Bible Reading: Mark 10:32-45
Whoever wants to he a leader among you must be your servant. Mark 10:43
As Jesus was walking with his disciples toward Jerusalem, two of them—James and John, the sons of Zebedee—let their imaginations run wild. Jesus had clearly laid out what was ahead for him in Jerusalem: rebuke, torture, and death. But James and John thought Jesus would supernaturally drive out the Romans from Jerusalem. In their minds, Jesus and his followers would soon rule Palestine.
The Zebedee brothers were so sure their fantasy would come true that they decided to apply early for the top two jobs in Jesus’ new government. “‘We want to sit in places of honor next to you,’ they said, ‘one at your right and the other at your left’” (Mark 10:37). They were clueless about Jesus’ prediction of his coming suffering.
Jesus more or less asked them, “Are you two ready to go through everything I will go through?” (see verse 38). He was thinking about his upcoming trial, beatings, and death on the cross.
“Oh yes,” they replied confidently.
Then Jesus saw years into the future and told them they would experience what he would experience (see verse 39). The Master knew that James would be rejected and killed for his stand as Christ’s disciple (see Acts 12:2) and that John would be rejected and sent to live at an island prison (see Revelation 1:9). Each would indeed go through suffering similar to what Jesus would soon face.
Like James and John, some Christians have the wrong picture of what it means to follow Jesus. “What am I going to gain from being a Christian?” they ask eagerly. They have a tough time accepting the message that the Christian life isn’t a smooth-sailing, hassle-free, magic-carpet ride to heaven. We don’t get to live the life of a king—at least not here on earth.
If anybody should have lived on earth like a king, it was Jesus. But we live the life of servants, just like Jesus did. So we don’t ask what we can get from being a Christian—even though the Bible promises us that the rewards and blessings of following Christ are endless. This is the question we should ask: “What can I give as a servant of God and of people?”
James and John Zebedee became great not by obtaining high positions in a government set up by Jesus, but by serving Jesus Christ and his church selflessly. They eventually realized that giving—not getting—is the heart of the Christian life!
TALK: What kind of greatness do you expect in God’s kingdom?
PRAY: Jesus, we want to serve you unselfishly today.
ACT: Imitate your Savior today. Do an unexpected act of service!