How does Mark say that James and John prefaced their request to Jesus? See Mar 10:35. In what way is such a lead-in on the one hand quite childish, and on the other hand quite similar to the manner in which Christians often beseech God? Is God our Maker and our Master, or our butler? What impact should such an understanding have upon our prayers? Considering that James and John were among Jesus’ closest disciples, but their request was rebuffed by Jesus, how does this passage balance Jesus’ teaching on prayer in Mat 7:7-8, 21:22, and Mar 11:24? Cf. Joh 15:7, 1Jo 3:22.
What request did James and John make of Jesus in this passage with the assistance of their mother? See Mat 20:21, Mar 10:37. What prompted such a request at this time? See Mat 19:28. What does this teach us about the disciples’ expectations that Christ’s kingdom was about to be established, and the type of kingdom they were expecting? Why especially as they were approaching Jerusalem would their expectations of Christ establishing His kingdom have been heightened? See 1Ki 11:36, Psa 48:2, 132:13, Zec 8:3, Mat 5:35. As the kingdom that Christ did in fact establish in Jerusalem was spiritual, not physical, what is the true nature of the Jerusalem that as the city of God and the great king is the capitol of His kingdom? See Heb 12:22, Rev 3:12, 21:2,10; cf. Gal 4:25-26, Phil 3:20. As physical stones are used to build physical cities, what is used to build a spiritual city, and especially the temple in that city? See 1Pe 2:5, 1Co 3:16, Eph 2:19-22, and again Rev 3:12.
What would it mean to sit at the right or left of Jesus in the type of kingdom the apostles were expecting? See Gen 41:43-44, Est 10:3, Dan 5:16,29. What does such a request indicate about their understanding of Jesus’ words He had just spoken in Mat 20:17-19? See Luk 19:34. What was Jesus’ response to James’ and John’s request in Mat 20:22a? Might such a response also be appropriate in regard to many of our requests of the Lord? What in particular about their request made it misguided in regard to the very nature of Christ’s kingdom He was establishing? Hint: “asking” in Mat 20:22 is in the middle voice in Greek, which means “asking for yourself”. What is wrong with asking for oneself as they were doing, in light of the way Jesus taught us to pray? Cf. Mat 6:9-10. Therefore, what prayer of Jesus should we also always include in our requests? See Luk 22:42.
Consider that James and John supposed they knew what they were asking, but didn’t because they were completely mistaken about the nature of Christ’s kingdom; is it possible that many of the things for which we pray may also be misguided because we don’t understand the nature of His kingdom? Should we expect such prayers of ours to be answered according to our expectations any more than this request of two of Jesus’ closest disciples was answered according to theirs? How should such an understanding temper the things for which we pray to God? Cf. Ecc 5:2. In spite of their misguided request, what does the meekness of Jesus’ response teach us about the Lord’s patience toward us in our misunderstanding of the truth? See Heb 5:2, cf. Heb 4:15. How is this also an example for us to follow? See 2Ti 2:24-25.