Do you ever read through the gospels and notice the lack of transitions sometimes? There are places where the finish one story and then into the next with nothing stated as to what happened in between. It makes sense of course. There’s no way that every moment of Jesus’ ministry on earth could be detailed. But sometimes I see a gap that just begs for explanation.
One such transition is between Matthew 20:19-20. Versus 17-19 is the third time that Jesus tells them He is about to be mocked, flogged and crucified. This is quite an important moment, now being repeated for the third time, yet there is no question, no follow up, nothing from the disciples.
Instead James and John’s mom comes to Jesus with a request, and a very heavy and selfish request at that. Jesus has just said (paraphrased) “Look, in a matter of hours, I will be betrayed, and handed over to the corrupt authority. Then without a fair trial, they will condemn me to death, beat me almost to death and then hang me on a cross to die slowly with other criminals”. And then a mom basically says (again paraphrased) “OK, that’s great and all, but when you are on your throne, there will only be two places of power. I want you to promise me that above everyone else, my two boys get those two positions.”
Wow, the question is selfish enough on it’s own, but to place that question after such deep comments from Christ, with not so much as an acknowledgement of what He just said… it’s shocking.
Imagine it this way. A wealthy father gathers all of his extended family and friends around to let them know he has just received news from the doctor that he only has days to live. Then a distant relative, mother of two distant cousins, comes up to him personally, without even commenting or offering condolences or anything… and requests that her two sons receive the largest portion of his inheritance. My guess is that man may even consider writing them out of his will all together.
But Jesus’ response has much more grace. He simply points out that his live was not about being served, but about serving. So as a result of that, only those who truly serve with the heart He had in His service, will receive such honor.
Christ was the first and only “ruler” that did not seek to be served, instead he chose to serve others. Not as a way to earn favor, not as a way to get recognition, just as a way to show love.
Serve with the loving heart of a servant. Don’t keep score. Don’t seek recognition. Don’t look for rewards. Simply show your love by serving.