20 Then the mother of James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to Jesus with her sons. She knelt respectfully to ask a favor. 21 “What is your request?” he asked. She replied, “In your Kingdom, please let my two sons sit in places of honor next to you, one on your right and the other on your left.” 22 But Jesus answered by saying to them, “You don’t know what you are asking! Are you able to drink from the bitter cup of suffering I am about to drink?” “Oh yes,” they replied, “we are able!” 23 Jesus told them, “You will indeed drink from my bitter cup. But I have no right to say who will sit on my right or my left. My Father has prepared those places for the ones he has chosen.” 24 When the ten other disciples heard what James and John had asked, they were indignant. 25 But Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. 26 But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave. 28 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Every one wants to be great in one way or another. Some have delusional disorders as a result of not being able to come to terms with their lowly lot; of which grandiose and persecutory delusional disorders are most often. Some imagine that they have special gifts from God especially in the area of healing or prophecy. Some are charlatans. Some believe they are suffering unjustly because of persecution from either the devil, the state or fellow brothers or sisters. Others believe famous luminaries are exceptionally interested in them. In a very rapid growing economy like China, you find a very high percentage of such sufferers. Peace and joy are fleeting for the lower classes because most believe greatness comes from power and authority and great wealth can buy all these today – respect, power and authority.
The mother of James and John came kneeling in front of Jesus to ask such an outrageous favor from Him. How many really come to worship Jesus today for who He is ? Or behind such piety is self scented desire of getting wealth, power and authority ? The disciples were always arguing who was the greatest among them. So why would the rest be angry with James and John this time ? They were mad because of the extent the brothers would go to secure such position of power and authority by calling on the help of their mother.
Such power struggle is common place today in the church. You will not believe the erroneous extent some leaders will go to secure the seat of authority.
The Lord had to correct their worldly view of greatness. Were they willing to drink the cup for others ? (James did fulfill this prophecy of drinking the cup when he was executed.) Were they willing to wash the feet of one another like a slave ?
Sadly today, many leaders are no different from the mother of the Zebedee brothers in such self-scented pursuit of power and authority. They still fall for this wrong definition of greatness. They want bigger and bigger building, bigger salary, bigger exposure on TV media worldwide, greatest programme, most popular music and greatest membership. Had Jesus wanted His Bride to be no different from the world, He would have realized the glorious political Kingdom on His first advent and fulfilled such an expectation of the Jews and His disciples. John 18:35-37; Luke 17:20-21. The Kingdom of God is of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, and not of power and authority. Rom 14:17
When we truly understand this wonderful truth from our Lord of giving over getting and serving over being served , we become truly great in the eyes of God.