Are you willing to pay the price to get there?
In the gospel of Mark, two disciples of Jesus laid claim to positions of prominence and requested that Jesus fulfill their desires. Let us listen in on the conversation found in Mark 10:35-40.
James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came up to Jesus and said, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.”
“What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked.
They said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.”
Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?”
“We are able,” they said.
Jesus said, “The cup that I drink you will drink, and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized, 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.”
What boldness! What a brazen request. It would seem as if James and John wanted to stand in grand display, taking positions of great prominence and honor. Nevertheless, there is a catch. I want to point out three things that Jesus says to His disciples that all of us must hear when we go seeking glory.
First, they were ignorant. Jesus said, “You do not know what you are asking.” Clearly, James and John thought they knew exactly what they were asking! However, when we ask Jesus out of our own desire for prominence rather than seeking the glory of God, we will always ask amiss. James learned this truth along the way when he writes in James 4:3, “You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.”
Second, it is up to God. Again, Jesus said, “…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.” It is not wrong to have grand ambitions and great purposes, but many often forget that the life surrendered to Christ is a life that is set to do God’s will not the will of self. Paul said it this way in Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
Third, there is a cost. Once more, Jesus said, “Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?” What is the “cup?” What is the “baptism?” It is the cup of sacrifice, the willingness to lay down one’s life for the purpose of God. It is the baptism of suffering and a determination to endure the anguish of faithfulness to the last. It is the willingness to surrender that says, despite the grip of sorrow that pours forth like great drops of blood, there is no turning back. Paul says this in Philippians 3:10, “…that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death…”
One of the great truths found in Scripture, and one often ignored, is that the greatest opportunities for service in the Kingdom of Christ come at a cost. The price tag is suffering. The privilege of sitting at the right hand or the left of Christ is given to those whom God has appointed, but the cost of sitting there is to drink to the last the cup of our Lord Jesus Christ and follow Him in this world.
Do not think, for a moment, that there is a glory and a grandeur waiting for you if you are unwilling to endure suffering for Christ’s sake. Those who are considered great pillars of faith from God’s word are also those who endured greatly. Moses, David, Joseph, Abraham, Paul, and so many more were ready to go through the fires of affliction to get there.
Consider, as we close this out, the words of Peter from 1 Peter 2:21, “For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.”
So remember, when you ask Jesus to elevate you, listen closely, for He will ask you, “Are you able to drink this cup?”
©2015 Michael Duncan
For further reading on following Christ, read - A Life Worth Living found here: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00HVI3XTY