James and John asked for places at Jesus’ right and left in His kingdom (Mark 10:32-45), and why not? They were His closest friends, in the inner circle of three (Peter, James and John) of the larger group of twelve. He took them (and none of the others) with Him to Jairus’ house to give life back to his daughter. He took them on the mountain where He was transfigured. They, and none of the others, saw Jesus in His glory with Moses and Elijah. Following the Last Supper, Jesus took the twelve to the Garden of Gethsemane, but He asked Peter, James and John to go with Him a little further where He prayed. It seemed natural for them to seek positions of authority in His Kingdom.
Yet, their request came immediately after He told them of His coming suffering, death and resurrection. Why did they skip over the suffering and go to kingdom thinking? Maybe they didn’t understand why Jesus would have to suffer and were afraid to ask. They must have been shocked by Jesus’ response: “To sit at my right or left is not for me to grant,” He said. “These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared” (Mark 10:40). Then Jesus told the disciples, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant” (Mark 10:41-43). Could Jesus have meant that being a servant would be to lead with a servant’s heart. The world needs people who govern with love, humility and compassion, but in this passage Jesus meant servant. He set the example at the Last Supper when He took off His robe and wrapped a towel around His waist to wash the disciple’s feet. He healed the sick, made the blind to see, the deaf to hear, the lame to walk. He cleansed the lepers and delivered people from demons. Even in all this, Jesus was persecuted, rejected and executed–not what we would expect of a king.
THINK ABOUT IT
Everything Jesus did was to show mercy and love to a lost and dying world. His kingdom begins with Him, His ways and His teaching. We, His followers, will do as He did–show love, compassion and mercy, help in times of trouble, forgive. Be His light in this dark world. Share the hope we have in Him. It might seem overwhelming, but He has promised to be with us always. He partners with us to accomplish all He calls us to do.
PRAY ABOUT IT
O Lord, help us to have a heart like yours, filled with love, mercy and compassion. It’s challenging in these days of isolation and distancing, but make us aware of times we can help others. Make us beacons of your light and love. In Jesus’ name, Amen.