In the same chapter in which blind Bartimaeus asked Jesus for a healing, a few of the Lord’s disciples sought for a future prominence as they perceived a natural kingdom to come.
James and John were young and obviously foolish in their request. It only seems reasonable for us to consider their new found pride in this powerful, Jesus of Nazareth. They were convinced of His authority; for no one had performed such miracles as He. To James and John, Jesus was destined to become the ruling, physical King of Israel. They could sense the progress of His power and His fame. So they approached the Lord with an inquiry. Jesus asked them: Mark 10:36 “What would ye that I should do for you?”
Consider the Lord’s response. The English translation puts it so well: “What shall I do for you?” Their response was, Mark 10:37 “Grant unto us that we may sit, one on thy right hand, and the other on thy left hand, in thy glory.” James and John were yet immature disciples; not knowing what they asked. They were far from the Kingdom.
Ten verses later, a blind man was crying for mercy. Jesus called for him to come and asked him, Mark 10:51 “What wilt thou that I should do unto thee?”
Jesus asked the blind man a very different question than the one He asked the disciples. James and John wanted position. The blind man desired vision. The young men wanted the Lord to do something “for them” while Bartimaeus sought for a life change.
The modern Christian often seems transfixed on the Lord’s temporary provisions, while the Lord is offering a change of spirit and direction. Many have fallen into the trap of temporal elevation, while Jesus is desiring to heal our mind. Jesus is seeking for faithful laborers who will serve one another, not people rising up some spiritual kingdom ladder, which by the way, does not exist.
To be clear, James and John will grow up. They will one day abandon their temporal thinking and offer their life for the cause of Christ and the Gospel. They will become men of purpose, spreading the Apostolic doctrine. However, the lesson endures: the desire of the Lord is not a momentary placement. He wants to give us “vision” and a deliverance from our fleshly ambition if we will abandon our personal desires and surrender our lives to His cause.
Pastor Jeffrey Harpole