Matthew 20:17-28; It Shall Not Be So Among You

To Jerusalem

And we move on toward Jerusalem. The group has been meandering toward Jerusalem to participate in the Passover celebration ever since they gathered in Galilee. And now, in geography and in the story, they are getting very close.

Another Prediction of Death

Jesus again (for the third time since the confession of Peter) tells the Twelve that they are going to Jerusalem with an agenda. He is more specific about what will happen than he has been before. The chief priests and scribes will be involved and will have him executed, but the gentiles will carry it out, with mocking and flogging and, finally, crucifixion.

But their plan will be thwarted because Jesus will be raised on the third day.

This foretelling serves two purposes. For the Twelve, it prepares them somewhat for what is about to happen. Although they apparently can’t quite grasp it, at least they will understand eventually. And for the reader, it serves to let us know that there is a purpose and a plan in this. This is not a senseless martyrdom. God is behind it.

A Mother’s Request

The mother of James and John asks Jesus if her sons might become his right and left hand men in the kingdom. (I can’t help but picture the two thieves who were crucified beside Jesus when I hear this request.) The brothers are complicit in this request and they are with her. She and they do not grasp the nature of the kingdom. They are expecting, it seems, rule to be reestablished in Jerusalem, and they want the honor involved in that.

Jesus informs the trio that God will decide such matters. They don’t really even know what they are asking for.

The Response of Jesus

The other ten see what is happening and get angry. They are no less ambitious than James and John. They are angry about James and John asking first.

Jesus calls them all together. He told them that things work differently in the kingdom than they do in the world. In the world, it’s all about bosses and leaders and chiefs and honor.

It shall not be so among you.

In the kingdom it’s all about serving and slaving. Even Jesus himself didn’t come to be in a position of honor, but to serve. If they had listened to him talk about what was going to happen in Jerusalem, they would understand better.

It shall not be so among you.

Where is the servant leadership today? Pastors today do about everything but pastor. Pastoring is shepherding, a lowly servant job. Pastors today are CEOs of an organization.

This leads to lopsided clergy-oriented churches and the purposes of the church are largely put aside for new goals which show the leader to be a genius.

It shall not be so among you.

There is no expiration date on that command of Jesus.

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