Scripture: Matthew 20:17-28
Key verses: (25-28) “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. It will not be so among you; but whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be your slave; just as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.”
Reflection: It appears helicopter parents were present in Jesus’ day. The mother of James and John brings her boys to Jesus to make sure he knows how gifted they really are, asking him to make them his second in command. Matthew is the only gospel that has their mother make the request. To her defense, she doesn’t know that Jesus has just told the apostles about his impending betrayal, suffering, death and resurrection. But they know. And that doesn’t lead them to prevent their mother’s audacious request. Nor does it temper their own boldness when they proclaim they are prepared to drink the cup Jesus will drink. Ambition knows no bounds, especially when it’s blind.
What no one in the story understands is that in God’s vision for the world, power and prestige are not the goal. In God’s tomorrow there is no room for tyrants. From God’s perspective greatness is not about power, but about presence — showing up to offer yourself in service to another. From God’s perspective, power is ultimately expressed in cross and resurrection. Such power is made perfect in what the world may see as weakness; offering yourself in love only to see God’s power to bring new life on the other side of every cross we face.
It all begins when we understand our lives to be that of servants, not second in command.
Prayer: As I face decisions today, O Lord, help me understand they are not mine to make, but yours, for I am your servant. I am not to make decisions for myself, but rather to discern what you would have me do. Give me ears to hear your call, and the heart to respond in faith. Amen.
Author: Joe Clifford
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].