Saturday, February 19, 2011

True Leadership

It was now time for Jesus to go up to Jerusalem with the disciples (Mark 10:32-45) to fulfill His mission on earth. The disciples were afraid and amazed as they followed their Master. He had told them that He must suffer, be killed, and rise again.

James and John, sons of Zebedee, were within Jesus’ inner circle of disciples. They had witnessed His glory on the Mount of Transfiguration. But they did not realize His glory came after death.

In Mark’s account, it was James and John who made the ambitious request. In Matthew’s account, it was their mother, Salome, who made the request (Matthew 20:20). She made the request as if from herself while James and John were standing near. Jesus knew where the request came from and she was no longer concerned.

“…Master, we would that thou shouldest do for whatsoever we shall desire” (Mark 10:35). The Lord did not rebuke them for their bold request. They had witnessed His preaching, teaching, healing, and miracles. They believed that Jesus would soon establish His kingdom. If Christ is going to rise again, then He must be a king and surely they could sit on His left and right sides when He comes into His glory. They wanted special honor and power from Jesus. That was worldly. However, they must be commended for having the courage to boldly ask Jesus for something. James said, “yet ye have not, because ye ask not” (James 4:2).

Jesus did not condemn them for making a bold request. You can talk to your Savior. But remember the answer is not always what you want to hear. The Lord was gentle with James and John. He told them they did not know what they were asking. The Lord’s glory meant suffering and death. Jesus asked them if they could drink the same cup He would drink and be baptized the same way He would be baptized. “Drink the cup” and “baptism” are symbols of death. They professed to be able and He said they were right. They would suffer because of their loyalty to Him, and James would be martyred (Acts 12:2). He further explained that these positions in the kingdom were not His to give out nor were they given out arbitrarily. Admission to the kingdom is by grace through faith, but position is by faithfulness to Christ. Here, the Lord submitted to the Father. It was not for Him to decide who would sit in the kingdom.

The other disciples became upset with James and John. They were each displeased because they hoped to have positions for themselves also and Jesus knew of this disruptive unrest. He knew dissension was about to erupt in the fellowship. Therefore, He called them together to explain the importance of honor, power, and service. Largely, dominion has been abused in the world and should not be in the church. He taught that the Gentiles used their positions of power and privilege to abusively exercise authority over people. This is not the way of the kingdom of God. To be great in the kingdom of God, we must be great in serving others, showing humility, and practicing love. Christ Himself was an example of a Servant by saying that He came to give His life as a “ransom” or sacrifice to serve others, and not to be served (Mark 10:44-45). True leadership and greatness comes from sacrificial service to others.

Written by Deborah Davis

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