“We are now going up to Jerusalem,” he said, “as you can see. And the Son of Man will be betrayed into the power of the chief priests and scribes. They are going to condemn him to death and hand him over to pagans who will jeer at him and spit at him and flog him and kill him. But after three days he will rise again.”
Then Zebedee’s two sons James and John approached him, saying “Master, we want you to grant us a special request.” “What do you want me to do for you?” answered Jesus. “Give us permission to sit one on each side of you in the glory of your kingdom!” (JBP)
Perhaps you have had the disturbing experience of talking to someone about something of significance to you and hearing them respond in a way that shows they haven’t really been listening. You have spread your innermost thoughts at their feet and found they have been trampled on.
It appears to be a bit like this with Jesus’ disciples. Jesus has poured out his heart about his painful destiny. But it seems as if a couple of his closest colleagues had other things on their mind. Jesus was sharing his deep pain; they were sharing their desire for status. Even after being with Jesus for years, these two still hadn’t let Jesus’ example of humility sink into their thick heads.
We are so often self-centred. Others may speak of their own pain but we may be preoccupied with our own. Others tell us of their troubles while we respond with trivia. It is not as if we have no feelings or concern for others. It is rather that ego always gets in the way and dilutes our sincere yet limited attempts at sacrificial service. Love has its limits.
Hearing another’s pain or confusion involves letting go of our own pain and confusion at least for a time. Real love entails following the loved one’s agenda rather than pursuing our own.