Getting those Seats at the Right and Left Hand of Jesus!!!
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 Him with her sons, kneeling down and asking something from Him. And He 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 said to Him, “We are able.” So He 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 on My left is not Mine to give, but it is for those for whom it is prepared by My Father.” And when the ten heard it, they were greatly displeased with the two brothers….. Matthew 20:17-24 .
In our previous Study, we considered the parable Jesus told His Disciples when He was providing an answer to the question Peter asked saying, “What shall we get?” we discovered from the parable that those who serve the Lord expecting a reward will be last and those who serve the Lord out of Love and gratitude for how much He had forgiven them will be the First. Here we see Jesus talking about His death and Resurrection and His response to His Disciples who brought their Mother to Jesus seeking for Position of Honour in Heaven.
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.”: Again and again we have seen Jesus reminding His Disciples of His Suffering and Resurrection for this is a hard saying to them. He was preparing them for the Cross. He was preparing their hearts that He was not going to establish His Kingdom here on earth now. That He was Going to establish a Spiritual Kingdom. It is a good habit for Disciples of Jesus to always speak about the Death and Resurrection of the Lord as they journey through the road here on Earth. If we make this our Daily habit, it would edify us and help us to be awake spiritually. Instead of gossiping and speaking joking as we walk on the road let us learn to talk about Jesus, about His death and Resurrection. Those who make this their habit will always experience the presence of the Lord like those Disciples whom the Lord appeared to on the road to Emmaus(Luke 24:13-19) after His resurrection.
Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Him with her sons, kneeling down and asking something from Him. And He 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: Imagine after hearing such a Message about the suffering, mocking, scourging and crucifixion of Jesus Christ. One would have expect the Disciples would be sorrowful but we see James and John bringing their Mother to Jesus seeking their own and talking nothing about the Crucifixion. Instead She came with her Sons(Mark 10:35)begging and saying, “Can You please grant My two Sons seat , one on your right and the other on your left when You establish Your Kingdom?” oh how difficult it was for the Disciples to understand this!!! They have been so deeply rooted in that old testament concept that if we serve God, we would have no difficulties and trials, that God honouring us means we will be the top nation on Earth and we will be blessed in every possible way. It is a complete rejection and lack of understanding of the Parable that Jesus just finished speaking. Jesus said, “You should not serve for reward not even in Heaven, not even seeking for the reward of sitting at the right or left hand of Jesus”. Yet they could not understand!!! How many much like us, how slow we are to understand even though we read the Scriptures often!! We are deeply rooted in this old Covenant ideas of “If I do this for God, He will do this for Me”. Even if You are not seeking for a reward here on Earth, this attitude of seeking for reward when the Lord returns is also wrong. God will give a reward in eternity, but that should not be the motive for our service. In fact in the last page of the Bible, Jesus says ” And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work.(Rev 22:12)”. God is surely going to reward, but the reward is not going to be for those who have looked for reward or served for reward. It is for those who have served with the right attitude, for those who have served out of gratitude and not with hope of reward. Not with the hope that they will sit at the right or left of Jesus in the Millennium.
Although James and John were part of the closest Disciples of Jesus, they were part of the inner three whom Jesus was constantly in Fellowship with. And yet they have this attitude. No doubt, they love the Lord, they have given up their jobs to serve the Lord, they trusted Him for their needs, but yet there was a desire for Honour. There are many Christians like these, who have given up so much and are willing to sacrifice so much for the Lord but deep down their heart is a desire for Honour and position in Christiandom and that is what finally destroys them. This is a warning for all of Us. Beware of this attitude of seeking Honour or reward for your service to the Lord. We must serve the Lord because We are grateful for all that He has done for us. Imagine a Man has cleared $200 billion of Your debts and one day He asked You to do a little job for Him. Wouldn’t you be ashamed asking for a Pay? This is exactly how we must look at our service for the Lord, for He has cleared so much of our debt. The reason why we expect a reward in our service for God is because we have not yet discovered how much it cost God to forgive us our Sins.
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?” : Those who Look for reward indeed don’t know what they are asking for. Those who ask the Lord to reward them for the services they have rendered to Him are ignorant of what they are saying. Honestly, it is ignorance that makes us seek for Positions either in the Church on Earth or in the Church when we get to Heaven. And He faced James and John who came with their mother and asked if they are able to drink the Cup He was about to drink and the baptism He was about to undergo.
What does it means to drink the Cup and be baptized with His baptism? This is a Cup and baptism of suffering!!! There are three Baptism that the Lord spoke about, Water Baptism(Matt 28:19), Baptism in the Holy Spirit(Acts 1:5) and the Baptism of Suffering(Mark 10:39). The Cup is a Cup of Suffering, total denial of one’s will and doing the will of God(Matt 26:39). It means the Way of the Cross. Going the way of Death to Self everyday. This is not just suffering Physically, for it is not all Christians that are called upon to Suffer physically. But an inward suffering which can sometimes be more painful than physical suffering(1 Peter 4:1). Death to the Self Life Day by Day. It is sometimes easier to be a Martyr once than to be a Martyr everyday when Self is slain in the provocative situation in our daily dealings with Humans. To be a Living Martyr is difficult than to Die just once. If You can drink this Cup, then you can be rewarded!!! Let us therefore sit down and count the Cost!!! Do You want to Drink this Cup and go through this Baptism that Jesus spoke about? If we Look at the Joy set before Us, we will endure this Cup and Baptism just like Jesus(Hebrews 12:2).
They said to Him, “We are able.” : Look at the arrogance in them!!! They were confident in their own abilities and strength. They did not realize that they needed the power of the Holy Spirit. Without the power of the Holy Spirit, it would be impossible to do anything for the Lord but they said, “Yes we are able” Because they wanted those Positions!!! We who claim to be very bold in the Lord must always recognise that “Without His Grace and Power we can do nothing”. It is easy to boast that we will stand for God when there is no persecution, but when it finally comes, we will discover How weak our flesh is. Peter made the same Mistake. He said among the Disciples, “Even if all are made to stumble because of You, I will Never be made to stumble. Even if I have to Die with You, I will not deny You(Matt 26:33,35)”. But just before a servant girl, He denied the Lord(Matt 26:70). But the same Peter that could not stand for the Lord before a girl became so bold when the Holy Spirit came upon Him. And He faced he stood before Multitudes and said, “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.(Acts 2:36)” oh How wonderful it is to be filled with the Holy Spirit!!! Covet it!!!
So He 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 on My left is not Mine to give, but it is for those for whom it is prepared by My Father.”: Look at the gentleness and graciousness of Jesus. He did not rebuke them saying, “You fellow are so covetous and greedy!!! You are just too desperate and want to push other people out and sit on those throne!!”. He gave them a soft answer. He recognized their Weakness as a result of lack of Holy Spirit. And He said to them, “Truly You will drink this Cup and go through this Baptism as My Disciple” For all those who want to Live a Godly Life must drink it(2 Timothy 3:12). All those who desire to follow Jesus must deny their own will and take up the Cross daily(Luke 9:23). But He said, “Even if You drink this Cup and go through this Baptism, I still can’t promise You that You will sit on My Left and on My right because it is for My Father to give. It is for those whom it is prepared by my Father” in other words, “My Father prepares the right hand and left hand for some people”
And if you are as inquisitive as I am, I will raise some questions at this Point. “Is there Partiality with God? Who are those whom He has Prepared those seat for?”. To get the answer to this Questions, We must Look at Jesus who Lived on Earth as a Man and Yet Got the Highest Position in Heaven because of the Way He Lived and Pleased the Father here on Earth as a Man. How did Jesus get that Seat? Philippians 2:8-9 Makes it very clear!!! It says, ” Jesus being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name”. Jesus got that Seat through Humility!!! So who are those who will be sitting on the Left and right hand of Jesus in glory? It is those who have Humbled themselves to the Maximum in these years of Human History. It is those who have Humbled themselves the most in this their one Earthly Life. This is a Principle with God, “He exalts those who are Humble” and these are the ones who will be closest to Jesus in eternity. It could be some poor widow whom we never heard about in one unknown village. It is not necessarily some great Apostle. Let us therefore have this mind which was also in Christ Jesus to Humble ourselves always. For there is no partiality with the Father, what He did for Jesus He will do for Us, if we Humble ourselves as He did(1 John 2:6).
And when the ten heard it, they were greatly displeased with the two brothers: The other ten Disciples were angry not because they were more spiritual than James and John. But because they were disturbed that these two got ahead of them in asking for those seat. They also wanted those seat desperately themselves. It is very common for Christians to be angry at the Sins they see in others when they themselves do practice those Sins in secret. It is the Mark of Hypocrisy!!! You are angry at a Man who divorce His wife but You spend all your days Lusting after women in your heart. In case You are not aware, the Man that divorce and the Man that Lust after a Woman in His Heart both Commits Adultery(Matt 5:28,32). When You are angry at others Sins, ask yourself, “Am I guilty of the same Sin?” Don’t be an Hypocrite!!! First Remove the plank from your own eyes and then you will see clearly to remove the speck in Your Brother’s eyes(Matt 7:5).
Dear Friend, In the Day when Jesus returns in Glory, we will see those who are going to sit at His Right hand and left Hand. And when their Life story is revealed to us just as the Father will reveal the Life of everyone on us. I am sure we will all agree with Him that Whoever sits there deserves to be there. Because we shall see their faithfulness and Humility in their Earthly life in that day. And in that Day, we shall discover that all the Honours and glory of Earth will be like garbage compare to the Honour of being rewarded by the Father. How wonderful would it be to hear the Lord say, “Well done it is for You that I have prepared this seat” This is something worth Living for Dear Friend. Look at how Footballers discipline themselves and wake up to jog every morning just because they want the Honour of a Golden medal. How much more we who claim to be living for a greater Reward and glory? Run in such a Way to win the prize!!! May God have mercy on us and give us light to judge ourselves more severely and seek more whole-heartedly to drink of the Cup of Jesus, not for Reward but in the right Spirit of gratitude and a Reward will be given by the Father because He is Righteous and has promised to reward those who diligently seek Him(Amen). God bless you. Have a blessed day.
#Everyday with Jesus.