What Jesus is leading James, John, the rest of the disciples, and even we ourselves into is a life of downward mobility. In our gospel reading, Jesus does what he does so well and he sets the world on its head. Jesus says greatness isn’t about what you have come to think it means- it isn’t being invited to the party, it isn’t being given the opportunity to sit close to the one in charge, it isn’t having the VIP status. Greatness is what comes out of the kingdom of God. Greatness in the kingdom of God is what Jesus shows as he lives his life.
Today, the question becomes not “What kind of soil are we?” but “What kind of God are we talking about?” We’re talking after all about the seed that is the word of the kingdom of God- this is the stuff of God, the promises and the covenant God makes with us, the full on goodness of the miracles and healings that Jesus is up to.
Dependence, in the biblical sense as Jesus talks about in Matthew, is less about us and more about others. It’s more about God than us, but it’s also more about other people than us too. Dependence means vulnerability- it means getting over our stuff, or recognizing what our stuff is and what pushes us away from God and one another so that we might actually risk being the disciples and the bearers of the good news of God’s free love for the world. We are dependent upon others because as Jesus says this morning, “Whoever welcomes you welcome me and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me.” This is what it means to be a disciple- to be welcomed by others, and for us to actually risk welcoming others too.