LOOKING TO THE FUTURE
Lord, make me know true kingdom greatness.
Read MATTHEW 20:17–28
Jesus Predicts His Death a Third Time
17 Now Jesus was going up to Jerusalem. On the way, he took the Twelve aside and said to them, 18 “We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death 19 and will hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day he will be raised to life!”
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.”
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!” (Phil. 2:8). Meditate on what this meant for Jesus.
What a contrast! Jesus is anticipating his forthcoming ordeal with its suffering and ignominy, while his disciples anticipate their forthcoming power and glory! As Jesus journeys to the Passover celebration in Jerusalem accompanied by his disciples and their families and friends, he takes the twelve aside to prepare them for what shortly awaits him in the city. Three times previously he has spoken of his betrayal, suffering, death and ultimate resurrection on the third day. What little they can comprehend distresses everyone greatly. This time he adds that he will be mocked, flogged, and crucified. He has spent three years serving humanity; now his hour of glory will cost him everything.
As Jesus anticipates his ordeal, the mother of James and John strolls up to him with her sons in tow, seeking to set them up with positions of power and glory when his kingdom finally arrives. They all want the best, and with the right family connections they believe that this can be arranged. She reverently requests the Master to appoint her sons to positions of high influence in his coming kingdom. How must Jesus have felt? Despite three years of teaching, they still haven’t learned the nature of greatness in God’s kingdom. What a different agenda from his!
As I dwell on the contrast, I identify more with the Zebedee family and the other disciples than with Jesus. Apparently, no one here has learned anything from the children or the rich young ruler. I, too, am influenced by status, significance and achievement rather than a volitional acceptance of the lowly place of servanthood. To be honest, I recoil from rejection and suffering, but that’s what being in God’s kingdom includes. James and John would indeed drink of that very cup. I, too, must embrace my cross and follow. That is kingdom greatness.
Where is God calling you to servanthood? Give your fears to him and step out in faith. He holds your future in his hands.
Lord, I do not aspire to any position beyond what You have for me.
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