Stories, thoughts and reflections on the Bible from the WSFC Staff.
Following Jesus leads us into a new kind of life, a new point of view, and new attitudes for daily success. “Old things have passed away. Behold [watch and see] all things have become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)
When you focus on Jesus you’ll see the new attitudes He has for you in life. Matthew 20:20 begins the report of such an encounter. Take a moment now to read Matthew 20:20-28:
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.”
22 “You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said to them. “Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?”
“We can,” they answered.
23 Jesus said to them, “You will indeed drink from my cup, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared by my Father.”
24 When the ten heard about this, they were indignant with the two brothers.25 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.”
Most of us can identify with brothers James and John in this encounter. These two young men, and their mom, had been following and learning from Jesus for about three years by the time this scene unfolds. Along with Peter, James and John had been invited into several “inner circle” experiences that seemed to set them apart from the group of twelve disciples. Led by their mom, it seems that they wanted to make their position alongside of Jesus permanent. They wanted to live their best life! Big promotion, corner office, club membership. The new Kingdom was coming and they wanted to be promoted to the strongest position of leadership possible, right alongside of the Son of God.
Jesus didn’t prevent their aspirations for what they envisioned as the best place. He doesn’t oppose your desire for the best. But He will open your eyes to the working conditions of His Kingdom as it comes into you, and, through you affects your life and relationships. Let me encourage you that by trusting Him you are made secure with Him. Only Jesus can be the bridge that opens the way to forgiveness of your sin, a new birth (instead of the old self-centered lonely existence), and the settled security of resurrection life in Him. James and John were asking for more: A fulfilled, important place in this new Jesus-life.
But Jesus turned their point of view upside down. He will do that for you, too. He says that leadership in the Kingdom of God is not defined by position and power over others. It’s not the same as people of this world do things. Instead, people secure in relationship with the Savior become like Him, the servants of all others, intent upon their Lord’s purposes. Jesus’ own life is the essential example to follow. Matthew 20:28 and Philippians 2:4-11 will make this very clear and memorable for you.
The key that unlocks harmony with others in your life is the Jesus-attitude of one who serves others for their good. You can have that attitude by knowing that you are secure with Him in this moment, and always. You don’t have to strive and claw to be the leader on top. That’s much too low a place for you. Live with the renewed soul of a servant and you’ll have the peace and importance you really desire.
Pastor Rich Marshall