Matthew 20:20–28 (ESV) Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came up to him with her sons, and kneeling before him she asked him for something. 21And he said to her, “What do you want?” She said to him, “Say that these two sons of mine are to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom.” 22Jesus answered, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am to drink?” They said to him, “We are able.” 23He said to them, “You will drink my cup, but to sit at my right hand and at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.”…28even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
In verse 22 of this interesting passage, something deeply profound takes place. James & John, the
sons of Zebedee” – get to “drink” from Jesus’ “cup.” May we take our sip today too.
The situation is fascinating. Their mother (James’ & John’s that it) is concerned to secure for her sons the best thing she can think of. Praise God for mothers who are desirous of such things for us. And the highest thing She can think of, is that her two sons serve as Jesus’ top two servants in His coming Kingdom. The other disciples seem bothered by this – but one is left to speculate if their distress only comes from the fact that they didn’t think to ask this before she did!
But Jesus is never wont to let an opportunity for opening our eyes to see the Heavenly vistas beyond this earthly realm. And seizing upon this singular occasion, uses it to bring into the very sharpest of contrasts – this World’s system versus Christ’s Kingdom. In this World, position and power in the eyes of others mean everything. In Christ’s Kingdom, joyful and full subjection to the Father surpasses all.
So Jesus introduces this idea by a most eye-opening method. In effect, He asks the “boys” – do you think you can handle such a position – by being party to the accomplishing of the things the Father has given to me to do? Can you drink from “MY” cup? Can you enter into my world and my responsibilities and my realm? To which they answer (one wonders if with too little thought) “YES! We can!” To which Jesus then replies – “then so you shall – here.” And He offers them their first draught.
What does that taste like? It tastes like this: “To rule and reign with me, to serve in my Kingdom the way I serve the Father – is to care nothing for personal gain, but to leave all such sovereign choices up the Father without complaint.” For “the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Would you find a “place” within His kingdom? Then sip His cup. And forget about carving out your niche, or what that might look like. Just submit to the Father and His providential assignments as He sees fit. This is what Jesus does. He is here to carry out the Father’s will. His cup is to be free to forget about personal position, and to live unto His God.
So. Will you drink from His cup today? Or will you still vie for how you think the Father can use you best? Still strive after making sure He employs you the way YOU think best?
Go ahead. Take a sip. Its liberating.