Today I want to read and comment on an incident which showed the gap between Jesus of Nazareth and the hidden agendas of his closest followers. It is Matthew Chapter 20 v.20. ‘Then the mother of Zebedees’ sons came to Jesus with her sons (curious phrase that – think about it!) asking a favour’, and pardon my paraphrasing the conversation. ‘Grant that these two lads of mine be given the two top jobs in your Kingdom – your right and left hand men.’
‘You don’t know what you’re asking’, said Jesus. Then, addressing the two lads (he knew who had put mum up to it) asked them, ‘can you drink from my cup?’.
‘Certainly’, they said, thinking it to be a celebration feast and victory drink, an early sort of champagne knock about.
‘Then you certainly will’, he said, but knowing it meant rejection and death for following Him. ‘But to sit on my right and left hand when I’m crowned, are places already assigned.’
(I wonder would they, and their mum, have begged to take the places of the two thieves crucified on either side of Jesus?, for this is surely what he meant.)
Nevertheless, when the other ten heard about this bit of one-up-manship, they were indignant! Why? Because James and John had tried to jump the queue and get in first for the top jobs. So they were all as bad. All their personal and private agendas were showing: the longing for power, for recognition, for fame and fortune. No wonder Jesus told them this:
“You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave – just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and give his life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20
I have known Christians who gave up careers which promised money, power and popular recognition, in order to follow Jesus, then to take up the same agenda but in His church.
When you call us to be your servants and followers Lord, we join your servant church and then have to resist the spirit of competition. The seeking of recognition, and our name’s prominence all over again. Help us Lord to deny these selves and their agendas.
Now read Acts 8: 4-24