It is difficult for us to imagine the confusion of the disciples of Jesus when he calmly explained to them that they were going up to Jerusalem where he would be handed over to the enemy and he would be crucified.
No doubt as crowds of several thousand turned up to hear him preaching (at least on a good day) the disciples were sure they were backing a winner. So what was Jesus talking about as he calmly mentioned that he was leading them to Jerusalem where he would be crucified?
Their shock and confusion would have been so great that they probably didn’t hear his punch-line: that he would be raised from the dead on the third day.
Perhaps the mother of James and John overheard the conversation and understood that Jesus would be ok in the end (after he was raised from the dead), but she was determined to ensure that her sons would have good places at his right and left. She was without doubt a woman of faith who could see beyond the suffering of crucifixion to the hope of resurrection.
Her comment gives Jesus the opportunity to clarify the pathway to life. And it is a pathway, not a quick grasping at the goal, but a journey that is unafraid of whatever obstacle or difficulty emerges: “Can you drink the chalice that I am going to drink?” And: “Whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant.”
While we think we are happiest when we are standing on the winner’s podium of the goals we set ourselves, our greater desire is to be united in a journey towards the goal. The reaching of a goal is a great moment, but only momentarily. We are made for the journey and our greatest intimacy with God and with other people is when we without fear, and in the company of friends, set our faces towards Jerusalem knowing that we have nothing to fear.
Take a moment to invite Jesus to reveal to you a problem you face or an anxiety you carry today. Now become aware that this difficulty gives you a great capacity for the presence and action of Jesus in your life. Turn towards Jesus asking him to open you to his love for you.