17 And as Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside, and on the way he was saying to them,
18 “See, we are going up to Jerusalem. And the Son of Man will be arrested by the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn him to death
19 and hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and beaten and crucified, and he will be raised on the third day.”
20 Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came up to him with her sons, and kneeling before him she asked him for a favor.
21 And he asked her, “What do you want?” She replied to him, “Announce that these two sons of mine are to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your coming kingdom.”
22 Jesus answered, “You two do not know what you are asking. Can you drink the suffering cup that I am about to drink?” They said to him, “We can.”
23 He said to them, “You will drink my cup, but to sit at my right hand and at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been arranged by my Father.”
24 And when the ten heard it, they were very angry at the two brothers.
25 But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the leaders among the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones subordinate them.
26 It is not to be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant,
27 and whoever would be first among you must be your slave,
28 just as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to provide his life as a means of rescue for many.”
Jesus was explaining that his suffering cup was coming soon, and he would have to drink it, because he came to provide his life as a means of rescue for many. He thought of others before himself, even though he was the only one who deserves to be put first.
Meanwhile, the disciples were betrayed by their own grand ambitions. James and John wanted to have top billing in the coming sky kingdom, and they had the audacity to get their mother to request it. The other disciples were angry – probably because the sons of Zebedee asked for this favor first – beating them to the punch.
Jesus takes this opportunity to teach his disciples about the nature of sky kingdom leadership.
1. Leadership is sacrificial investment in the lives of others. It is all about serving others and meeting their needs.
2. Jesus is the ultimate example of leadership in the sky kingdom. He gave his life for the lost.
3. The Gentile example of exploitation of subordinates is the antithesis of sky kingdom leadership.
4. There is a way to top billing, but that way is through self-sacrifice, and investment in the well-being and salvation of others.
5. In the end, the sovereign God determines who the top dogs are.
LORD, our eyes are fixed on the prize of your coming sky kingdom. Help us not to get sidetracked by grand ambitions. Help us to invest sacrificially in others, as you did.