There is no rebuke today for the sons of Zebedee. Jesus ignores the ambition and uses it to teach service in the kingdom. He uses Old Testament phrases for trial and suffering like ‘cup’ and ‘baptism’. “Do you know what you are asking?” Jesus said to them. “Can you drink the cup that I must drink or be baptised with the baptism with which I must be baptised?”
James and John are challenged by Jesus to martyrdom. I wonder did they realise this! The first reading connects this passage with the suffering Servant of Isaiah. To sit at the right hand in glory is not available. To drink the cup and to be baptised with the baptism that Jesus must receive is available. By the time Mark is writing his Gospel many persecutions have taken place!
Jesus repeats his message. Jesus calls them all together. This is similar to recent weeks when Jesus goes back into the house and teaches the apostles. Mark says Jesus called them to him. This is a special teaching to the twelve. Jesus calls them to him. He spells it out. “This is not to happen to you. Anyone who wants to be great among you must be your servant and anyone who wants to be first must be slave to all”.
The final verse is an echo of the first reading. ”For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Many times in the Gospel Jesus asks the question, “What do you want me to do for you?” James and John did not get the answer they expected.