Summary: James and John asked Jesus for something of which they had no clue how to obtain.


• SLIDE #1

• We being a new series today entitled Great Complaints. In this series, we will examine some of the tension points we find in the Bible.

• The Bible, we find a great number of tension points that caused a great number of complaints.

• Some of the complaints were somewhat covert in nature, while others were more overt.

• Today we begin our series with Jesus being cornered by two of his disciples along with their mother.

• These two gentlemen along with their mother is going to ask Jesus for a favor of which they really do not fully understand what they are asking.

• This discussion takes place after they witnessed the transfiguration and I am sure from the moment after that happened, the disciples all had some visions of grandeur, James and John along with their mommy, had the nerve to articulate their desires.

• By asking Jesus to place them on His right and left, they are asking Jesus if they can be placed in a position on honor, they want others to see them as the greatest!

• Now, as we ponder what these guys did, the tie in for us to consider is this, is there anything inherently wrong with wanting to be the greatest, or to achieve to the highest levels one can reach?

• Today, if you desire to be the best, is that a problem?

• Are James and John wrong for what they were going to ask Jesus to do?

• Let’s dig in.

• SLIDE #2

Mark 10:35–37 (CSB) James and John, the sons of Zebedee, approached him and said, “Teacher, we want you to do whatever we ask you.” “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked them. They answered him, “Allow us to sit at your right and at your left in your glory.”

• SLIDE #3


I. The ambition to achieve unearned greatness. 35-37

• In the parallel account found in Matthew 20:20-28, we are told their mother approached Jesus with James and John.

• Ok, here is the problem, James and John want to achieve greatness without earning it.

• The one thing we see from the request of these two close disciples of Jesus is that they believe that Jesus has something special in the works, and even though they do not understand what it is, they want to be put in a place of honor.

• I love the way the frame the question, “TEACHER, WE WANT YOU TO DO WHATEVER WE ASK OF YOU!”

• What is unfolding before us in the text is James and John’s ambition to achieve unearned greatness or position.

• They want something special for nothing.

• The disciples THINK that Jesus is going to set up an earthy kingdom of which they want prominence.

• I want us to consider their ambition for a minute.

• As we will notice later in the text, the desire for greatness is not the issue, it is the reason for wanting it.

• The ambition of James and John, and probably all the other disciples was to be recognized, to be seen as something special, to be seen as a cut above.

• Considering the humble background of these men, I am sure the thought of greatness was intoxicating.

• These men were nothing special, they would have all been lost in the annals of history without Jesus.

• However, their ambition was to be seen as great, not to be great. Their desire was to be seen as special, not to be special.

• These men wanted greatness without being great.

• These men wanted rank and position so they could exalt themselves.

• On the positive side, James and John’s willingness to ask Jesus for a blank check of sorts, indicates their faith in His sovereignty.

• They were desirous of the positions of highest honor in His coming messianic kingdom, and the request seems bold and ill-timed.

• Yet, it does show their genuine faith that somehow Christ’s kingdom was real and imminent. Perhaps this is why Jesus did not deal with them harshly.

• What they think they are asking for is to be looked upon as the greatest, but as we will see there was something these men missed.

• SLIDE #4

Mark 10:38–41 (CSB) — 38 Jesus said to them, “You don’t know what you’re asking. Are you able to drink the cup I drink or to be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with?” 39 “We are able,” they told him. Jesus said to them, “You will drink the cup I drink, and you will be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with. 40 But to sit at my right or left is not mine to give; instead, it is for those for whom it has been prepared.” 41 When the ten disciples heard this, they began to be indignant with James and John.

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