Summary: Imagine if you could have Jesus Christ himself come to you and say, “What do you want me to do for you?” What would you say? What would you ask, want him to do? Today, we will see two men, James and John, have that happen to them. We will see what they wa

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Mark 10:32-45


Imagine if you could have Jesus Christ himself come to you and say, “What do you want me to do for you?”

What would you say? What would you ask, want him to do?


Today, we will see two men, James and John, have that happen to them. Jesus will ask them, “What do you want me to do for you?” We will see what they want, and how it compares to what we want. And then we will see Jesus give them a very strange way to get what they want. Jesus will say, “In order to get what you want, you have to go about it in a totally different way than you think.” In fact, we will see Jesus call us to a very different, unusual way to get what we want today. It all happens in Mark, chapter 10. Turn there with me, please.

This passage begins with a very serious scene. Notice what Jesus tells his disciples as I read vv. 32-34.

A. Jesus predicts his suffering and death

The first thing we notice about Jesus is how deliberate he is

He purposefully sets his course for Jerusalem. The reaction to him shows his clarity of purpose.

And Jesus is very direct here, too.

When we hear people talking about their death, we call someone!

He directly tells him of the suffering and death he will face in Jerusalem.

He’s telling them about the cross.

“Again” he told them – for the 3rd time! Cf. 8:31; 9:31

This is very specific, and emphasizes his suffering, derision

B. James and John ask for greatness

Its in the middle of this serious, somber scene that we find James and John.

Notice what they do as I read vv. 35-36.

Picture the scene:

An intense Jesus describes his upcoming suffering and death. This is why we are going to Jerusalem. We’ll be there soon. And so James and John, brothers, approach him. They come reverently, perhaps on their knees. In the context of his upcoming death, they have something to ask. “Teacher, will you grant us this last request?”

Family members lining up for stuff before the person dies...

“What do you want me to do for you?”

Wow! What a question! And they look at each other, and begin to spill it out. “Well, what we want is, um, can we sit at your right hand, be greater than anyone else, in the position of honor, in your glory?” Can we, huh?

That’s what v. 37 says.

Boy, talk about getting off on the wrong off ramp!

Where are these guys going?

Jesus has been talking about suffering, the cross.

James and John hear only glory.

Jesus has been talking about himself.

James and John can think only of themselves.

Given the chance to ask Jesus for something, they ask for glory, for prominence, for rank, for honor, for greatness.

Let’s see Jesus’ response as I read vv. 38-40.

You have no idea what you are asking for!

They were clueless, as usual.

Remember, these are the same guys who watched Jesus multiply a few small loaves of bread into enough food to feed 4000 men, then immediately got in the boat and argued about who forgot to bring bread.

Can you drink my cup, be baptized with me?

Cup in OT is God’s wrath against man’s sin. Jer. 25:15

Can you do what I am about to do? Take on the sin of mankind?

Of course, the answer is “no.” This is Jesus’ unique job.

But they are so fixed on greatness, they say, “well, sure!”

They sense he’s going to say ‘yes,’ so they are getting giddy with anticipation…

Jesus says, well, you will share my destiny – you will share my sufferings. Not to the same degree, however.

But what you asked is something only the Father can give.

The other disciples are indignant (the kind of indignance that comes with being outfoxed) that James and John asked such a thing (or beat them to it.). They are identified with James and John.

C. Often we too are after greatness

James and John aren’t the only ones who desire greatness. They aren’t the only ones hear “glory” or “greatness” instead of the cross, or suffering.

How many of us have as our deepest desires

Power, rank, greatness at work

The biggest church!

Fame and fortune.

How many of us would ask of Jesus “glory”:

A better body, job, financial situation

Instead of sharing in his suffering…


We want to share in his glory, but have no intention of sharing in his suffering.

Transition: Having revealed their, and our, hearts, Jesus goes on to show them that to get what they really want, they have to take a totally different approach. Read vv. 41-44.

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Lewis Jackson

commented on Oct 16, 2006

I found this sermon to be very helpful, very relevant. Theologically sound.

Brian Wilson

commented on Nov 2, 2013

I can only agree exactly with Lewis Jackson - it is rooted in a good understanding of the text's meaning and is both helpful and relevant.

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