Sermons

Summary: JESUS PROGRESSES ON HIS JOURNEY TO THE CROSS AND HAS AN INTERESTING CONVERSATION WITH THE MOTHER OF THE SONS OF THUNDER.

A MOTHER’S REQUEST

MATTHEW 20:17-28

MARCH 31, 2019

A FEW WEEKS AGO, WE BEGAN A SERIES OF MESSAGES DEALING WITH VARIOUS INCIDENTS AS JESUS MADE HIS LAST JOURNEY TO JERUSALEM. OUR JOURNEY STARTED WITH HIS FIRST PREDICTION OF HIS DEATH WHERE HE PRAISED PETER AND THEN REBUKED HIM, FOR SELFISHLY STANDING IN THE WAY OF THE PLAN OF SALVATION.

LAST WEEK THE DISCIPLES ASKED JESUS WHICH OF THEM WOULD BE THE GREATEST IN THE KINGDOM, AND JESUS USED THE EXAMPLE OF A CHILD TO ANSWER THEM. HE SAID THAT WE NEEDED A CHILDLIKE FAITH TO BE GREAT IN HIS KINGDOM.

THE DISCIPLES THOUGH DIDN’T SEEM TO UNDERSTAND THE ANSWER. AFTER THE TRANSFIGURATION, THEY WERE THINKING WITH PRIDE AND SELFISHNESS, TRYING TO DEVISE SCHEMES SO THAT THEY COULD BE THE GREATEST. AS JESUS WOULD ANSWER TO JAMES AND JOHN, THEY DIDN’T KNOW WHAT THEY WERE ASKING FOR.

THERE ARE MANY TIMES WE SEE THIS IN THE WORLD OF BUSINESS. A PROMOTION IS SOUGHT AND RECEIVED, BUT IT IS ONLY AFTER STARTING THAT NEW ROLE THAT WE UNDERSTAND THE TRUE COST OF THAT PROMOTION, TO OURSELVES AND TO OUR FAMILY. THE WRAPPING LOOKS GOOD, BUT THE GIFT IS FOUND WANTING.

LOOK AT THE PASSAGE WITH ME.

BIBLICAL BACKGROUND:

JESUS IS RESOLUTELY SETTING OUT FOR JERUSALEM. HIS JOURNEY IS MOVING QUITE RAPIDLY NOW AND WE ARE ON ONE OF HIS LAST STOPS BEFORE COMING TO THE CITY.

LUKE TELLS US THAT HE IS TAKING A MORE DIRECT ROUTE FROM GALILEE TO JERUSALEM AND IT MEANT GOING THROUGH SAMARIA. THE SAMARITANS HAD A LONG STANDING FEUD WITH ANYONE GOING TO JERUSALEM, BASED ON RELIGIOUS GROUNDS. MOST PEOPLE WOULD HAVE AVOIDED GOING TO JERUSALEM BY WAY OF SAMARIA, BUT JESUS DIDN’T AND THE FIRST VILLAGE THAT THEY SOUGHT LODGING IN WOULD NOT HELP THEM OR WELCOME THEM.

IT IS HERE THAT JAMES AND JOHN COME TO BE KNOWN AS THE SONS OF THUNDER. THEY ASK JESUS IF HE WANTED TO CALL DOWN FIRE AND DESTROY THE CITY FOR REJECTING HIM. HE REBUKED JAMES AND JOHN FOR ACTING AGAINST THE PLAN OF SALVATION.

THEIR FOCUS HAD TO BE ON JERUSALEM, NOT ON A REQUEST THAT WAS FILLED WITH PRIDE AND SELFISHNESS. THEY BELIEVED THEMSELVES TO BE IMPORTANT PEOPLE AND THESE SAMARITANS WERE NOT SHOWING THEM RESPECT OR BEING HOSPITABLE. HOW DARE THEY DO THAT TO US? HOW DARE THEY TREAT JESUS THIS WAY, BUT IT IS MOSTLY ABOUT US. WE WILL HAVE OUR REVENGE.

ROMANS 12:19: DO NOT TAKE REVENGE, MY DEAR FRIENDS, BUT LEAVE ROOM FOR GOD’S WRATH, FOR IT IS WRITTEN: “IT IS MINE TO AVENGE; I WILL REPAY,” N SAYS THE LORD

THE SEEKING OF REVENGE IS SELFISH AND PRIDEFUL BECAUSE WE ARE RESPONDING TO OUR OWN HURT. WE WANT THE ONES WHO HURT US TO HURT JUST AS BAD. JESUS REBUKE WAS BECAUSE THIS WAS AN ACT OF JUDGMENT, ON THE PART OF JAMES AND JOHN. THEIR MISSION THOUGH WAS ONE OF SALVATION, NOT JUDGMENT.

WHILE ON THEIR WAY TO THIS NEXT DESTINATION, JESUS CALLS THE TWELVE TO HIM AND TRIES FOR THE THIRD TIME TO INFORM THEM OF WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN IN JERUSALEM. HE USES MUCH OF THE SAME WORDS HE USED WHEN HE FIRST TALKED TO THEM ABOUT HIS DEATH.

MATTHEW SEEMS TO DIVIDE THE TEXT INTO TWO SECTIONS. Vv. 17-19, TELLS US OF JESUS SPEAKING TO HIS DISCIPLES ABOUT HIS DEATH.

Vvs.20-28 SPEAK OF THE REQUEST THAT JAMES AND JOHNS MOTHER MAKES OF JESUS. IT WOULD SEEM AS IF THE EARLIER WORDS OF JESUS ABOUT HIS DEATH WERE UNHEEDED, AS THIS REQUEST SPEAKS OF WHEN JESUS SETS UP HIS KINGDOM, WHICH THE DISCIPLES FELT WOULD BE A PHYSICAL ONE AFTER THEY DEFEAT THE ROMANS.

I WANT TO CONCENTRATE ON THIS LATTER PART TODAY. I ALWAYS FOUND IT A BIT AMUSING THE WAY THIS HAPPENS.

EARLIER THE SONS OF THUNDER ARE REBUKED BY JESUS IN DEALING WITH THE UNRULY TOWN. NOW THEY HAVE A REQUEST TO MAKE OF HIM, A REQUEST THAT FOR ALL INTENSIVE PURPOSES MEANS “LET US BE THE GREATEST IN THE KINGDOM.” THEY HAD HEARD PETER REQUEST THIS TWICE, AND PERHAPS THEY FELT THEY SHOULD MAKE THEIR REQUEST NOW.

THEY HAD STARTED OFF BADLY SO WHAT COULD THEY DO TO IMPROVE THEIR CHANCES? THEY RESORT TO CHILDISH MEANS.

WHEN I WAS A CHILD IF I WANTED SOMETHING I WOULD ASK MY PARENTS. IF ONE SAID NO, I WOULD GO TO THE OTHER AND ASK THEM NOT INDICATING THAT I HAD TALKED TO THE FIRST. IF MOM SAID NO AND DAD SAID YES, I WOULD TRY TO GET DAD TO CONVINCE MOM. IT’S THE WAY OF A CHILD, PLAY ONE OFF AGAINST THE OTHER.

JAME’S AND JOHN’S MOTHER ARE WITH THEM DURING THIS PART OF THE JOURNEY. IF YOU THINK IT’S HARD TO SAY NO TO A MOTHER, TRY SAYING NO TO A JEWISH MOTHER. IT’S IMPOSSIBLE. SO THESE GROWN UP MEN WHO ARE ACTING LIKE BOYS SEND THEIR MOTHER TO JESUS TO ASK FOR THEM. WE HAVE AN IDEA OF WHAT JEWISH MOTHER’S CAN BE LIKE. WE PICTURE THEM AS OVERBEARING LIKE THE MOTHER ON “EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND.” CAN’T YOU JUST IMAGINE THE CONVERSATION.

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