35 James and John came to Jesus. They were the sons of Zebedee. “Teacher,” they said, “we would like to ask you for a favor.” 36 “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked. 37 They replied, “Let one of us sit at your right hand in your glorious kingdom. Let the other one sit at your left hand.” 38 “You don’t know what you’re asking for,” Jesus said. “Can you drink the cup of suffering I drink? Or can you go through the baptism of suffering I must go through?” 39 “We can,” they answered. Jesus said to them, “You will drink the cup I drink. And you will go through the baptism I go through. 40 But it is not for me to say who will sit at my right or left hand. These places belong to those they are prepared for.” 41 The other ten disciples heard about it. They became angry at James and John. 42 Jesus called them together. He said, “You know about those who are rulers of the Gentiles. They hold power over their people. Their high officials order them around. 43 Don’t be like that. Instead, anyone who wants to be important among you must be your servant. 44 And anyone who wants to be first must be the slave of everyone. 45 Even the Son of Man did not come to be served. Instead, he came to serve others. He came to give his life as the price for setting many people free.”
How striking is it, the absolute self-assurance and boldness of James and John; ‘Jesus, do whatever we ask, yeah?’ I don’t think I’ve ever been so brash with Jesus. But even more surprising is Jesus’ immediate response; ‘what do you ask of me?’ It doesn’t feel like, to me, Jesus is humouring these two. He genuinely is interested, curious, as to what they want. Even if they’re being brash about the asking. Ultimately, Jesus turns this whole episode into an opportunity to teach humility, and true leadership.
I feel, more often than not, that I have to sanitise myself and my requests before bringing them to Jesus. James and John don’t even bother. Jesus not only copes with their arrogance, but draws out their desires, and then moves into teaching them what true, godly, and Christ-like ambition really looks like in action – humble service, preferring others above oneself, self-sacrifice.
Jesus, help me come to you as I am, but be prepared to hear you as you teach and train me into becoming all you want me to become. Amen.
Written by Ps. Rob Waugh