The disciples, especially James and John here, miss the point and misunderstand Jesus’ power. Lamar Williamson, Jr. comments:
The supreme irony, however, is that despite Jesus’ rebuke of Peter and despite his teaching about denying self, taking up one’s cross and losing one’s life (8:34-37); despite his rebuke of the squabble over greatness by the example of the child and his words about being last of all and servant of all (9:35-36); and finally despite his threefold prediction of his own suffering and death at the end of this road, James and John are still fantasizing about the coming glory and scheming for positions of privilege.
(Mark: Interpretation, A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching, Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1983, p. 192)
Reading the Scripture
Here are some ways you might read the scripture or tell the story:
o The Bible Experience: The Complete Bible (“presented by a stellar ensemble of today’s top-name actors, musicians, clergy, directors, and award-winning producers.” Available from Keith).
o Faith Comes by Hearing: You’ve Got the Time (Dramatized New Testament we used a few years ago during Lent. Available in the library and the church office.)
o WatchWord Bible, New Testament on DVD is available in the library. (These videos display and read the text in Contemporary English Version with background pictures, video and sound. Not exactly dramatized or all that exciting, but could be another way to read the text.)
• Reflect on James and John’s request, “sit at your right and left,” in light of what Jesus had just said about what lies ahead, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death; then they will hand him over to the Gentiles; they will mock him, and spit upon him, and flog him, and kill him; and after three days he will rise again” (Mark 10:33-34).
• A list of our active deacons is attached after this session. Some may think of deacon as a position of authority and honor, and to some extent that may be true, but remember that deacon is the Greek word for “servant.” Discuss some of the ways our deacons act selflessly as servants. Invite a deacon to discuss the servant role of the deacon.
• An updated Nominating Committee list of church leaders will be placed in your Sunday School class on Sunday, January 27. Call the church office if you would like multiple copies. Look at the list with your class. Are some leadership positions thought of as “greatest” or more important? Are some thought of as “least,” less important, ignored, or under appreciated? Are some of our servant leaders left off the list?
• Advocates for the Powerless: The Formations Study Guide notes, “What we have to remember is that everyone has a sphere of influence. We may not be able to control all of our circumstances, but certain things are within our power. If we are parents (or adult caregivers of elderly parents), if we are teachers, managers, or administrators, we are responsible for the success of others. If we have even a little disposable income, we can choose how much of it we will use to make life better for someone else. If we have connections through family or friends, we use those connections either selfishly or on behalf of those who have no one to plead their cause” (p. 27).
o Who are the powerless? Who in Danville has no one to plead their case? Who are the advocates?
o Learn about the work of CASA: “The mission of CASA at Woodlawn is to advance the best interests of abused, neglected and dependent children in the Mercer/Boyle County Family Court system through the training and support of community volunteers who serve as Court Appointed Special Advocates working with children, the family and the court.” http://www.casaatwoodlawn.org/Home_Page.php . Chris Herron and Gene Robertson volunteer with CASA (there may be other members of our church who are also involved). Consider inviting someone to your class to discuss the work of CASA.
o Are there others advocates?
o How can your class be an advocate for the powerless?
• Share some famous quotes on power. See the attached sheet at the end of this session.
I have set aside a shelf in the library with resources for Sunday School teachers. I will place there resources of general interest and some specifically applicable to current lessons.
• Mark: Interpretation, A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching, Lamar Williamson, Jr. (Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1983).
• For additional commentary on the text see these commentaries in our library:
o Mercer Commentary on the Bible (Mercer University Press, 1995)
o Harper’s Bible Commentary (Harper & Row, 1988)
Deacons (Lexington Avenue Baptist Church)
Darrell Johnson, chairperson
Harry Nickens, vice-chairperson
Judee Vanderpool, secretary
Elected 2012 (to serve January 2013-2015)
Elected 2011 (to serve January 2012-2014)
Elected 2010 (to serve January 2011-December 2013)
Quotes About Power
“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power.”
― Abraham Lincoln
“The day the power of love overrules the love of power, the world will know peace.”
― Mahatma Gandhi
“Patience is power. Patience is not an absence of action; rather it is "timing" it waits on the right time to act, for the right principles and in the right way.”
― Fulton J. Sheen
“You gain power by pretending to be weak.”
― Chuck Palahniuk, Choke
“Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren't.”
― Margaret Thatcher
“I can bench press steam, but not fog. I just have to wait until the fog lifts itself. ”
― Jarod Kintz, This Book Title is Invisible
“Power isn’t control at all — power is strength, and giving that strength to others. A leader isn’t someone who forces others to make him stronger; a leader is someone willing to give his strength to others that they may have the strength to stand on their own.”
― Beth Revis, Across the Universe
“It is not truth that matters, but victory.”
― Adolf Hitler
“Power is of two kinds. One is obtained by the fear of punishment and the other by acts of love. Power based on love is a thousand times more effective and permanent than the one derived from fear of punishment.”
― Mahatma Gandhi
“Almost any sect, cult, or religion will legislate its creed into law if it acquires the political power to do so.”
― Robert A. Heinlein
“Washing one's hands of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless means to side with the powerful, not to be neutral. ”
― Paulo Freire
“The measure of a man is what he does with power.”