The Would-Be Left and Right Hand Men

While Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside by themselves, and said to them on the way, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn him to death; then they will hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified; and on the third day he will be raised.”

Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came to him with her sons, and kneeling before him, she asked a favor of him. And he said to her, “What do you want?” She said to him, “Declare that these two sons of mine will sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom.” But Jesus answered, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink?” They said to him, “We are able.” He said to them, “You will indeed drink my cup, but to sit at my right hand and at my left, this is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.”

When the ten heard it, they were angry with the two brothers. But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. It will not be so among you; but whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be your slave; just as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.”

As they were leaving Jericho, a large crowd followed him. There were two blind men sitting by the roadside. When they heard that Jesus was passing by, they shouted, “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!” The crowd sternly ordered them to be quiet; but they shouted even more loudly, “Have mercy on us, Lord, Son of David!” Jesus stood still and called them, saying, “What do you want me to do for you?” They said to him, “Lord, let our eyes be opened.” Moved with compassion, Jesus touched their eyes. Immediately they regained their sight and followed him.

Matthew 20:17-34

One of the most beautiful truths of the Bible is verses 26 and 27. To be great among men you must serve others tirelessly. It is counter-intuitive to what we expect, yet it is so true! Who do we remember as great people? Mother Theresa, Martin Luther King Jr., Gandhi. All these people worked tirelessly, not for their own glory, but to help others. Sure, we remember Napoleon, Columbus, and Caesar, but rarely do we call them “good”.

Another important message in this passage is that no one but Jesus could do what He did. Nobody else could live free from sin, die blamelessly, and suffer in our place so that we could be forgiven. That’s why He says, “You don’t know what you’re asking.” The disciples didn’t understand what Jesus would endure. They clearly thought they did, but how could they? I can barely fathom it, and I know how the story ends. No. We NEED Jesus. Without Him there is no sacrifice, no forgiveness, and no salvation. Only He can bring us closer to God.

Finally, I love that this healing story is included. Jesus is making His long, final journey into Jerusalem. He knows it is where He will die, He knows His entrance will be cheered like a King’s, yet He also knows that the crowds will condemn Him only days later. All this must be in His thoughts, yet He still find the time, energy, and compassion to heal to blind me. Truly no other person in history was quite like Jesus.

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