Focused on Fame
September 20 - Nº 263 Matthew 20:17-28; Mark 10:32-45; Luke 18:31-34
It was almost time for the Passover Feast to begin. Jesus and his disciples had already begun their last journey together to Jerusalem. As they traveled, Jesus took them aside privately and warned them, “When we get to Jerusalem, I will be betrayed, and my life will be put in the hands of the chief priests and teachers of the Law. They will condemn me to death and turn me over to the Romans. They will mock me and spit on me. Then they will flog me and crucify me on a cross. But on the third day, I will rise again.” This was the third and most graphic time that Jesus explained to his disciples what was about to happen. But they just didn’t get it! It was not what they wanted to hear. They were focused on the fact that Jesus was the Messiah—the King of Israel. And they were counting on the fact that they were going to rule with him. After all, just a few days before he had told them, “When I sit on my glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on 12 thrones, and you will judge the 12 tribes of Israel” (see #261 - A Rich, Young Ruler). The disciples were so caught up in their own thoughts of fame that they didn’t process what Jesus was saying would happen to him in just a few days. They skipped right over the fact that he was about to suffer and die for the sins of the world! James and John were so oblivious to what Jesus had said that they brought their mother to him with a special request. (We later find out that her name was Salome and that she was the sister of Mary, Jesus’ mother.) Salome knelt in front of Jesus and said, “Please promise me that my sons will sit next to you in your kingdom—one at your right and one at your left.” She wanted to ensure that the two most prestigious positions in the Messianic kingdom would belong to her sons. “You don’t understand what you are asking,” Jesus replied solemnly. Then he turned and asked them, “Do you think you can go through what I am about to go through?” Jesus knew how difficult things were about to get for him. And he knew that James and John had no idea! Yet without hesitation they both replied, “Yes, we can go through whatever you have to go through!” “Unfortunately, you will have to,” Jesus replied sadly. “But I am not the one who decides who will sit at my right or my left in the kingdom. My Father has prepared these places. Only He knows who will sit in them.” When the other ten disciples realized what James and John had requested, they became very angry. How dare the two brothers pull rank as Jesus’ cousins—and involve his aunt—in such a huge decision! Jesus called the disciples together and said, “This is not how you should be acting. You are behaving like the Gentile rulers who lord it over the people they rule. You are supposed to act like servants. Whoever wants to become great must be willing to serve everyone. Even the Messiah did not come to be served. No, I came to give my life as a payment for other people’s sins.”
Do you realize how important it is for us to serve others? To do this, we must swallow our pride and give up our own agendas. Jesus certainly did this for us!