Serving as a slave

Mark 10:35-45 NASB
³⁵James and John, the two sons of Zebedee, came up to Jesus, saying, “Teacher, we want You to do for us whatever we ask of You.”
³⁶And He said to them, “What do you want Me to do for you?”
³⁷They said to Him, “Grant that we may sit, one on Your right and one on Your left, in Your glory.”
³⁸But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?”
³⁹They said to Him, “We are able.” And Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you shall drink; and you shall be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized.
⁴⁰But to sit on My right or on My left, this is not Mine to give; but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.”
⁴¹Hearing this, the ten began to feel indignant with James and John.
⁴²Calling them to Himself, Jesus said to them, “You know that those who are recognized as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them; and their great men exercise authority over them.
⁴³But it is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant; ⁴⁴and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all.
⁴⁵For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”


This story of the two disciples with their ambitious request is about the same as in Matthew 20:20. Only there it is said that the request was made by their mother, while here it is said that they made the request themselves. I understand this that she introduced them, and presented their petition, and that they then seconded it, and assented to it.

● Note that on the one hand, there are some that do not use the great encouragements the Christ has given us in prayer, while on the other hand, there are some that abuse it.
He has said, Ask, and it shall be given unto you, and it is a commendable faith to ask for the things he has promised. But it was a culpable presumption in these disciples to make such a boundless demand upon their Master.
“We want You to do for us whatever we ask of You”.

Some people are used to pray in similar ways, I even have heard people demanding a financial blessing! And many reacting with “amen”, and “I receive”.
Please remember what we read recently about the problem of the rich, hardly being able to enter the Kingdom!

We much better leave it upto Him, what He wants to give or allow for us, so we receive and experience what He sees fit for us. When we take this attitude, we will one day realize, that He gave what was best for us, and that it was more than we could have desired.
He is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask for or think of, according to the power that works within us (Ephesians 3:20)

● Note that we must be cautious on how we ask for general promises.
Christ would not engage to do for them whatever they desired, but would know from them what it was they did desire; 
What would ye that I should do for you? 
He would have them go on with their suit, that they might be made ashamed of it.

● Note that Many have been led into a snare by false notions of Christ’s kingdom, as if it was of this world, and as if it would be like the kingdoms of this world.
James and John conclude, that if the Christ would rise again, He must be a king, and if He is a king, His apostles must be peers, and one of these would willingly be the first peer of the realm, and the other next to Him, like Joseph in Pharaoh’s court, or Daniel in Darius’s.

● Note that worldly honour is a glittering thing, with which the eyes of Christ’s own disciples have many a time been dazzled.
Whereas to be good should be more our care than to look great, or to have the pre-eminence.

● Note that our weakness and short-sightedness appear as much in our prayers as in anything else.
We are not able to order our speech, when we are speaking to God, by reasoning out of darkness, both concerning Him and concerning ourselves. It is folly to prescribe to God.

● Note that It is the will of the Christ that we should prepare for sufferings, and leave it to him to recompense us for them.
He needs not be put in mind, as Ahasuerus did, of the services of his people, nor can He forget their work of faith and labour of love. 
Our care must be, that we may have wisdom and grace to know how to suffer with Him, and then we may trust Him to provide in the best manner how we shall reign with him, and when, and where, and what, the degrees of our glory shall be.

Observe how the other 10 disciples began to be displeased, and to have indignation about James and John (Mark10:41).
▪︎ This could have been because of the question, and the way they asked it, as it did no good to the disciples of Christ,
▪︎ but this could have been because each of them silently hoped to have the position himself.

When the Cynic trampled on Alexander’s foot-cloth, with “Now I tread on Alexander’s pride”, he was seasonably checked with a greater pride of himself.
In a similar way these ten discovered their own ambition, in their displeasure at the ambition of James and John.
How is this with you? How do you react when someone aspires a position? Did you maybe want that position for yourself?

The Christ took this occasion to warn them against it, and all their successors in the ministry of the gospel (Mark 10:42-44). He called them to Him in a familiar way, to give them an example of condescension, when He was reproving their ambition, and to teach them.

● He shows them that dominion was generally abused in the world (Mark 10:42).
That they, that have the name and title of rulers, seemed to rule over the Gentiles, but they just exercise lordship over them.
That is all they study and aim at, not to protect them, and provide for their welfare, but to exercise authority over them; they have to be obeyed, and they aim to be arbitrary, and to have their will in every thing. 
“Thus I will, thus I command; my good pleasure is my law”. 
Their care is, what they shall get from their subjects to support their own pomp and grandeur, not what they shall do for them.

● Therefore, this should not be admitted into the church; 
“It shall not be so among you” (Mark 10:43). Those that shall be put under your charge, must be as sheep under the charge of the shepherd, who is to tend them and feed them, and be a servant to them, not as horses under the command of the driver, that works them and beats them, and gets his pennyworths out of them.

He that affects to be great and chief, that thrusts himself into a secular dignity and dominion, he shall be servant of all, he shall be mean and contemptible in the eyes of all that are wise and good; he that exalteth himself shall be abased (Mark 10:43).

Or rather, “He that would be truly great and chief, he must lay out himself to do good to all, must stoop to the meanest services, and labour in the hardest services. Those not only shall be most honoured hereafter, but are most honourable now, who are most useful.

To convince them of this, he sets before them his own example (Mark 10:45); “The Son of man submits first to the greatest hardships and hazards, and then enters into His glory, and can you expect to come to it any other way; or to have more ease and honour than he has?

▪︎ He takes upon Himself the form of a servant, 
▪︎ He came not to be ministered to, and waited upon,
▪︎ but He came to minister, and wait, and to be gracious.

▪︎ He came and was obedient to death, and to its dominion,
▪︎ for He gave His life as a ransom for many; 

When Jesus died for the benefit of people,
Then shall we not live for their benefit?


A prominent position in the Kingdom of heaven, that is what James and John see for themselves.
King Jesus and His Glory! They don’t want to miss any of it. They ask for the places of honor in his Kingdom (Mark 10: 35-37). The goal is clear to them.

But before that goal is achieved, there is still a long and difficult road to go.
Jesus asks them,
▪︎ Do you realize what it will cost you?
▪︎ Can you endure the suffering I will endure?
▪︎ Can you afford that prize?

Full of enthusiasm and self-confidence, they answer: “We can do it!” (Mark 10:38,39). But they have no idea what they are saying. They absolutely don’t realize what Jesus’ suffering will be.

Jesus’ answer must not have satisfied them.
Whether you can or not, you will share in my suffering, but I cannot promise you anything about your place in God’s Kingdom. God has prepared for long – just wait and see (Mark 10:39, 40).

The other disciples are getting angry.
Not about what will happen to Jesus, but because James and John have dared to ask for the places of honor (Mark 10:41).
The battle of which of them was going to be the most important, the greatest, in His Kingdom was still continuing. There was still ambition and jealousy.

Jesus again explains it to the twelve disciples, and so also to us.
▪︎ In the world is all about strength and power.
▪︎ Here it is all about ruling and being ruled.

But not so with Jesus; not so with His Kingdom.
It is about serving and being modest, seeking the good for the neighbor.
In this too, Jesus must be followed.

He goes to extremes in that service: suffer and die, in order to redeem many (Mark 10: 42-45). Only in that way will the goal be reached.

First humiliation, then glory.
Anyone who does not want to follow that path will never reach the goal (Hebrews 12:2).

Jesus didn’t feel Himself too good for it. How about you?

Questions for self-reflection

▪︎ What do you expect from God’s Kingdom?
▪︎ What do you expect from your service to God’s Kingdom?

Prayer suggestion

▪︎Ask the Lord to help you be faithful in the service of God’s Kingdom.

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