Mark 10:37, Sitting on Jesus’ Left and Right

They said unto him, Grant unto us that we may sit, one on thy right hand, and the other on thy left hand, in thy glory.

//In today’s verse, two of Jesus’ disciples, James and John, come to him and ask a favor. They realize that they are headed to Jerusalem, where Jesus as the anticipated Jewish messiah is supposed to announce his kingship. When Jesus sits on his throne as ruler, they want to sit one on his right, the other on his left.

They don’t understand what’s about to happen. They don’t understand the purpose of their trek to Jerusalem. Mark routinely portrays the disciples of Jesus as being slow to understand.

This particular story is a little disturbing to Matthew, so it gets rewritten: it becomes the mother of James and John who requests that her sons be given the place of prominence in Matthew’s version. Either way, Jesus’ answer is the same: You don’t know what you’re asking, and it’s not my place to give you anyway, for it has been prepared for others.

Makes you wonder, doesn’t it? Who are the seats of honor prepared for? Who is going to get to sit on Jesus’ right and left when he ascends to his throne in Jerusalem as Messiah?

The answer comes from combining Mark with John. John explains to us that Jesus’ glory is revealed as he is lifted, crowned with thorns, up on the cross. Mark, then, explicitly refers to those who are selected to share in his glory, raised on his left and right:

And with him they crucify two thieves; the one on his right hand, and the other on his left. –Mark 15:27

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