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MATTHEW - Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at Hand!
A Bible Study Course on the Gospel of Christ according to Matthew
PART 3 - Jesus' Ministry in the Jordan Vally During His Journey to Jerusalem (Matthew 19:1 - 20:34)

10. Stupid Pride Among Jesus’ Followers (Matthew 20:20-23)

MATTHEW 20:20-23
20 Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came to him with her sons, kneeling and asking a certain thing of him. 21 He said to her, “What do you want?” She said to him, “Command that these, my two sons, may sit, one on your right hand, and one on your left hand, in your Kingdom.” 22 But Jesus answered, “You don’t know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” They said to him, “We are able.” 23 He said to them, “You will indeed drink my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with, but to sit on my right hand and on my left hand is not mine to give; but it is for whom it has been prepared by my Father.”
(Matthew 10:2; 19:28; 26:39, Mark 10:35-45, Acts 12:2, Revelation 1:9)

The disciples did not understand what Jesus revealed to them about His approaching death. Their minds were closed, but they did have thoughts of the shining thrones promised to them. The mother of James and John came to Him with her sons, prostrating before Him and asking Him to grant her sons to sit on His left hand and on His right hand when He ruled and reigned in His kingdom. They probably imagined that their kinship entitled them to make such a request (John 19:25).

They did not recognize the seriousness of their request. They sought honor and power, while Jesus thought of sufferings and redemption. They wished to enjoy privileges and rights, but Christ aimed at atonement. They were worldly, yet He is heavenly. They did not recognize the bitterness of the cup of God’s anger at the whole world’s sins which the Son determined to drink in full.

James and John did not recognize the importance of the hour, but thought that Jesus would enter the capital and seize the throne by a miracle in spite of His prophecies about His imminent death. They wanted to provide for themselves the most important share in the kingdom of heaven on earth. They did not observe that they fell into the temptation and trap of the devil, who wanted to provoke Jesus to get upset and act violently. The Lamb of God gently and kindly answered them and assured them that they would partake of His sufferings and death.

How often do we, as believers, search for high honors, good employment, high salaries and securities but do not notice the endless column of persecuted or needy followers of Christ passing by us.

PRAYER: Holy Lord, You are the Lamb of God who took away the sin of the world and carried the shame of the world into Your heart, but Your disciples looked after thrones and crowns. Forgive us as You did to them if we have given our attention to life, pleasure and mammon. Help us to tell all the people who we meet that You are the atoning sacrifice for us and for them by Your bitter death. And help us that we can help the persecuted and needy believers.


  1. How did John and James both become exceedingly proud?


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