“You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said. “Can you drink the cup I drink or be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with?”
“We can,” they answered.
Jesus said to them, “You will drink the cup I drink and be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared.”
I wonder how many times God has wanted to say this to me.
Chet, you have no idea what you are saying or asking!
Chet, you are my son who I love and died for. What in the world are you doing? You don’t understand who I am or that I have a great and wonderful plan for you. What you’re asking for is outside of who I am and my plan. You think you’ve got this life wired to the point that you understand everything enough to give me advice. Your request is less than third-class compared to my first-class plan.
“Chet, you have no idea what you are saying or asking!
We may see our prayers to God as pure and holy. But are they? Are they for “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” or is it more about satisfying my wants and personal desires? For greater power? Control of people and events? For things to go our way?
Jesus saw this same selfishness in the spiritual leaders of his day. He certainly did not mince words to them or about them.
Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.
I wonder what Jesus would say to us about the requests we make to God. Would he look favorably on us and our words? Or would he describe us as being “full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean?” Does he see us as “full of hypocrisy and wickedness?”
This may sound harsh, but we always need to hear the truth. And sometimes that truth needs to be blunt, in your face, truth. Sometimes the truth needs to be up close and personal, right in front of us in order for it to get our attention.
This isn’t very popular now. We have to couch our words, be nice, don’t offend. And I’m all for that. But there comes a time when the “nothing but the truth so help me God” part of the oath given in court needs to be said to us.
We have a well-worn highway running through our lives. It’s the Interstate I-1. It runs straight through the middle of us. Every on and off ramp feeds more and more traffic to support our selfish selves. This highway has been built over time. Each mile of concrete laid with the purpose to make us more and more self-centered. Designed to rely on only ourselves. Not caring about God, others, or anything else.
Jesus’ purpose for coming and dying is to get us off this self-inflicted highway and onto a new road. A new way of living. A new way of looking at life. He wants to restore us to the highway of life that he made us for. The one with the greatest happiness and joy.
Remember, that Jesus had already invited James and John to “follow me” and they responded. They “immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.” They had been following Jesus for some time. Heard him speak. Watched his life. Witnessed his miracles.
And this is how they responded?
The warning is clear for us. If you’ve been a Jesus follower for some time, you might come to the point where you start giving him advice and direction. You might even tell him how to use you.
Our response to Jesus is to follow, trust, and obey.
Then in fellowship sweet
we will sit at his feet,
or we'll walk by his side in the way;
what he says we will do,
where he sends we will go;
never fear, only trust and obey
Trust and obey, for there's no other way
to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.
Want to be happy? It comes only through trusting and obeying.