In these verses from the Gospel of Mark, we witness a conversation between Jesus and two of His disciples, James and John, the sons of Zebedee. They approach Jesus with a request that reveals their desire for positions of honor and authority in His future kingdom. They ask to sit at His right and left hands in His glory, likely seeking a prominent role in His reign.
- A Misunderstanding of Glory
Their request reflects a limited understanding of Jesus' kingdom and glory. They may have imagined a political or earthly kingdom where power and prestige were highly esteemed. However, Jesus' kingdom is one of humility, servanthood, and self-sacrifice. His glory is far different from the worldly concept of honor and authority.
- The Cup and Baptism of Jesus
In response to their request, Jesus challenges James and John by asking if they are able to "drink the cup that I drink, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?" This metaphorical language refers to the suffering, trials, and sacrificial path that Jesus will endure. Jesus is addressing the cost of discipleship, which includes sharing in His suffering and selflessness.
- Misplaced Confidence and Future Fulfillment
James and John respond confidently, saying, "We are able." However, Jesus acknowledges their willingness to share in His suffering and assures them that they will indeed experience challenges and trials for the sake of His name. He affirms that they will partake in the difficulties associated with following Him. However, He makes it clear that the positions of honor they seek are not His to grant; rather, they are reserved for those for whom they have been prepared by God.
Matthew 20:20-23: A parallel passage in Matthew provides additional insight into this interaction and Jesus' response.
Philippians 2:5-8: "Have this in your mind, which was also in Christ Jesus, who, existing in the form of God, didn’t consider equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, yes, the death of the cross."
In conclusion, Mark 10:37-40 highlights the disciples' misunderstanding of Jesus' kingdom and their desire for positions of honor. Jesus uses their request as an opportunity to teach them about the nature of His glory, the cost of discipleship, and the humble, sacrificial path He will walk. He challenges them to consider the implications of their request and assures them that their willingness to suffer for His sake will indeed be fulfilled. Ultimately, these verses remind us of the contrast between worldly ambition and the values of Jesus' kingdom.
Mark 10:37-40. They said to him, “Grant to us that we may sit, one at your right hand, and one at your left hand, in your glory.” But Jesus said to them, “You don’t know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” They said to him, “We are able.”Jesus said to them, “You shall indeed drink the cup that I drink, and you shall be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with; but to sit at my right hand and at my left hand is not mine to give, but for whom it has been prepared.”