17 Now Jesus was going up to Jerusalem. On the way, he took the Twelve aside and said to them, 18 “We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death 19 and will hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day he will be raised to life! 20 Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Jesus with her sons and, kneeling down, asked a favor of him. 21 “What is it you want?” he asked. She said, “Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom.” 22 “You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said to them. “Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?” “We can,” they answered. 23 Jesus said to them, “You will indeed drink from my cup, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared by my Father.” 24 When the ten heard about this, they were indignant with the two brothers.
Have you ever had one of those conversations where you miss the important information because you were too focused on something you wanted to say? This is one of those moments. Jesus is making one of his most important statements about his future. He does this four times in the Gospel of Matthew, and this is the third (16:21; 17:22-23, & 26:2). He pulls aside the twelve disciples and tells them that a day is coming where he will be betrayed and sold out to the leaders. Those leaders will condemn him to his death, publicly mock him, torture him, hang him on a cross. Then he will be raised to life three days later. Right after Jesus gives the prediction for his coming death, James and John want to talk about their status or greatness next to Jesus. They were so caught up in what they wanted to say that they missed Jesus describing what greatness in his kingdom looks like. His greatness looks like serving people who will betray us, serving the people who sell us out, loving people who don’t deserve it, endurance in hardship for the sake of others, and being willing to sacrifice your life. In Jesus’s kingdom, greatness is turned upside down. Greatness in his kingdom is not about my status or my position; it is about my sacrifice for the sake of someone else. Let’s not miss the most important message because we are too concerned about our own greatness. List out a couple ways you can lovingly follow Jesus’s great example and sacrifice for the good of someone else today.