Have you ever tried to position yourself to be noticed by others? “Maybe, they’ll see that I have the goods and I’ll finally get recognized. I am tired of these menial tasks and always being in the shadows.” Sometimes we scheme, plot and connive, thinking: “Maybe this will be my stepping stone to greatness. After all, I DO have a lot to offer! Really, I AM under-rated.” Actually, in our heart of hearts we know that it not socially palatable or spiritually acceptable to speak of position, power and greatness for ourselves. So we avoid those terms and convince ourselves that our motives are pure and our intentions are honorable. We can even fake humility and protest mildly when we do get some recognition.
I wonder how the sons of Zebedee ever rationalized in their minds the appropriateness of asking Jesus if He would make sure they both would get to sit on either side of Him in His future day of Glory. But somehow to them it seemed perfectly legitimate to make such a request. We don’t even read of them himming or hawing or having a red-face or grasping for suitable words when they mustered up the courage to ask the Lord. Jesus had just finished describing to His disciples the scourging, the spitting, the mocking, the nails and His approaching shameful, humiliating and painful death around the corner for Himself, when James and John pop the question.
Eugene Peterson paraphrased Mark 10:35-41 like this:
“James and John, Zebedee’s sons, came up to him. “Teacher, we have something we want you to do for us.”
“What is it? I’ll see what I can do.”
“Arrange it,” they said, “so that we will be awarded the highest places of honor in your glory–one of us at your right, the other at your left.”
Jesus said, “You have no idea what you’re asking. Are you capable of drinking the cup I drink, of being baptized in the baptism I’m about to be plunged into?”
“Sure,” they said. “Why not?” Jesus said, “Come to think of it, you will drink the cup I drink, and be baptized in my baptism. But as to awarding places of honor, that’s not my business. There are other arrangements for that.”
Pride and the promotion of self are despicable to the Lord. It is one of those dark, nasty traits of our wicked flesh. James and John were quite obvious and blatant with their proposal for greatness. Many of us go about it in much more subtle and sophisticated ways. But the bottom line is still the same: SEE ME!
The Lord Jesus closes this scene with these words:
For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto,
but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many.”
Philippians 2:1-11 is one of the classic Scriptures detailing the mind we should have in relation to ourselves and others and the way we should behave. Christ is the supreme example.
“Lord make me more aware of the treachery of my own heart. Help me to be ruthlessly brutal in judging myself when it comes to pride or self promotion. May I nip it in the bud and crush it when it arises in my heart. Rather than SEE ME desires, my prayer today is: SEE CHRIST IN ME.”