Summary: Service what is that about? I can be great and serve no one or nothing but my own desires, not in God’s kingdom.
Mattthew 20:20-27: Serve with verve!
Well here we go its Mother’s day, it’s a certainty that we all have a mother, some of us get on well, others not well at all, some Mums are now in heaven and some mums are starting on the journey of motherhood. There are those who are Dads who are doing the job of Mum as well. It’s a responsible position and some are great at it and others not so flash. Whoever you are it’s a day for celebrating mothers. One of the mothers who crops up on the gospels is a lady by the name of Salome, Zebedee’s wife and the mother of James and John.
A couple of things about this lady, it is thought that Salome was Jesus mother Mary’s sister, this makes James and John Jesus cousins. She also supported Jesus in his ministry; it is thought she was one of the ladies who travelled with him and his disciples. Being a good mum, this most likely gave her the opportunity to keep an ‘eye on the boys’.
A bit more background, while we have this picture that has been passed down to us of the disciples being in their twenties and thirties and older while they were with Jesus they most likely weren’t. The evidence for this are the verses from Matthew 17:24- 27 (Read). The last verse is about finding a four drachma coin which was enough to pay the temple tax of two people Peter’s and Jesus’. The other disciples were exempt the tax if they were under twenty years old. Most likely they ranged from about seventeen to nineteen with Peter a bit older at the end of Jesus ministry here on Earth.
So here we have James and Johns old mum, who may have only been in her late thirties early forties at this stage, bold as brass bowling up to Jesus and dropping a pearlier of a question.
Probably thinking because she was an Aunty she might have a bit of sway, she asked a fairly substantial question, remember as we hear the question again that it was her belief that Jesus would soon be King of Israel. “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.’”
Was their mum wrong to ask the question? I don’t think she was, when we look at the previous chapter there is a little pointer to why she asked, Matthew 19:28 reads, “Jesus said to them, ‘I tell you the truth, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.’”
Jesus had already pointed out that the disciples were going to be seated in positions of authority as judges over Israel.
The issue was that they still did not understand that his kingdom was not going to be a bricks and mortar kingdom, with all its pomp and pageantry, its royal weddings with the eight tier wedding cake and the balcony kiss. The kingdom of Jesus, was not to be like that, his kingdom was not to be last Saturdays front page or the Woman’s Weekly Special Edition, that stuff is just so last week. Jesus kingdom was to be eternal and without end, Jesus kingdom is eternal and without end.
The boys and their Mum didn’t understand. You can imagine the scene before they approached Jesus:
James and John talking: (Remember these two men were the sons of thunder) I had two boys from the youth group and a Mum from the Corps act this play out.
James: What do you reckon I’m sure that he’ll be King soon and I want to sit on my throne at his right hand!
John: You can’t sit there!
James: Why not?
John: Because that’s where I’ll be sitting!
James: That’s what you think; I tell you what, I’ll fight you for it! I’ll fight you for it!
John: You’re on then!
Their Mum: Ohi cut that out, now what’s all this about boys?
James and John together: He said he was going to sit at Jesus right hand when he becomes king.
Their Mum: For crying out loud! One of you can sit at his right and the other at his left, if you’ll just zip it for five minutes we’ll go ask him who is going to be sitting where. Once he’s made up his mind I don’t want to hear another word and that’s final.
So what was it Jesus said to them? “You don’t know what you are asking. Then Jesus’ next question was addressed to the Disciples James and John, “Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?”