I am Willing

James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came near to him, saying, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we will ask.”

He said to them, “What do you want me to do for you?”

They said to him, “Grant to us that we may sit, one at your right hand, and one at your left hand, in your glory.”

But Jesus said to them, “You don’t know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?”

They said to him, “We are able.”

Jesus said to them, “You shall indeed drink the cup that I drink, and you shall be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with; but to sit at my right hand and at my left hand is not mine to give, but for whom it has been prepared.”

When the ten heard it, they began to be indignant towards James and John.

Jesus summoned them, and said to them, “You know that they who are recognized as rulers over the nations lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you, but whoever wants to become great among you shall be your servant. Whoever of you wants to become first among you, shall be bondservant of all. For the Son of Man also came not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”      Mark 10:35-45 (WEB)

I want to be with Jesus in heaven. I believe that I needed a savior to atone for my sins. Jesus did that. I believe in Jesus. So I will be with Jesus in heaven. Check.

In this passage, James and John want more. They want a seat of honor. Jesus doesn’t promise that. He infers that it will be the Father’s decision. Only the Father will decide – judge – on that Day.

Jesus gives the disciples a hard answer to their request. He comes back with questions of His own. “Are you able…?” Am I? This is not a quick-answer question. I believe that salvation is a free gift for everyone. But some are asked and are willing to follow Jesus in all His journeys, even to Gethsemane and Calvary, as these disciples were. That may mean physical death but it may also mean to die to our own plans and dreams. Am I able to die in order to live like Jesus?

Jesus is such a very good teacher and friend. He does stick closer than a brother. And so He shows me intimately how to die. From the moment He left heaven to live here, He showed me how to give up in order to win! From Bethlehem to Calvary, Jesus walked the life of a servant not a king. Jesus gave over and over. He took only once. He took my sins. He took on Calvary so that I could forever live.

Jesus speaks here about baptism. Baptism is about dying to my old life; dying to sin. I was “sprinkled” as a child. My parents and godparents made a commitment for me to live my life with Jesus Christ. A dedication like that is a good thing, I think. It should be a serious moment for parents to begin to grasp how God has placed His child in their arms to raise in the knowledge of Him. But several decades later, I decided to be baptized, some would say, again. I had made a decision to live my life with Jesus. And being baptized by immersion made sense to me. Baptism is a sacrament: an outward sign of an inward change in me. Immersion was going down into the pool; dying to my way of sin and coming up, a new creation; clean and fresh. It was truly an extra-ordinary experience. Jesus’ question as to whether I am willing to be baptized with His baptism is I good question: Am I willing?

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