Matthew 20:20-28 (CEB)
Request from James and John’s mother
Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Jesus along with her sons. Bowing before him, she asked a favour of him. “What do you want?” he asked.
She responded, “Say that these two sons of mine will sit, one on your right hand and one on your left, in your kingdom.”
Jesus replied, “You don’t know what you’re asking! Can you drink from the cup that I’m about to drink from?” They said to him, “We can.”
He said to them, “You will drink from my cup, but to sit at my right or left hand isn’t mine to give. It belongs to those for whom my Father prepared it.”
Now when the other ten disciples heard about this, they became angry with the two brothers. But Jesus called them over and said, “You know that those who rule the Gentiles show off their authority over them and their high-ranking officials order them around. But that’s not the way it will be with you. Whoever wants to be great among you will be your servant. Whoever wants to be first among you will be your slave— just as the Human One didn’t come to be served but rather to serve and to give his life to liberate many people.”
It’s funny how we read things differently at different life-stages. This is clearly a passage I have read and heard many times, but today was the first time I became fixated on the mother. I guess it’s because my kids are all at the age where they have just or are about to spread their wings – and I want them to have the opportunities to fly and be the people they want to be – I want them to get the breaks they need… I am not bothered about them achieving great status or fame or even great wealth – I just want them to find the opportunities they need to follow their dreams (however limited!) So I have sympathy with the mother and am ALMOST tempted to suggest to Jesus that as he didn’t have children, maybe he doesn’t understand where this woman is coming from! Yes, clearly she is painted in a rather grasping light – wanting them to sit on Jesus’ left and right hand… but behind that is surely just the natural parent’s longing for her kids to thrive and flourish in whatever it is they have chosen to do. In my night-time Examen prayers I am invited every night to bring my cry unto Jesus – what are my deepest longings? And most nights it is simply that my kids find those opportunities they need to thrive – those really ARE my deepest longings. So – yeah – I am ever so much like this woman – and I can’t bring myself to believe that this is wrong. I kinda hope Jesus will understand!