Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came over and spoke to him. ‘Teacher,’ they said, ‘we want you to do us a favor.’

‘What is your request?’ he asked.

They replied, ‘When you sit on your glorious throne, we want to sit in places of honor next to you, one on your right and the other on your left.’

But Jesus said to them, ‘You don’t know what you are asking! Are you able to drink from the bitter cup of suffering I am about to drink? Are you able to be baptized with the baptism of suffering I must be baptized with?’

Oh yes,’ they replied, ‘we are able!’

Then Jesus told them, ‘You will indeed drink from my bitter cup and be baptized with my baptism of suffering. But I have no right to say who will sit on my right or my left. God has prepared those places for the ones he has chosen.’

When the ten other disciples heard what James and John had asked, they were indignant. So Jesus called them together and said, ‘You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must be the slave of everyone else’.” Mark 10:35-44 (NLT)


James and John had a very special request. They just needed Jesus to do one small favor for them. They were two among twelve disciples, and they wanted to make sure that they secured their rightful position before anyone else. On one hand, they were being assertive and prepared, but on the other hand, their selfish hearts were being exposed. Jesus counseled them that they did not know what they were asking. Even so, the other disciples could not believe James and John would go behind their backs and ask Jesus for such a thing. Jesus didn’t let the other ten disciples get the best of James and John. He wanted them all to understand that elevating others was the path to greatness.

We may not be asking Jesus to sit on his right or left like James and John, but its human nature to try to secure the best for ourselves over someone else we love. The other ten disciples were not strangers to James and John; they were some of their closest friends. We aren’t talking about selfishness with the whole world here. In contemplating your relationships with your family, spouse, and closest friends, do you try to obtain the best for yourself instead of elevating them? How we interact with those closest to us reveals the selfishness of our own heart. Let’s take a lesson from Jesus this week. He says that we don’t have to flaunt our positions, possessions, or desire to get ahead of someone else in front of our dearest friends. We can elevate ourself through elevating others, and when we do, the root of selfishness gives way to selflessness.

Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

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About Hona Amer

I help people live life to the fullest. Check out my book, Smart Work U. Follow me on TwitterFacebook, or Instagram. In order to receive updates, subscribe below.

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