Did You Know? –The New Interpreter’s Bible Commentary Vol 8
• “…self-denial has been emphasized throughout these chapters: denying the human demand for honor, power and status.”
• “The repeated struggles for honor among the disciples show what a difficult task reversal of values is.”

The Gospel of Mark 10:35-40
(New Revised Standard Version)

35James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came forward to him and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” 36And he said to them, “What is it you want me to do for you?” 37And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” 38But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” 39They replied, “We are able.” Then Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you will drink; and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized; 40but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.”

Some Thoughts on Today’s Reading—Pastor Pam

On Sunday, February 4, 1968, just a few weeks before his assassination on April 9, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., preached on the Gospel of Mark 10: 35-40 in the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia. The passage is about a request of the disciples James and John. This is an odd exchange between the disciples and Jesus who has just told them he is going to be tortured and killed but also rise.

James and John tell Jesus they want him to do for them whatever they ask. Jesus responds, “What is it you want me to do for you?” They answer, “Gant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” Their request seems impertinent maybe even insensitive to what Jesus is facing. Why are they thinking about themselves?

King points out that most would automatically condemn the disciples for their request, but he tells the congregation that morning, that all of us have the “same basic desires for recognition, for importance, that same desire for attention, that same desire to be first.” This is the drum major instinct and it’s in everybody.

The disciples initially resisted Christ’s teachings on greatness as he taught them it requires vulnerability, courage and suffering. From the pulpit that day, just weeks before his death, King preached Christ’s words as he challenged the congregation (and himself) to be “drum majors” for love and justice, truth and commitment to others.

Grace and Peace
Pastor Pam