Then the mother of James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to Jesus with her sons. She knelt respectfully to ask a favor. “What is your request?” he asked.
She replied, “In your Kingdom, please let my two sons sit in places of honor next to you, one on your right and the other on your left.”
But Jesus answered by saying to them, “You don’t know what you are asking! Are you able to drink from the bitter cup of suffering I am about to drink?”
“Oh yes,” they replied, “we are able!”
Jesus told them, “You will indeed drink from my bitter cup. But I have no right to say who will sit on my right or my left. My Father has prepared those places for the ones he has chosen.”
When the ten other disciples heard what James and John had asked, they were indignant. But Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
How often we resemble the disciples and their mother. "Lord, show me favor; give me influence; give me position; give me manifestations of power...all for Your sake, of course."
We don't know what we are asking. We forget that in the Kingdom, Jesus is not joking when He says the first will be last and the leaders must first and foremost be servants. What that often looks like in real life is unspiritual people lording it over God's servants. What that looks like in real life is people with no conscience trampling on people with integrity. What that actually looks like in real life is fakers stealing Kingdom finances while legitimate ministries go unfunded. It's not fair. Don't we have some rights or something? We forget that Kingdom people have no earthly rights -we give up our rights.
You think I'm wrong? Ask Hosea why he is still married to an unfaithful prostitute? Ask Ezekiel why he is lying on his right side (for 390 days)? Ask Jeremiah what he is doing down in that cistern? Ask dignified Isaiah why he is walking around naked? Ask Joseph why he is in prison? Ask Job what happened to his children? Ask Paul what all those bruises and scars are about? Ask Peter why he is upside down on a cross? Ask our Lord and Savior, Jesus, why He -the Lord of all Creation, King of Kings, God of gods, is dying a criminal's death? These are Kingdom leaders. These are people living in God's favor. These are people of influence. These are people who manifested and walked in true spiritual power.
The incredible thing is that these people would do it again -they counted it a privilege to serve God, even under persecution, even when they didn't understand, even when death was the inevitable result.
Two things seem obvious to me. First, most people don't really understand the Kingdom -they never did and they never will. Second, those who begin to understand the Kingdom -those who even just scratch the surface of understanding -realize that the Kingdom, intimacy with God, the love of Father is worth more than life itself.