October 12, 2021
But Jesus answered and said, "You do not know what you ask. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?" They said to Him, "We are able" (Matthew 20:22).
It is not a bad thing to have confidence in one’s self. In fact, without it we wouldn’t be able to achieve much of anything in life. When you consider what we have accomplished on the grand scale in science and technology, architecture and engineering, aerospace technology, medicine, agriculture, etc., where would we be without a ‘can do’ attitude? Self-confidence can be a healthy thing. It can also be disastrous and deadly. In the words of ‘Dirty Harry’ Callahan, “A man’s got to know his limitations.”
Inspiration is defined as ‘influence directly and immediately exerted upon the mind or spirit’. Without inspiration there would be no motivation to achieve anything. Walt Disney said, “All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.” The courage to pursue is borne out of the inspiration of our dreams.
Jesus had just told His disciples that He was going go to Jerusalem to be crucified, then He would rise from the dead 3 days afterward. Did James and John misunderstand what that meant? What would have inspired them to ask to be seated to the right and left of Jesus in His Kingdom when He clearly said He was going to be condemned to death? What would have motivated them to say “We are able” when He asked, “Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?"
Obviously James and John did not understanding what it was they were committing themselves to. They loved Jesus. They had heard His intent to go to Jerusalem. They were inspired to cast their lot with Him. But, like Peter, their courage would fail. “[It was] amazing proof of their ignorance and self-confidence. Ambition had blinded their eyes. They had not caught the martyr spirit” (A.T. Robertson). Brazen self-confidence.
The disciples, like a lot of Christians today (including preachers), desire the power and authority of the throne without being prepared to pay the price for attaining it. We cannot know the power of His resurrection until we know the fellowship of His sufferings (Philippians 3:10). Declaring our intent to ‘die for Jesus’ often comes glibly and easily for those who have never faced even the slightest hint of persecution for their faith. Nothing but the grace of God can inspire us to live for Jesus who died for us, and nothing but the grace of God can inspire us to die for Jesus that others may live for Him!
“Lord Jesus, may my commitment to You be rooted my faith in You, knowing that You may call upon me to give my physical life a sacrifice that honors and glorifies You. May my confidence always rest in You and not in myself. To Your honor and glory I ask, Amen.”