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Summary: He came to serve others

Reading: Matthew Chapter 20 verses 27-28.

• If there is one word in the English language that is sure to cause a debate when spoken,

• That word is “greatest.”

• In fact, take two people, any people,

• And you can always stir-up trouble by using this simple word.


• Ask a Southampton fan and a Portsmouth fan who’s the greatest football club,

• And watch the sparks fly.

• Ask two mechanics what is the greatest car ever made;

• And they will eagerly debate their opinion.

• Ask two people who the greatest prime minister or the greatest politician was,

• And they’ll chase that rabbit as long as they have breath to do so.

• Ask two Christians which is the greatest Bible translation.

• Or which is the greatest hymn book, or hymn?

• There is something about that word “greatest” that stirs something inside of us.

• Question: Why?

• Answer:

• Because greatness is something we aspire to, greatness is something we care about.

(1). Context:

(1). A Parable (verses 1-16).

• Which illustrates his own words in chapter 19 verse 30:

• “Many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first”.

• The parable teaches that God’s ways and human ways are often not the same,

• The parable illustrated God’s generosity, not his unfairness.

• The parable again ended with the punch-line in chapter 20 verse 16:

• “So the last will be first, and the first will be last”.

(2). An announcement (verses 17-19).

• For the third time, Jesus has announced to his disciples:

• That he will be arrested, crucified, and also his resurrection (see 16:21; 17:22).

• In the two previous announcements,

• He had not specified how He would die. But now He clearly mentioned the cross.

• And he also clearly mentioned His resurrection,

• But the message did not penetrate the disciples’ hearts, they were so slow to understand!

Quote: Luke in his gospel tells us (chapter 18 verses 34):

“The disciples were thoroughly bewildered, not being able to digest the words spoken by Jesus”.

• They knew that something was weighing heavy on his heart and mind.

• But they were unaware of what that something was.

So to help them understand:

• Jesus took the 12 aside from the others disciples who were also following him:

• And he simply explained to them the events that were going to happen.

In doing so, Jesus pointed out the extent of his sufferings:

• These sufferings would affect every area of his person;

• Look at the description he gives:


• “He would be betrayed” (verse 18).

• That statement reveals the suffering of a heart broken by the disloyalty of friends.


• He was to be “condemned to death” (verse 18).

• There we see the suffering of injustice, which is extremely difficult to bear.


• He was to be “Mocked” by the Romans (verse 19).

• There we see the suffering of humiliation and deliberate insult.


• He was to be “Flogged & crucified” (verse 19).

• There we see the suffering of physical pain.

In a few days time:

• Jesus was going to take upon himself; every possible kind of;

• Physical and emotional and mental suffering that the world could inflict.

Now In contrast to this announcement of suffering and death;

• We have the request of James and John and their mother,

• Incredible to think that while Jesus spoke about a cross,

• They were interested in a crown.

• As Jesus talked about pain and humiliation, they were dreaming of glory and honour.


• Had they not just listened to the parable of the workers in the vineyard;

• Where the punch-line in verse 16 clearly said: “The first will be last”?


• The answer is yes!

• But like us these disciples are only human.

• And like us I guess they picked and chose the bits they liked and felt appropriate,

• And conveniently forgot or filed away the difficult bits.


• Before we criticize what they did,

• Let’s notice some commendable features in this event.

(A). The Zebedees

(1). They were possibly related to Jesus.

Most scholars believe the mother of James and John was named Salome:

• A bit of detection work on the Bible passages around the cross.

• Would seem to infer that this was her name.


• If you compare Matthew chapter 27 verse 56,

• With Mark chapter 15 verse 40 and John chapter 19 verse 25.

• You come up with a list of women who were at the cross of Jesus.

• When you put the list together:

• One person is always present but described differently each time;

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