Humble Hero


What Is the Highest Position?

This chapter is based on Matthew 20:20-28; Mark 10:32-45; Luke 18:31-34.

Passover was approaching, and again Jesus turned toward Jerusalem. In His heart He had the peace of perfect oneness with the Father’s will, and with eager steps He pressed on toward the place of sacrifice. But a sense of mystery, of doubt and fear, came over the disciples. The Savior “was going before them; and they were amazed. And as they followed they were afraid.” HH 251.1

Again Christ opened to the Twelve His betrayal and sufferings: “‘Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of Man will be accomplished. For He will be delivered to the Gentiles and will be mocked and insulted and spit upon. They will scourge Him and kill Him. And the third day He will rise again.’ But they understood none of these things; this saying was hidden from them, and they did not know the things which were spoken.” HH 251.2

Had they not just been proclaiming everywhere, “The kingdom of heaven is at hand”? Had not Christ Himself given to the Twelve the special promise of positions of high honor in His kingdom? And had not the prophets foretold the glory of the Messiah’s reign? In the light of these thoughts, His words about betrayal, persecution, and death seemed vague and shadowy. Whatever difficulties might come, they believed that He was soon to establish His kingdom. HH 251.3

John and his brother James had been among the first group who had left home and friends to be with Him. Their hearts seemed linked with His, and in the warmth of their love, they longed to be nearest to Him in His kingdom. Whenever he could, John took his place next to the Savior, and James longed to be honored with an equally close connection with Him. HH 251.4

Their mother had provided for Christ freely from her funds. With a mother’s love and ambition for her sons, she coveted the most honored place for them in the new kingdom. Together mother and sons came to Jesus. HH 251.5

“What do you wish?” He questioned. HH 251.6

“Grant that these two sons of mine may sit, one on Your right hand and the other on the left, in Your kingdom.” HH 251.7

Jesus read their hearts. He knew the depth of their attachment to Him. Their love, though defiled by the earthliness of its human channel, flowed from the fountain of His own redeeming love. HH 251.8

“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 recalled His mysterious words, pointing to trial and suffering, yet they answered confidently, “We are able.” HH 252.1

“You will indeed drink My cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with,” He said. John and James were to share with their Master in suffering: James, the first of the disciples to die by the sword; John, the longest of all to endure toil and persecution. HH 252.2

“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 by My Father.” In the kingdom of God, we do not gain high position through favoritism nor receive it through arbitrary grants. It is the result of character. The crown and the throne are indications of a condition we reach through our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who stands nearest to Christ will be the one who on earth has drunk most deeply of the His spirit of self-sacrificing love—love that moves the disciple to give all, to live and work and sacrifice, even to death, for the saving of humanity. HH 252.3

The other ten disciples were greatly displeased. The highest place in the kingdom was just what every one of them was seeking for himself, and they were angry that the two disciples seemed to have gained an advantage over them. HH 252.4

Jesus said to the offended disciples, “You know that those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you.” HH 252.5

In the kingdoms of the world, position meant exalting oneself. The people existed for the benefit of the ruling classes. Wealth and education were ways to gain control of the masses. The higher classes were to think, decide, and rule; the lower, to obey and serve. Like everything else, religion was a matter of authority. HH 252.6