James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came forward to Jesus and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” And he said to them, “What is it you want me to do for you?” And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” They replied, “We are able.” Then Jesus said to them, “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.”
When the ten heard this, they began to be angry with James and John. So Jesus called them and said to them, “You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.”
James and John, known as the sons of thunder because of their tempers, asked Jesus for places of honor and prominence. Unfortunately, it’s unlikely they understood the meaning of Jesus’ response about the cup and baptism. Later they would discover the meaning.
This request caused an expected reaction among the other Apostles. They were envious of the sons of thunder. Why them?
Some in the church call it servant leadership. It is supposed to communicate leading others by serving them. But I’m afraid in practice it often means the opposite.
Following Jesus means the opposite of what we find among many of our cultural, economic, political, and social leaders. It means taking the time to listen with our hearts, to let our hearts guide us, and not our ambition.