The Request Of James & John (P&P)

March 17, 2024 | Prayer & Praise Worship Services

Rev Lim Jen Huat
The Request Of James & John (P&P)

March 17, 2024 | Prayer & Praise Worship Services

Rev Lim Jen Huat
Scripture Passage: Mark 10:35-45 (NIV)

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Summary l Our wish list often reflects the values of worldly culture – power and honour. James and John’s request exemplifies this influence, prompting Jesus to challenge their understanding of greatness. While Jesus did not oppose the pursuit of greatness (Matthew 20:26), He sought to address their worldly influence by illustrating using a child.

In Mark 10:41, the other disciples’ desire for prominence led to frustration, prompting Jesus to clarify true discipleship (Mark 10:43), which entails serving others rather than seeking personal glory. He emphasised the contrast between God’s kingdom and worldly values, highlighting that in God’s kingdom, being great means serving others and being last (v43-45). He exemplified it by serving others and sacrificing his life for many. Jesus wanted them to understand that God’s kingdom has a different perspective than the world’s.

Earlier, he had asked if they were willing to say no to themselves and even face death to follow God’s will (Mark 8:34). The cross was a terrible punishment, and yet, Jesus used those strong words to challenge them because the way of the cross involves service, sacrifice, and suffering.

1. Influenced by our world

Some Christians may be tempted by the prosperity gospel, influenced by worldly values. Jesus warned about the dangers of worldly concerns, the allure of wealth and material desires in the parable of the sower (Mark 4:19). Paul urged us not to conform to worldly patterns but to be transformed by God’s truth (Romans 12:2). If we succumb to worldly influences, we risk being unable to discern God’s will, straying from our journey with Him and becoming fruitless Christians.

2. Influenced by self-interest

James and John showed insensitivity by expressing their desire for positions of power just after Jesus predicted his own death (Mark 10:32-34). Despite Jesus emphasising the importance of doing God’s will throughout his teachings (Matthew 6:10, Mark 3:35), they failed to understand, as seen in Mark 8:33. Jesus exemplified obedience to God through his miracles, acts of healing, and casting out of demons. His determination to go to Jerusalem reflected his commitment to keeping his Father’s will. It must have been painful for Jesus to see His disciples prioritising their desires.

Similarly, we hurt Jesus if we are spurred by our self-interest. Here are spiritual disciplines that help us to have a reality check:

– regular time to reflect, wait on the Lord, and pray

– to be held accountable by other Christians

3. The disciples still don’t get it!

James and John’s request showed that the disciples still do not get it; this is particularly disheartening given previous significant events like Peter recognising Jesus as the Christ and witnessing the transfiguration which affirms Jesus’ divinity. Despite sacrificing their careers, dreams, and families to follow Jesus, the disciples still struggled with understanding, faith, love, and forgiveness.

a. Discipleship is relationship

The disciples thought discipleship meant accepting Jesus’ teachings and being by His side while awaiting liberation, but it is about having a relationship with Jesus as Lord and Saviour. They misunderstood His references to the cup and baptism (Mark 10:38) as physically standing by Him instead of yielding to the Father’s will even to the point of death on the cross. Discipleship involves surrendering ourselves, dying to our desires, and recognising Jesus as the Lord, master, and king of our lives (Mark 8:34).          

b. Discipleship is being in Christ

The disciples perceived discipleship as being with Christ, rather than in Christ. Discipleship involves dying to self, experiencing new life in Christ, and receiving the Holy Spirit as promised by John the Baptist (Mark 1:8). The disciples understood this when the Holy Spirit arrived at Pentecost, immersing them in Christ’s Spirit and empowering them for service. Discipleship means surrendering to Christ’s lordship and being in Christ so we need to ask ourselves

– Do I have Jesus as Lord?

– Have I surrendered my life and denied myself?

– Am I baptised with the Holy Spirit?

Paul puts it very well in Galations 2:20 where He sees himself in the crucifixion, in the resurrection, and at Pentecost baptised with the Holy Spirit. Reflecting on James and John’s request, we are reminded of how easily we can be influenced by the world and our selfish interests and how oftentimes we do not get it.

Let us remember that discipleship is about giving up on our lives, ourselves (Mark 8:35), and our affection for the world. It is about whether we have Jesus as our Lord and Saviour, whether we have been baptised by the Holy Spirit, and whether we emptied ourselves allowing the Holy Spirit to fill all of us.

(Sermon notes by Joy Lim)


  1. How am I conformed to the culture of this world? 
  2. Do I spend time regularly to reflect/wait/pray? 
  3. Am I accountable to other Christians for my journey of obedience? 
  4. What holds me back from giving my all to Jesus?
Wesley Communications Team
Posted by Wesley Communications Team

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