Living Like Jesus: Matthew 20:20-28

Focus Passage: Matthew 20:20-28 (GW)

20 Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Jesus with her two sons. She bowed down in front of him to ask him for a favor.

21 “What do you want?” he asked her.

She said to him, “Promise that one of my sons will sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom.”

22 Jesus replied, “You don’t realize what you’re asking. Can you drink the cup that I’m going to drink?”

“We can,” they told him.

23 Jesus said to them, “You will drink my cup. But I don’t have the authority to grant you a seat at my right or left. My Father has already prepared these positions for certain people.”

24 When the other ten apostles heard about this, they were irritated with the two brothers. 25 Jesus called the apostles and said, “You know that the rulers of nations have absolute power over people and their officials have absolute authority over people. 26 But that’s not the way it’s going to be among you. Whoever wants to become great among you will be your servant. 27 Whoever wants to be most important among you will be your slave. 28 It’s the same way with the Son of Man. He didn’t come so that others could serve him. He came to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many people.”

Read Matthew 20:20-28 in context and/or in other translations on BibleGateway.com!

After sharing with the disciples about how they should be more focused on serving others rather than competing with each other for the best place and/or position, Jesus shifts the focus onto how He came to model the life He is describing. Matthew finishes this event off by telling us Jesus said: “Whoever wants to become great among you will be your servant. Whoever wants to be most important among you will be your slave. It’s the same way with the Son of Man. He didn’t come so that others could serve him. He came to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many people.” (v. 26b-28)

While it is one thing to simply tell the disciples how they should live, Jesus doesn’t stop there. Instead, Jesus finishes off by pointing the spotlight on Himself as an example – and He shares one more time that He would be facing death in the future.

Jesus being a servant to everyone is a significant detail that we should pay attention to. Jesus does not call us to do anything that He didn’t do Himself. The Pharisees and religious leaders were the ones in that culture who told others they needed to do a whole list of things that they were not willing to do themselves. In contrast, Jesus lived the life He wants us to live.

This might not be all that comforting for us when we think about it a little closer. Jesus faced voluntary death because He was that dedicated to serving humanity, and while we should be incredibly thankful to Him for this, Jesus’ sacrifice and voluntary death may be something that He calls us to as well. Remember, Jesus does not ask us to do anything that He wasn’t willing to do Himself. He gave up His life, and He might call us to give up ours as well.

We should be extraordinarily thankful towards Jesus for serving us in the way He did, and while it isn’t ideal to think about from this perspective, if Jesus calls us to give our lives up for Him, we can trust that He has something better in store for us when we arrive with Him in heaven. While Jesus doesn’t call us to do or give up anything He wasn’t willing to give up, everything that we give to Him will be returned in an exponentially better way when we arrive in heaven.

This thought was inspired by studying the Walking With Jesus "Reflective Bible Study" package. To discover insights like this in your own study time, click here and give Reflective Bible Study a try today!

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