20 Then came to him the mother of Zebedee’s children with her sons, worshipping him, and desiring a certain thing of him.
21 And he said unto her, What wilt thou? She saith unto him, Grant that these my two sons may sit, the one on thy right hand, and the other on the left, in thy kingdom.
22 But Jesus answered and said, Ye know not what ye ask. Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? They say unto him, We are able.
23 And he saith unto them, Ye shall drink indeed of my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with: but to sit on my right hand, and on my left, is not mine to give, but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of my Father.
24 And when the ten heard it, they were moved with indignation against the two brethren. Mat. 20:20-24
While everyone in Jesus’ camp was thinking about the glory that would be theirs once they had arrived in Jerusalem (or wherever), and while the more bold ones were taking matters into their own hands in charting their own destiny by seeking to secure those all-important positions of importance, we see one person, the Lord Jesus – alone – thinking about something entirely different.
He was thinking of the cup and the baptism. He asked James and John, “Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?”
While everyone else was thinking about a worldly kingdom and worldly glory (v. 24), Jesus was thinking about suffering – and death. He was thinking of what He would need to undergo in order to be finally free of the dictates of His earthly body.
Too many believers today are thinking about the good life – the good earthly life. But here we see Jesus’ spiritual mindset, which was to die to this life. That is why He told James and John, “Ye know not what ye ask.”
Too many of us do not know what we ask for when we pray. Unfortunately, we have been taught to “claim” blessings in Jesus’ name. We have never been taught to lose, and we see nothing wrong with this “claiming”. Our desires are all wrong, built on the foundation of self-preservation.
(I saw a big church on TV where they have been taught to hug their chests – to hug things to their chest – by faith – whenever the preacher says, “Receive!” It looked so childish.)
But there is everything wrong with a receiving mindset. With this kind of mindset, we will never be willing to share in the sufferings of Christ, and we therefore shall never know Christ’s resurrection life in us. We shall probably have everything of this world, but nothing of the true character of Christ and of the Kingdom of God in us.
We need to catch a certain revelation in our hearts – the same revelation that Jesus had, which was the same revelation that the apostles later on carried also. It was the revelation to lose.
I am not here to answer whether the good life is desirable or not for the believer. People with a worldly agenda want to dwell on these kinds of things. They pose their arguments with words like, “Do you mean to say that…?”
Why not, rather, we dwell on Jesus’ words, ““Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” Why should we not want to know more about this cup and this baptism that Jesus talked about? Why should we not want to identify our lives with the kind of life Jesus was willing to undergo here? What a wonderful place this is for the believer! It is a place of spiritual ecstasy as well as a place of spiritual safety.
People, let us desire the spiritual aspect of our calling rather than the material side. Yes, it is true Jesus can also give us the material things. But where were Jesus’ eyes fixed? While the worldly-minded apostles’ eyes were fixed on the worldly glory, Jesus’ eyes were fixed on another glory – the heavenly glory. And you do not arrive there by singing, “Glory, glory, hallelujah!” Jesus knew He would arrive there by first having to lose everything that He had of this world: worldly dignity (soon even the slave girls in the high priest’s house would be slapping away at Him!), worldly riches (His last worldly possession, His robe, was taken by the Roman soldiers); even His very life.
May God give us the grace to lose our lives as Jesus did.