Let Me Ask You a Question
Conversations with Jesus
Book by Matthew Croasmun
This question reveals Jesus’ basic orientation to time. Jesus lives in the moment for the sake of what lasts forever; he invites us to focus on the now for the sake of the eternal. Focusing on everything else—all the tomorrows to come—only serves to get us lost in worry. As a result, we may be ready to answer Jesus’ question with a laundry list of reasons that we worry. For many of us, our worries are not nearly as fundamental as whether we will be able to eat or drink or have clothes to wear. Yet Jesus insists that God’s provision means that even when our future is uncertain with regard to these basic necessities, we still need not worry.
Reflect: Why do you worry?
Mary’s world has been turned upside down. Jesus has died. What can she do? She decides to go to Jesus’ tomb to be with him. There, Jesus appears to her, though she doesn’t recognize him. Jesus asks her, “Why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” Mary Magdalene is searching for Jesus. She cries because she doesn’t know what to do or where to go without him. Then Jesus speaks her name. And she recognizes him. “Rabbouni!” she exclaims. He is her teacher, the one whom she follows, whom she seeks. Our question for today is this: Who or what are we seeking? What would bring us sorrow if it were lost? Our answer may not be Jesus. if so, we can be honest with Jesus about that.
Reflect: Who are you looking for?
James and John are looking for what they call “glory.” They’re looking for prestige, power, and reputation—quite a different definition from how Jesus sees glory. If they want prestige, Jesus’ “glory” is hardly the place they’re going to find it. Later, in Mark 15:27, we see that the people on Jesus’ right and left are the two criminals crucified with him, proclaiming to us that Jesus is in his glory on the cross. This, presumably, is not what James and John are looking for. So Jesus replies with some clarifying questions about what James and John really want. He turns their attention from what they want to what’s worth wanting. How might Jesus do this for us as well?
Reflect: What do you want me to do for you?
In this passage, Jesus claims that his very self is the sustenance we’re looking for, that even though we may chase after many things in our lives, we only need one thing: him. In our world, this is perhaps the most offensive claim Jesus makes: he—and he only—is what everyone needs. Many of us don’t like to think of ourselves as having needs. And if we concede that we have needs, we imagine we’re unique enough that no one-size-fits-all solution exists. Still, Jesus says that he is the source of life for all.