Mark’s Gospel records the account of James and John asking Jesus to sit on his right and his left in glory. In reply Jesus asks “can you drink the cup I drink?” They say “sure, why not” and Jesus tells them “you will”.
Author, theologian and bible commentator William Barclay comments on this text in his classic work “The Master’s Men” (page 101)…
“So then both of the brothers drank the cup of Christ. Let us see what the cup of Christ was. John went to Ephesus; he lived for almost a hundred years; and died in peace full of years and honor. James’s life was short, and came to an end swiftly and suddenly through martyrdom by the sword-and yet both drank the cup of Christ. There is a Roman coin, which has as its inscription the picture of an ox facing an altar and a plough, with the words: “Ready for either.” The ox must be ready for the dramatic sacrifice of the altar or the long routine of the plough. The Christian who dies in one heroic moment and the Christian who lives a long life of fidelity to Christ both drink the cup of Christ. The Christian . . . must be ready for either.”
I’m convinced, first we drink then we discover our fate. In the end it doesn’t really matter, the pay’s the same. For me the key to readiness is… I’m already dead.
“I have been crucified with Christ…” Galatians 2:20
“My life is not my own…” 1 Corinthians 6:19
“To live is Christ and to die is gain.” Philippians 1:21
So Lord, what will it be today… altar or plough? My answer is yes.
© Tom Zawacki 2007