Mark 10:36-40

Mark 10:36 (KJB)
And he said unto them, What would ye that I should do for you?

Jesus had told the disciples that He was going to suffer and die in Jerusalem but despite that revelation, James, John, and their mother had only anticipated the coming rule of Jesus from Jerusalem. So Jesus asks here what He could do for her? What she had asked them was a tremendous request.

Mark 10:37 (KJB)
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.

Since she thought that there was going to be a coronation of Jesus in Jerusalem, she requested that her sons sit on both the left and right hand of Jesus. The right hand seat was the most honorable one and the left hand seat was ancillary to it. (Psa 110:1 KJV) A Psalm of David. The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool. She probably made this request after she heard Jesus state that the twelve disciples would sit on twelve thrones judging the nation of Israel. No doubt this type of request was drilled into their heads since they were very young by the Rabbis who desired the best seats and the highest honors. The disciples were probably still under the illusion that Jesus was soon going to break the yoke of Rome off of Israel. They had searched for a Joshua type Messiah of military stature and this is why they did not understand the mission of Jesus as their Messiah. The last phrase “in thy glory” meant that they actually thought there was going to come a great coronation day because it was an acknowledgement that Jesus was going to rule in His glory.

Mark 10:38 (KJB)
But Jesus said unto them, Ye know not what ye ask: can ye drink of the cup that I drink of? and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?

Jesus assures them that they had no idea what type of request she had made. This is also a lesson in prayer that we must never be careless or thoughtless in our prayer requests. Jesus answers her and asks John and James a question, are they able to be baptized with the baptism that Jesus was soon to experience and to be able to drink the cup that He will drink of? They obviously did not have the proper understanding of what Jesus meant by these two implications. The cup was His approaching suffering and humiliation and the baptism was His death for the payment of sins. (Mat 26:39 KJV) And he went a little farther, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt. (Rom 6:3-4 KJV) Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? {4} Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

Mark 10:39 (KJB)
And they said unto him, We can. And Jesus said unto them, Ye shall indeed drink of the cup that I drink of; and with the baptism that I am baptized withal shall ye be baptized:

Then they answered according to their understanding that they were able to undergo both the trial of the cup and baptism. Then Jesus assures them that they will drink of His cup and be baptized with His baptism but it is not going to be juice in the cup and water baptism. It is sharing in the sufferings of Christ because they are followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. In fact, James was the first to be martyred. It was not a question of they might share in the sufferings but it was a straight fact that they would share in His sufferings.

Mark 10:40 (KJB)
But to sit on my right hand and on my left hand is not mine to give; but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared.

Jesus answers the seat question telling them that the arrangement of seating is given to those whom the Father has prepared them for. The Lord Jesus Christ sits at the right hand of God the Father. Now look again at the request of James’ and Johns’ mother. She wanted one to sit on the left and one to sit on the right. She did not realize it, but she was asking if God the Father could be dethroned or move over one seat and allow one of her sons to sit in God’s seat to the left of the Lord Jesus. This is what we mean when we say we must be careful when we pray and that we should think our prayers through if the situation allows it.  Jesus then assures them that that particular seat and all the others will be given to them for whom it was prepared.