The Mother of James and John came to Jesus with high expectations regarding her sons and expressed her vision of success for her boys to Christ. Let’s read about this in Matthew 20:20-23, “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.’” The boys’ mother sought to put them in the position that she felt her boys should have. First, she came with false humility “kneeling down, asked a favor of him.” The mother came to Christ on her knees with her boys with her. Do we do a similar thing with Jesus when we ask Him for what we want? He asked her, “’What do you want?’ 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.'” She wanted the most prestigious positions in the kingdom for her boys. One should rule with Jesus sitting on his right and other would rule sitting on the left of him. All of a sudden, the kingdom of Christ was assaulted by this ambitious woman’s kingdom. Success to her was status and the world’s view of authority. What audacity?! Before we judge her, let’s make sure that we are not of a kindred spirit. What does success look like to you?
When the other ten disciples heard about this discussion, they were furious. Verse 24 reveals their anger, “the ten heard about this, they were indignant with the two brothers.” We have all seen the results of selfish ambition…disorder, separation and hurt. James 3:16 talks to this, “16 For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.”
Then, Jesus set things right according to the true Kingdom of God in verses 25-28, “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.’” First, Jesus called them together. He is all about unity. Then, he explained the difference between the Gentiles’ (the world) view and His view. “The rulers of the Gentiles lord it over the people, and their high officials exercise authority over them.” Now, Jesus explains the Kingdom view, His view. “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.” We, His kids/His Church, are called not to selfish ambition to lord over others. Greatness in His Kingdom is to place Christ first in each of our lives willing to serve others before ourselves.
In the flesh, we rebel against Jesus’ view. But in the Spirit, we recognize that this truth and life.