While it might seem obvious to us that the sons of Zebedee asked for the wrong thing from Jesus in Mark 10, discerning why their request was wrong might demand a little contemplation.
Last time we observed that James and John’s question was wrong, but what was really so wrong with it? All they were asking for was to sit at the right and the left hand of Jesus. What is the harm in that?
Well, the harm is that the underlying motivation for such a request betrays a profound misunderstanding of who Jesus was (and is) and what he had come to do.
When James and John requested to sit at the right and left of Jesus they were requesting for themselves places of influence and power. Jesus’ response to them in verse 42 gives us a hint as to why they would make such a request. They were still looking toward Jesus’ “glory” through earthly eyes, like a Gentile would.
He tells them, in no uncertain terms, that this kind of power-hungry ambition is antithetical to His kingdom values. It stands in stark opposition not only to who Jesus is but also who and what he is calling them to be, servants. (vv 43-45)
So here are some questions. How do I lead as a servant and how do I serve as a leader? How do I endure and shepherd God’s people in the midst of fending off referential power struggles from within the church?