Matthew 20:18-19 “We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will turn him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day he will be raised to life!”
Jesus could not have been more explicit and clear than He was here, yet the disciples were still in total shock when these things happened. We have a strong tendency to not really hear and process things we don’t want to accept. It’s like a little child being told not to take a cookie, but then “deciding” that “they didn’t really mean that.” I think there was a rising sense that things were coming to a climax, which would explain the timing of Zebedee’s wife coming to ask for special positions for her sons in Jesus’ kingdom. As Jesus told them, they didn’t know what they were asking, even though Jesus had just been very clear. (verse 22) I would imagine it was emotionally exhausting to Jesus for His disciples to be so dense, when He had been teaching and training them for three years, but He used it as another teaching opportunity anyway. I would have been very likely to have chewed them out! In a sense that’s what He did, but He did it very gently, for the benefit of the whole group. To me this is one more example of Jesus placing His Father’s will first, His disciples second, and His own emotions and convenience a distant third. As He said, putting a point on what He was teaching them, “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:28) That’s the example He set, that we need to follow.
This couldn’t be any more applicable than it is to me, because I am in a position of leadership. I am to be a good steward of my body and resources, but I am never to place myself ahead of serving my Lord and those to whom He sends me. Yesterday I had a call to help one of the more needy members of this church. I frankly wasn’t excited about it, but it was possible, and was taken care of fairly simply. It would have been easy to slough it off, but I did have the time, and God knew it. I am to plan my days for productivity, but I am never to close the door to God’s appointments, whether they agree with my plans or not. Frankly, I am lazy and like to move at my own convenience, but that’s not the way to real satisfaction, not to mention reward. I desire to hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant,” (Matthew 25:21) but that won’t be the case if I listen to my flesh instead of to my Lord.
Father, thank You for this clear Word. Right now we are facing ramped-up busyness, with a large group expected Sunday, Easter activities the next Sunday, and then the prospect of restarting children’s ministry, which we haven’t had for several years. My flesh thinks it’s a good time to retire! Help me rest, relax, and rejoice in You, just as You have told me to do, even as I fulfill each of the responsibilities You assign to me, on Your schedule for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!