Matthew – God’s Purposes
We are such easily distracted humans, especially when we are pulled away from God’s purpose for us to selfish ambitions and natural desires to be great. It makes sense that Jesus would pause and remind them again about what He will face in Jerusalem, predicting his death by telling them a few details of what will happen to Him. But are the disciples who are walking along beside our Savior really listening? Nope. There is a side conversation happening.
James and John, brothers who brought mommy along to ask what they are too timid to ask, are more focused on the kingdom THEY would like to see Jesus rule. Oppressed by Roman rule, they see Jesus being a revolutionary who will overthrow this government and set up a new kingdom. James and John, at mom’s request and push, want first dibs at sitting in places of honor next to their new king, Jesus, in a kingdom of their own thinking, not of God’s.
Jesus knows their hearts, even the heart of their mom before she even requested top honors for her son. I think Jesus made her say it out loud, so she could hear for herself what she is asking of Him. Then he explains what “leading” in God’s Kingdom really looks like and the responsibilities and acts of service it will entail. This comes on the heels of Jesus predicting his death to dull minds focused on self.
Do we do that? Do we lose focus on God’s purposes? Do we expect to be served?
Do we miss what God is telling us through His Holy Spirit? Are we seeking honor in His Kingdom work or serving from a grateful heart for all Jesus did for us?
Matthew 20, NLT
Jesus Again Predicts His Death
17 As Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside privately and told them what was going to happen to him. 18 “Listen,” he said, “we’re going up to Jerusalem, where the Son of Man[b] will be betrayed to the leading priests and the teachers of religious law. They will sentence him to die. 19 Then they will hand him over to the Romans[c] to be mocked, flogged with a whip, and crucified. But on the third day he will be raised from the dead.”
Jesus Teaches about Serving Others
20 Then the mother of James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to Jesus with her sons. She knelt respectfully to ask a favor. 21 “What is your request?” he asked.
She replied, “In your Kingdom, please let my two sons sit in places of honor next to you, one on your right and the other on your left.”
22 But Jesus answered by saying to them, “You don’t know what you are asking! Are you able to drink from the bitter cup of suffering I am about to drink?”
“Oh yes,” they replied, “we are able!”
23 Jesus told them, “You will indeed drink from my bitter cup. But I have no right to say who will sit on my right or my left. My Father has prepared those places for the ones he has chosen.”
24 When the ten other disciples heard what James and John had asked, they were indignant. 25 But Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. 26 But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave. 28 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
LET’S GO OVER THIS AGAIN…
Jesus said to them and to us…”Among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Are we ready to give rather than take? Are we ready to serve rather than be served? Are we ready, like Paul preached to the Philippians, to really “know Christ…AND share in His sufferings”, in God’s Kingdom work?
These are all questions for serious reflection this morning. Don’t be so hard on the disciples. We know the whole story and still lose focus from time to time due to selfish desires that lead to less than desirable servant living. God forgive us. Keep us alert and focused on YOUR purposes so that we hear your, “Well done, good and faithful servant” when we meet you face to face.
This is my prayer, In Jesus Name, Amen