You walk into a room, and you look around for the best spot to sit. Near enough the heating to be warm, but not so near to be cooked; near enough a window for some air, but not so near that you’re in the draught; near enough the front that you can see, but not so near you might get dragged into the action; a comfy seat; just enough light… Everyone wants the best place.
The Request of James and John
35James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, will you do us a favour?”
36Jesus asked them what they wanted, 37and they answered, “When you come into your glory, please let one of us sit at your right side and the other at your left.”
38Jesus told them, “You don’t really know what you’re asking! Are you able to drink from the cup that I must soon drink from or be baptized as I must be baptized?”
39“Yes, we are!” James and John answered.
Then Jesus replied, “You certainly will drink from the cup from which I must drink. And you will be baptized just as I must! 40But it isn’t for me to say who will sit at my right side and at my left. That is for God to decide.”
41When the ten other disciples heard this, they were angry with James and John. 42But Jesus called the disciples together and said:
You know that those foreigners who call themselves kings like to order their people around. And their great leaders have full power over the people they rule. 43But don’t act like them. If you want to be great, you must be the servant of all the others. 44And if you want to be first, you must be everyone’s slave. 45The Son of Man did not come to be a slave master, but a slave who will give his life to rescue many people.
God’s new thing was not about who was going to get the best places in heaven. God’s ways are not about jostling for a nice position, they are about serving others. The question should be not what favour Jesus will do for them – but what they are going to do for others.
The main focus of Jesus life was to show us how God would live – how we should live, not to bring comfort for eternity. Following him means nothing if it does not make us act as he did…
Our Servant King, calls us to follow him, to daily live out lives as he did – in the service of others.
Are we looking for an easy life, eternal rest, or to serve others as God would? That might not be a glamorous or easy life – but it is the one God calls us to, for that is how his new way will come. Will you join him?
Tom Wright’s prayer for today (p 105):
Help us, Lord Jesus,
servant and saviour,
to be grasped by your vision of God’s new world,
and to follow you in the servant-work
through which it is accomplished