Wednesday, July 23, 2014

God’s Standard Of Greatness

Matthew 20:17-34

“And Jesus going up to Jerusalem took the twelve disciples apart in the way, and said unto them, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be betrayed unto the chief priests and unto the scribes, and they shall condemn him to death, And shall deliver him to the Gentiles to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify him: and the third day he shall rise again.” (Matthew 20:17-19)

After crossing the Jordan, near Jericho, Jesus took his disciples aside and spoke to them privately, warning them that he would be betrayed to the chief priests and religious leaders in Jerusalem and condemned to death.  He would then be turned over to the Gentiles to be abused and executed.  He would rise again on the third day.  Though this was not the first time they had heard it, the disciples didn’t fully register what he was telling them. 

“Then came to him the mother of Zebedee's children with her sons, worshipping him, and desiring a certain thing of him.

And he said unto her, What wilt thou?

She saith unto him, Grant that these my two sons may sit, the one on thy right hand, and the other on the left, in thy kingdom.

But Jesus answered and said, Ye know not what ye ask. Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?

They say unto him, We are able.

And he saith unto them, Ye shall drink indeed of my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with: but to sit on my right hand, and on my left, is not mine to give, but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of my Father.” (Matthew 20:21-23)

Because of our sin nature, competition is instinctive among people.  James and John’s mother came to Jesus to ask him to let her two sons take the places of prestige in heaven, with one on his right hand and the other on his left.    Jesus said they had no idea what they were asking for.  He had just told them he would be beaten and crucified and asked if they thought they were prepared to go what he was going to go through. 

Not really believing he would be killed, they confidently said they could take it.  Jesus warned them that later they would be killed and buried just as he would, but that even that would not give them the right to sit at his right and left hands on the throne.  God the father was the one who would decide who was seated where on his throne.

“And when the ten heard it, they were moved with indignation against the two brethren.” (Matthew 20:24)

When the others heard how James and John had tried to get an unfair advantage by having their mom ask Jesus to give them a special place in heaven, they were quite angry at them.  They had already had several arguments as to who would be the greatest. 

 “But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them.  But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:25-28)

Jesus told them that the unsaved world competed to gain power and prestige.  The Christians were not to try to get power over each other.  Instead, the one to be considered greatest was to be the one who took the most menial and degrading jobs.  Jesus himself set the example, giving up his throne in heaven for the people.  Rather than becoming a priest or one of the scribes or lawyers or political figures, he was a carpenter who didn’t even have a home of his own, not even charging for his teaching or healing, though he was at the beck and call of everyone who wanted healing.
“And as they departed from Jericho, a great multitude followed him.  And, behold, two blind men sitting by the way side, when they heard that Jesus passed by, cried out, saying, Have mercy on us, O Lord, thou son of David.  And the multitude rebuked them, because they should hold their peace: but they cried the more, saying, Have mercy on us, O Lord, thou son of David.
And Jesus stood still, and called them, and said, What will ye that I shall do unto you?
They say unto him, Lord, that our eyes may be opened.
So Jesus had compassion on them, and touched their eyes: and immediately their eyes received sight, and they followed him.” (Matthew 20:29-34)

As they were leaving Jericho for Jerusalem, a large crowd followed Jesus.  Two blind men heard the passing crowd and called out to Jesus asking that he take a moment for them.  The crowd was impatient that they were interrupting Jesus travels but they just called out louder.  When Jesus asked what they wanted, they asked to be given the ability to see.  Jesus again demonstrated his humility by stopping what he was doing to heal their sight, without complaint about the interruption.  When they could see they joined the rest of the crowd on the way to Jerusalem.

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