In today’s gospel of Matthew 20:17-28, the mother of James and John approaches Jesus and requests that her two sons: James and John should occupy the left and right positions at His Kingdom.
Jesus rebukes her for making such a request. One quality about Jesus is that He is always ready to listen to what we ask from Him. But sometimes, what we request determines whether He answers yes or no.
The Question Jesus Asks.
In Mark 10: 46-51, when Jesus met Bartimaeus. As Bartimaeus approached the Lord, He asked Him; what do you want me to do for you?
In Matthew 20:32, Jesus asks the two blind men He meets while leaving Jericho the same question. The same question Jesus asked the mother of James and John because she came with a low voice, bending low to attract the attention of Jesus.
In the first two instances, Jesus grants their request, but in today’s gospel of Matthew 20:17-28, Jesus rebukes the mother of the two apostles for her ignorance in what she is asking.
Jesus is always ready to welcome everyone.
Whenever we come to His presence, He also asks us this question, What do you want from me? The nature of our requests and what we ask can determine if the answer would be yes or no.
The question for us today is “What do you want from God? Do you want God to exterminate all your enemies when He wants them to repent? Do you want to make it in life so that you will show revenge to some people when God wants you to make peace with them?
Is your prayer to acquire the whole world and be the talking point of the town, when God wants to be giving you the one enough for you to avoid delving into temptation? What do you want? The mother of the apostles was praying for she wants which is very far from what Jesus wants. As you pray for what you want, do not forget what God wants.
They want to Rule.
In Matthew 20:17-28, this woman requested that His two sons would occupy the two positions. And if the two sons occupy the two positions, she would be a great woman. It is honorable to have her two sons in high political offices. She did not even consider the other disciples.
The real gist here is that the Jews think that Jesus is a political Messiah. Even the apostles are yet to understand who Jesus is. Had it been they did, there would not be any quarrel among them on what the woman did. Their reaction to her request is also a sign that they may also want to occupy the position.
The event of today of Matthew 20:17-28 happened when Jesus was preparing to go to Jerusalem.
So, the mother of James and John may think that the time for the Messiah to reclaim the throne has come, hence she decided to go through the backdoor. Sometimes why it looks as if God is silent to what we ask of Him is our intention of asking them.
Life involves Sacrifices and Cross.
The surprising part of this story in Matthew 20:17-28 is that both the one that requested and the apostles of whom the request was made, seemed not to hear when Jesus spoke about His passion. Their interest was only on the positions to occupy.
Today, we also have forgotten that the Christian life also involves suffering and sacrifice. When God gives you a cross, it is not a sign that He hates you. Just like behind the cross of Jesus, there is salvation. Behind your cross, there may be a blessing you never expected in your life.
Today Christians only want to hear the gospel of prosperity, open doors without sacrifice. When we also examine our intentions, we would see a similarity between what we ask and what this woman asked today. The cross, service, suffering, challenges etc., are also part of the journey.
What God Wants.
In Matthew 20:17-28, Jesus tells His apostles that whoever wants to be great, let him serve. Thereby seeking material gain, earthly power, positions, and recognition is not what God wants. God sends us to this world to love and serve Him wholeheartedly.
Just as the apostles are quarreling among themselves, we have lost concentration to kill and destroy ourselves over earthly things. This type of life should not be seen among God’s children.
May God bless you and give us the grace to seek spiritual gifts rather than material gains. May He continue to heal our souls. Amen.