When Jesus asks, “What do you wish?”

Describing my heart’s desire has changed over the years. As a kid it revolved around my dirt bike, baseball, or adventure. As a young adult, it shifted to marriage, family and career. Studying Matthew 20 recently prompted a fresh look at the question. Jesus asks in verse 21, “What do you wish?” Take a look:

20Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Him with her sons, kneeling down and asking something from Him. 21And He said to her, “What do you wish?” She said to Him, “Grant that these two sons of mine may sit, one on Your right hand and the other on the left, in Your kingdom.” 22But Jesus answered and said, “You do not know what you ask. 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.”Matthew 20:20-22 NKJV

Before we’re too hard on James and John, let’s remember, they were part of the inner circle along with Peter, invited to witness the magnificent transfiguration earlier. So to them this thing was headed in a direction needing some hierarchy. I probably would have fell into the same thinking. At this point, Jesus steps in and provides job descriptions for Kingdom workers. As a matter of fact, He did several times. So, on one side I have my hopes and dreams…on the other I have what Jesus described as worthy pursuits. Do they match?

Let’s look at three pictures He painted:

The Cross

In Matthew 16:23 (in response to Peter’s urging that Christ would not be killed) He says, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, take up his cross and follow Me.” The cross was not yet a religious symbol. It represented painful death to powerless non-Roman citizens. In other words, shame was inextricably tied to the cross. It was a constant reminder that Rome was in charge. It was not uncommon when approaching a city to see people on crosses for various crimes and rebellion. What does that mean for us now? 

  • We give up our “rights”
  • We identify with Him
  • We choose to glory in Him alone
  • We let go of pride

The Life of a Servant

In Matthew 20:26 after the above conversation, Jesus goes on to say, …whoever desires to be great among you, let him be your servant. The Greek word Matthew used was “diakonos” (the word we get deacon from). As a servant I should aspire to serve. Jesus not only said it, but He modeled it. So what does that mean practically? 

  • It’s considering others better than myself
  • It’s less interest in power & position
  • It’s giving up the pursuit of worldly wealth

The Position of a Steward

Jesus also gives us a contrasting picture in Luke 12 of faithful and unfaithful stewards. In the overall discourse He talks about a different mindset than the world. He said to avoid hypocrisy, worry, trust in wealth, and fear of men. Then He went on to describe the faithful steward (verses 35-48). One who knows his position and thrives in it. The faithful steward is: 

  • Ready for what each day may bring (girded v.35)
  • Anticipating the Masters return (v.37)
  • Diligent in daily tasks (lamps burning v.35)
  • Willing to follow the Master’s plan (v.47)

So, do our dreams match? That’s a tough question. I can honestly say, I’m praying that mine do, but at the same time I confess to being a little fearful while praying. However, it’s what we must pray. As a follower of Christ, I have been charged to do so, and in His strength I can (Phil. 4:13, Gal. 2:20)!

Those are my thoughts, what are yours?

Series: Questions of Jesus – Lesson IX

About cchrisholland

...husband, dad, pastor, teacher, and chronic day-dreamer
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