Jesus is going to up to Jerusalem. But before He enters those gates for the last time we have a small but important incident involving brothers and disciples, James and John. The incident gives Jesus an opportunity to lay down the pattern for godly leadership. And what He teaches is that godly leadership, like marriage is patterned after His death on cross.
What James and John want, and what they ask for, is the kind of position that will increase their power, glory, and authority.
And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came up to him and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you… Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” (Mark 10:35)
Aspiration for leadership is a good thing, provided we understand what we are asking for.
Biblical leadership involves a Godly desire to increase servitude and a willingness to accept the consequences of increased accountability. Both of which are motivated by love.
…whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. (Mark 10:43-45)
The Kings of the earth want power. How might they get it?
By increasing the number of slaves available to serve their interests. Interests that are typically centered around the food on the table. Interests that revolve around their appetites.
And so, in the ancient Mesopotamian tradition, like so many others, the god Marduk is believed to have created mankind in order that they might feed the gods. By contrast, the bible tells us of a God who created a garden of food in order to feed His people.
The Kings of the earth want Authority. Why might they want it?
They want it in order to rise above accountability. They want the kind of authority that makes them untouchable.
This article can also be seen and heard on Youtube
God had in mind to give the throne of heaven and earth to His Son, Jesus. How would Jesus be exalted to the throne above all thrones? By doing precisely the opposite.
Jesus left the glory of Heaven and laid aside His divine attributes in order to serve humanity.
But far from reducing accountability, this greater service leads directly to greater accountability and greater sacrifice.
And so to James and John He responds,
You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptised with the baptism with which I am baptised? (Mark 10:38)
Jesus came to drink from the cup that the Father had given Him. And so we understand that cups are handed out; they are not to be grasped.
Jesus became a servant whose sacrifice would not be motivated by power or by authority. It was motivated by love (1 John 3:16).
In this way, Jesus’ death and resurrection set the pattern for all other forms of godly leadership that exist between people.
You and I will also drink the cup that has been prepared for us, and it is Christ’s’ cup.
That means that we will all share in His government in some way. But it also means that we will share in His sufferings, sacrifice, and service. It will look similar to His service and will also evoke the same mix of reactions that people had to His service (John 15:18).
James and John would serve in a way that drew attention to and reflected the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Their service would sound like His service. Its tone would echo His tone, their meekness, His meekness.
But their sphere of authority and their call to serve would also have some differences. For example, they would not serve or suffer in precisely the same way. But they would serve and suffer for the same things.
In the same way, our calling and our service will differ in its appearance. The call to serve as a mother will look different from that of a father, or a bank manager, or a wedding planner.
But it will be grounded in and built upon the same principles of sacrifice and service that we see in Christ. We will be poured out and the goal will be the same. The redemption of many.