Mark 10: 35 – 45 The request of James and John

Mark 10: 35 – 45 The request of James and John

Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to him. ‘Teacher,’ they said, ‘we want you to do for us whatever we ask.’

‘What do you want me to do for you?’ he asked.

They replied, ‘Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory.’

‘You don’t know what you are asking,’ Jesus said. ‘Can you drink the cup I drink or be baptised with the baptism I am baptised with?’

‘We can,’ they answered.

Jesus said to them, ‘You will drink the cup I drink and be baptised with the baptism I am baptised with, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared.’

When the ten heard about this, they became indignant with James and John. Jesus called them together and said, ‘You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to be great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.’

*       *       *

Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to him. ‘Teacher,’ they said, ‘we want you to do for us whatever we ask.’

Does this strike you as rather crass and arrogant? James and John seem to be trying – rather clumsily – to manipulate Jesus. It shows them as very human. They’re fallible, flawed, and think they know much more than they actually do. And yet, very soon, Jesus will rely on them to pass on to the world news of the miracle of his resurrection. Only the grace of God could take these men and make them into apostles and saints!

Am I arrogant when I pray? Do I feel a sense of entitlement that Jesus should answer my prayers?

Turning the question around, do I have sufficient trust in God that his grace can make me a saint?

I must do my best to remain humble, and to trust God to work in me and through me. It’s his work, not mine. Anything good in my life is for his glory.

‘What do you want me to do for you?’ he asked.

They replied, ‘Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory.’

When they ask this, they hope that when Jesus is glorified they will be second only to him in the new order of God’s kingdom. They have no idea what they’re actually asking for.

‘You don’t know what you are asking,’ Jesus said. ‘Can you drink the cup I drink or be baptised with the baptism I am baptised with?’

Looking at Jesus’ question with hindsight, we understand the cup and the baptism as referring to his Passion, but this was not the meaning James and John would have read into the question.

‘We can,’ they answered.

Were they still fixed on the idea they would be rewarded with riches and power?

Knowing that Jesus meant his suffering, death and resurrection, how would I answer Jesus’ question? I hope I would say, ‘With God’s help, I will’, but it would be a dreadful question to be asked. And yet it is there, right at the core of our faith. (Click here to see the way of the cross)

Jesus said to them, ‘You will drink the cup I drink and be baptised with the baptism I am baptised with, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared.’

Jesus promises that they will indeed share his cup and his baptism, but tells them that he doesn’t have the authority to seat them at his right and left. That can only mean that the Father has already chosen who is to have those seats.

When the ten heard about this, they became indignant with James and John. Jesus called them together and said, ‘You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to be great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.’

Jesus used the disciples’ squabbling to teach them a lesson in humble service. He points out that to be great, they must be a servant to others, ‘and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all.’

Humility is very difficult to achieve. It’s not simply being a doormat. It’s not being passive-aggressive. It’s having a genuine open love for those around you, and doing the things that help them realise their full potential as individuals. In other words, it’s being Jesus for them.

If we try our best to copy Jesus, if we pray, and listen obediently to God, we will gradually learn how to be humble. We will start to understand the words, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

How wonderful it is that God in Jesus came down and served us!

Prayer

Heavenly Father

Thank you for sending Jesus to us. Please help me to serve your sons and daughters better.

In Jesus’ name, Amen

Published by pennygadd51

I write. I've written many pieces of flash fiction, dozens of short stories and two novels, with a third in progress.

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