Matthew 20:17-24

As Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside privately and told them what was going to happen to him. “Listen,” he said, “we’re going up to Jerusalem, where the Son of Man will be betrayed to the leading priests and the teachers of religious law. They will sentence him to die. Then they will hand him over to the Romans to be mocked, flogged with a whip, and crucified. But on the third day he will be raised from the dead.

Then the mother of James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to Jesus with her sons. She knelt respectfully to ask a favor. “What is your request?” he asked.

She replied, “In your Kingdom, please let my two sons sit in places of honor next to you, one on your right and the other on your left.”

But Jesus answered by saying to them, “You don’t know what you are asking! Are you able to drink from the bitter cup of suffering I am about to drink?

“Oh yes,” they replied, “we are able!”

Jesus told them, “You will indeed drink from my bitter cup. But I have no right to say who will sit on my right or my left. My Father has prepared those places for the ones he has chosen.

When the ten other disciples heard what James and John had asked, they were indignant.

Amazing! Jesus tells the parable and then they act it out! The principle in the parable is simply that God’s agenda is the only agenda and if we are going to be in His Kingdom, fulfilling what we are made to accomplish and aware of it, we have to push away from our little, myopic, self-interest. Oh, how our perceptions change when the Holy Spirit opens our eyes to the real world!

But Jesus is very gracious, at least I think so, in the face of blatant self-promotion. He obviously [and invariably] sees more than I can into their personalities. He doesn’t rebuke them at all but explains that the issue they are interested in is not in His prerogative. In other words, he before the foot-washing service that all things had been put under His authority. He knew where He was headed and why. He also knew that they would follow soon enough.

Personally, I take deep encouragement from that scene and the loving interaction that comes from Jesus to His disciples. I don’t know a single time when I could acurately and fully predict what He has been up to with me. That has become so clear that I no longer expect to know much of anything except Him and the insight He is giving at this moment. Even that, I know, is not the whole picture. I surely wouldn’t know what to do with it if I saw it! Not at this point anyway. But I love the the echo of  His love I can “hear” in His voice when, instead of rebuking, He just asks a question, Can you…? He knew they had not clue what the cup was. He also knew they would share in the suffering that He was about to undergo. You will.

Each one of them heard the echo of those words at the moment of their graduation into full glory. They followed His instructions to the letter, He that saves his life… He that looses… for Me… Their loyalty to their Savior, their true Friend and Master, was to honor Him with laying down of their life and stepping directly into face-to-face greeting from Him. Welcome, My good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your Lord. Nothing is worth missing that.