This morning Debbie and I connected with Sue and Sam Schmidt for breakfast. It was good to be together again. Their dog had a “sleep over” with us while they conducted a small group meeting a their house. Sam then helped me pick up a show base and some supplies for our basement project. We are looking forward to seeing that effort move forward.
BIBLE VERSE FOR TODAY… “Jesus called them over and said, You know that the rulers of the Gentiles dominate them, and the men of high position exercise power over them. It must not be like that among you. On the contrary, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life—a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:25-28 HCSB
There is nothing that can disrupt an effort like “division among the ranks.” This account of, “who will be greatest in Jesus’ kingdom” is significant for several reasons. In addition to learning important principles about God’s kingdom, it could have been a source of ongoing resentment, mistrust and division among the disciples.
Jesus had tried to prepare His disciples about His eventual death and resurrection. While they did not grasp the significant of it all at the time, it does seem at least one person, realized that future glory was in store for Jesus. That person was the mother of James and John.
Perhaps as good “Jewish mother” she was just looking out for “her boys.” This picture is like someone approaching a King, asking for special permission or favor. Who Jesus was and what He said, had not escaped this observant mother. Bringing her two boys with her, she asks Jesus to show them special favor and honor in His coming kingdom.
Jesus response was two-fold. First, that “honor” would be given as a result of not just sovereign favoritism, but earned through much suffering and “passing the test.” Then we see that they had to be disappointed when Jesus told them, it “is not Mine to give; instead, it belongs to those for whom it has been prepared by My Father.” (Matt. 20:23 HCSB)
We then see this requested was made in the presence of the others or they soon heard about it. Their response? “They were indignant.” (Matt. 20:24 HCSB) Was their rage out of jealousy or the “inappropriateness” of the request or some other reason? I believe we can assume it was the former. Jesus had recently told them, “…when the Son of Man sits on His glorious throne, you who have followed Me will also sit on 12 thrones, judging the 12 tribes of Israel.“ (Matthew 19:28 HCSB)
Jesus did not just ignore the situation or just rebuke James or John, or tell the disciples to “just knock it off.” Instead, He said, “let’s talk.” He used this as a teaching moment and a moment of clarification between the world they knew and world they would inherit. The kingdom by whose principles they were to live.
In the world they knew, people used power and position as status and an opportunity to command the respect and the attention and obedience of others. The person of power is “above” all others.
Jesus words of significance were, “It must not be like that among you.” (Matt. 20:26 HCSB) He told them, “your call is different, the way power is used is different in my kingdom.” Jesus went on to say, “….whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life—a ransom for many.” (Matt. 20:26-28 HCSB)
Jesus did not just “tell them” He “showed them” the way. The concept of being “great by serving” is what His life was all about. How were the disciples to use power and authority? Just like Jesus did. Soon Jesus would stand before His disciples in resurrected form and say, “…All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matt. 28:18-20 HCSB)
Jesus let His disciples know that “kingdom principles” were for “this” world. Today, we can read leadership books and hear of organizations who practice, “servant leadership.” I’m not sure if everyone who hears the concept understands where it came from; but now over 2,000 years later we see concepts, that find their basis in the life and priorities of Jesus.