Best of Daily Reflections: Speaking Freely with Jesus

Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
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Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came over and spoke to him. “Teacher,” they said, “we want you to do us a favor.”

Mark 10:35

In the closing verses of Mark 10, James and John, two brothers who followed Jesus, don’t look so good. In Mark 10:33-34, Jesus had predicted that he, as the Son of Man, would be tortured and killed and then rise again. In the next verse, James and John approached Jesus and said, “Teacher, . . . we want you to do us a favor” (10:35). The New Living Translation tidies up this request a bit. The Greek actually reads more literally, “We want you to do whatever we ask of you.” Wow! Now that’s some request. It’s as if they wanted a blank check from Jesus.

But then James and John top their own audacity by telling Jesus what they wanted: “When you sit on your glorious throne, we want to sit in places of honor next to you, one on your right and the other on your left” (10:37). Now that’s even bolder, don’t you think? It seems that the brothers had paid no attention to what Jesus said would happen to him as the Son of Man. Moreover, it appears that they asked for this promotion to unique glory alongside Jesus in the presence of the other disciples, who, by implication, would have to settle for less honorable positions in the court of Jesus (see 10:41). Like I said, James and John don’t look so good in this passage.

Of course, Jesus soon pointed out their folly, and I’ll get to that tomorrow. But for now I want to reflect upon the extraordinary freedom James and John felt with Jesus. The fact that they asked such an inappropriate question shows that they weren’t screening their conversation, making sure it was all theologically and relationally correct. The brothers said just what they thought and felt. This suggests that, though they honored Jesus as their master, even as the one who would reign over God’s kingdom, they nevertheless felt an extraordinary freedom to tell Jesus exactly what was on their minds.

We live in a curious tension when it comes to the Lord. On the one hand, we rightly bow before him, offering ourselves in humble worship. On the other hand, we experience friendship with God that invites us to be completely honest with him (see Heb. 4:16). The more we grow in relationship with God, the more we will find ourselves sometimes saying to God things that we just wouldn’t say to anyone else. We can speak freely of our hopes and dreams, our fears and follies, even our selfish ambitions.

QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: How free are you in your communication with the Lord? Are there some things you hold back from telling him? Why? What might happen if you told God everything that’s in your heart?

PRAYER: O Lord, it’s easy for me to look down my long nose at James and John for so badly missing the point of your mission, not to mention their selfish audacity. Yet, as I think about this scene, I’m sure there are many, many times when I have come to you in just such a posture. Thank you for listening to me, for not sending me away.

Even more, thank you for the freedom I have to tell you everything that’s on my mind and in my heart, even the things that don’t look very good at all. What an incredible gift it is to be able to open my life to you!

All praise be to you, Lord Jesus, for the freedom you have given me to speak so honestly with you. Amen.

Leadership Influence: Beyond the Stereotype

When we think of “leadership” or “influence,” we often get the image of a person of arrogant swagger, always self-confidently willing to tell people what they ought to do. And we naturally find such an image unseemly. This is not the image of Jesus, the most influential person who walked the planet. Neither is it the image of those we truly admire and can name were the most influential people in our own lives. In this week's series at The High Calling, Leadership Influence: Beyond the Stereotype, we feature stories of how people can be influential in ways that really matter.