Are You Able?
21 January 2015
Reading: Matthew 20; Psalm 18
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, will you let my two sons sit in places of honor next to you, one at your right and the other at your left?” 22 But Jesus told them, “You don’t know what you are asking! Are you able to drink from the bitter cup of sorrow I am about to drink?” “Oh yes,” they replied, “we are able!” 23 “You will indeed drink from it,” he told them. “But I have no right to say who will sit on the thrones next to mine. My Father has prepared those places for the ones he has chosen.” (Matthew 20:20-23 NLT)
More than three years of following, watching, listening, helping, learning, and living daily with Jesus the Messiah will be over in a matter of a few days. James and John, who with Simon Peter made up the Three Musketeers of Jesus’ closest followers, talked their mother into asking Jesus what they were afraid or embarrassed to ask themselves, “May we please have the two top positions of honor and power in your eternal Kingdom? May we please?”
Jesus challenged them with a question and then told them he wasn’t the one appointing the places and positions. Then when the other ten became indignant that James and John thought of it first, 25 Jesus called them together and said, “You know that in this world kings are tyrants, and officials lord it over the people beneath them. 26 But among you it should be quite different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first must become your slave. 28 For even I, the Son of Man, came here not to be served but to serve others, and to give my life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:25-28 NLT)
Father, Jesus’ words are simple and clear, but the message is hard to grasp. Where are the examples among the leaders of the faith? Is it too late for me to simply be a simple servant? May I and my friends who read this be honored to become simple servants of others and may we, too, live lives of ransom and redemption. Amen.