Guest Post by Jamie Smith
35 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.”
36 “What is your request?” he asked.
I was recently studying Mark 10:35-45 as part of “homework” from a Bible study my small group is participating in. The assignment was to read these 10 verses exclusively and look at the request of James and John in light of Jesus being the Messiah, but as I read those verses I had to put them into the context of the whole chapter to get a much bigger picture.
In Mark 10:13-16 Jesus embraced the children full of innocent love and trust.
In Mark 10:17-27 The rich young man who came to Jesus to ask about inheriting eternal life was told you know how to love people but you do not know how to love God and He walked away from Jesus.
Then in Mark 10:35-45 after Jesus has just taught his disciples 1.) you must enter heaven with a childlike faith and 2.) those who love stuff and position will have a really hard time (not impossible) entering heaven; what do we see James and John ask for?
37 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.”
James and John asked Jesus for position. I admit my mind was blown when I read all of this together, but I’ll keep going. Some think that the “glorious throne” referred to here by James and John is a royal earthly throne. The disciples still expected Jesus as Messiah to overthrow the Roman government and place the Jewish people back in control. Some think they are referring to Jesus’ heavenly throne because he had just predicted his death and resurrection again in verses 32-34. No matter how you interpret the term “glorious throne” the request was the same… “Jesus, give us a high position in your courts”.
In light of these verses I must examine my own heart. Is my heart the heart of a servant as Jesus described…
43 But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant,
44 and whoever wants to be first among you must be the slave of everyone else.
Or if I’m honest with myself am I looking for a place of position because I serve Him. I mean after all I’ve been a teacher, singer and leader in my church; I’ve gone into prisons for Pete’s sake; I went to Haiti and held orphaned babies. If I am honest I cannot say that I have a servant’s heart. I do not always have a servants heart in my home. Oh it feels like I’m a servant sometimes when I’m doing laundry and floors but if I’m honest, I do those because I want clean clothes and my house to smell and look nice because its still new. Am I a servant to my husband? Not nearly enough, today’s wife wants to be an equal not seen as a lesser part of the whole. Don’t get me wrong, I totally understand the need in a home to be submissive to your husband’s leadership, but do I really serve him?
In order to extend myself some grace and dust the selfishness off I must read on in Mark 10 to see Blind Bartimaeus. Bartimaeus had a request for Jesus also.
47 When Bartimaeus heard that Jesus of Nazareth was nearby, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
Look at the difference in the way Bartimaeus made his request known to Jesus as compared to James and John. Bartimaeus addressed Jesus as fulfillment of the eternal king in the Davidic Covenant and then He asked for mercy. That is what a servants heart does. A servants heart recognizes her need for mercy. Lord I need ALOT of mercy! And when the crowd tells Bartimaeus that Jesus will see him what does Bartimaeus do? Scripture says he throws off his coat and sprang up to come to Jesus (v50). Like a child. When a child is happy to see you they don’t wait for you to come to them, they run to you with arms open and big smiles. And because of this Jesus asks for Bartimaeus’ request as if He didn’t know and as if the crowd didn’t know what this man wanted. Jesus asked him to say the words out loud “Rabbi, let me regain my sight.” (51) And Jesus said yes. At Bartimaeus’ request for mercy, Jesus gave mercy. Jesus always gives us mercy.
In my study of this chapter looking at the hearts of children, rich young men, two disciples and a blind man which one do I want to be? Which one do you want to be? Which one are we now? God has currently placed me in a ministry where I must practice having a servants heart to young teen girls who have been abused, neglected and abandoned. Because of the trauma they’ve experienced and the science behind it they don’t necessarily appreciate my serving them. One day they may love me, the next they may not speak to me or even threaten to hurt me. This is where the true test of a servant lies let me tell you. It would be easy for me to walk away from it. It would be easy for me to say like the young rich ruler, “its too hard”. It would be easy to say like James and John that I deserve better. But Bartimaeus asked for mercy not what he deserved. Because what if we actually got what we deserved? Dear Sister I never want what I deserve in light of Jesus. Instead, let us fix our eyes on Jesus and run to Him like a child, asking for mercy for the day, the hour or maybe the moment just like the heart of Bartimaeus.