Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came to him with her sons, and kneeling before him, she asked a favor of him. And he said to her, “What do you want?” She said to him, “Declare that these two sons of mine will sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom.” But Jesus answered, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink? They said to him, “We are able.” He said to them, “You will indeed drink my cup, but to sit at my right hand and at my left, this is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.”
When the ten heard it, they were angry with the two brothers. But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. It will not be so among you; but whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be your slave; just as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.”
The story of James and John wishing to sit next to Jesus is told in more than one gospel. (Each time I read about their request to be elevated above the other disciples, I too get a little annoyed with their arrogance. Then I usually settle down when Jesus teaches about the attitude of humility and servant leadership.) In Matthew’s telling of this story, however, it is the mother of James and John, who with her sons in tow, makes the annoying request. We can blame this one on mom.
The other disciples still get angry. And you might wonder about the demeanor of these two noteworthy men as they let their mom talk to Jesus on their behalf. As for me, at this moment in my life, I take away from the story that we should be careful about what we do on our children’s (or grandchildren’s) behalf. Our actions, no matter how we intend them, might not reflect so well on the kids. Let’s be careful not to put the ones we love in uncomfortable situations.
Help me Lord to think this day about how what I do and say will impact the ones I love.
Make me a thoughtful and humble servant of my Lord and Savior Jesus, in whose name I pray. Amen.