Matthew 20

Matthew 20

Matthew 20 Commentary

by Brad Boyles

Our plans and God’s plans never really pan out the same. He gives us the main idea, but the details are usually mysterious and unexpected. God is not predictable. You can’t put Him in a box.

It’s in these moments where He does His best and most powerful work. Take the cross, for instance. Here in Matthew 20, Jesus hints at His own death. For the first time in His ministry, He reveals that He will not just die – but He will be crucified. He also says He will be raised up on the third day. Imagine the shock and confusion on the disciples’ faces as they soaked in this truth.

The verses that follow illustrate this confusion. The mother of the sons of Zebedee, James and John, asked for her sons to sit next to Jesus on His throne. Most likely, this was a reference to the words of Jesus spoken in the previous chapter – Matthew 19.

“And Jesus said to them, ‘Truly I say to you, that you who have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.'”

Matthew 19:28 NASB

The disciples were clamoring for a higher position. In Mark’s account, this same story is told without their mother, as James and John make the request themselves. We can assume that Mark left out their mother, possibly in an attempt to make them look better? The fact remains; the sons knew of this request from their mother, and they approved it. In their world, Jesus was coming to make them powerful and famous. The disciples jockeyed for a higher position all the way up through the Last Supper. It happened after Jesus’ death. It happened in the early church. Christians still do it today.

The contrasting styles of Jesus proclaiming His humiliating death and the disciples fixation on their own personal gain was no mistake. Jesus came to serve and lead us to serve. He came to suffer, die, and restore. He came to bring a new Kingdom that is counter-culture to our own. We shouldn’t be surprised when we suffer for His namesake, and when we are humiliated as He was. One day we will rise with Him and watch as He destroys evil and suffering for all eternity!

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