In Mark 10 we find a story about two members of Jesus’ inner-circle asking him a favor. Interestingly enough, they don’t fully understand what they are asking.
I think this is often times the case with us as well. We ask Jesus for things and we really don’t understand the full-extent, or even the implications of our request.
Take the request, “Give me patience,” for example. Do you really want Jesus to teach you patience? That means a lot of lessons and practice in patience up ahead. Are you ready?
Another example, “Lord, please draw my friend Jane to yourself. She needs you in her life. I pray that she would find you as her Lord and Savior.” Are you ready to be the instrument through which God brings your friend to himself? Are you ready to have that awkward conversation where you take head-on the things that have been labeled taboo by our culture (personal and private affaires like religion and faith)? Are you ready?
James and John ask, “Grant us to sit, one are your right hand and one at your left, in your glory” (Mark 10:37).
James and John think that Jesus’ kingdom is strictly a political one. They are wrong. It is a political kingdom indeed, but it is more than a political kingdom. James and John ask that they hold positions of power when Jesus, as the Jewish Messiah, sets right the things of the Gentile pagan world.
What James and John miss is that the cross is precisely the moment of Jesus’ glory; the moment of God’s redeeming love and justice on display for the world to see. The crucifixion is the coronation day of the King of the Jews. This is the pinnacle moment of God’s World Renewal Plan that reaches back to Genesis 3. This is Jesus’ moment of power, made manifest in an unprecedented act of weakness.
On this day of glory, it is indeed true that there is one on his right and one on his left, but they are not James and John; they are criminals being crucified with him.
James and John didn’t know what they were asking.
Jesus responds to their request with this: “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized.” The “cup” refers to his suffering and death motivated by his unconditional love for the world. In other words, Jesus is asking them, “Are you ready to die for your enemies along with me?”.
Are you ready to die for your enemies along with Jesus? Are you ready to be at his right and left, pouring out your life for those who have abandoned you, forsaken you, and committed injustice against you?
This is what the cross is all about. This is the stuff that changes the world.
The cross is not just about what God has done for you and I, it’s about God’s mission to the world. In entering a covenant relationship with him, we become a part of that mission.
Are you ready?