Mark 10:38 But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you ask. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?39 They said to Him, “We are able. So Jesus said to them, “You will indeed drink the cup that I drink, and with the baptism I am baptized with you will be baptized; 40 but to sit on My right hand and on My left is not Mine to give, but it is for those for whom it is prepared.”41 And when the ten heard it, they began to be greatly displeased with James and John. 42 But Jesus called them to Himself and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. 43 Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant.
On the way to Jerusalem, Jesus had told the disciples now for the 3rd time, that we would suffer and die. The first time, Peter thinking he has another revelation from God, rebukes Jesus and Jesus says, “Get behind Me, Satan! For you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.” The second time, they didn’t understand why he said he would be betrayed into the hands of men, and they will kill Him. And after He is killed, He will rise the third day. Now this third time, they were afraid, yet still willing to follow when he said, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and to the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death and deliver Him to the Gentiles; 34 and they will mock Him, and scourge Him, and spit on Him, and kill Him. And the third day He will rise again.”
But what happens next is what I find to be so interesting!
James and John ask Jesus if they can sit on his left and his right when he comes into his glory. They had no idea what they were asking. Apparently these disciples were still hopeful that they were going to Jerusalem for a mighty take over and these two were bold enough to ask for the 2 most prominent seats. Whoever sat to the right and the left of a king are the 2nd and 3rd most important people in the room. But Jesus plainly says, “You do not know what you ask.”
Jesus asked them if they were “able to drink the cup that I drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” They were confident enough to say that they were able!
According to Greek usage of the word baptism it means “to be overwhelmed by disaster and danger.” Jesus was walking into that exact situation as he made his way to Jerusalem. James would be the first apostle to be martyred and John would survive being boiled in a vat of hot oil.
The rest of the disciples also still not understanding what Jesus was going to Jerusalem to do: To die on the cross for the sins of the world. They were indignant with James and John. They were offended and resentful at them because Jesus said that they would drink of the cup and be baptized with the baptism he would be baptized with. Yet, it was not for him to give them the seat of right and left.
Jesus knew their hearts. They still, all of them, were jockeying for position in the kingdom. They all wanted to be the greatest, to be his right hand men. Jesus corrects this attitude by telling them that, “You know that those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. 43 Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant.” God’s kingdom would not be about tyrants and behaving as if you are more important than someone and have a right to tell that person what to do. Gods kingdom would be about being a servant. Greatness is built into the souls of men through servanthood not leadership.