I would wager that all of us, as a child or young adult, shouted this word more than once in our lifetimes. The second I knew mom might not be going along in the car, I would shout “shotgun”, meaning I would get to sit in the front seat, on the passenger side, with my arm hanging out the window like mom in those pre-A/C days.
The shouting got to be so annoying, my parents made new rules. No one can shout shotgun until you are out the door, ready to go. So we fought tooth and nail to get out the door first so we would be the first to shout it.
Do you know where the word “shotgun” originated? The expression “riding shotgun” is derived from “shotgun messenger”, a colloquial term for “express messenger”, when stagecoach travel was popular during the American Wild West and the Colonial period in Australia. The person rode alongside the driver. The first known use of the phrase “riding shotgun” was in the 1905 novel The Sunset Trail by Alfred Henry Lewis.
“Wyatt and Morgan Earp were in the service of The Express Company. They went often as guards—’riding shotgun,’ it was called—when the stage bore unusual treasure.”
It was later used in print and especially film depiction of stagecoaches and wagons in the Old West in danger of being robbed or attacked by bandits. A special armed employee of the express service using the stage for transportation of bullion or cash would sit beside the driver, carrying a short shotgun (or alternatively a rifle), to provide an armed response in case of threat to the cargo, which was usually a strongbox. Absence of an armed person in that position often signaled that the stage was not carrying a strongbox, but only passengers.
SO…The person riding shotgun sat at the right hand of the driver and was in as much danger as the Driver.
A well meaning, rather pushy mom asks Jesus if her sons can ride “shotgun” in His Kingdom. What is His response?
A Mother’s Request
20 Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Jesus with her sons and, kneeling down, asked a favor of him.
21 “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.”
22 “You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said to them. “Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?”
“We can,” they answered.
23 Jesus said to them, “You will indeed drink from my cup, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared by my Father.”
24 When the ten heard about this, they were indignant with the two brothers. 25 Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 26 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
THINK ABOUT IT…
In the Kingdom of Jesus, we are called to serve, not be served.
We want to know Christ, but are we willing, as followers, to endure and to “share in His suffering” as Paul understood and wrote to the church?
“I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.” Philippians 3:10-11, NIV
This is what it means to “drink the cup” so others can know Him, too. This is what it means to ride “shotgun” with Jesus!
Jesus endured suffering, beatings, mocking on the way to being nailed to a cross for our sins. It was His mission to seek and to save lost people. Only Jesus, the Driver of salvation and life eternal, will get us to our final destination!
What is the mission Jesus commanded his disciples then (and now) to be and do?
“Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. 19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28, NLT
This is want it means to ride shotgun with Jesus, King of kinds and Lord of Lords. His Holy Spirit abides in us as we follow Jesus into the wilderness of worldly thinking to help people find and follow Him. AND the bonus? Jesus will always be with us!
Jesus saves. We follow and serve Him. Don’t get these roles mixed up.
Dear Lord and Savior,
You are God, Holy Spirit, and our Savior, all in one and all in us who believe. Thank you for abiding in us still. Continue to transform me. I really believe that what I believe is really real. You are my confidence.
In Jesus Name, Amen