ESOCS Devotional 26 April 2023
MEMORY VERSE: “Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Him with her sons, kneeling down and asking something from Him. And He said to her, “What do you wish?” She said to Him, “Grant that these two sons of mine may sit, one on your right hand and the other on the left, in your kingdom.” Matthew 20:20 & 21
TEXT: MATTHEW 20:17-28
17 And as Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, He took the twelve disciples aside along the way and said to them,
18 Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and scribes; and they will sentence Him to death
19 And deliver Him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and whipped and crucified, and He will be raised [to life] on the third day.
20 Then the mother of Zebedee’s children came up to Him with her sons and, kneeling, worshiped Him and asked a favor of Him.
21 And He asked her, What do you wish? She answered Him, Give orders that these two sons of mine may sit, one at Your right hand and one at Your left in Your kingdom.
22 But Jesus replied, You do not realize what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink [a]and to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized? They answered, We are able.
23 He said to them, You will drink My cup, but seats at My right hand and at My left are not Mine to give, but they are for those for whom they have been [b]ordained and prepared by My Father.
24 But when the ten [other disciples] heard this, they were indignant at the two brothers.
25 And Jesus called them to Him and said, You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men hold them in subjection [tyrannizing over them].
26 Not so shall it be among you; but whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant,
27 And whoever desires to be first among you must be your slave—
From the context of this story, James and John had most probably asked their mother to ask Jesus for a special position for them in the kingdom of God, making the other disciples to be displeased with them. Jesus, however, used this opportunity to put to rest the attitude of spiritual leaders to power, and set the right standards for those who are to be leaders in Christendom.
Leadership and the exercise of power in the kingdom are very different from the way the world sees leadership. A leader in the things of God is to be like Jesus, leading, and performing his ministry in the way Jesus did. In explaining leadership, He said to them: “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you, instead whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave, just as the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”
Jesus, in this passage, sets two models of leadership. The first is the type that is secular and practiced in the institutions of the world. Under this type, the leader exercises power over his subordinates. He issues orders and uses sanctions to ensure compliance. This kind of arrangement is usually to the advantage of the leader. It is the lord-servant kind of relationship. In this type, there is a relational distance. Jesus says that it should not be so among believers (the Church).
In the second model, Jesus hinges leadership on service and humility. In this case, a leader should be an unassuming person who wants to serve and work for the wellbeing and benefits of others. Jesus teaches us that Christian leadership is not by coercion, force, manipulation or by issuing orders. Force can bring conformity but cannot produce inner commitment. God desires those who willingly commit to follow and obey Him. Leadership based on force is therefore dysfunctional and out of place in Christendom. God desires leaders who will be shepherds to His flock following the example of Jesus who came to serve and give His life for others.
- Why do you think people scramble for positions of leadership?
- How will servant leaders be produced in the church?
- Lord Jesus, you are the example for us to follow in all things. Please give us the humility and heart to follow you in all things. And if it pleases you to put us in leadership position, help us to be like you. Amen.
FURTHER READING: Jeremiah 3:1-14; Ezekiel 37:1-14; Luke 24:36-49; 1 Peter 2:1-10
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ESOCS Devotional 26 April 2023