Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to him. “Teacher,” they said, “we want you to do for us whatever we ask.”
“What do you want me to do for you?” he asked.
They replied, “Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory.”
My mom was famous for doing something just like this. She’d ask me to take her to a store, which I was happy to do. We had a lovely conversation on the way to the store. I’d help her out of the car and into the store with a song in my heart. I was happy to help the woman who brought me into the world. Who nurtured me. Fed me. Clothed me. It was a joy and a privilege to help my mom.
But then it happened. As we were getting back into the car she’d ask if we could go to another store. Again, I was happy to help, but the glow was off my attitude. And once we left the second store, she’d ask about another three stops that she’d like to make “while we were out.”
Those were the magic words, “while we were out.” They opened up a Pandora’s Box of possibilities. After all, the hard part was getting out, everything after that was all downhill.
On one particular episode of these extended trips, I screwed up my courage, turned to my mom, and with all the love I could muster said, “Mom, I love you and would do anything for you. But this isn’t fair. If you want to go to five stores, fine. But please let me know that up front so I can be certain that I’ve got the time set aside.”
You see, my mom wasn’t asking for what she really wanted. There was more to it than she was willing to admit. She was holding back her hidden agenda. I wonder if something like this was in the mind of James and John when they approach Jesus with this cockamamie request.
Imagine, asking the God of the universe to blindly answer a request without giving the details of what was in their heart. That’s like demanding to be hired for a high-paying without giving them your resume, experience, or background
And their request is even worse. No humility. Not even false humility. No, this was out-in-the-open arrogance. They wanted to be first. They wanted to have the power and authority. They wanted to be up front for all to see.
How many times did your kids ask to give them something before they told you want it was? Growing up, how many times did you go to your parents and ask them to do something before giving them the details?
Just like the disciples, we also have hidden agendas. Publicly we want to look like we’re oh so holy and righteous. So much better than everyone else. But underneath, just under the surface, we’re just as selfish and arrogant as the people we put down.
We love to put on a show, to have an image that makes us look good. But that’s just what it is, an image. It’s not what’s real. Because what’s real is sickening and stinky.
It’s not popular to ask this, but here goes.
What kind of a show are we putting on in front of our family? Friends? Neighbors? What kind of a façade are we painting for all the world to see on social media? Do we only talk about how everything is great? Or do we pull the curtain aside, just a little bit, to expose what’s really going on inside?
Our fears? Our failures? Our faults?
It may be scary, but these are the kinds of conversations we need more than ever. And we need to be on the lookout for friends, true friends, who we can talk plainly about ourselves.
A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
We need this kind of friend. A brother cannot abandon you because of who they are. They’re your brother. A sister cannot abandon you because of who they are. They’re your sister.
Word pictures are a good way to express a deeper truth. Think of the word for brother and sister as coming from the same womb. That sums it all up. How could you be any closer? You can’t.
It’s time to tear down the walls we’ve surrounded ourselves with. What’s stopping you from starting with one brick today? Take it down and throw it away. You’ll be surprised at the light it lets in. How your load gets lighter.