34 – Humility and Pride (2)
And they were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking ahead of them. And they were amazed, and those who followed were afraid. And taking the twelve again, he began to tell them what was to happen to him, saying, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death and deliver him over to the Gentiles. And they will mock him and spit on him, and flog him and kill him. And after three days he will rise.”
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.”
- Condemn: Judge someone guilty and say what the punishment will be
- Mock: Make fun of someone nastily
- Indignant: Anger at what is seen as unfair treatment
- Gentile: People who are not Jewish
- Ransom: A payment made to set someone free
Why do you think that Jesus tells his disciples what is going to happen to him so many times?
What sort of things do you ask Jesus for?
Every Christian has had the experience of falling to the same temptation more than once. In these verses we see two of Jesus’s disciples making a mistake very similar to the one they made in Mark 9:30-37, namely misunderstanding what makes followers of Jesus important.
As he travelled towards Jerusalem with his disciples, Jesus knew that a key period in his work was drawing near. Therefore, once again, he tries to prepare them for what was going to happen. He explains how he must be rejected by his own people before being scorned and killed by the Romans – and after three days come back to life. But the disciples still do not understand! They continue to think that the kingdom of God is just like the kingdoms of the world. Therefore, the two brothers, James and John, come to Jesus and ask something huge from him. When Jesus comes to reign, will they be able to sit one on each side of him, in the best spots? They were still worrying about who were the most important disciples! They even believed that they deserved these places and that they were able to face that which Jesus was going to face. But although they are going to suffer and be killed like Jesus, it is God the Father who decides who will sit by Jesus’s side in heaven.
The rest of the disciples are terribly angry that the brothers asked such a thing (perhaps because they hadn’t thought of doing it themselves!) Therefore, once again, Jesus has to emphasise to them that that is not the way the kingdom of heaven works. God’s people are not supposed to compete with each other in order to try to be the most prominent, most well-known, most important – that is the way the world thinks. No, in exactly the same way Jesus Christ, the King himself, came serving other people rather than himself, he expects his followers to think more about others than about themselves. The life of the Christian is one of serving others and trying to do that which is best for them.
How should this passage influence what we ask God for?
What does it mean to behave like a servant?
that God will keep you from falling into the same faults over and over, and for strength to do that which is good in his sight by serving others.