They were on their way up to Jerusalem, with Jesus leading the way, and the disciples were astonished, while those who followed were afraid. Again he took the Twelve aside and told them what was going to happen to him. “We are going up to Jerusalem,” he said, “and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the Gentiles, who will mock him and spit on him, flog him and kill him. Three days later he will rise.”
The disciples still didn’t understand that the Lord was talking literally at this point. But they did know that “rising” was a good thing. They probably thought it meant that He was going to rise, as the King, to the throne of Israel.
This gave a few of them the incentive to move forward.
Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to him. “Teacher,” they said, “we want you to do for us whatever we ask.”
“What do you want me to do for you?” he asked.
They replied, “Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory.”
That’s an interesting thing to ask. Even the way they asked it was specifically the way they were taught.
Jesus told them that He would do whatever they asked in prayer (John 14:13-14). So now they were asking.
But that brings up an important point. Some people think that just because they can quote a Bible verse in their prayer, it automatically qualifies them to receive whatever they ask God for. But is that what the Word teaches?
Look at the Lord’s answer to them.
“You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said. “Can you drink the cup I drink or be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with?”
“We can,” they answered.
Jesus said to them, “You will drink the cup I drink and be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared.”
The first problem was that they really didn’t understand what they were asking. Of course, that’s why we need to pray in the spirit. There are many areas that we don’t understand the scope of our need.
But even more than that, they had yet to understand God’s will for their lives. Before I can pray effectively, I need to know God’s plan intimately.
The more time I spend in the Lord’s presence, the more I understand His will for my life. Then, as I pray with this understanding, I see a greater amount of answered prayer. John, himself, understood this later on in his ministry.
This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.
1 John 5:14
John learned the lesson. Prayer according to His will is answered positively. Let the understanding of God’s will be your goal in His presence.
Question: What part of God’s plan have you understood recently?
© 2018 Nick Zaccardi