And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came up to him and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” And he said to them, “What do you want me to do for you?” And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?” And they said to him, “We are able.” And Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you will drink, and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized, but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.” And when the ten heard it, they began to be indignant at James and John. And Jesus called them to him and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” – Mark 10:35-45
By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. – 1 John 3:16-18
Humans have a lust for power. We like having power over others. We like it when others serve us.
The desire for power can be heard behind the request made by the Sons of Thunder, James and John. Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory. James and John wanted to be served. They wanted power over others. The other disciples became angry with James and John when they discovered their request because they thought of things in a similar way. If one person has power, it is at the expense of others. If one rules, the others are ruled.
In their minds, Jesus coming into His glory would mean that He would sit on a throne and be served by all. But John and his brother and the other disciples too, would learn what it truly meant for Jesus to come into His glory: the cross.
With the cross as His throne Jesus entered His glory. As He served all people, He entered His glory.
The glory of Jesus was not found in being served, but in serving. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” -Mark 10:45
After the resurrection John came to understand what Jesus had been teaching about His kingdom. John learned that greatness is not found in being served, but in serving. As Jesus loved John, even with all of his hubris and sin, so now John learned to love others. And so John teaches us to love as we have been loved.
In the cross and the resurrection Jesus had served John. The master served the servant. And so now, servants of the king practice true greatness in serving others.
- If you were king/queen for a day, what would you like to do?
- Read John 13:1-17: In what way does Jesus serve His disciples? What does He teach them that His actions meant? What does it look like for you to wash feet?
- Does a desire to have power over others give us freedom or bind us? How does such a desire impact our relationship with others?
- Does a desire to serve others in love give us freedom or bind us? How does such a desire to love others impact our relationship with others?
God Almighty, you know that we long for power and we break our relationship with you and others in order to get it. Forgive our sin. Remind us that in your kingdom the first shall be last and the last shall be first. Give us hearts to serve so that we may share you with others. In the name of the risen Jesus, Amen.