Mom Wants Sons to be Greatest ( by Carley Evans )


A mother wants the best for her child. She sees her child’s flaws, but she relishes her child’s abilities above and beyond those minor problems. Sometimes a mother does more than her children expect her to do, pushing ahead in an effort to be supportive or of assistance.

The mother of the sons of Zebedee finds Jesus. She kneels at His feet, and points to her two sons. Jesus asks, “What is it you want?” She says to Him that she wants one of her sons to sit at His left hand while the other son sits at His right hand “in [His] kingdom.” (Matthew 20:21)

This mother intervenes for her children. She asks the Lord, the Son of God, for special treatment for her two sons. Jesus does not speak to her; instead He turns to her sons, first telling them they have no idea what is being expected of them by their mother. He then asks, “Can you drink the cup I Am going to drink?” (Matthew 20:22) Each man says that he can. Likely neither wants to disappoint a loving mother. Jesus acknowledges that they are indeed going to drink of His cup, but that the two places “belong to those for whom they are prepared by My Father.” (Matthew 20:23)

Nothing more is said of the sons of Zebedee in regards to their response to this. Nothing more is said of their mother. However, when hearing of the request, the other ten disciples “are indignant with the two brothers.” (Matthew 20:24) Jesus calls everyone together and tells them about rulers and high officials lording over others with authority. Jesus says, “Not so with you.” (Matthew 20:26)

Jesus tells His disciples the secret to greatness is being a servant, even a slave to others. He reveals His own greatness is due to His willingness to serve rather than be served, and “to give His life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:28)

The mother of the sons of Zebedee does not know what she is asking.

Father God, help us to set aside our ambitions and serve one another in love. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

 

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Who Does Sin? ( by Carley Evans )


Jesus’ disciples ask Him, “Master, who does sin, this man, or his parents, that he is born blind?” [The disciples might just as well ask, “Master, why is this man born blind?]

Jesus responds that neither the sins of the man born blind nor of his parents cause his blindness. Rather the man’s blindness is a vehicle to show forth the work of the Son of God — the work which God the Father sends Jesus to perform.

This work is to be performed in the daytime  — the three or so years Jesus walks the earth in ministry — during which Jesus is the Light of the world. Jesus says, “As long as I Am in the world, I Am the light of the world.” (John 9:5, KJV)

Then Jesus spits on the ground, makes a clay and anoints the eyes of the blind man. He commands the man to go to the pool of Siloam to wash. The man obeys, and “comes seeing.” (John 9:7)

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that suffering in this world is not always the result of sin; that often You use situations, including great physical pain, to reveal Your glory not only to Your people but to a lost and dying world. Help us to trust You in every circumstance. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

 

Stay Awake, Pray; Get Up, Let’s Go


Today — still exhausted from my trip and lack of sleep last night — I kept thinking about Peter and the two sons of Zebedee falling asleep while Jesus agonizes in the garden of Gethsemane. Jesus has asked them to “sit here while I go over there and pray.” (Matthew 26:36, HCSB) I can imagine Peter sitting down on the ground, perhaps leaning against a tree while Jesus grows ever more “sorrowful and deeply distressed.” (Matthew 26:37) About this time, Peter and the sons of Zebedee must be somewhat bewildered. Why is the Son of God so distressed?

Jesus says, “My soul is swallowed up in sorrow — to the point of death.” (Matthew 26:38) Such deep sorrow is imaginable for us, who have experienced the loss of a child, a parent, a dear friend, a spouse — these sorts of sorrows we understand. Jesus is facing utter isolation as well as intense physical suffering. No wonder He “falls facedown and prays, ‘My Father! If it is possible, let this cup pass from Me.'” (Matthew 26:39) No wonder He is disturbed when He finds Peter and the others asleep rather than keeping watch with Him. He commands, gently I am certain, “Stay awake and pray, so that you won’t enter into temptation.” (Matthew 26:41)

He goes away to pray again. When He returns, He finds Peter and the sons of Zebedee asleep, “because they can not keep their eyes open.” (Matthew 26:43) Right now, I can barely keep my eyes open. I understand physical and mental exhaustion. Peter doesn’t fully grasp what it is that they are doing in the garden. Why are they sitting there? Why is Jesus in such agony? The third time Jesus goes away and comes back to find Peter and the disciples asleep, He tells them, “Look the time is near. The Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners. Get up; let’s go! See, My betrayer is near.” (Matthew 26:45-46) I imagine Peter and the others scramble to their feet right quick at that message from Jesus.

And when Judas appears to kiss Jesus, “one of those with Jesus reaches out his hand and draws his sword. He strikes the high priest’s slave and cuts off his ear.” (Matthew 26:51) Now the disciples spring into action when earlier they are unable to remain awake to watch with Jesus even for an hour.

Notice how “get up, let’s go” is easier than “stay awake; pray.” Such is human nature. Doing is easier than watching. Keeping busy seems more desirable than sitting at Jesus’ feet and listening. Won’t you keep watch with Jesus for an hour.

 

Blessed If Not Offended


Herod is excited. Pilate is sending Jesus to him because Jesus is a Galilean and therefore under Herod’s jurisdiction. To make matters even easier, it happens that Herod is in Jerusalem “in those days.” (Luke 23:7, HCSB) Herod is anticipating a thrilling encounter, having heard a lot about Jesus. Above everything else, Herod wants to see a miracle!

When Jesus is brought before him, Herod asks Him many questions; but Jesus does not answer any of them. At the same time, somewhat on the sidelines, the chief priests and scribes are taunting Jesus. You can almost hear them as they spit out vehement accusations.

Eventually, Herod realizes Jesus is not going to perform a miracle. Likely frustrated and angry, Herod — in conjunction with his soldiers — treats Jesus with contempt. Herod mocks Jesus, and has Him dressed in a colorful robe. Disappointed in the proceedings, Herod sends Jesus back to Pilate.

Jesus says, “Unless you people see signs and wonders, you do not believe.” (John 4:48) And the Son of God prays, “I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because You hide these things from the wise and learned and reveal them to infants. Yes, because this is Your good pleasure.” (Matthew 11:25-26) Jesus speaks to the crowds about John the Baptist, “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed swaying in the wind? What did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothes? Look, those who wear soft clothes are in kings’ palaces.” (Matthew 11:7-8) “If anyone is not offended by Me, he is blessed.” (Matthew 11:6)

Father God, keep us from needing to see signs and miracles in order to believe. Help us to trust the ordinary events of our days as within Your sovereign will. Help us to know the real person of Jesus Christ, crucified, resurrected, and glorified. In Jesus’ Name, amen.