A MOTHER’S AMBITION (Matthew 20:20-28; Mark 10:35-45)
I was an ambitious mother, not for myself but for my sons, James and John Zebedee. I loved my boys and was anxious that they moved up in the world. One day, John returned from a trip all excited about a Man that was going to establish a Kingdom. His name was Jesus and John was convinced that He was the “One” whom Moses predicted would come. When Jesus came to our town and healed all kinds of sick people and preached about a kingdom; I, too, became enthused. I was especially pleased when He invited our sons to become members of His team. It did not take long that James and John, along with Simon Peter, formed an inner circle with Jesus. Hereinafter, the three accompanied Jesus constantly. He never went anywhere without them. And of the three men, Jesus began to confide in was John. John had a nag about hanging around the Teacher, who did not mind at all to have a loyal and close companion. To me, that spelled opportunity.
Jesus began to attract huge crowds including whole families. I, too, joined a number of women that went along to care of the Teacher and our men. We supplied their needs so that they could build the kingdom. I had no idea what the kingdom would be like or how Jesus would take over the land. All we listened to was that we had to straighten out morally and advance the reign of God on earth, in a peaceful manner. There would be no need of weapons or an army. People would simply repent and follow Jesus. Being a mother, I welcomed such a “Kingdom.” I did not want my sons to suffer or die. Nevertheless, I wanted them to have a major role in Jesus’ kingdom. My sons and I decided to offer our service to our future King. We went and knelt before Him and asked Him whether He could grant us a favor. He was open to what we wanted to ask and I said to Him, “Appoint my two sons to sit on your right and on your left in your kingdom.”
To our disappointment, Jesus replied, “You do not know what you are asking.” He turned to my sons and asked them, “Can you drink the cup I must drink?” Without much thought and what it entailed, my lads eagerly insisted that they could. Jesus admitted that they very likely would drink a similar cup, but not hold places on His right or His left. Those positions were not His to give; God had assigned them to others. Our request did not do well with the other ten followers. The other ten heard about what we had done and became angry with my sons. And Jesus had to explain the rules for His Kingdom. Jesus called them aside and lectured them. His kingdom was not going to be run like the heathen did where the rulers lord over their people and force their authority on them. Jesus’ followers were to be servants and not lords. Those that want to be great could be so as servants. Those that want to be first must try to be last. That meant, they must serve everyone first before they could serve themselves. He, Himself, had not come to lord it over His followers but to serve them. In fact, He had come to lay down His life so He could redeem us. He was the payment for us to become free. We were slaves to someone and we did not know it. Jesus had come to ransom us from whoever held us captive. What did Jesus mean?
I did not understand what Jesus was talking about except that it was not what I had intended for my sons. I did not want them to be servants that shall be treated like slaves. I did not want them to become sacrifices. Jesus’ proposal did not sound like a peaceful Kingdom, but one of serving, suffering, and sacrificing. If I only had paid more attention to what Jesus was teaching, I would not have been so anxious to volunteer my sons’ services. Only days later, Jesus rode into Jerusalem like a king and a week later I watched from a distance how He was being crucified. Three days later He lived again, and my sons received new orders to keep on preaching His Kingdom. My son James did drink from His cup. Herod’s men killed him. John was singled out as a writer and prophet of the future as to what the real kingdom would be like. At last, I realized that it was a kingdom of the heart and not a state in the world. My ambition, for my sons, was not in their best interest, nor was it what God had planned for them. I wanted what was best, but not what it costs.