Summary: James and John request places of honor in the new "political kingdom". Kingdom culture is servanthood. We live in an ambitious world. Life is about winning and losing. They were dreaming of goblets filled with wine, not cups of suffering.
In Jesus Holy Name March 15, 2021
“The Culture of the King”
There is a question that Americans should be asking today, not just in the church, but the entire society. “Where are the leaders we need who are not selfish? Do they exist?”
Isn’t it interesting that the polls in November told us that many of the people who voted, especially in the presidential race, were voting not for someone, but against someone. Many people said what they really wanted was a ballot where they could check the box NOTA—none of the above. It speaks to the crisis of leadership in Washington D.C., and in Sacramento, which is why the State is in the middle of a recall…. The world loves power. Power & adulation is what Satan offers, just as he tempted Jesus in the wilderness with the offer of power and glory.
Mark 10 is the story of a mother who wanted only the best for her sons. She loved them. She was proud of them. She had great dreams for them. That is why she came to Jesus one day with an audacious request. She asked that when Jesus comes into his Kingdom, He would have one boy seated on his right and the other seated on his left. She wanted her sons to have the places of highest honor. No small dreams here.
We live in an ambitious world. Life is about winning and losing. That’s why we keep score. That’s why this mother came to Jesus. In the great game of life, she wanted to make sure her boys came out ahead. If that meant asking for a favor from the Lord, she was glad to do it. She felt like her boys deserved it. She had big dreams and her sons had large ambitions.
And despite what you may think, ambition itself is not evil. If you don’t have any ambition, why bother getting out of bed in the morning? You might as well roll over and sleep all day. Ambition is merely a strong desire regarding the future. In Galatians Paul reminds Christians that Ambition is not wrong, but selfish Ambition is not a character trait to be found in the Christian walk. (Galatians 5:20)
On this journey to Jerusalem Jesus is coming to grips with the arrest and bloody death that looms before him. Now, his top men, missed the point of God’s ultimate plan. They are angling for better seats in the Kingdom.
When the request came Jesus asked: ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ They replied, ‘let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory’. James and John want to sit on thrones in power and glory. They believed that Jesus was going to be a political king and kick out the Romans. That’s what most of the Jews in the 1st century hoped would happen. They wanted a political Messiah. (John 6)
And who can blame them? Everyone wants to be somebody. We all want to be near the center of power. (Text: Matthew 20:20-28 a sermon from Keep Believing Ministry)
The obsession of Jesus was for the glory of God. The obsession of James and John was their own glory and power. They fancied themselves on golden thrones. They were dreaming of goblets filled with wine, not cups of suffering. The fishing business would soon be past history for them.
James and John like all the Jews, knew the prophecy in Daniel chapter 7 (13-14). Daniel’s prophecy stated that the Son of Man, when He came would be given power so all nations would serve Him. Before Jesus came into our human drama, the nation of Israel was waiting for a political Messiah to deliver them from their enemies. In this moment on the road to Jerusalem, “Jesus claimed the title” “Son of Man” but turned the prophecy of Daniel upside down. He changed the role. He had not come to be served but to serve. “ (John Stott “The Cross of Christ” p. 287)
Kent Hunter in his book: “Who Broke My Church” has a chapter entitled “The Culture of the King”. The mission of Jesus since the “Fall of Adam and Eve” was to take the judgment and penalty for the sins of everyone in the world. He is the replacement for the Old Testament sacrificial Lamb whose blood on the doorposts in Egypt spared the lives of every first-born child and animal. John the Baptist, with feet in the waters of the Jordan River was correct. “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.”
Napoleon Bonaparte captured an important truth when he declared: “Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne and I myself have founded empires; but upon what do these creations of our genius depend? Upon force. Jesus alone founded his empire upon love; and to this very day millions would die for him.” It is entirely true. Out of love he came to serve others, and after 2000 years, millions would gladly die for him. True authority, true leadership, arises out of servanthood. This is the culture of those who follow King Jesus. The whole Christian message is simple. Jesus said: “I came not to be served but to serve and give my life as a ransom for many.”