What Do I Want?
I was reading in Mark 10:35-45 (NIV) and found this:
35 Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to him. “Teacher,” they said, “we want you to do for us whatever we ask.”
This seems a bit of a irreverent request to make of the Lord Jesus Christ. Kinda blasphemous, in fact. But Jesus didn’t seemed to mind it. He didn’t answer like I thought He should. He said (verse 36): ”What do you want me to do for you?”
I cannot think of a more gracious response that Jesus could have given James and John. How welcoming! What a reception!
I mean James and John are coming on pretty strong. It isn’t even really a request. To me it sounds more akin to a demand. When my sons, three years old and two years old, start speaking to me like this, I am usually getting prepared to redirect them into a respectful way of addressing someone.
Instead of taking insult, Jesus takes what we see as a primitive, self oriented proposal and sees it as a bid, or request, for conversation. A conversation that is He is more than willing to pick up and use for their growth and their good.
Witnessing this, the inviting response of Jesus to a request, it really made me stop and think…..What do I want? For if James and John can ask for what they want, perhaps I can to.
When I start thinking about it, it seems to be a loaded question and one that isn’t as simple and straightforward as it seems.
Sure, I would like some new baby spoons and toddler plates -- ours are few and overly washed. I would like a new bathing suit for the spring -- mine is worn out and done. Besides who doesn't enjoy a new bathing suit? I’m pretty certain I’d like a new book to read (fairytales and happy endings are my favorites).
This list reads like a shopping cart. They are acquisitions, and the delight I find in them easily fades as newness wears off or as I conclude the final chapter.
When I am talking to Jesus, I wonder if I stick to this shopping cart dialogue of what I want because it feels safer? It does not make me or break me if I get new baby spoons or a fresh fairytale. If I never really ask for what I want for, I don’t have to open my heart and start a conversation that sheds light into my soul.
So, I sit and ponder and I hear Him ask, ”What do you want me to do for you?”
What do I want?
James and John knew what they wanted:
“Let one of us sit at Your right and the other at Your left in Your glory.” Mark 10: 37
THEY ASKED FOR WHAT?
It makes me laugh at their impertinence and shake my head in disbelief. They really had the gall to ask Jesus for this kind of greatness; in front of the other 10 disciples no less!
But do you know what came of their greedy gall? I’ll give you an idea of what happened - It was something really cool.
Jesus took their request, and redirected it. He took them from desiring glory to becoming more like Christ. He took them from demanding greatness, to offering service. He took them from asking for something that they didn’t know anything about to being willing to walk in something that they would understand.
We can read the details in Mark 10:38-40
“But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking for. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized? And they said to Him, “We are able.” And Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you shall drink; and you shall be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized. But to sit on My right or My left, this is not Mine to give, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.”
James and John start the conversation with a request for glory and Jesus listens, really listens, to their request.
Jesus then uses their request to walk James and John through what it will cost to be His disciple. He shows them that if they want to be like Jesus, sharing in His glory, that they will have to “drink from the same cup” and “have the same baptism” as Himself.
James and John may have started with a request for prestige and esteem, but they understood the lesson that Jesus gently lead them through, and they choses to give up their own glory to take on the glory that comes from following Christ.
History gives us insight into the lives of James and John after this conversation. Instead of seeking earthly glory, James became the first martyr for Christ. John was persecuted and died in exile on the island of Patmos, also a martyr for the sake of Christ.
What an amazing interaction to witness.
What an amazing revelation of Truth!
When we come to Jesus with a request, He can use that open dialogue and work wonders. We can ask for anything! There is no shame in ANY request. A request to Jesus opens our heart and our conversation with Him. He can do the work to show us any error in our thoughts and lead us into truth. Whatever work He does, He will do it gently and kindly.
Jesus is willing to meet me wherever I am. He is willing to really listen to whatever request I ask of Him, to start a dialogue with me there. He will answer me. He will give me what I asked for or redirect and teach me, moving me to a better and more glorious place. But I have to be willing to open up and let Him in.
So, what do I want?
I think I have an idea...it feels selfish...it feels a bit too raw to say out loud or to type...it feels daring and impossible...and I want to tell Jesus about it.
Hannah Michael Wolfkill Snyder has always loved all of her names (yes, each one is on her passport!). However, the name she loves the most is Jesus. Jesus taught her how to play in the throne room of Heaven and sit in the lap of God the Father. This is her identity, where her heart loves to abide (even if her hands and feet are busy on earth running a household or meeting up with people). Because of her joy in the Father, her heart’s desire is to show women their God given identity in the kingdom of Heaven. You can find her on Instagram.