Wednesday, March 2, 2022
20 It was about that time that the mother of the Zebedee brothers came with her two sons and knelt before Jesus with a request.
21 “What do you want?” Jesus asked.
She said, “Give your word that these two sons of mine will be awarded the highest places of honor in your kingdom, one at your right hand, one at your left hand.”
22 Jesus responded, “You have no idea what you’re asking.” And he said to James and John, “Are you capable of drinking the cup that I’m about to drink?”
They said, “Sure, why not?”
23 Jesus said, “Come to think of it, you are going to drink my cup. But as to awarding places of honor, that’s not my business. My Father is taking care of that.”
24-28 When the ten others heard about this, they lost their tempers, thoroughly disgusted with the two brothers. So Jesus got them together to settle things down. He said, “You’ve observed how godless rulers throw their weight around, how quickly a little power goes to their heads. It’s not going to be that way with you. Whoever wants to be great must become a servant. Whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave. That is what the Son of Man has done: He came to serve, not be served—and then to give away his life in exchange for the many who are held hostage.”
-Matthew 20:20-29 The Message
Request for Preferred Treatment
Verse 20: Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came to Jesus with her sons, bowing down and making a request of Him.
Verse 20 study: Here is what happens a lot in churches. People will come praise and worship Jesus with a motive. People play religious games to get what they want in return. This is what Zebedee, the mother of the sons James and John that are disciples does. She bows down and makes a request. True worshippers honor and praise Christ for who he is and what he has done.
So, let’s talk about it for a minute. What did she want? She wanted Jesus to give her sons special positions in his kingdom. It is normal to want your child to be promoted and honored. But the problem with this behavior is that it is a dangerous desire, especially if they lose sight of God’s designed plans or will for his children. God may have something different, and sometimes it is not pleasurable, but it is important. So as a parent, make sure your desires for your children’s advancement are held in check and pray that God’s will be done in his children’s lives.
According to chapter 27 verse 56, Zebedee was at the cross when Jesus was crucified. Some suggested she was Mary’s sister, the mother of Jesus. It can be possible because of her family that she asked for this promotion for her sons.
Verse 21: And He said to her, “What do you desire?” She *said to Him, “Say that in Your kingdom these two sons of mine shall sit, one at Your right, and one at Your left.”
Verse 22: But Jesus replied, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink?” They *said to Him, “We are able.”
Verse 22 study: If you go back and take a look at chapter 19:16-30, and chapter 20:1-16, James, John, and their mother Zebedee failed to grasp Jesus’ teachings on rewards and eternal life. They failed to understand the suffering they must face before living in the glory of God’s kingdom. The cup was the suffering and crucifixion that Christ faced. James and John faced great suffering. James would be put to death for his faith. John would be exiled.
Verse 23: He *said to them, “My cup you shall drink; but to sit at My right and at My left is not Mine to give, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by My Father.”
Verse 23 study: Jesus made it a point to show his authority of the Father. He is the one that makes the decision about leadership in heaven. These types of rewards are not granted as favors. These are for those who maintained their commitment to Jesus in spite of severe trials.
Verse 24: And after hearing this, the other ten disciples became indignant with the two brothers.
Verse 24 study: The other disciples were upset with James and John for trying to grab the top positions. All the disciples wanted to be the greatest (18:1), but Jesus always taught them the greatest person in God’s kingdom is the servant of all. Authority is not given for self-importance, ambition, or respect, but for useful service to God and his creation.
Verse 25: But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles domineer over them, and those in high position exercise authority over them.
Verse 26: It is not this way among you, but whoever wants to become prominent among you shall be your servant,
Verse 27: and whoever desires to be first among you shall be your slave;
Verse 27 study: Jesus described leadership with a new viewpoint. He didn’t use people, he used us to serve others. Jesus’ mission was to serve others and to give his life away. A real leader has a servant’s heart. Servant leaders appreciate others’ worth and realize that they are not above any job. If you see something needing to be done, don’t wait to be asked. Take action and do it like a faithful servant.
Verse 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.”
Verse 28 study: A ransom was the price paid to release a slave from bondage. Jesus told his disciples often that he must die, but here he told them why; to redeem all people from the bondage of sin and death. The disciples believed that as long as Jesus was alive, he could save them. In reality, Jesus revealed that his death would save them and the world.