Drinking the Cup of the Lord: Glory, Sacrificial Faith, and the True Cost of Discipleship

Mar 17, 2024 – 5th Sunday in Lent | Mark 10:35-45

Greetings and Happy St. Patrick's Day! 

While we may not be dressed in green or engaging in the typical festivities associated with this day, I want to take a moment to reflect on the true meaning behind St. Patrick's Day. It is a day that originally celebrated the conversion of Ireland through the missionary work of a young, ambitious, and devout man named Patrick. 

Over the years, the true story of Patrick's faith, dedication, and the hardships he endured for the Gospel has been overshadowed by modern-day celebrations. Legends of St. Patrick's miracles, healings, and even the myth of banishing snakes from Ireland or raising the dead have become abundant. 

These tales may hold some truth. However, they often lead people to view the Christian path as one of glory, rather than the reality of suffering and shame that both St. Patrick and true followers of Christ experienced.

Perspectives on Faith and Glory

In today's reading from St. Mark's Gospel, we are reminded to examine our attitude towards following Jesus. Like the world around us, our fallen nature is often driven by a desire for worldly glory and power over others. This desire was even evident among Jesus' closest disciples. James and John, known as the "Sons of Thunder," boldly asked Jesus for positions of honor and authority in His kingdom, showcasing their ambitious and worldly mindset.

It is astonishing to think that James and John made such a bold request, especially after Jesus had just forewarned them of His impending suffering and death in Jerusalem. Yet, they still held onto visions of grandeur. 

Jesus responded not with rebuke, but with a lesson. He emphasized that seeking glory had no place in His kingdom. Jesus asked them if they were willing to endure the suffering and baptism that He was about to face.

Revisiting the Significance of the Lord's Supper

In our modern context, we may view participating in religious rituals, such as the Lord's Supper, as an honor we have earned through our Christian life and service. However, we must remember that it is not a right or a reward that we deserve. Similarly, the Passover Meal was not an entitlement for God's Old Covenant people, but a continuous gift of redemption through His grace.

Jesus established the Holy Supper not as something we are entitled to, but as a means of graciously sharing in His sacrifice for our redemption. The honor of partaking in this cup is bestowed by God's grace, not earned by our own merits. Jesus' response to James and John highlights that God bestows honor according to His will and sovereignty, not based on human entitlement.

When Jesus spoke of drinking His cup and undergoing His baptism, He was referring to sharing in His suffering, rejection, and ultimately, the cross. James and John would indeed face persecution and hardships for their faith, dispelling their illusions of glory and status.

The Path of True Glory

As followers of Jesus in the 21st century, we must understand that being a Christian does not equate to worldly glory or authority. Our baptism into Christ's death and resurrection signifies a death to our worldly desires and a new life centered on the cross. This calls for a mindset of sacrificial service rather than seeking personal glory.

Partaking in the Lord's Supper is not a display of our worthiness or love for God, but a humble acknowledgment of Christ's sacrifice for our sins. It serves as a reminder that true glory lies in the cross and the redemption it brings, rather than in worldly accolades or honors.

We may be tempted to seek recognition in the world or compromise our faith to avoid conflict, but true glory is found in faithfully following Christ, even if it means enduring suffering and persecution. The cross, though seen as shameful by the world, is where true glory shines eternally. 

Let us approach the cup of the Lord with faith and steadfast hope, recognizing His sacrifice and the true glory found in His cross. Amen.

2024 Lent Sermons

The Power of Words

Look but Don’t Touch

Zeal for the LORD

Redemption in Psalm 41

Call It What It Is

The Nature of God in Suffering

Blessings from Psalm 41