Pleasing God, Making Disciples of Jesus Christ

Zeal Without Knowledge

MARK 10:35-40 – And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came up to him and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” And he said to them, “What do you want me to do for you?” And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?”  And they said to him, “We are able.” And Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you will drink, and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized, but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.”


THEME OF THE DAY:  ZEAL WITHOUT KNOWLEDGE.  This isn’t the first time we find the zeal of Jesus’ disciples getting ahead of their understanding and knowledge.  In today’s scripture, Jesus would say to James and John, “You don’t know what you are asking.” Remember when Jesus washed the disciples’ feet?  Here is that account – Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.” Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me” (John 13:5-8). In both accounts, we find our Lord’s men, choice men, that would change the world, and yet, they struggled when it came to the Lord’s teaching as well as His model they were to follow.  From these accounts, let’s take away two lessons.

First, be humbled enough to realize our ignorance.  Yes, the disciples had zeal.  Yes, it was exciting to follow Jesus, but as often is the case, we allow zeal to be mistaken for knowledge. Before we want to change the world for Jesus, we must first be changed by Jesus, and not regarding being born again, again but in having our zeal tempered with humility and true knowledge of God.  The example of Job serves us well, and that at the end of his book – Then Job answered the LORD and said: “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted. ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. ‘Hear, and I will speak; I will question you, and you make it known to me.’ I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:1-6).  I think sometimes we are too familiar with the God we really don’t know. Be careful not to think biblical knowledge about God is the same as knowing God.  It isn’t. The person knowing God, not just facts about God, will be humble, poor in spirit, and trembles or holds God’s Word in awe (Isaiah 66:1-3; Matthew 5:3-11).


Another lesson from the disciples is be teachable. We certainly admire their passion for Christ, but passion can lead to a prideful spirit that is ripe to become a non-teachable spirit.  Take Peter for example.  Jesus is washing the feet of all the disciples.  He comes to Peter and the response from the zealous fisherman? “No way Jesus. Not mine.”  And one more from Peter. His denial of the Lord. Jesus says, “All of you will deny me.”  Peter responds, “No way, not me.”  Don’t be quick to think we are teachable.  The evidence we are will be our willingness to accept what we don’t fully understand of the Lord.  A teachable spirit says, “I am really not sure what You are doing, Lord, so I will trust You to make it clear when the time is right.”


So, may the Lord help us be zealous for Him, but a zeal that is tempered with a humble and teachable spirit, not one thinking we have all the answers and all the knowledge.


PRAYER: “Father, let me be humble enough to admit how little I really know of Your ways and working in my life.”


QUOTE: “Be cautious of Christians who have to share how much they think they know of the Bible and God.”


In the affection of Christ Jesus,


Pastor Jim