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.” Mark 10:35-37
I admit that, sometimes during my childhood, under some circumstances which might come about upon occasion, I was, at times, capable of being…the teacher’s pet. I do NOT admit to being crass about it, nor even intentionally manipulative about it. And I certainly never perfected the art in nearly the way(s) my younger daughter seems to have done so (sorry, Reno…cat’s out of the bag now I guess). But I will confess that, when one of my teachers may have favored me a little one way or another, I liked it…and may have even used it to my advantage at times. Whew! So glad to get that off my chest!
So, when I read about James and John and their not-so-secret desire for favored treatment with Jesus, I admit that I actually understand where they were coming from. Don’t act like you don’t get it. I know you do.
The truth about all of us is that we enjoy being favored. We relish special treatment. When the flight attendant comes to your seat in coach and informs you that you have been selected to enjoy a free upgrade into first class for this flight, you have no problem gathering your belongings and bouncing up to the comfy seats as if you deserve it. When the police officer pulls me over and has me on his radar doing 65 in a 55, and then tells me he is just going to give me a warning instead of an actual ticket, I do not argue with him. When we get our free “fast pass” to the most popular ride at Disneyworld and get to go to the front of the line ahead of all those poor, tired parents who have been standing in line for an hour, we say “Thank you very much” and smile all the way to the front.
We enjoy special treatment at restaurants and movie theaters and parking lots and at the office. We enjoy it because, deep inside most of us, there is a prideful little boy or little girl who thinks he/she deserves it. I LIKED being the teacher’s pet, because I liked what it said to everyone else about me. It said, “Blake’s a winner…he’s a little bit better than the rest of you.” It felt great to me, and to James and to John. That’s all they wanted…just a little favor, even if it meant placing them above everyone else. Isn’t there a little bit of James and John in all of us?
I am grateful for a teacher (and a Savior) who is patient enough with that part of us to simply say, “Blake, you don’t really know what you are asking, and there are plenty of times coming when what you are asking is the last thing you will want, so why don’t you just come with me and trust me with the blessings.” I am grateful for a God who mercifully does NOT give us what we ask for sometimes. And I am grateful for a Savior who stays close by and walks with us through the painful times, when we regretfully get exactly what we asked for.