Then the mother of James and John came to Jesus with her sons, and she knelt down, to ask a favor. Jesus said to her, “What do you want?” And she answered, “Here, you have my two sons. Grant, that they may sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom.”
Jesus said to the brothers, “You do not know what you are asking. Can you drink the cup that I am about to drink?” They answered, “We can.” Jesus replied, “You will indeed drink my cup; but to sit at my right or at my left is not for me to grant. That will be for those, for whom my Father has prepared it.”
The other ten heard all this, and were angry with the two brothers. Then Jesus called them to him and said, “You know, that the rulers of nations behave like tyrants, and the powerful oppress them. It shall not be so among you: whoever wants to be great in your community, let him minister to the community. And if you want to be the ﬁrst of all, make yourself the servant of all. Be like the Son of Man, who came not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life to redeem many.”
James was a quiet sort of man, but at the same time his friendship with Jesus gave him a burning heart. In the only two instances when he addresses Jesus (through the intermediary of his younger brother John), both times he says the wrong things and both times Jesus corrects him. But both times his well-meaning blunders are motivated by his love for Jesus. His request for the destruction of the inhospitable Samaritan village (Lk 9:54) reflects his indignation upon seeing how his beloved Master is treated. And his other request to be at the side of Jesus in the future kingdom, while being no doubt partly inspired by worldly ambition, nevertheless also reflects the desire of someone seeking the permanent company of a cherished friend. James was perhaps a blundering and foolish friend, but just the same he was a true friend who eventually laid down his life for Jesus in the year 44 (Acts 12:2). Jesus could perceive James’ genuine devotion shining through his inept requests. And he loved James for that.
Perhaps those among us who tend to goof off often can find in James a heavenly patron with whom they can identify. James was quite a goofer, yet he was one of Jesus’ closest friends.
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