The Gospel of Matthew 10: 35-45 (New Revised Standard Version)
The Request of James and John
35 James 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.” 36 And he said to them, “What is it you want me to do for you?” 37 And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” 38 But 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?” 39 They 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; 40 but 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.”
41 When the ten heard this, they began to be angry with James and John. 42 So Jesus called them and said to them, “You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. 43 But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. 45 For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.”
Some Thoughts on Today’s Reading
Gospel of Matthew 10: 35-45 (New Revised Standard Version)
From Rev. Pam Brokaw – October 21, 2018
When I read Biblical text I often try to put myself in the place of the characters. In this case, the disciple brothers James and John, sons of Zebedee, come to Jesus with a request. The disciples ask, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” Jesus responds with a question, “What is it you want me to do for you?”
What do we make of this exchange? Why is the glory of sitting on either side of Jesus so important to the brothers? Haven’t they heard Jesus talk about what it means to be humble?
Perhaps the most dramatic moment of the exchange is when Jesus asks them, “What do you want me to do for you?” The brothers seem to be focused on the status of sitting next to Jesus. To be charitable, perhaps we can look at their request as a further seeking of getting close to Jesus and soaking up his glory and learning all there is to learn from him. Maybe.
The question Jesus asks them, seems to open possibilities. Might they ask him anything at this point? And if this is the case, what would it be? Seating placements seem to pale next to an “ask me anything” scenario.
When I read this text, I often think about what it would be like if Jesus asked me, “What is it you want me to do for you?”
I could say make me a better follower. I might ask if he could bring loved ones back like be brought back his friend Lazarus or the deceased son of the mother from Nain. Maybe I would ask for a day with him just like those disciples had. Maybe I would ask if I could walk with him and see the miracles. To sit with him, break bread, laugh, learn and feel the fear of what was to come. Would I be strong enough?
Were the brothers focused on the status of sitting on either side of Jesus? Or, was it just so wonderful to be close to him? And, does being close to him and following him, require sacrifice? The disciples would discover this to be true.
In our prayers and study, in our worship of the Living God, do we ask Jesus what we want from him from the depths of our core? And, from those same depths, are we willing to give of ourselves as well when he asks something of us?
Grace and Peace,