17While Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside by themselves, and said to them on the way, 18“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; 19then they will hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified; and on the third day he will be raised.”
20Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came to him with her sons, and kneeling before him, she asked a favor of him. 21And 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.” 22But 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.” 23He 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.”
24When the ten heard it, they were angry with the two brothers. 25But 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. 26It will not be so among you; but whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant, 27and whoever wishes to be first among you must be your slave; 28just as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.”
The mother of the sons of Zebedee is perhaps the first helicopter parent, hovering over her children to ensure her success. Hearing the word “kingdom,” she likely envisions her sons’ future as power or wealth, comfort or success—the usual the usually litany of the things we often want. But, she (and we) may be disappointed to hear, Jesus doesn’t offer such things. The request creates dissension among the disciples, which is just why Jesus came in the first place. We don’t always want the right things. Sometimes we hurt others to get what we want—or we have our own vision of how the world should be and we can ignore the feelings of others to get it. Plenty of question today create dissension—about masks or statutes, politics or racial justice. It’s tempting to offer our opinions as a kind of a self-satisfied judgement, as if we got to sit at the right hand of God. Jesus doesn’t care how high we rise, though; nor does he care how right we are. Jesus keeps walking to the cross, serving others with is life, wondering all the while if his disciples will follow.
God, relieve us from the need to be right, and help us to be faithful instead. Guide our steps, following in Jesus way, loving and serving as he has done for us. We pray through Christ, our Lord. Amen.