Have you ever had someone ask you for a blank check? Jesus did. In Mark 10:35-45, two of Jesus’ disciples approach him with a request. They are James and John, the two sons of Zebedee also nicknamed, “Sons of Thunder.” Their request is stunning. Here it is:
“Jesus, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you!”
Imagine that! They were asking Jesus for a blank check. But then again, there are many who do the same thing today, seeing Jesus merely as a “Genie in a bottle” who is obligated to give them anything that they ask.
And to make matters even more interesting (and somewhat political), according to Matthew 20:21 their mother came with them to make this request. In fact, it appears that she did most of the talking. I’m not sure who instigated it but I am amazed by their gall. It’s as if they said, “Hey, let’s get mom to ask Jesus. He won’t say no to her.” It almost seems like two children plotting on the best way to play their parents.
Jesus is certainly wise enough not to make such an open-ended promise. Instead He simply asks them what their request was. And what was it? They wanted Jesus to guarantee that they would be given the highest places of honor and authority when He established His Kingdom. They asked to sit on His right and on His left which were the highest positions in a royal court.
Now chances are good that this thought entered their mind back in Matthew 19 when Jesus had promised that in His Kingdom the 12 disciples would sit on twelve thrones with Jesus. Since that time, there had probably been much discussion among these two brothers as to how they could ensure themselves of the top spots on that day. So they rope dear old mom into helping them strike while the iron was hot and before any of the other 10 disciples thought to do the same.
I can’t help but wonder if Jesus would have granted their request if the two siblings would have then broke out into an argument or maybe even a fistfight over which one got to sit on His right (the highest position) and which one got to sit on His left (the second highest position).
It’s true – the pursuit of greatness can turn even a disciple into a monster. Tune back in tomorrow to see how Jesus responds to this request for greatness.