20 The mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Jesus. Her sons came with her. Getting on her knees, she asked a favor of him. 21 “What do you want?” Jesus asked. She said, “Promise me that one of my two sons may sit at your right hand in your kingdom. Promise that the other one may sit at your left hand.” 22 “You don’t know what you’re asking for,” Jesus said to them. “Can you drink the cup of suffering I am going to drink?” “We can,” they answered. 23 Jesus said to them, “You will certainly drink from my cup. But it is not for me to say who will sit at my right or left hand. These places belong to those my Father has prepared them for.” 24 The other ten disciples heard about this. They became angry at the two brothers. 25 Jesus called them together. He said, “You know about the rulers of the nations. They hold power over their people. Their high officials order them around. 26 Don’t be like that. Instead, anyone who wants to be important among you must be your servant. 27 And anyone who wants to be first must be your slave. 28 “Be like the Son of Man. He did not come to be served. Instead, he came to serve others. He came to give his life as the price for setting many people free.”
Upon first reading of this passage it seems like this is a ridiculous, audacious request from the mother of James and John to ask for such a place of honour from Jesus. And yet, if I’m honest, I can see that same spirit in me at times – desiring honour and position.
Jesus’ response is to ask them to count the cost. If you want honour (in God’s kingdom) it’s going to come at a cost. We can look at Christians that we admire – perhaps someone like Billy Graham or Mother Theresa and think how wonderful it would be to have such an influential life. But are we willing to pay the price of sacrifice in service of others?
I find this quite challenging to continue to die to my own selfish desires and my own comfort and to serve as Jesus calls me to. Yet it is the only path to greatness in God’s kingdom.
Written by Shelley Witt