“Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to Him, saying, “Teacher, we want You to do for us whatever we ask.” And He said to them, “What do you want Me to do for you?” They said to Him, “Grant us that we may sit, one on Your right hand and the other on Your left, in Your glory.” But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you ask. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” They said to Him, “We are able.” So Jesus said to them, “You will indeed drink the cup that I drink, and with the baptism I am baptized with you will be baptized; but to sit on My right hand and on My left is not Mine to give, but it is for those for whom it is prepared.””
Mark 10:35-40 NKJV
Right now, bothers and sisters are sealing the testimony of Jesus Christ with their blood, as many of them are being martyred for the faith that has transformed there lives. They have turned from the way of flesh, toward the way of God, rejecting sin, embracing righteousness and paying the price.
As I read through Mark chapter 10, I found a curious exchange. Jesus had just taken them aside and told them what was to happen to Him at Jerusalem.
“Now they were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was going before them; and they were amazed. And as they followed they were afraid. Then He took the twelve aside again and began to tell them the things that would happen to Him: “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and to the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death and deliver Him to the Gentiles; and they will mock Him, and scourge Him, and spit on Him, and kill Him. And the third day He will rise again.””
Mark 10:32-34 NKJV
As if completely tone deaf, James and John, the sons of Zebedee, dubbed the sons of Thunder, seemed more consumed with their places in proximity to Jesus in His kingdom. They appeared to not fully understand what Jesus had just told them. They desired to be raised above the others, reigning.
James and John were focused on the glory, and were forgetting the journey that would be set before them. Like so many of us they though that this journey of faith would be painless, with a great payoff at the end.
While there is certainly glory at the end, the walk of faith is filled with pitfalls, threats, bloodshed and pain. Though we in the west have enjoyed relative peace, we too will eventually know the fellowship of the sufferings of Jesus and all those who have called upon His name.
“But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you ask. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?””
Mark 10:38 NKJV
John and James felt that they understood the cost, and could drink of the same cup of Jesus. Jesus affirmed, giving foreshadowing, that they would indeed drink of that cup.
The promise of Jesus, was fulfilled in James, as He was the first of the twelve disciples to die of persecution. James’ zeal for Jesus resulted in his being the first of the twelve to die, for he was killed with the sword on order of King Herod Agrippa I of Judea, about 44 A.D.
Herod was emboldened by this act and sought to persecution the church all the more. Unfortunately, he began to think too highly of himself, and the Lord dealt with him.
“Now about that time Herod the king stretched out his hand to harass some from the church. Then he killed James the brother of John with the sword. And because he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to seize Peter also. Now it was during the Days of Unleavened Bread.”
Acts 12:1-3 NKJV
“So on a set day Herod, arrayed in royal apparel, sat on his throne and gave an oration to them. And the people kept shouting, “The voice of a god and not of a man!” Then immediately an angel of the Lord struck him, because he did not give glory to God. And he was eaten by worms and died.”
Acts 12:21-23 NKJV
Brothers and sisters, we do not have a God who has abandoned His saints. In the time before his gruesome death, Herod had tried to imprison Peter, inmate hopes of killing him and further pleasing the religious authorities, but God freed him, and brought glory to Himself.
In the coming days, months, and perhaps years, we will face persecution. There is a good chance that Roe v Wade will be overturned, and in the aftermath, those who worship death, will likely seek ours. In these times, we must decide today if we too are ready to drink the drink from the cup of the Lord.
God has given us His Helper, the Holy Spirit to be with us, as His presence in us.
““These things I have spoken to you, that you should not be made to stumble. They will put you out of the synagogues; yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service. And these things they will do to you because they have not known the Father nor Me.”
John 16:1-3 NKJV
““These things I have spoken to you, that you should not be made to stumble. Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they do not believe in Me; of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.”
John 16:1, 7-11 NKJV
We know that this world is to be judged, may we be faithful to go and tell, to testify of what Jesus has done in our lives. We will certainly drink of that cup, and we will have fellowship with His sufferings. But we have a Savior who has overcome the world and is coming again.