow in the footsteps of Jesus, who came "not to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many" (Mark 10:45b).
THE PRAYER: Lord Jesus, teach me to seek only the glory of Your holy Name as I follow You. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Carol Geisler. It is based on the hymn, "By All Your Saints in Warfare," which is number 518 in the Lutheran Service Book.
1. What do you do to deny yourself and elevate others?
2. Do we have any right to request any special favors from God?
3. What events from Jesus' life do you like best as examples of humility to follow?
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