If you know me, you might rightly assume that the title of this article refers to our congregation or to living as disciples of Jesus, but it is really a quote from a Super Bowl commercial. The commercial started with moving images of people working and athletes training, striving for greatness. The voiceover was a recording of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. giving a speech in which he quotes Mark 10:42-45, “whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant”. The images go on to show people coming together in community to move a church, feed people, and fight fires. Then, to my surprise and dismay, it turned out to be a commercial for Dodge Ram Trucks.
In my sermon on Sunday, I spoke of the significance of the Jesus healing Peter’s mother-in-law, and that what we are seeing in this story is not the god of punishment and rewards, and not another example of someone who had enough faith to deserve healing, but rather the loving, healing mystery of God that we experience through the very act of love itself.
Jesus raises Peter’s mother-in-law up from her sick bed and gives her new life. The Greek word, to raise up, is exactly the same word that the angel uses at the end of the Gospel (Mark 16:6) when he tells the women at the tomb that Jesus has been resurrected. This woman is raised up and then she begins to serve. That does not mean that she begins to wait on the men. All we need do is look forward to the very passage that Dr. King quotes, Mark 10:42-45, to see what is really happening here:
42So Jesus called them and said to them, “You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. 43But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, 44and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. 45For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.”
Peter’s mother in law is enacting exactly what Jesus describes as leadership. Long before the 12 seem to understand what it means to be a disciple, she is enacting discipleship. She is showing herself to be great by serving.
We all long for the better life that Jesus offers, whether that is called resurrection life, or eternal life, or new life. We long for the life that comes from participating in the mystery of God through the very act of love. That is what Peter’s mother-in-law has done. That is why we follow Jesus. That is how we live in the place where heaven and earth overlap.
Yours in Christ,