Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Jesus with her sons and, kneeling down, asked a favor of him. “What is it you want?” he asked. She said, “Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom.” “You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said to them. “Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?” “We can,” they answered. Matthew 20:20-22
Dear Lord Jesus, every time I read this story about two of your apostles and their mom asking for a position of privilege and power in your kingdom, I find my incredulity meter going berserk. How in the world could James and John possibly think such a request would ever be at all appropriate, given the three years of mentoring and modeling you gave them? Everything you taught and the way you lived your entire incarnate life absolutely contradicted such a notion and request. How dare they, how could they be so oblivious to the obvious? What’s with these power-hungry ingrates?
But just as I climb onto my hobby-horse of disgust and judgmentalism, the gospel of grace dismounts me, and I find the freedom to ask myself these questions: How am I just like James and John? When do my words, attitudes and choices contradict the very gospel that I love and defend? Whose incredulity meter am I forcing into overdrive? Those who live with me… those who work with me? Those who taste my impatience when I’m behind a steering wheel? Those who overhear my idle chatter and self-indulgent banter in any of a number of settings? Those most exposed to my unbelief, my fears, my rudeness, my driven-ness, my insincerity, my irritability?
Lord Jesus, that I’m even in your kingdom is a testimony to greatness of your mercy and the riches of your grace. The heck with sitting on your right or left, I’m just humbled and grateful to be in your hand… in your heart… in you. I could never drink the cup you alone drank for me on the cross.
The cup I now drink and the bread I now eat, remind me of your death… unite me to your life… call me to your likeness. Lord Jesus, I don’t want to be incredulous over anyone’s sin but my own. And, through the gospel, please make me less and less oblivious to my patently obvious need for more of your transforming grace.
Jesus, you came to serve not to be served, and to give your life as a ransom for many. May your servant’s heart be cultivated in me and demonstrated through me. So very Amen, I pray, in your patient and forbearing name.