(Matthew 20.17-19; Luke 18.31-34)
32The disciples were confused as Jesus led them toward Jerusalem, and his other followers were afraid. Once again, Jesus took the twelve disciples aside and told them what was going to happen to him. He said:
33We are now on our way to Jerusalem where the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and the teachers of the Law of Moses. They will sentence him to death and hand him over to foreigners, 34who will make fun of him and spit on him. They will beat him and kill him. But three days later he will rise to life.
The Request of James
35James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, will you do us a favor?”
36Jesus asked them what they wanted, 37and they answered, “When you come into your glory, please let one of us sit at your right side and the other at your left.”
38 Jesus told them, “You don't really know what you're asking! Are you able to drink from the cup that I must soon drink from or be baptized as I must be baptized?”
39“Yes, we are!” James and John answered.
Then Jesus replied, “You certainly will drink from the cup from which I must drink. And you will be baptized just as I must! 40But it isn't for me to say who will sit at my right side and at my left. This is for God to decide.”
41When the ten other disciples heard this, they were angry with James and John. 42 But Jesus called the disciples together and said:
You know that those foreigners who call themselves kings like to order their people around. And their great leaders have full power over the people they rule. 43 But don't act like them. If you want to be great, you must be the servant of all the others. 44And if you want to be first, you must be everyone's slave. 45 The Son of Man did not come to be a slave master, but a slave who will give his life to rescue many people.
Fear can put crazy thoughts in our heads. Panic and undue expectation can fill us with dread. Sometimes we can even get sick from anticipation.
When Jesus, his disciples and the other followers headed to Jerusalem, there was a feeling of foreboding in the air. Jesus sensed the anguish of the disciples and wanted to help them gather their thoughts so they could start to deal with what was about to take place.
With disarming honesty he described how he would be arrested, beaten and killed by the Romans. The disciples were likely alarmed as Jesus tried to prepare them for this eventuality. They were Jesus’ dear friends and so close to his heart. It was only fitting that he revealed the mystery of the impending crucifixion and the glory of the resurrection. He wanted them in a state of readiness. So he prepared them with the details (vv 33-34).
Later, James and John requested that they sit on either side of Jesus when he came into the glory he spoke about (v 37).
Jesus, in his tender way, spoke gently to the two disciples. They seemed bent on the political favour of being seated next to Christ. Jesus prophesied about their future suffering, telling them it was not his decision where to seat them.
The other disciples were angry but Jesus took the opportunity to remind them of the importance of humility. The humility of Christ would be seen in how he bore the cruelty of the cross. The power of Christ would be seen in the resurrection. The time had come.
God almighty, You know all things and reveal everything in your appointed time. Help us to know that suffering comes with a price but it also comes with the knowledge that you are in control, lessening our fears and putting peace in our hearts. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.