Summary: Apostles, Pt. 12
TO BE LIKE JESUS (MATTHEW 20:17-28)
How many of you thought Hillary would certainly run for the presidency before 2007? Would you run for presidency after you have had eight long years in the White House with a spouse who confessed to an “inappropriate relationship” with a young White House intern and been impeached on counts of perjury and obstruction of justice? On top of that, your spouse finally admitted to an affair with a woman (Gennifer Flowers) who claimed she was his lover for twelve years and another woman (Paula Jones) who had filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against him. Would you welcome the headache, the media and the scrutiny again?
When my wife and I were speculating whether Hillary Clinton would run a presidential candidate, she said with firm conviction, “For sure.” I shook my head in disbelief, “No way.”
An old CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll reveals that only 16 percent of respondents said they would “definitely” vote for Hillary Clinton, while 51 percent said they would definitely not. She even once lost in the poll to Condoleezza Rice, a woman who has made it crystal clear that she has no intention of running for president.
I must finally admit she was right and I was wrong. Even my good friend Michael Wu said she would run. In retrospect Wu said: “I am not a prophet nor a son of a prophet, but my gut feeling was that she was an ambitious lady who would climb to the top of the social ladder if she sees the possibility.”
Henry Kissinger once remarked that power is the most potent aphrodisiac.
The first time the disciples heard that Jesus would be betrayed into the hands of men – 3 chapters ago - in Galilee, they were filled with grief. (Matt 17:22-23)
Now the stakes were higher, he was going up to Jerusalem (v 17). Before, Jesus told them that he would be betrayed and killed (Matt 17:22-23); now he revealed more but with less results: he will be “condemned to death… mocked and flogged and crucified.” (vv 18-19) For the first time Jesus revealed his “condemnation to death,” “mocking” and “flogging.” Further, the Greek word “crucify” occurs for the first time in the Bible.
Regardless of how urgent Jesus was, the disciples were indifferent, nonchalant, if not worse. Not only did the disciples not grief this time, two of them had ideas on their mind and up their sleeves. They thought of going to Jerusalem for political power, to reap favors and to cement connections.
Why does power have such a pull on people? Why do people want more and more power supply? Why do people rush in to fill a power vacuum? What is the alternative to power and ambition?
Live a Life of Simplicity, Not Show
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.” (Matt 20:20-21)
A wealthy businessman was horrified to see a fisherman sitting beside his boat, playing with a small child.
“Why aren’t you out fishing?” asked the businessman.
“Because I caught enough fish for one day, “replied the fisherman.
“Why don’t you catch some more?”
“What would I do with them?”
“You could earn more money,” said the businessman. “Then with the extra money, you could buy a bigger boat, go into deeper waters, and catch more fish. Then you would make enough money to buy nylon nets. With the nets, you could catch even more fish and make more money. With that money you could own two boats, maybe three boats. Eventually you could have a whole fleet of boats and be rich like me.”
“Then what would I do?” asked the fisherman.
“Then,” said the businessman, “you could really enjoy life.”
The fisherman looked at the businessman quizzically and asked, “What do you think I am doing now?”
Mama Zebedee was a most interesting character to study. She was one of the women who had followed Jesus from Galilee to care for his needs (Matt 27:55-56), so she knew as much as anyone they were on the way to Jerusalem and that now was as good a time as any to make her move. The Jewish mother was a force to be reckoned with, a proud mother, a heavyweight contender and a tough negotiator Jesus could do without. A mother of mothers that only mothers could be proud of, she had done her math and knew there was not enough room for Peter, James and John by both sides of Jesus and that sitting in front of or behind Jesus was rude, uncomfortable and embarrassing. Further, the family of three had contributed to the needs and ministry of Jesus more than any family, so she was entitled to a good turn.