Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament gospel narrative of the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ as it was written and recorded by John Mark. More specifically, today’s passage is found in verses thirty-five through fifty-two of the tenth chapter of this New Testament book. “And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, come unto him, saying, Master, we would that thou shouldest do for us whatsoever we shall desire. And he said unto them, What would ye that I should do for you? They said unto him, Grant unto us that we may sit, one on thy right hand, and the other on thy left hand, in thy glory. But Jesus said unto them, Ye know now what ye ask: can ye drink of the cup that I drink of? And be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? And they said unto him, We can. And Jesus said unto them, Ye shall indeed drink of the cup that I drink of; and with the baptism that I am baptized withal shall ye be baptized: but to sit on my right hand and on my left hand is not mine to give; but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared. And when the ten heard it, they began to be much displeased with James and John. But Jesus called them to him, and saith unto them, Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them. But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you shall be your minister: and whosoever of you will be chiefest, shall be servant of all. For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:35-45).
“And they came to Jericho: and as he went out to Jericho with his disciples and a great number of people, blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, sat by the highway begging. And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out, and say, Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me. And many charged him that he should hold his peace: but he cried the more a great deal, Thou Son of David, have mercy on me. And Jesus stood still, and commanded him to be called. And they call the blind man, saying unto him, Be of good comfort, rise; he calleth thee. And he, casting away his garment, rose, and came to Jesus. And Jesus answered and said unto him, What wilt thou that I should do unto thee? The blind man said unto him, Lord, that I might receive my sight. And Jesus said unto him, Go thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole. And immediately he received his sight, and followed Jesus in the way” (Mark 10:46-52).
“…And behold, there came a voice unto him, and said, What doest thou here, Elijah? And he said, I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts: because the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sowrd; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away. And the LORD said unto him, Go, return on thy way to the wilderness of Damascus: and when thou comest, anoint Hazael to be king over Syria: and Jehu the son of Nimshi shalt thou anoint to be king over Israel: and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah shalt thou anoint to be prophet in thy room. And it shall come to pass, that him that escapeth the sword of Hazael shall Jehu slay: and him that escapeth from the sword of Jehu shall Elisha slay. Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him” (1 Kings 19:13-18).
“So he departed thence, and found Elisha the son of Shaphat, who was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen before him, and he with the twelfth: and Elijah passed by him, and cast his mantel upon him. And he left the oxen, and ran after Elijah, and said, Let me, I pray thee, kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow thee. And he said unto him, Go back again: for what have I done to thee? And he returned back from him, and took a yoke of oxen, and slew them, and boiled their flesh with the instruments of the oxen, and gave unto the people, and they did eat. Then he arose, and went after Elijah, and ministered unto him” (1 Kings 19:19-21).
“And it came to pass, when the LORD would take up Elijah into heaven by a whirlwind, that Elijah went with Elisha from Gilgal. And Elijah said unto Elisha, Tarry here, I pray thee; for the LORD hath sent me to Beth-el. And Elisha said unto him, As the LORD liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. So they went down to Beth-el. And the sons of the prophets that were at Beth-el came forth to Elisha, and said unto him, KNowest thou that the LORD will take way thy master from thy head to day? And he said, Yea, I know it; hold ye your peace. And Elijah said unto him, Elisha, tarry here, I pray thee; for the LORD hath sent me to Jericho. And he said, As the LORD liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. So they came to Jericho. And the sons of the prophets that were at Jericho came to Elisha, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the LORD will take way thy master from thy head to day? And he answered, Yea, I know it; hold ye your peace. And Elijah said unto him, Tarry, I pray thee, here; for the LORD hath sent me to Jordan. And he said, As the LORD liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. And they two went on. And fifty men of the sons of the prophets went, and stood to view afar off: and they too stood by Jordan. And Elijah took his mantle, and smote the waters, and they were divided hither and thither, so that they two went over on dry ground. And it came to pass, when they were gone over, that Elijah said unto Elisha, Ask what I shall do for thee, before I be taken away from thee. And Elisha said, I pray thee, let a double portion of thy spirit be upon me. And he said, Thou hast asked a hard thing: nevertheless, if thou see me when I am taken from thee, it shall be so unto thee; abut if not, it shall not be so. And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. And Elisha saw it, and he cried, My fath3er, my father, the chariot of Israe, and the horesement thereof. And he saw him no more: and he took hold of his own clothes, and rent them in two pieces. He took up also the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and went back, and stood bhy the bank of Jordan; and he took the mantle of Elijah that fell from him,a nd smote the waters, and said, Where is the LORD God of Elijah? And when he also had smitten the waters, they parted hither and thither: and Elisha went over. And when the sons of the prophets which were to view at Jericho saw him, they said, the spirit of Elijah doth rest on Elisha” (2 Kings 2:1-15).
WHAT WOULD YE THAT I SHOULD DO FOR YOU? WHAT TIL THOU THAT I SHOULD DO UNTO THEE? A TALE OF TWO QUESTIONS! A TALE OF TWO DESIRES! THE DESIRES OF THE DISCIPLES AND THOSE WHO WALKED WITH CHRIST! THE DESIRE OF THAT MAN WHO WAS BLIND! WHAT AN INCREDIBLE CONTRAST BETWEEN THE DESIRES OF THOSE WHO WALKED WITH JESUS AND HAD WALKED WITH HIM FOR SOME TIME NOW AND THE DESIRE OF THAT MAN WHO WAS BLIND! JAMES AND JOHN DESIRED THAT THEY MIGHT BE GRANTED A PLACE OF AUTHORITY AND HONOR IN THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN—ONE ON THE LEFT HAND OF JESUS AND THE OTHER ON THE RIGHT HAND OF JESUS—WHILE THE BLIND MAN SIMPLY DESIRED HIS SIGHT! Oh as I come to this particular portion of Scripture I have to admit that I am absolutely and incredibly taken back by and blown away with what is presented before and unto us. As you come to this particular portion of Scripture you will find two of Jesus’ disciples—James and John—who were known as “the sons of Zebedee” and as “the sons of thunder” coming unto Jesus and asking Jesus how they would have Him do unto them whatsoever they desired. It is important for us to recognize and understand that which is found in this particular portion of Scripture, for it calls and draws our attention and our focus to the awesome and powerful truth that these disciples were about to ask something which they felt was important and desirable unto them. What makes the words found within this passage of Scripture so incredibly powerful and unique when you truly take the time to think about it is that initially upon reading this passage—perhaps for the very first time—you would almost get the sense that these disciples were those who would ask Jesus for something truly notable and something truly worthwhile in the kingdom of heaven. The more you read the text, however, the more you will encounter and come face to face with the awesome and powerful truth that what these disciples asked was not necessarily something that ought to be asked for, but rather something which would and could have been the furthest thing from their hearts and their minds.
As I sit here this morning thinking about and considering the words which are found within this passage of Scripture I find myself being absolutely captivated with and by the words found in this passage of Scripture, for the words found in this passage serve as a powerful reminder and picture of misguided passion and misguided desire—even when it comes to and as it pertains to the kingdom of heaven. The words which we see here before us in this passage of Scripture are incredibly challenging when you take the time to think about it, for the disciples who had come unto Jesus were among the three whom Jesus would invite into a deeper revelation and a more personal and intimate place among the twelve disciples. You cannot read the four gospel narratives and not encounter and come face to face with Jesus taking the disciples Peter, James and John with Him into certain places the other nine disciples would not. Within the four gospels you will find that Jesus brought Peter, James and John with Him when He went into the house of Jairus as He was preparing to raise his daughter from death to life. Within the gospels you will find Jesus inviting these three disciples to come into an high mountain with Him where He would be transfigured before them, where He would appear talking and speaking with Moses and Elijah, and where the voice of the voice of the Father would speak upon and atop that mountain emphatically declaring that this was His beloved Son and command and instruct them to hear Him. These three disciples would be invited by Jesus to walk with Him further into the garden of Gethsemane on the night when He would be betrayed into the hands of men by Judas Iscariot who was one of His own. You cannot read the four gospel narratives and not encounter and come face to face with the tremendous truth that these three disciples were invited into different encounters and experiences the other disciples were themselves not able to participate in. These three disciples were those who would be invited to enter into and partake in certain experienced and encounters that would dramatically change and transform them as they would witness and behold things the other disciples would not.
With all of this being said there is something which we must ask ourselves and something which we must wonder when we read the request of these two brothers who walked with and followed the Lord Jesus Christ. The words which are found within the gospels not only highlight and underscore something very specific the disciples argued and disputed among themselves, but the gospel narratives also recount and record something very specific concerning these two brothers who walked with and followed the Lord Jesus Christ. I am absolutely and completely convinced that in order to truly understand the words which are found within this passage of Scripture we must needs realize, recognize and understand certain narratives found within the gospels—particularly and especially those narratives and those accounts which describe the disciples arguing and disputing among themselves concerning who was the greatest and who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. I am absolutely and completely convinced that when and as we read the words found in this portion of Scripture we must needs realize and understand that there is something more than what we find and read within the test. I read the words which are before us in this portion of Scripture and I find myself coming face to face with the strong and powerful reality that to make such a request of the Lord Jesus Christ would mean there would have to be something within the hearts of these two brothers that would actually enable them to ask Jesus concerning this type of desire within their hearts. We cannot truly understand that which is found within this portion of Scripture without at the same time understanding and recognizing and understanding the words which are found within and throughout the four gospels concerning the disciples arguing and disputing among themselves who was the greatest, and who was the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. With this in mind I invite you to consider the following words and the following passages which describe the disciples and their disputes concerning who among them was greatest and who was greatest in the kingdom of heaven:
“At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? And Jesus called a little child unto Him, and set him in the midst of them, and said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me. But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe unto the world because of offences! For it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh” (Matthew 18:1-7).
“And He came to Capernaum: and being in the house He asked them, What was it that ye disputed among yourselves by the way? But they held their peace: for by the way they had disputed among themselves, who should be the greatest. And he sat down, and called the twelve, and saith unto them, If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all. And he took a child, and set him in the midst of them: and when he had taken him in his arms, he said unto them, Whosoever shall receive one of such children in my name, receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me, receiveth not me, but him that sent me” (Mark 9:33-37).
“…But, behold, the hand of him that betrayeth me is with me on the table. And truly the Son of man goeth, as it was determined: but woe unto that man by whom He is betrayed! And they began to inquire among themselves, which of them it was that should do this thing. And there was also a strive among them, which of them should be accounted the greatest. And He said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors. But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve. For whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth? Is not he that sitteth at meat? But I am among you as he that serveth. Ye are they which have continued with me in my temptations. And I appointed unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me; that ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel” (Luke 22:21-30).
It is absolutely necessary and imperative that we recognize and pay close and careful attention to the words which are found within these passages of Scripture, for these three passages of Scripture highlight and underscore at least two different and two distinct times when the disciples allowed themselves to be caught up in a dispute among themselves as to who was greatest in the kingdom of heaven. You cannot read the four gospel narratives without and apart from encountering this tremendous truth, for there were at least two distinct times while and as the disciples walked with and followed Jesus—one of which was even at the table in the upper room while celebrating the Passover meal with the Lord Jesus Christ—they would actually argue and dispute among themselves as to who was the greatest. Stop and consider what would have to be within the heart and mind of that one who seeks and desires to be greatest—and not only that one who seeks to be the greatest, but by very nature desires to be greater than others. If there is one thing we must needs recognize and understand it’s that any desire within our hearts and our souls to be the greatest, or to be greatest has at the very heart of it a desire to be greater than others. To desire to be the greatest in any particular genre or sphere it requires more than simply you yourself being great, but it also requires you to be greater than others. To truly understand the concept of being the greatest requires that we also understand that at the very heart and core of such a desire is the marriage and union between being great and being greater. We cannot, we must not, and we ought not seek to have any discussion or conversation concerning being greatest without at the same time thinking about and considering the twin realities and desires of being great and being greater. It is absolutely impossible to be the greatest at any thing and/or to be the greatest among others without aspiring greatness itself—and not only greatness, but also to be greater than others.
The more I think about and the more I consider the words which are found within these passages of Scripture the more I am brought face to face with the absolutely tremendous and incredible truth that the desire and the dispute concerning who among us is the greatest must by its very nature mean that we not only seek and ascribe to greatness as its own individual entity, but also that we ascribe to be greater than others. One cannot truly be the greatest without having some degree and some measure of greatness—regardless of whether or not that greatness is perceived within their own hearts and minds, or whether that greatness is acknowledged by others. In addition to this, one cannot truly be the greatest without being greater than others—and perhaps not only greater than others, but greater than all those before and around them. It has been in recent years where we have heard the phrase “G.O.A.T.” and this phrase simply stands for “The Greatest of All Time.” This title and this phrase has been used in direct connection with Michael Jordan, with Lebron James, with Kobe Bryant, with Tom Brady, with Peyton Manning, with Drew Brees, with Babe Ruth, with Mickey Mantle, and with other such iconic sports stars. This term and phrase “the greatest of all time” has even been in reference to Mohammed Ali who was a famous boxer who even emphatically declared and professed concerning himself that he was the greatest. What we must needs realize and understand concerning such a statement of being the greatest of all time is that at the very heart and center of it is not only being great at what you do—great at your craft, great at your sport, great at your skill, great at what you have committed your life to—but also being greater than others. It is absolutely impossible to truly be the greatest without at the same time possessing a certain degree and measure of greatness within yourself—regardless of whether it is perceived by yourself or acknowledged by others. To be the greatest among others and to be the greatest of all time requires you to be greater than others—and not only to be greater than others, but also to surpass others in a plethora and wide range of categories.
Oh as I truly consider this reality and concept of being the greatest I cannot help but encounter and come face to face with the tremendous truth that not only to be the greatest, but also to desire to be the greatest requires a continual and constant striving and effort. Ask any of the names whom I just mentioned about what it took to be the greatest, or what it took to be considered the greatest, and you will find them always and without fail and without even thinking about it describing and declaring how it took and required of them constant time, constant effort, constant energy, and constant work. Undoubtedly each of these individuals—those who are no longer with us, and those who are still present among us—would have all agreed that to be considered the greatest requires a tremendous work ethic and requires a continual and constant working and striving within that which you have invested all your time, effort and energy to. We must needs realize and understand that to be considered the greatest—regardless of whether you perceive yourself to be the greatest, or whether others might perceive you to be the greatest—there is an absolutely and tremendous burden and responsibility of putting in constant time, effort and energy to reach that zenith and that pinnacle to in fact be considered the greatest. What’s more, is that to be considered the greatest means that at the very same time of striving toward that tile and that position you are essentially greater and better than others. You cannot have a conversation about who is and/or who might be the greatest without thinking about and considering the fact that to be the greatest is within and of itself a tremendous burden, for greatness has never been achieved without and apart from work, without and apart from sacrifice, and with and apart from labor. There is absolutely no one who would be considered the greatest, or who has been considered the greatest who would dare argue and/or contend that they were able to arrive at such a place without and apart from a constant burden within and upon themselves to always do more and to always be better than others.
When I think about this particular truth and reality in direct connection to the disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ I am absolutely and completely captivated and taken back by their discussion and dispute concerning who among them was the greatest. I am absolutely and completely taken back by their need and their desire to even be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven, and how and why such a reality would even be important and relevant among them. The disciples would allow themselves to be engaged and caught up in at least two disputes at two different times concerning who was the greatest in the kingdom of heaven, and yet when you read the responses Jesus gave and spoke unto them you will find that Jesus never acknowledged any of them as the greatest. In fact, more often than note you will find that Jesus declared unto them that those who would seek to be greatest must be servant of all, and those who would be first would be last while the last would be first. Within the gospel narratives you will find the Lord Jesus Christ redirecting the focus and discussion of the disciples concerning who among them was the greatest to who among them was actually willing to serve others. As the disciples would themselves speak concerning who was the greatest, Jesus would redirect and reprioritize their desire, their intention and their focus to who was willing to be servant before and among them. Even Jesus Himself who never spoke of and professed Himself to be great would emphatically declare unto the disciples that He came not to be served but to serve and that He might give His life as a ransom for many. Time and time again within the gospel narratives you will find and encounter the Lord Jesus Christ teaching the disciples the great and powerful need of not being the greatest among others—even among those within the kingdom of heaven—but being servant among and before others. You cannot read the gospel narratives without and apart from encounter the truly awesome and powerful truth that the Lord Jesus Christ would indeed and would in fact call and invite the disciples into the place where they would lay aside their desire to be great, their desire to be greater, and their desire to be greatest, and would actually wholeheartedly commit and devote themselves to serving and being servant unto others. Nowhere in the gospels will you ever find Jesus instructing and/or inviting the disciples to be great, greater and greatest in the kingdom of heaven, but what you will find is Jesus inviting them to partner together with Him in serving others and being servant unto others.
If we are truly going to understand and recognize this tremendous truth it is absolutely necessary and imperative that we come to the point and place where we are willing to acknowledge that we have not been called to be great, nor have we been called to be greater, nor even have we been called to be greatest in the kingdom of heaven. We have never been, nor will we ever be invited into a place of being great, of being greater and being greatest in the kingdom of heaven, for at the very heart of being great, and at the very heart of being greater and greatest is that of self-seeking, self-promotion and self-exaltation. At the very heart of seeking to be the greatest is the tremendously dangerous area of placing yourself at the very center of the universe and/or placing yourself even at the very center of the kingdom of heaven. I am absolutely and completely convinced that when we think and speak about being greatest we must needs recognize and understand that anyone who desires to be greatest within the kingdom of heaven cannot and will not commit themselves to serving others, for it is absolutely impossible for them to serve anyone else other than and beyond themselves. If you take the time to think about this concept and reality of being great, greater and greatest you must needs realize and understand that at the very heart of it is a pride and arrogance that causes you to focus on yourself before and above anything and anyone else. What’s more, is that even if you do in fact serve others within the kingdom of heaven, and even if you do serve others within the house of God and within different organizations, charities, and the like, you are really not serving others, but you are actually serving yourself. Pause for a moment and think about the fact that it is actually possible to serve yourself while at the same time serving others, or while at the same time pretending and giving the impression and appearance of serving others. It is with this in mind I would like to invite you to consider a powerful passage of Scripture which is found in the thirteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John concerning what truly being a servant does indeed and does in fact look like. Consider if you will the following words which are found in the thirteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John beginning with the first verse:
“Now before ethe feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should epart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end. And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him; Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God; He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel and girded himself. After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded. Then cometh he to Simon Peter: and Peter saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet? Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter. Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me. Simo Peter saith unto him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head. Jesus saith to him, He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not of all. For he knew who should betray him; therefore said he, Ye are not all clean” (John 13:1-11).
“So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you? Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example that ye should do as I have done to you. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them. I speak not of you all: I know whom I have chosen: but that the scripture may be fulfilled, He that eateth bread with me hath lifted up his heel against me. Now I tell you before it come, that when it is come to pass, ye may believe that I am he. Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that receiveth whomsoever I send receiveth me; and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me” (John 13:12-20).
The words which we find in this particular portion of Scripture is absolutely necessary and imperative for us to think about and consider, for the words which we find here in this passage and portion of Scripture brings us face to face with the fact that Jesus did not come to the earth to be served by others, but to serve among those unto whom He was sent. Nowhere in any of the four gospels will you find Jesus ever serving Himself, nor even Jesus expecting and desiring to be served by others. We know that there were and there would be times when Jesus would in fact be served—namely, when He entered into the house of Matthew the publican one of His disciples, namely, when He entered into the house of Mary and Martha, and perhaps even when He entered into the house of Simon the Pharisee. We know there were indeed times when Jesus and His disciples would be invited into the homes of others, and within those homes they would prepare a meal and would actually serve Jesus and His disciples. What we must needs recognize and understand is that even with this being said there is something truly powerful concerning the account of Mary and Martha while Jesus was present in their house among them. If and as you read the passages and narratives concerning Mary and Martha you will find that Martha grew angry and frustrated with her sister Mary because Mary was committing and devoting her time to sitting at the feet of Jesus while Martha moved about preparing and making everything ready for Jesus who was present within their home. At one point Martha even asked Jesus to speak to Mary and command her to rise from her place and help Him. How Jesus responded was actually truly astonishing and remarkable when you take the time to think about it, for Jesus declared unto Martha how she was careful and cumbered about with many things, and Mary had chosen that which was most needful and that which was most necessary. Thus, that which Jesus was highlighting and underscoring was that it wasn’t as much about serving Him as much as it was about fellowship with Him in His presence.
I continue to sit here writing these words and I am brought face to face with the awesome and powerful truth that to truly desire to be the greatest not only requires us to be great and to be greater than others, but it also requires within us this constant competition—not only this competition with others, but also this competition within ourselves. If we are those who desire to be great, and those who desire to be greater, and those who desire to be the greatest we must needs constantly and continually commit ourselves to a life of tremendous burden and pressure to continually produce and to continue to provide. To truly seek and truly strive to be the greatest requires at the very heart of it this constant competition with others, for there are very few who are the greatest who are willing to share the spotlight with others, and who are willing to allow others to be the greatest with them. There are those who desire to be the greatest, and as a direct result of desiring to be the greatest find themselves in a very lonely and isolated place, for such individuals might very well view those before and around them with suspicion as they have absolutely no desire for anyone else to become as great as them, nor even become greater than them. To seek to be the greatest requires one to carry within themselves a certain and constant defense, for that individual must not only strive to be great, greater and greatest, but they must also strive to remain in such a position. Those who desire to be great, greater and greatest must not only strive to arrive in such a place, but they must also strive for something even more than that—namely, keeping and holding others at bay and in place, for there cannot be more than one person who is considered the greatest.
When I read the words which are found in this particular portion of the gospel narrative which was written by John Mark I can’t help but be absolutely captivated with and by something that is at the very heart of the request of these two disciples. You do not ask the Lord Jesus Christ to sit one on His left hand and the other on His left hand in the kingdom of heaven without and apart from thinking and feeling as though you yourself might be great, and/or might be greater and even the greatest. You cannot and you will not make and present such a request in the company and presence of Jesus unless you are seeking for yourself a tremendous place of honor, of prestige, and perhaps even of glory. What I absolutely love about this particular passage is that when Jesus heard the request of the disciples He immediately and emphatically declared unto them that they did not know what they were asking for. Please pay close attention to Jesus’ response to the request of these disciples, for the response Jesus gave to the disciples is such that is quite astonishing and powerful when you truly take the time to think about it. The words which Jesus spoke unto the disciples is such that we must needs pay close and careful attention to, for it calls and draws our attention to the fact that although they made this request of Jesus they had absolutely no clue what they were asking of Jesus. The very first thing Jesus spoke and declared unto the disciples was that they did not know what they were actually asking, nor did they even understand or recognize what such a request would and could mean for them. The very first thing Jesus emphatically and boldly declared unto the disciples was that their request was so far beyond their own understanding, for such a request was much greater and much larger than even they themselves realized, recognized and understood. Not only this, but we also find Jesus going on to ask these two brothers if they were able to drink of the cup which He Himself would rink of, and if they could be baptized with the baptism of which He was baptized. Oh that we would recognize and understand this particular encounter, and the passages found within the gospels concerning the dispute among the disciples concerning who was greatest in the kingdom of heaven, for there is something else at the very heart of this request from the disciples—namely, the reason Jesus would refer to them as “the sons of thunder.” It is with this in mind I invite you to consider the following words and the following passages within the gospel narratives concerning the life and ministry of Jesus Christ:
“And John answered him, saying, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, and he followeth not us: and we forbad him, because he followeth not us. But Jesus said, Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall do a miaracle in my name, that can lightly speak evil of me. For he that is not against us is on our part. For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward. And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea. And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. And if thy food offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. For every one shall be salted with fire, and every sacrifice shall be salted with salt. Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his saltiness, wherewith will ye season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace one with another” (Mark 9:38-50).
“Then there areose a reasoning among them, which of them should be greatest. And Jesus perceiving the thought of their heart, took a child, and set him by him, and said, Whosoever shall receive this child in my name receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me receiveth him that sent me: for he that is least among you all, the same shall be great. And John answered and said, Master, we saw one casting devils in thy name; and we forbad him, because he followeth not with us. And Jesus said unto him, forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us” (Luke 9:46-50).
“And it came to pass, when the time was come that he should be received up, he stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem, and sent messengers before his face: and they went, and entered into a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for him. And they did not receive him, because his face was as though he would go to Jerusalem. And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, tilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did? But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them. And they went to another village” (Luke 9:51-56).
It is actually quite remarkable to read the words which are found within these passages of Scripture, for when we read the narrative and account of James and John asking Jesus that they might be granted a position and place of honor within the kingdom of heaven we must needs understand that at the very heart and center of this is not merely a desire to be greatest in the kingdom of heaven, but also this heart, this spirit and this mindset that would not only cast judgment upon another whom they saw casting out demons in the name of Jesus, but would also ask Jesus if they could call down fire from heaven upon a village in the midst of the Samaritans because they did not receive the messengers before the Lord Jesus Christ. The truth and underlying matter within this passage of Scripture is that it further helps us understand that which was at the very heart of the disciples James and John asking Jesus that they might indeed be granted a position of honor and glory within the kingdom of heaven. The more you read the words which are found within this passage the more you will find and encounter the awesome and powerful truth that while it was indeed true that the disciples James and John had within their hearts and their spirits—at least at that point in time—a desire to be great, greater and greatest in the kingdom of heaven, there was a certain spirit that was present within them. The gospel narratives which were written concerning the life and ministry of Jesus describe these two brothers as not only being the sons of Zebedee, but also as being the sons of thunder—and not only were they called the sons of thunder, but they were called the sons of thunder for a very specific reason and purpose. We find within the gospel narratives James and John being those who wanted to call down fire upon the village of the Samaritans because they did not receive Jesus as His face was set steadfast to go unto Jerusalem, and it was these same brothers who witnessed and beheld one who was not among them who cast out demons and devils in the name of Jesus, and even declared and professed unto Jesus how they had forbid that one to cease casting out devils.
I sit here today thinking about and considering the tremendous language that is found within these words and passages of Scripture and I can’t help but think about these two disciples and how there was not only within them a spirit that desired to be great, greater and greatest, but there was directly connected to and with that spirit that which would and could enable them to forbid another who was casting out devils to cease simply because they did not walk with and follow them. Pause for a moment and think about how absolutely incredible this truly is when you take the time to consider it, for here within this passage we find these two brothers not only forbidding another from casting out devils simply because they did not walk with and follow them, but we also find these same disciples asking Jesus if He would that they call down fire from heaven upon this village in the land and region of the Samaritans. We have a great need to recognize and pay close and careful attention to this, for it calls and draws our attention to the absolutely astonishing and remarkable spirit that was present within the lives of these two disciples—a spirit that not only desired to be great, greater and greatest in the kingdom of heaven, but also a spirit that desired to call down fire upon an entire village simply because they did not receive the person of the Lord Jesus as He was journeying unto the city of Jerusalem. This is important for us to think about and consider—particularly and especially when you consider the words which Jesus spoke unto these twelve disciples when He sent them out into the villages, towns and cities of Israel, as well as the words which were spoken unto the seventy whom Jesus would also send out before Him and before His face. If you consider the words which are found in the tenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew, as well as the words which are found in the tenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the Gentile physician Luke you will not only find Jesus sending out the twelve, as well as the seventy, but you will also find very specific instructions given unto those to whom He sent out before His face:
“And when He had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease. Now the names of the twelve apostles are these; The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip, and Bartholomew; Thomas, and Matthew the publican; James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus; and Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him. These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them ,saying, GO not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give. Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses, nor scrip for your journey, neither two coats, neither shoes, nor yet staves: for the workman is worthy of his meat. AND INTO WHATSOEVER CITY OR TOWN YE SHALL ENTER, INQUIRE WHO IN IT IS WORTHY; AND THERE ABIDE TILL YE GO THENCE. AND WHEN YE COME INTO AN HOUSE, SALUTE IT. AND IF THE HOUES BE WORTHY, LET YOUR PEACE COME UPON IT: BUT IF IT BE NOT WORTHY, LET YOUR PEACE RETURN TO YOU. AND WHOSOEVER SHALL NOT RECEIVE YOU, NOR HEAR YOUR WORDS, WHEN YE DEPART OUT OF THAT HOUSE OR CITY, SHAKE OFF THE DUST OF YOUR FEET. VERILY I SAY UNTO YOU, IT SHALL BE MORE TOLERABLE FOR THE LAND OF SODOM AND GOMORRHA IN THE DAY OF JUDGMENT, THAN FOR THAT CITY” (Matthew 10:1-15).
“After these things the Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place, whither he himself would come. Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest. GO your ways: behold, I send you forth as lambs among wolves. Carry neither purse, nor scrip, nor shoes: and salute no man by the way. And into whatsoever house ye enter, first say, Peace be to this house. And if the son of peace be there, your peace shall rest upon it: if not, it shall turn to you again. And in the same house remain, eating and drinking such things as they give: for the labourer is worthy of his hire. GO not from house to house. And into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you: and heal the sick that are therein, and say unto them, The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you. BUT INTO WHATSOEVER CITY YE ENTER, AND THEY RECEIVE YOU NOT, GO YOUR WAYS OUT INTO THE STREETS OF THE SAME, AND SAY, EVEN THE VERY DUST OF YOUR CITY, WHICH CLEAVETH ON US, WE DO WIPE OFF AGAINST YOU: NOTWITHSANDING BE YE SURE OF THIS, THAT THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS COME NIGH UNTO YOU. BUT I SAY UNTO YOU, THAT IT SHALL BE MORE TOLERABLE IN THAT DAY FOR SODOM THAN FOR THAT CITY” (Luke 10:1-12).
SHAKE OFF THE DUST OF YOUR FEET! EVEN THE VERY DUST OF YOUR CITY, WHICH CLEAVETH ON US, WE DO WIPE OFF AGAINST YOU! As you read the words which are found within these passages of Scripture—not only will you find the Lord Jesus instructing His disciples to shake the dust off their feet upon departing from those houses, those villages, those towns, and those cities which they entered and were not received, but you will also find Jesus instructing the seventy whom He would send out before His face to declare unto that city, that town, that village and that house which rejected them how even the very dust of their city, which clave unto them they did wipe off against them. These words are absolutely necessary for us to understand, for James and John would have heard the words which Jesus spoke unto them concerning shaking the dust off their feet in whatsoever places they entered and were not received, and they might very well have heard the words which Jesus had spoken unto the seventy others whom Jesus appointed to go ahead of Him into the various cities, towns, villages and homes in Israel. This is important for us to understand and consider, for what we find in the New Testament gospel narrative written by John Mark, as well as the New Testament gospel narrative written by the physician Luke are these two brothers which walked with and followed Jesus seeking to call down fire against and upon those in this Samaritan village because they did not receive Jesus as He was headed to Jerusalem. What makes this all the more intriguing is when you think about and consider Jesus’ instructions were that they were not to enter into any of the cities of the Gentiles, nor even enter into any of the cities, towns and villages of the Samaritans. Here on this particular occasion we find messengers going before the face of Jesus into a Samaritan village, and those within the village not receiving Jesus as He was headed to Jerusalem. We know that earlier on during the ministry of Jesus—when He was departing from Judaea to enter into Galilee—He must needs pass through Samaria, and would not only stop at a well and engage with a Samaritan woman at that well, but would also spend two full days with the Samaritans in that village called Sychar.
I sit here today thinking about the words which are found within these two passages of Scripture and I can’t help but think about the spirit that would have been within those who would ask Jesus that HE might grant one to sit on His right hand and the other on His left hand in the kingdom of heaven. Those same brothers who thought to ask and make this petition and request of Jesus would also be those same brothers who would seek and desire to call down fire from heaven upon a village because they did not receive the Lord Jesus. Instead of considering and understanding the concept of shaking the dust off their feet and moving on to another village these disciples sought and thought to call down fire upon those who had rejected Jesus. Perhaps they remembered the Old Testament book of Second Kings when a certain king would send soldiers and servants unto the prophet and how when those soldiers and servants came unto the prophet he would respond by declaring how if he were a prophet let fire come down from heaven. Immediately after the prophet spoke these words you will find fire coming down from heaven—and not only will you find fire coming down from heaven, but you will find fire coming down from heaven twice upon two different companies. There would be a third and final company and host that would come unto the prophet and upon hearing what had happened to the previous two companies besought the prophet with humility and fear not wanting to be killed and destroyed as were the others. Perhaps these two sons of thunder also considered how the prophet Elijah was atop mount Carmel and how the LORD responded by causing fire to come down from heaven upon the altar, upon the sacrifice, upon the stones, upon the dirt, and upon the dust, while also licking up all the water. Perhaps these two disciples were reminded of the narrative of Nadab and Abihu and how as a direct result of their actions before and upon the altar the LORD would cause fire to come out from before Him and consume them in the Tabernacle.
The more I think about and consider the words which are found in this passage of Scripture the more I am brought face to face with the fact that those who desire to be great, those who desire to be greater, and those who desire to be greatest might also very well have a different spirit within them—a spirit that does not afford others who do not walk with them to engage in similar ministries, endeavors, assignments, callings, and the like. Pause for a moment and think about what this narrative would have looked like in our modern context and within the generation in which we are living if certain among us within the houses of worship in which we are apart of look out and see others performing signs, wonders and miracles, and actually forbidding them simply because they do not walk with us. Stop and think about how absolutely dangerous and treacherous this truly us to not only exclude another—perhaps even others—because they do not walk with us, but also because they are doing something while also not walking with us. James and John saw another casting out demons, and instead of rejoicing with that one who was actively engaged in the work of the kingdom they would forbid him from continuing to do so. Instead of these two brothers rejoicing that this individual was carrying out the work of the kingdom they would seek to forbid and stifle that which they would be engaged in within and upon the earth. We know that the seventy would return unto Jesus rejoicing that even the unclean spirits and demons were subject to them in His name, and it would be Jesus who would respond to them by emphatically instructing and admonishing them to rejoice—not because spirits were subject to them in His name, but because their names were written in the Lamb’s book of life. Here was this man who was carrying out a tremendous work and ministry within the kingdom of heaven, and because they did not walk with the disciples James and John sought to forbid him. What’s more, is I would strongly urge you to think about and consider the tremendous offense that might very well have been caused when and as you read the words in this passage. Think about and consider what this particular individual would and could have thought upon hearing one of Jesus’ disciples actually forbidding them from casting out devils simply because they did not walk with the Lord Jesus.
When we think about and consider this particular narrative and account of being great, of being greater, and of being the greatest we must needs recognize and understand that directly linked and connected to this particular spirit is that which can and might very well give room and place to offense—and not only give place to offense, but also being the one who offends. James and John undoubtedly sought to be great within the kingdom of heaven—and perhaps not only great, but being greatest in the kingdom of heaven—and as a direct result of this particular mindset they would be those who would forbid another from engaging in the work of the kingdom simply because they did not walk with Jesus and the other disciples. What we must needs realize and understand is that this desire and this spirit which causes us to be great, greater and greatest has at the very heart of it the mindset of excluding others who perhaps don’t walk with us, or excluding others who do not affiliate themselves with us, or exclude others who perhaps are entirely and altogether different from us. Those who seek to be great, greater and even the greatest can and will be those who are positioned within themselves to actually rebuke and forbid others because they do not walk with us. Not only this, but those who seek to be greatest can and will engage themselves in such a spirit, such a mindset, and such a behavior of stifling the call of God that is placed upon the lives of another. Those who seek to be greatest in the kingdom of heaven have absolutely no room or any place within their hearts, within their minds and within their spirits for others who do not walk with them, and/or those who do not align themselves together with them. Those who seek to be greatest in the kingdom of heaven and/or those who seek to be greatest among us find themselves in a place where they are skeptical, distrusting, cynical, and even rejecting of others—particularly if they feel threatened by them and/or they don’t agree with that which they’re doing.
The more I consider the words which are found within these passages of Scripture the more I am brought face to face with the tremendous spirit that was found within John and his brother James who not only wanted to call fire down upon a village of the Samaritans because they did not receive Jesus, but they also forbade another from casting out devils and unclean spirits in the name of Jesus simply because they did not walk with them. Pause for a moment and think about how absolutely astounding this truly is as the only reason why James and John would forbid this one from casting out devils was because they did not walk with them. This particular one might very well have been considered an outsider compared to those who walked with and followed Jesus, and as a direct result James and John forbade them from casting out devils. How absolutely tragic it is to think about the fact that these two brothers would forbid this one who was perhaps beginning to walk in their calling and/or this one who was beginning to operate in that for which they had been appointed by the living God, and they did so simply because they did not walk with them. Oh we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this, for what have we done toward and against others simply because they have not walked with us? What have we done and who have we forbade simply because they do not walk with us or because they aren’t a part of the church or house of worship we belong to? What have we done and how have we treated others simply because they do not look like us, or talk like us, or act like us? I am absolutely and completely convinced that we have a great and present need within our hearts and our lives to think about and consider how pertinent and relevant this truly is for us within our churches and houses of worship as there have been many among us who have despised, rejected, ostracized and even risen up in opposition against others. I am absolutely and completely convinced that this particular truth and reality must needs be thought about and considered within our hearts and lives, for it forces us to understand and recognize the tremendous cost and price of seeking to be great, and the tremendous cost and price of seeking to be greater and even the greatest.
When I read the words which the disciples and brothers James and John spoke unto Jesus I can’t help but find at the very heart and core of it is not only a desire to be great, but also a desire to be greater than others. It is only a desire to be greater than others that can and will cause us to seek to retaliate against others when we face and experience rejection. It is only a desire to be greater than others that can and will cause us to seek to call down fire and seek the destruction and judgment of others when we feel rejected, despised, and the like. It is only a desire to be greater and the greatest that can and will cause us to polarize and ostracize others simply because they don’t walk with us and/or simply because they aren’t directly connected and associated with us. I can’t help but be absolutely gripped and consumed with the words and language that is found within this passage of Scripture, for it forces us to acknowledge the pride and the arrogance that might very well be found within our hearts—and not only this pride and arrogance, but also that which causes us to seek to be great, greater and even the greatest when compared to others. There is a great need within our hearts and our lives to truly understand and recognize the high cost and price of seeking to be great and be the greatest, for it is when we seek to be great and the greatest that we actually position ourselves in a place where we are willing to rise up in judgment, destruction and devastation against others. Stop and think about how James and John wanted to and were willing to call down fire from heaven upon this village in Samaria simply because they did not receive the person of the Lord Jesus Christ.
As I prepare to bring this writing to a close I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the clear and present contrast that is found within this passage of Scripture presented before and unto us in the New Testament gospel narrative written by John Mark. It is within this passage of Scripture where we find James and John asking Jesus for a special place of honor within the kingdom of heaven—essentially further compounding the idea of greatness and being greater than others—while in the very next portion of this text we find a blind man who heard Jesus passing by and cried out for mercy from Him. What makes this particular passage all the more astonishing is when you think about the fact that here we have these disciples of Jesus seeking honor, seeking glory, seeking position, seeking prestige, and even doing so within the kingdom of heaven, and here was this man whose greatest need and greatest desire was that he might see. Pause for a moment and consider the tremendous contrast between these two different requests which were made and essentially the same question which Jesus asked of these individuals. Jesus asked James and John what they would that He should do for them, and their response was one of self-interest, self-seeking, self-promotion, and seeking to be great within the kingdom of heaven. Jesus would essentially ask the same question of this man named Bartimaeus, and his response was entirely and altogether different—namely, that he might receive his sight. James and John had the privilege and blessing of being able to walk with and follow Jesus where He went, and they had the ability to see and hear all those things which Jesus did among men, and what we find here with this blind man is his sitting alongside the highway on the road roading from Jericho to Jerusalem—almost like the man who was beaten, robbed and left for dead who was found on the side of the road leading from Jerusalem to Jericho. Here was this blind man named Bartimaeus who had been sitting on the side of this highway for who knows how long and this was his one shot and his one chance to receive sight and have it restored unto him.
I find it absolutely necessary that we think about and consider this particular narrative and account, for what we find here is not only this man blind sitting alongside the highway, but we also find him begging. What’s more, is that in addition to being blind sitting alongside the highway we find him begging—perhaps to simply make it through another day. Who knows how long he had been blind and/or how long he had been in this particular spot and place, and who knows how many people would have passed by this particular man sitting on the side of the road both blind and begging and either passed by on the other side, or even might have come unto him and looked upon him before passing by. What we do know for certain is that on this particular day he heard that Jesus was passing by and began crying out, saying, “Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me.” What we find next is actually truly tragic and heartbreaking, for many of those who were with Jesus actually charged this man that he should hold his peace. Stop and think about the fact that this man was by the side of the road on this highway that would run from a previous place of victory for who knows how long, and on this particular he hears that Jesus was passing by with His disciples and a great number of people. Here was perhaps this man’s one and only opportunity to cry out in the hearing and presence of the Lord Jesus Christ, and when he actually opened his mouth and began crying out unto Jesus that He have mercy on him there were those who were with Jesus who would actually attempt to silence him and his voice. There were actually those who were walking with Jesus who sought to silence the cry of this man and to keep him from disturbing and bothering the master. Perhaps they had their own agenda as they walked with and followed Jesus, or perhaps they were trying to somehow control those whom Jesus would and could actually minister to. Regardless of the reason we find and discover many who were walking with and following Jesus seeking to silence the voice of the blind.
SILENCING THE VOICE OF THE BLIND! FORBIDDING THOSE CASTING OUT DEVILS! SEEKING TO CALL DOWN FIRE FROM HEAVEN UPON THOSE WHO DID NOT RECEIVE JESUS! Oh I can’t help but read the words which are found in this particular passage of Scripture and not only encounter those who were with Jesus actually attempting to silence the cry of the blind, but those who were with Jesus actually attempting to silence the cry of that one who was in need. On this particular day there was a man who was blind and begging on the side of the road—one who was perhaps passed by and overlooked—and on this this day he heard that Jesus was passing by. Undoubtedly this man worked up enough courage and boldness within His heart to raise his voice and cry out to Jesus, for although he was blind he had a voice. Stop and think about that fact, for although this man was blind he had a voice—and not only a voice, but a voice that would and could cry out in the hearing of Jesus and all those who were with Him. Undoubtedly this man heard all those who were present with Jesus, and might have even heard the voice of Jesus Himself, and he sought to raise and lift up his voice—this time, however, his voice would not be raised to beg for alms or beg for something monetary, but for something much different. This man had been so used to asking and begging for things that would be earthly, temporary and natural in this life, and on this particular occasion his begging would give way to crying out. WHEN BEGGING GIVES WAY TO CRYING OUT! Oh it is necessary that we recognize and understand this, for there would be those among us who would be content to leave others in the place of begging lest they actually realize they can use their voices to cry out. I would dare say there are those among us within our churches, within our houses of worship, and within many Christian organizations who are content allowing and leaving other people in a place where they are forced to beg so long as they never realize they have a voice that can be used to cry out for mercy.
What a powerful thing it is to think about and consider that although this man was blind he was not without a voice, and although he had previously used his voice to ask and beg for alms he would and could on this day use his voice for something much different and something he had not used it before. On this particular day this man would and could use his voice to cry out for mercy upon hearing that Jesus was passing by. What’s more is that even when many who were with Jesus sought to silence his voice this blind man whose name we learn cried out all the more refusing to be silent. How incredibly powerful it is to think about and consider the fact that he would initially cry out unto the Son of David to have mercy on him, and even when those walking with Jesus sought to silence him he cried out all the more and all the louder making a great deal and much to do in the hearing of those walking with Jesus. What I absolutely love is that it was the second cry—and not only the second cry, but also perhaps crying out all the more—that would ultimately get the attention. Not only this, but in addition to getting the attention of Jesus, this blind man would be called into the presence of Jesus and asked point blank in His presence and in the company of all those who were with Jesus what he would have that He would do for him. This blind man as simply as he knew how responded to Jesus emphatically declaring unto Jesus and in the presence of all those who were with Jesus, “Lord, that I might receive my sight.” Immediately Jesus would respond to this blind man instructing him to go his way, and that his faith had made him whole. What is so incredible about this is that the man’s sight was immediately restored and instead of going his way he actually followed Jesus in the way. What a truly awesome and tremendous truth it is that this man would transition from sitting along the side of the road on the highway to Jericho begging for alms, and because he would not be silenced, and because he cried out a second time with a greater voice Jesus would not only call him forward, but would also restore unto him his sight.
That which we find here in this passage of Scripture is incredibly powerful and incredibly challenging, for it reveals unto us that there are times within our lives when it is not the first cry that gets the attention of Jesus, but rather the second cry. What’s more, is that it is possible that the first cry will be met with resistance by those who perhaps walk with and follow Jesus, and it is the second cry within our hearts and our spirits that not only captures the attention of Jesus, but also creates that atmosphere that invites us into His presence. It is there in His presence where we encounter and experience Jesus asking us what it is we would have Him do for us—that which points to and reveals an awesome and powerful truth and reality of our being able to transition beyond simply crying out for mercy to actually speaking that which is present within our hearts and our spirits. Oh that we would truly understand and recognize that we have been called into a place where we cannot and will not be silenced, and where we recognize and realize that we might very well be in a place where it is not the first cry that gets the attention of Jesus, nor even the first cry that causes us to be brought into the presence of Jesus, but it is the second cry. Oh that we would be men and women who would not be silenced by those who would dare silence us when we are crying out in the hearing and presence of Jesus, and that we would be those who would desperately and earnestly cry out in the sight and presence of the Lord Jesus Christ that He might heal us, cleanse us, deliver us, make us whole, and truly manifest within our hearts and lives that which we so desperately need and desire. Oh that we would be those who are absolutely unwilling to be silenced—even by those who profess to walk with the Lord Jesus Christ—and that we would be such that would raise and lift up their voices in the hearing and presence of Jesus that we might receive that which is present within our hearts and our spirits.