Matthew 20:20-28 is an amazing passage. The mother of James and John (Salome) asks Jesus for her sons to have special privilege in His Kingdom. Most think that Salome was the sister of Mary the mother of Jesus. That makes James and John cousins of Jesus. So here we have James and John trying to take advantage of family to gain special privilege. Of course the text says the other 10 disciples were indignant at their attempts. All of them though clearly misunderstood what greatness is from the perspective of Jesus.
Barclay summarizes Jesus’ counter-cultural view of greatness well when he says, “The world may assess a man’s greatness by the number of people whom he controls and who are at his beck and call; or by his intellectual standing and his academic eminence; or by the number of committees of which he is a member; or by the size of his bank balance and the material possessions which he has amassed; but in the assessment of Jesus Christ these things are irrelevant. His assessment is quite simply—how many people has he helped?”
As Jesus concluded his teaching in this passage he says, “whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Father, it is easy for me to forget how you evaluate greatness. I can find myself pursuing position, power and influence, but you simply want me to give my life away serving others. Help me to be a servant of others and view greatness like you do.
Following Jesus with you,