I want to be the number one slave?
Posted by Brad Quiring on July 21, 2015
In our minds, Jesus spent a lot of his teaching time on the earth flipping convention on its head. In reality, WE are the ones who flipped what is truly “normal” on its head. He was merely righting the ship that we were sinking.
One of the prime examples of Jesus “putting things in their place” is found in Matthew 20:20 - 28.
It starts out with a request from the mother of James and John, two of Jesus 12 main disciples,
20 Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came to Jesus with her sons, bowing down and making a request of Him. 21 And He said to her, “What do you wish?” She said to Him, “Command that in Your kingdom these two sons of mine may sit one on Your right and one on Your left.” Matthew 20:20 - 21 (NASB)
Note - these two guys didn’t even make the request. They got their MOTHER to make it for them. They were looking for power, prestige and influence in the new kingdom they assumed Jesus would setup in Jerusalem. They assumed the 12 disciples would be the “cabinet ministers” in the new kingdom and they wanted the prime spots. So did mom.
Jesus caught on to this and set some things right:
22 But Jesus answered, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink?” They *said to Him, “We are able.” 23 He said to them, “My cup you shall drink; but to sit on My right and on My left, this is not Mine to give, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by My Father.” Matthew 20:22 - 23 (NASB)
Jesus made it clear they had no idea what they were talking about or what was going on. Before this conversation, Jesus had told the disciples, twice, that he was to be handed over to the religious and military leaders to be killed, but that he would rise again. This was a sacrificial death for our sins as was foretold by Jesus and in the Old Testament.
Jesus also made it clear that decisions about the Kingdom belonged to God because the Kingdom is of God.
The other disciples caught wind of the request and, naturally were VERY upset:
24 And hearing this,the ten became indignant with the two brothers. 25 But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. Matthew 20:24 - 25 (NASB)
Why were they indignant? These two brothers were trying to get in ahead of them! They wanted the positions, too, but had waited too long. “You snooze, you lose,” and no one likes to lose!
Again, Jesus steps in with some “righting of the ship” counsel. The “gentile” leaders, referring to the Roman conquerors and dictators, held control of their kingdom with an iron fist. They “lorded it over” all the people under them and ran things according to their own criteria and whims.
Jesus told the disciples that this was not the way for true followers of him:
26 It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, 27 and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:26 - 28 (NASB)
Here is the lesson from Jesus:
- The Kingdom of God is not like HERE, because it is of God, designed by God and run by God exclusively.
- Our positions in the Kingdom of God are determined by God. He prepares the position, prepares the person and then calls that person to that place. It has nothing to do with us except for us to obey.
Therefore we must change the way we think and live if we are citizens of God’s Kingdom:
- We have different values - we are servants of God and servants of others. In fact, we are so dedicated that we are actually voluntary slaves, like an indentured servant, which is the real meaning of “slave” in the Old Testament Jewish Law. (For more on this, check this article and this article
- Being slaves, we desire to serve and put others ahead of us, put others’ interests before ours and ensure others’ needs are met ahead of ours.
- We do this mutually as followers of Jesus
- We are servants following the example of Jesus who gave his whole life for us. He died on the cross to suffer God’s punishment for our sins. By faith in Christ Jesus we are saved from God’s punishment and saved from our sins. We also receive a gift of eternal life in Heaven from God himself.
Do you want to be great in God’s Kingdom? Do you want to be great in ANY kingdom? Be the slave of everyone.