Theme of the Week: Learning Humility
Bible Verse: “James and John, the sons of Zebedee, approached him and said, “Teacher, we want you to do whatever we ask you.” Mark 10:35 CSB
Scripture Reading: Mark 11:11-19
How’s that for humble prayer? “Before I say what I want, I want you to say you’ll do it.” We are good at telling God what we want, but we are not very good at learning what God wants.
That kind of learning takes patience, reflection, study, obedience, and most of all, it requires deep humility. It’s much easier just to go with what we think is best. Jesus entertains the request: ” ‘What do 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'” (Mark 10:36–37). It was an absurd request, but not to them, of course. They had it in their heads that Jesus would deliver them from their oppressors and establish an earthly reign.
If you come to God on your terms, expecting him to fit into your worldview and align with the way you think things ought to be, you are starting off on the wrong foot, and that will lead you down the wrong path.
Like Jesus’ first disciples, you will end up thinking and saying things that are exactly the opposite of what real life in God’s new kingdom is all about. Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?” (Mark 10:38). In other words: “My glory is not what you think it is. And the path of glory is certainly not what you think it is.”
Just like we often do, these brothers had mistaken importance for significance. Importance speaks to the value we derive from things like position, status, and the esteem of others. Significance speaks to the value we add to people and culture. It’s about building others up: remembering their name, drawing near to the fringe, teaching others, being accessible, defining spiritual maturity by love for others, exalting Jesus as the head of the body, and appreciating the contribution of each member.
The “cup” refers to the suffering that Jesus was about to endure. Greatness in the kingdom always involves a cross.
Humility is not the absence of position and power. It is the use of such things for the good of others. If we can get our minds and affections around the true greatness of Jesus and his cross—and what that means for us—then we can be great in the kingdom of God.
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