Daily Devotional: Mark 10:35-45
What is the most audacious request you have ever heard asked?
In Mark 10:35, the request from James and John might rank high on the list. We see James and John pull Jesus aside—as if to rub their personal genie bottle—and say to Jesus, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” Can you not hear the overflowing self-interest dripping from the disciples’ statement? They had seen Jesus as all-powerful, as the one who could turn water to wine, heal the paralytic, restore a withered hand, cast out demons, and countless examples of miracles and authoritative teaching. They were ready to ask Jesus for a share in the glory.
Jesus in his timeless patience with his disciples responds with an invitation to hear their request, “What do you want me to do for you?” to which they saw the open door to position in their quest for self-glory. “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory” (verse 37). James and John, along with the other disciples, were quick to desire glory, yet did not understand the agony of suffering Jesus was going to endure. Are we not similar to the disciples in this moment, seeking Jesus for what he can do for us instead of rightly placing ourselves in submission to him and wanting His glory, His fame, His rule and reign? As pastor Kyle said last week in his sermon on James 3 & 4, “Don’t pray to the true God to grant you a false god.” That is exactly what the disciples were asking, because at the heart and soul of their request was their own self-glory and idolatry.
Jesus in his sage wisdom responds by telling them, “You do not know what you are asking...” (verse 38). He continues by saying to them that they have no idea the suffering that awaits both him and them.
Finally, he responds to them by extolling what type of life he was calling them to, a life of upside-down leadership in their own eyes, but right-side up in God’s eyes. “…but whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
They would not do this in their own strength but in the power of the Spirit of God they would stand as witnesses to the glory and praise of Jesus, who rose on that third day (Mark 10:34).
In Acts 12, persecution arose “as Herod the king laid violent hands on some who belonged to the church. He killed James the brother of John with the sword” (Acts 12:1-2). This very same James who was so bombastic in his desire for self-glory was changed to a man who in the power of the Holy Spirit gave his life for the glory and renown of Jesus. Likewise, John was faithful to Jesus throughout his life.
The patient, enduring, steadfast love of the resurrected King who died and gave his life as a payment for sin changes the self-glorifying & genie-wishing person to a bold witness to the hope of the Gospel.
May it be so in each of our lives that we live empowered by the Spirit for the glory of Jesus.