Mark 10:35-45 The Sons of Zebedee shoot for the moon
The context here couldn’t be more telling. Jesus has just told the disciples (for the third time) of His upcoming suffering and death. So when James and John come up to Him immediately after this (at least in the narrative) saying “Hey, Master, do us a favor” they couldn’t be more off base.
They actually look pretty silly: “we want you to do for us whatever we ask” (v. 35). Well, duh! Yeah I guess we all want that, huh? Jesus, fortunately, is smarter than that. He doesn’t answer “Oh, OK.” But He does ask the obvious question (without committing to do anything) – ‘So, what do you want?’ They basically want to be His number one and number two man when He comes into His glory (v. 37). Hello, McFly!
His glory, as He just described it to you, involves “self-sacrifice, and self-denial, humbling Himself and submitting to His own death at the hands of an ungodly government and culture.” But yeah, if you wanna be number 1 and 2 in that kingdom, actually you will both ‘drink the cup that I drink and be baptized with the same baptism as I am.’ [Yes both James and John will ultimately die a martyr’s death for their faith in Jesus.] But they have no idea what they’re signing up for when they say “We are able” (v. 39).
Jesus will have nothing to do with their request for favoritism (v. 40)! And here’s why:
And when the ten heard it, they were indignant at James and John. (Mark 10:41)
Can you blame them? This attempt at selfish ambition is causing strife among the Twelve. And as so often seems to happen in Mark’s gospel, some event happens, and then Jesus turns the opportunity into a teaching moment for the Twelve. (He’s actually already been over this with them here and here).
Jesus call His beloved disciples to Himself. ‘Here’s how the Gentiles do it guys.’ They “lord it over” and “their great ones exercise authority” (v. 42).
But it shall not be so among you (v. 43)!
If you want to be great in the kingdom of God, serve others! Jesus leads by example, giving “his life as a ransom for many.” (v. 45)
Now you (follower of Jesus) go and do likewise!