Talking to Jesus: How to Lose Friends

“When the ten heard about this, they became indignant with James and John. Jesus called them together and said, ‘You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you.’ ” (Mark 10:41-43)

The brothers James and John made a risky play for power. They tried to manipulate Jesus into promising them the number 2 and 3 spots in His kingdom over the other 10 guys in their management training program. They picked a moment when Jesus was away from the other guys; they must have known the move would tick off their friends. It did.

ttj_350Earlier in Mark, Jesus stepped in when the group was arguing about which of them was the greatest. From our side of history — knowing all about the crucifixion and Jesus’ humility on the cross — their attitude just seems so wrong. But in the moment, it made a kind of sense. They really believed God would give Jesus the power to take over the world. As His followers, they wanted to stake their spot in His administration.

Jesus said they were acting like they belonged to some kind of secular (Gentile, non-Jewish) kingdom or corporation where a top dog runs the show and the guys under him jockey their way up the power ladder. In that world, if you outrank someone, you act like it. You boss him around. You better use your power or lose it. Jesus’ kingdom doesn’t work that way.

Think: How competitive are you? If you’re better than someone else in a sport or academics or Bible knowledge, do you expect that person to give you the respect you deserve? How hungry are you to win and for others to know you beat them?

Pray: Ask God to help you understand how Jesus’ power rankings are different than the kind of competitive rankings we’re used to.

Do: Make a quick list of the top five and bottom five most popular or powerful or influential people in your life or sphere of influence right now. Don’t show it to anyone, but hold on to your list for tomorrow’s devo.