Jesus’ question to James and John, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ Mark 10:36 exposed their hearts. Would it expose your heart as well? What would your request be and why would you ask it? It is worth taking a few minutes to quietly search your heart to sift out what you might publicly say rather than your true desire. I think our requests may well change over the course of our life. James and John wanted to be the most honoured disciples and to rule with Jesus in heaven. They were after eternal status. But they wanted to get there the easy way. Their request showed up a deep spiritual misunderstanding about what both ruling and status in the kingdom of God is about. They were still firmly fixed in a worldly perspective.
So very often Christians maintain a worldly view of status, leadership and relationships within the kingdom of God even if the words used they use seem scriptural, attitudes and behaviour can deny them. Where leaders inwardly crave praise and personal loyalty or positions of influence, where people are intolerant of being questioned. A look back at church architecture reveals how those with worldly wealth and power sought recognition and accolades with reserved pews, windows named after them, prominent tombs and the power of patronage in their gift. Power, influence and prominence are seen as the hallmarks of leadership.
Contrast this with the character of the true king of the kingdom of God. He asks James and John if they are able to drink the cup or be baptized with his baptism. Biblically the cup normally refers to the cup of God’s wrath and his baptism was his death by crucifixion. Being raised up for Jesus was not a matter of being gratified by the praise and honour of crowds it was being nailed to a cross and dying in the most painful and humiliating way for the sake of others. The mocking crowd considered Jesus’ death on the cross was evidence of him being a fraud and failure not a person of supreme importance.
Jesus made very clear to James, John and the other disciples that his way and the way of his disciples was to be utterly different from the world’s way. If we are to aspire to follow Christ there should be a fundamental and evident difference in the way we live our lives to the world’s way. It is to be one of service to the Lord and others without seeking status for ourselves above others.
‘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 10:42-45
In the light of Jesus’ words, what would you ask him for?
Is the church you know radically different from the world?
The Servant King