Jesus and the boys have Jerusalem in their sight and Jesus doesn’t mince words.
“We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death, and will hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day he will be raised to life!”
Immediately after this, the mother of all stage mothers comes up to Jesus with her sons, the sons of Zebedee, and requests a favor.
Jesus says, What do you want?
Like he doesn’t know.
Jesus asks this question a lot and it is not because he doesn’t know the answer.
He asks it so that we can know the answer.
What do I really want from Jesus?
At the beginning of my Lenten journey I entered into the discipline of self-examen. This self-awareness process allowed God’s spirit to penetrate my heart in such a way that what I began to go deeper into what I really wanted from Him.
When I said I wanted to be set free from the spirit of fear that has dogged me my whole life, was I really saying that I would do anything it takes to get free?
To go into the tomb of the dark night of the soul, perhaps even getting to the darkest place where I would cry out…”My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”
Could I take my fears to the grave of surrender?
Would I really come to believe that I can trust God for everything?
See, the gospel is the real deal. It doesn’t shrink back from the stuff of life.
So this first century stage mom just puts it all out there. She wants success and power for her boys and apparently she believes they are worthy of it.
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.”
Here is Jesus declaring his mission statement, in black and white, in all of its horrific and glorious detail, and at once this mother, perhaps the first helicopter parent, asks that her sons get to be Jesus’ next in command. Like, Vice-President and Secretary of State. Just think. The Roman empire was about to be squashed and her sons would be front and center!
Was she guilty of selective hearing?
Did she not understand what Jesus meant?
Did the phrase “Son of Man” get lost in translation?
I love this woman. Warts and all. She wants it all for her boys and she is bold, forthright and…honest. Her motherly pride is out there for all the world to see and she doesn’t even know it, because like me, she doesn’t get it.
There was a time in my early mothering days that I took every compliment, every praise about my children’s good behaviour as an affirmation of my good parenting. After all, I read the books, of course searched the bible and oh…did I pray! The first time one of my children mis-stepped publicly, however, was like a divine wedgie from God Himself, that He, not me, was my source for whatever I possessed in wisdom and understanding.
These boys don’t get it either. They accompany their mother when she makes her request, so they are in the know. In another account, it says James and John (the Zebedee boys) asks Jesus for these positions themselves. These guys, who had heard over and over again, that to save your life, you must lose it.
Perhaps they truly did lack understanding.
Perhaps it was something they just didn’t want to hear.
Perhaps they were blind to the truth.
So Jesus simply says, “You do not know what you’re asking for.”
He talks about drinking from a cup, a cup of sorrows and asks if they can do such a thing, which they reply, Yes!
But they do not know what that really means.
Like we don’t know the hard work of marriage, or raising a child, or being at the helm of a business or a ministry. We do not know what we have asked for, because with position comes a purifying, a pulverizing. To be truly effective in our sphere of influence we lay aside our thrones and crowns and walk the road. We get our feet dirty.
Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. “It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant,
This is what Jesus has been saying all along and, as He is about to live and die it out, some of his closest friends and their mother were still missing it.
Jesus is saying, don’t you get it? I’ve laid aside my throne and my crown for you. And if you want to be like me, you will do it too.
You will release your grip on your abilities, your money, your self-protection, your reputation. You will serve in the seen and unseen.
So Jesus goes ahead and shows how its done. While on his way, Jesus and his friends encounter two blind men. Unlike James and John, these men were physically blind. And unlike James and John, they sought mercy and not position.
The crowd, stern as always, wants them to shut up, because, “Duh, Jesus is on a mission to claim His kingdom here and time is of the essence.”
Jesus stops. He has a question.
What do you want Me to do for you?
They said, “Lord, we want our eyes to be opened.”
And Jesus, moved by compassion gives the men their sight and they follow Him.
Two blind brothers. Two blind men.
Eventually those brothers receive eyes to see, too. They have to get past all the accolades and praises and palm branches first.
Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.- Abraham Lincoln