The Request of James and John

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.”

36 “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked.

37 They replied, “Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory.”

38 “You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said. “Can you drink the cup I drink or be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with?”

39 “We can,” they answered.

Jesus said to them, “You will drink the cup I drink and be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with, 40 but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared.”

41 When the ten heard about this, they became indignant with James and John. 42 Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 43 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wants to be first must 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 as a ransom for many.”

                                                         Mark 10:35-45 New International Version (NIV)

 

Introduction

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.

36 “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked.

37 They replied, “Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory.”

 

 

Singer Janis Joplin rose to fame in the late 1960s and was known for her powerful, blues-inspired vocals. She died of an accidental drug overdose in 1970.  She was 27.

She sang one of my favorite songs and one the great songs of all time before she died from a drug overdose in 1970.  With her gravelly voice and in a plaintive tone she belted out the immortal words to “O Lord won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz”.

 

Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz?

My friends all drive Porsches, and I must make amends.

Worked hard all my lifetime, no help for my friends,

So oh! Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz?

 

Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a color TV?

“Dialing for dollars” is trying to find me,

I wait for delivery each day until three,

So oh Lord, won’t you buy me a color TV?

Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a night on the town?

 

I’m counting on you, lord, please don’t let me down.

Prove that you love me and buy the next round,

Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a night on the town?

 

Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz?

My friends all drive Porsches, and I must make amends.

Worked hard all my lifetime, no help for my friends,

So oh! Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz?

 

 

I don’t guess we ought to be too hard on ol’ Janis.  After all she was on drugs and burned out and while musically gifted and had lots of real world insight she was young and still had much to learn.  Besides, her tongue in cheek plea to the Lord wasn’t all that worse from what some of his closest disciples said.  Actually, their request was a lot worse than hers if you think about it.

All she asked for was material things; James and John asked Jesus to let them sit closest to him, one on his left side and the other on his right side so they could be “kingdom makers”.

 

I can see it now.

James:  “Uh…Lord, you gotta minute?

Jesus:   Sure boys, what do you need?  Well, uh (as they shuffle their feet and look down to avoid to direct eye contact), um…uh….

Jesus:  Come on boys, out with it.

John:  Well, OK Lord, it’s like this.  Me and my brother James, we want to be the two big cheeses in your club, you know, like “Big Kahunas” , in charge of things.  Put me by you on your left hand and James on your right hand?  Can you arrange that?

Jesus:  Wait a minute here; just wait a dad gummed, New York minute boys.

John:  What’s a New York minute Boss?

Jesus:  Don’t worry about it yet, there isn’t even a New York yet.  Just think “FAST…Real Fast”.   At any rate, you boys don’t even know what you’re asking for, but the answer is “NO…HE— NO”.  In fact you’ve got it all backwards boys.  Being my disciple isn’t about power or prestige or position or being the big cheese,

it’s about servant hood,

it’s about living for others,

it’s about putting others first.

Boys, I’m disappointed in you, downright disappointed.   Now, go back to work and get busy thinking about the ways you’re going to serve people…not be served.

James/John:  “You got it Boss, Sorry about that.”

That scripture story this morning is just an early version of “O Lord Won’t You Buy Me A Mercedes Benz”.  Only worse.

 

  1. Let’s not be too quick to judge the “Sons of Thunder”. We’re pretty much all the same, it’s the human condition to pray for the wrong things and confuse what being a disciple of Jesus is all about.

So many times our prayers are all about us.  Gimmee, Gimme, Gimme.

“O Lord won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz,  my friends all drive Porsches, I must amends.”

O Lord, won’t you buy me a color TV, Dialing for Dollars is trying to find me”.

I’m counting on you, lord, please don’t let me down.

Prove that you love me and buy the next round,

Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a night on the town?

 

I guess it’s just human nature to pray for the things we want.

God knows that about us and loves us just the same.  He calls us to be better and to do better and to grow in our understanding of what discipleship means but he forgives us when we pray for the wrong things, or in the wrong spirit or confuse what it means to be a follower of His.

 

  1. After all, the “Sons of Thunder” weren’t the only disciples then or since who confused what it meant to be a disciple of Jesus’.

We all get confused every once in a while…or longer.

It’s easy to think being a disciple of Jesus means having position, or power or at the very least influence.  After all, “Rank does have Its Privilege”  doesn’t it?

If we understand Jesus at all, and if we really are faithful followers being a disciple of Jesus “Rank” does indeed have privilege.  Just not the privilege we think of.

Not Power.

Not Position.

Not Wealth.

Not Status.

 

But power to help others, especially the people without place or position or power        in this world.

But…power to care deeply about others and share their grief and their hurt and        their struggles with them.

But…position to intentionally, deliberately choose to be a servant of others…not    have them serve us.

But…wealth in the ways that truly count, the ways that God measures wealth, not    in the ways the world measures wealth.

 

III.  Listen and think about your own prayers, and your own life of discipleship as we think of James and John’s poorly chosen and spirit revealing requests of Jesus back in the day.

Don’t waste time judging James and John.  They weren’t any different from the other disciples of Jesus, or of us today…they just got caught owning up to and revealing their shallowness and shabbiness of spirit.

Let the lesson sink in.  Think about what you pray for.  Think about what you ask of the Lord.  Think about ways in which you can ask for the right things and in the spirit.

Ask not what God can do for you but what you can do for God.

Ask not God has to give you but what you have to give others.

Ask not for power and position and prestige to further yourself but for ways and places you can help others.

 

Listen to Jesus’ whispering in your ears today.

Listen to the still small voice stirring within you.

Listen closely as Jesus explains once again for the umpteenth time that discipleship is about being a servant and having a servant’s heart more than it is about being kings and queens and being people of privilege.

 

Closing

Don’t be too hard on the Sons of Thunder for their shallow and shabby request of Jesus.

Don’t be too hard on yourself either.

After all, they were and we are, just people and this business of being a true disciple of Jesus is a lot more difficult and complicated than we think.

It takes effort, lots of effort, to be a disciple of the carpenter from Galilee who calls us to hear His voice and to follow Him…into servanthood and even death it that’s what it takes.

 

It does take death when you think about it…

Death to self;

death to worldly positions of power;

death to kingly status.

 

But it does give birth to…

Life to serving others;

life to being wealthy in the ways that count;

life in both this world and in the next…

all because we grasped the deeper and truer meanings of being a disciple of the           carpenter.

 

Speaking of prayers that count let me share a bit of “Cowboy Poetry” with you.

 

~ On the lighter side, here’s a piece of classic cowboy poetry.
I think it has a good message……See what you think ?

Jake, the rancher, went one day
to fix a… distant fence.
The wind was cold and gusty,
and the clouds rolled gray and dense.
As he pounded the last nail in,
and gathered tools to go,
the temperature had fallen,
and the snow began to blow.

When he finally reached his pickup,
he felt a heavy heart.
From the sound of that ignition,
he knew it wouldn’t start.

So Jake did what most of us do
if we’d have been there.
He humbly removed his
hat and bowed his balding head
and sent aloft a prayer.

As he turned the key for the last time,
he softly cursed his luck.
They found him three days later,
frozen stiff in that old truck.

Now Jake had been around in life
and done his share of roamin’.
But when he saw Heaven,
he was shocked –
it looked just like Wyomin’.

Of all the saints in Heaven,
his favorite was St. Peter.
(Now, this line, it ain’t needed,
but it helps with rhyme and meter.)

So they sat and talked a minute or two,
or maybe it was three,
Nobody was keepin’ score –
in Heaven time is free.

“I’ve always heard,” Jake said to Pete,
“that God will answer prayer.
But one time I asked for help, and
well, He just plain wasn’t there.”

“Does God answer prayers of some,
and ignore the prayers of others?
That don’t seem exactly square –
I know all men are brothers.”

“Or does he randomly reply,
without good rhyme or reason?
Maybe, it’s the time of day,
the weather, or the season.”

“Now I ain’t trying to act smart,
it’s just the way I feel.
And I was wonderin’, could you tell –
what the heck’s the deal?”

Peter listened very patiently.
And when Jake was done,
there was a smile of recognition.
And he said, “So, you’re the one!”

“That day your truck, it wouldn’t start,
and you sent your prayer a flying,
You gave us all a real bad time,
with hundreds of us a trying.”

“A thousand angels rushed to check
the status of your file.
But you know, Jake, we hadn’t heard
from you in quite a while.”

“And though all prayers are answered,
and God ain’t got no quota,
He didn’t recognize your voice,
and started a truck in North Dakota.”

Author Unknown.

Moral of the story;
“Keep in Touch.

Pray Early…Pray Often.”

And Pray for the Right Things!

 

* From Cowboys-4-Christ

God Bless and keep Sharing the Good News !!! ~ C4C