Do we know what we really want? Of course we like to think we do, but do we really? Jesus made an interesting comment to His disciples one day while He was in the middle of a very funny conversation. On one occasion the mother of James and John asked Jesus to give her boys what she wanted for them. Actually the Zebedee boys didn’t have the guts to ask Jesus for what they really wanted, so they stood in the background as their mom asked Jesus for them.
The mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Jesus with her sons and, kneeling down, asked a favor of him. “What is it you want?” he asked. She said, “Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom.” “You don’t know what you are asking.” Matt. 20: 20-22a
I like the way Eugene Peterson interprets Jesus’ last statement to His disciples in The Message. Peterson interprets Jesus’ statement, “You don’t know what you are asking” to mean “You have no idea what you’re asking.” As James and John stood behind their mother, and as she requested what they were so convinced they most wanted in their life, Jesus confronted their assumptions. Essentially Jesus said, “You think you know what you want, and you think you’re asking me for the life that you most desire, but the fact is you don’t have a clue what you’re asking me to give you. You don’t really know if the cost of what you’re asking is actually worth it to you. You don’t know if the actual experience of what you’re asking will really turn out to match what you’ve always imagined in your head.” Jesus has this amazing capacity to cut through all of our flawed assumptions, flawed beliefs, and flawed desires. Jesus brings His disciples to the place where He probes what we believe we so desperately want and then observes, “You have no idea what you’re asking.” If you were to have a “here’s what I really want” conversation with Jesus, what would you ask Him to give you? Do you want to sit at Jesus right hand like James and John? What do you really want from Jesus? Would Jesus say, “That sounds very good for you,” or would He say, “You don’t know what you’re asking?”