Ambition of James and John

Published May 29, 2018, 10:00 PM

by Mario Casayuran and Vanne Elaine Terrazola


Mark 10:32-45


The disciples were on the way, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus went ahead of them. They were amazed, and those who followed were afraid. Taking the Twelve aside again, he began to tell them what was going to happen to him. “Behold, we are going to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death and hand him over to the Gentiles who will mock him, spit upon him, scourge him, and put him to death, but after three days he will rise.”

Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to him and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” He replied, “What do you wish me to do for you?” They answered him, “Grant that in your glory we may sit one at your right and the other at your left.” Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Can you drink the chalice that I drink or be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?” They said to him, “We can.” Jesus said to them, “The chalice 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 or at my left is not mine to give but is for those for whom it has been prepared.” When the ten heard this, they became indignant at James and John. Jesus summoned them and said to them, “You know that those who are recognized as rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones make their authority over them felt. But it shall not be so among you. Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all. For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.”



YOU DO NOT KNOW WHAT YOU ARE ASKING. Jesus gives this feedback to James and John when they ask him to make them sit at his right and left in his glory. The two brothers may want to get ahead of the other Apostles. Or they hope to skip undergoing the passion and death expected of disciples. Jesus has just related what will soon happen to him in Jerusalem. After he suffers and dies, he will resurrect. The two wish to reap the fruit of his efforts right away without paying the price.

Jesus first clarifies that what they are asking for is not for him to give; neither is it his concern. Second, it is the Father’s prerogative to give those places of honor to whom the Father chooses. Their request is not granted; they win the ire of the other apostles instead.

The two and the others must learn what greatness is all about. It is not about being the first and the most prestigious or about lording it over others. The greatest is the servant of all. The apostles should follow the path of Jesus who has come not “to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.”


SOURCE: “365 Days with the Lord 2018,” ST. PAULS Philippines, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 895-9701; Fax 895-7328; E-mail: [email protected]; Website: