March 3, 2015 | By Angela Kemp
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]
As I read this passage I am quick to respond, “Wow, I hope that I wouldn’t ask the same thing of Jesus as James and John did”; however, as I consider my quick criticism of their request, my daily actions and the state of my heart I am reminded that I too need the Lord to cultivate a different heart in me- one of humility and of a servant’s heart.
James and John’s request was oriented around self and a desire to appear more important than they truly were. How often does my heart go before the Lord or internally seek the same thing? Our kind Lord and Savior asked of them are they truly ready to bear the cup He would bear? Although they responded affirmatively, they didn’t know what their commitment would later mean. Nonetheless, our Savior used this as a moment to reorient them to kingdom purposes. He gently reminds them of the very purpose He came- to give his life as a ransom for many.
Perhaps you don’t resonate with James and John but find yourself in the place of one of the 10 disciples who became indignant. Was it because they wanted those places? Even though they didn’t make their request verbally, were their hearts in a similar spot? I know I have found myself there as well. Well, Jesus noticed and addresses them all. I love that our Lord desires to shed light on our heart’s motive just as He did here with the disciples. He desires to show His power in our weakness and to bring about humility where our fleshly nature would rather show up. He leads by example and the call to consider differently how they would spend their lives- not to be served but to serve.
This question provides a deep invitation for us as well. Will we let our lives demonstrate obedience to the will of our Lord and Savior? How do our days reflect a sensitivity to other’s needs and an eagerness to serve them? Is it ever done at cost to us? Our Lord and Savior gave us the ultimate example in that all of His life was characterized by humility including His ultimate act of obedience to the Father in paying a price we could never pay (2 Corinthians 5:21). Let us not take lightly the call and example He has for us as His children. Let us also remember what hope we are given in this truth, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loves me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20 ESV). He enables us to live a life growing in humility and is gracious to shed light on those areas where our flesh continues to manifest itself.
O Lord Jesus Christ,
you are enthroned in the majesty of heaven,
yet you gave up that heavenly perfection to become a servant.
We adore you for laying aside your glory
and clothing yourself in complete humility as one of us.
We praise you for the example of washing your disciples’ feet.
Teach us to do as you have done.
Deliver us from pride, jealousy, and ambition,
and make us ready to serve one another in lowliness for your sake,
O Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. Amen.
This is part of a series of Lent related blog posts written by various members of The Crossroad body and inspired by the free devotional guide Journey To The Cross. Closing Prayer added from The Worship Sourcebook.