Matthew 20:20-23 (NLT)
20 Then the mother of James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to Jesus with her sons. She knelt respectfully to ask a favor. 21 “What is your request?” he asked. She replied, “In your Kingdom, please let my two sons sit in places of honor next to you, one on your right and the other on your left.” 22 But Jesus answered by saying to them, “You don’t know what you are asking! Are you able to drink from the bitter cup of suffering I am about to drink?” “Oh yes,” they replied, “we are able!” 23 Jesus told them, “You will indeed drink from my bitter cup. But I have no right to say who will sit on my right or my left. My Father has prepared those places for the ones he has chosen.”
In these verses we have the mother of James and John coming to Jesus with a request for her sons. She had faith in the kingdom Jesus would establish, but misunderstood how it was to come about. Her request was for each of the sons to take a place of prominence next to Jesus. But Jesus rebuked them and asked if they knew what they were asking for? In order for Jesus to come into His kingdom he had to die. There would also be many who would die for Jesus and He said the Father is the one who would prepare the places of honor.
A young construction worker bragged about his strength. He told the other workers he could out perform any of them when it came to his strength and abilities. He even taunted some of the older workers trying to force them into competition with him. Finally one of the older construction workers had enough. He walked over to the young man and said, “Why don’t you put your money where your mouth is. I’ll bet you a week’s wages I can haul something over to that building in a wheelbarrow and you won’t be able to do the same thing. “The young worker feeling confident he could outperform the older man said, “You are on old man!” The older construction worker grabbed the handles of the wheel barrow, looked at the younger man and said, “Ok stupid, climb in.” Sometimes we all think we are capable and better than others. James and John in some sense felt they deserved to sit next to Christ when his kingdom came, but Jesus let them know God would look at their life and make that decision. Instead of bragging about what we can do, we should let actions speak for us. We should let others see our love for Christ by the works we do and not the words we use. We may think we deserve what others might receive and even deceive ourselves into believing it. God knows our hearts and our intent. Pray God would show you the true intent of your heart and may you serve Him faithfully out of love and respect.