James’ and John’s Terrible Interview Skills
My exegetical life began very early.
When I was little, I frequently heard in church about Jesus “sitting on the right hand of God.”
And when I was about 5 years old, I asked my father, “Dad, doesn’t God’s hand get tired if Jesus is sitting on it all the time?”
I may have been a literalist, but you have to admit it’s a good question.
Of course my five-year-old self was not only anthropomorphizing God to an extreme, but also did not understand the cultural significance of sitting at God’s right hand.
This was an allusion to monarchy. When the king sat on his throne, someone sat immediately to his right and immediately to his left. And those people were his trusted aides and agents.
We still hearken back to this custom when we call someone “my right hand man.”
The people seated to the left and right of the king are second only to him in authority and power. When they go out into the world, they speak with the voice of the king. They act on his behalf.
And they are treated with the same dignity, pomp, and circumstance as the king, because they are his hands and feet in the world.
James and John, in our gospel story today, definitely understood this. In fact, they were counting on it. Continue reading