Lessons Of A Lifetime

Seeking To Be Greatest
Great Dissention Among The Ranks
Sunday May 8, 2022

Scripture To Consider:
“Now Jesus, going up to Jerusalem, took the twelve disciples aside on the road and said to them, ‘Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and to the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death, and deliver Him to the Gentiles to mock and to scourge and to crucify. And the third day He will rise again.’

“Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Jesus with her sons, kneeling down and asking something from Him. And Jesus said to her, ‘What do you wish?’ She said to Him, ‘Grant that these two sons of mine may sit, one on Your right hand, and the other on the left, in Your kingdom.’ But Jesus answered and said, ‘You do not know what you ask. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?’

“They [the two disciples] said to Jesus, ‘We are able.’ So Jesus said to them, ‘You will indeed drink My cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with; but to sit on My right hand and My left is not mine to give, but it is for those for whom it is prepared by My Father.’

“And when the ten [other ten disciples] heard it, they were greatly displeased with the two brothers. But Jesus called them to Himself and said, ‘You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.’ Matthew 20.17-28

Something To Consider:
In my estimation, these two disciples have a couple of called strikes against them. The first strike being, that after the previous parable that taught the equality among laborers in the kingdom of heaven, these two brothers and their mother are seen jockeying for positions upon the twelve thrones that Jesus spoke of in Matthew chapter 19.

And yet, is that not a clear example of human nature. Could perhaps, James, John, and their inquisitive mother had thought Jesus’ promising eternal life to those who had left everything to follow Him was nice! But would rather an inner circle position in heaven be better?

And yet, are we not guilty of the same prideful desires more often than we would like to admit? Or am I the only sinner facing the awaiting stones of condemnation to be hurled in my direction?

Something Else To Consider:
The second called strike against these two esteeming themselves higher than others disciples is because they disregarded the seriousness of Jesus’ words concerning His being delivered up to be beaten and crucified. And if that was not enough, when the other disciples heard what James and John were planning behind their backs, they were greatly displeased, as if Jesus was going to let these two brothers get away with their shameful scheme.

The apostle Paul, speaking of spiritual gifts in Romans chapter 12, declared in verse 3; “For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you [true believing Christians], not to think of himself [or herself] more highly than he [or she] ought to think, but to think soberly [wisely and not foolishly], as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.” In other words, we are never to be seeking to be the greatest, and if we do, we can guarantee great dissention among the ranks.

Something More To Consider:
We can see this actual event unfold before our eyes, and we may have a tendency to ask, “How can they be seeking to be the greatest among one another at a time like this?” And yet, it is our fallen nature that causes the same cancer of dissention among the ranks of the church in any generation.

Therefore, let us then follow Jesus’ example as He takes the form of a servant not at all seeking to be great, but giving His life as a ransom for many, as is clearly portrayed in past as well as future lessons of a lifetime. So many are quickly willing to proclaim that they follow Jesus, but their lives, our lives, do not equal or imitate the glorious example of humility and meekness that Jesus exemplified while alive on earth.

In Matthew 11.28-29; Jesus explained in no uncertain terms; “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden [as we can imagine James and John might have been], and I will give you rest.” But, how does Jesus give us rest? He does so by instructing us in the following verse with these words, “Take My yoke [a symbol of servitude] upon you and learn from Me [learn from Jesus’ example], for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

A Few Final Words:
Seeking to be greatest in a group, often creates great dissention among the ranks. Therefore, is it possible, that in our laboring for Christ, in our serving Him by our serving others, we become tired, irritable, and possibly disgruntled about our God-ordained status in the kingdom of God?

And, is it also possible that in our need resting contently in Christ, we become discontent and therefore are found seeking a higher position not granted by God as did James, John, and their mother?

By now the finger of guilt should no longer be pointing in the direction of these two disciples, but rather elsewhere! For shameful envious schemes formulated to set oneself up as the greatest, usually end in creating great dissention among the ranks of other fellow kingdom servants. And according to Matthew’s recorded log of events, “And when the ten [other disciples] heard it, they were greatly displeased with the other two brothers [James and John].”

Our Father in heaven, teach us always to seek to be servants in the kingdom of God, rather than the greatest in the eyes of others. Teach us to be made more into the image of Jesus. In Him Always, Amen!

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