And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, come to him, saying, Master, we would that you should do for us whatever we shall desire.…
I. SELF-SEEKING. It is a plausible maxim of this world which says: "Every man for himself." Prominent places are secured by those who seek them diligently, with shrewd management and artful manoeuvering. Why should not this principle be extended into the next world, and our prudence take merely a little longer range in looking out for the main chance? Many people seem to have convinced themselves that in striving to outdo one another they are simply obeying a necessary law — the law of emulation; and have much to say about the wholesomeness of competition. In this narrative we see what effect self-seeking had on the disciples.
1. It blinded their eyes to the glory of the Son of God. Men seeking conspicuous places cannot understand the mind which was in Christ Jesus, who made Himself of no reputation, and humbled Himself to the cross. What could they know of His going up to Jerusalem? They saw only thrones and kingdoms. A self-seeking spirit cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
2. It plunged the disciples into a quarrel on the eve of a great occasion. It converts the world into a place of violence.
3. It put the disciples into a false attitude off presumption, undertaking more than they were able to. "They say unto Him, We are able." In a strength greater than their own they were indeed to drink of His cup; but only after learning their own weakness.
4. The spirit of self-seeking confused their notions of dominion. They had adopted the maxims of the Gentiles, and were in danger of believing that a man was great simply because he exercised authority. Position does not make the man.
II. SELF-SACRIFICE — "Whosoever will be great among you," etc.
1. The courage of self-sacrifice — "We go up to Jerusalem." It shrinks from no danger.
2. The universality of self-sacrifice. Each man is to become like the Man Christ Jesus.
3. The reward of self-sacrifice.
4. The kingdom of self-sacrifice. Power to bless and rule.
(E. B. Mason.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, come unto him, saying, Master, we would that thou shouldest do for us whatsoever we shall desire.