“Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to [Jesus]. ‘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 baptized with the baptism I am baptized with?’ ‘We can,’ they answered”
(Mark 10:35-39, NIV).
(Mark 10:35-39, NIV).
As Jesus was leading His disciples toward Jerusalem, two of the disciples – James and John, the sons of Zebedee – let their imaginations run wild. Jesus clearly stated (for the third time!) the destiny awaiting Him at Jerusalem: “The Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the Gentiles, who will mock him and spit on him, flog him and kill him. Three days later he will rise” (Mark 10:33-34). But James and John doesn’t bothered with what Jesus had just said to them. They were imagining an entirely different conclusion: Jesus would overthrow the Roman military establishment in Jerusalem with supernatural power. In their minds, Jesus and His followers would soon rule Jerusalem.
The Zebedee brothers were so confident in their imagination that they decided to apply early for two top parliament seats. “Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory.” They were completely blind to Jesus’ prediction of His coming suffering. Jesus as if saying, “Are you ready to go through everything I go through?” He was thinking of the pain and humiliation of the trial, His flogging and crucifixion. “Oh yes,” they replied confidently. They were thinking of the excitement and glory of being in the positions of importance. Then Jesus looked ahead through the coming years and said, “You will drink the cup I drink and be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with” (Mark 10:39). They may thought that Jesus was granting their request but He was referring to the fact that in the future James would be rejected and killed (see Acts 12:2) and John would be rejected and exiled (see Revelations 1:9).
Sad to say, there are many Christians today who think like James and John (including me). They have a distorted picture of what it means to be a follower of Jesus. “What am I going to gain from being a Christian?” they ask. Many of us, like Jesus’ first disciples, have a hard time getting the message: the Christian life is not a smooth-sailing, hassle-free, magic-carpet ride to heaven. We don’t get to live the life of a king (at least not here on earth), we live the life of a servant! Jesus Himself said, “Whoever wants to become 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” (Mark 10:43-45). Therefore, don’t ask what you can gain from being a Christian [although the Bible assures us that there will be endless rewards and blessings await us], rather, ask, “What I can give as a servant of God?”
The pattern of greatness among God’s children is still the same: Service
THINK BIG. START SMALL. GO DEEP.