We often have to decide who will have power and authority in our lives. It could be deciding which organisation you work for, the political party you vote for or the sports club you join. It is important to consider carefully who will have power in our lives because when power is used well, it can lead to joy, security and a flourishing life. However, if a person takes advantage of power, it can lead to harm.
In the gospel of Mark, brothers James and John attempt to gain power. They approach Jesus and say to him, “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.’’ It seems like an ordinary request; you could say they are applying for a promotion. However, Jesus wants them to interpret power differently. Jesus replies to their request in Chapter 10, verse 42:
42 Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 43 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
We run the risk of misunderstanding power. Generally, we consider the person who has the most people reporting to them to be the most powerful. However, that is not how Jesus defines power. He radically flips our understanding and defines power by the willingness to serve – the more people you serve, the more powerful you are. The exercise of power is not about increasing your comfort and privilege. It is about the lifting up of others. That is what we observe when Jesus gives up his life on the cross. It was not an act of weakness or failure. It was the most stunning use of power, a ransom payment that buys us true life.
That is the type of rule Jesus the king will have in your life. He does not ask to have authority in our lives to suppress us or take from us. He desires to be our king because he wants to serve us and give us a life not found anywhere else. A life that leads to joy and security – a life that flourishes.