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Ministry of Jesus

A Mother's Request


Matthew 20:20-28
Mark 10:35-45

Key Difference

Matthew records that the mother of James and John came to Jesus to request that her sons be placed at His right and left in His kingdom.  Mark states that James and John themselves asked this of Jesus.  Obviously their mother spoke to Jesus for them and the idea was not just her own.  In both accounts, when Jesus responds, He speaks directly to James and John.

Additional Commentary

The disciples believe and understand that Jesus is the Messiah that they have been waiting for.  What they do not understand is the nature of His kingdom.  The disciples expected Jesus to overthrow the Roman government and to reestablish Israel as its own independent nation.  Because of this, the disciples are jockeying for key positions within His government.

James and John do not realize what they are asking and Jesus warns them that they are not ready to endure what will be necessary for them to gain a position of authority in His kingdom - but they will be and they will suffer for God's kingdom.  The book of Acts tells us that James is the first of the disciples to be martyred and it is his beheading that causes the church to scatter and spread from Jerusalem.  According to church history, John was the only disciple who was not martyred but he did not live an easy life.  He was boiled alive in oil but managed to live and was sent into exile on the island of Patmos.  This is where he wrote the book of Revelation.

The way to be first in the kingdom of God is through service.  Jesus repeats instructions that the last shall be first and the first shall be last.  People who strive for authority are not the kind of people that God will give authority to.  Instead, He is looking for people with a servant's heart.

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