The biggest struggle of a church going individual in today’s consumerist world is the same struggle we find in the apostles John and James. They are looking for position, prestige and power. Is there anything wrong about it? Absolutely not if all your focus is being a leader in the world.
What we fail to understand is, position gets its true prestige and power only when it is coupled with the heart of a servant. True power breaks barriers and goes beyond boundaries.
Ervant leadership is not an easy task. Haven’t you seen church boards all across America reading: First Assembly of God, First Presbyterian, First Church of God, I haven’t seen one Episcopal church with that name yet, which does not in any way mean we are not power hungry, and then comes the second Baptist and second Methodist and second Presbyterian who are not that important and takes a back seat and if no one gets first or second, I must say sarcastically, then they go for All Saints, St. John’s, Creek Willow Church, and Broadway Community Church. There is a Church in Ohio called the “The Alpa and Omega”, the First and the Last church!.
Henri Nouwen says that we have been tempted to replace love with power.
The story of James and John makes us wonder what in the world were they thinking when they asked for left and right side of Christ?
William Barclay says something very beautiful when reflecting on this passage today. "There are many negative things that can be said about James and John. They were nakedly ambitious and proud: they wanted, and believed they deserved, places of honor in Jesus’ kingdom. They were ignorant and insensitive: their request for places of honor came right after Jesus had told of His coming suffering and death. But there’s one positive thing you can say about James and John: they believed in Jesus. Here was a poor, homeless, persecuted carpenter and yet James and John believed Jesus was a king. They believed that He would conquer the power structure of Rome."
Even their crude ambition reflected their faith in Christ.
Today as we reflect on this scripture let us ask God to give us a servant heart and a deep rooted faith in Christ. Let us take home two beautiful messages from a not so beautiful request of James and John.
1. It is OK to be quirky with Christ, and He will understand us, and set us straight.
2. It is not OK to be quirky with people, as true greatness is in being an honest servant.
 William Barclay, The Gospel of Mark, pp. 254, 255