Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to him, “Teacher,” they said, “we want you to do for us whatever we ask.”
“What do you want me to do for you?” he asked.
They replied, “Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory.”
“You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said. “Can you drink the cup I drink or be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with?”
“We can,” they answered.
Jesus said to them, “You will drink the cup I drink and be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared.” – Mark 10:35-40
Many times, we ask for things or favors and we do not know for what we are really asking. We ask God for things, but we do not know the gravity of our request. We cannot see the trials and setbacks which come with our requests.
There were times in my life I asked the Lord for something then later, in retrospect, I ask the question, “Lord, what have I gotten myself into this time?” Initially, I thought my request would improve my life, but, instead, it made it worse.
We are told in the above text that the brothers, James and John, went to Jesus, their master, to ask him for a great favor. They wanted him to give them special consideration when he set up his kingdom.
This is often the way that we come before God. We come with our selfish wants, not needs. Yes, we are only concerned with our wants. The fulfillment of our personal wants is our only concern.
However, when we ask God to do for us what we ask, then the question comes, “are you prepared to pay the price?” James and John did not know the full magnitude of that which they were asking Jesus.
They thought Jesus’ kingdom was of this world. But, instead, his kingdom is a spiritual one. That is why the authorities and the people kept confusing what Jesus was saying. They thought he was talking about an earthly kingdom.
James and John did not know it but they were asking for that which is spiritual, not physical. In response, Jesus asked them: “Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?”
Innocently, they responded, “We are able.” Even though they had responded honestly, they did not know what that cup would really mean.
Scripture tells us that James and John and many of the disciples eventually gave up their lives in martyrdom. They did drink of the cup at last.
We, too, respond impulsively, “we are able”, yet so often we are not. These 40 days of Lent are days of testing. Yes, testing for us Christians. The tempter comes at us with a vengeance to crush us.
He comes to destroy as he tried to crush and destroy Jesus.
We often think that we are ready and able, but we are not. How do we Christians become able? We do so through the cross of Jesus Christ. We must keep focused upon the cross because the journey, like these 40 days of Lent, will be bumpy. The tempter will seek to deter us from our Christian duty. He will tell us to walk away, throw in the towel, it is not our business.
When we fasten our eyes to the cross, the obstacles of life will be less of an impediment. He who called us into his marvelous light protects us. In making the cross our focus, the journey to our heavenly home becomes more bearable.
Through the cross, we obtain eternal life. That is what Jesus offered James and John and the other disciples. That is what he offers all who believe. When we place our trust in Jesus and look to him for deliverance, he will bring us through our troubles and tribulations.
He will bring us through Lent to Easter. No, when we ask, we do not really know or understand what we are asking, but he knows, and he understands and help us. Amen.
• Rev. Samuel M. Boodle, pastor at the Lutheran Church of Nassau, 119 John F. Kennedy Drive, can be reached at P.O. Box N 4794, Nassau, Bahamas; or telephone: 426-9084; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; website: www.nassaulutheranchurch.org.