“You do not know what you are asking.”
One commentator that I read this week suggested that when James and John asked to sit at the right and the left hand of Jesus when he came into his glory, they didn’t know that they were asking for the places occupied by the thieves on the hilltop, on the crosses to the left and to the right of Jesus as he was crucified, as he came into his glory through an inglorious and wretched death.
But if they didn’t, perhaps they should have.
The piece of Mark chapter 10 that we have left out between last Sunday and this is the third and most explicit of the passion predictions that the gospel of Mark contains. Between last Sunday and this, Jesus has told his disciples for the third time and in more detail than ever why he is going up to Jerusalem, and how he will be received there, and just how inglorious the coming into glory of the Son of Man will be.
‘“We are going up to Jerusalem,” he said, “and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the Gentiles, who will mock him and spit on him, flog him and kill him. Three days later he will rise.”’ (NIV)
And in the very next breath, James and John ask for the seats of honour beside him in his glory.
Did they know what they were asking?
 The Oxford Bible Commentary, John Barton and John Muddiman (eds) (OUP, 2001), 908