If we are familiar with the struggle of trying to live as a Christian, yet often having to deal with our selfishness and pride, this story about James and John can give us great hope. These men are excellent examples of the battle between our fallen nature and the new nature available to us in Christ.
James and John had given up much to follow Our Lord and yet they were richly rewarded. They were privileged to see not only Our Lord’s miracles but also the glory of his Transfiguration. And yet these two brothers made this surprising request. In actual fact, they were so conniving that they had their mother make it for them. While most teachers would have become frustrated with disciples like these, Our Lord didn’t get upset or chastise them. Instead, he used the opportunity to teach the disciples about the way to true greatness.
In spite of their selfishness and pride, James and John went on to become pillars of the Church, and this is why we can take encouragement from them. No matter how “off-track” we may become, God is always at work within us to separate flesh from spirit. God knows all about our weakness and our sin, but he still loves us and continues to teach us, just as he remained faithful to James and John.
All he asks of us is that we do our best to turn from sin and turn towards him in trust and obedience. Our Lord offers us the same “cup” that he offered James and John. It is a cup of suffering, and it is a cup of blessing. And as we drink this cup, we will know the full benefits of being children of God; we will know the Father intimately as Jesus does. So let us open our hearts and allow Jesus to reveal our sin so that we can be filled with his grace and his love.