63 – On the Road to Jericho
Where: Bethany, Perea
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Before crossing the Jordan River, Jesus gathered the disciples around himself. It was time to make the tough decision. The disciples still did not understand about a 100% commitment to God. So Jesus once again told them that this journey to Jerusalem is to call the Jewish leaders to follow God. This would be the beginning of the Kingdom of God. The leaders would likely reject Jesus. Jesus would suffer and probably die. But the disciples could not even comprehend that the Messiah also must do God’s will even if that seemed contrary to accepted teaching.
The brother team of James and John, in consultation with their mother, approached Jesus privately as they began their walk. Some of the disciples envisioned having the power to make things happen for the Jews of the world. They envisioned the twelve disciples dispensing true justice for nations and individuals from distant lands. They envisioned a life of luxury, where they were pampered. And because they did so much for others, no one would begrudge them some ‘perks’.
James, who was known for his ambition as well as his short temper, took his brother John with him, and went to Jesus. When he thought that they were out of the hearing of the other disciples, James and John made a formal request. ‘When you are crowned King of Israel, grant us the two key positions beside you. We promise to serve you well.’
Jesus knew that they wanted the authority, but also knew that they misunderstood about the Kingdom. ‘Are you ready to do what ever it takes?’ Jesus asked.
Thinking that Jesus referred to physical suffering, they answered ‘Yes!’ Then Jesus looked James in the eyes. ‘You will suffer, but the criterion for positions of authority in the Kingdom has been decided by God’ (The real question was whether they were willing to be servants).
By now the other disciples had gathered as the rumor spread of what the sons of Zebedee were trying to do. This was just the sort of “power play” that filled the courts of earthly kings. This “stab in the back” really hurt and angered the other disciples. How little the disciples knew Jesus or understood the Kingdom.
Jesus sighed. ‘Gentlemen! It is true that in a normal kingdom this kind of thing is typical and expected. But in God’s Kingdom those who have the greatest authority will have earned the respect of others by their “servant heart”. Then, when they speak words of wisdom, they will be heard. I am the Wisdom of God and therefore the greatest servant.’
No questions have been asked yet.