Mark 10.35-37 “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.”
One can’t help but marvel at the audacity of James and John here – can we? The other disciples sure felt so. They took them to task over it. Still, it is truly admirable that they so firmly believed in the fullness of Christ’s Kingdom that it was a very REAL thing to them to ask for these places of honor and service. So it is Jesus doesn’t rebuke them, even though the rest would certainly have liked Him to. Probably because THEY didn’t think to ask first. Instead, He takes the time to teach them most intimately about the nature of His kingdom, and of His own heart and mind, and His way of serving the Father. “You do not know what you are asking” Jesus says. Not that they weren’t clear on what THEY wanted, but that they weren’t clear on what it meant to occupy such a place. Jesus draws it out for them: “Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?” “Sure” they reply – “we can do that.” “You WILL” Jesus answers back – and then He gives them a taste of that cup and baptism right then. How? By explaining to them that He has nothing whatsoever to do with such matters. Huh? By showing them that His cup, His baptism, is all wrapped up not in position, but in submission. You see, He serves at the pleasure of the Father. He does not come to do His own will, but the will of the One who sent Him (John 6.38). All providence and assignments such as these, all of these He calmly and sweetly leaves in the hands of His Father. He cares nothing for them. He lives and serves as though they are completely out of the picture. And for Him they are. But they are the stuff of what WE clamor after. We are not submitted to Father, so trusting, so believing in His perfect and absolute love for us, that cares or concerns about position in the Kingdom (in the Church at large, or in our own congregations, or even in the eyes of our families) or whether or not we’ll serve where and how we like, are irrelevant. So that all that matters is that we are His, and yielded up to Him, that we may serve in that carefree humility that makes us useful to Him anywhere, anytime, anyway. Oh Lord, let me sip that cup. Let me sink beneath the waters of that baptism. Oh Lord, use me – as you see fit.