In this passage we find the Zebedee’s approaching Jesus to ask for a privilege: the brothers, James and John, want to be seated to the left and right of Jesus–at his side. Why would they ask such a thing? Most of the times I’ve read this, I just think they are being foolish, even self-serving, but this morning, the day after Thanksgiving, I wonder if they just wanted to be close to their master at all times. Maybe I’m just feeling a little more compassionate today!
Jesus asks, can you drink from the cup I am going to drink? Their response is clear and concise: “we can.” By now they’ve heard the prediction of his arrest, death and resurrection at least three times, so they know what he’s referring to, at least in concept. They show some incredible faith with this answer. Whatever happens to you, whatever they do to you, we are willing to take that on ourselves. Jesus’ response is interesting, he doesn’t argue whether or not they can, really he affirms the statement:
You will indeed drink from my cup
Though their request is bold, even a bit arrogant, Jesus is patient with them and explains that this is one request that he simply will not grant. “These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared by my Father.”
Jesus doesn’t say they are crazy for asking, but the other disciples aren’t so sure, they became indignant, so Jesus calls a meeting. Here he sets the record straight and reminds us all our duty is not to be served but to serve others:
…the Son of Man did not come to be served,
but to serve,
to give his life as a ransom for many.
We are reminded of how Jesus served others every day, how he healed, spoke and taught–how he demonstrated servant leadership beyond human understanding. The subject of sitting on the left and right-side of Jesus in glory seems to be set aside quickly while the concept of serving others takes center stage. We’re not to argue with positional authority or pride, just serve others.
Lord, I am so thankful for the opportunity to serve! Please give me wisdom, strength and courage to do so without concern for fame and fortune, position or honor. Help me to keep you in the center of all things at all time.