Gospel of Mark | Ambition | Mark 10.35-40 | movementministriesblog.com

by | Apr 19, 2024

“Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to him. “Teacher,” they said, “we want you to do for us whatever we ask.” 36 “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked. 37 They replied, “Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory.” 38 “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?” 39 “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, 40 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

“You’ve got to hand it to them! They had ambition! James and John, the sons of Zebedee, approached Jesus with a special request. Now, James and John were two of the first four disciples and part of his ‘inner three.’ They had seen it all, believed it all, and walked faithfully with Jesus since the beginning. And apparently, they began to believe that Jesus’ success had something to do with them. Isn’t it funny how that happens?

Imagine Taylor Swift’s backup dancer believing people show up to her concerts to watch them dance! Or the water boy who gives Pro QB Tom Brady water thinking his success is due to his consistent hydration. It’s not that these people are unimportant; it’s just that they are not the most important in these particular fields.

Jesus was not just the important young preacher in Israel; he is the most important person in the world. The Son of God made flesh, the Savior of the world— who could compare to him? And James and John, after hanging with the King of the World for a year or two, have the audacity to ask if they might sit at his left and right hand in glory. What the heck? Imagine standing next to Jesus and asking for a little glory for yourself. (Not cool, guys!)

It would be easy to blame them if we didn’t also ask for the same limelight at times. It’s a fine line when people congratulate us for a job well done and we take all the credit for ourselves. It’s proper to say ‘thank you,’ but always with our next breath— ‘but you know it was really God who made it happen!’

James and John were not bad fellas, and at this point, they did not fully understand Jesus’ purpose, his death, or eventual resurrection. They saw a very godly, faithful, powerful prophet, and they wanted to hitch their wagons to his cause— and get a little glory along the way.

Regardless of our calling, whether it’s caring for one person or shepherding hundreds or thousands, all is to be for the glory of God. Any success that we gain, no matter how large or small, is credited to the One who gives us power, strength, and grace. The devil would like to tempt us as he did Jesus with the kingdoms of this world, but our true reward is serving the One God who loves us and gives us purpose for living.

All I do, any success I’ve had in the ministries in which I have been a part— and that success has been noteworthy— is a move and blessing from the Spirit. Any fruitfulness is because of him, and glory must be returned to him. My joy is to be a keeper of the door in the house of the Lord (Psalm 84:10). If only I can do this, then my service will be for his glory.

“O Lord God, you are good. You give value to all people, regardless of the role they play in your kingdom. For some, it is wide and expansive results, and for others, it might be caregiving for one. Regardless, you have a divine purpose and place for us in your kingdom. Come now, Holy Spirit, fill us with your grace and love. Help us know our place is to return all praise to you. For you are good and your love endures forever.” Amen