James and John approached Jesus and said, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.”
Jesus explained to them that they did not know or understand what they were asking.
Jesus’ reply indicates that this would involve sharing in his suffering, “Are you able to drink the cup that I drink?”
James and John reply confidently that they could endure the same suffering and be “baptised with the baptism” that Jesus would be baptised with. It is clear that James and John do not understand that Jesus is referring to his suffering, rejection and death.
Jesus explains that it is God’s decision who takes the seats of honour in Heaven, “Those places belong to those for whom they have been prepared.”
The other disciples are angry with James and John when they find out about this. Jesus uses it as an opportunity to teach the disciples about service. He says that he has come to be servant of all people and encourages the disciples to follow in his lead.
“Whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”