35 Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to Him, saying, “Teacher, we want You to do for us whatever we ask.”
36 And He said to them, “What do you want Me to do for you?”
37 They said to Him, “Grant us that we may sit, one on Your right hand and the other on Your left, in Your glory.”
38 But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you ask. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?”
39 They said to Him, “We are able.”
So Jesus said to them, “You will indeed drink the cup that I drink, and with the baptism I am baptized with you will be baptized; 40 but to sit on My right hand and on My left is not Mine to give, but it is for those for whom it is prepared.”
41 And when the ten heard it, they began to be greatly displeased with James and John. 42 But Jesus called them to Himself and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. 43 Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant. 44 And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all.
45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”
Who were James & John? Who is the Son of Man?
James and John were close with Jesus, so it is natural that they would want to sit on either side of him in His Kingdom. When you chose a seat, don’t you look for where your closest friend is sitting? At that time the disciples thought Jesus was going to set up an earthly Kingdom that would set Israel free from Rome. They did not realize until after the Resurrection that Jesus would be setting up His Kingdom in the heart of His believers.
James and John were not only seeking to be close by Jesus they were seeking to exalt themselves. We know this by Jesus’ response to their request. Jesus sees the heart behind all of our questions, actions, and prayers. He did not get angry with them for their request, as did the other disciples, instead he taught on a valuable lesson.
James and John were concerned with their status, recognition, and having a high place in the Kingdom instead of being others centered. The apostle Paul tells us in His letter to the Philippians:
3Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. 4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.
To be others centered means to put others first. To put their needs and desires before our own. We are to serve God by serving others. That is not always easy to do. Our natural flesh wants to be served, waited on, and pampered. Our natural flesh can be quite selfish. So how do we conquer our flesh and learn to put others first? Abiding in Christ. You see when we abide in Christ (pray, read the Bible, repent, obey God, and desire God’s will instead of our own) the Holy Spirit will produce Christ’s love in our own hearts. Love is not selfish, it looks out for others, it thinks first of others. Love lays down its life for others and it NEVER fails. As we grow in our walk, and grow closer to Jesus, He will work in our hearts. The more we read and study God’s Word the more we will see things through God’s eyes of love. As we grow in grace and love we become more like Christ and therefore more others-centered.
Jesus said that whoever desires to be first will be slave to all, and whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant. So what does that tell us? How does Jesus want us to treat each other?
Jesus said the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and give His life. Jesus was referring to Himself. If anyone deserves to be served it is our LORD! He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords! Yet, he came to earth and healed the sick, cleansed the lepers, fed the hungry, rose the dead, gave sight to the blind, and gave his life so us sinners could have life. Jesus never sought to exalt Himself. Every miracle He performed brought Glory to God.
Just like the disciples we have a lot to learn from Jesus. We are to humble ourselves and put others first. We can go to God in prayer for the strength and desire to do so. This is pleasing to God. We serve Him by serving others. It is by devoting our lives to serving the Lord , doing His Will, denying ourselves, and giving of ourselves that we find life. .
What are some other ways you can put others first? What have you done in the past month to serve someone else? The easiest way to know if you’re a true servant is by how you react when people treat you like one!