Fleshly ambition (especially with big I and little you) can cause us to make unwise and/or overly-ambitious decisions.
In Pastor Jake’s teaching on the Sons of Zebedee… we see how Salome, the mother of James and John, did just that.
The Sons of Zebedee
by Pastor Jake
Matthew 20:20-21 [NASU]
20 Then [Salome] the 1)Matthew 20:20 This woman is believed to be the sister of Jesus’ mother, Mary.mother of Zebedee’s children [James and John] came up to Jesus with her sons and, kneeling down [in respect], asked a favor of Him. 21 And He said to her, “What do you wish?” She answered Him, “Command that in Your kingdom these two sons of mine may sit [in positions of honor and authority] one on Your right and one on Your left.”
Matthew 20:20-21 [AMP]
Although it seems like an innocent request that this loving mother was making on behalf of her two sons, her motives were from a heart set on earthly things. Perhaps she was thinking that the kingdom of God would be set up along the same order as the Sanhedrin court which governed Israel under the Roman Empire. She desired that her sons be exalted above the others that they might be served rather than be servants. It is the flesh nature of man to desire to have authority or to “lord it” over one another, to demand to be served rather than to serve.
But Jesus answered:
Matthew 20:22 [NASU]
Matthew 20:22 [AMPC]
How strange is the infatuation of men, which leads them to desire ecclesiastical honors; he must be in love with his Lord who wishes to be a minister of the Gospel. If he is called of God in the work of the Gospel his life will be a life of toil and suffering, he will at least sip, if not fully drink of the cup of Christ.
For a man who is not called of God it would be better that he beg for bread than to take upon himself a ministry which God has not called him into; and in which he will not only ruin his own soul, but he becomes a false prophet that leads others down the broad way to destruction; for if God has not sent him he will not profit the people at all.
The mother did not know that authority with power in the Kingdom of God comes through serving, and in serving there would be suffering.
Matthew 20:23 [NASU]
Matthew 20:23 [AMPC]
Jesus confirms their calling; indeed they would humbly serve, and in their service to the kingdom of God they would suffer, as He himself suffers.
In their Christlikeness, they gave their lives preaching the gospel in the cause of Christ that many might be ransomed. Herod martyred James. John was exiled to the Isle of Patmos. As to their place in glory; these things, Jesus said, “is for those for whom it has been prepared by My Father.”
And hearing this, the ten became indignant with the two brothers.
Matthew 20:25-28 [NASU]
26 Not so shall it be among you; but whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant,
27 And whoever desires to be first among you must be your slave—
28 Just as the Son of Man came not to be waited on but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many [the price paid to set them free].
Matthew 20:25-28 [AMPC]
James, John and their mother’s ambition for them to be exalted led to murmurings and animosities. Such selfish ambition leads to disruption that could prove to be the ruin of the disciple’s ministry. Christ immediately intervened. He explained, the order in which they were to follow would be far different than that of the Gentiles. Their relationships would be founded in service with humility and brotherly love.
In Christ likeness God’s sons are not called to be served, but to serve. Authority with power belongs to those who humbly serve. Thus in God’s “economy,” we give ourselves to God. The result of our service to others is the glorifying of our Lord God.
James C Sanford
References [ + ]
|1.||↑||Matthew 20:20 This woman is believed to be the sister of Jesus’ mother, Mary.|
|2.||↑||Matthew 20:22 Some manuscripts do not contain this phrase.|
|3.||↑||Matthew 20:23 Joseph Thayer, A Greek-English Lexicon.|