Theme of the Week: The Gospel of Matthew – King Jesus
Bible Verse: Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Matthew 20:25-26a
Scripture Reading: Matthew 20:20-28
When my brothers and I were young, we would play like brothers do. There are only four years total between the three of us, so we were never really in terribly different phases of life, and that let us enjoy the same things together.
But, being brothers and humans, sometimes we would get on each other’s nerves, and the play would turn sour. No fists ever flew, but there were some pushing matches and plenty of mean-spirited words. When that happened, Mom and Dad had a particularly frustrating punishment (although, in the end, I suppose it was effective). We would have to hold hands for however long the parents determined was appropriate given the offense. No matter where we were. This led to some awkward-feeling public experiences. Effective.
The point was that our relationships mattered. And fighting wasn’t how we should be treating each other. We would constantly be reminded that we should have been thinking about the other person rather than ourselves. “Is this what Jesus would want?” Perhaps a bit heavy-handed, but true nonetheless.
My brothers and I were not the first not to get along or to be challenged by what Jesus wanted. The disciples themselves had (perhaps more than) a little tension. And Jesus took the opportunity to set their relationships right.
When James and John’s mother tried to position her sons into positions of power in Jesus’s kingdom, the other disciples took exception. Let’s be fair; we can identify with both sides. The tension this request generated allowed Jesus to speak into the situation and exercise His relational authority.
He had spoken before about how to treat people, but that was when He was talking about religious requirements. In this situation, personal maneuvering and selfish ambition created tension and strife within the group. None of that happens today, right? We’re still not susceptible to those desires. Let’s listen to Jesus’s words just to be safe.
Jesus reminds His disciples that the general way of people in authority is not how His followers relate to one another. Anticipating Paul’s later inspired words, Jesus talks of putting others first and being a servant to those we may be in a position to lead. Jesus claims His relational authority by telling His disciples, and anyone in the future who may have the same struggle, that we best relate to one another when we put the other person first.
Jesus speaks His authority into our relationships by word and example.
Prayer: Jesus, thank you that you step into our trials and struggles and in your gentle, but firm authority to point us in the right direction. Thank you for modeling proper relationships for us and leading by serving. Please help me to do the same.
Reflection: What relationship do you have that you need to hear Jesus’s words of authority in? How do you surrender to His authority in that relationship?
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